Category Archives: Minnesota State Fair

Minnesota Newspaper Museum shares story of a proud legacy

Journalism is what we need to make democracy work. Walter Cronkite

One way to commemorate National Newspaper Week 2017 is to stress about the decline of print, the intrusion of corporate interests, robots, the proliferation of alternative facts and the perils of weaponized information.

Another way is to go back to the roots, to explore the ways in which freedom of the press lives in the minds and hearts of Americans.  Belief in the right and power of the press is embedded in the Constitution.

The history of the role of the press begins with the ways in which, since the founding of the nation, the news has been shaped and shared by newspapers.  Journalists gathered and wrote the news – newspapers delivered it.  At times this was, and remains, the work of one devoted individual or family.

To understand the history of the ways in which newspapers functioned in earlier times, there is no better place to learn than at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum at the Minnesota State Fair.  Now in its 30th year, the Museum, now located at 1416 Cosgrove Street (street level of the 4-H Building) is a beehive of letterpress equipment operated by volunteers knowledgeable and eager to share digital age visitors with the basics of setting the type that tells the story.

Back in the day, the Minnesota Newspaper Museum received Legacy Grant support to create a videotape record of the Museum, then in a different site on the Fairgrounds. It’s a bit dated, with an emphasis on production, the video tells the story of the commitment to a free press and the role of every link along the information chain that continues to link publishers to readers. http://legacy.mnhs.org/projects/904

Since 1987 the Minnesota Newspaper Museum, sponsored by the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation and staffed by a host of volunteers and Friends, has been one my favorite and most frequently visited exhibits at the Minnesota State Fair.  Several years ago I delved a bit into the history of the Museum, reflected in a post that tells more history, including the story of The Maynard News, a State Fair special edition (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/maynard-mn/)

Years later I continue to marvel at the power that lies behind those cumbersome machines and in the hands of those press operators. The posters and flyers that proliferate at the exhibit tell the backstory of the journalists who pursued and shared the facts because they believed that words matter and that the strength of the democracy is the responsibility of the informed electorate who receive and act on the print words conveyed by the newspaper.

The Minnesota Newspaper Museum at 30 makes a powerful statement and a chance for Fair visitors to learn and think about the rich legacy of the press in Minnesota.  Here’s the official Fair guide description of the 2017 Newspaper Museum

A newspaper living-history exhibit with demonstrations of the Linotype and Miehle printing press. See how type is set for the newspaper “The Maynard News.” The lead to set type is heated to 550 degrees and creates one “line-of-type” at a time. This Miehle Printing Press prints newspaper pages, one side of one sheet with each revolution. To print the other side of the page, the operator must turn the pages over and print on the back side of each sheet. Demonstrations begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Operated by the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation.

Location: State Fair Buildings -> 4-H Building
Date: Sun, Aug 27
Time: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm 
On the map: View on the State Fair Map

And here’s how Facebook captured the response of Fair goers who followed those clear directions at this year’s Great Minnesota Get-together. https://www.facebook.com/TheMaynardNews/ It goes without saying that every visitor learned about letter press publishing – and about the legacy of a free press is Minnesota.

Journalism can never be silent: That is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.— Henry Anatole Grunwal

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t miss the Water Bar pop-up at the Fair!

Water water at the Fair – And a friendly place to think!

New this year at the Great Minnesota Get-Together is the Water Bar, a unique watering hole where Fair-goers gather to meet, exchange ideas, and ponder the possibilities. Don’t miss this  refreshing welcome to the Eco-Experience Building. (http://www.mnstatefair.org/entertainment/eco_experience.html).

This popup drinking establishment elevates water, our ubiquitous and renewable resource, to an elegant libation.  And the bar itself, reminiscent of Cheers, fosters a friendly gathering spot for Fair-goers to share views on life, the State Fair, and why we need a Water Bar to generate substantive conversation and collaboration.

Yes, it’s a bar, with stools and volunteer bartenders who actually decant flights, not in goblets maybe but in Fair-appropriate plastic cups.  To parched Fair-goers it’s a coveted thirst-quencher – and much more.  All  leave informed and inspired.

Explore the website (water-bar.org)  to learn more about the ways in which Water Bar is facing the challenge to “serve water to build relationships that activate communities.”  In pursuit of that goal Water Bar sponsors a mix of projects, including public art projects, the “Dear River” writing initiative and the Northeast Incubator project.

During the Fair and for the next few weeks Water Bar will be temporarily closed, making way for a grand relocation of a remodeled site just next door to the original site.   By mid-September they will be open again to welcome all to enjoy a refreshing flask of water – and hearty conversation about forging a community of neighbors and friends who think, collaborate and take action to create a better, more thoughtful world.  Plans include more art exhibitions, public programs, an art and book shop, and other prompts to stimulate meaningful conversations and collaborations.

In recent times I’ve observed and written about Water Bar several times – there’s always something new, sometimes in Northeast, often on the road.   Clearly, I am an unabashed fan of their creative approach to generating meaningful conversations that truly build a strong, integrated, collaborative community.  The State Fair pop-up offers a chance for many potential fans to check out the idea, the approach, and to share a few sips of cold, clear water with a friendly Minnesota Fair-goer you would not have met under any other circumstances!

Water is the foundation for our economies, communities, ecosystems, and quality of life ~~Kate Brown

 

Making Time for the Joy of Poetry

The crown of literature is poetry. Somerset Maugham

Writer’s Almanac, the perfect post to the start the day, reminded readers this morning that it was on this day in 1985 that President Ronald Reagan signed a bill establishing an official Poet Laureate for the United States – the story of which may have the longest e-address ever! The LC description is brief and well worth a read. (https://www.loc.gov/poetry/about_laureate.html?utm_campaign=TWA+Newsletter+for+December+20%2c+2016&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&utm_content=The+Writer%27s+Almanac+for+December+20%2c+2016&elqTrackId=7b2a150483574910ad46f5d560051013&elq=49e5474782b94259a19032223d173dd2&elqaid=25815&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=22661)

Thinking about Poets Laureate soon led me to dig a little deeper to learn just who those exalted men and women of words were.   In short order I discovered a great complementary website, again gathered and shared by the staff of the Library of Congress. Did you know that a few states have state poems? And several, including Minnesota, have Poets Laureate. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/poethttp://www.loc.gov/rr/main/poets/minnesota.htmlslaureate/

Learn much more about the history of Minnesota’s Poets Laureate, past and present here: https://www.loc.gov/rr/main/poets/minnesota.html. The state’s    current Poet Laureate, is Joyce Sutphen, who has held the position since 2011. Learn more about Joyce Sutphen on her website: http://www.joycesutphen.com

On a cold winter day, when one hasn’t quite finished holiday cards or gifts, it’s just too enticing to keep on probing the literary treasures that capture the spirit of the day. So I was at the ready when the email from Poets.org popped up. As is their special way, the folks there have gathered a selection of winter poems – a sort of happy holiday literary escape to lift the spirits of weary readers. Their picks:

“To Winter” by William Blake
“Winter is good – his Hoar Delights (1316)” by Emily Dickinson
“Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden
“Winter Field” by Joanna Klink
“The Feast of Lights” by Emma Lazarus
“Noel” by Anne Porter
“Recollections of My Christmas Tree” by Mary Ruefle
“Elegy in Joy [excerpt]” by Muriel Rukeyser
“Why Is the Color of Snow?” by Brenda Shaughnessy
“The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens
“The Coming of Light” by Mark Strand

As a special holiday gift the editors at Poets.org then dipped into their archives to share the charm of E.E. Cumming (yes, i was lower case back in the day)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.E.Cumming)  Take time to enjoy Cummings’ 1960 holiday greeting and some reminders of his delightful way with words and ideas!  https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/archive-e-e-cummingss-christmas-card?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Academy%20of%20American%20Poets%20Newsletter%20December%2020&utm_content=Academy%20of%20American%20Poets%20Newsletter%20December%2020+Version+A+CID_51548827ec6a7804f752ca6728e4f693&utm_source=Email%20from%20Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=read-more

The Great Minnesota Get-Together 2016 – Some Reflections

Alas, it’s the last day of the Minnesota State Fair – and I’m not there. I was at the Fair for four days in the past week, though. Today seemed like a day to sort through the treasures I’ve accumulated, and to think about what I’ve observed and learned. There’s a lot of swag in my over-stuffed backpack and even more thoughts circulating in my head.

As I try to create a mental Big Picture of the Fair, I keep returning to a theme – the Minnesota State Fair offers a living narrative of the ways in which Minnesotans celebrate the inclusion of people with disabilities into the Fair-going mainstream.

I’ve thought and written about inclusion in the past, most notably two years ago when the fairgrounds expanded physical access options for people with disabilities.

(https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/minnesota-state-fair-photos/) The good news, as reported by Access Press, is that more improvements were added this year. Two key improvements for 2016 were a free accessible trolley that transported fairgoers from parking lot to fairgrounds sites and more accessible restrooms near the children’s area.   Also new this year was a handy dining list that identifies convenient restaurants that accommodate people with disabilities; the guide notes eateries with essential curb cuts, more wheelchair friendly floor surfaces and room for a wheelchair or scooter at the table.

Thinking about my experiences this year I feel as if the potential of those improvements is being realized. My personal impression is that a whole lot of people, once excluded, were having a great time! More than this, I realize just how the updates make the Fair experience more enjoyable for everyone!   From the time I arrived on the fairgrounds I observed the difference and began to take notes for this post. I observed this year’s Fair through the accessibility lens.

As in the past there are complaints about access to rides on the Midway. Since I don’t step foot on the Midway, and since the Midway operates as a fairly independent entity, I chose to celebrate the feeling of total inclusion that permeated the whole of the Fair experience – Midway notwithstanding.

I hope I wasn’t being voyeuristic when at one point I paused to observe from a relatively remote corner of the Creative Activities building. From my stance I could see six fairgoers in wheelchairs, at least eight on walkers, three people with canes indicating limited eyesight, and a couple communicating with each other in sign language. Because it was the Creative Activities building – with emphasis on the fine crafts of weaving, quilting and other grown-up stuff — I didn’t see many children in wheelchairs – children who were no doubt engaged in some far more exciting Fair adventure!

Though I admit that my first choice of Fair features is not the piglets, the calves or even the llamas, as I observed through a new lens I gained insight into the joy that has hitherto escaped me. I saw children and adults with developmental disabilities come alive as they communicated with the animals – often as their parents, siblings or PCA’s waited patiently and smiled a knowing smile as they shared the joy of these meaningful exchanges.

When the 2:00 parade marched down Cosgrove I tried to observe the crowd when fairgoers were not in motion. There were families with young folks pushing family members in wheelchairs; there were PCA’s helping elderly adults; there were couples in which one spouse was offering another physical and moral support. In fact, there were parade enthusiasts with an incredible range of physical and mental challenges. And there was a smile on every face!

Even more, I saw able fairgoers making way, lending a hand, flashing a grin and making accommodations for people and their gear.   Generally speaking, it’s every fairgoer for her/himself, but Minnesotans are quick to step aside for those for whom navigating the crowds is a challenge.

Needless to say, the Fair offers a chance to connect with a host of nonprofits and public agencies that work to improve the lives of people with disabilities. From these representatives I learned a good deal about ongoing challenges, ranging from the labor conditions of PCA’s to the barriers presented by public transit. My swag bag contains a number of colorful posters celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act!

Bottom line: The Fair offers a chance to see first-hand how Minnesotans embrace members of the disabilities community.   Fairgoers who need a helping hand obviously enrich the lives of good people who care and want to share the unbridled pleasure that the Fair offers every visitor. My thought is that able fairgoers enjoyed their visit to the Fair even more because we have a chance to extend the unique Fair experience to people for whom the gates have finally been opened. As Minnesotans, we take great pride and we just want everyone to experience this unique and wonderful state treasure!

Most important, the Fair manifests the ways in which people with disabilities are seizing the opportunity to capitalize on expanded opportunities to enjoy the sites, the food, the politics, the newborn animals, the music, the chauvinism and the camaraderie of the Great Minnesota Get Together!

Featuring Fun Food for the Mind at the Fair

The Snelling Avenue Bridge is re-opened – a good sign that the Great Minnesota Get Together must be nigh. As always, the state’s highways and by-ways are at the ready for action – in fact, they are already teeming with vendors, exhibitors, builders, chefs, entertainers, transit drivers and others converging on the Fairgrounds to do what needs to be done to ensure that all is in readiness for Thursday, August 27, when the gates open!

Liberal arts majors and their progeny may want to take note of some Fair favorites that are long on bargain, short on deep fried edibles.

Representatives of the Minnesota Historical Society are a visible and audible presence all week. They’re performing at the Schilling Amphitheater with their popular “History-on-a-Schtick!” vaudeville show. Or orient yourself to the fairgrounds with a cell phone walking tour around the grounds. Listen to fascinating stories of Minnesota State Fair history while you learn about the buildings and the stories those walls can tell. MHS also sponsors a booth in the Education Building where visitors can learn about the organization’s resources, the statewide network and outreach activities.

Wednesday, September 2, is library day at the Fair. The first treat of “Read&Ride Day” comes at the gate when public library cardholders will get discounted admission. From 9:00-5:00 Carousel Park will be abuzz with activities for every age, including yoyo tricks, magic, hypnotism, old-time and bluegrass music. For young readers and reader wanabes there are muscle and brain-building activities, picture books, a scavenger hunt, bookmarks and more. Visitors who show their library card will get a deck of “Get Carded: Make your next stop the library” playing cards.

Rain Taxi will join the September 2 reading bonanza with a full schedule of events, starting at 9:00 with the chance to write a short “good morning poem” using impromptu exercises with poet John Colburn. At 10:30 Moorhead teacher Kevin Carollo will craft cardboard animals, while poet Paula Cisewski will write an on-the-spot poem based on the requester’s Tarot cards.

Also from Rain Taxi, from 1:00-2:00 Minnesota hip-hop writer and performer Dessa will sign copies of her Rain Taxi chapbook, A Pound of Steam. From 2:00–3:30 poet-troubadour Brian Laidlaw will lead a drop-in songwriting workshop. And from 3:30-5:00 graphic novelist and comics professor Ursula Murray Husted will create a gigantic collaborative comic – fun for all ages.

** Public Library Day is funded by the Minnesota Legacy Fund.

P.S. Just as I polished off this post the latest news from Minitex popped up – featuring a tempting smorgasbord of top ten fun things to do at the Fair. https://news.minitex.umn.edu/news/library-news/top-10-things-do-state-fair-read-ride-day.  Click and learn!

 

Before the Museums Came – A Virtual Tour of the TC’s Arts Heritage

Open Access Week (October 20-26) just wasn’t long enough to explore all the permutations on the theme. And so we saved the best for last with celebration of a most wonderful open access book. Before the Museums Came: A Social History of the Fine Arts in the Twin Cities, is the brilliant and beautiful creation of publisher, social historian and attorney Leo John Harris. The book and the creator deserve a bonus day of celebration.

Before the Museums Came offers a virtual walk through Minnesota’s fine arts history – actually through the private fine arts collections of some of the state’s most renowned titans of business and politics.   Harris, creator of the open access book, is perhaps best known as the founder of Pogo Press, publisher of arts, history and popular culture. Harris has ventured into open access publishing with his usual commitment to produce a work of significance and beauty.

Focus of this social history of the area’s arts community is on the era spanning the years 1835 till establishment of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1915. Among the noted collectors whose names and stories are known to 21st Century Twin Citians are T.B. Walker and J.J. Hill, both of whom established massive private collections of art from around the globe, collections that established the roots of today’s museums.

Capitalizing on the potential of open access publishing Harris leads a tour through the private collections as well as the institutions and organizations that were created in support of the fine arts. He guides the reader through the early art exhibits and events, the collectors, dealers and artists whose efforts breathed life into the thriving arts community that locals and visitors from around the world enjoy today.

John Lindley, director of the Ramsey County Historical Society, writes that “Harris adroitly explains how art dealers, critics, architects, academics, public libraries, and artists all contributed to the vibrant community interest in the fine arts. As a social history of the fine arts, this book succeeds in documenting the Twin Cities art community prior to 1915 with depth and detail that is unavailable elsewhere. “

The thoroughly researched text is enriched and supplemented by reproductions of artworks, photographs of key players, exhibition sites, studios, art galleries, catalogs and ephemera.  The result is both a scholarly work and a unique reading/viewing experience.

Don’t look for a coffee table book at your favorite indie! This is a virtual tome, downloadable at the click of the key. It’s published by DeGruyter Open (formerly Versita), one of the world’s leading publishers of open access content.   Though the emphasis of Open Access Week is on scholarly and research works, Harris’ unique exploration of the Twin Cities arts heritage is a breakthrough adventure that will not just inform but delight anyone with an eye for the visual arts and a love for the storied roots of our robust arts community

Click here http://www.degruyter.com/view/product/207417 to explore the heritage and to wonder at the possibilities when creativity and technology share a mission and a vision.

 

 

For Twin Cities Readers Book Fare Trumps the State Fair!

For some among us the iconic Minnesota State Fair should eschew the politicians, dump the Skyride, douse the corndogs and replace it all with a tasteful gathering of bibliophiles, Minnesota writers, readings, book talks, exchanges of bon mots among the literati. That’s why we have the Twin Cities Book Festival, the ultimate antidote to the State Fair.

Once again Rain Taxi will restore the natural order to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds when writers, publishers, readers, booksellers and their ilk will gather for the Twin Cities Book Festival. It’s Saturday, October 11, 10:00 AM til 5:00 PM and it’s happening in some of the Fairgrounds classiest settings, including:

  • The Progress Center where there will be an all-day exhibit of publishers, magazines, literary organizations, local authors, booksellers and more.
  • And there are readings and talks on the Reading Stages in the Fine Arts Building, just next door. Participants include Julie Schumacher, Laird Hunt, Okey Ndibe, Hoa Nguyen, Steven Pinker, and an ever growing-list of authors who write for adult readers.
  • There are sites for children’s authors and activities (Michael Dahl, Chris Monroe, Phyllis Root and Lauren Stringer, to name a few),
  • Options for middle grade readers (Margi Preus and William Alexander among others)
  • And teen favorites (Marie Lu, Pete Hautman, Carrie Mesrobian and other YA authors)
  • There’s an author hub featuring Dessa, Michael Fallon, Julie Kramer, John Rosengren, Ben Weaver and who knows who else…. (If you really must know “who else” keep checking the Rain Taxi website (http://www.raintaxi.com/twin-cities-book-festival/ or Facebook for updates….)
  • So no one goes home bookless there’s a used book bonanza,

And it’s all free and open to the public!

The Festival is sponsored in part with funds from the Legacy Fund distributed through the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.