Monthly Archives: June 2012

“Neverthrivers” (aka Jugglers) Celebrate World Juggling Day Round the Globe


Sure, we jugglers aren’t efficiency experts.

We look at something and say,

there must be a harder way to do this.”  Bob Nickerson, juggler


 World Juggling Day

Saturday, June 16, 2012

 Jugglers, like artists, marching bands, farmers marketers and baseball players know enough to come in out of the rain.  That’s why the International Juggling Association created a unique digital alternative, a web-based initiative that highlights the wonders of object manipulation.

Preparations for World Juggling Day 2012 have been long in the making. Individual jugglers and juggling clubs around the globe have participated by registering their local event – performance, festival, teaching session, game or media event – on the WJA website.  Individuals have also registered by pledging to juggle in their home, yard or public space.

The individual and club entries are on the WJA website so that the world juggling community, their friends, fans and families, can watch the growth of the project and the performances of jugglers round the world.  Today, the global juggling community is watching as amateurs and pros alike keep those balls, knives, clubs and any non-stationary object in the air – then move alacrity when the inevitable fall happens.

To view a digital scrapbook of videos submitted for the World Juggling Day click here. (

To learn more about local celebrations of WJD and the local juggling scene click here.(

Seniors Quicken the Pace of “Digital Inclusion”

“We will not be silenced!” asserts my friend with clinched fist and a tone that echoes past protests familiar to many who have achieved senior citizen status.  Today she is denouncing the myth that seniors don’t – and theoretically can’t–  learn to use technology.    The pernicious myth, long debunked by reality, subtly relegates those of an age to the virtual shelf – as if they themselves were virtual.

My friend’s adamant rant continues – “We marched for peace, demanded equal pay, fought for civil and voting rights, created the tools that shaped the information age” (There’s more that’s better left unquoted here.)  ) Her vehemence recalls the immortal words of Twisted Sister, idol of a pre-digital age “We ain’t gonna take it anymore!”

Researcher Rod P. Githens of the University of Illinois Urbana introduces his study of “Older Adults and E-Learning” with two poignant caveats 1) We often attribute rigidity to age rather than personality, though Nichols (2001) points out rigidity ‘is less a factor of age than of personal history, pressure, and predisposition,” and 2) “attributing rigidity to age is just as damaging as attributing negative stereotypes to other groups.”

In the information age it’s all about statistics.  Another caveat:  Though statistics may not lie, they definitely lag.  There are numerous studies and a wide range of statistics on seniors’ use of technology.  Some samples:

  • A 2010 study by the AARP includes some basics facts, e.g.Two out of five (40%) age 50 and over consider themselves extremely (17%) or very (23%) comfortable using the Internet.
  • 37% of those surveyed use social media with Facebook being by far the most popular (23%)
  • Of the seniors who are connected 62% are connected with their children, 36% with their grandchildren, and 73% with other relatives

Aging Online,  a blog managed by Jamie Cannacher,  offers some fun stats re seniors and technology in an article irresistibly titled “Four cool boomer technology stats you don’t know.”

  • People age 55 and up pick passwords that are twice as secure as teenagers, according to research data pulled from 70 million Yahoo! Users.
  • Smartphone usage among Boomers (age 45 to 54) grew 16 percent last year – falling just behind young people (age 18-24) whose usage of smartphones grew 18 percent.
  • Social media usage by people age 65 and older grew 50 percent during the last two years, according to a report rom Experian.
  • 13 percent of people age 50 and older are Twitter users


Within the past hour I received a hot off the wireless a post from Aging Online, a quick piece with another irresistible title “Last week was big for new data on how seniors use the web.”

Briefly, Forrester Research, a privately operated research company,  just released updated statistics including these facts about the mores of seniors who are online. Though the full report is designed for Forrester clients and other paid customers, a few extrapolated stats suggest an upward trend worthy of note:

  • 91% of online seniors use email,
  • 71% go online daily
  • 59% have purchased products online in the past three months,
  • 46%  share photos by email,
  • 44% play solo games online, and
  • 24% sign up for coupons and freebies online

Though Aging Online is just one of several up-to-the-minute windows on the latest scoop on techno-savvy or digitally deprived seniors, it is a starting point to the vast possibilities.

Some thoughts on seniors and technology:

  • Americans are reaching the magic age of “senior” (however that may be defined) at a staggering rate.
  • The definition of senior all depends – It can be anything from 50+ to the age of retirement or another category that suggests “older elderly.” As always, statistical analysis varies with definition of the population surveyed.
  • A historic fact that intrigues me is that many senior retirees, e.g. military retirees, clerical workers, accountants, who have received training and used technology for decades may associate computers with workplace drudgery rather than the freedom of everyday living as a retiree.  They may leave the computer at the office because of cost, ready access or because they have had too much of a good thing.
  • Children and grandchildren are generally touted as the best tutors of older family members.  Though I have discovered no statistical confirmation, I would posit that they are not only proximate and patient, but that they are “on call” when Grandpa hits a digital roadblock.
  • Those with an interest in bridging the generation gap should check out Cyber-Seniors, producer of documentary films tell the stories of seniors and teens working in tandem.  The premise of Cyber-Seniors is this:  “A history book can only teach you so much.  Today’s kids and seniors have an opportunity to share so much more with each other by trading off history lessons for computer lessons.  The way technology is changing at a rapid pace today, with our devices becoming more intuitive and easier to use, this could be the last time we need a generation gap that’s so obvious.  We’re growing up with it and keeping pace.  Future studies about technology might not focus so much on age, but instead on access and economic status.”
  • More important, future studies about technology should focus on content, not to how to manipulate the tools but how to shape the issues, evaluate the sources, relate research to practice, make wise and informed decisions.  Access is an essential “baby step” on the long path to information literacy for all ages.

My friend is right to demand recognition of seniors’ technology acumen and receptivity to change.  She and her superannuated colleagues deftly couple decades of life experience with the need, will and tools to speak and be heard.  The rapidly expanding ranks of thoughtful people “of an age” will not – and should not – be silent in this information age.

Minneapolis Opens Discusion with Survey of the City’s Digital Inclusion Status

For the better part of an hour the 25-30 concerned Minneapolitans gathered at Northeast Library to learn the results of a recent survey of the City’s digital inclusion status.  This was the first of three public meetings to share and discuss the survey process and implications.  Otto Doll from the City IT department kicked off the discussion with an informative power point report on the recently released Community Technology Survey, a profile of Minneapolis residents’ access to the tools and skills of  “digital inclusion” for individuals and families, “digital justice” for the community

Doll explained the intent and principles of the study including a diagram showing stages of development from physical access to equipment, to technology literacy, to a public embrace of a digitally-inclusive community.  The presentation offered helpful graphics which included maps of the areas of the city depicted in terms of basic access to the Internet and practical uses of web technology as well as bar charts that illustrate the state of digital inclusion by gender, race and ethnicity, education and income.

The digital inclusion survey, conducted under contract with the City by the National Research Center, Inc. was mailed to 80,000 Minneapolis residents clustered into eleven communities.  The 30% response rate reflects 2,578 completed surveys with a margin of error at a plus or minus nine percent. Results were weighted to reflect the 2012 Census profile within each of the communities and with the City at large. Residents whose first language is Spanish, Somali or Hmong were able to request a survey in their preferred language.

Bottom line: The survey portrays a city in which digital inclusion matches with existing socio-economic realities.   While 82% of the City’s households have computer with internet access, only 57% of Phillips and 65% of Near North residents have access at home;  25% of African Americans reported they do not have Internet access in the home.

Across the board, most residents report that they are not aware of the City’s wifi network, a hot topic a decade ago when the City signed a major contract with U.S. Internet to build the wifi system.

When the presenter opened the floor for questions, hands waved, voices raised, and suggestions overtook questions as one speaker after another offered a range of ideas for creating a digitally inclusive city.  Though Doll tried with minimal success to explain that the survey was a measure of what is, not an action plan for what could and should be, the ideas flowed from attendees, the majority of whom brought to the table extensive life experience working to stem the digital divide .   Several indicated involved with the Technology Literacy Collaborative, a network of digital inclusion supporters.

A prevailing theme throughout the presentation and the discussion was the need for collaboration among agencies and organizations to assure that the Internet does not offer have not’s just one more resource to not have.

The statistics, graphics and conclusions of the survey are available online for interested individuals and organizations.  Print resources will also be shared at future public meetings which are scheduled as follows:

The City has provided the massive survey results, including the full data set, on the Minneapolis City website.  Questions or requests for additional information can be addressed to  Elise  Ebhardt at or 612 673 2026.

Minnesota Constitution-Amendments that balance continuity and change

If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.                                                                Abraham Maslow

 The proliferation of amendment proposals on the November 2012 ballot suggest this might be a mantra for the IR legislature.  The nails of Voter ID and same-sex marriage have long pierce the political skin of the right wing.  The Governor’s hammer and feisty DFL opposition have left no choice but to bring out the cudgel and start hammering.  Now it’s up to the voters.  Once again, a bit of history exposes how the amendment hammer has been brandished in Minnesota history.

Writing in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in January 2012, journalist Jim Ragsdale warns that it’s “hard to undo” an amendment that has been blessed by the voters.  Policy and budget decisions are normally embedded in laws passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor.  Laws can be changed when external factors intrude or political tides shift.  Amending the constitution, while allowing direct decisions by the people, locks in changes that are much harder revisit, much less change.   In Minnesota the process is straightforward:  If both houses of the Legislature approve a proposed constitutional amendment it goes directly onto the general election ballot, a relatively easy first stop..  In Wisconsin and Iowa,  Ragsdale notes a proposed amendment must be approved by two successive legislative sessions, with an election intervening, before it goes to the voters.  Some other states require a ‘super majority’ legislative vote.

 That puts a heavy burden on Minnesota voters.  Earlier in the current process, when legislators pushed for Constitutional amendments, Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem (IR-Rochester) advised that “it does place an additional responsibility on us to be cautious, to be careful, to understand what the Constitution is for, to enter into these decisions with due consideration.”

So now it’s up to the voters to fully comprehend the proposed amendments and the possible trajectory of an approved Constitutional amendment.  As always, a look back at history can help.

Until 1898, the Constitution was amended by a simple majority of both houses of the Legislature, then ratified by a simple majority of the voters at the next general election. The total number of voters who cast any ballot at the election did not determine whether an amendment was approved or rejected.  In 1898 the rules changed – by a Constitutional amendment nicknamed the Brewer’s amendment – so that a Constitutional amendment, once approved by a simple of majority of both chambers of the Legislature at one session, had to be ratified by a majority of all the electors voting at the election whether or not the voter expressed an aye or nay on the proposal.  Historian Betty Kane, author of a definitive history Constitutional amendments, writes that “before 1889 it was ‘easy to get amendments proposed, and easy to get them ratified.  Once the state imposed stricter standard via the so-called ‘brewers’ amendment’ of 1898, the adoption of amendments dropped to less than one-third of its previous level.”

Over the decades some 213 proposed amendments have been made their way to the ballot box; 120 have passed.   In conjunction with Sunshine Week 2012 I dipped gingerly into the history amendments to the Minnesota Constitution.  Thanks to the resources of the Legislative Reference Library I got a glimmer of just how that hammer has been put to the test over the years.  Even a quick review of that history gives a voter pause – at the whims of Minnesota voters and the long-term consequences of their votes.

 During the past session legislators grappled with a jumble of proposed constitutional amendments that now present voters with two monumental opportunities to express their opposition or support for the Voter ID and the Marriage Amendment.  Information and misinformation abound.  In the end, voters must listen with care, consider the source, and way the consequences  — the goal is not to “win” but to assure that the Constitutional amendments achieve the challenge put forth by Betty Kane, the challenge to balance the forces of continuity and change.

Chautauqua at St Catherine University Kicks Off August 8

Lively learners of every vintage have a chance to kick off (literally) the Summer Chautauqua series that will burst forth for a second year on the campus of St. Catherine University, 2004 Randolph in St. Paul’s Highland area.  On Wednesday, August 8, 7:00 p.m. the music ensemble Bara, with dance caller Ann Wiberg, will host a Ceili (pronounced KAY-lee), the traditional Irish gathering of fun, fellowship, laughs and a chance to trip the light fantastic.

The merriment takes place on the SCU campus in Rauenhorst Ballroom, Coeur de Catherine hall (student union/library).  Registration for the Kickoff Bara is $10 for adults, $5 for children who have a special invitation to participate.

The Ceili kicks off the week-long Chautauqua program  (August 8-15,) targeted to adult learners who have lots to learn – about everything from “Hmong Culture and Shamanism in Today’s Society” to “From Gene Kelly to Generation X: The Transformation of American Musical Theater,” to “Human Trafficking in Minnesota.” Sessions meet throughout the day and evening .  The week wraps up with a well-deserved Ice Cream Social featuring “musical stringman” Paul Imholte on Wednesday, August 15, 7:00 p.m.

Prices for individual classes vary.  For a full schedule of classes, faculty, times and sites and a campus map, email or 651 690 6666.

* * *

NEW FOR 2012 at Chautauqua is a Girls Leadership Track set for Friday, August 10 through Monday morning, August 13.  Geared to girls entering 6th through 8th grade in Fall 2012, the program requires that youth be accompanied by an adult “champion” –  mother, aunt, grandmother, friend or another “mentor.”

The program will provide tools and resources for girls to “carry their leadership journey forward.”  Participates may attend any or all of the classes in the track; cost for the Girls Leadership Track is $40.

Reflections on Art-A-Whirl 2012

If you were able to walk and gawk through the delights of Art-a-Whirl 2012 you’ll want to compare your responses with those reflected in the June 2012 issue of In the District., the report from the Northeast Area Arts District spearheaded by Josh Blanc.

If you missed the seventeenth annual celebration of the arts in the Northeast community you will feel as if you had been there when you read the reflections of artist Caitlin Karolczak who explored her innate performance art talents as a first-timer at this year’s AAW.

Josh posed a series of queries, all of which Caitlin answers with enthusiasm for her experience and her life working in the Northeast arts community. “My studio is like a sanctuary,” Caitlin observes, adding that  “it’s also nice to be a part of a bigger community of artists.  NEMAA is a great hub and resource for all artists in Northeast”.  As an artist relatively new to the community Caitlin notes that “I also really appreciate there are resident ‘old guards’ who are willing to act as mentors.”

Watch for Caitlin at the Modern Café where she loves the vintage drinks and the pot roast! “  She is not the first to sing the praises of the comfort food that fuels artists and lovers of art, Northeast Minneapolis and classic food served with panache.

Northeast happenings

Last week was outdoor festival time in Northeast.  Neighbors turned out en masse for the Windom Park/Pillsbury carnival then gathered again on Saturday for Johnstock  Lots of sunshine, arts and crafts, community resources, rides, kids and more kids – topped in my view with a tour of the once and future magnificent Hollywood Theater.

Here’s a quick look at some of the myriad activities that friends and neighbors  are participating and contributing:

* Northeast Minneapolitans who oppose the “Marriage Amendment” are invited to the NE Votes No Kickoff on Saturday, June 16, 2:00-5:00 at the Soap Factory.  Near neighbors in St. Anthony and Columbia Heights, North Minneapolis and surrounding areas are welcome.  Free and open.   The Soap Factory is at
514 Second St SE
Minneapolis MN 55414.   Email questions to

*For months – or is it decades – North and Northeast Minneapolis have been separated by the mighty Mississippi.  Though the river has kept on rolling along between the two communities, for decades. sturdy bridges (Plymouth, Broadway, Lowry and Camden) constructed decades ago eliminated the need to portage or wait for low tide.  As long as locals can recall – and until recent years –making the trek from North to Northeast or vice versa, has been no problem – until the bridges were declared unsafe for cars, trucks and buses.

The good news is that the arches that are the main support of the not-quite-new-yet Lowry Bridge now gleam in the sun, like a sweet promise that hope is on the way that motorized vehicles will once again flow with ease above Old Man River.

For the latest update on “The Lowry Link Between Two Communities” you will want to participate in the next Northeast Network meeting.  It’s Thursday, June 14, 7:30-8:45 a.m. at the Eastside Food Co-op, 2551 Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis.

Guest speakers are Carol Anderson, Hennepin County Department of Community Works and Transit, Bill E. Feltow, Engineer with the City of Minneapolis, Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Association, and a representative of the County Commissioners TBA.

As with all NE Network sessions the June 14 gathering is free and open to the public.  Free coffee, muffins and fruit for all comers.  RSVP to

* Trivia fan alert!   Unlock the mental cupboard where you store  your Co-op trivia.  You’ll need those dormant snippets to ace the competition at the Co-op Trivia contest set for Saturday, June 9, 5:00 p.m. at the 331 Club, 331 13th Avenue NE in NE Minneapolis.  The United Nations has designated 2012 is the International Year of Cooperatives. In so doing, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared that “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility. ”

So now you have the answer to one  basic trivia question  – Who passed the declaration for the International Year of Cooperates?  The rest is up to you.  Hint:  You will be questioned on food, co-ops and the environment.

The June 9 event at the 331 Club is one of several Co-op Pub Trivia contests sponsored by several Twin Cities area food co-ops:  Eastside Food Co-op, Just Food C-op, Lakewinds Co-op, Linden Hills Co-op, Mississippi Market, River Market, Sewad Co-op Grocery & Deli, St. Peter Food Co-op, Valley Natural Foods and The Bridge Co-op.

Whether you’re a Co-op regular, a Trivia fanatic or just a neighbor looking for a gathering of healthy-eating and smart shopping Trivia-philes, check it out!