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



Law Day 2017 inspires timely focus on the 14th Amendment

Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.  Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The world was a very different world in 1958 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower first proclaimed Law Day, a move endorsed three years later by a joint Congressional resolution.  In an earlier era, the push for Law Day, first proposed by the American Bar Association, was to counter the push for May Day, aka International Workers’ Day.

This year’s theme “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy” anticipates next year’s 150th anniversary of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.   It is the 14th Amendment that explicitly affirms the rights of equal protection and due process.


Full text:

The Library of Congress provides in-depth analysis of the 14th Amendment and an excellent reading list here:  The American Bar Association offers suggestions for commemorating Law Day  2017.

Many communities and countless organizations related to the legal profession sponsor Law Day dinners, proclamations, even a Law Day art contest sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association:

The American Bar Association defines Law Day as “a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law.  Law Day underscores how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms that all Americans share.”  Law Day 2017 prompts the media to voice the range of differing opinions and angst about the Rule of Law, specifically the 14th Amendment, in volatile circumstances.

Most important, Law Day 2017 inspires each of us whose rights are spelled out in the 14th Amendment to assess the Rule of Law as it affects the life of a regular citizen, how the law is meted out in the real world of an ordinary American, regardless of heritage or circumstance.  Likewise, the occasion calls on the grown-ups among us to share with young people the essence of the role of law in the creation of this democracy.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.  Thomas Jefferson*



Josh Cragun’s “Redemption” premieres at Nimbus Theatre

Preparing to write this post about the next production at Nimbus Theatre I realize that it’s five years since my first post about what was then a fledgling newbie on the Northeast Minneapolis theater scene.  Today Nimbus is practically venerable! (

And yet the theater is as fresh and innovative as ever.  Opening this weekend at Nimbus is a new production entitled  Redemption, written by Josh Cragun who is also co-Artistic Director of Nimbus.  The production is directed by Mitchell Frazier.

Redemption shares the stories of individuals “confronting the difficulties of re-entering society after incarceration.”  The play addresses the perplexing question “When is a person redeemed?” It is a dilemma  both poignant and timely.

Redemption opens Saturday, April 29, and runs through May 14.  Performances are at The Crane Theater, 2303 Kennedy Street, NE. ( The theater is a block off Stinson, between Hennepin and Broadway Avenues.  Parking and the theater entrance are at the back of the building.

The redemption plot is one of the oldest story shapes.

 Peter Baynham 






Indie Bookstore Day- A day to shop, read and think for yourself

As I write I’m thinking what a perfect day this would be to curl up in a remote corner of an indie bookstore, nose in book, devices decidedly off, lost in a world yet to be explored.  Since it’s an indie there’s a friendly proprietor/staffer who will share an opinion about my chosen book, even suggest a similar tome I will undoubtedly enjoy.

As I further envision my reading nook, I catch the imagined scent of the venerable books –an olfactory extra of hanging out at a used bookshop. ! I realize that I would rather read a crumby – even crumbly –   book in a used bookstore than today’s bestseller in a chain store.

All of which is a fabricated buildup to Independent Bookstore Day, set for this coming Saturday, April 29.  The basics are covered in an earlier post (  This is just a reminder to treat yourself to an indie bookstore tour on Saturday.

There’s a helpful map online ( – know that the map is far from comprehensive.  You might want to start not with the map but by trolling your own community, including the newbies, antiquarian shops, children’s bookstores, campus stores, ethnic and other bibliophile haunts you may have yet to explore. Cater to your bookish inclinations, expand your personal collection, appreciate the creative energy that supports the book community and nurtures the range of reader tastes.

Check out Indie Bookstore Day on Facebook:  (  Note that this is a highly selective post of just a few of the myriad happenings at local shops.

You’ll find the creative ways in which Indie bookstores reflect the proclivities of their proprietors.  Shops host readings, book clubs and discussion groups on every conceivable topic, art exhibits and artist presentations, children’s programs, storytellers, sports heroes and their biographers, politicians, stories and mores of new Americans, environmentalists, veterans, gardeners, musical ensembles of every tone….

As blog readers have probably observed, Eat My Words in Northeast Minneapolis ranks as my favorite indie (   Come for the books, stay for the programming:

On Independent Bookstore EMW will feature special displays, and Bookstore Bingo (played 10 AM-8 PM) where you can put your English major to the test.  Plan to be on hand mid-afternoon to join the 3:00 reading and conversation.  Author Mary Martin will discuss her book La Familia: An International Love Story. (   La Familia chronicles the emergence of Mano a Mano, the St. Paul-based international development organization.(  It’s the story of ways in which this grassroots international partnership bridges cultural and racial challenges.

The EMW conversation serves as a model of the ways in which independent bookstores are taking the lead by hosting and informing safe spaces that foster civil discourse so critical to finding our way in these divisive, uncertain, unprecedented times.

UPDATE: Indie Bookstore Day celebrations around the nation:

People’s Climate Movement features Week of Action, Climate Marches

Climate change is happening, humans are causing it, and I think this is perhaps the most serious environmental issue facing us. — Bill Nye

This coming Saturday, April 29, marks the pre-culmination of the Week of Action that began last weekend with the March for Science on Earth Day; the Week of Action, sponsored by the People’s Climate Movement (  ends on Monday, May 1.

As a build-up to the Climate March, the Week of Action features a robust agenda of public events of every sort.   Though the Week will no doubt rouse a spate of alternative facts, too, by this time we are immune….

For an overview of the Week of Action, skim this list of activities.

You’ll find poetry and art, religious services, resistance rallies and a host of study sessions and presentations on science, climate change and the ways individuals and groups are working for positive change.

Saturday, April 29, the nation celebrates the People’s Climate March, described as a “march for climate, jobs and justice.”  (  As one might expect, the epicenter of the March is in Our Nation’s Capital.

Planners have posted a long list of “sister marches” throughout the nation.  The list includes two sister marches in Minnesota.

MNQPOC Climate March

April 29, 2017 – 1:00 PM

The Exchange – 3405 Chicago Avenue

Contact Damion Mendez – call/text 612 750 7612


People’s Climate March Minnesota

Sponsored by MN350 (

April 29, 2017 – 2:30 PM

US Federal Courthouse

300 4th Street South, Minneapolis

UPDATE — SIGN CONTEST — Don’t miss the what others have done, design your own!



UPDATE: 4/28 – last minute from DC -

UPDATE  5/1 –   fait accompli:

UPDATE 5/1 – EPA website changes – words/headlines matter



Workers’ Memorial Day: A day to remember and resist

Once a grateful dues-paying member of RCIA Local 789 I’ve always had a keen sense of the role and benefits of organized labor.  And yet, it took an article in the recent newsletter from the East Side Freedom Library to alert me to the existence Worker’s Memorial Day.  A quick search of Everybody’s Favorite info opened new doors of discovery:

Basically, I learned that Workers’ Memorial is April 28, an international day of remembrance honoring workers who have been injured or lost their lives in the workplace.  Just as important, Workers’ Memorial Day is a day of resistance — a time to speak out for safety in the workplace and to resist challenges to laws that recognize the rights of the worker.

Workers’ Memorial Day will be honored in this area with a public program on Wednesday, April 26, 7:00 P.M. at the St. Paul Labor Center, 353 7th Street West in downtown St. Paul.

Panelists will explore workplace safety issues from several angles.  Speakers include Paul Qualy, a railroad conductor and Director of the United Transportation Union Minnesota Legislative Board; Mike Scully, an attorney whose expertise is in workers’ comp history as well as current threats to the workers’ comp system, and  John Sielaff, author of A Workplace Accident: John Anderson’s Fall from the High Bridge (

Sponsored by  The Friends of the Saint Paul Library in collaboration with the East Side Freedom Library.  Free and open.