Tag Archives: Minnesota Vikings

Libraries Invest Legacy Funds to Share Stories and Build Community

The other shoe has fallen and my wrath has erupted.  I knew it was coming, that the tapping the Legacy funds, once a mere gleam in a legislator’s eye, would focus, then hone in on the vulnerable funds, those reserved for arts and cultural activities.  When the Legislature passed the Arts and Cultural Heritage pot in 2008 it was an organized arts community, not the Legislature’s deep  commitment to arts and culture, that authorized minimal support, under 20% of the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, for arts and cultural activities.  It is also worthy of note that the fund itself is just .8 of 1% of the state’s sales tax.

The breakdown of allocated funds, as passed by the Legislature, looks like this:

33 percent to a clean water fund,
33 percent to an outdoor heritage fund,
14.25 percent to a parks and trails fund, and
19.75 percent to an arts and cultural heritage fund

For starts, I don’t see how that’s going to lure Ziggy when he’s obviously out for land development and not so much for the arts and culture….

More important, too little attention has been paid to the profound impact that the Cultural Heritage funds have had.  Because one is advised to write what one knows, and what I do know something about, is libraries.  During 2010 and 2011 public libraries in Minnesota received $4,250,000  in Arts and Cultural Heritage Funds.  Those funds were expended by the regional systems, passed down to or received directly by local libraries to implement programs and enhance resources.  Library-designated funds have also been spent by state agencies, particularly the Minnesota Historical Society which has established a working partnership with the Council of Regional Public Library Systems to collaborate on specific Legacy funded projects.  The expenditures and program descriptions, through 2010, are listed and described in detail on the Legacy website.

Libraries, particularly libraries in small towns and communities, operate on a shoestring, often dependent on volunteers and Friends, always trying to hold their own on the budget of municipalities and counties that are pulled from every direction.

The more salient fact is that those same libraries are preservers of the community’s culture, responsible for tending the record, reaching out and for assuring that those who care about their history have access to the stories.  Libraries also provide a sort of arts and culture lifeline for the communities they serve.  They have space for meetings, staff and volunteers who are in touch with learning opportunities, means to promote, interpret and focus on public events.

Statewide Legacy funds have funded an amazing mix of library programs including the very popular event and museum passes and bus trips, author visits ranging from Alison McGhee to Barton Sutter and a host of other, folk dance,  a celebration of National Poetry Month and dozens of other initiatives that highlights the arts, local history and the stories and activities that build a community.

When I asked for stories of what’s happened with Legacy funds in the metro area I received some great stories.  This report submitted by Anoka County Library is so local and so timely it serves as a great sample of what a small grant can unleash when energetic folks make connections to improve access for the public served by the local library:

Once again ACL has collaborated with the Coon Rapids Senior Center to provide seniors and their grandchildren with a Legacy program over MEA break. 45 people attended the program at the Senior Center last Friday, 30 seniors and 15 of their grandchildren. The program was Ghosts of Anoka County and was presented by Sarah Given, from the Anoka County Historical Society. ACL sponsored the program using our Legacy funding.

Many of the seniors attending the program used walkers. One of the ladies using a walker made it a point to thank the library for providing the program at the Senior Center. She had always wanted to go on the Ghost Walk in Anoka, but wasn’t able to handle the distance. She couldn’t believe she could finally take the tour—virtually! She really enjoyed the program as did the rest of the audience. The history program was 80 minutes long but the children stayed attentive and many adults stayed after the program to talk about their “ghostly” adventures. Personally, I was intrigued by the local Anoka history that was mixed in with ghost stories. I can’t wait to go the 7th floor of the government center for an aerial view of City Hall—I had no idea the building is shaped like a handgun and I want proof!

This has been a valuable collaboration for the library. One of our goals for our Legacy funding projects was to bring our Library to unexpected places. Many of the seniors I spoke with at the program were not library users, but they took our hours brochure with them as well as the flyers for the upcoming history programs.

There may seem to be a major stretch between the experience of these Anoka elders and youngsters and the development concerns of one team owner.  It is worth noting, however, that the developer’s eyes are on the very land in which these folks are living, learning and voting.   Granted these people and the Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund are vulnerable, ill-equipped to lobby their concerns in the marble halls and quiet backrooms where lobbyists, financial giants and the political Deciders gather.  I can only hope against hope that the Governor remembers what really matters to many Minnesotans whom he may not know personally but who still matter.



I Love Podcasts!

Sometimes a Poke evolves into a Probe.  Such is the case with this Probe into one of my favorite pokes, i.e. podcasts.

I love podcasts!  I love to poke around and learn about new pockets of podcasts.  I love audio and video podcasts, but mostly I love audios, audios that capture lectures, interviews, posts by journalists, scholars, and thinkers who ask good questions and elicit ideas and information from unexpected sources.

What got me started on this poke and probe path is the forthcoming meeting of the 35th Annual Community Radio Conference, the gathering of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, set to meet in St. Paul, June 9-12, 2010.  These folks are major players in the world of podcasting – because what they produce is creative, unique and now accessible.

Podcasts are intellectual recycling, an ergonomically correct alternative  with great potential to simplify life, share ideas and wrest the viewer/listener from the rigors of commercial-saturated audio and video media.  Though the name “podcast” suggests iPod plus broadcasting, the fact is that podcasting predates the iPod invasion and actually grew out of the RSS feed format.

If you don’t have hours to probe, don’t get started with podcasts!  I’ve tried to focus on podcasts that are Minnesota-specific, audio, and spoken word (as opposed to the inestimable mountains of music about which everyone seems to know anyway).  My goal is to whet the listener’s audio appetite – no effort to plumb the depths that are both endless and shifting.

Note #1 about what follows:  Virtually all of these podcasts can be streamed on your PC.  They can also be downloaded and stored for replay on whatever audio device you have stuck in your ears.

Note #2 is about access: While traditional media are organized by topic, podcasts are organized by series or distributor. The user just needs to know where to look.

Note #3:  These are by or about Minnesota and Minnesota agencies.  In the interests of open government I tried to focus on publicly supported sources, though that’s a broad category that encompasses sports, public radio, the U of M and other key players in the world of podcasting.  I did not include state agencies per se.  Watch for a future blog.

Basic introduction to podcasting as a resource:

Try the University of Minnesota Digital Media Center for a great introduction/  They even support an ongoing Podcasting Discussion Mailing List.

Public Radio Player from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting focuses specifically on public programming in their excellent Q&A introduction to podcasting and related technology.

Christina Lopez at the University of Minnesota has written a superb piece about the potential of podcasting well worth more poking around.

Ready to listen?

Following is a totally random sampling of Minnesota audio podcast options – there are scores of other possibilities if you have but the time and a smattering of intellectual curiosity:

The University of Minnesota offers an incredible portal to podcasts of every stripe – lectures, interviews, backgrounders, opinion pieces and more.  Some samples:

  • Missed the Great Conversations series?  Check out the podcasts– everyone from Seymour Hersh to Ken Starr to Rafael Yglesias – fabulous!
  • Culture Queue from Radio K offers a pot pouri of information, ideas and opinions on current issues ranging from eating local to slam poetry and Tea Baggers..
  • The Civil Engineering department produces regular audio and video podcasts to which you can subscribe.

UMD is a podcasting mecca.  Check the Designer Network or, for the latest on research on The Lake (Superior, that is) try the Minnesota Sea Grant Feeds Library which offers audio programs and updated news and events on water quality, coastal communities and aquaculture.

The U of M is but one of many of Minnesota’s academic institutions floating through the airways to students and the general public. Check out St. Cloud State’s great website or what’s happening at Alexandria Technical college or Austin Community College for samples – virtually every publicly supported academic institution is in the podcasting game,

Access Minnesota is self-defined as a “weekly public affairs radio show featuring noted academics, authors, politicians and business leaders engaging in common sense conversations about compelling and relevant issues in the state of Minnesota, across the national and around the globe.”  It’s a joint project of the Minnesota Broadcasters Association and the U of M.

Some Assembly Required is a superb series of weekly podcasts based on music and audio art, an exploration of the world of sound collage.  Produced locally by MnArtists the series is now nationally syndicated.

Want to know more about Minnesota architecture – broadly defined? Check Minnesota Builds for stories, interviews and heaps of photos on the complementary website.

Truth to Tell, heard first on KFAI’s, features interviews with a wide range of Minnesota decision and opinion makers.   Northern Sun News, another KFAI product, features interviews about current issues particularly ecology, peace and justice

And then there’s Minnesota Public Radio the ubiquitous audio giant that podcasts just about everything.  Start here to explore the library of podcasts from MPR.

Or check out KYMN in Northfield where you’ll find nearly a score of locally produced programming ranging from the Law Review to an After School Special to Art Zany and Tech Talk’

No surprise, the Vikes are in the game, so to speak. So do the Wild.  And the Lynx.  And the Twins.  You get the picture….

But you might not know about The Icebox Radio Theater, an independent, nonprofit arts organization in International Falls.  They’re dedicated to using the “old art of radio drama to tell new stories about their corner of the world, i.e. Northern Minnesota and Northwest Ontario. Or then there’s the MN Standup Comedy podcast series or La Casa Rojas, Spanish language podcasts beamed and streamed from St. Paul.

The list and the listening go on!  Dip for now, then drink deep of the audio stream….