Best of Neighborhood News 9/19: Somali immigrants utilize farmer training program to establish farms in Minnesota

For many immigrants with hopes of making a living off farming, owning and operating a farm can seem like an impossible task between startup costs, attaining Minnesota agricultural knowledge and finding a market for produce. The Minnesota Food Association (MFA) works to alleviate some of these challenges by offering an in-depth, hands-on farm training program for immigrants, refugees and other individuals from historically marginalized communities. As part of this program, many Somali immigrants, including Naima Dhore, have been able to find success in organic farming, sustaining the food system and carving out a niche for immigrant farmers to develop and hone agricultural skills. “The most important piece in the process for me has been letting [members of the East African community] know where their food is coming from and what their responsibilities are in terms of taking care of this planet that we all share,” said Dhore. “That’s the biggest takeaway.”

Read more at The Somali American. Continue Reading

TC Weekend | Green Line kickoff, Juneteenth, Northern Spark, Greenway Glow, Stone Arch Bridge Fest & more!

Festival-palooza is upon us, people! This weekend may be the biggest for outdoor festivals this summer. It’s certainly the biggest thus far, with a flurry of events, from the numerous Green Line kickoff celebrations, to Juneteenth, the Stone Arch Bridge Festival, Northern Spark and much more.  In honor of the Green Line launch, Metro Transit light rail and bus service will be free of charge both June 14 and 15, making it even easier to get around to all the happenings.This weekend should prove particularly enjoyable for night owls, with night-time festivals that are bound to provide stunning visuals! It’s also Father’s Day weekend — why not take Dad along to some of the events below? Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Immigration reform: Shared humanity matters more than differences

Although I have not suffered the agony of navigating my way through this country’s broken immigration system, I have experienced the trauma that it causes by keeping people from the ones they love. It is something I think about as I follow the Fast for Families happening in Washington, D.C., and events across the country in support of commonsense immigration reform.I am an African-American. Born outside of Minneapolis to immigrant parents from Eritrea, I was well aware of the challenges of the immigrant experience, but it wasn’t until I told my parents about my work on SEIU’s immigration reform campaign that they related to me the details of my mother’s experience living as an undocumented worker for the first few years of my life.My mother entered the United States after fleeing Saudi Arabia; she was granted a visa to visit my father, who had arrived the year before as a refugee after working at a camp in Sudan. My parents were engaged in Eritrea but separated by the effects of war.By the time my sister and I were born, our mother’s visa had expired and she was facing deportation. In our culture, it’s nearly sinful to separate young children from their mother, so my parents were struggling with this choice: to keep their children from their mother and raise them in the country they sacrificed so much to reach, or to raise them away from their father in their war-torn homeland.My father–the very stubborn, but also incredibly smart man that he is–insisted that our family would not be separated. Continue Reading

Minnesota Karen community celebrates warm St. Paul welcome

“Minnesota may be cold, but the hearts are warm,” said Priscilla Aung, one of the first Karen refugees to arrive in Minnesota more than ten years ago. Now, approximately 6,500 Karen live in the state, making St. Paul home to the fastest growing Karen population in the United States.The Karen are an ethnic group from the mountainous border region of Burma and Thailand, where they are the second largest ethnic group in each country. The community has suffered a tragic history of being persecuted by the Burmese military junta for over 60 years. Several hundred refugees from other ethnic groups in Burma, including the Kachin, Mon, and Shan, have also made Minnesota their home. Continue Reading

Minnesotans celebrate together at Twin Cities World Refugee Day

Nicolette, an Iraqi rock band, and Amwaaj, a traditional Arabic music ensemble, were among the new performers to grace the stage at this year’s Twin Cities World Refugee Day, a locally organized festival that celebrates the diverse array of cultures represented by over 100,000 refugees living in Minnesota. This year was also the first time that the event planning committee and volunteers collected stories from the attendees for the emcee to read aloud throughout the day.“We’ve just been asking people what their experience as a refugee has been, and what it has been like coming to Minnesota. It’s been interesting to see the commonalities and the variety of experiences,” planning committee member, Alexis Walstad, said. Walstad estimates around 800 to a 1,000 people came out for the festivities at Minnehaha Park on June 16. Besides the dancers, musicians, and spoken word artists on stage, 46 vendors from community health groups, resettlement agencies, and social service organizations set up tables to educate people about the resources available for them in the area.     “Refugees are celebrating our lives. Continue Reading

Reliving life in a refugee camp — in Loring Park

The tiny huts, the small latrines and the white tents inside metal barricades looked startlingly familiar even though they were part of a replica of a refugee camp. I felt a little jolt in my heart as I stood in line Thursday to get inside the “camp” set up in Loring Park in Minneapolis. This was one flashback, to my time in a camp in Kenya, which I never thought I’d relive here. But that dose of reality is precisely how organizers want exhibitors to feel. Jennifer Vago, a registered nurse with Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian organization said: “People see these images everyday on TV and on magazines, and they just turn the channel/page. Continue Reading