Monthly Archives: May 2017

Celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month 2017

For the past forty years the nation has celebrated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. May is the month chosen by Congress because it commemorates the first Japanese immigrants to the U.S. (1843) as well as the completion of the transcontinental railroad, laid primarily by Chinese immigrants.  Over the years the term “Asian/Pacific” has come to mean all Americans of Asian descent.

The details and much more about Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month are posted on Wikipedia – a useful introduction to the history of the designation and available resources – which is what Wikipedia does for us:

More important, the topic inspires creative agencies to remind us of the immense wealth of resources that they collect and share to expand our understanding of the traditions, the history, the art of Asian Paciic people.   Just a very few examples:

The Smithsonian:.

National Park Service

PBS – partial list

I also enjoyed this HuffPost piece on a unique way of commemorating the month:

Of the many options, my personal favorite is this beautiful gift sponsored by the Academy of American Poets:

It’s late in the month or this list would be much longer!  It’s just a starting point.


Archivists challenged to look ahead for looking back

The sounds of the past enrich our understanding of the nation’s cultural history and our history in general.  Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress

We live in what Harlan Cleveland dubbed a “temperocentric” world, a world that expresses ideas in fewer than 140 characters, and then moves on……

This is digital age, when thoughts expressed in 140 characters start a war, when a signature replaces a thoughtful disquisition, when Facebook and emails can be manipulated and alternative facts thrive, the work of the archivist is ever-more challenging and still more essential.

And then my thoughts rambled:  I wondered future researchers will ever know how decisions were made……. At the core is a deep concern about the implications of those tweets for government transparency and accountability?

More concerning is the degree to which the ephemeral nature of information and communication will relieve them of responsibility – culpability – for the consequences or blur the causes of their actions.]

It is cold comfort to learn that the President’s tweets are safely archived, available for researchers who will bear the burden of explaining this era:  Still tweets, even archived tweets are of scant value.

The serious work archiving President’s papers is in the hands of archivists. abby Zimet’s article published just yesterday in Common Dreams, offers a good – actually fun-to-read– overview of one major effort to cope with the Trump archives.

Clearly, it is a mighty challenge to capture the archival record of this era, much less to assure permanent access to past public documents. In recent months archivists have welcomed the assistance of informed volunteers – archivists, librarians, researchers, historians and others concerned with preservation of real facts have met the challenge.  Though it’s a finger in the dike of information flow our nation’s recorded history is at risk.

Without archives many stories of real people would be lost, and along with those stories, vital clues that allow us to reflect and interpret our lives today. ― Sara Sheridan

August 2017 update  - 






Digital Access to Obama Administration Archives — A priority in progress

Writing about the current President’s tweets prompted me to focus with greater interest on just what’s happening with the archives of the Obama administration.

It did not take long to appreciate that reality exceeds expectations.  With the cooperation of the Obama Administration archivists are committed to assure access to massive amounts of information by and about President Obama’s eight years in the White House.  To give some idea of the massive research possibilities: The Obama administration is providing the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) with more than 250 terabytes of electronic records, including roughly 300 million emails.

NARA will start digitizing the unclassified records using a “new model” for the storage of presidential records. The Obama Presidential Center in Chicago has made a commitment to fund the digitization of all unclassified records of the Obama presidency.

In a May 3rd article in FCW, Chase Gunter describes how NARA is shifting to digital preservation strategies; Gunter writes that “henceforth the unclassified records of the Obama Administration will be archived using a new model for the storage of presidential records.  Instead of building a new site for the records they will be housed in existing NARA facilities and the agency will work on preserving and making them accessible in digital format to the greatest extent possible.” (

Some basics re the Obama Administration archives:

Thoughts on thinking – It’s Teacher Appreciation Week!

I cannot teach anybody anything I can only make them think.  Socrates.

This ancient truth comes to mind as we launch Teacher Appreciation Week, May 8-12, 2017.

In this age of standardized tests, teaching to test, for-profit schools, focus on optics and other short-term measures, Socrates’ words inflict sharp pains of cognitive dissonance!

Reflection leads to a deeper concern that the philosopher’s wisdom is lost – and that we are bereft with the harsh reality that creativity and critical thinking skills are a challenge to measure in society bent on measurable results.  The results of creative and critical thinking show up not in test scores but in real life, in the sorts of informed, creative decisions we make as workers, consumers, family members – and voters.

Real life rests on symbiotic relationship between creativity and critical thinking.  On the one hand, both are difficult to tech, impossible to measure.  Creative people and critical thinkers start with questions, not answers – their penchant for question-asking does not measure well on standardized tests.

Creative/critical thinkers envision possibilities and have a sense that they have they have the capacity to overcome personal, societal or political obstacles along the way.  In fact, they find joy and purpose in the very process of keeping an eye on the goal while analyzing the intervening steps.

All of this comes to mind as we launch this year’s celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, May 8 through May 12, 2017.   Sponsored by the PTA, the week encourages today’s students to express their appreciation with a quick and painless hashtag: #ThankATeacher – an appreciative high five!

And yet, teacher appreciation extends far beyond the classroom, into a lifelong expression of thanks we all owe to the teachers who taught us to think.

For the past couple of years I have observed and learned from the creative thinkers who have taken time to share their thoughts on Voices of Northeast. As listen each week have to realize that a common thread weaves through these far-reaching conversations – regardless of the age, gender, medium or circumstance of the guest.  Whether poet, visual artist, photographer, book artist,  bookseller or book publisher almost every  guest recalls with love and appreciation a teacher who spotted and fanned a young person’s special spark.   In warm and grateful words these lifelong thinkers talk about the teacher who planted and nurtured a seed of creative, critical, constructive thinking that has shaped their life’s work – and their life.

Teacher Appreciation Day and Week are not of the moment, nor can the appreciation be expressed in 140 characters.  This year’s Teacher Appreciation theme is “Teachers Deliver” –  a prompt to let a teacher know that the lesson of creative and critical thinking has been delivered – and that we and others are  grateful receivers of the lesson.

In fact, we do remember and appreciate that it is committed teachers who inspire young learners to think creatively, critically and constructively — as Socrates understood the role of the teacher to be.

Critical thinking narrows and creative thinking expands, but they must work in tandem for problem solving and decision making.”―Pearl Zhu

White supremacy in the workplace- Facts, ideas, action

When liberal whites fail to understand how they can and/or do embody white supremacist values and beliefs even though they may not embrace racism as prejudice or domination (especially domination that involves coercive control), they cannot recognize the ways their actions support and affirm the very structure of racist domination and oppression that they wish to see eradicated ~~ Bell Hooks

Honest attempts to grapple with the complex issue of white supremacy is too often a simplistic effort, fraught with misconceptions, misinformation and long embraced mores.  As often happens in this community, leaders are willing to meet the challenge.   In recent discussions Pollen’s Unraveled Network series has asked white-led organization to “peel back their bias and fragility to dissect how institutional racism and white supremacy are barriers to equitable network building and community engagement.” (

Pollen has now joined forces with the Twin Cities Daily Planet ( to provide a forum for conversation and examination of white supremacy.  The effort is 1) to probe the roots of the ways in which supremacy acts as a system of power, and 2) to collaborate on ways to effect change in the workplace:

The agenda includes two sessions on the topic:

  • Thursday, May 11 – “Confronting White Supremacy in the Workplace,” a discussion with industry leaders whose work and personal experiences have led to changes in organizational culture.
  • Thursday, June 1 – Attendees will share their stories, offer solutions and set an action agenda.

Sessions will take place at the Minneapolis Indian Center, 1530 Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis. $25 for both sessions, $15 for each


UPDATE:  Listen to the podcast of the first session here:

Art-A-Whirl: Northeast Mpls artists open studios, create community

Art – along with a certain amount of dust – is in the air as the creative makers of the Northeast Minneapolis arts community ready themselves and their workspaces for Art-A-Whirl 2017!   A-A-W is the crowning jewel in the star-studded diadem of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Agency.  (

Much of the dust is coming from the studios of the artists – a sure sign that this is no ordinary “art fair.”  A-A-W is, first and foremost, the nation’s largest open studio tour of the working spaces of artists and crafters who work, and often live, in Northeast.  Paintings, pottery, mobiles, furniture, photos, tapestries, sketches, rugs, art books, and a host of unique renderings of the artists’ imaginations and talents are poised for last minute touch-ups and final presentation to the public.

Music also fills the air, much flowing from the studios of A-A-W host artists and crafters. Neighborhood boutiques, coffee shops and the renowned eateries and pubs of Northeast are primed for visitors!

A totally family-friendly weekend  A-A-W offers the rare opportunity to tour not only galleries but artists’ working spaces.  Visitors of all ages will have a chance to observe the makers of art at work – sculpting, glass blowing, painting, weaving, printmaking, creating photo images, collages, and mixed media works that marry sound and visual images.   Future makers will be able to touch, feel, smell, even try their hand at creating art.

A-A-W’s virtual welcome mat will be out beginning Friday, May 19, 5:00-10:00 p.m., Saturday, May 20- Noon-8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 21, Noon- 5:00 p.m.

Visitors are welcome to wander randomly through the studio buildings, home studios, galleries and storefronts in the neighborhood.  Personal experience suggests that a bit of advance planning about walking the hood, identifying studio locations and exploring public transit options is worth the effort.

Fortunately, print and digital guides to A-A-W abound.  If you live, work or frequent the hot spots of Northeast, you can pick up a copy of the Artist Directory and Guide at any one of the arts buildings in the community.   Or click here (  for links to the essentials – the artist directory, map, dining guide, parking information and updates on A-A-W and NEMAA. Take special note of the “How to Whirl” section!

To appreciate the roots of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Area, take a few minutes to read about the unique history here: (  It’s an evolving story of community development focused on an understanding of the role of the arts in the local economy and in the life of a neighborhood that thrives on creative expression!

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive – A quarter century of sharing

No man can rationally live, worship, or love his neighbor on an empty stomach. ― Woodrow Wilson

 When the National Association of Letter Carriers launched their first national food drive in 1993, most Americans felt confident that hunger was a temporary challenge,   A quarter century later Americans – children, elderly, mothers and their infants, jobless workers – go to bed hungry night after night.   Children cannot learn, sick people cannot heal, workers cannot be productive – because they are malnourished.

And the future is grim at best.

The good news is that the nation’s letter carriers remain committed to continue – even expand – their national food drive.  The 25th annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is set for Saturday, May 13, 2017. (

Last year the food drive collected a record 80 million pounds of nonperishable food.  This brought the total donations to date to more than 1.5 billion pounds.

The efforts of the letter carriers are shored up by hundreds of individuals and organizations that join in the drive.  This year’s partners include the U.S Postal Service, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Valpak, United Way Worldwide, the AFL-CIO, the AARP Foundation and Valassis.  Also joining letter carriers are their family members, friends, neighbors and other postal workers.

Details about this year’s drive have been – or soon will be – in every resident’s mailbox.  Sponsors are quick to remind donors that all contributions are tax deductible.  The Stamp Out Hunger Toolkit offers a wealth of ideas for promotion, collaboration, the logistics of the day

Stay in touch with the Stamp Out Hunger Drive on Facebook (;  on Twitter follow @StampOut Hunger.  Be sure to check out the great StampOutHunger graphics here:  (

Most important, plan ahead, think about the Stamp Out Hunger drive when you make your grocery shopping list.  Add some nutritious, delicious, non-perishable groceries that will help a local food shelf meet the needs of neighbors who need the helping hand that you are able to extend – with a little help from your generous letter carrier!

The rich swell up with pride, the poor from hunger.  Sholom Aleichem 

Ideas that Bloom in the Spring, Tra La!

A good idea will keep you awake during the morning, but a great idea will keep you awake during the night.   Marilyn Vos Savant 

Much like – no doubt inspired by – the tulips and daffodils that grace the city boulevards and country roadsides, ideas bloom in Spring.  These are just a very few of the ideas that have been germinating during these spring-like days and evenings.

The idea in this brief is to suggest a smattering of less-publicized events that share the rich pollen of ideas and information that may “keep you awake during the night.”  Opportunities to explore good ideas are blooming everywhere these days – take time to smell the roses!


Programs at Eat My Words! Bookshop on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month of May.  1228 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis

  • May 6 – 3 pm – Anne Marie Mershon: You Must Only to Love Them: Lessons Learned in Turkey.
  • May 12, 7:00 PM – Nora Murphy, White Birch, Red Hawthorn.
  • May 13 – Howard A.W. Cargon, Howard A.W Caron. Lily Pond: Forged Alliance, 3:00 PM
  • May 19, Meet the author: Connie Claire Szarke, Moon. – 5:00 PM
  • May 26, Kathleen Novak: Do Not Find Me, 7:00 PM
  • May 27 – Poetry performance with Sharon Chmielarz and Larry Schug, 3:00 PM

Ongoing during May  –  A sampler of a busy month sponsored by East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street, St. Paul.

  • May 9, 7:00 pm – Nativism and Resistance-Then and Now. Dr. Peter  Rachleff
  • May 15, 7:00 pm Racism in our Hometown: The story of the Arthur and Edith Lee Family. Presented by the APWU Solidarity Kids Theater. East Side Freedom Library.
  • May 16, 7:00 PM, 100 Years at the Library. Greg Gaut, Bill Lindeke, and Billie Young.  St Anthony Park Library, 2245 Como Avenue, St. Paul.
  • May 18, 6:00 PM, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids. William Jones, Yuichiro Onishi, James Robinson. Rondo Community Outreach Library, 461 North Dale Street, St Paul.
  • May 21, 10:30 AM. Payne Avenue Walking Tour & Library Celebration with Peter Rachleff.  Registration required

May 6 – Researching the History of Your Minneapolis Home.  10:30-11:30, Minneapolis Central Library Special Collections.

May 7 – In Her Own Voice, Selected Works of Grace Flandrau, edited by Georgia Ray. 4:00 PM, Commodore Bar and Restaurant, St Paul.

May 11, 7:00 PM – Writers Read, The Coffee Shop Northeast, 2852 John St, NE, Minneapolis.  All writers/readers, every genre

May 20, Noon-4:00 PM – Minneapolis International Festival, Boom Island Park, 724 Sibley Street NE, Minneapolis.  Music, dance, cultural exhibits. (


May 25, 7:00 PM. Black Memory and Imagination An Intergenerational Conversation on Archiving Black Arts Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408. Sponsored by Friends of the U of M Libraries


Protest Publishing and Art: From the Copy Machine to the Internet.  U of M Wilson Library.  Through May 19.

The Anatomy of a Hospital: The Buildings of The Swedish Hospital, St. Barnabus Hospital and Hennepin County Medical Center.  Minneapolis Central Library, through May 30.

We Watch the Stream, sponsored by the Mississippi Watershed Management Office, Stormwater Park and Learning Center, 2522 Marshall St, NE, Minneapolis.   Through June 23.

Understand that these ideas offer just a sniff of a garden of good ideas that are waiting to “keep you awake on a hot summer night when you cannot sleep!”

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Eleanor Roosevelt 






Aging Out Loud – with dignity, optimism and gusto

Theme of Older Americans Month, May 2017, is “Age Out Loud”.  The idea of the Administration for Community Living, the lead sponsor of the campaign, is to “amplify the many voices of older Americans.”

Surely, Aging Out Loud is a worthy goal.  If I have a concern it is the need to focus on the message as well as the medium.   As I struggled to come to grips with my own wonderment about the message, I happened to hear a recording of the message that former Vice President Joe Biden shared recently with an audience in Manchester, New Hampshire.  Biden focused with precision on the values that he believes are missing from the national conversation ongoing in this country today.  The values he stressed are just three:

  • dignity,
  • optimism,
  • the willingness to do big things.

The values of dignity, optimism, and the willingness to do big things seem to me in synch with the aspirations, and thus the message, appropriate to Aging Out Loud.  For older Americans hope rests in dignity, optimism and a willingness to do big things.  First among those “big things” is an irresistible — too often repressed — need to share  stories.    Aging out loud can and should be a selfless, other-centered expression of dignity, optimism and willingness to do big things.

On a practical note, sponsors of OAM have created a wealth of timely promotional materials that amplify the voices of older Americans.  The frequently updated list of materials is readily accessible here:

Locally, public agencies and nonprofits, the faith community, neighborhood organizations and countless other entities will host OAM events.  One that caught my eye is coming up this Saturday, May 6 – it’s the Age Out Loud Run/Walk at Lake Como  in St Paul’s beautiful Como Park.  The whole family is welcome to participate in the 1.67 mile run/walk around Lake Como’s wheelchair accessible path.  There will be prizes, snacks and family-friendly activities at this free event (

If you or a friend would prefer to  age in the quiet comfort of a cushy rocker, you might want to read out loud some verses from this special collection (  The collection reflects the Age Out Loud theme — though I doubt it’s what the sponsors had in mind…

I was hugely relieved to discover there was a purpose 

for girls with loud voices.     Betty Buckley, actress