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.

Food Safety Made Relevant and Doable by White House Rep Meeting at Eastside Food Coop

Elisabeth A. Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, views her job through a mix of lenses – the lens of the scientist, the bureaucrat, and the mom.  Her professional degree is an MD from Harvard; at USDA she oversees rules and regulations relating to meat, poultry and processed eggs, and she is the proud and caring mother of two young children.

In her professional role at USDA Hagen is responsible for oversight of 20 percent of the food supply.  The agency employs 7,300 inspectors who perform daily and continuous checks inside 6,200 food processing facilities.  Recent concerns about food safety, including those with Twin Cities connections,  have catapulted the agency Hagen directs into the national spotlight.

Dr. Hagen has been in town this week meeting with producers, distributors, bureaucrats and others who play a role in assuring food safety.  Her visit was sponsored by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Council on Women and Girls.  On Thursday morning, September 15, she took time to sit down with a group of women gathered at the Eastside Food Cooperative in Northeast Minneapolis where she shared her views from each of these lenses.

Participating in the lively exchange were representatives of area coops, food shelves, city inspectors and others concerned about issues relating to food safety. Though Dr. Hagen’s position in the federal bureaucracy focuses on the “big picture”, emphasis at this gathering was on the “last mile” of food access and safety.

Hagen presented astounding statistics about food borne disease, with particular emphasis on e-coli and salmonella for which there are one million reported cases a year.  She also described the complexities of the federal oversight process – the role of the Food and Drug Administration and that of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – with handoff to the Interstate Commerce Commission.  The immense challenge to provide safe food to three hundred million Americans was the prevailing theme of her talk.  She noted several examples of recent changes e.g. labeling changes,  that the federal government has done to accomplish the goal

Discussion turned to the need to alter long-engrained habits at the consumer end of the food chain.  As one office in a complex federal bureaucracy Hagen is quick to note that divergent priorities and institutional modes of operation are a challenge.  The ultimate challenge is to the consumer who makes purchasing and preparation decisions about what people eat.

Participants in the discussion lamented the lack of education opportunities for young people, particularly teens, to learn about food safety.  Though younger children may be protected, teens are on their own and are the parents of the next generation.

Another topic of concern to participants was the issue of local entrepreneurship and the ways in which the federal system does or does not support local farmers and producers.

Hagen listened and offered a number of references to resources that her office and the federal government offer to anyone concerned about food safety.  One tangible offering was free food thermometers available from her office.  Digital resources Hagen suggested include these:

Ask Karen, sponsored by the Food Safety and Inspection Service at USDA

Food Safety.gov, managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Or follow the efforts of Dr. Hagen on her agency blog.

Though she clearly had much more information to share, Dr. Hagen took time to listen with care – while her assistant took copious notes.  The women present, representing as we did a wide range of food safety-related issues, overflowed with queries and suggestions, each of which received a thoughtful response and assurance of follow-up.

Last seen this incredibly busy woman was answering questions, grasping ideas and scrambling to maneuver rush hour  traffic to catch a 5:20 flight back to a mighty professional challenge – and to those two little ones – in Washington, DC.

Focus on Minnesota Presses Series Opens at Minneapolis Central Library

Though Minnesota readers know local writers and their works, we often know less about the publishers that nurture the authors, edit, design, publish  and promote their written words.  Friends of Hennepin County Library’s  Spotlight on Local Presses, a series of three evenings of literary events that feature presses that  have collectively published a wealth of fine literature known around the globe

Ø     Ed Bok Lee and Bao begin the series on Saturday, September 24, 8:00 p.m. with the launch of their most recent books of poetry, published by Coffeehouse Press.  Both authors are well known in the Twin Cities and on the national Asian American literary and spoken word scene.

Ø     The second program, Thursday, November 3, 7:00 p.m., focuses on Graywolf Press.  It’s a sneak preview of the new publishing series featuring authors Mary Rockcastle and Jeffrey Yang and Editors Fiona McCrae and Jeffrey Shotts.

Ø     Travel literature is big in December – enjoy armchair travel with an evening of travel, politics and prose with award-winning poet, journalist, translator and essayist Christopher Merrill who will discuss his new book The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War.  Merrill will be introduced and joined on stage by Daniel Slager, Publisher and CEO of Milkweed Editions.

All of the programs are free and open to the public, held in Pohlad Hall at Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall.    Times change so note with care.  There will be a book sale and wine to sip before the program with book sale, signings and dessert after each presentation.

More on the Friends website or call 612 543 8197

 

Notes from Northeast

* Fundraiser for NE Seniors:  Past posts have described one of the true treasures of Northeast Minneapolis, Northeast Senior Services.   The organization is headquartered the United Methodist Church, 2510 Cleveland at Lowry

Northeast Seniors programs, ranging from foot clinics to diabetic friendly appetizers, events calendars and housing tours are rich, timely,  informative and fun.  Staff, along with members and volunteers are gearing up now for the Fall Fundraising Dinner scheduled for Friday, October 7, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Faith United Methodist Church, 2708 33rd Avenue NE in St. Anthony.

The suggested donation for the Fundraiser is just $15/adult which covers the cost of hot beef sandwiches, dessert, beverage, entertainment and a basket raffle.  A vegetarian option is available.

Contact NE Seniors at 612 781 5096 or mail@neseniors.org.

HCMC Clinic at St. Anthony Village: Windom Park residents and other Northeast residents have been watching with interest developments at the St. Anthony Village shopping center.  Signs now answer that question as to what’s coming in – the St. Anthony Village, part of the Hennepin County Medical Center network, will open sometime in October at 2714 Highway 88, St Anthony.   It is in the space formerly occupied by the drugstore and a tax service.

  • Among the features of the new clinic HCMC cites these:
  • Evening hours two nights a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Prenatal care and family planning.
  • Care for all ages, including older adults.
  • Same day/next day appointments.
  • Onsite pharmacy.

To follow developments at the new clinic visit the HCMC site.