Monthly Archives: July 2011

Minnesota Center for Book Arts Welcomes Artists to the Book Art Biennial, July 30-31

For book artists everywhere the Book Art Biennial at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts brings joy unfettered – immersion in the time-honored art form, time with colleagues who share the passion for the art, and a chance to revel in the beauty of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and the Open Book. And so they will gather in Minneapolis for “Pacing the Page”, the Book Art Biennial, on July 30 and 31.

Planners of the conference write about their art in compelling terms:

The strength of a sequential narrative cannot be denied.  Artists’ books, like no other art form, have the ability to cultivate meaningful and intimate relationships with viewers and readers through the development, refinement and advancement of content over time.

A lovely description of a unique art form kept alive and shared at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

The conference includes workshops, lecturers, conversations and exhibitions, all of which will explore the power of “pacing which the planners define as the “structuring of sequence, the manipulation of rhythm and the significance of physical engagement in contemporary artists’ books.

Keynote speaker, Gary Frost, brings decades of experience in a changing profession.  One example of his many accomplishments is his authorship of Future of the Book, a blog that shares the latest thinking on reading behavior, traditional book use in the context of digital delivery systems, library preservation and book art.

The conference includes a potpourri of intriguing activities.  Leaders in the profession will present numerous workshops.  And there is time for fun, especially the MCBA prize gala, a high point of the gathering.

The MCBA is located in the Open Book Building near downtown Minneapolis at 1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415. .  For more information re. the schedule,  roster and bios of speakers, registration and more,  check the MCBA website.  Email mcba@mnbooks.org or phone 612 215 2520.

It is an honor for local artists and book lovers to join MCBA in welcoming participants in this extraordinary gathering.  We  thank visiting book artists and hope you enjoy your stay as we enjoy your art.

Northeasters Cool Off at Gatherings toTalk Business, Bike Trails and the Riverfront

In the next couple of weeks two priority items appear in close proximity on the public agenda in Northeast Minneapolis.  In addition, the Board of Directors of Windom Park Citizens in Action will hold an important meeting in the neighborhood.

So, dig under the heaps of swimwear and the accoutrement of Summer – the end (of summer) is in sight, time to get down to BUSINESS!  Ease in with some cool topics discussed in cool environs that will make you forget the heat!

The Windom Park Citizens in Action (WPCIA) Board of Directors will meet Tuesday,July 26, 7:00 p.m. at the association’s office, 2314 Lowry Avenue Northeast.  The meeting is open to all; Board members invite community members to get the season off to a good start by participating in this and the following gatherings:

RiverFIRST is the sole topic on the agenda on Thursday, July 28, 7 p.m. at the Bottineau Park building, 2000 2nd Street NE.  The gathering is actually a community meeting in which attendees will participate in a visioning process for the upper riverfront in Northeast/North Minneapolis.  The session is sponsored by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.  Because the residents of the City of Lakes does share the Mississippi with the Saintly City those who are concerned might want to peruse a recent report from an 18-month planning study for the Great River Park.  This is St. Paul’s initiative to increase accessibility to St. Paul’s seventeen miles of Mississippi riverfront property.  The complete plan is available on the web (www.greatriverpark.org.)

Come early for a slot on the bike rack for the East Side Bike Summit.  It’s Monday, August 1, 6-7 p.m. at the Ritz Theater, 345 1113th Avenue NE (just East of University)  City and County staff assigned to develop bike trains on the East will be on hand to report ad to listen.  The agenda includes these developments/plans:

ü     18th Avenue NE, Phase 2-Monroe Street NE to the Quarry Shopping Center – should there be a tunnel under the railroad tracks?

ü     Central Avenue – 37th Avenue NE to the Mississippi – Update

ü     East Hennepin and 1st Avenue NE bike lane study – Update

ü     5th Avenue NE to Broadway, Broadway to Lowry – Idea of using empty railroad tracks from Scherer Brothers lumber site as future North/South bike trail

ü     Marshall/Main Street bike lane – Update

ü     1st Avenue NE to Broadway, Broadway to Lowry, idea of using empty railroad tracks from Scherer Bros. umber site as future north/south bike trail.

Questions? Contact Michael Rainville 612 378 0431

Busses and Bargains at the Fair

You’re probably way ahead on this – you’ve got your woodworking entry polished, selected the recipe for your to-die-for soufflé and have combed and clipped all of the press coverage of new taste treats.  It’s State Fair time!

Time to get practical now –   The earlybird bus bargain tickets went on sale July 20th – buy before August 25 at $4 –kids four and under still ride free.  Buy a group ticket and get four round-trip rides $15.  Buy online or get information about sales outlets at metrotransit.org/statefair.

Shutter service operates throughout the Fair, August 25-September 5.  Rides are every 15 minutes from some sites, every 30 minutes from others.  You’ll find a full list of park and ride to the Fair sites on the website.

If you just can’t wait – or you want to practice bus riding, know that Metro Transit is offering free rides to three art fairs the first weekend in August, August 5-7.  Pick up and drop off at the Loring Park, Powderhorn and Uptown Art Fairs.  Download a pass at http://metrotransit.org/artpass

Chinese Photography on Display at Nash Gallery

China Insights: Unsettling Consequences” is the provocative title of a group exhibition of contemporary photography from The People’s Republic of China, opening August 2-25, 2011 at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the Regis Center for Art on the University of Minnesota campus.  The exhibit includes dramatic photographs of seven photographers from mainland China: Chen Yuan Zhong, Hua Er, Jia Yu Chuan, Li Nan, Yang Yan Kang, Yu Haibo, an Zhang Xinmin.  Each has undertaken the creation of long-term documentation of one or more emerging or vanishing aspects of Chinese culture in contemporary China.

Six of the photographers are based in Shenzhen, the first of the Special Opportunity Zones established by China in the post-Mao era as magnets for entrepreneurs and educated people of all fields.  As recently as forty years ago the city was a quiet fishing and farming area; today Shenzhen is a booming metropolitan of over 13 million mostly young people.

Details of the exhibit are available online.

The Katherine E. Nash Gallery is open 11 an to 6 pm Tuesday through Saturday.  On Tuesday, April 11, 4:00 p.m. A.D. Coleman, one of the curators of the exhibit will offer a public lecture on contemporary Chinese photography.  The lecture is followed by an opening reception.  The Gallery is located at 425 21st Avenue South.

All programs and events at the Regis Center for Art are free and open to the public.

For additional information call 612 6242 6518.

 

 

Kick the Can – Diversionary Tactic to Distract from “Reform” Strategy?

One thing about kicking the can down the road, it’s a public occurrence and it’s noisy.  So I’m thinking the Minnesota Legislature is not really kicking the can down any road.  That’s a diversionary metaphor constructed to keep our eye on the can and definitely not the true game plan.

Word on the streets is this: one of the reform bills in the legislative hopper creates a Commission to review all state programs to determine if they should continue to exist. This Commission is to be exempt from both the Open Meeting Law and the Data Practices Act.

No attribution at this point so it’s conjecture based on keen observation and long experience. Still, after the closed sessions – and buildings – of the past few days, Minnesotans should be afraid, be very afraid.

The Data Practices Act and Open Meeting Law of the State of Minnesota are models based on and reflective of Minnesotans’ deep held conviction over time that elected officials are representatives of the people – all the people. Laws and regulations are not arbitrary, capricious or whimsical. relics of another time that can be disposed at will by political powers and/or pawns.  Laws are laws that apply across the board, even to those who find them onerous and annoying….

Though some lament that the public doesn’t speak up, the reasons are obvious. The public is angry – an intense, deep anger that eats away rather than inciting to action.  The public is weary – literally.  Working 2-3 jobs, bearing the brunt of increased productivity, commuting through insane traffic, lack of control over today, much less tomorrow, worry about kids not getting an education, living to old age with no income, losing a house or a car or a job – these things make mere mortals weary. The fact that there is nowhere to turn, makes us feeling powerless – the vacuum invites anger..

The public is also hurt, betrayed by individuals and a system in whom we had put our trust – not just elected officials but the press, education, the over-reaching conquest of big business.  Hurt leads to anger.   Repressed anger breeds lethargy.  We grasp at ways to escape the overwhelmingness of our lack of power.  Pain thwarts positive action necessary to alter what seems inexorable.

Anger, hurt, betrayal; loss of hope, weariness, worry – all lead to apathy.  Powerlessness and lack of hope render Minnesotans ill-equipped to “take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.”  Individuals feel like Davids against the impervious Goliath(s).  Collaborative efforts crumble as organizations themselves experience the impotence of funding cuts coupled with stony silence from decision makers – fueled by dread fear of political retribution that quells any inclination to advance a controversial position.

The first step is to admit there is a problem.  Incontrovertible evidence abounds.  Individuals and organizations – nonprofits, advocates, communities of faith, the press, small business, farmers, local officials and a host of others need to admit a shared problem:  lack of access to know, much less get involved with, what’s going on.

The next step is to claim the common ground – including a legacy of good government – develop common language, strategies and a united front that serves not special interests but Minnesotans.

Open government is the sine qua non – a manageable and immediate priority.  Minnesotans have experienced and assume the open government model; we have laws on the books;  transparency transcends borders whether they be based on political party, geography, income, ethnicity, citizen status, gender or creed.

Maybe we should let the short-sighted politicos kick the life out of their little can.  The committed will take the higher  road  – they will not kick  but will recycle that can, extract its true worth, reclaim the inherent value in the principle of open government.  Kick the Can should go back to being a game played by idle juveniles while the public moves on to behaving like grown-ups with the will and spirit to claim our rights, beginning with the right to know.

Those Who Can’t “Kick the Can”

All sides use the same macho male term to describe what just happened at the Minnesota Legislature – the other guys “kicked the can down the road.” Girls generally conjure  more elegant and precise terms to describe the political escape tactic.  At the nub, kicking the can down the road is a rudimentary way to delay the resolution of a problem in the hope that it will either disappear or, better yet, come back to haunt the incumbent in next election.

When I realized that hearing the phrase one more time would drive me round the bend, I took therapeutic action.  English major that I am I often seek solace by tracking the origin of an expression that is inane, inaccurate, or and just plain ugly.

Though the game Kick the Can has long kept poor kids out of serious trouble, use of the term by the elite is relatively recent.  (One can only surmise how the phrase migrated up the classes.)

One observer holds that the expression first appeared in print in 1988 in William Safire’s “On Language” column in the New York Times.  Safire quoted the use of the metaphor by arms negotiator Max Kampelman.  Five years later Safire brings it up again:  “A reporter asked US Secretary of State Colin Powell, returning from a trip to the Middle East, about the ‘road map’ agreement.  “Isn’t it just kicking the can farther down the road, putting off the most difficult issues, particularly settlements?

As always, Powell was ready:  “At least we have a can in the road,” replied Powell, reared in New York and familiar with the children’s game.  “The can is in the road now, and we will start moving it down the road, perhaps with little kicks as opposed to a 54-yarder.”

From there on the metaphor goes mainstream – when President Clinton wanted to resolve Middle East problems sooner rather than later, he lamented that for “some foreign policy problems the answer is to kick the can down the road and wait for them to get better and hope time takes care of them.”  Jim Lehrer wrote that he was “too old to play kick the can anymore.”  Diplomats found kicking the can an easy shorthand phrase.   In 2005 political analyst Ross K. Baker uses, then defines, the term: “They kicked the can down the road.  They basically postponed a crisis and set up the predicate for another one in the future.” (Washington Post, May 24 2005

President Obama came out of the chute armed with the recycled image.  Referring to his efforts to seek a bipartisan solution to Social Security solvency the President stressed “What we have done is kicked this can down the road.  We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further (New York Times,  2-2-23-2009

In this political crisis, Minnesota solons have embraced the metaphor as they have eschewed the burden of can possession.  Their over-use of a cant expression suggests a lamentable degree of diction-deprivation (diction accurately defined here as choice of words.”

Language matters.  The kick the can metaphor is hackneyed and meaningless.  Could we change the political dynamic by drafting a resolution to make “Kick the Can Down the Road” the Official Metaphor of the State of Minnesota – we’d probably never hear the phrase again – for one thing, we would spend eons determining the road down which the can would be kicked…

Deming Heights Delights!

Looking for some summer fun?  Try packing camera and maybe a snatch of buttery Scandinavian treats for a climb up Norwegian Hill.  It’s on St. Anthony Parkway near Fillmore in the peaceful and shaded depths of Deming Heights Park, a ten acre jewel of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Highways system.  You’ll be viewing Minneapolis from one of the several vantage points purported to be the city’s highest peak, 963 feet above sea level.  There are, of course, rival claims, including one that Waite Park School at 1800 34th Avenue rests at the pinnacle of the city; other locals aver that Johnson Street NE and 34th Avenue tops Norwegian Hill by a good ten feet!

No mind, on a clear day the legendary Norwegian Hill  offers a fine opportunity to see forever.  Though one can only surmise the origins of the name of this locally famous pinnacle everyone in Northeast seems to know just where it is and why it’s worth the trip.

The origins of Deming Heights Park are easier to trace.  Portius C. Deming, for whom the park is named, was a park commissioner in the last years of the 19th Century and again from 1909-1919..  When the land for St. Anthony Parkway, including today’s Deming Heights, was acquired in 1913 the park was first known as Grandview Park.  It appears that Commissioner Deming thought the name aptly described the panorama.  Apt as that name may have been, the elegant wooded area was re-named to honor the commissioner himself when he died in 1930.

The recognition reflects Commissioner Deming’s commitment to the development of the city, particularly his persistent support of the North and Northeast sections of the Grand Rounds.  Capturing the vision of the commissioners and the genius of landscape architect Horace Cleveland with the informed support of community leaders Charles Loring and William Folwell the Grand Rounds thrive today as a hallmark of the City of Lakes.

Suffice to say, Portius Deming deserves the naming honor conferred on him.  Construction of the Grand Rounds is a story of vision, yes, but also of intense politics, bartering, badgering, public/private sector negotiation, finances, land acquisition/donation, weather, equipment and more. This snippet from the definitive history of the parkway areas of Minneapolis offers a glimpse of the day-to-day business with which Deming and his fellow commissioners grappled.

Through the relocation of University Avenue, the State Highway Department has brought about a very satisfactory grade separation with the avenue passing underneath the boulevard. On September 25, 1924, the various commercial clubs of Southeast and Northeast Minneapolis staged a gals parade and dedication exercises at Columbia Park, marking the formal opening of St. Anthony Boulevard.

The entire St. Anthony Boulevard project, exclusive of the Armour Tract, was financed as follows:  3/9 city bonds, 2/9 city-wide assessments, and  4.9 benefited district assessment.  Many favorable conditions during the construction period, such as available equipment, reduced cost of material, etc, made it possible not only to keep the total expenditure well within the estimates, but permitted the purchase of additional lots east of the parkway intersection at Central Avenue and at Deming Heights, which has greatly enhanced those sections of the Parkway

*It’s a story the depths of which I have yet not plumbed though it remains a goal for future posts to tell more of the story of the vision of Horace Cleveland and of the Commissioners that shaped the seven parkways that comprise today’s Grand Rounds.

Looking for some summer fun?  Try packing camera and maybe a snatch of buttery Scandinavian treats for a climb up Norwegian Hill.  It’s on St. Anthony Parkway near Fillmore in the peaceful and shaded depths of Deming Heights Park, a ten acre jewel of the Grand Rounds system.  You’ll be viewing Minneapolis from one of the several vantage points purported to be the city’s highest peak, 963 feet above sea level.  There are, of course, rival claims, including one that Waite Park School at 1800 34th Avenue rests at the pinnacle of the city; other locals aver that Johnson Street NE and 34th Avenue tops Norwegian Hill by a good ten feet!

No mind, on a clear day the legendary Norwegian Hill  offers a fine opportunity to see forever.  Though one can only surmise the origins of the name of this locally famous pinnacle everyone in Northeast seems to know just where it is and why it’s worth the trip.

The origins of Deming Heights Park are easier to trace.  Portius C. Deming, for whom the park is named, was a park commissioner in the last years of the 19th Century and again from 1909-1919..  When the land for St. Anthony Parkway, including today’s Deming Heights, was acquired in 1913 the park was first known as Grandview Park.  It appears that Commissioner Deming thought the name aptly described the panorama.  Apt as that name may have been, the elegant wooded area was re-named to honor the commissioner himself when he died in 1930.

The recognition reflects Commissioner Deming’s commitment to the development of the city, particularly his persistent support of the North and Northeast sections of the Grand Rounds.  Capturing the vision of the commissioners and the genius of landscape architect Horace Cleveland with the informed support of community leaders Charles Loring and William Folwell the Grand Rounds thrive today as a hallmark of the City of Lakes.

Suffice to say, Portius Deming deserves the naming honor conferred on him.  Construction of the Grand Rounds is a story of vision, yes, but also of intense politics, bartering, badgering, public/private sector negotiation, finances, land acquisition/donation, weather, equipment and more. This snippet from the definitive history of the parkway areas of Minneapolis offers a glimpse of the day-to-day business with which Deming and his fellow commissioners grappled.

Through the relocation of University Avenue, the State Highway Department has brought about a very satisfactory grade separation with the avenue passing underneath the boulevard. On September 25, 1924, the various commercial clubs of Southeast and Northeast Minneapolis staged a gals parade and dedication exercises at Columbia Park, marking the formal opening of St. Anthony Boulevard

The entire St. Anthony Boulevard project, exclusive of the Armour Tract, was financed as follows:  3/9 city bonds, 2/9 city-wide assessments, and  4.9 benefited district assessment.  Many favorable conditions during the construction period, such as available equipment, reduced cost of material, etc, made it possible not only to keep the total expenditure well within the estimates, but permitted the purchase of additional lots east of the parkway intersection at Central Avenue and at Deming Heights, which has greatly enhanced those sections of the Parkway

*It’s a story the depths of which I have yet not plumbed though it remains a goal for future posts to tell more of the story of the vision of Horace Cleveland and of the Commissioners that shaped the seven parkways that comprise today’s Grand Rounds.

1950 Crash Shook Minneapolis – Victims Memorialized August 27

Mary Alice Kennedy Yearbook Photo

Aging though they may be Baby Boomers jog down Minnehaha Parkway with 21st Century accoutrement that obliterate the story of one terrible day on the Parkway – March 7, 1950.  On that day Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 307, a Martin 202 twin-prop passenger plane, departed Washington, DC, stopped at Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Madison en route to Winnipeg via Fargo and Grand Forks.   Unable to land in Rochester because of bad weather, the plane headed for the Twin Cities.

The plane was coming in for a landing at Wold-Chamberlain in a typical Minnesota snow storm.  Damaged after hitting a 78 foot flagpole at Fort Snelling cemetery the plane circled, lost a wing near Washburn Water Tower then , at 9:00 p.m., the plane crashed into the home of the Franklin Doughty family who lived 1116 West Minnehaha at Minnehaha Parkway and Emerson.

On that day 10 passengers, three crew members and two Minneapolis children asleep in their beds died a terrible death. [list of the deceased in the Minneapolis Star, March 8, 1950, pp 1&20)]  Two Doughty children, Tommy, age 8, and his 10 year old sister Janet died.  Their older sister Dianne and their parents escaped the flaming house.

Among the others who died were three crew members, including stewardess Mary Alice Kennedy,  a 194o graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Paul.

On March 8 the Minneapolis Star covered the news event in painful detail – the nose of the plane buried in the frame structure, the house and two adjacent homes on fire, thousands of gawkers braving the snowstorm, the collapse of the Doughty home.  Still, for decades the tragic story and the pain of the survivors – perhaps because it was so tragic – seemed to be forgotten by the public.  As Bill Hudson of WCCO/CBS wrote recently, “that could soon change.”  The change reflects the efforts of former Minneapolis Councilman Mark Kaplan who listened to the stories – and took action.

Kaplan recognized that the horror of that crash needed to be known.   He approached People for Parks for assistance to manage a project – an initiative to build public awareness by raising $5000 to erect an historic marker on the site of the crash.  Next step was approval by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the memorial plaque.

The public, particularly those who knew the victims or remember the tragic event, are welcome to participate in dedication of the memorial which is set for August 27 at the site of the crash.  Time TBA.

Kaplan is clear about his intent in undertaking the effort to memorialize the victims of the 1950 crash:  “Our next generation, when they’re walking up and down the parkway, might have the chance to read what happened, think about it, learn about it and have a greater sense of the history of things that happened in south Minneapolis.”

Minneapolis – City of Lakes, Learners, Clubs and Their Records

Busy bibliophiles and lifelong learners trying to squeeze in a quick read or a weekly study club take note – you are joining generations of intellectually curious and engaged Minneapolitans who shared the pleasure of a good read or a deep thought with friends and neighbors.

Discovering the Collection:  Consider the scores of boxes that cram the shelves of the Clubs & Organizations Collection in the James K. Hosmer Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Library.  The collection reveals much of the city’s history through the largely unpublished legacy of neighborhood and professional groups that thrived in an earlier day.  Within the hundreds of archival boxes are the scrapbooks, directories, minutes, ledgers, programs, letters and ephemera that tell the story of the city’s social, learning and professional organizations dating from the mid-nineteenth century.

Best of all, library staff and supporters have created a beautifully annotated index of the contents of those boxes.  The indispensable guide provides a thumbnail sketch of each organization and an inventory of the treasures buried in the archives.

Perusing the Online Inventory:  The good news is that the well annotated index is available online where you can learn a good deal about the club before you attack the original files.  The index provides an overview of nearly 200 organizations, their mission, officers, membership, years of operation, what they read and discussed, where they met, and anything else you could have ever wanted to know about the famed study and social groups of an earlier time – the roots of which live on in this city of reading groups, neighborhood councils, ethnic gatherings and just plain clubs of every conceivable stripe.

These snippets from the files what your curiosity to dig deeper:

  • The Prospect Park Study Club, founded in the tradition of other Federation of Womens Clubs, discussed current interest and academic topics, with programs presented by club members.  The five (huge) boxes cover the Study Club’s doings from 1896 to 2001.
  • Or consider the Ramblers, folks who liked to travel and to discuss the “topography, art, literature, and music of different cultures.  Those files cover 1896 to 1949.
  • No surprise, the Saturday Lunch Club, 1927-1952, was an all-male upscale club founded by Stiles P. Jones (1862-1920), a prominent Twin Cities newsman.  The five boxes of club records list the membership which includes many familiar names while the list of speakers includes some of the nation’s most prominent leaders – W.E.B.DuBois, Clarence Darrow, William Jennings Bryan, Louis D.  Is it any wonder the city created a reputation for engagement and big picture thinking?

Active Minneapolitans didn’t think deep thoughts all the time, though – The collection includes the files of the Kennel Club, the Apollo Club (1895), the first male chorus, the Hostesses, founded in 1898 to make arrangements for a Ball, with the idea of making them a permanent social event each winter, and then there is the Lake Harriet Yacht Club, founded “to promote the physical and mental culture and the social interests of members.”

On a personal note, one issue that strikes me at first blush is that the majority of the files reflect the stories of women’s clubs – the question in my mind is whether there were more women who wanted to read good literature, discuss history, world affairs or social concerns — or did these women just keep their files in better order?

You can bury yourself for untold hours in the online inventory online – I know from experience.  If you don’t have a home computer, your neighborhood library offers a good option.  You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, and you’ll develop a keen appreciation of intellectual and social vitality that shaped today’s cultural, social, political, and recreational profile.

Exploring the Collection:  When you’ve focused on clubs that call out for further study, you’ll pine to dig into those file boxes and folders.  The James K. Hosmer Special Collection is housed in elegant and temperature controlled splendor at the Minneapolis Central Library, 4th floor, behind the ornate carved arched entryway. (the archway was transported originally from the late lamented Library at 10th Hennepin from whence it has migrated over time to its present site in this ultra-21st Century setting.)

And then the fun begins!

  • First and always, call ahead  (612 657-8200)  to give staff time to pull the files you seek – it seems like magic but in fact it’s the result of a skilled and extraordinarily committed staff that runs miles to gather the files from their secure location.
  • Assuming you called ahead, you’ll find materials waiting for you – in this case, archival boxes filled with files maintained by the club in their day or a sheaf of envelopes filled with carefully dated clippings and photos – always a delightful surprise.
  • Then marinate your mind in the stories that leap from the often hand-written notes, membership lists, minutes, and other treasures that divulge the stories of the club about which you want to learn more.
  • If you need a coffee break (1st floor) or have to leave the Library, tell staff and your materials will be waiting for you next trip (assuming it’s soon.)
  • If you need photocopies, you’ll find a low cost and efficient copier that takes coins and even gives change.  If you want to scan something, talk with staff.  Tip:  you will need to copy anything you want to take with you – nothing in the Special Collections Library circulates.
  • Suggestion:  Leave yourself time to browse the stacks.  Though what’s on the open stacks is a smidgeon of the archives’ holdings there are unexpected finds.  If you’re interested in Minneapolis clubs you’ll want to peruse the shelves of the Minneapolis Collection.

My personal hopes:

1) That this small snippet whets your mental appetite to learn more about the history of this city – the neighborhood leaders,  special interest proponents, ethnic groups,  readers and writers, politicians and good government advocates, education supporters and others who took time and made the effort to think big thoughts about their era and about the future.

2) That I can and do make time to plumb the depths of many of these energetic organizations.  My plan is to start with learning all I can about the Polanie Club, a social club founded in 1927 and still going strong today.  The Club was established by twelve young women who wanted to learn more about, share and preserve their Polish culture.  Polanie, meaning ‘people of the plains, aptly describes their interest in the Polish language, literature, music, food, history, art, folklore and more.  The Polanie Club has played a significant role in preserving the Polish legacy which is so much a part of my adopted Northeast neighborhood.  I can’t wait to learn more and to visit the incredible Twin Cities Polish Festival again this year – it’s August 13-14 on the Mississippi Riverfront!

3) That readers will focus on a club that peaks their fancy, check the online inventory, explore the files, interpret and employ 21st Century tools to share the stories with 21st Century Minneapolitans.

 

 

 

Redistricting – Minnesotans’ Next Challenge: Not Just for Insiders Anymore

The time to act is when the balls are in the air!  In Minnesota, that time is now.  For starts, the Legislature hasn’t taken action on the Shutdown Settlement yet.  Still the Settlement, if it is accepted, doesn’t really settle the Big Issues – like redistricting….All that time and energy will be re-directed to carving up the political profile of the state.  The balls are in the air – will the public and The Press be as tuned in to the redistricting process as we all have been to the Shutdown?  Or will the lines be drawn as they always have been, behind closed doors.

It’s a fact that fifty states will be redistricting so the North Star State won’t be enjoying the national spotlight.  It’s also true that re-districting is a tedious process traditionally managed by insider politicos with extensive political savvy and ferocious partisan motivation.  In recent times, technology has offered untold options for political mapmakers to tweak the numbers that shape the politics.

There’s a new system that promises to give hapless voters a chance.  The Public Mapping Project supports interactive redistricting. An individual or group – neighborhood, advocacy group, book club (if you’re that sort of book club), political subdivision or political party  —  can get set up a site to allow an individual or a number of people to draw and evaluate potential redistricting map onlines.

There’s a good intro on the project website where you can also check demos of the software;  it seems the software is available without cost at this point.  The Public Mapping Project notes that the Midwest Democracy Network will be providing public access to the software for Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  A check of the Midwest Democracy Network was inconclusive, but it’s worth staying in touch – their website lists the following Minnesota organizations as partners:  Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, League of Women Voters of Minnesota, Heartland Democracy, Common Cause and TakeAction Minnesota.

The Public Mapping Project website also offers an excellent bibliography of print and media resources, many of which are available online.  Other sources include Americans for Redistricting Reform and resources suggested by the Minnesota Legislature’s  Geographic Information Services.  The Census also manages a site specifically focused on redistricting and the 2010 Census.   The Census Bureau also manages a site specifically focused on redistricting;  Find Strength in Numbers as http://www.census.gov/rdo/pdf/StrengthInNumbers2010.pdf

Those who want to review the history of redistricting, specifically, in Minnesota, should start with the Legislative Reference Library that spots and keeps the state’s political record for the Legislature and for all Minnesotans.

On Monday, July 18, the Brookings Institution will present a Status Report on Congressional Redistricting.  A panel of experts will review the results coming in from the states on redistricting activities.  They will also discuss how the rest of the process is likely to unfold.  Panelists will focus on evidence of partisan or bipartisan gerrymandering, the outcome of transparency and public mapping initiatives such as PMP, and minority redistricting.  Follow the event on Twitter – #RedistrictB1

Though it’s a little late for this notice there is little doubt that the event will be streamed in good time.