Monthly Archives: March 2012

American Craft Council Digital Library – A Unique NE Minneapolis Resource

For some time I have intended to post something about the American Craft Council Digital Library.  This article, which just came out, presents a far more complete report than I could research.  I’m attaching it here – with a strong encouragement for everyone to check out the Craft Council website.  In 2010 the Council and Library moved to 1224 Marshall in Northeast Minneapolis.  Today the ACC has  a strong and welcome presence in the Northeast community.  Great location and a fascinating addition to this community which has a history of craft design and creation.

My suggestion is that you start with the very attractive ACC and Library, then click on the YouTube introduction to the Digital Library.  You won’t be able to resist exploring more of the website and the history and program of the American Craft Council.

The following is a direct quote from the ACC website.

Since the launch of the ACC Library Digital Collections last fall, we’ve been gathering your feedback and making adjustments to the database to increase its functionality. Thanks to everyone who has taken a look at the collections, filled out our survey, and/or stopped to chat about our online resources and website at the library booth at one of the ACC Shows or at SOFA Chicago. Your feedback has been an invaluable means for us to improve our services and ensure that what we put online benefits your research needs and satisfies your innate curiosity as makers, curators, scholars, students, and craft appreciators.    

In an effort to better explain the usefulness of the Digital Collections, we’ve created a brief video tutorial to walk you through the best methods for accessing materials and searching the database. This video focuses on our ACC Newsletter Collection (1957-1986), a wonderful resource for in-depth information on particular craft artists, exhibitions, and events. If you’ve struggled with accessing our newsletters online, or if you have yet to take a look at the Library Digital Collections, please check us out!

If you have additional comments or questions, feel free to contact us at


*** Watch for more information about the American Craft Council Show which will be held this year on April 20-22 at the Rivercentre in St. Paul.

Learn more about the library from this Voices of Northeast conversation with Library Director,  Jessica Shaykett — click here:

Minnesota Constitution – A Work in Progress

It’s Sunshine Week, the annual shout out to open government – a great way to celebrate is to dig deep into some of the information by and about state and local government.  Though for the most part focus is on open meetings and data access, public information resources in libraries, archives and museums throughout the state – and increasingly online – offer a rich record of Minnesotans through the decades.  An armchair dip into the online resources will expand your definition of access to government information.  Warning – you may lose yourself in the stories.

Because we are currently floundering in information and misinformation about State Constitutional amendments, I took a mental dip into the historic records of the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, one of the state’s information treasures.  It came as no surprise to learn that staff at LRL had collected and preserved everything anyone could ever want to know about the history of  proposed amendments to the State Constitution whether the amendment was adopted or rejected.

Suffice to say, since the first amendment was proposed and approved there have been scores of proposals.  That first amendment, passed May 1, 1858, was to establish state government.   That same year the people of Minnesota adopted an amendment to authorize a $5 million railroad loan – an amendment the voters repealed two years later in an amendment that required popular approval of tax to pay railroad bonds.  The more things change…

In a different vein in 1865 and again in 1867 Minnesotans rejected proposed amendments to authorize Negroes to vote, an amendment that finally passed in 1868.  By 1875 Minnesotans authorized the legislature to grant women suffrage in school affairs – the school board members probably had a hankering for pie and coffee at their meetings.  Two years later Minnesota males rejected a proposal amendment to authorize women to vote in local elections.

The Governor was authorized to use the veto pen with passage1876 of a 1876 amendment to allow the chief executive to veto appropriation bills.  Next came an era of government organization.  Voters approved amendments to establish biennial sessions (1877), to extend terms of representatives to two and six years (1877) and to prohibit special legislation on certain subjects (1881), while they rejected a proposal to regulate compensation of legislators in 1881.

In 1886 the issue was the provision of loans to state school funds to counties and school districts.  By 1896 voters approved an amendment to permit cities, towns and villages as well as counties and school districts, to borrow school and university funds.   Tax issues took precedence as voters approved of inheritance taxes (1896)  and taxing large corporations (1896) while rejecting several tax-related initiatives.

In 1898 Minnesotans wisely approved an amendment to permit women to vote for and serve on library boards.

An initiative and referendum proposal was rejected by handily rejected by voters in 1914 and again in 1916.  In 1918 Minnesotans narrowly rejected an amendment to prohibit the manufacture and the sale of liquor.

Minnesota voters rejected a 1952 proposal to clarify the meaning of who shall be entitled to vote.  Four-year terms for constitutional offers were approved in 1958. That same year voters approved three to one to prescribe the place where a person moving to a new precinct within 30 days before an election may vote, eliminating obsolete provisions on the voting rights of persons of Indian blood.   By the same margin Minnesotans approved a 1960 amendment to provide for succession to the office of government to provide for continuity of government emergencies caused by enemy attack.

Many Minnesotans voting in the 2012 election will recall casting a ballot, or being confused by some more recent proposals including authorization the 1988 of a state-operated lottery;  in 1990 the vote was to dedicate 40% of the lottery proceeds to the environment  and natural resources.  That amendment covered the trust fund until 2001; in 1998 the environmental trust fund, expanded to include preservation of the state’s arts and cultural heritage and increased ales and use tax was approved by a huge majority; by 2008 voters were more divided but approved what is known today as the Heritage Fund.

These are just a new of the two hundred plus amendments rejected or approved  by Minnesotans since 1858.  Topics of proposed amendment run the gamut – government organization to taxes to the courts, the railroads, farms, highways, lotteries and prohibition.  This year it’s the Marriage Amendment.

Lots more on the history and the ratification process on the LRL website.  This take on the state’s bumpy constitutional history offers an intriguing mental excursion for Sunshine Week and an informed approach to the 2012 election.  Click on the LRL website and explore how Minnesotans have spoken up on a host of issues over the decades.

James Madison, Father of the First Amendment

We may know James Madison, born March 16, 1751, as “Father of the Constitution”, the president whose home got torched during the War of 1812, or husband of the delightful Dolley.  On the anniversary of his birth we honor him with an annual Freedom of Information celebration in which a network of advocacy groups throughout the national take part.


The reason why is expressed in the following quote:  Madison observed that “a popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a face or a tragedy; or perhaps both.  Knowledge will forever government ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”


We take seriously Madison’s wise counsel, with focus on the means of acquiring “popular information.”  We cherish a free press.  We condemn book burning and censorship.  We pass laws that ensure open meetings and government transparency.


Likewise, we honor Madison’s confidence that “knowledge will forever govern ignorance” and operate on the principle that, when truth and falsehood are allowed to grapple freely, truth will win out.


We the people honor Madison by attending with equal diligence to his admonition to “arm” ourselves with the power which knowledge gives.”  Madison, an inveterate learning, devoured veritable libraries from his own collection and from tomes on loan from Jefferson.  Madison’s “Notes on Ancient and Modern Confederation,”  an examination of factors that either facilitate or inhibit good government, embodies his conviction that the decision-maker armed with knowledge will prevail.


One meaningful way to celebrate Madison’s birthday is to make a serious individual effort to “get up and do what needs to be done” to ferret out reliable information, examine facts, share ideas with those who agree, and listen with equanimity to ideas with which we vehemently disagree.


With the other founders, Madison helped establish a set of principles and practices by which “a people who mean to be their own governors” might do so.  On Madison’s birthday, Friday March 16, we recognize the necessity of popular attention to a perpetual need – public access to public information.  Though the devil may be in the detail of how that is works out in today’s political, economic and polarized environment, Madison’s resolute and resilient commitment to an informed democracy offers the possibility of common ground that fosters responsible governance.

Remembering Carol Daly, intrepid lifelong learner and arts advocate

For the past week thoughts of Carol Daly have come to mind at unexpected – if welcome – moments.  Though my plan was to post a tribute on this blog I could not focus on this amazing woman’s immense contributions to the arts community and to lifelong learning for older Minnesotans.  Then I happened upon this lovely tribute on the Minnesota Public Radio website and decided these friends had said it better than I could ever hope.  If you knew Carol, you’ll hear her laugh and feel her strength.  If you didn’t know Carol you probably sat next to her in the theater, toured an art exhibit in her wake, or took an OLLI class or participated in an Elderhostel.  You know her work.

Elderhostel.Remembering Carol Daly

Posted at 2:17 PM on March 8, 2012 by Marianne Combs (1 Comments)
Filed under: Arts managementPeople

Minneapolis lost a devoted arts advocate this week with the passing of Carol Daly.

Over the years she served on numerous committees and boards connected to the arts, including the Minneapolis Arts Commission, and Forecast Public Art.

Carol Daly

Last June 11, on the occasion of her retirement, Mayor R. T. Rybak declared it “Ms. Carol Daly Day.”

Public Arts Administrator Mary Altman had this to say about Daly:

When it came to the arts, Carol was the most enthusiastic and avid participant and volunteer that I have ever met. She was a walking advertisement for whichever event she had most recently attended, and she often went to several a week. She loved her work as a Minneapolis Arts Commissioner and former board member of Forecast, and was a passionate spokesperson for artists, arts groups and public art.

Jack Becker at Forecast Public Art added the following:

Carol was naturally inquisitive, a life-long learner, and she took that spirit wholeheartedly into the arts. But it was her style of sharing her enthusiasm for what she learned and what she loved that made Carol the significant torch-bearer for the arts and humanities here. Her stubborn attitude of “why not?” meant that she would fearlessly challenge status quo and confront leaders to consider the aesthetic and creative and innovative — not simply the functional or economical. She went to more plays and museums and musical events than anyone I know — and that’s saying a lot! And then she had to TALK about whatever she saw — to anyone who would listen… How can you NOT be an arts enthusiast after all that?

A memorial service will be held for Daly at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolisat 11am this Saturday with a family greeting beginning at 10am. In lieu of flowers, it’s requested that donations are made to the Minneapolis Arts Commission.

Sunshine Week 2012

As most policy wonks probably don’t know, the March 11-17 is Sunshine Week ( Since Sunshine Week was launched in 2005 by newspaper organizations the initiative has grown to a national network of organizations that represent a wide range of professional and public interest groups with a activities at the ground level in states, cities and organizations throughout the nation. Since the outset focus has been on celebration of Freedom of Information Day on March 16, birth date of James Madison, framer and author of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Theme for this year is “Put Sunshine in your government.” In the interest of putting sunshine in our government it seems appropriate stop carping and pause to reflect on some of the positives that are happening on the open government scene:

  • Lori Sturdevant sets the pace by cautiously anticipating the possibility of bipartisan agreement on HF 1954, IR Re. Keith Downey’s attempt to get cities and counties to report their spending to the public in a clearer and more meaningful way.  Sure, the parties took it as a challenge to spar, even on open government for which there is no price tag;  still, Sturdevant concludes that “even baby steps” count. (Star Tribune, March 9, 2012)
  • Independent journalists and bloggers have added zillions of eyes and ears to the oversight of federal, state and local government – even neighborhood organizations don’t escape the oversight and the reporting proclivities of avid action watchers.  Their numbers are legion – some work independently, others through organized grassroots journalism such as the Twin Cities Daily Planet (

Public meetings in virtually every community are available for armchair citizens who keep tabs on elected and appointed officials at work.

  • Again following Lori Sturdevant’s lead, this is a time to celebrate Minnesota’s state demographers, past and future – Hazel Reinhart, Tom Gillaspy and Susan Brower. (Star Tribune, March 7, 2012)
  • The Minnesota Coalition on Government Information will participate in Sunshine Week a bit after the fact by sponsoring a related event on Friday March 23.   Amy Goodman will speak at the annual FOI Award Ceremony during which the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award will be presented.  The free and open event is 4:00 p.m. at Minneapolis Central Library.
  • At the federal level a unique positive note this week was the launch of more step in the administration’s pledge to let the sunshine in.
  • Americans who rightfully pride ourselves on the constitutional right to know are often surprised on the freedom of information ferment on nations around the world – FOI-Net  offers a dependable reminder that this nation is not alone and, in many cases, is not ahead in the effort to let the sunshine in.

Though this list should go on to name scores, probably hundreds of advocacy efforts, the word limit is enforced.   Advocates of every stripe, including open government and freedom of information proponents, are inclined to decry government’s infringement on openness.  Still, Sunshine Week offers a reminder to celebrate that sunshine often does prevail.

For all of us, Sunshine Week presents a challenge to acknowledge that decision-makers, bureaucrats and advocates alike grapple with unprecedented challenges to craft laws, regulations, procedures and policies, appropriate to an unprecedented information environment in which principles remain while technology, not to mention globalization, transforms the landscape.