Monthly Archives: February 2011

Northeast Minneapolis Arts District Features Art and Eats

It might be said that the fortunate residents of Northeast Minneapolis “marinate” in art.  The area is home to countless artists who are at the ready to share their talents and commitment to their profession with their neighbors.  The tie that binds – also plans, promotes and shares the riches — is the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA). Though keeping up with the arts in Northeast a comprehensive listing of Northeast art events is a fool’s mission, some examples offer a glimpse of the possibilities.

  • The work of local photographer Tim Davis will be on display through the month of February at the Wilde Roast Café.  Tim has added a touch of high tech to his exhibit.  Rather than merely labeling photos,  he has equipped each with a Quick Response (QR) code so that cell phones are able to read and instantly link to any website, including Tim’s home  website.
  • The juried Spiritual Art Show has become a destination in Northeast for the past eleven years.  Nicholas and Rosemary Heille, producers of the show, have published a clear explanation of the “why” of a spiritual art show on their website.  They have also issued a call for Minnesota artists to submit their work for the show which is set for April 10-15, 3:00-7:00 p.m. at the Kolbe Center of Pope John Paul II School. Admission is free. Rules and entry forms are available from Rosie Heille, NE Minneapolis Artist Concierge Service, 3460 Garfield St NE, Mpls 55418.
  • Brickmania Toyworks, located in the Thorp Building at 1618 Central Avenue, hosts a monthly open house on the second Saturday of the month, 11 AM – 4:00 PM.  Visitors will find LEGO creations, including a working train created by the Greater Midwest Lego Train Club and the Twin Cities Lego Train Club.  Brickmania also features displays of historical military models and a kids’ town.
  • Meanwhile, NEMAA continues to sponsor regular open studio events.  This is the season when Northeast artists are hard at work preparing for Art-A-Whirl, the annual springtime showcase of the community’s artists and their works.  The open studio series offers an insider’s view  into the work that goes on day-by-day in neighborhood studios, many of which share their work spaces and their wares throughout the year.  The longstanding mainstays are the monthly open studio events held on First Thursdays and Second Saturdays.

Ø     On First Thursday artists open their studios at the Casket Arts Building, Casket Arts-Carriage House, the Northrup King Building, Q.arma Building, and the Thorp Building.  Also in the neighborhood visitors will find bargains at Two 12 Pottery and Gifts and a welcome at Who Made Who Design+Screenprint Emporium. Hours vary, all are listed on the NEMAA website.  Stay in the neighborhood for the special happy hour and late night music nearby at the Red Stag.

Ø     Open Studios on Second Saturdays each month are in the California Building where visitors will find six floors of studios bustling with 25 artists at work. Visit with the artists, sip and snack on the refreshments and catch the Art-A-Whirl fever the second Saturday of each month 11:00AM-6:00 PM.

The arts community of Northeast Minneapolis is a magnet the draws art enthusiasts – and those who love a good meal in a friendly environment.  The community’s eat treats is growing by exponentially as any guide to good eating, including friends and neighbors, will attest.  Don’t leave Northeast with an unsatisfied appetite for good art – or good food!


National Broadband Map Answers the Question: WHere do all the wires go?


The Winter of 2011 is burying us – again.   Football season is history.  Ice from the neighborhood skating rink has flowed to the sidewalks which are now impassable.  What’s a homebound Minnesotan to do?


Once again, try delving into the world of information by and about government information.  Start with the newest game in town, National Broadband Map.  NBM as it is affectionately known, is a massive, reliable and comprehensive data base of searchable, interactive, graphic data now as close as your keyboard.  Settle back and try your hand at exploring what’s coming down the street where you life.  Compare data to learn how your neighbors, your friends and family, your competitors or your employer truly fit on the national telecommunications grid.


Okay, NBM is not strictly a video game.  It’s intriguing though, featuring infinite strategies, massive data about your neighborhood and that of your brother-in-law in Puerto Rico, and graphic maps  not only of broadband but of wireless, cable, fiber to the end user and more.


The NBM was created by the folks at NTIA, the National Telecommunications and Technology Administration in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission.  The stated goal of the NBM project is “to encourage economic growth by facilitating the integration of broadband and information technology into state and local economics.


Putting their money where their mouth is the federal government has awarded a cool $293 million to 56 agencies, 50 states, 5 territories and the District of Columbia.  There’s a string attached, designed to ensure that the NBM game is constantly refreshed.  Half of that money must be used by grantees to gather data and report every six months on the availability, speed, and location of broadband services, as well as the broadband services that community institutions such as schools libraries and hospitals are actually using.  That unremitting data flow will continually refresh NBM.


Seriously, this is fun stuff – it’s complex but not confusing, responsive, and, best of all, the maps graphically depict how all the digital gadgets in your home, your car, your office and your pocket connect you not just with your kids (though that’s important!) but with the world writ large.




Northeast Mpls Residents Celebrate Annual President’s Day Walk

Neither snow, nor sleet,  nor hail shall keep the intrepid Northeast resident from participating in the annual President’s Day Walk and Celebration.  On Saturday, February 19, scores of neighbors trekked – or rode a shuttle bus – across the streets from the Firefighters Hall and Museum along 22nd Avenue to Windom Park (for hot chocolate and a warm-up) then on to Northeast Middle School (for chili and chat.)  Walkers pause en route to learn about the U.S. Presidents for whom the streets are named.

Some nitpickers, who probably don’t walk anyway, point out the rare inconsistencies in the street names – for whatever reason my house is on Stinson, between Benjamin (Harrison) Roosevelt.  Still, generations of Northeast residents can beat the much vaunted Watson of Jeopardy! fame on the topic of presidential succession.  Their ready recall comes not so much from the history text but from years of walking and biking the hood.

The 2011 President’s Day Walk marks the third year of the neighborhood celebration – with future treks planned.  Though some might wish that President’s Day were celebrated after the snow and ice are also history, Northeast folks rise to the occasion to  honor their forebearers, learn some history, and to share the spirit of a welcoming community that has always thrived in Northeast Minneapolis.




Village Farmer’s Market 2/20/11 – CANCELLED

Due to the unending Winter of 2011 the Village Farmer’s Market scheduled for Sunday, February 20, has been postponed because of the anticipated blizzard.  It is tentatively re-scheduled for next weekend, weather permitting.

Margaret Mann Citation Honors Librarian Edward Swanson

Some weeks ago, when Edward Swanson died  prematurely, my first thought was to reflect on his contributions to the Quatrefoil Library and to our collective understanding of GLBT literature and writers. That tribute recalled a minor snippet of Edward’s contribution to the library profession he loved throughout his life.  (The rumor persists that he actually joined the Minnesota Library Association when he was still in high school!)

Recemt;u we have learned that the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), a division of the American Library Association, will honor Edward for his lifetime of professionalism by awarding him posthumously with the distinguished Margaret Mann Citation.  The Citation is conferred by the Cataloging and Classification Section of ALCTS. Too many acronyms, but the message is that Edward will receive a major award from the professional association he served so well.

In truth, the fine points of cataloging and classification have always intrigued me for their complexity.  I have long admired the commitment of librarians who choose cataloging and classification as their career path.  They exemplify uncanny understanding of and unswerving commitment to the vagaries of the inscrutable and unpredictable human being on a personal information quest.

The Margaret Mann Citation and Edward’s commitment to organizing information with the user in mind leads me now to learn more about the passion of these outstanding professionals.  This leads me to reflect on the ways that, in the rush to spew forth ever more information, the technology  revolution has seemed to render irrelevant that zeal for organization, access and the proclivities of the individual on an information quest.

My growing concern is that it is at our peril that we construct Digital Towers of Babel  destined to overwhelm and thus confound the hapless user. Useful as they may be, tags, full-text search engines and their endless progeny have yet to master human interaction with knowledge –  the skills, tools, and discernment of a librarian toiling behind the scenes to catalog and classify information and ideas for a community of users whose interests and search habits know no bounds.

As so I go back to contemplating the life and legacy of Margaret Mann.  Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1873 Mann was an independent learner – and. it would seem, an all round independent person.  After two years of study in the Department of Library Economy at the Armour Institute near Chicago, Mead stayed on to work at Armour, following the Institute as it was transferred to the University of Illinois at Springfield.

At the end of the 19th Century, Margaret was swept into the fray when, at the end of libraries experienced rapid change, moving from institutions that focused on organization and preservation to public resources that opened their doors and collections to the world at large. (Think Andrew Carnegie or Gratia Countryman!)

As libraries reached out, Margaret Mann moved up; in spite of her limited credentials she was recognized as an administrator and as a teacher who shared freely her knowledge, experience and perceptive interpretation of cataloging and classification.  To her rules were not ends in themselves, but well-wrought aids to assure standards and clear definitions, building blocks of today’s interoperability, shared resources, skills and communication in a digital environment.

At her core, Margaret Mann was driven by a motivation to share recorded and human information.  In fact, Mann spent most of her professional life, from 1926 until 1948, as a Professor of Library Science at the University of Michigan.  Under her tutelage, hundreds of graduates of the School of Library Studies experienced her vision and learned from her the elegant intricacies of describing and organizing information to assure retrievability. (That’s 21st talk for cataloging and classification).

During her time at Michigan Margaret Mann wrote prolifically on a broad range of topics including what was then known as “special librarianship” and today is called by whatever title works for HR professionals stymied by what to call an employee who locates, retrieves, evaluates, filters, tailors and otherwise makes timely and reliable information useful for management.

Mann also wrote about her personal interests including government publications, subject analysis and children’s literature.  Her magnum opus, was a textbook familiar to – though not necessarily beloved by – every graduate of a program in library or information science program.  Mann’s  Introduction to Cataloging and Classification, first published in 1930,  is a classic that remains today a major guide to the principles and philosophy of cataloging and classification.

Though she retired from teaching in 1938 Mann’s spirit lives on, best expressed in her own words.   Public service, Mann writes, is the goal towards which  “one turns his attention not to gratifying his own hunger for literature, but to the far broader task of studying, recording, and interpreting books so that they may reach the thousands of readers who are in search of reading matter of various kinds and for various persons.”

Mann’s mention of the book dates the quote.  Still her philosophy – and the contributions of those honored with the Margaret Mann Citation — meet the test of time.  Though information and telecommunications technology have reconfigured the format of recorded knowledge and redefined “ the task of studying, recording, and interpreting books” the challenge endures, to “reach the thousands of readers who are in search of reading matter of various kinds and for various persons.”

This was Edward Swanson’s  contribution to the profession of librarianship which was, in truth, his life’s work.  This, then, is the reason that his professional colleagues honor Edward, his professional forebearer, and a noble profession with the 2011 Margaret Meat Citation.

Doll Doctor Pays a House Call at Antiquified March 19

Do doll doctors make house calls?  Almost, it seems.  Doll lovers and collectors can meet the doll doctor on Saturday, March 19, when the Demi’s Doll Studio and Hospital will be in residence at Antiquified Antiquified, located in the historic Alamo Building, 1519 Central Avenue NE, in Northeast Minneapolis.

Demitra Gilbertson, doll doctor and designer, heads a list of doll experts including members of the Minnesota Doll Friends who will provide appraisals and share their knowledge of the history of dolls and doll collecting.  Barbie Rincon, an expert on vintage Barbie dolls, will be on hand for appraisals; she will also be selling Barbie clothes and accessories.

Antiquified will have on display and for sale a choice selection of dolls representing various doll eras.

Doll collectors and doll lovers of every age, along with their treasured doll friends,  are welcome to stop and shop, enjoy the display and sample doll-icious refreshments any time during the day.  Antiquified is open 10:00 am-5:30, pm other times by appointment.  Contact at 612 789 1989 or

Minnesota Public Interest Research Group at 40 – Update


At forty, the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) has encountered mood swings that range from ennui to euphoria.  Activist Monte Bute, long-time Metro State faculty member – and recipient of Metro State’s 2010 Alumnus Award – acknowledges that he, too, has gone through changes:

I was contemptuous of MPIRG when it was first created.   I was a revolutionary who denounced all reformist organization. I got a bit wiser about social change during my years as Director of Organizing for MPIRG from 1978 -82.  Students for a Democractic Society (SDS) was dead after a decade. MPIRG is alive and well after 40 years.  Who knew!

Executive Director Josh Winters, reflects on MPIRG’s maturing process, including growing pains, as a grassroots, non-partisan, nonprofit, student-directed organization.  The Minnesota PIRG, along with Oregon, was the first campus-based public interest research group in the nation.  Though the beginnings are often associated with Ralph Nader, Winters is quick to credit others, including Don Ross, who took a good idea and made it happen.  “A good idea is a good idea, but it takes people to do it,” Winters observes.  In this case the “people” were U of M students who collected over 25,000 signatures to form MPIRG on campus. The plan to fund development, including professional staff, with student activities fees seemed like a good idea at the time.

As the idea of grassroots and non-partisan involvement of students spread, activists on other  campuses collected over 50,000 signatures chapters sprang up statewide.  Marcia Avner who worked on the MPIRG staff from 1977-1983, credits local campus development to the fact that the organization “ensured that member campuses had opportunities for individuals to engage in a wide range of campaigns – from working for tax credits for investments in alternative energy (the early days of the green movement) to campaigning for passage an Equal Rights Amendment.  Students led the way on energy reforms, transformation in the utility industry which was compelled to consider conservation a core energy strategy, and recycling.”

Still, there were growing pains:  In spite of, or perhaps because of, the organization’s expanded outreach, MPIRG faced obstacles, particularly in the late 1990’s when campus conservative organizations launched protests against the use of students’ activity fees to fund a “liberal student organization” that opponents maintained “have been popping up at colleges across the country”  Pro-Family News expressed the anti-PIRG charges from like-minded campus groups:  “

There are groups promoting the homosexual agenda, groups with radical environmental concerns, groups dedicated to Marxism, groups engaged in alternative and non-traditional religious activities, and many more.  What is more disturbing than the mere existence of these groups is their ability to get funding from general student activity fees.  Liberal administrators have condoned this, just as they have condoned the establishment of radical academic courses and curricula.  With the blessing of administrators, and with the ability to dominate the student fee distribution process at many campuses, these liberal groups have gone virtually unched for years.  AT the same time, conservative groups and traditional Christian groups have often been blocked from receiving student service fee funding.”   Though the U of M did institute a refusable/refundable policy, MPIRG got the full blast of the conservatives’ concerns.  One administrator from the an MPIRG campus advised the U of M Board of Regents that “the funding scheme the University allows MPIRG to use relies heavily on student naivete” which he describes in detail.  The controversy garnered headlines and public outcry that included Governor Arne Carlson’s charge that “MPIRG clearly is a political and partisan lobby and ought not to receive favorite-funding status from the University of Minnesota.  If that is the case, then conservative activities should receive equal status.”

In 2006 Marty Andrade posted his reflections on “The Ten Great Moments in Minnesota Conservative History” on The Minnesota Republic blog..  Under the headline “Tim Pawlenty Leads Conservative Takeover of MPIRG” Andrade tells a story that mixes mandatory fees, a disputed election of MPIRG officers, and the emergence of a young politician. Andrade writes:

MPIRG, a left wing activist group, has been stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from tens of thousands of unwilling and often cash strapped students for decades now.  You see, for the longest time the U just assumed every student wanted to pay the optional MPIRG fee and thus either automatically charged you the fee (before online registration) or automatically checked a box which charged you the fee.  If you wanted to not pay the fee or get a refund you had to jump through hoops and otherwise hassle yourself.  And it was even worse before the days of online registration.  In 1983 a group of College Republicans decided to run for positions on the MPIRG board of directors.  When they were elected the decided to do away with the MPIRG fee.  A battle ensued between the local MPIRG board and the statewide board and the battle landed in court…Sadly, the court took MIRPG’s [sict] side in the case.,,,The fight against MPIRG started over twenty years ago and continues to this day, thanks to a group of College Republicans which included a student who became our current governor.

During the ongoing celebration of MPIRG’s legacy members, alumni and advocates affirm the adage “no pain, no gain”   What Winters sees is a perpetual state of change matched by an ability to cope based on experience. The MPIRG leader overflows with ideas as he looks to the future – how to harness today’s social media without losing the essential “hands on” essence of the organization.   Winters speaks enthusiastically about community/campus initiatives, e.g. the current approach to mandatory business recycling in Minneapolis.

Another priority for tomorrow’s MPIRG is research, particularly in-depth and long-term research. At present, for example, MPIRG is initiating an extensive survey of photo ID requirements on voting.  Another ongoing longitudinal study focuses on a statewide survey of sexual violence and assault on campus; the report of that study is due out next fall.

Today some 70,000 Minnesota college students are members of MPIRG; the ranks augmented by hundreds of community volunteers, including many MPIRG alumni.

MPIRG operates on nine campuses throughout the state:  Augsburg College, Carleton College, St. Catherine University, Hamline University, Macalester College, U of M-Duluth, U of M-Morris, U of M-Twin Cities, and William Mitchell College of Law.

The individual campus-based websites and the media reflect diverse campus initiatives, e.g.: MPIRG students at U of M-Morris were key players in the campus-wide green movement while at the TC’s campus some MPIRG students are dimming lights and duking it out in competitive recycling efforts while others have fought sweat-shop apparel at campus bookstores.  Other campuses are grappling with statewide issues of green transportation, health care for all, and affordable higher education.

As always, MPIRG takes a lead in voter-related issues including voter ID, voter registration, early primaries and students’ concerns that politicians curb youth issues in their efforts to garner votes from the growing population of elderly constituents who will are conditioned to show up on election day.

Looking ahead as MPIRG turns 40 Winters poses a compelling question:  Just how did a small cadre of students, volunteers and others create a statewide – actually national – network in a pre-social media environment?   The answer, he affirms, must be based on a deep commitment to grassroots organizing coupled with a shared vision to give voice to everyone.  The challenge, he concludes, is to harness today’s social media without losing the essential ‘hands on’ essence of the organization.

For her part, Avner, who is widely recognized as a vocal, informed and respected voice for social justice, emphasizes the influence of role models and mentors – including heroes such as Paul Wellstone– in her tribute to  the leadership development opportunities that MPIRG provides staff and students.  Avner attests to the fact that she herself “would not have enjoyed a career of policy advocacy if MPIRG had not set me on the path.”

As Monte Bute would put it, “Who knew!”





Free Film Series Explores Women’s Human Rights Issues

Filmmaker Jean Kilbourne is a household world in the homes of many young women, their mothers and grandmothers, whose antennae have been tuned to sexist advertising by Kilbourne’s powerful films. A dear friend would describe this awareness of the image of women in the media as “perceptive paranoia”

As part of their Women’s Human Rights Film Series, Advocates for Human Rights will join with The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library to present Kilbourne’s recent film, Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women, a film for which Kilbourne enthusiasts have waited ten long years.

The program is Tuesday, February 22, 7:00 p.m. at the Merriam Park Branch Library, Marshall and Fairview in St. Paul.   Following the film there will be a discussion of the film and the issues led by Kathy Seipp and Anna Donnelly, Women’s Program Associates at The Advocates.

Promotional materials for Killing Us Softly 4 describe the film in this way:

Jean Kilbourne takes a fresh look at how advertising traffics in distorted and destructive ideals of femininity. The film marshals a range of new print and television advertisements to lay bare a stunning pattern of damaging gender stereotypes — images and messages that too often reinforce unrealistic, and unhealthy, perceptions of beauty, perfection, and sexuality. By bringing Kilbourne’s groundbreaking analysis up to date, Killing Us Softly 4 stands to challenge a new generation of students to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about popular culture and its relationship to sexism, eating disorders, and gender violence.

“Africa Rising”, third in the Women’s Rights Film Series, explores the conditions that shape the lives  of African girls who are subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) at an early age.  The film travels through remote villages of Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Somalia and Tanzania. Along with poignant stories of girls affected by FGM the film shows how courageous and creative African women and men are putting an end to this human rights violation.

The film will be followed by a discussion led by Beatriz Menanteau, Staff Attorney in the Women’s Human Rights Program at The Advocates for Human Rights.

The third and last film in the Women’s Human Rights Film Series will be shown March 31, 2011, 7:00 p.m. at Metropolitan State University Library, Ecolab Room, 645 East Seventh Street, on St. Paul’s East Side.

Music, Herbs and a Touch of Spring at the St. Anthony Winter Market

Winter marketing is about the only thing “hot” in Minnesota this year – and the Village Farmer’s Market winter venue turns up the heat this Sunday, February 20, with an afternoon of good listening to spice up the culinary treats.

The big draw is the food, of course.  There are fresh potted herbs (chives, basil, sage, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, mint) and possibly some container-size heirloom tomatoes and peppers.

Once again Lily’s will be serving their famous French crepes.

The first musical set, 11:00-1:00,  features the old time songs and tunes of Bob and Lynn Dixon.  From 1:00 – 3:00 it’s Greenwood Tree with Bill Cagley on guitar, mandolin and Irish drum, and Stu Janis on the hammered dulcimer and bowed psaltery

The Winter Market is at the St. Anthony Community Center, 3301 Silver Lake Road in St. Anthony.  The Market will be open on the third Sunday of March, April and May, 11:00 AM-3:00 PM.

Women and Girls Gather at the Capitol for President’s Day

Though we have yet to elect a woman President or Governor the day will come.  And the women and girls gathered in the Capitol Complex next Monday, February 21,  can claim their fair of credit.  The visits of two energetic delegations are sponsored by the Minnesota Women’s Consortium (MWC.)

For over a decade President’s Day marks the day on which the presidents of women’s organizations gather at the State Capitol to identify and support issues of concern to Minnesota women.  Attendees will deliver a joint statement to the Legislature;  they will then meet with Congressional delegates and the press at 12:30 p.m. in Capitol Room 318.

As Abigail Adams might have admonished her husband John, don’t forget the young ladies.  They’ll be there in numbers.  On the same day Minnesota girls age 13-18 will participate in the 9th annual Girls Rock! The Capitol event is co-sponsored by the MWC and Girls International Forum.  There’s an introduction to political leadership and activism in the Great Hall at the Capitol followed by a tour, mock voting, a mock committee meeting and a reception with women legislators.

A first this year will be the participation of 20 college women from Bahrain, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates.  The college students will teach the girls about women’s leadership in their home countries – and undoubtedly face some tough questions posed by girls who have learned a great deal about the older students’ homelands in the past few weeks.

Bonnie Watkins, Director of the MWC, eagerly awaits the visitors, the political action and the photo ops with the teen politicos whom she observes “are incredibly bright and confident, and …will be running our state in no time at all.”  The day will come – and with the training and contacts offered by the MWC it will come soon.

For President’s Day info contact Bonnie Watkins ( or 651 398 3686

For more information re  Girls Rock! Call Erin 651 228 0338.