Tag Archives: MN Vikings

North Shore Connections

In my circle of family and friends there are many who spend a few days or weeks on the North Shore every year and who reminisce the rest of the year as they plan for next summer.  Just today I found a treasure that can keep the North Shore spirit alive for them and for those of us who just wish we could spend time Up North during any season.

The treasure is WTIP – North Shore Community Radio 90.7.  It is fabulous.  I just listened to Harriet Boostrom tell about growing up on the Gunflint Trail where her father moved and bought land for a resort in 1915. Her interview is part of the station’s “Moments in Time” series of extraordinary interviews with local folk who have a story to tell.

The photos on the website of all things North Shore and environs are exquisite.  And then there are the fishing reports, updates on what’s happening in the arts, notes from birders, and much more.  The web itself is a delight – to listen to the interviews with local residents is the next best thing to sharing coffee and a doughnut in Grand Marais.  I read and then listened to the librarian describing the much-anticipated move back into the expanded Grand Marais public library, one of that city’s true highlights.

For the sometimes North Shore resident, North Shore Community Radio conjures happy memories and an irresistible urge head for Highway 61.  For the rest of us, it’s a sample of what we’re missing first-hand but can thoroughly enjoy and appreciate in digital format.  North Shore Community Radio is available on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter or anyone can sign up to receive the regular e-letter produced by the small staff and generous volunteers to this remarkable Minnesota resource.

Ironically, some of the funding for North Shore Community Radio comes from the Legacy Fund which I just learned the Legislature is eyeing to tap for the Vikings…..

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Ramadan Reflection

A decade ago I lived in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan.  It was a beautiful, peaceful, meaningful experience that has shaped my life.  I rejoice that I live now in a community in which I can share Ramadan with neighbors.

When I googled Ramdan 2010 (which was a foolish thought at the core) I learned that Minnesotans seem more concerned with the rules re. breaking the fast at Electrolux and Viking Hussain Abdullah’s preparations for the season than we are with the essence of Ramadan.  Still, we are learning and willing to learn more.

Admittedly, we have some basic gaps in our knowledge of Muslim practices during Ramadan.  One has to do with the most obvious, i.e. fasting.  Fasting itself is virtually universal among the world’s religions.  It’s not just about avoiding food and water but about mental discipline.  It’s about living a quiet, loving, peaceful life in a very public way.  Muslims are not suffering so much as observing a faith built on peace and good will and a season that is not so much about sacrifice as about joy. Though the fast is from sunrise to sunset, breaking the fast brings family and friends together to enjoy not only a meal but a time of shared celebration of the holy season.

The beginning of Ramadan can be a bit problematic, especially for Muslims in the US and for those of us who try to understand.   In Abu Dhabi we waited until the elders watched the skies for the first appearance of the crescent moon.  Though we were pretty sure of the date, everything was on hold till the word came down.  In this country there is division among Muslims and Islamic organizations about moon-sighting as the determinant of Ramadan’s beginning.  Some ethnic groups want to coordinate their sacred observances with their homelands.  Others want to have a date that is firm, in synch with political and economic realities if a global environment.  It seems clear that the trend is to a global standard – which is why we all know that Ramadan begins August 11, 2010, in spite of when the crescent moon appears.  Personally, I liked the ambiguity of moon-sighting….

As I write this it is Primary Election Day in Minnesota.  Though my thoughts here are tangential to Ramadan, there is a connection.  This election season Muslims are playing a major role as voters and as candidates – and this is new to our state.  There are 150,000 Muslims living in Minnesota now.  Many have roots here that go back for generations.  Others have enriched our community in more recent times as they have arrived from Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Turkey and scores of other nations.  Candidates are paying attention.

Even more, Muslims are themselves candidates for office.  Congressman Keith Ellison leads the pack, of course.  Farheen Hakeem is running for Governor on the Green Party ticket.  In District 51A Omar Merhi (DFL) is running for the House of Representatives.  DFLer Trayshana Thomas is running for State Senator in District 67.  Muslims are on the local ballot for city council and school board seats around the state.

And so I think about those quiet days of Ramadan with the young women at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi.  And I think about the Muslims in my Minneapolis neighborhood.  It’s time to go vote, then head for the Holy Land for a cup of good coffee and, with luck, a chance to have a word with Majdi Wadi or his mother who so often greets guests with a smile that radiates serenity and good will.

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….