Best of Neighborhood News 2/8: Candidate hopes to change historically white Hennepin County board

LaDonna Redmond, a Twin Cities food justice advocate, is vying to be the first person of color to serve on Hennepin County’s commission. According to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, Redmond, running for District Three, wants to empower historically disenfranchised people. “The County is really an unknown governmental layer. It is a very powerful layer. [It] distributes $2 [billion] a year in funding across the system. Continue Reading

cow tipping press

‘You talk, I’ll type’ Cow Tipping Press offers new space for writers

Taking a class with Cow Tipping Press was the first time Rob Bergerson had ever tried his hand at poetry–let alone read it aloud—which he did, at one of Cow Tipping Press’s public reading events. The reason he’d never done these things before was not, he said, because he didn’t think he could do them. He could. It was simply because until then, he hadn’t had an outlet. Continue Reading

The Disability Community is “Making Strides” Toward Better Transit Access

The recently released Making Strides 2014 Accessibility Survey provides a wealth of data about the challenges faced by members of the disability community as they seek to access the Green Line. The report also makes clear why it’s so important to make sure that people with disabilities can get to the station safely and easily.Background data drawn from Minnesota Compass research shows we’re not dealing with just a small number of people. Currently,  approximately 10% of Minnesotans have a disability, and in some areas of the Twin Cities that percentage almost doubles; for example, in downtown Saint Paul, more than 18% of the population has a disability . There are also heavy concentrations of people with disabilities living along the Green Line where 44% (7 of 16) of Saint Paul Public Housing Hi-Rise buildings are located.Another reason it’s important to make sure people with disabilities can get to the station is that many are regular transit riders who depend on the bus or the light rail to get around independently and participate in the community. The report cites Metro Transit numbers that show heavy use of the Green Line: “In September 2014, the third full month of Green Line service, seven of the fourteen stations in Saint Paul had more than 1,000 boardings by people with disabilities, …and more than 2,000 boarded at Central Station.”Waiting to board the light railThe 2014 Accessibility Survey was planned and carried out by the District Councils Collaborative (DCC) in partnership with members of the disability community, some of whom had also participated in the DCC’s 2012 Walkability Survey. Continue Reading

Getting to the Green Line: Seen through the Lens of a Wheelchair User

No, I’m not in a wheelchair, but I’ve spent time walking alongside people who are, as we tested out walking and rolling routes to a couple of the Green Line stations. For me, and others who walk every day, the wheelchair user’s view offers a new lens that focuses on the challenges facing people who must navigate the walking terrain on wheels to get to the light rail station, or to any other destination.Two cars block the ramp as Rick Cardenas makes his way to the sidewalk. Photo by Carol Swenson  Now the District Councils Collaborative of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (DCC) is preparing to release a new report on a 2014 Accessibility Survey that shines a light on a number of access issues that were not addressed in planning for the Green Line. Equally important, the report identifies improvements that can still be made, after the fact, for the Green Line. And it highlights issues that need to be considered as additional light rail lines are being planned.A woman confronts the challenge of getting across the light rail tracks with her walker. Continue Reading

Sculptor refuses to be pushed around by racism

St. Paul sculptor Frank Brown describes himself as a “gofer,” someone who “goes for it, who doesn’t sit around waiting for someone to come looking for them. I take the initiative to go out and initiate the conversation that hopefully will create a positive response.”

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THEATER REVIEW | Bloomington Civic Theatre’s “Next to Normal”: Mental illness portrayed without sugarcoating

Next to Normal, now playing at Bloomington Civic Theatre, is an unusual and powerful piece of musical theater. Its gripping narrative of mental illness and the people caught in its tow helped garner the show eleven Tony nominations in 2009, and both its score and orchestration walked away from that ceremony with prizes. Done well, it is a stirring drama cut with quips of dark comedy, accompanied by sumptuous yet economical orchestration and moving songs. It’s also the sort of show that you should really just go see without reading about the plot, lest you spoil several major surprises.BCT’s production of Next to Normal embraces the pain and exhaustion of the material. This overmedicated flatness may be a legitimate treatment (and certainly a painfully familiar condition to those who have first-hand experience of mental illness in the family) of the source material, but it does mean that many of the jokes sprinkled throughout the script were flattened enough that they passed without notice. Continue Reading