Monthly Archives: July 2016

Quatrefoil Library at 30! A movement deserves a library!

Some of us remember the beginnings of the Quatrefoil Library — from “back in the day” – before rainbow flags or enlightened legislation altered the lives of LGBTQ Minnesotans, and eventually of the nation.   With a wince I remember getting flack for planning a Metronet event at Quatrefoil three decades ago.

Most of all, I think of the founders, including Edward Swanson about whom I posted a couple of appreciative blogs when he died too soon in December 2010. If you don’t know – or want to be reminded of – the Quatrefoil narrative spend some quality time exploring the excellent Quatrefoil website ( and reading/viewing the resources posted there.

This library community supported and celebrated the unique Quatrefoil Library long before the movement for equality was mainstream. We understood the importance of the archives and, equally, of the lending library that features a robust collection of reading materials by LGBT writers and about issues of interest to the LGBT community and to readers who just wanted to learn more about the lives of their family members, their neighbors, co-workers, and themselves.

Some years ago the Quatrefoil Library moved to its present location on Lake Street. In April 2014 Andy Sturdevant wrote a great piece about the library in MinnPost . When I read that piece I resolved to visit and to better know and to think about the success of this bold enterprise. Unfortunately, I never did visit the “new” library, but I did re-read Andy’s post here: .

The good news is that recognition of the 30th Anniversary fosters new ways to learn about, cheer and support the 21st Century Quatrefoil Library,

First, we can all visit the In & Out: 30 Years at Quatrefoil Library exhibit open through August 28 at the Hennepin History Museum, 2303 Third Avenue South in Minneapolis. Check the Museum website for hours, access and other details. (

A highlight of the exhibit is a special program set for this coming Sunday, July 31 when three long-term Quatrefoil volunteers will lead an informal discussion of the history of the Twin Cities LGBT community library. James Bacigalupo, Robert Frame and Kathy Robbins know the history, the successes and the bumps on the road to equality, including the resistance and acceptance of this community.

The discussion is 1:00-3:00 at the Hennepin History Museum. Cost is included with Museum admission ($5 adults, $3 seniors/students, free for HHM members and children under 6.)

Happy 30th birthday, Quatrefoil Library!

Cow Tipping Press: A mission as unique as the name

One of the most innovative publishing houses in Minnesota today is a small independent press uniquely named Cow Tipping Press. (If you’re a naive city slicker you may have to look up the origin of the branding.)

What’s unique about Cow Tipping Press ( is not just the name, but also the mission: to teach, publish and create awareness of writing by people with developmental disabilities. Much of the focus is actually on “encouraging readers to consider the assets of this rich form of human diversity.” The methods at the Press include training teachers/leaders for advocacy, providing high quality writing classes for adults with developmental disabilities, and publishing the work of the students themselves.

There’s a good introduction to Cow Tipping Press in a recent issue of Twin Cities Daily Planet. In her article citizen journalist Hannah Jones describes the goal of the press to “better educate non-disabled people on how to regard their developmentally disabled not just as people, but as equals, in every sense of the word. It’s not just about ‘helping’ people who have disabilities. It’s about teaching people who don’t.”

Two representatives of Cow Tipping Press were interviewed recently for the Voices of Northeast series of video interviews with members of the Northeast Minneapolis “community of the book.” The guests were founder and director Bryan Boyce and writer Vince Fiorilli whose poetry is published by Cow Tipping. That interview will be cablecast on the Metro Cable Channel (date TBA) and eventually archived at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Minnesota. *

To better understand the work and role of Tipping Cow Press click on where you will find Vince’s poetry and the creative work of other Tipping Press writers posted online. The written words are greatly enhanced by the beautiful book covers designed by visual artists working with Interact Center for Visual and Performing Artists. (

Bryan, Vince, Angie Balfanz and others from Tipping Cow Press will share their vision and their creative work in a special book release and author reading coming up next week – Tuesday, August 2, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Impact Hub MSP, 250 North 3rd Street, Suite 500, in downtown Minneapolis.

Co-sponsor of the book release and reading is Mount Olive Rolling Acres ( The event is free and open to the public.


**(More on the series in earlier posts, including here:

Ballotpedia – A proven port in an information storm

It was Plato himself who advised us that “those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” My thought is that the translation “dumber” does a disservice to the wise man – “misinformed” might better fit the present state of affairs. Still, we get the idea.

It is axiomatic that this democracy is solidly based on an informed public; still, we the public are overwhelmed by questionable data, dubious interpretations, false accusations, apocryphal anecdotes and blatant abound. The flood of information offers us little time and few tools to consider the context or implications of the latest blast. The media blitz and push for ratings, the tweets, the cacophony and exchanges of ignorance have a propensity to drown out – or at least scramble – the truth.

One port in a storm I’ve found is Ballotpedia, the dynamic digital beehive based, as the mainstream media would say, “out there” – i.e. free of the NYC/DC political/media cocoon. Ballotpedia is the product of the Lucy Burns Institute, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin, near Madison. You can learn more about the Lucy Burns Institute in an earlier post: (

Basically, Ballotpedia is an online encyclopedia of American politics and elections. The expressed goal is “to inform people about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government.” Ballotpedia is a one-stop shop for information about the structure, policies, officials, demographics, and issues facing decision makers and those affected by their decisions. With an editorial staff of over 60 writers and researchers, and a complex system of internal fact-checking, Ballotpedia’s “brand” could fairly be characterized as inclusive, accurate, timely, and, above all, neutral.

One of my personal favorite features of Ballotpedia is the list of “influencers” who call the shots in DC, in the State Capitol and at City Hall. While the reader might differ with the listing of identified influencers, it’s instructive to see these fact-checkers’ take on where the influence lies….

In the midst of the current political frenzy one feature of Ballotpedia plays a lead role; Verbatim ( is the fact-checking arm of the enterprise. The legions of Verbatim fact-checkers are neutral, inclusive and at the ready. To their credit, they generously share contact information about their fact-checking colleagues and post links to academic studies on the fine art of fact-checking.

Ballotpedia fact-checkers boldly list the names and links to the host of fact-checking agencies that are delving into every word that’s uttered – or tweeted – in the ongoing political frenzy. More important, they will continue to keep their penetrating eyes on the state and local data/opinion ball when the dust settles.

The encyclopedia role and scope of Ballotpedia defies explanation and demands exploration. As might be expected, the wise founders of the multi-faceted resource provide a mix of helpful guides including tables, maps, interactive tools and more. As current events permit they also produce and maintain an online library of videos and publish The Ballotpedia Podcast. Needless to say Ballotpedia has a vibrant social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – no doubt the best way to follow the action in the weeks and months to come.

Don’t just dip but delve into the depths of this straightforward, user-friendly, accessible and neutral resource – it will inform you through – and way beyond — Election Season 2016!



Register! Education! Vote! – Voters with disabilities face challenges

Far better late than never! Thanks to Minnesota’s Disability Justice project I have known for months that July 11-15 was National Disability Voter Registration Week. And I knew, too, that July 19 was the deadline to register for the primary elections.

The  good news is that Minnesota has voting day registration so it’s not too late for any resident to register – and there’s plenty of time to register in advance for the general election. Note that in addition to new voters, those who have moved, changed their name or not voted for four years are also required to register.

You’ll find more answers than you have questions here:

To the present point, the time is now  to recognize the importance of everyone’s exercising the right to vote – with emphasis here on the challenges that face voters with physical or mental disabilities.  Fortunately, there are resources – print, online and human, at the ready to assist.

At the national level the REV UP! Campaign is the overall coordinator of the Registration Week activities.   REV UP! stands for Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!   That pretty well says it all – in an acronym (or a tweet)!  The REVUP! Campaign is a project of the American Association of People with Disabilities. ( AAPD has compiled an excellent list of voter information-related resources specifically geared to people with disabilities. This election season they are making a serious effort to collaborate with faith groups to mobilize the disability vote and to encourage candidates to address issues of concern to the disabilities community. The AAPD website offers a host of tips and tools for getting out the vote and raising the issues with candidates. (

At the state level, Minnesota Disability Justice ( is equally engaged – and their website is also loaded with treasures. Their Justice Denied video ( is an excellent overview of the range of issues facing and resources accessible to people with disabilities. Here’s a link to the specific section on the right to vote – but it’s well worth taking time to view the entire video (

The important thing is to bear in mind is that the time to take action is now – registration can be an overwhelming hurdle, and the closer we get to going to the polls, the more imposing the barriers can be – or seem. People with disabilities need support – sometimes physical, sometimes a ride, sometimes just encouragement to exercise their fundamental right to participate in the democratic process. We need their voices to be heard and their votes to be counted!


Meredith McIver Is Not a Hoax: Library of Congress tells all

Either Meredith McIver is real OR she is a phantom of long standing. A check of the Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication, the official description of Donald J. Trump’s 2009 book, Think Like a Champion, Ms. McIver probably had a hand in writing that timeless tome.

Here’s the catalog record:

Think like a champion : an informal education in business and life / Donald J. Trump with Meredith McIver. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 978-1-59315-530-8 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Success in business. 2. Success. 3. Success in business—United States. 4. Success—United States. I. McIver, Meredith. II. Title.

An early lesson precludes propensity to plagiarize

When I was about eight years old and in the third grade we were instructed to write a “book report” on a book we were reading.   Not to excuse my larcenous soul, it was with some some innocence that I copied a sentence from the book jacket. In record time Sister Doyle marched, red-faced and veil flying, between the desks to demand that I display the source. It took no more than that brief disclosure for me to understand the inherent evil – probably the sin – of plagiarism.

It’s not a complex concept.   The ten commandment mention of stealing extends to appropriating the words and ideas of another.   Pilfering the intellectual property of another is de facto wrong – and it is also stupid.

In all the years since Sister Doyle’s intervention it has never occurred to me to copy the work or ideas of another – possibly because it’s wrong, and likely because I was certain I’d be caught in the act. Today’s would-be perpetrators, fact checkers and technology have pretty much sounded the death knell for the practice of plagiarism.

My personal approach to limiting the human propensity to plagiarize has been to declare the output of my brain – words or ideas – to be in the public domain. Though I doubt anyone has ever taken me up on the free offer, I wouldn’t want anyone to risk plagiarism by stealing words and ideas that are neither protected nor worth the effort.

My thought is that this reduces the crime rate in two ways: 1) the blanket dispensation eliminates  ethical or legal implications of plagiarism insofar as anything I might come up with is concerned, and 2) no one has to commit perjury by lying about the plagiarism that didn’t occur in the first place.

Celebrating National Ice Cream Day with a Lick and a Promise

Since I first read about Dolley Madison in about third grade I have always thought she was one of the classiest in a long line of First Ladies. I’ve recently learned just how classy she was – in 1813 she served ice cream at the Inauguration Ball celebrating the inauguration of her husband James, who was pretty classy himself.

Today, July 17, 2016, is National Ice Cream Day. July is always National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month is always National Ice Cream Day. President Ronald Reason proclaimed the mid-summer celebrations of America’s favorite treat in 1984. (

Fortified by a couple scoops of butter pecan I set about to learn what I could about the historic significance of the national treasure. (Troubled times demand an occasional break from the news of the day!)

Eschewing any distracting nutritional information I gathered these impressive facts to ponder while dipping into a scoop of real ice cream:

  • Real ice cream comes from milk produced by real cows.
  • Nearly ten percent of the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream.
  • Persians may have created a taste for modern day ice cream by pouring grape juice over snow, the snow apparently saved in underground chambers or harvested from regional mountaintops.
  • It was probably Quaker entrepreneurs who reverted to their home country recipes to open ice cream vending shops in New York and other cities during the colonial era.
  • Which gave Ben Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson a chance to introduce a culinary treat that caught on.
  • Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia received the first U.S. patent for a hand-cranked ice cream freezer in 1843.
  • The first edible ice cream cone was created for the St. Louis World’s Fair by Ernest Hamwi in 1904; Hamwi obtained a patent for his cone-making machine in 1920.

I’m sure there is a lot more to discover about the history and nuances of National Ice Cream Day and National Ice Cream Month.  I’m also certain that some of this may be apocryphal.  What I know for certain is that it’s not too early to mark your calendar for Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, first Saturday of February 2017.

Still, true celebration of National Ice Cream is all about enjoyment of this national treasure.  Enough research.  I’m off to celebrate with another scoop – I’m thinking strawberry sundae this time….

I doubt whether the world holds for any one a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream ~ Heywood C. Broun