Monthly Archives: May 2012

Vigil for a Neighbor in Northeast

Windom Park and Audubon residents, along with other Northeasters, will share the grief and lend support to the parents of neighborhood resident Antionette Hawkins who was murdered last week in her home.  They will gather for a prayer vigil on Saturday, June 2, 4:00 p.m. near her home at the corner of 26th Avenue Northeast and Stinson Parkway.

Antionette Hawkins’ visitation and funeral will be held at the Minneapolis Cremation Society, 4343 Nicollet Avenue South.  Visitation is Wednesday, June 6, 5:00-9:00 p.m. and Thursday, June 7, 10:00 a.m.  Funeral services will be June 7, 11:00 a.m. at the Cremation Society.  Donations to support the Hawkins family may be sent to any M&I Bank Account in the name of MAD DADS for the Benefit of Antionette Hawkins.

The Minneapolis Police Department Homicide Unit is investigating and asking anyone with information to call the Department’s Tip Line at 612 692 TIPS (8477).


Women’s Prison Book Project Hosts Domestic Abuse Documentary

Crime After Crime is a powerful documentary film that tells the dramatic legal battle to free Debbie Paegler, a domestic abuse victim imprisoned for over a quarter century because of her connection to the murder of the man who abused her.

Paegler’s  strength of spirit served her well during 26 years in prison where she suffered injustice and abuse.  Inspiring woman that she is she led the prison gospel choir and taught other inmates to read and write.

Her fate took a dramatic turn  when two rookie attorneys with no background in criminal law offered to take her case.    Inspired by Paegler’s indomitable strength, the attorneys brought to light witnesses, new testimony from the men who committed the murder, and proof of perjured evidence.  Their investigation attracted global attention to victims of wrongful incarceration and abuse.  The cause of Debbie Paegler took on profound urgency when the case becomes a matter of life and death.

Filmmaker Yoav Potash filmed the documentary in and out of prison for over five years.  The resulting documentary tells an unforgettable story of a relentless quest for justice.  Crime After Crime has received national acclaim ranging from the Sundance Film Festival award to appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Locally, the Womens Prison Book Project, in cooperation with Hamline University, will offer a free screening and discussion of the film on Thursday, May 31, 7:00 p.m. at Hamline University, 1536 Hewitt Avenue in St. Paul.  The screening and discussion will be in the Giddens Learning Center, Room 100E.   Free and open to the pubic.

IPAD Hosts Not-So-Open Meeting Law Workshop

Lay person that I am I should have known better.   I had mindlessly placed the Open Meeting Law Workshop sponsored by the Information Policy Analysis Division of the Minnesota Department of Administration on my calendar.   For the chosen it is scheduled for Wednesday, June 13, 8:30 a.m.-Noon at the Department of Administration Building, 50 Sherburne Avenue in St. Paul.

The agenda sounded great:  “Practice (sic) advice on meeting obligations under Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law;  discusson about the use of technology and the Open Meeting Law;  Open Meeting Law duties illustrated by scenario discussions.

Just the things that I as a citizen concerned with local and state public policy would like to understand and better explain to my neighbors and through the venues I reach as an independent journalist.

Knowing that others share an interest in government transparency I had even written a post about the forthcoming workshop for my blog and a piece for the community newspaper and the Twin Cities Daily Planet.  My friends and neighbors have serious questions about their right to know and especially about the impact of technology on citizens’ access to information by and about the government.  This workshop is timely and on target.

As of today I’ve deleted the workshop from my calendar and scratched the araticles I had intended to share.  Turns out it’s for Insiders – “board, council or other public body members; public body staff, [and] public body attorneys. “  Furthermore, registration is a hefty $75, obviously to be covered by the “public bodies” attendees will ably represent.

Not much here for the concerned and curious public.  It seemed like a good idea at the time….

Hollywood Theater in Northeast Minneapolis – Where Dreams Live On

A picture of the theater building.

Hollywood Theater today.

Ask any Northeaster of an age and you’ll hear a story – a first date, the lush décor, the classic movie featuring glamorous stars and starling of another day.  Ask a 21st Century newcomer and you’ll hear a story of a rundown eyesore covered with tattered placards.   Ask a preservationist and you’ll learn just why the Hollywood is an architectural treasure of historic import.   There are clear differences of memory – and opinion – surrounding the Hollywood Theater, 2815 Johnson Northeast in Minneapolis.

Check it all out for yourself at Johnstock , the annual celebration of Northeast marchants, artists and family fun.  On Saturday, June 2, 1:00-5:00 p.m. visitors can tour the theater, inhale the history, and catch the spirit of preservationists, movie mavens, city planners and neighbors who cherish and dream of what the Hollywood  was and could be.

In its glory, the Hollywood, opened in 1935,  was a stunning example of the theater architecture with 1000 cushy seats where movie buffs reveled in cinema classics  Passersby could only imagine the possibilities suggested by the soaring vertical sign that and unadorned Kasota stone exterior that mark the theater today.   Set in a residential neighborhood unfortunately lacked the financial support afforded the competition.

During the 70’s and early 80’s the Hollywood bounced among owners and suffered the ignominy of fading audiences, the impact of VCR’s, second rate films and rumors of the possibility of porn that stymied licensing.  The theater closed in 1988 when a group of investors purchased it for $6500 plus $18,000 back taxes.

Thus began a new era in the history of the Hollywood, an era marked by community pressure for re-use possibilities and political concerns about the cost and feasibility of renovation – a turbulent time still fresh in the minds of many Northeasters, preservations and film lovers.

The elegant architecture, known as Streamline Deco design, is the hallmark of the Hollywood, the feature that in 1990 persuaded the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission to designate both the exterior and the interior for Heritage Preservation.   The designation led to a decision by the Minneapolis Community Development Agency to purchase the Hollywood from a private developer in 1993.

Fast forward two decades.  Today the City of Minneapolis owns the Hollywood Theater.  In an effort to support redevelopment of the theater the city purchased the property adjacent in 2008 with the intent that additional space would facilitate development of the theater by providing parking, service access or related development.  Asking price is $275,000.  By any standard, the Hollywood is a fixer-upper with City Council and staff oversight of the buyer’s intended development and adherence to preservation guidelines.  There’s an RFP online.

Though the theater remains closed, the legend and the possibilities are alive.

And where there is life there is hope.   For example, last November the Savage Umbrella breathed life into the Hollywood with a production of The Ravagers.  Next month, on the evening of June 23,  The Unsettled Foundation  will “bring storytelling to the semi-abandoned and possibly full haunted Hollywood Theatre.”

Best of all the Hollywood will share its charms with visitors to  Johnstock.  On Saturday, June 2, the doors will open for prospective tenants – and the curious public — to explore the grandeur of this neighborhood and architectural gem.  Free and open to all.

Visitors are welcome to explore the Hollywood with fresh eyes – to see the beauty of the stone exterior and the impressive “Hollywood” sign and then to step inside to experience the history and imagine the possibilities of this classic treasure.

Stinson Conservancy Seeks Planting Volunteers

Though passersby speeding up and down Stinson Parkway (the number and their speed seems to increase each day) may scarcely notice, the joggers, dog walkers and stroller pushers of Windom and Audubon Park take time to relish the beauty of the magnificent boulevard that joins the neighborhoods..

This spring more than ever we have reveled in the abundant color of the azaleas, the daffodils and other perennials planted last fall by members of the Stinson Conservancy. Conservancy members continue to work with a consultant to create a final design for the Boulevard.

As planting season reaches its peak Conservancy members are asking for some help.  Specifically they invite gardeners of every skill, age and proclivity to join them on Wednesday June 13, (rain date June 14), 6:00-9:00  on the median at 2200 Stinson, and/or Monday, June 25, (rain date June 27) on the median at 2700 Stinson, 6:00-9:00 p.m.  Come equipped with shovel, hand tools and gloves, plus a vision of the blooms that will come from the plants provided with funds from generous donors and from a participant in the Park Board Stewardship Program who had an abundance of plants to share.

The Stinson Conservancy is an organization of neighbors, friends and gardeners who share the goal to preserve and enrich the parkway.  Stinson Parkway is one visible link in the National Scenic Byway known as the Grand Rounds, a route covering over fifty miles through green space; the Grand Rounds was created and is maintained by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Membership in the Conservancy is open to all who care about this neighborhood treasure.  To join the Conservancy or to provide financial support email the Conservancy or send a note/contribution to Stinson Parkway Conservancy
2243 Roosevelt Street Northeast
, Minneapolis, MN  55418.

Picture Peace through the Lens of Minneapolis Youth

Bombarded by the media’s unrelenting coverage of a world at war, it must be a stretch for young people to imagine a world, even a neighborhood, at peace.  The public will have an opportunity to “picture peace” through the eyes and minds of twelve Minneapolis youth in a documentary photography exhibit opening June 5 at Minneapolis City Hall

Picturing Peace, created through a collaboration between the Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support and The Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District explores young people’s reflections and hopes for peace and safety in their communities.

Kickoff for the exhibit is Tuesday, June 5, 5:00-6:00 p.m.  The gallery exhibit will be opened, young artists will be present and refreshments served.  The exhibit is in the City Hall Rotunda Gallery, 350 South 5th Street, Minneapolis.

Picturing Peace is free and open to the public June 5-18.  RSVP for the opening event  requested at or by calling 612 673 2729.

In a related initiative the Hennepin County Library is collecting suggestions of adult and youth titles relating to the “Picturing Peace” theme.

American Indian Fiction – A Rich Heritage and a Good Read

Not so long ago the heritage of Native Americans was passed on by oral traditional only.  At some point, Native people began telling their stories to white newcomers who translated the oral into written forms.  Today American Indian writers combine the two parallel, though very different forms of expression.  The convergence of the oral and written is a challenge that inspires the work of many American Indian fiction writers today.

A bit of research suggests a context for the specific genre of fiction written by Native Americana.  It’s a longer story than we might think.  In fact, the first novel published by a Native American was The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, published in 1854 by John Rollin Ridge.  In 1899 Simon Pokagan chose the genre of the novel to educate his readers about traditional life in his Potawatomi community before the coming of the whites. (Queen of the Woods)

As Native Americans experienced painful dispossession writers feared the loss of their oral tradition.  Writers who bridged the gap between Native tradition and assimilation included Zitkada Sa (Gertrude Bonnin) who wrote Old Indian Legends (1901)  and American Indian Stories (1921) and Mourning Dove (Christal Quintasket) who retold traditional stories in Co-ge-wea: the Half Blood (1927) and Coyote Stories (1933).

Though these older titles may seem remote, titles more familiar to today’s reader emerge by the mid 20th Century.  The well-known Black Elk Speaks represents the collaboration between John G Neihardt and Blackhawk to tell the stories of the Lakota culture.   The award of the 1969 Pulitzer Prize to N. Scott Momaday for his House Made of Dawn marks a major step in the recognition of American Indian writers and their works.

Clearly the genre has expanded exponentially in recent times.  As Minnesota literary history proves, the circle of writers of American Indian heritage who are writing fiction  is rich as is the discovery and publication or re-publication of earlier texts.  At this point it seems that Native American literature is so popular that the issue has become to identify what “qualifies”.  Brian Swann, a student of American Indian literature, writes that “Native Americans are Native Americans if they say they are and if other native Americans say they are and accept them.”  (Shades of the ongoing turmoil in the Massachusetts Senatorial campaign….)

Minnesota readers are a fortunate lot on many counts, including our awareness of the heritage of American Indian literature with which we are surrounded.   Readers know well the names and work of American Indian writers of Minnesota – the names of scores come trippingly to the tongue – Louise Erdrich, Jim Northrup, Gerald Vizenor, David Treur, Diane Glancy…..the list goes on…and on.

The Minneapolis Central Library currently hosts a display of American Indian fiction, books culled from the rich collection of the library, enough to focus the attention on the specific genre and to expand visitors’  awareness of the Library’s holdings available for loan.

Ruthann Ovenshire who has prepared the display has generously shared her listing of American Indian Authors of Fiction at Minneapolis Central Library – names familiar and some new possibilities.  The works of all of these authors are available for checkout from the Minneapolis Central Library or in many cases from other public libraries.  If you have suggestions for books to add to the library collection, this is the time to speak up – or just send an email.

Alexie, Sherman

Allen, Paula Gunn

Baca, Jimmy Santiago

Barreiro, Jose

Bell, Betty Louise

Birchfield, D.L.

Blevins, Win

Boyden, Joseph

Brant, Beth

Bruchac, Joseph

Conley, Robert J.

Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth

Deloria, Ella Cara

Dorris, Michael

Earling, Debra Magpie

Egawa, Keith

Erdrich, Lise

Erdrich, Louise

Forbes, Jack D.

Gansworth, Eric

Gish, Robert F.

Glancy, Diane

Henry, Gordon

Highway, Tomson

Hobson, Geary

Hogan, Linda

Hoklotubbe, Sara Sue

Johnson, Wayne

Johnston, Basil

Jones, Stephen Graham

Kenny, Maurice

Kenyon, Sherrilyn

King, Thomas

LaDuke, Winona

Louis, Adrian C.

Lucero, Evelina

Maracle, Lee

Marshall, Joseph

McGaa, Ed

McNickle, D’Arcy

Medawar, Mardi Oakley

Momaday, N. Scott

Monture, Joel

Morris, Irvin

Ortiz, Simon J.

Owens, Louis

Penn, W.S.

Power. Susan

Querry, Ronald B.

Red Eagle, Philip

Sanders, William

Sarris, Greg

Seals, David

Sears, Vickie

Silko, Leslie Marmon

Smith, Martin Cruz

Thom, Dark Rain

Treuer, David

Two-Rivers, E. Donald

Vizenor. Gerald

Wagamese, Richard

Welch, James

Womack, Craig

Young Bear, Ray H.

Guys Read at the Library — and Wherever

Children’s Book Week, May 7-13, offers a chance to poke around to discover some of what’s happening in the wonderful world of books for children..  The answer is LOTS is happening and a week offers a mere glimpse of some samples.

Guys Read in Hennepin County Library is one of scores of reading promotion initiatives sponsored by area libraries.  The HCL site is part of a national drive initiated by children’s author Jon Scieszka.   Guys Read is designed to draw attention to boys’ literacy and to motivate adults to help boys read more.  Scieszke is the nation’s first children’s laureate, officially called the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Describing the Guys Read program Scieszka writes:

We can help boys read by letting them choose what they read.expanding our definition of “reading” to include nonfiction, graphic novels, comics, comic strips, humor magazines, newspapers, online text, getting boys to recommend reading they do like to other boys, providing boys with male role models for reading in school and at home.

The national Guys Read website offers these and countless other observations about boys’ reading as well as an extensive list of books that boys read and recommend.

The Guys Read program in Hennepin County Library is made possible by the Library Foundation of Hennepin County with support from Best Buy Children’s Foundation and the Ann and Jack Cole Fund.


For more information about the forty Guys Read sites in the HCL system check the Library’s website.



Golden Ass at the Nimbus Theatre in Northeast

At first blush the thought of a stage adaptation of a 2nd Century novel might fail to stir the drama neophyte’s soul.   Serious students of drama who know the classics are delighted to learn that Nimbus Theatre, the intrepid “newcomer” to the Northeast theater scene, once again takes to the stage with a bold production of The Golden Ass.

The play is based on a text written by Lucius Apuleius who wrote in Latin in Romanized North Africa.   Well versed in Greek writing Apuleius reflects a strong interest in the supernatural in Eastern religions – and in magic. His work, commonly known as Metamorphoses, is the only Latin novel to survive in its entirety.   The work tells the story of a young man changed by magic into an ass. The text is said to have had a strong influence on works as diverse as those of Byron and Kafka, including the story of Pinochio.

The Golden Ass continues through May 20 at the Nimbus Theatre, 1517 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413 Performances are Thursday – Saturday evenings with a Sunday matinee. Tickets: 612-548-1380

Children’s Book Week – Celebrating Children’s Books for the Rest of Us

In recent days I’ve been bumbling around my brain looking for a way to think and then write about Children’s Book Week, May 7-13, 2012  I have plumbed the digital depths of new books for children, bookstores, publishers, writers, illustrators, library programs, awards, children’s book centers and more.  Bottom line:  I was overwhelmed with the rich children’s literature environment that envelops all of us.

I could not decide which string to pull.

And then came the epiphany – I was marinating in the world of children’s books – memories of favorite reads were conjuring  thoughts of other eras, of dynamic teachers, favorite aunts, intrepid librarians and, of course, loving parents who read, and read, and read, long after I was well able to curl up and read my own Betsy book.

I realized that children’s books are not just for children – that readers of every age find unspeakable joy in reading what’s new and re-reading those stories and illustrations that evoke long-submerged thoughts.

Thus began my digital dig into books that grown-ups remember and yearn to re-visit.   As usual, Google disgorged a wealth of lists, including, but not limited to, these:

  •  “These books entertain with the biting wit that only adults frustrated with reality can understand, from a parent desperately reading a bedtime story to his insomniac toddler to a bloody-yet-satisfying remake of the children’s classic Pat the Bunny. Put down the iPad… and indulge in a book that’s short, illustrated, and perfect for a momentary escape.”

And there are book clubs where adults channel their inner child with a good read:

  •   Chapter & Verse is a national book club for members of Children’s Literature Network and other children’s literature enthusiasts in their communities – libraries and bookstores – who wish to discuss children’s and young adult fiction, nonfiction, picture books, and poetry.  Three of the six independent bookstores listed are in Minnesota.
  •   The mature book club for immature adults… rated PG-18….designed for adults to rediscover some of the classics of children’s literature that some of us may have missed in our own childhoods….ok, or we didn’t do the homework assignments in time.  Meets on the first Monday of each month starting at 6:30 pm.

                * * *

There are many other lists, book clubs and rich resources.  With Children’s Book Week starting soon – and with all of these lists to explore – I had to stop.  I think I will take a break and re-read for the zillionth time my personal literary refuge, Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.