COMMUNITY VOICES | You really don’t want to meet the Dicks at Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America

I’m not one to cry. Truth is, I rarely cry, but during a visit to Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America I was literally reduced to tears! The bartender was abusive, abrasive, and mean as HELL. I wasn’t sure why he was in a bad mood, but later found out that it is their “niche” to be mean as spitfire. Were they really trained to treat people like this, to the point of harassment? Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | The Big E sizes up MN GOP candidates

The Big E, confessing to Minnesita Progressive Project (MPP) readers and contributers, recently wrote that his heart no longer pines to hose down right wing sparkle ponies like Michele Bachmann or even review books by the likes of a Keith Ellison.  The Big E (known to his Minneapolis neighbors as Eric Pusey), is the founding scold of the MPP lefty sentry post and appears on the current edition of Democratic Visions as he retires from political blogging. After a moment of posing as a weary blogosphere elder  (as if blogging was old enough to earn elders), the smart, liberal confederate, prompted by an actual DFL elder,  Tim O’Brien, shines with bemused and bewildered takes on the current state of the Minnesota Republican Party and its clownish, hopeful State and Congressional candidates.   Mr. Pusey, who has splashed gleefully in the rushing stream of blogs, Tweets, Facebook twerking and probably Skype, does quite well in the “legacy” medium of television where I operate.  Fox Nine News knew that and for a while put him on from time-to-time.  But the Fox 9 News producers didn’t have the cojones to make him a regular pundit.   Too bad.  Mr. Pusey has good chemistry. This ten-minute Eric and Tim segment is yours to consider.  Its “tagged” (the TV producer’s sense of the word) with an homage to the late, great, populist troubadour Pete Seeger and Twin Cities activism thanks to the air guitar wonders -The Junk Yard Democrats, a peoples’ anthem, and creative editing.  Enjoy!  Enjoy!  Democratic Visions February Segments Ex-blogger Eric Pusey and Tim O’Brien on senate and gubernatorial hopefuls.Jon Spayde as a clinically depressed motivational speaker with advice for Republican hopefuls.I report on the DFL 48 Precinct Caucuses and present an award winning short film making change. Democratic Visions is handcrafted by Eden Prairie, Edina and Minnetonka volunteer Democrats at the Bloomington Community Access Television studio by arrangement with the Southwest Suburban Cable Commission. Democratic Visions Cable ScheduleMinneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m.; Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Eden Prairie – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. The entire Feburary program and 183 archived Dem Vis segments can be seen on the Democratic Visions Channel on YouTube. Democratic Visions has become the  liveliest political issues show in Minnesota.   I know.  I produce the darned thing.   Continue Reading

New project renews Prospect Park resident concerns about University expansion

Some Prospect Park residents are worried the University of Minnesota is planning to seize their homes in order to complete future projects.The University is planning to build a $182.5 million Ambulatory Care Center just east of Frontier Hall, and some are worried about what could come next should the University decide it wants to expand on the property around the center.“There are people who own homes in that neighborhood, and they are unsure as to whether the University is going to buy them out,” said Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association master planning chair Tamara Johnson. “There’s a larger looming issue of uncertainty that hasn’t been resolved.”The 2009 Twin Cities Campus Master Plan highlights portions of Prospect Park for future growth.University Capital Planning and Project Management departmental director Monique MacKenzie said the University is aware of community concerns and has applied community feedback to the project’s design.The University is building the center with Fairview Health Services to provide a much-needed expansion that will allow clinics to move out of the outdated Phillips Wangensteen Building.MacKenzie said the project has been in the works for about a decade, but the University will make up for lost time with an “aggressive” construction schedule. The project is scheduled to break ground in January 2014, with the doors opening in early 2016.MacKenzie said she’s heard the University may have circulated a letter to residents in the past implying the school could use eminent domain to seize private land from property owners unwilling to sell. But she said the school has changed its policy since then.“The approach we’ve been taking is people have to be willing to sell for there to be a transaction,” she said.She said the University doesn’t intend to implement its land-grant right to procure private property anywhere — now or in the future.“I can’t fault people for [their concern],” MacKenzie said. “If it would happen once, why wouldn’t it happen again?”The University has sent purchase offers to residences around the site of the new center, but no money has changed hands so far, she said.Johnson said PPERIA will be watching closely. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Finding hope in a time of apocalypse

Attending a movie recently, my husband and I noted that most of the previews for upcoming films featured dystopian movies – stories where the planet or the human race is threatened with annihilation and a few brave heroes are charged with saving the day. On TV, it isn’t much better, what with zombies on “The Walking Dead,” or the militia taking over a darkened planet on “Revolution.”  What’s with the apocalypse showing up everywhere these days?Maybe it’s just a hangover from the 2012 Mayan calendar predictions. Then again, maybe you saw the movie Chasing Ice about the disappearing polar ice cap?  Or, perhaps you’ve listened to MPR’s Climate Cast where they provide, “…the latest research on our changing climate and the consequences we’re seeing here in Minnesota and worldwide.”  Maybe you read Bill McKibbon’s Rolling Stone article last summer, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math – Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe.”Truth be told, I was feeling pretty apocalyptic myself this past winter when I ran across an article by Chris Hedges entitled, “Stand Still for the Apocalypse.” According to a report commissioned by the World Bank, if we don’t respond aggressively to climate change, we can look forward to widespread hunger and starvation; an explosion of diseases such as malaria, cholera and dengue fever; devastating heat waves, droughts, and floods; disappearing forests and coral reefs, mass plant and animal extinctions; and the overall widespread collapse of human institutions and systems of law and order.What scares me most is the growing consensus of how little time we have to turn things around. Paul Guilding in his article, “Victory at Hand for the Climate Movement” writes, “This is no longer about the future, it’s about now. We don’t have 20 years to decide to act; we have 20 years to complete the task. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Prospect Park Community Choir seeks part-time choir director

Who We Are We are a mixed-voice, non-audition choir with about 35-40 members who gather weekly for the joy of singing together.  We are looking for a part-time director who is community-minded and has a sense of humor, yet is task-master enough to keep us on track and help us stretch our skills so we can sing at our very best.  Our repertoire includes a broad range of music from classical and international, to pop, jazz, Americana, holiday music, and show tunes.We have two seasons per year.  The fall/holiday practice season runs from mid-September to early December, ending with our main concert in early December as well as a few other performances at nursing homes.  The spring season runs from mid-January through late April or early May, again with several performances in April and May.  Practice is held on Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00 in Southeast Minneapolis near University Ave. and Highway 280.The ideal candidate will:Welcome the opportunity to work with a diverse group of singers and has the ability to strive for high musical standards while having the patience to encourage singers of varied skills and abilitiesBe able to clearly communicate expectations and inspire singers to an enhanced understanding of the musicTransmit enthusiasm and knowledge to the chorus and the audienceEmbrace and promote an internal culture of civility and respect.A degree in choral directing or equivalent experience is required, as is a broad knowledge of choral repertoire and music theory.  Basic keyboard skills are essential (advanced preferred). ResponsibilitiesChoose repertoire for concert seasonOrganize rehearsal schedule and lead choir in regular Tuesday evening rehearsals from September through December, and January through May.  Direct choir concerts and provide information to audience about the music we are performing.Prepare program notes to be included in the printed concert program.Work with sections as needed to learn musicMake arrangements with outside performance venuesTo Apply Please send email to  and include your resume and letter of interest explaining how your skills and experience combine to make you an excellent candidate. Please put your last name and “Choir Director” in the subject line of the email. Continue Reading

The future of the Southeast Minneapolis Library, part 2: Design library dreams for Prospect Park

This is the second article in a six-part series on the future of the Southeast Library in Minneapolis. Previously, part 1: A part-time library isn’t enough.Some Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes neighborhood residents fear that Prospect Park will compete for the location of a new Southeast Library, choosing a site that would be less convenient to residents of both Marcy-Holmes and Como neighborhoods.Dick Gilyard, an architect who lives in Prospect Park, presented a slide program last spring that proposed a library at the 29th Avenue light rail station as part of his neighborhood’s plan for the transit corridor along Washington and University avenues. Too late. “That train has already left the station,” McLaughlin said. “The station is under construction, and there is no room for a library.”Gilyard continues to advocate for a new library in the Prospect Park area, but he insists that his plan is separate from the future of the Southeast Library at Dinkytown.“That will be decided by others—the county through its community-engagement process,” he said. “We’re now talking about a different kind of library with a theme-based focus independent of what Hennepin County decides to do with the Southeast Library.”Gilyard said the Textile Center at 3000 University Ave. Continue Reading

Franklin Free Market: A community service or a Prospect Park eyesore?

The Franklin Free Market, situated at Franklin and Bedford Avenues, has become an unusual—and controversial—neighborhood landmark in Prospect Park. Over the last few years, motorists and neighbors have noticed an ever-changing selection of goods free for the taking. A friendly sign invites passersby to freely take from or donate items to the “market.” Though it rests in the boulevard, the heart of the market is in the home of its founder, Ruth Fen.

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