Resources to meet the interests of refugees and immigrants

My most recent discovery of a treasure trove is a bit out of character for me.  Still, it’s a great resource that I am eager to share.  It’s Bridging Refugee Youth & Children’s Services (http://www.brycs.org) , a product of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  (long story….) Their website is a unique source of links to events, resources, and more for anyone working with and for the challenged refugee community.

What caught my eye is the work that BRYCS has done to identify and share “books for refugee and immigrant children 0-5 years.” (http://www.brycs.org/clearinghouse/Books-for-Refugee-and-Immigrant-Children-0-5-Years.cfm)   It’s not just a list of books but a collection of links to ongoing resources on books that share the background of refugees and the stories of newcomers and their families. Though I’m no expert on children’s books and am sure some experts on children’s literature will question the listings, for me it was an eye-opener to the range of possibilities – a starting point to meet the needs.

The parent site is well worth exploring.  It includes information about a wide range of topics, ranging from trafficking to medical assistance to books by, for and about the experiences of refugees.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month – A time to refocus on what we can learn

As I hope readers know March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.  The month was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.  In previous years  I’ve posted tons of resources available to promote the contributions and rights of people with disabilities.  Because this post is late in the month it’s too late for promotion, so I’m thinking more about individual awareness.

In this environment, it’s probably best to take time to really think about our awareness of the potential of people in our community – the writers, the artists, the performers, our colleagues who may see the world from a unique perspective.  We need to see and appreciate their contributions.

Through Voices of Northeast we have interviewed  people who share light on the facts of what individuals with developmental disabilities contribute to this fragmented society.  Their words and the work that they are doing are critical to forming our thinking about the potential of those who offer unique insights.

The interview with Bryan Boyce and writer Vince Fiorilli of Cow Tipping Press is illustrative.

https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/cow-tipping-press-a-mission-as-unique-as-the-name/

We also spoke with a representative of ArtForce, a Northeast Minneapolis organization that is very aware of the potential of individuals with developmental disabilities to inform our thinking about this world and this society.

Interact is on my short list for learning more.  So many more on my list!  I’m always eager to learn more about individuals and groups that are exploring the ways in which people with disabilities share their special perspectives so that we all increase our understanding of the community, the world, life, the universe and everything. Ideas welcome and appreciated!

 

 

Rosemount Writers Festival/Book Fair Set for March 18

Bibliophile alert!  The Rosemount Writers Festival and Book Fair, sponsored by a host of organizations, is set for Saturday, March 18, 9:30-4:30 p.m. at Steeple Center, 14375 South Robert Trail in Rosemount.

Sponsors include the Rosemount Area Arts Council, Minnesota Independent Publishers Association, Friends of the Robert Trail Library, Fuzion Print and Spring Book Design.

The day begins with a Keynote speech at 9:30, presented by Mark Hirsch, author of That Tree.  That will be followed by a smorgasbord of twenty workshops on five tracks, each led by publishing industry experts and authors.   The Book Fair, beginning at 10:30, offers an opportunity to  meet and talk with authors, publishers and vendors – as well as a chance to purchase books.

Lunch is available. ($12)

Each portion of the day’s program requires individual registration. All the details and costs are spelled out on the event’s user-friendly website: http://www.rosemountwritersfestival.com.

 

 

World Storytelling Day 2017 – Local plans

World Storytelling Day has been around so long now that it has earned the right to be characterized as a “tradition.”  It began in Sweden in the  early 1990’s and has since spread to nations around the world, a world now connected by Ratatosk, the Scandinavian storytelling web.

A WSD post in 2016 describes more about the history of World Storytelling Day and the local expansion of the living tradition. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/world-storytelling-day-2016/)  The international theme for the World Storytelling Day 2017, celebrated round the world on May 20, is “Transformation.”

Again this year local storyteller and educator Larry Johnson is heading up plans for World Storytelling Day in this community.  The gathering will explore the ways in which stories transform education.  Four storytellers will share their reflections on the theme at a grand public event on Tuesday, March 21, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Landmark Center, 75 West 5th Street in downtown St. Paul 

Beverly Cottman, former high school science teacher, will share African and African American Stories that celebrate the rich heritage and culture of the African Diaspora.

Maren Hinderlie has traveled the world as a storyteller for theatrical, educational, religious events and festivals.  She has just returned from telling stories in Vietnam and the Philippines.

Larry Johnson will share his storytelling skills, particularly as they shape his recent publication, Sixty-One, his personal story told as a powerful challenge to embrace peace, end war and face the health concerns of the nation’s veterans.

Kubisa S Muzenence is a respected human rights advocate, founder of Let Africa Live, a nonprofit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The evening will also showcase the winners of the 2017 Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers Peace Essay Contest for high school juniors and seniors.

There is no charge for the evening; donations will be appreciated by the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers.

Reception and information tables open at 6:00 pm.  The program of storytelling will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Updates and any changes are posted of Facebook.

“RestaurantsRising” to face immigration challenges

The Ides of March is one of the standout dates on the calendar.  So it should be easy to member that March 15, 2017, is a significant date to mark on your calendar.

In Minnesota diners will celebrate this year’s Ideas of March with a great meal at a local restaurant!  A host of Minnesota restaurants and retail establishments are collaborating to make the Ides of Marsh a day to support – publicly and financially –  the work of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. (https://www.ilcm.org/)

The ILCM is one of the most visible of the Minnesota organizations – and individuals – stretched beyond their resources to meet the challenge to help people who are caught up in unprecedented immigration battles.

A host of eateries are joining forces to speak out.  The initiative bears the powerful name “RestaurantsRising.”  A large number participated in the successful Day Without Immigrants resistance.   That led to the Ides of March campaign to pledge a portion each restaurant’s daily profits to support the legal representation provided by IMLC and other legal services.

There’s a great website where you can find the names and logos of each restaurant as well as a clever indication of the percentage of sales the establishment will share with legal aid providers.    It’s a very impressive and growing collaboration.

Check the RestaurantsRising website (http://restaurantsrising.com) and follow RestaurantsRising on FB.

Kudos to East Side Freedom Library!

Over the months we have shared any number of posts about the East Side Freedom Library, including this introduction.  (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/east-side-freedom-library-gives-new-life-to-carnegie-library-st-paul-neighborhood/)

Still, this is the most celebratory.

The ESFL has just been named recipient of the John Sessions Memorial Award, sponsored by the Department for Professional Employees AFL-CIO, and administered by the Reference and User Services Association of the American Library Association.  The award recognizes “a library or library system which has made a significant effort to work with the labor community and by doing so has brought recognition to the history and contribution of the labor movement to the development of the United States.”

John Sessions, in whose memory the Award is given, was with the AFL-CIO and  co-chair of the AFL-CIO/ ALA Joint Committee on Library Service to Labor Groups.

Quoting from the announcement, the award reflects “multiple letters from local and regional labor unions [that] glowingly attest to the Library’s leadership in

  • raising awareness of the centrality of workers, immigrants, and the labor movement to the past, present and future of the East Side, Twin Cities, and Minnesota,
  • being a valuable resource and reliable ally, a place where diverse audiences assemble, hold conversations and explore shared concerns
  • an important extension of local labor movement, and
  • most notably, “a partner”

The John Sessions Memorial Award will be presented at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago on Sunday, June 25.

Previous local recipients of the John Sessions Award include The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library (2003) and Hennepin County Library (1990).

Much more about the East Side Freedom Library at their website http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/ — or, better yet, plan a visit or participate in one of their robust agenda of timely programs!

 

 

Freedom of Information Day 2017 – An unprecedented challenge

It strikes me that it is more than appropriate that Sunshine Week, March 12-18, 2017, begins on the first day of Daylight Savings Time!  Maybe an extra hour of sunshine will actually help!  One can hope.

I have written so often about open government, transparency, the right to know, the First Amendment and the free press that I mention just one recent blog post that perhaps best expresses my deep concerns about the crisis in which we find ourselves. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/information-and-media-not-weapons-but-tools/  

As citizens of a threatened democracy we need to think more than ever about our rights, the role of the press, and our need to discern truth in an incredible barrage of data, misinformation, fake facts, propaganda and, happily, thoughtful exposition of ideas, issues and facts.  We can’t give up.  

Nationally, the week is sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.  The SW website offers an excellent introduction to the principles, the issues, a valuable Tookkit for local activists including a calendar of what’s happening around the nation. It’s an essential starting point and inspiration to take action.  All is revealed through multiple channels, including #Sunshineweek@asne.org, and on Facebook.

For many years the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI) has commemorated Sunshine Week by sponsoring a Freedom of Information Day event. The history of FOIA Day (March 16) respects the birthday of James Madison, author of the First Amendment.  And so each year MNCOGI hosts a Freedom of Information Day public event.  This year’s event is set for Thursday, March 16, Noon at the Minneapolis Central Library.

Keynote speaker at FOI recognition is Patrice McDermott, founder and long-time director of OpenTheGovernment.org, a DC-based coalition of organizations that endorse government accountability and access.  Her talk is entitled “Secrecy and Accountability – Looking Forward, Looking Back.”  Member of the National Freedom Act Hall of Fame Dr. McDermott is a national authority on the principles and challenges to the right of the people to access to information by and about the government.  

At the same gathering the Coalition will honor Tony Webster, recipient of this year’s John R Finnegan FOI Award.  Webster  is a self-proclaimed “web engineer, public records researcher, and policy nerd”. (@webster)  MNCOGI chair Gary Hill observes that “Tony Webster is a shining example of the power of a single individual to make government more transparent and hold it more accountable.”   

Sponsored each year by the Coalition, the Finnegan Award honors Minnesota newspaperman John R. Finnegan, installed in 2011 as a member of the Freedom of Information Hall of Fame (http://www.nfoic.org/2011-open-government-hall-fame)

(https://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2012/10/eulogies-john-finnegan-sr)

The FOI Day event is free and open to the public.

Related updates:

A powerful statement of press freedom endorsed by a broad coalition of agencies:  http://ncac.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Press-Freedom-Statement-FINAL.pdf

Recipient of the James Madison Award, sponsored by the American Library Association Washington Office, is Jon Tester (D-MT).  The award will be presented at one of the main events of Sunshine Week, a gathering at the Newseum in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, March 15 – streamed live from the Knight TV Studio in the Newseum.  http://www.newseum.org/live/)