Monthly Archives: February 2017

DataRescue TC’s – Call to Action!!!

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. ― George Orwell1984

With the help of a host of friends the federally produced datasets housed at the University of Minnesota Libraries will escape this Orwellian fate. The University Libraries have issued a resounding call for researches, tech-savvy coders, archivists, librarians, and “passionate community members” to share their time, skills and commitment to access as participants in the crisis-dictated DataRescue-Twin Cities project.

The goal of DataRescue-Twin Cities is to “capture and archive” the immensely valuable and irreplaceable data housed at the U of M Libraries. It’s one of many institutions participating in a vigorous national initiative now activated on university campuses, in government agencies, anywhere that the people’s data are threatened by unprecedented policies that fly in the face of science, open government and people’s right to know.

Emphasis of the call to action is on volunteers’ willingness to help rather than on sophisticated skills. Volunteers will find the job that fits from a range of options including Seeding and Sorting, Researchers/Harvesters, Checkers, Baggers, and Toolbuilders. The “position descriptions” are spelled out in detail in the call to action.

There’s much more information re job descriptions on the U of M website:

DataRescue-Twin Cities Details:

Dates:         Friday, February 24, 1:00 – 6:00 p.m.S

Saturday, February 25, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Site:             Humphrey School of Public Affairs, 50B

RSVP to the event on Facebook!

Questions? Email

A royal story fit for these times


Presidents’ Day greetings!

The nation’s history is rich with elegant stories of our leaders who have demonstrated bravery, creativity, honesty, magnanimity, common sense, strategic thinking, business acumen and genuine concern for the good of all Americans. These men (!) have earned this day on which 21st Century Americans honor their contributions to the public good.   Most young Americans have a “day off” – and many of these will be spending some of the day with adults who care mightily about their welfare.

The concerning truth is, on Presidents’ Day 2017, our children are stressed.

As an ardent believer that facts matter and truth will out, I fancied a post about this democracy’s system of checks and balance – or about the First Amendment and the role of the press – or about the logistical fallacy of injecting a “red herring” into otherwise civil discourse…. Though I told myself that truth will out I soon realized that logical arguments, historic concept and diagrams of our tripartite government structure were too logical for young thinkers for whom illogic has been normalized.

The wisdom of Flannery O’Connor called out to me — “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way.” 

The story for Presidents’ Day 2017 is handed down to us by the world’s most iconic storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen – Though we all know both name and message of The Emperor’s New Clothes, today seems the right day to refresh, then share, the story.

Refresh your memory by listening here before you et out to share the retelling with youngsters – or grownups – in your life: (It’s better with book in hand, of course.)

Listening is a first step, it’s talking about the meaning of the story that will prompt lines of reasoning for the young thinker. I enjoyed this comfortable approach to talking about the lessons of the tale of the hapless Emperor:

If, like me, you’re compelled to follow the story of the story, there’s always the source of last – sometimes first – resort. Wikipedia’s entry on The Emperor’s New Clothes offers context and insight on a story that has stood the test of time.’s_New_Clothes



Presidents’ Day 2017-A teachable moment

Presidents’ Day 2017 is not at all like Presidents’ Days of years gone by – much less like the long-past celebrations of President’s George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.   As seasoned grownups we face the challenge to adjust to the reality of the 21st Century presidential role; we have the advantage of historic perspective, life experience and the bit of wisdom that comes with age.

For children, today’s events are confusing, threatening, disruptive to their lives and, just as important, to the lives of their parents, teachers, grandparents, friends and neighbors. It’s a tough time to be a kid caught in this time warp.

My thought – hope – is that President’s Day offers chance – even an excuse – to talk about some big issues, including the role and power of the President, the checks and balances that shape this democracy, what it is to be a nation of laws, the ways in which other people have met tough times – and how they have survived because of their sense of interdependence and commitment to the common good.

There are big issues that just might help troubled young minds cast their concerns in a broader framework.   Parents and teachers are in the front lines of helping children to learn. And yet elders, including but not limited to grandparents, have even more relevant life stories to share with impressionable young friends.

When faced with the challenge to understand, much less explain, difficult ideas, books can help. Though I’m far from qualified to judge the value of a resource, and I know better than to judge a book by its cover, these are some possibilities to be found in libraries and bookstores.

One conversation starter might be Catherine Stier’s If I Were President, (

The book is a read-aloud for young pre-readers. In fact, the proposition, even without the book, could start a meaningful conversation…

This is just one of the books named on this Presidents’ Day list:

And that is simply an idea generator – your fingers can do the walking through the wealth of books and guides posted on the web – a bit of advice, look for suggestions from teachers, booksellers and/or librarians…

This could lead to a more substantive discussion of just what a President does, how he or she plays a specific role in the mix of people who are elected by all the people, including family members and adult friends, to do what’s best for the people in this country.  Some easy online conversation starters that deal with the power and responsibility of the President:

The idea is to suggest that kids need to talk and stories, personal memories, stories in books and online guides can ease the way into a conversation that matters.

Booksellers, librarians and teachers who know far more than I do about good reads and resources have compiled reading/discussion guides on every conceivable topic. Here’s just one of the infinite examples – with a title that caught my eye. Though the range of topics explored here are beyond the Presidents’ Day theme, these are the things that are troubling young minds these days:

Usually Presidents’ Day is a time to remember and honor the leaders of this democracy. This year may call for something a little different, a serious conversation between a caring grown-up and a special child about what’s happening in this nation today. Kids hear the buzz; they hunger for the stories and the facts. Presidents’ Day 2017 is what is known as a “teachable moment.”

Presidents’ Day sales will wait – Kids can’t.











Presidential gaffe inspires a nation to know Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice……Donald J. Trump

To be sure Frederick Douglass is better known now to most Americans, in light of journalists, teachers and the general public’s reaction to the President’s display of ignorance of the history of the nation he purports to “rule.”   And yet we all have more to learn.

Fortunately, resources  about this great American abound. Just last week my email included a link to this lovely video narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass produced by the National Archives.

This led me to a corollary video that treats of Douglass as the “conscience of the abolitionist movement:

And to this, one of many YouTube adaptations of picture books that tells the story of Frederick Douglass: —

As well as to this impassioned speech, delivered by Douglass on July 4, 1852.

And to the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, a venture created by residents of his birthplace in Talbot County, Maryland – who knew!

Needless to say, the royal gaffe has fostered a flood of responses in the press. It’s informative to read the words of contemporary writers whose response has been to celebrate Black History Month 2017 by expanding their readers’  appreciation of Frederick Douglass. The problem is that it’s a challenge to focus on the contributions of Douglass rather than on the unfortunate gaps in the leader’s understanding of American history. Here is just one of scores of tributes to this brilliant visionary.

To really learn about the writings, the life and unique contributions of Frederick Douglass there is no better path than to dip into the resources of the Library of Congress which has made vast Douglass-related resources accessible online. Though the wealth of information – books, manuscripts, videos, guides and more — may seem overwhelming, all is meticulously organized – and you may certain that there is something in the collection to pique the interest of every learner, including candidates for public office, who harbor a passion to know the story of this democracy.




Black Nurses in our history – Some leaders and their stories

The character of a nurse is as important as the knowledge she possesses. Carolyn Javis


Though Black History Month features many tributes to African Americans in medicine it has finally dawned on me – slowly but surely – that there is a serious absence of programming that celebrates the contributions of Black Nurses!   And so the search began….

In short time I found myself immersed in this comprehensive guide to the topic: Black Nurses in History: A Bibliography and Guide to Web Resources: (} The guide is bursting with the stories of African American women who have served with courage the medical profession and the needs of their patients. These women have been powerful in various professional nursing roles – most often as direct care providers who rose to the challenge to serve the needs of their fellow women and men whose health was imperiled by disease, war, childbirth, working conditions, poor nutrition or other threats to their physical or mental wellbeing

The bibliography introduced me to the American Association for the History of Nursing ( and to Diane Brownson’s nursing history links:  (

With time, and a few detours, I made my way to some grand stories of little-known, and a couple of famous, African American nurses.

  • – Brief stories of Mary Seacole who served in the Crimean War, Mary Elizabeth Mahoney, the first African American licensed RN, Hazel W. Johnson-Brown, the first African American head of the US Army Nurses Corps, Estelle Massey Osborne, the first African American woman to earn a Master’s degree in Nursing, as well as Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, who need no introduction.
  • Some of these women and others are profiled in this introduction to “Ten African American Nurses Who Changed the Course of History.” In addition to the women named in the preceding entry this listing includes the stories of Adah Belle Samuel Thomas, Lillian Holland Harvey, Betty Smith Williams, Mabel Keaton Staupers, and Susie King Taylor – edifying stories of some of history’s finest health care providers!

There are countless stories yet to be recorded. These are just some ready points of access to stories of nursing pioneers who may propel students of the medical profession, African American history or Women’s history to further explore that cries out for exploration.   The hope is that the stories of these committed women will inspire African American women of all ages to pursue careers as nurses and other health care providers.

Today these organizations continue to serve the specific needs of African American nurses:

  • The National Black Nurses Association, organized in 1971 under the leadership of Dr. Lauranane Sams, former Dean and Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing, Tuskegee University. The NBNA services 150,000 African American nurses with 92 chartered chapters in 35 states.
  • The Minnesota chapter of NBNA is the Minnesota Black Nurses Association 2400 Park Avenue South, Suite 181, Minneapolis, MN 55404 – Email: – Telephone #: 612-353-5136

African American History Month -So much to read, view and learn

As we enter the second week of Black History Month many of us are overwhelmed by the issues, digital options and live events that are happening in communities, sponsored by a host of nonprofits, educational and advocacy groups. An abundance of riches, to be sure. Still, the opportunities to learn are so robust that we don’t know where to start! In an effort to focus, not limit, here are some thoughts:

Some time back I posted a listing of sources of Black History Month public events and activities. It’s not the most recent but it’s a starting point:

Still, events are not the only way to learn the history of African Americans and their contributions to Minnesota and the world. David V. Taylor produced a significant guide to historical resources published as the Minnesota Historical Guide in 1976.

Though dated, it offers a firm foundation to the topic. Dr. Taylor also produced a readily accessible e-book exploring resources on African Americans in Minnesota – it’s available commercially through most e-book vendors.

Sometimes biographies or autobiographies tell the story best. Though there are hundreds of African Americans who have shaped Minnesota history it took the intrepid staff of the St Paul Pioneer Press to suggest just a few historic icons in this 2016 article:

In 2004 TPT produced North Star: Minnesota’s Black Pioneers, the story of twelve early Minnesotans who helped to shape the state. Happily, it’s still accessible online at

Another approach is to focus on a specific era or issue. Again, to narrow the universe, the reader might want to start with a significant book written by William D. Green, former Superintendent of Minneapolis Schools, now on the Augsburg College faculty. Dr. Green’s informative and readable history. Degrees of Freedom, covers the story of civil rights in Minnesota 1865-1912. Get to know Dr. Green and his significant study by listening to these interviews with the author:

Last, but definitely not least, you might want to check out this recent publication from the University of Minnesota Press., edited by Katharine Capshaw and Anna Mae Duane. Here’s the publisher’s description of this unique resource:

Who Writes for Black Children? unlocks a rich archive of largely overlooked literature read by black children. From poetry written by a slave for a plantation school to joyful “death biographies” of African Americans in the antebellum North to literature penned by African American children themselves, this volume presents compelling new definitions of both African American literature and children’s literature.

So much to learn, so little time – especially when African American History Month gets short shrift by being celebrated during the shortest month of the year!













Juggling then — and now — at MONDO 2017

A juggler’s skill hath been long years alearning.

The cryptic observation comes from Martin Farquhar Tupper, an English writer, poet and author of Proverbial Philosophy. This is a man who knew whereof he wrote – and he wrote a lot. This post about juggling and jugglers is prompted not by the quote but by the fact that next weekend, February 11-12, is MONDO!

Farquhar’s observation might well describe the truth about jugglers throughout four centuries of juggling history. Mondo guests, and jugglers (when they take time to rest their throwing arms) would understand the skill in greater depth by learning more of the noble history of what is, in fact, an art.

Juggling is a conversation with the stick, the body, the brain Michael Moschen

There seems to be general agreement that juggling began in Egypt – or maybe it was in the Aztec Empire. Researchers have found evidence in a series of images found in an ancient tomb in Egypt dated nearly two centuries BC.   Still, after the fall of the Roman Empire, jugglers lost their appeal; they were occasionally persecuted, considered “dirty scoundrels” or even witches!

The renaissance of juggling came in medieval times when the medieval equivalent of buskers added jugglers to entertain the royalty. In fact the term “juggle” comes from the Middle English word “jogelen”, meaning to entertain or perform – or maybe it was from the French word ‘jogler’ which means to joke or jest. History is ambivalent on the origin.

Whatever the origin of the term, one recognized authority on juggling writes:

With the end of the Middle Ages juggling slowly began regaining its respectability. Pierre Gringoire (1475-1538) was known as the ‘King of Jugglers…. In 1528 the emperor of Hindustan described in his diary a group of jugglers working with wooden rings and in the same year Christoph Weiditz came across jugglers amongst the Indians of Mexico. He made some pen and ink drawings, one of which shows an antipodist ( foot juggler). Antipodism was often found in Aztec art and various forms of juggling were practiced amongst many Indians throughout the Americas. It seems that some Indian cultures used it as part of their religious ceremonies, the actual juggling being performed only by the shaman.

Back in Europe, the Town Council of Nuremburg engaged a full time “Ball-Master” in the 1680, who not only demonstrated his own abilities but also taught the town youths to juggle and to walk the tightrope. Indeed, juggling and rope-walking were often performed together at that time as they are in many circuses today.

In time jugglers began appearing in circuses in Europe and the U.S. This is the era in which juggling began to look more like today’s art.   Though the stories of the time are few, some remain. For example, there were the brothers Mooty and Medua Samme, two East Indians who worked with devil-sticks and performed oriental ball manipulation, which ushered in the trendiness of “Far East” performers – and the inevitable confusion between Asian and American Indians.   Among the Asian performers was the juggler Awata Katsnoshin who performed traditional Japanese ball and stick plays, the precursor of modern ball juggling.

By mid-20th Century movies and TV had absorbed the attention and support of entertainment-seekers. Jugglers moved from main stage to performing on street corners. That is until juggling blossomed again as a healthy, affordable art form now flourishing in gyms, parks, schoolyards, college campuses and senior centers – where jugglers of every age and skill-level share their talent, their time and the tricks of the trade.


And it all comes together at MONDO!!!

Each juggler should be trained in the ignorance of the laws of physics ~ Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

MONDO 2017 is set for February 10-12 at Concordia University Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul.   ’The MONDO Spectacular, Saturday evening at Central High School, features unicycling, juggling and comedy, with special guests Nina Herzog, Matt Hall and Jay Gilligan.   MONDO is presented by MONDO Juggling and Unicycle Arts, a non-profit whose purpose is “to support the understanding and performance of juggling, unicycling, and related arts.” Supporters include Minnesota Neverthriving and the Twin Cities Unicycle Club.

Learn more about MONDO 2017 here:







Library Salon Series explores role of art, crafts

The lessons I first learned from knitting keep showing me this truth: that a kind of radical acceptance of errors and an appreciation for our human capacity for resiliency – that’s what’s truly precious. – Bernadette Murphy

These thoughts of a needle worker, quoted in the most recent BookWomen, reflect the theme of the first in the forthcoming series of Library Salons sponsored the American Craft Council Library.

The Library Salon series begins on Wednesday, March 8, when the speaker will be Dr. Amy Elkins, assistant professor of English at Macalester College. ( Elkins presentation, “The Craft of Survival,” will “trace the history of needlepoint from King Tut’s tomb and Florentine tapestries to Victorian drawing rooms and contemporary creativism.”

Future Library Salons will feature these guests.

  • April 12 – “Situated Somewhere In-Between: Paper Works by Mary Hark.” ( Papermaker and educator Mary Hark makes high quality paper from urban bio-waste.   Her materials include local plants found on a restored prairie in rural Madison, WI. She also works with Ghanaian colleagues to establish a small paper mill for art, design and small industry. In both settings her goal is to build a creative life grounded in making and community-building.
  • May 10 – Objects and Installations: The Work and Residencies of Artist Emily Nachison. ( Through sculptural objects and installations the artist investigates the use of story, symbols and materiality to mythologize natural phenomena, escapism, and the desire for secret knowledge.

Library Salons meet at 7:00 PM at the American Craft Council Library, located in the historic Grain Belt Building, 1224 Marshall Street, in Northeast Minneapolis. The Salons are free and open to the public; all are wheelchair accessible. Sponsors of the Library Salon Series include Northeast Bank, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and T-Rex Cookie Company.






Advocates resist restraints, misuse of government information

Clearly, the challenge facing this nation will challenge most Americans in one way or another. It helps to focus – and to assess individual and societal resources within our reach. As past blog posts suggest, my tools of choice lean toward real facts, the truth and, above all, informed citizens “armed” with the tools (weapons?) of access and critical thinking tools to weigh the overwhelming flood of facts and alternative facts by and about the government.

Good information has a real advantage when it comes to weaponry – it’s agile, abundant and, as I often quote, Harlan Cleveland’s contention that “it’s better if shared.”

No wonder then, that the Commander-in-Chief is quick to grasp the potential of information and its manipulation — misinformation, disinformation, and, most recently, depriving Americans of information collected and analyzed at public expense.

We the public are at the ready to fight fire with fire, alternative facts with legitimate data, mindless tweets with authenticity, bluster with honest truth.   Seekers of truth are eager to share truth with citizen stakeholders who possess both the skills and technology to learn, assess, share and act on good and relevant information by and about the federal government.

Clearly, we have a long way to go – and yet at this juncture many Americans are keenly aware that information matters and that we have the people and the organizational power to act. Leaders of efforts to assure truth in government, transparency and accountability share a commitment to shape a powerful strategy built on truth, not trickery.

The founding fathers affirmed that the fundamental principle of this democracy is information, presumably in the hands and minds of citizens for whom government information is a mighty tool – until access is denied – or until the information tool is weaponized. That’s where we are now.

The weaponization of the peoples’ information has clearly caught the attention of the public and of those advocacy groups that have galvanized their efforts to collaborate and “resist.” The most overt of action is the forthcoming March for Science, a public expression of resistance set for Earth Day, April 29. Plans for the March are also underway. – some recent updates:\

For a half century the most powerful tool in the hands of open government access proponents has been the Freedom of Information Act. More about FOIA here Follow the FOIA website here:

Countless advocacy groups, including numerous coalitions, are “armed for action.”

These are just a very few of the insider entities at the forefront of truth-finding:

Muckrock suggests an action plan – [note: if you have problems with this link, google the title] – offers timely updates and an excellent list of coalition members that share a commitment to open government..

Federal News Radio provides just one of countless descriptions of the backlash to presidential halts to the free flow of federal government information – in this case the news is geared to inside the Beltway audience.

A couple of recent “Poking” posts underscore and elaborate the centrality of an challenges to an informed electorate:

 In a Time of Universal Deceit Telling the Truth

Is a Revolutionary  Act ~ Source not certain




















Words matter – and are now searchable in the Trump Archives

The opportunity before all of us is living up to the dream of the Library of Alexandria and then taking it a step further – universal access to all knowledge.  Interestingly, it is now technically doable Brewster Kahle

Founder of the Internet Archive Brewster Kahle is disinclined to back down from a challenge. He’s also a proponent of real facts, primary sources and the capacity of technology – in the hands of people of good will — to assure that real acts trump alternative facts and fake news. Basically, he believes that a democracy ruled by informed citizens is what the Forefathers envisioned….

Kahle’s Utopian vision is realized in the Internet Archive, now an accepted and essential pillar of today’s information infrastructure.

Sometimes a tool waits in the wing for just the right moment to be essential! Such is the case with the Internet Archives,  henceforth the home of the Donald Trump Archives.   Journalist David Lumb heralded the archive with a hearty “Fact-checkers, start your engines!”

Dating back to December 2009 the Trump Archives’ ultimate goal is to capture virtually every utterance, print, video, digital, or other of the Trump administration.   At the launch of the Trump Archive last month journalist Kalev Leetaru wrote this in Forbes:

For this first incarnation of the Trump Archive, the Archive chose to start with a manually curated collection of around 700 video clips, ranging from major events like presidential debates and major speeches to key policy statements and views espoused by the President-elect, drawing heavily from those video clips that journalists had already identified as particularly noteworthy or which received widespread attention. This means that the collection as it presently stands includes many of the most-talked about Trump statements, but is not an exhaustive record of Trump’s total television appearances.

Read Leetaru’s full article here:

It’s been nearly a month now since The Launch.   To get a sense of the goals, and to keep up-to-date on the scope, response and impact, follow the Trump Archive blog here:

A well informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny. Thomas Jefferson