Monthly Archives: September 2015

Open Book celebrates designation as International Peace Site

Open Book, best known as a gathering place for writers and literary events, will soon boast a new designation. On Sunday, September 20, Open Book will be dedicated as an International Peace Site. Sunday’s ceremony set for 2:00 p.m., is held in conjunction with worldwide observance of International Day of Peace on Monday, September 21.( (

The designation has been organized by the Social Justice Writers Group and other Open Book member organizations including the Loft Literary Center, Minnesota Center for Book Arts and Milkweed Editions. The goal of the designation is to “celebrate and link the forces of peace and literature.”

As one of 700 International Peace Sites Open Book enjoys unique status while the designation pays tribute to the writers, book artists and publishers that are active in the community globally. Sponsored by World Citizen ( the designation “provides online and onsite resources for peace education as a basis for classroom discussions around cultural understanding, human rights, conflict, peace and social justice.”

The dedication ceremony will also include an open house beginning at 1:00 p.m. The writing groups Equilibrium, TGI Frybread Native American Group, and the Peace and Social Justice Writers Group will conduct readings. There will be multimedia works and musical guest Larry Long. The Minnesota Center for Book Arts will offer family-friendly activities.

The free and open eventwill be held in the Performance Hall at Open Book, 1011 Washington Avenue South. For more information contact Philip Lund, 612 819 1890 or


Arts Access Chautauqua draws broad constituency, invites public participation

The Cowles Center for Dance & Performing Arts, always overflowing with energy, will be more than ever bursting with artistic spirit on Friday and Saturday, September 25-26, when the state’s vast community of artists with disabilities, arts administrators and arts participants will gather for the Minnesota Arts Access Chautauqua.

The Arts Access Chautauqua marks the first time since 1992 that all the players will come together to identify challenges, explore opportunities and, most of all, to “recognize and show artistically the emergence of people with disabilities as active members of the Minnesota arts community.

Sponsoring organization is VSA Minnesota which now makes its home in the Hennepin Center for the Arts, the Education Wing of the Cowles Center.**

The Chautauqua agenda features a huge array of forums, presentations, showcases for participants and occasions for exchange of ideas and hopes. There are presentations on arts access in Greater Minnesota, on theatrical interpreting, and a host of others including one on “Making your website accessible” that should certainly have appeal to a broad audience. All are listed and annotated, with background information on presenters, on the Chautauqua website. Learn more by clicking on

There will also be a public performance involving Minnesotans with and without disabilities who will speak, perform, exhibit and discuss as musicians, actors, storytellers, dancers, writers, visual artists, arts administrators and audiences. Tickets for the public not attending the Chautauqua are just $15, students/seniors $8. There is also a visual art exhibit and sale with artwork by more than 30 Minnesota artists with disabilities.

Registration costs are minimal. A day’s registration includes breakfast and lunch. Friday’s registration includes the 7:30 p.m. performance and reception. Registration for both days is $60 after September 16, $70 at the door. Friday only $40, Saturday only $30. Questions about registration? Contact or or call 612 332 3999 or 800 801 3883.

Funding for the Arts Access Chautauqua is made possible by a grant from the State Arts Board with funds from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

** Note for out of touch readers like me, VSA Minnesota is now the official name of the organization once known as Very Special Arts Minnesota. The name change reflects the fact that “words such as special, very special and handicapped do not reflect language trends in the United States and many other countries”.)

Rural writing and culture celebrated at Morris and Marshall festivals

If you have a yen to rub elbows with local or national writers this October you would be well advised to head to Greater Minnesota, specifically to the Morris and Marshall areas. October will draw scores of writers – and their faithful reader fans – to both communities – to the fifth annual Prairie Gate Literary Festival October 23-24 at the U of M Morris ( and the following week, October 28-31, to the tenth annual Marshall Festival at Southwest Minnesota State University (

The Prairie Gate Literary Festival features a mix of readings and workshops on Friday evening and Saturday. Guest artists include Emma Bull, Ebba Segerberg, Eric Smith, John Hildebrand and Vandana Khanna. Bios of all of the invited writers are on the University of Minnesota-Morris website.

Featured performers at the Marshall Festival include Susan Power and Gordon Henry, Philip Dacey and David Alan Evans, Barton and Ross Sutter. The roster of writers who plan to participate in the Marshall Festival is too long to post, but all can be found on the website (  Of special note is the fact that Saturday is designated Children’s Day featuring a morning session on “Writing Poetry” with Florence Chard Dacey and folk music and dancing with Ross Sutter.

Much more about both festivals can be found on the festivals’ websites.

As you enjoy the autumn drive through the highways and byways, consider the beauty of the countryside and of the ways in which writers and artists enrich the arts and culture of all Minnesotans’ lives.


Fall features new learning options for teens

The Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers ( welcomes Minnesota high school juniors and seniors to start the new school year by entering the first annual Leslie Reindl Peace Essay Contest.   The intent is to encourage and assist young people to focus on the many dimensions of the theme of peace and justice. Sponsors suggest that essayists think and write about what peace and justice mean to them personally, how to implement peace and justice in their school or community, how compassion can improve the writer’s community or build a better world, or to think about the roots of conflict locally or internationally.

Three scholarships will be awarded: first prize is $1000, second $750 and third $500. Scholarship recipients will be invited to speak at the Alliance annual celebration on November 10.

Essays must be original work, 800-1000 words, word-processed, and accompanied by a statement from a teacher, youth leader or parent confirming that it is the original work of the submitter.   Submissions are due by October 15. Mail to Larry Johnson, Box 27314, Golden Valley, MN 55417. Essays may also be submitted by email. Address questions, comments or request for application forms to Larry Johnson,, 612 747 3904.

Meanwhile, the annual National History Day student rush to research is launched with announcement of this year’s theme: “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.” ( The expansive theme sets the tone for social studies teachers and students even as it signals librarians, archivists, parents and grandparents that the floodgates are open for eager young researchers.

Planners underscore that “this theme is broad enough in scope to encourage investigation of topics ranging from local to world history and across any geographic area or time period.” This first phase obviously calls for a major brainstorming – no limits on topics to explore – “whether it is science, sports, art, travel, culture, or even specific people.” As any liberal arts major knows, the challenge is to focus! And therein lies the fun of it all!

Readers, writers, books — and plans – coming together in Northeast

As gardeners and farmers reap the harvest, it seems that ideas that may have remained dormant during the growing season suddenly come full  bloom. Ideas flower. Plans come together.

Such is the case with the inclusive and expanding voices of the literary arts, a vital strand of the Northeast Minneapolis arts community. These are examples only, definitely not the whole, of the ways in which the voices of Northeast Minneapolis community of the book – broadly defined – are being shared.

  • The Friends of Northeast Library are sponsoring another in their series of Salon Nordeast set for Saturday, September 19, 4-7 p.m. at the Gallery Solar Arts Building, 711, NE 15th – All are invited to mingle, enjoy the art, meet with authors, buy a book and have it signed. Readings and discussion follow at 5:30. Author presenters include local resident John Jodzio, and others including writers Neal Karlen, Julie Schumacher, and Brad Zellar. The readings will be moderated by local Northeast author Sarah Stonich.   $5 donation is suggested to support the Friends of NE Library.
  • Voices of Northeast – a series of video interviews with Northeast writers, publishers, booksellers and others who give voice to people who are engaged with the northeast community of the book. Each week Peter Shea conducts extensive informal interviews these individual who represent the various aspects of the literary world. The interviews are cablecast on Metro Cable Network Channel 6, which is carried on every cable system in the metro area. Videos are then archived at the University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Studies – accessible for download, editing or other reuse. The series so far includes Chris Fischbach, celebrating his 20th year at  Coffee House Press, writer Sara Stonich (Vacation Land), storyteller Jerry Blue, Michelle ­­­Filkins of Spout Press and others. This season’s interviews include staff of the American Craft Council, Education Director Perry Price and Library Director Jessica Shaykett, as well as Scott VanKoughnett, proprietor of area bookstore Eat My Words, and local writer John Jodzio. Many more to come.