Sister Cities – A good time to make friends with the family!

It’s probably yesterday in at least one of our Sister Cities, so it’s late but not too late to write and think about Sister Cities Day – It’s tomorrow, July 16, 2017, 1:00 – 5:00 PM at the Nicollet Island Pavilion.

Joining in the festivities will be representatives of all of the Sister Cities, some of which have sent remarks, others have arranged for performances that represent their homeland and especially the music and dance of the Sister City.

The City of Minneapolis produces an outstanding guide to each of the Cities – If can’t attend the Nicollet Island event, do take time to enjoy the digital tour of our siblings – start your digital globe trotting here:  

 If you can’t attend in person, enjoy a virtual tour of the Sister City community of which Minneapolis is a member.  If you are able to join the Nicollet Island festivities, you’ll out-smart the masses if you did a digital dive first.  You’ll have a chance to meet and greet new friends from around the globe with whom you can share family fun and Ice Cream!  The event itself is free and open!

Celebrate U of M Libraries Day – Monday, July 17!

Sincere kudos to the University of Minnesota Libraries on the occasion of not one, but two, honors.   First, the Libraries were honored with the 2017 National Medal for Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). (  The Libraries were nominated for the award by the Friends of the Libraries Board.

The Medal will be awarded on Monday, July 17, at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  Journalist, writer and radio commentator Cokie Roberts will present the award.

Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services will officiate while David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, will deliver remarks.  Dr. Matthew and Friends of the Library Board President Margaret Telfer will represent the U of M Libraries at the award ceremony.

The Medal Ceremony will be streamed live at 2:00 pm on Monday, January 17.

To recognize that honor Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed July 17, 2017 as University of Minnesota Libraries Day in Minnesota. For a copy of the Proclamation click here:



Walk to End Alzheimer’s-September 9 – Time to prep!

Each of has a friend or a family member affected by dementia or other illness that affects the human brain.  And none among us has all the answers – how to detect, treat, deal with or, in the best scenario, find a cure.  In recent times we have noted a host of powerful initiatives committed to expanding public awareness of brain disease, to advocate for much-needed research on the cause and potential cure.

Likely the best known of the initiatives is the work done by the Alzheimer’s Association (  Among its many services, Alzheimer’s Association is indispensable as the source the staggering statistics:

The Alzheimer’s Association is also prime sponsor of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s set for Saturday, September 9, 2017.  Community efforts are well underway in preparation for the Walk: For an up-to-date listing of all of the local Minnesota walks, check the Minnesota-North Dakota Foundation chapter here:

As for the Twin Cities area Walk, the basics are these: The Walk begins at Target Field and follows a route that can be either one or three miles.   Registration begins at 7:30 a.m; the Walk begins with a ceremony at 9:00.

Walkers must be registered to walk the Walk.  Though there is no registration fee, planners request that each walker make a personal donation and commit to raise funds.  Children are welcome and are required to register.  And yes, every walker can pick up a commemorative T-shirt at the Walk.  Lots more details on the MN-ND Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association:

Whether or not you plan to walk the Walk this is a wake-up call to learn more about the research that’s been done, is in progress or needs to be undertaken. Amy Claussen of the U of M Bio-Medical Library staff has prepared this helpful guide: Resources for Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease. (  This is much more than a list of links; Included are a concise introduction to the current status of research as well as links to ongoing brain-related research currently in progress at the University of Minnesota

Questions about the Walk?  You’re probably find the answers here:

Mother King – A life, a movement, an inspiration for these times

Before you read on, pause to view this short YouTube story about Alberta Williams King:  Then read a bit about the death of MLK’s mother here:

You will want to know and to think more about the life and influence of this grand woman.

The beautiful fact is that the story of Alberta Williams King is now immortalized in an opera that premieres this month.   Mother King, produced by OperaWorks52, opens next weekend at the Public Functionary in Northeast Minneapolis ( 

Mother King is described as a “conceptual Black opera” that interprets the story of the slain activist. The libretto is based on a series of poems by Venessa Fuentes ( and the musical score is the work of Dameun Strange. (

Through the words and music of  Mother King six local vocalists, including Liz Gre in the title role, share the story of “Black birth, Black resilience, and Black joy.” Joining Gre on stage are local vocalists Michael McDowell, Sarah Greer, Roland Hawkins, Kevin Moore, and Ava McFarlane.  They are accompanied by a twelve-member instrumental ensemble.

This is the first production of OperaWorks52, a collaboration formed by Fuentes and Strange.  The partners describe theirs as “a music and story-telling partnership that aims to highlight overlooked narratives, including the stories of individuals of color, Native people, women and those in the LGBTQ community.” ( )

Mother King is produced through a partnership between OperaWorks 52 and Public Functionary, an art exhibition and “social space” in Northeast Minneapolis.  Public Functionary is also the venue for the premiere production. (

Read a great interview with Fuentes and Strange in this recent issue of Twin Cities Arts Reader.  (

Performances for Mother King are at 7:00 p.m. July 20-22 and 27-28 at the Public Functionary, 1400 12th Avenue Northeast in Minneapolis.  Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets ($8 students and elders; $12 general admission)



Celebrate Thoreau’s bicentennial by reflecting on his ideas

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.

– Henry David Thoreau

Though not the most often quoted words written by Henry David Thoreau, these few illuminate the timeless nature of the life and work of the writer philosopher.  These words shape the thoughts of the man we celebrate today on the bicentennial of his birth on July 12, 1819.

Thoreau’s work is so encompassing, so timeless, that it is folly to focus on a single facet or phase of his thinking or of his legacy. For decades scholars have been gathering, interpreting and otherwise preparing for the grand bicentennial celebration by making Thoreau’s words and works better known, more accessible to more readers.

Locus of activity is The Thoreau Society, a scholarly beehive of academics and readers who study and discuss the thread of Thoreau that weaves through topics that range from civil disobedience to botany, from his years at Harvard to those he spent in the woods near his home in Concord, from travels to the “American West” to his discourses on the ills of slavery.

So much to learn, so little time, so many dimensions of one man’s life and contributions:

For the moment, the best way to stay in touch with a living legend is to follow the work of the Thoreau Society on Facebook (  Their great gathering begins this week in Concord.

In light of the times, Thoreau’s  discourse on Civil Disobedience underscores the timeless and universal character of the writer’s thinking.

Readers of this tribute who are intrigued to learn of  the Minnesota strand of the Thoreau story will want to read or re-read Dale Schwie’s great essay on “Thoreau in Minnesota.”

So much to learn from Thoreau – know that you will soon find yourself immersed in words and ideas that endure.  Here are just of a few of the countless reflections prompted by the bicentennial celebration of a great American:

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. Henry David Thoreau


UPDATE:  Writer’s Almanac, July 12, 2017:  

It’s the birthday of Henry David Thoreau (books by this author), born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts (1817). He went to Harvard, but he didn’t like it very much, nor did he enjoy his later job as a schoolteacher. He seemed destined for a career in his father’s pencil factory, and in fact, he came up with a better way to bind graphite and clay, which saved his father money. But in 1844, Thoreau’s friend Ralph Waldo Emerson bought land on the shore of Walden Pond, a 61-acre pond, surrounded by woods, and Thoreau decided to build a cabin there. It was only two miles from the village of Concord, and he had frequent visitors. During the two years he lived there, Thoreau kept a journal that he later published as Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854)In the conclusion to Walden, Thoreau wrote, “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”



Craft’za 2017 Issues Call for submissions

Craft (noun): an activity that involves making something in a skillful way by using your hands; a job or activity that requires special skill.

In their call for submissions to Minneapolis Craft’za 2017 planners note that they welcome handmade items that are “high quality, appropriately priced, and distinctive.”

The 6th annual Minneapolis Craft’za is a two-day extravaganza scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, November 18-19, 2017 at the Grain Belt Bottling House in Northeast Minneapolis.  Conveniently scheduled just in time for holiday shopping Craft’za is free and open to the public!

Submissions are due by July 31 – though it is free to apply, the 100 participants selected will incur a reasonable  $125 payment for space.  Crafters will be notified by August 15.  Online applications include a one-day form.  Planners suggest that the application include a detailed description of the product as well as good photos; email address is required.

Lots of helpful FAQ’s online at where interested crafters and craft-lovers can sign up to get on the email subscription list.





Art exhibit inspires visitors to “see the person, not the illness”

You may remember reading a couple of years ago Andy Steiner’s thoughtful piece about John Bauer’s compassionate and courageous Kickstarter campaign.  ( It was the story of John Bauer, a Grand Rapids father on a mission to help others by sharing his own grief caused by his adult daughter’s suicide.

A photographer and public radio host, Bauer’s chose the medium of art.  With community support he created a traveling art exhibit. The exhibit, which he named “What’s Left”,  inspired visual artists, poets, sculptors and others to share their work.  Their common goal was to create an environment that would inspire and encourage people to talk about mental illness and suicide, to “see the person, not the illness. “

“Whats Left” is now making a return visit to the Twin Cities.  Community Grounds coffee shop in Columbia Heights is sponsoring the exhibit as a community outreach project to encourage neighbors to think and talk about suicide and mental health in their own circles. Throughout the month of July they are invited to meet, discuss, and share support resources that will be on display.  On the evening of July 20 there will be a community program and discussion.

Community Grounds is located at 560 40th Ave NE in Columbia Heights.