Monthly Archives: April 2017

Exploring and appreciating the parks among us!

Civilization in our time is driven by materialism and troubled by pollution, over-population, corruption, and violence. National parks can hardly be uncoupled from the society around them, but that only makes it more important to protect them and keep them whole and pure. Michael Frome

Spring inspires hope, fosters a sense of freedom, and prompts us to get serious about exploring the wonders of the outdoors – the rivers, forests, lakes, mountains and rivers around us and the oceans that largely define our nation. The season also gives us pause to respect and care deeply about our natural heritage.

We’re midway through National Park Week 2017, a partnership between the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation. We are set free to ponder the possibilities – and to thank our forefathers and mothers who had the vision and the perseverance to assure that our natural legacy remains intact and accessible to all.

Truth to tell, my favorite park is Windom Park, the jewel of Northeast Minneapolis.  No mountains or seashore, but great walkways, elegant trees, a wading pool, tennis courts, a soccer/softball field, hockey rink – and a zip line – all of which-call out to my favorite eight-year-old boy who lives across the street.

Great as it is, Windom Park didn’t make this top ten list in the National Park Foundation’s survey of Favorite National Parks – the voters’ choices are:

#1: YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK.  Discover Yell, owstone National Park!

#2: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK.  Discover Yosemite National Park!

#3: GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK. Discover Grand Canyon National Park!

#4: GLACIER NATIONAL PARK. Discover Glacier National Park!

#5: ACADIA NATIONAL PARK.  Discover Acadia National Park!

#6: ZION NATIONAL PARKDiscover Zion National Park!

#7: ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK.  Discover Rocky Mountain National Park!

#8: GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK. Discover Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

#9: GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK.  Discover Grand Teton National Park!

#10: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK. Discover Bryce Canyon National Park!

Minnesota’s sole national park, Voyageurs National Park (https://www.nps.gov/voya/index.htm) also escaped the Top Ten list – an altogether good thing because the scourge of the wilderness experience is trendiness. Though we are inordinately proud and appreciative of this wilderness wonder, we are comforted to know we won’t be edged out by throngs of road trippers.

We need to know, too, that Minnesota treasures not included on the selection list of national parks include several Minnesota monument and recreation areas that are designated as part of the National Park System.  The list includes some lesser known sites (https://www.nps.gov/state/mn/index.htm)

Explore these closer-to-home, accessible sites here:

  • NATIONAL MONUMENT
Grand Portage
Grand Portage, MN
  • NATIONAL RIVER & RECREATION AREA 
Twin Cities Metropolitan Area
  • NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL
Seven states-New York to North Dakota ,
  • NATIONAL MONUMENT,Pipestone
  • NATIONAL SCENIC RIVERWAY Saint Croix Falls, Minnesota and Wisconsin

Learn much more about the states designated sites here https://www.nps.gov/state/mn/index.htm 

The supreme reality of our time is …the vulnerability of our planet. –John F. Kennedy

 

TC’s Women’s and Girls’ Choirs Celebrate by Singing!

And all meet in singing, which braids together the different knowings into a wide and subtle music, the music of living.― Alison Croggon, The Naming

While musical experts of the world focus on what choir members can do, I would like to focus on what choir members can be. –Russell M. Nelson 

Two decades ago sixteen women from around the Twin Cities gathered for a relaxed dinner.  By the end of dinner they had exchanged updates on their families, jobs and life.  By the end of dessert they had constructed the foundation of a women’s choir. The Twin Cities Women’s Choir, then comprised of  32 singers, sponsored its debut performance on May 31 1998 at Lyndale Congregational Church.

Since that somewhat impromptu beginning the TCWC has grown, now singing in close harmony with the Twin Cities Girls’ Choir.  Today the choir features 150 members and a unique sound;  TCWC has commissioned over 35 compositions and arrangements for women’s voices and now sponsors a composition contest for emerging female composers.

They have also recorded five CDs and established a small group ensemble known as ENCORE!  Their concert schedule includes three major concerts and countless performances at community events.

Currently, the women and girls of both choirs are rehearsing for three early May concerts.  Both concerts will be held at the Lake Calhoun Event Center, 3450  Irving Avenue South, Minneapolis.

On Thursday, May 4, the two choirs will join their voices for the “Divas Concert.”  Doors open at 6:30 pm for the 7:00 performance.  This is a general admission concert; tickets are reserved $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

The TCWC concerts on Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6, are “Divas & Dessert Gala Fundraiser” concerts,    They feature a cabaret environment; seating is reserved.  The concert theme is Prospective, an exploration of the choir’s vision for the next two decades. The evening will include silent auctions, desserts and ENCORE!

Tickets are $35 advance, $40 at the door. Doors open at 6:30 for the silent auction, 7:00 for the concert.  The concert begins a 7:30.  Saturday’s  performance will be ASL interpreted.

Contact information:

Twin Cities Women’s Choir  http://www.twincitieswomenschoir.org
4631 Harriet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419   612 333 8292 sing@twincitieswomenschoir.org

Twin Cities Girls’ Choir  http://www.twincitiesgirlschoir.org4631 4631 Harriet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55419     612-333-8292.


Advocates speak out – No fare hikes, route cuts for Metro Transit!

Are you a bus/LRT regular who depends on public transit to get to work, school, shopping, the clinic, entertainment, life?

Or are you a car dependent commuter who appreciates the fact that thousands of commuters avoid rush hour gridlock by taking public transit?

Or do you care about the environment – including air pollution?

The point is, all of us benefit when lots of us get around the metro area by way of the bus or LRT.   Which is why all of us need to be concerned about the proposed fare increases and drastic reductions in bus and LRT service now pending in the State Legislature.

Opponents of the legislation charge that service cuts will involve less frequent trips, shorter hours and fewer routes.  Obviously, the cuts are tough for countless riders, totally devastating for those who depend on public transit evenings, weekends, or on less traveled routes. People with disabilities will be stranded.

Advocates of public transit – riders and members of the public who care about congestion and clean air and the welfare of their neighbors will gather on Tuesday, April 18, 6:00-7:30 PM at the LRT Line Capitol/Rice Street Station to speak up for the indispensability of high quality public transportation accessible to all!  The event is hosted by Transportation Forward – open to all!!!

Check the Transportation Forward FB site for details and developments:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1941282616091951/

POST-EVENT UPDATE:   https://www.minnpost.com/community-sketchbook/2017/04/fearing-cuts-will-affect-most-vulnerable-transit-advocates-rally-minnes?utm_source=MinnPost+e-mail+newsletters&utm_campaign=826a7058e8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_04_20&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3631302e9c-826a7058e8-123365126

 

 

 

Minnesota taxpayers join Tax Day March and Rally

As always with the April 15 tax deadline, I’m late – only this time it’s late for the Tax Day March and Rally scheduled for tomorrow, April 15, in Washington, DC and throughout the nation. What finally prompted me to take action – on the March if not the taxes — is this reminder just posted by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Government, the DC-based advocacy commonly known as CREW.  It’s a fun promo for a serious cause:  http://www.citizensforethics.org/tax-day/

No surprise, Minnesotans are joining the April 15 protest tomorrow.  Marchers will gather at 11:00 AM at the Veterans building on the State Capitol Mall.

Planners are firm about the intent of the March and Rally: The National Tax March isn’t an organization–it’s a movement. The White House said no one cares about the President’s tax returns. We are marching because the President must be accountable to the American people. Trump must act in the public interest and release his returns, divest his holdings, and disclose his conflicts of interest

Speakers at the Minnesota Tax Day March include Dr. Richard Painter, law professor at the U of M and former chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, State Representative Laurie Halverson, member of the Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto and State Senator John Marty. A variety of musicians will entertain between speeches.

The Minnesota “Show Us the Money” Tax March is endorsed by MoveOn.org, Indivisible, StandUp Minnesota, Twin Cities Anti-Hate Directive, Americans for Tax Fairness, The Center for Popular Democracy, Our Revolution, and Working Families.

Planners provide a way-above-average website that will answer last minute queries re logistics, mission, map, speakers, musical performers and more.  Learn everything you ever wanted to know about the Minnesota Tax Day March and Rally here:

  WWW.TAXMARCHMN.ORG

UPDATE: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15b6e60f52286ab2

POST-MARCH UPDATE:  https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15b8867bccdf0142

Subversive thoughts on National Library Week 2017

Librarians are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them.” Michael Moore 

As usual, Michael Moore sees beyond, behind, through and inside the exterior of things, events, buildings – and people.  Which is why this quote got me thinking about this National Library Week post.

National Library Week matters because if only because the theme gives us pause to think about how or whether “libraries transform lives,” as this year’s NLW theme asserts. (http://www.ala.org/news/mediapresscenter/factsheets/nationallibraryweek)

For most of us the word “library” prompts visual images of stately buildings of days gone by, rows of neatly shelved tomes, acres of accessible technology, children’s reading corners and quiet carrels.  For some nostalgic bibliophiles, there’s even an old book smell….

And yet, libraries are not just places.  What the library user sees is the physical manifestation of an intricate collaboration of library workers who breathe life into what is a truly human process.   It is human beings who select the library’s holdings, organize the collection, know how to locate resources through a maze of interlibrary connections, maneuver their way through print and digital reference tools, read to children, deliver resources to the homebound, partner with researchers, and otherwise link a unique bit of recorded information – a book, database, video, story or archive — with a seeker who has a need and right to know.

My thought is that NLW should be re-branded, maybe as National “Libraryness Week.”  Though obviously that’s not going to happen, rebranding would shine the light on the essence of the whole, the countless roles that committed library workers play – when they’re plotting not a revolution but a path from seeker to source, unlikely source to ready seeker.

The sometimes rugged path is laid by a team of library workers who shape the reality that comes full circle in the physical library setting – whether that’s an iconic Carnegie public library, a laboratory, law firm, elementary school, university campus, hospital or church basement.  Physical settings are essential but inert – human beings plot, then create, the settings, the flow of information and ideas, and the path that leads to learning.

Michael Moore nails it – those library workers aren’t just sitting there, or shelving or cataloging or reading to a group of six-year-olds or delving into a rare tome or deciphering a reference question.  Toiling in back rooms and endless meetings, they are, in fact, plotting a revolution, a revolution built on an informed democracy in which people seek truth, embrace wisdom, learn from the past, and share the intellectual legacy of a free people.

One of my favorite high school memories is of a beloved teacher with a mission who would dash down the hall declaring with gusto that she was “on her way to combat ignorance!”  That’s how I think of library workers who 1) design and share an integrated system that assures that every voter, student, inventor, parent, historian, new American, researcher, educator, caregiver or avid mystery reader has the opportunity to exercise the inalienable right to know, and 2) go to the max to see that truth-seekers have the skills, attitudes and awareness to make the information and ideas their own.

Though I wish I had a more poetic word for it I’m stuck for now with the idea of “libraryness” to express my commitment to this democratic – and increasingly essential — role of librarians and libraries – the port in the storm engulfing this nation’s truth-seekers.  The whole of libraryness is far greater than the sum of its parts; the strength of libraryness rests not only on ready access to recorded resources but on the creative vision and commitment of library workers.

Yes, we celebrate library buildings, library books, digital resources, archives, photos, magazines, devices, games, information collected, produced and consumed in ever-changing formats.  For me, this library quote “puts a face” on the wholeness and outcome of libraryness – an outcome impossible to measure, essential to preserve:

Librarians are just like search engines, except they smile and they talk to me and they don’t give me paid-for advertising when they are trying to help.  And they have actual hearts.

* * *

P.S. When/if you’re at Minneapolis Central Library visit the NLW exhibits that  include some lesser known treasures  that tell the story of libraries and librarian.  While you’re at the Central Library visit special collections to check out the excellent exhibit of digital resources that give reveal the treasures of the Library’s special collections: https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/opening-library-archives-from-the-outside-in

Honor library workers of yore who paved an early path on which today’s information highways are constructed by clicking on this NPR broadcast: http://www.npr.org/2017/04/13/522606808/file-this-under-nostalgia-new-book-pays-tribute-to-the-library-card-catalog?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170413

 

National Poetry Month — Poetic ways to spend the days!

Today’s weather notwithstanding, we are well into April – which means we are well into National Poetry Month.  Whether it’s politics or taxes or a brief spate of springlike weather, the fact is that this post is late to herald the month!   The good news is that there is much to come!

A veritable potpourri of possibilities –  this simply gives the flavor of the host of readings, celebrations, blog posts and creative ways in which we welcome spring with a collective celebration of well-chosen words that enrich our lives throughout the year

The best way to learn everything there is to know about National Poetry Month is to start by diving deep into the official website sponsored by the Academy of American Poets: https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/home   There you’ll learn about the two decades of celebration of the world’s literary treasures we share;  you’ll also find  a delightful poster, listing of events, and some unique projects including Poem in Your Pocket Day, details of the Dear Poet Project”, a chance to sign up to read a Poem-a-Day and scores of other ideas.  It’s not too late to dip into this overflowing pool of celebratory options!!!

Don’t stop with the National Poetry Month section though – take time to explore more of the website.  This is a never-depleted, always refresh source of ideas, insights, videotaped interviews and readings, poems for every occasion and more!  A year-round treasure-trove!

Then move on to explore what’s happening closer to home.

  • April 20-21 Magers & Quinn Booksellers will sponsor back-to-back evenings of poetry readings. Milkweed Editions co-founder Emilie Buchwald will read from her latest collection of poems The Moment’s Only Moment and Margaret Hasse will read from her new poetry book Between Us. On April 21 the store will host poets Lyle Daggett, Wang Ping and Morgan Grayce Willow reading their contributions from Resist Much, Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance.  Magers & Quinn is at 3038 Hennepin Avenue.  Free and open. (Magersandquinn.com)
  • Schools, colleges, public libraries, book clubs, indie bookstores and poetry lovers everywhere will be celebrating National Poetry Month in diverse and wondrous ways.
  • The Wadena County Historical Society has invited local writers to submit an original poem; selected poems will be read at “Minnesota Voices,” April 20, at noon at the Wadena County Museum as part of April’s National Poetry Month.
  • In honor of National Poetry Month, MPR’s The Thread is celebrating Poetry Fridays. Each Friday in April, The Thread will publish a selection of poetry from local independent publishing houses Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions and Coffee House Press.
  • Be sure to explore My-Minnesota (My-minnesota/blogspot.com). This special blog describes a delightful range of poetic possibilities you will want to explore – and possibly emulate.
  • And this may be my favorite. Senator Franken is soliciting young people’s poetic thoughts on the theme “Celebrating the Veteran in My Life:  Students are invited to write about any veteran or active military member who has had a positive impact on their life.  Entries will be judged by a special panel; winners in each age group will receive a book autographed by Garrison Keillor.  They will also be invited to attend a reception at Senator Franken’s St Paul office.  Guests at the reception will include Senator Franken, Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota National Guard Major General Rick Nash, Minnesota National Guard Brigadier General Sandra Best, and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.  Winning poems will be framed and displayed in Senator Franken’s Minnesota or Washington, DC office. The poetry contest is open until April 21.  Contact poetry@franken.senate.gov or mail to Office of Senator Al Franken, c/o Poetry Contest, 60 Plato Boulevard East, St Paul, MN 55107.  Questions: contact Marc Kimball (651 221 2649 or marckimball@franken.senate.gov.

There are countless celebrations –  ideas, activities, contests, visuals, projects and other ways to celebrate poetry!   Though this list is abbreviated, sponsors, poets, and readers are welcome to forward notices of National Poetry Month 2017 activities at this late date.  I will happily add notices to future events as soon as I learn the details.  Thank you!

p.s. Recognizing as I do that the suggestion will raise an eyebrow or two, you might want to check out the Wikipedia post about National Poetry Month.  Lots there about the genesis of the idea and the many ways poetry lovers have found to honor the poets and their work.

UPDATE FROM THE NATIONAL POETRY MONTH WEBSITE:  https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15b5dc2bb5124021

UPDATE FROM U OF M : PANKAKE POETRY READING – BAO PHI http://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/pankake-poetry-reading-featuring-bao-phi/utm_source=continuum++News+from+University+of+Minnesota+Libraries&utm_campaign=c7df777509News_from_RSSFEED_TITLE_for_RSSFEED_DATE_3_17_2015&utmmedium=email&utm_term=0_35496412ca-c7df777509-174925501

 

Jefferson’s Birthday honors a legacy that endures and inspires

Jefferson worried that the people – and the argument goes back to Thucydides and Aristotle – are easily misled. He also stressed, passionately and repeatedly, that it was essential for the people to understand the risks and benefits of government, to educate themselves, and to involve themselves in the political process. Without that, he said, the wolves will take over. 

The words of Carl Sagan are both a mighty tribute and a warning – certainly words to consider this week as we celebrate the life lived and the principles espoused by the nation’s third president.  Though more honored in the breach than the observance,

April 13 marks the legal observance of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, born on April 13, 1743.  The observance was declared by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15611)  affirmed by President George W. Bush in 2007. (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25554)  Both of these proclamations underscore in detail the life, vision and lasting legacy of Thomas Jefferson.

Biographies of Jefferson are many and massive.  They record the countless ways in which Jefferson played a decisive role in shaping the lasting contours of this nation.  In his many elected and appointed positions – as Governor, Ambassador, Secretary of State, Vice President and President he was a mighty force.  His contributions are many and lasting, as are his vision and his words.

Jefferson’s legacy is both institutional and inspirational.  Jeffersonian quotes are threads woven throughout the fabric of the nation’s laws, beliefs and spirit.  They reflect his deep faith in and commitment to liberty, an informed electorate, freedom of expression and of religion, and the power of informed people to govern their own destiny.

This week, as the nation struggles to cope with the challenges of the day, the words of Thomas Jefferson inspire hope and offer guidance.  Taking time to think about and to share the words of Jefferson honor the man and focus energy on basic principles of a vibrant and viable democracy.  Of the zillions of quotable quotes, these seem especially appropriate to the times:

  • The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. 
  • Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. 
  • I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion. 
  • No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free no one ever will. 
  • Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question. 
  • In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. 
  • If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.  
  • Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.
    The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. 
  • All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Thomas Jefferson 
  • I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. 
  • That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.