Monthly Archives: September 2011

Harvest the Ideas Whilst You Can!

Though I’m more than a little irritated at Michelle Bachmann’s bad-mouthing our climate in her vote-getting tour of Florida, her real omission was to fail to mention that Spring and Autumn are the activity seasons in Minnesota. She also omitted the fact  that we are also among the most creative folks she might have never known.  In autumn, theaters burst forth, art crawls are ubiquitous, writers share their works in bookstores, libraries and a rich array of venues –  I understand the Vikings even re-enter the scene.

We are stressed by the fact that we can’t get to every meeting, ethnic festival, art crawl, museum exhibit, reading group and more!

The flip side of this is that Fall and Spring are the best times to explore the possibilities.  On any given day during the Fall, the state resounds with ideas.  Lots to think about during the winter months to come.  It’s a fine time to store up fresh thoughts that just may germinate – who knows when the fertile homebound environment will nurture a thought that will bear great fruit.

So, take in every festival you can get to, store thoughts and memories, plant them and wait for them to flourish in Spring 2012.  We had a really bad winter last year – it’s got us all thinking about Florida, Arizona, depression and other escapes.  Not so if you harvest the brilliance of the Autumn of 2011 and, as with those root vegetables and apples, nibble on it during the inevitable – and quietly beautiful – season to come.

Right to Know – A Day to Think about It

International Right to Know Day, September 28, has always been a time for me to reflect on how the detailed laws and regulations of states and a nations interconnect and relate somehow to a common theme.  We are at times so focused on the local that we fail to see the global sphere in which access to information is a common lynchpin.  It seems to me that this year presents an extraordinary opportunity for all of us to reflect on the people’s right to know.  The challenges to that right are no longer directly and opaquely political but insidious, possibly more unintentional as overt.

Right to Know Day was organized in 2002 in Sofia, Bulgaria, at an international meeting of access advocates.  Since then, the RTK recognition  “celebrates the right of individuals to access information held by public instruments and reminds of the need and the benefits of a transparent for government.”

As Americans we depend on Jefferson and Madison to articulate and thus assure that right in perpetuity. Still, technology has the extreme and conflicting power to expand and curtail access.  This may be a time to think seriously about what’s happening not just in political but in media, regulatory, transnational, archival, distribution, economic and other arenas in which the right to know is at a minimum questioned if not overtly challenged.   A recent memo from Media Alliance reminds me of the ways in which the Black and Latino communities are coming together to keep the Internet open and free from discrimination – just one example of the challenges we face.

To me it is inspiring that nations around the globe are exploring the issue of right to know.  We can learn from others about the barriers that others are experiencing and the ways in which they have created regulatory, legal and educational solutions to enhance accessibility for all.    We have some thinking to do about those Jeffersonian and Madisonian principles.  A look at the experience of other nations may enlighten us about the challenges they face, the implications for us, and reason that the recognition of the International Right to Know Day does make a difference that we ignore at our own peril.

To follow what’s happening on the international right to know scene there are scores of options, including these:

http://www.foiadvocates.net/en/right-to-know-day-2011 – clearly the primo source, includes a nice YouTube promo

http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/article1048.htmlhttp://www.e-include.eu/en/news/923-international-right-to-know-day-28-september-2011

Carpe l’autumn

Though I’m more than a little irritated at Michelle Bachmann’s bad-mouthing our climate in her vote-getting tour of Florida, I do not blame the weather for the fact that Spring and Autumn are the activity seasons in Minnesota.  Theaters burst forth, art crawls are ubiquitous, writers share their works in bookstores, libraries and a rich array of venues –  I understand the Vikings even re-enter the scene.

We are stressed by the fact that we can’t get to every meeting, ethnic festival, art crawl, museum exhibit, reading group and more

The flip side of this is that Fall and Spring are the best times to explore the possibilities.  On any given day during the Fall, the state resounds with ideas.  Lots to think about during the winter months to come.  It’s a fine time to store up fresh thoughts that just may germinate – who knows when the fertile homebound environment will nurture a thought that will bear great fruit.

So, take in every festival you can get to, store thoughts and memories, plant them and wait for them to flourish in Spring 2012.  We had a really bad winter last year – it’s got us all thinking about Florida, Arizona, depression and other escapes.  Not so if you harvest the brilliance of the Autumn of 2011 and, as with those root vegetables and apples, nibble on it during the inevitable – and quietly beautiful – season to come.

Twin Cities Book Festival Bursts Forth Brighter and Wordier Than Ever October 15

It is not a moment too soon to lay in supplies for the impending Winter of 2011-12 – not fire logs or food but reading supplies.  The Rain Taxi: Twin Cities Book Festival on Saturday, October 15, 10:00-5:00 p.m., offers just the right opportunity to get started.  This truly sensational event is sponsored by Rain Taxi Review of Books which has created this grand gathering of the reading and books community for the past eleven years.

It’s a free and open celebration of books and reading that features an Exhibit and Book Fair showcase that represents a wide range of writers, publishers, literary organizations, booksellers and a host of bibliophiles of every stripe.  As in the past the Book Festival is at the Metropolitan Community and Technical College, 1501 Hennepin Avenue, just off Loring Park.

The Twin Cities Book Festival website expands each day as planners add authors, panels, exhibits and more.  Those confirmed to date include this broad spectrum of writers who will be speaking, reading and signing at the Festival:

Ø     Diana Abu-Jaber

Ø     Tess Gallagher

Ø     Jaime Gordon

Ø     Ben Katchor

Ø     N.M. Kelby

Ø     Steven Pinker

Ø     Kevin Sorbo

Ø     Gary Tillery

Ø     Lawrence Weschler, and

Ø     Daniel Woodress

There are also panel discussions featuring Minnesota writers in a panel discussing “Telling Our Stories: Minnesota Memories”

Ø     Martin Kihn

Ø     Paul Metsa

Ø     Nancy Paddock

Ø     Theresa Weir, and

Ø     Mary Rondeau

And five Minnesota writers and creators will discuss :This Must Be the Place: Representing Minnesota”

Ø     Kevin Cannon

Ø     Wing Young Huie

Ø     Steve Healey

Ø     Susan Niz, and

Ø     Mary Rockcastle

Never to be left in the dark, members of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter, will discuss their craft.  Explore the creative minds of these mystery writers:

Ø     Raymond Benson

Ø     Erin Hart

Ø     Sujata Massey

Ø     Julie Kramer

Ø     Michael Allan Mallory, and

Ø     Carl Brookins

Check the Twin Cities Book Festival website for excellent bios of these writers and descriptions of their works.

Don’t stop with the readings and panels either.  There are exhibits, a children’s pavilion, a used book sale and a literary  magazine fair.

Everything free and open thanks to support from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council – with the collaboration of the sponsors and a host of volunteers who make the day run like clockwork.

If you can’t wait for the Saturday blast off, try the Friday evening kick-off, an exclusive screening of the documentary Shelf Life, the story of a day in the life of Powell’s City of Books.  Screening at 7:45 p.m. with a pre-film reception.  The kick-off is at the Whitney Fine Arts Theater at MCTC.  Tickets are $20 and seating is limited.  Proceeds support Rain Taxi Review of Books.

This and infinitely more on the Twin Cities Book Festival website.

Red Wing AAUW hosts premiere of documentary “Women Making Change”

Women Making Change, premiering this weekend in Red Wing, will make a change by telling the tale.  The documentary recounts the story of Minnesota women who have made a difference in the political arena.  The opening event is Saturday, September 24, 7:00 p.m. at the historic Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing, home of the key producer, former legislator Sandy Wollschlager.  The film and the event are sponsored by the Red Wing Branch of the American Association of University Women along with local sources including the Red Wing Area Fund, Husom & Rose Photographics., and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Based on Goodhue County as a microcosm the film recounts the experiences of Minnesota women who have made change.  The Red Wing/Goodhue County area has elected women from both major political parties to state office;  it has also the home of the Prairie Island Indian Community which has elected women to leadership positions.

Those interviewed for the documentary include Audrey Bennett, President of the Prairie Island Tribal Council; State Representative Laura Brod; Lieutenant Governor Joanell Dyrstad; Secretary of State Joan Anderson Growe; Speaker of the House, Margaret Anderson Kelliher; policy analyst Hue Nguyen; U of M Professor Kathryn Pearson; Star Tribune political news editor Lori Sturdevant; community activist Linda Thielbar;  State Representatives Kathy Tingelstad; and Sandy Wollschlager.  The elected officials included in the documentary are no longer in office.

The evening’s event will feature several people who were involved in the project as well as a slide show of Goodhue County women in politics over the decade.  Top that off with music by the Hot Flashes offering music of the 50’s, 60’s and beyond, door prizes and a reception.

Twin Cities Public Television, producer of the documentary, will broadcast Women Making Change statewide after the premiere.

Tickets for the premiere are $15, $10 for students, available through the Red Wing Arts Association Depot Gallery or through AAUW members – or call 651 388 6478.

Zine fans gather at Powderhorn Saturday, September 24

In the past I have tried assiduously to write about the zine scene in this community.  My quest for information has been thwarted – or misguided – so I look forward to this weekend’s Twin Cities Zinefest, Noon to 5:00 –p.m. on Saturday, September 24, at Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Avenue South, Minneapolis.  Though I’ve tried the website, the best information I have found is in City Pages whose writers are probably more involved, intrepid, and recompensed for their labors.

City Pages defines zines (loosely, by their own admission), as “self-published works, often of a person nature.  They range in topics from the influential pamphlets of Thomas Paine, to Star Trek fan fiction, to political diatribes, to recipe-sharing, running the gamut of discourse, covering matters serious and lighthearted alike.”  I love the definition and thank the definer.

The eighth annual Twin Cities Zinefest offers a chance for zine-lovers to share information about self-production or to share their own productions.  Exhibitions include displays by the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis Community and Technical College (which has a large zine collection, the Fly Away Zine Mobile, and the Zine Apothecary.    Zinefest is free and open to the public.

Someday I hope to write more about the Twin Cities zine scene – maybe a visit to Zinefest will uncover some ports of entry to this dynamic world.

 

 

 

 

Write On Radio! Is Right On.

A mix of events and connections have got me back to thinking more about Minnesota writers and the rich literary environment in which we are privileged to live and read.  It’s not the sort of thing one should forget, but it takes replenishment at times.

One of the supports I had let lapse is Write on Radio!  This is KFAI’s timely and eclectic weekly interview with Minnesota writers of every persuasion.  I was delighted to learn that this evening’s interviewee is Peter Smith, known to many of us as an MPR contributor whose wry humor gives a jump start to the morning.  From Write On Radio’s helpful notes I learned that Smith is a 30-year veteran of Twin Cities advertising and author of a newly released book A Cavalcade of Lesser Horrors.

Smith will be interviewed on Write on Radio! this very evening, September 20, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.  If, like me, you’re at a neighborhood meeting this evening, know that the interview is archived by KFAI for two weeks.  A review of the archived programs, including a special tribute to Roy McBride, makes a great read.

On the same show Penny Noyce, author of the children’s book Lost in Lexicon and Desiree Bussiere, marketing director for Scarletta Press will be talking about the Midwest Booksellers Association Conference, September 22-23 in St. Paul.

I learned all this by reading the latest weekly email from Write On Radio!  Anyone who has an interest in good reads and interesting writers may subscribe by simply sending an email address to producers.  The email updates offer scheduling information and background on gusts and weekly events.