Monthly Archives: July 2013

Call for submissions: Modern interpretations of historic needlework designs

Crafters everywhere know the story of the Hastings Needle Work Company, an industry started in 1888 by Alice and Florence LeDuc, a family name well known to to 21st Century Dakota County Minnesota residents.  From its origin until the mid 1920’s the Hastings Needle Work Company produced unique embroidery pieces for their hundreds of clients.

Today, over 1200 patterns from the company have survived; the patterns show a broad variety of design styles and subjects – florals, dragons, birds, American Indian designs, geometrical combinations and more.  The original patterns are archived at the Minnesota Historical Society, the City of Hastings’ Pioneer Room, and the Dakota County Historical Society.

To showcase the company and its craftsmanship the Dakota County Historical Society has initiated a unique national competition.  Sixteen of the patterns have been chosen as the focus of a unique challenge to create modern interpretations of the historic designs.

Though the designs were originally intended for embroidery the competition invites applicants to create interpretations using their own choice of artistic medium.  Media may include, but are not limited to hand or machine embroidery, wool felting, rug hooking, quilting, wood carving, painting or mixed media.

Beautiful renditions of the selected patterns are posted on the Dakota County Historical Society website where artists and crafters will also find competition guidelines.  Deadline for entries is March 31, 2014; artwork selected for display must be received by June 13, 2014 at the LeDuc Historic Estate, 1629 Vermillion Street, Hastings, MN 55033.  Accepted artwork will be displayed in the LeDuc House, a working museum open for public tours.

Politics by the Numbers: Stats Tell the Tale of the 1% of 1%

Political junkies, more attuned to counting votes than comparing and contrasting statistics, are furrowing their frazzled brows these days as they parse the implications of the 1% of the 1%.   Sunlight Foundation started it all with their ambitious study and reports on the elite political donors, the .01% of the U.S. population who call the electoral shots.

Basically, that’s 31, 385 individuals who forked over a whole lot of money to influence the 2012 presidential election. The heavy hitters are 1% of 1% in a nation of 313.85 million people, nearly 66,000,000 of whom voted in the 2012 presidential election.  In sum, total political giving by the 1% of the 1% in 2012 was $1.7 billion.

It may surprise some Minnesotans to learn that Wayzata is #5 among the nation’s cities with the highest percentage of 1% of 1% donors.  Fifty Wayzata donors scraped up a total of $3.7 million in campaign contributions.

This is but one local stat extrapolated from a mountain of figures aggregated and interpreted by the Sunlight Foundation.  To wit:  Nearly 72% of the donors were male; the top five employers were Goldman Sachs (85 donors, $4.6 million), Blackstone (49 donors, $2.2 million), Kirkland & Ellis (40 donors, $1.5 million), Morgan Stanley (38 donors) and Comcast (37 donors) tied for fifth place with a measly $1.2 million each.  The median contribution from the 1% is $25,484 which researchers note is “a little more than half the median family income in the United States.”

Of these major contributions approximately 85% of the donors contributed 90% of their money to one or the other party only.  Lobbyists, it seems, are the most egalitarian in their distribution of political wealth and access.

Researchers caution “the 1% of 1% dominated campaign giving even in a year when President Barack Obama reached new small donor frontiers.  In 2014, without a presidential race to attract small donors, all indicators are that the 1% of the 1% will occupy an even more central role in the money chase.”

The Sunlight Foundation reports are replete with graphs and charts, infographics, even a video describing the process and findings.  For the mathematically gifted, opportunities to drill down – and rant – abound.

Learn more on the Sunlight Foundation blog:





Even Better than the 2013 ALA Conference

Buried deep in the heart of every recovering librarian lies the certain knowledge that the faithful are gathered this week in Chicago, mecca of American librarianship, for the annual conference of the American Library Association.  Not to worry, Josh Hanagame, author of The World’s Strongest Librarian, offers literary solace.  USA Today asked Hanagame to comb the genre to suggest his five favorite books about libraries.

Though most library types would disagree with the or any list of books, Hanagame’s selections offer fodder for discussion for the bereft who are not joining the much-touted pilgrimage to the Windy City.

Here’s Hanagame’s list with comments, prime material for explication, analysis, review and comment, even reading….

  • The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco.  “I’ve always wanted to visit the labyrinthine library in The Name of the Rose, if only to see if I could find my way out.  I’d probably forget I was in a maze and just sit down and start reading.”
  • A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books, by Nicholas Basbanes.  “My favorite book about books, the people who collect them, and libraries of all kinds.”
  • The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.  “The scenes where Kvothe is poking around the Archives are some of my favorites in the series to date.”
  • Matilda, by Roald Dahl.  “’Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea.  These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message.  You are not alone.’ Enough said.”
  • The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova.  “I’m a sucker for anyone chasing forbidden knowledge around the stacks of old library, and if it means you get chased by vampires, so be it.”

That’s Hanagame’s list.  Every bibliophile will have a personalized variation on the theme.  Try asking the question at the next book club gathering.  Come up with your own short list.  Any matches?  Assure yourself that they’re probably not talking about this stuff at ALA anyway.