Tag Archives: East Side Freedom Library

Kudos to East Side Freedom Library!

Over the months we have shared any number of posts about the East Side Freedom Library, including this introduction.  (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/east-side-freedom-library-gives-new-life-to-carnegie-library-st-paul-neighborhood/)

Still, this is the most celebratory.

The ESFL has just been named recipient of the John Sessions Memorial Award, sponsored by the Department for Professional Employees AFL-CIO, and administered by the Reference and User Services Association of the American Library Association.  The award recognizes “a library or library system which has made a significant effort to work with the labor community and by doing so has brought recognition to the history and contribution of the labor movement to the development of the United States.”

John Sessions, in whose memory the Award is given, was with the AFL-CIO and  co-chair of the AFL-CIO/ ALA Joint Committee on Library Service to Labor Groups.

Quoting from the announcement, the award reflects “multiple letters from local and regional labor unions [that] glowingly attest to the Library’s leadership in

  • raising awareness of the centrality of workers, immigrants, and the labor movement to the past, present and future of the East Side, Twin Cities, and Minnesota,
  • being a valuable resource and reliable ally, a place where diverse audiences assemble, hold conversations and explore shared concerns
  • an important extension of local labor movement, and
  • most notably, “a partner”

The John Sessions Memorial Award will be presented at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago on Sunday, June 25.

Previous local recipients of the John Sessions Award include The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library (2003) and Hennepin County Library (1990).

Much more about the East Side Freedom Library at their website http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/ — or, better yet, plan a visit or participate in one of their robust agenda of timely programs!

 

 

Latest Plans for MLK Day 2017

Though we have yet to drop the crystal ball announcing the new year or to officially launch the new regime, this season more than most it seems wise to plan ahead for Martin Luther King Day, set for Monday, January 16, 2017. The message of hope that MLK shared with the world is needed at this hour.

One way to think ahead is to recall the contributions and leadership of MLK. And a way to do this is to immerse oneself in the era and to reflect on the issues is to listen to or read the words of MLK here: The I Have a Dream Speech (1963) http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm or to read the Letter from Birmingham Jail: https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Letter_Birmingham_Jail.pdf

The story of the long struggle to establish the MLK Holiday was is a saga in itself. Many articles have been written about that history – for a brief chronology look to the MLK Center’s website: http://www.thekingcenter.org/making-king-holiday

In weeks to come schools and libraries, nonprofits, the faith and academic communities and corporations will all be announcing plans for celebrating the life, work and words of Martin Luther King.  To learn about more about local MLK Day happenings follow the website and FaceBook sponsored by the Governor’s Council on the Martin Luther King Celebration: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=state%20of%20minnesota%20governor’s%20council%20on%20the%20mlk%20day%20celebration%20photos

Because plans are in-the-making keep on clicking during the next couple of weeks.

Some activities are already well set and posted. The day begins with a Youth Rally and March beginning at the State Capitol at 9:00 on Monday, January 16. The March will lead to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts for a program on civil rights, social justice and social consciousness.   Keynote speaker is Caroline Wanga, Chief Diversity Officer and VP of Diversity and Inclusion at Target Corporation.

Across the river hundreds of folks will gather for the annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast. Keynote speaker this year is Myrlie Evers-Williams, a journalist and civil rights activist. Evers-Williams, who was married to murdered civil rights activist Medgar Evers, chaired the NAACP from 1995-1998. She also wrote of her experience during the struggle for civil rights in several books including For Us, The Living and, Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I was Meant to Be.

The MLK Day Breakfast has been sponsored for over a quarter century by The General Mills Foundation and The United Negro College Fund. The event is carried live on TPT/Channel 2 and replayed several times during MLK Day and again on following Sundays. Check TPT for specifics.

In recent times there has been a push to promote the idea of community service as an important aspect of MLK Day. To learn more about service opportunities, check with the Corporation for National Service.

And yet, all of these are examples of what others are doing, things people can attend. The reason to post this reminder at the start of the new year is to get readers thinking about taking the initiative locally. A challenge today is to generate ideas, to engage community not only in mega-events but also in local discussions of the message of Dr. King and the history of civil rights, voting rights, human rights. The challenge is to examine how we are doing in 2017.

A wise friend made me understand many years ago that MLK is one national holiday that is devoted not to family or parades or patriotism. It is instead a day for people to gather within their own circles, to get to know each other, to plan to work together to do what needs to be done in memory of Dr. King. To honor Dr. King we reach out within our local circle to understand, to collaborate, and to create a better community. In the spirit of MLK Day we are charged share ideas and energy with neighbors, co-workers, fellow-worshipers or learners, people we don’t even know yet – to work to create a common vision of a just society that recognizes and honors the rights of all.

 

NOTE – added event:  the East Side Freedom Library will sponsor a special screening on the evening of MLK Day — a screening of the recent documentary “Love and Solidarity.” (2014)  The film explores  nonviolence and organizing through the life and teachings of Reverend James Lawson.  Lawson provided strategic guidance during his work with MLK in southern struggles for civil rights, including the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968.  Lawson continued his  work in support of nonviolent protest  in Los Angeles where he organized community and and worker coalitions that played a role in the LA labor movement of that era.

NOTE – added event:  Love Hope Rise 2017 brings energy and ideas to this community’s Martin Luther King remembrance with a Solidarity March set for Saturday, January 14. In the spirit of the community celebration sponsors extend a special welcome to families with children and first-time demonstrators.

 

Theme of the Solidarity March is the basic principle of “treating others as you want to be treated.” There will be an indoor pre-march program, sign-making on the positive values of justice dignity, equality, freedom, stewardship and peace.

Check the Facebook event page to keep up with details and developments. https://www.facebook.com/Love-Hope-Rise-2017-Coalition-421588658172703/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE

The East Side Freedom Library, co-sponsor of the March, will join the Love Hope Rise solidarity march as its regular Solidarity Saturday initiative.

 

 

Heeding the clarion call to civil conversation

The process of really being with other people in a safe, supportive situation can actually change who we think we are . . .. And as we grow closer to the essence of who we are, we tend to take more responsibility for our neighbors and our planet. ~ Bill Kauth

We’ve heard the clarion call. We have wounds to heal – the healing process demands civil conversation, open exchange of ideas, values, differences and fissures in our community. Now what?

A priority must be to locate or create safe gathering places for community members to gather, share opposing opinions, to listen, to share life experiences, to own our strengths and admit our weaknesses. We need spaces in which Individuals feel safe to be honest about their values, needs, hopes, fears and innermost struggles. And we need “prompts” that create common ground for civil discourse.

Minnesotans share a proud legacy of lively discourse. Our forebears believed in – and seemingly enjoyed – dialogue. We can learn them — from our American Indian ancestors who shared their thoughts around the community fire, from immigrants gathered in country school houses, church basements, the Grange, the firehouse or Main Street eatery.

Today many of us live in urban neighborhoods, high rises, far-flung suburbs. We commute to work, learn, shop or connect with distant friends and family members. We communicate by email, text, twitter, even by POTS. We exchange information and ideas not face-to-face but by “devices” with no relationship to place or neighborhood or physical community.

And yet, as social beings, we have not lost our need for tangible space in which human beings who may not know each other gather, learn, share, discuss, debate. As Bill Kauth writes, that’s how change – even progress – happens. The supportive environment Kauth describes frees us to think, grow and “take on the responsibility for our neighbors and our planet.”

And so I asked myself, what and where are the gathering places? Because we are told to “write what we know” I have looked to my Northeast Minneapolis neighborhood, not as a neighborhood booster but to offer examples of how one unique community gathers and shares in some of the safe spaces that foster open dialog.

Like every neighborhood, Northeast Minneapolis is unique. The character of Northeast is founded by generations of immigrants, strengthened now by artists who share with ethnic minorities a propensity to “see life steadily and see it whole.”   Creative, committed visionaries who live and work in Northeast have felt both a need and great possibilities. They have dared to create those safe havens – and that has made all the difference.

My passion for the past few years has been to identify and shine a light on leaders – often unsung – who have built a community rich with oases that answer the people’s thirst to communicate. I’ve shared many of the stories on this blog and, more recently, in my work on the Voices of Northeast video project. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/voices-of-northeast-minneapolis-captured-and-shared-on-video/

The joy of it all is that, through Poking and Voices it’s been possible to share some, not yet all, of the gathering places that provide the fertile ground in which healing discourse thrives.

Eat My Words Bookstore (http://eatmywords.com) hosts a rich program of speakers and events on a wide range of topics; the unique bookstore also publishes a great email newsletter. Learn more here https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/hungry-for-a-good-read-try-eat-my-words/ or view this interview with bookstore proprietor Scott VomKorghnett https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tumRr08qkrc (sound quality not good)

The story of Poken Sword (www.poken.sword.org) is best told by those who provide the space and plan the programs. Christine Jaspers, the mind behind Poken Sword, (http://www.pokensword.com) and Dean Hawthorne, proprietor of 2001: A Space (http://2001aspace.com) share the story of their collaboration in this recent Voices interview – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6by48NS1V4&feature=youtu.be)

Coffeehouse Northeast (http://www.thecoffeeshopne.com) comes alive on “Open Mic” night – Don’t miss the post-election conversation next Sunday, November 13, 5:45-8:30 p.m. The Coffeehouse also hosts “Writers Read”, a series of readings by local authors organized by local poet Janaya Martin (http://www.mynortheaster.com/wp-content/news-archives/161102Northeaster/ – see page 6)

The American Craft Council Library Salon Series offers another opportunity for open discussion. This post from last year’s series describes the nature and purpose of the series. The Fall 2016 series is just completed with a conversation on the “Art of Participation” led by Peter Haakon Thompson and Sam Gould. (https://craftcouncil.org/post/five-questions-sam-gould-and-peter-haakon-thompson)

The Water Bar (water-bar.org) on Central Avenue was temporarily morphed into a pop-up poll during the election; they’re returned this week to offer safe space for public discussion of environmental issues. Next on the schedule is “Serve water”, two days of storytelling set for next week, November 14-15. Learn more about the Water Bar here: https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/drinking-and-thinking-water-in-northeast-minneapolis/ or in this more recent article in the TC Daily Planet http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/place-based-art-project-water-bar-addresses-disparities-in-drinking-water-access/

This is but a sample of Northeast Minneapolis settings in which neighbors who may not know each other can feel free to exchange ideas and opinions, including opposing opinions. Watch for more unique hot spots in future blogs or in postings or cablecasts of Voices videos. You’re welcome to drop in to any of these conversations – check the websites for updates.

If you think more clearly or just feel more at home in St. Paul, you’ll want to check out the East Side Freedom Library, the phoenix-like model of creating a supportive gathering spot in what was once a proud Carnegie Library in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/east-side-freedom-library-gives-new-life-to-carnegie-library-st-paul-neighborhood/

News flash  from East Side Freedom Library: http://us8.campaign-archive2.com/?u=f55ad6b17cb0d2b50ad86b2ce&id=6e9a158e8d&e=

Most important, start seeing your own neighborhood, building or complex through the safe haven lens. No doubt you will discover pockets of conversation on issues ranging from social justice to climate change to GMO’s. Dare to join the conversation. Should your community lack spaces that foster discourse, spot the spots that show promise, pair up with an activist neighbor or local organization to create a convivial gathering spot tailored to your unique setting.

We’ve heard the clarion call – it’s  time to get up and do what needs to be done.

* * *

The difficulty of carrying on a leisure-oriented tradition of culture in a work-oriented society is enough in itself  to keep the present crisis in our culture unresolved. ~ Clement Greenberg   

 

 

Lively mix of issues and media at ESFL this month!

The East Side Freedom Library (www.eastsidefreeodmlibrary.org) continues to explode with creative ideas, provocative programs, and an open door to all who wish to share the energy that fuels this amazing community resource. Here’s what’s up in the weeks to come:

  • Wednesday, October 5, 7:00 p.m. Free and open — Deregulating Desire: Flight attendant activism, family politics, and workplace . Author and former flight attendant and union activist Ryan Murphy will discuss his book by this title. Held at the ESFL 1105 Greenbrier Street in St. Paul.
  • Friday, October 7, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Screening and Discussion of What Happened Miss Simone? (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4284010/mediaviewer/rm346220288) The evening, is co-hosted with A Greener Read Used Bookstore. (http://www.agreenerread.com.  Festivities  begin at 5:00 p.m. at the bookstore (506 Kenny Road) with viewing and discussion of the documentary. This will be followed by discussion of Come Back Africa (https://comebackafrica.com) at 7:00 at the ESFL, 1105 Greenbrier Street.
  • Friday & Saturday, October 15-16, it’s a “political graphics workshop” featuring Design and Screenprint from the Living Proof Print Collective. (https://wehavelivingproof.com) Presenters are Aaron Johnson-Ortiz and Aaron Rosenblum. Attend one day or both – it’s free but take time to register at http://goo.gl/forms/NXeFeJVBV7tqewlf2
  • If you actually survive Election Day 2016 you‘ll need to pause and reflect on it all by taking in a series of post-election talks on “Turbulent Times in the Race for the Presidency: An Historical Overview.” The series will explore the issues that have “driven political energies in the past two years – and in the more distant past. Presentations are set for Tuesdays in November (the 15th, 22nd, and 29th) 12:30 p.m. at the Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Avenue North. The series features presentations by Peter Rachleff, History Professor Emeritus at Macalester and founding Co-ED of the East Side Freedom Library.   The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is co-sponsor of the series.

Questions? info@eastsidefreedomlibrary.org or 651 230 3294.

 

Autumn Leaves and Learning – A PotPourri

Autumn is a magnificent season – not just because of the brilliant colors and cooler days but because the energy of creative and generous people and organizations are at peak! Ideas abound. Here’s a smattering of options – just to give an idea of the breadth of programs that pop up everywhere during this robust learning season:

  • Reframe Minnesota: Art Beyond a Single Story – Do not miss the chance to visit this unique show at All My Relations Gallery. The exhibit welcomes visitors to engage in a serious discussion of the controversy surrounding the art that has been and what art should be at the State Capitol.   Not to be missed.   Free and open through September 16. http://www.allmyrelationsarts.com/portfolio_page/reframe-minnesota/ 
  • The War on Science – Shawn Otto. Thursday, September 8, 7:00-8:00 p.m. Another learning opportunity sponsored by Eat My Words bookstore (http://www.eatmywordsbooks.com), the Northeast Minneapolis idea incubator. Otto is a science advocate, writer, teacher and author of The War on Science in which he investigates the “historical, social, philosophical, political and emotional reasons for why and how evidence-based politics are in decline and authoritarian politics are once again on the rise.” Happily, he also offers a vision, an argument and compelling solutions to “bring us to our collective senses before it’s too late.”
  • Inclusivity & Indie Authors: The Case for Community-based Publishing is another unique offering, this sponsored by the Master of Library & Information Science Program at St. Catherine University. Speakers are author and educator Dr. Zetta Elliott and MLIS faculty member Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen. The program is Tuesday, September 13, 7:00 p.m. at SCU. Dr. Elliot is a black feminist who advocates for a model of community-based publishing that uses print-on-demand technology to create a more diverse and inclusive literary world. This is the first in a series of programs featuring Dr. Elliott – additional programs posted on FB – all free and open. .https://www.facebook.com/events/1576818495957311/
  • The American Craft Council Library Salon Series is also unique; the series features a program of four free public presentations exploring craft, making, and art.   The series starts September 14 with a program on Pottery, Pollinators, and Public Engagement featuring Anna Metcalf and Kristy Lynn Allen in a conversation about community and environmental sustainability. The programs are timely and the ACC Library is one the unexplored treasures of Northeast Minneapolis. https://craftcouncil.org/event/pottery-pollinators-and-public-engagement-anna-metcalfe-and-kristy-lynn-allen
  • Also in Northeast, the Friends of the Northeast Minneapolis Library and the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association will again sponsor Salon Nordeast. Herself is a panel discussion about writing and publishing in a male-centric industry. Featured authors include Sarah Chandler, Stephanie Wilbur Ash, Heather Beatty and Wendy Webb in a panel presentation moderated by Sarah Stonich. It’s Saturday, September 18, beginning at 2:00 p.m. at the Solar Arts Building, 711 NE 15th $5 suggested donation to the Friends. https://www.facebook.com/events/1466612610314045/
  • More programming from St Paul’s East Side Freedom Library includes a special discussion of Sports and Resistance in the age of Black Lives Matter. Featured speakers are sports writer Dave Zirin and St. Paul native Royce White who left pro basketball to stand up for justice and advocate for mental wellness. It’s 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 21 at ESFL. https://www.facebook.com/events/299387433754138/

You get the idea – Creative people and organizations are sharing their experience and resources on an irresistible range of topics and ideas!   The intent is to rouse your interest – you’ll find countless other topics, venues, and options in every community, sponsored by myriad organizations of every stripe.

Autumn really is the best season to get the learning juices flowing!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September Learning Opportunities at ESFL

You know the one about having stayed too long at the Fair…..Well, I did – no regrets, except that I’m slow to post some great learning possibilities. To wit:

The East Side Freedom Library ( http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org) continues its robust calendar of social justice related programs, all set for the week to come:

On Wednesday, September 7, ESFL will sponsor a panel discussion on “state-sanctioned violence against people of color.” Panelists include Chris Mato Nunta, Karin Aguilar-San Juan, Mel Reeves, and Ricardo Levins Morales. 7:00 p.m. at the ESFL, 1105 Greenbrier Street on St. Paul’s East Side. (see map on ESFL website)

On Friday, September 9, there’s another program in the Storytelling through Vinyl and Film series. The program begins at 4:30 p.m. with a music happy hour at A Greener Read (http://www.agreenerread.com/home.html) followed by viewing and discussion of the film Come Back Africa (https://comebackafrica.com) beginning at 6:30 at ESFL.

On Tuesday, September 13, the program features Nick Licata (http://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/books/nick-licata-is-done-with-seattle-city-council-but-not-with-activism/), former Seattle city council member and author of the new book with the hefty title Becoming a Citizen Activist: Stories, Strategies and Advice for Changing Our World. Licata will join a panel of local activists who have been involved with the Fight for $15 and other local campaigns. Guests are encouraged to bring and share their own stories of activism! The program will be 7:00 p.m. at ESFL.

For more background on the ESFL you may want to check this earlier blog post: https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/east-side-freedom-library-gives-new-life-to-carnegie-library-st-paul-neighborhood/

 

Cataloging community resources: A writer’s experience

Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services,  great libraries build communities. –R. David Lankes

Given Lankes’ definition of library greatness, the East Side Freedom Library (eastsidefreedomlibrary.org)  is a great library-in-progress! Even better, the day-to-day narrative of the life, growth and strength of the ESFL is being chronicled and shared.

Victoria Blanco spent several months as a resident artist at ESFL, recording her observations and opinions as she experienced the day-to-day community under construction at and through ESFL.

One beehive of activity that Blanco came to understand and appreciate during her residency at ESFL is the work of the volunteer catalogers whose painstaking efforts are expanding access to the rich collections of the ESFL. She vividly records the work of volunteer catalogers going about their professional tasks as “books, records, art, movies, instruments, and textiles arrived by the boxful.”

Tedious work, perhaps, but Blanco appreciates the goal of the catalogers: “Like planting, there’s a repetitive rhythm to cataloguing. Open the book, find it in the World Cat system, enter the essentials in the electronic system, print out a slip with a call number, and shelve the book, in the correct place. Do this for weeks, months, years, until the library is complete.” (Not that any library collection is ever truly complete!)

Blanco’s experiences at ESFL range from observing the work of volunteer catalogers to conversations with the library’s patrons to exchanges with young scholars hard at work on their History Day presentations.

Blanco will share her impressions on her ESFL experience on Thursday evening, July 28, 7:00 p.m. at the ESFL, 1105 Greenbrier Street, St Paul. The community event is free and open to the public.

Come early to experience the abundant energy and commitment that are transforming a proud Carnegie library building into the nucleus of a living, thriving community-in-progress.