Tag Archives: North Minneapolis

Prologue to Possibilities – New Years Eve Post 2015

Poking around can be hazardous for the inquiring mind…At times one falls into the trap of probing the object rather than pursuing the allure of the poking process itself. And thus the story of how I have been waylaid of late by a related, but tangential, project that has captured my imagination, expanded my horizons, and taken a good deal of time…..As we wrap up 2015 I’d like to share the project, in part to explain the pause in the Pokes, but also to tell you what’s up and to invite your ideas.

As many readers know, the resurgence of the arts in Northeast Minneapolis reflects, embraces and expands this vibrant community.   As is their wont, practitioners of the myriad facets of the literary arts have established their unique presence — in the wings. The work of writers flows from their fertile minds and laconic pc’s; their words are transmitted through disparate channels that mediate between the creator and the reader – editors, publishers, printers, booksellers; their ideas inspire individual readers not massive crowds. Thus, the voices and thoughts of those whose creative energies contribute so much to the totality of the arts need a gentle push to step to the main stage.

In an earlier post I described my involvement in an ambitious video project designed to amplify the voices of the Northeast community’s literary artists. The Voices of Northeast collaboration is part of and builds on a long-standing video project initiated by North Side resident and scholar Peter Shea. Shea’s initiative, known by the enigmatic series title “The Bat of Minerva”, explores the lives of thoughtful and creative people so that their unique insights reach a general viewing audience. The “Bat” series is cablecast on Channel 6 (Metro Cable Network) and archived at the University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Studies. (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/voices-of-northeast-minneapolis-captured-and-shared-on-video/)

In recent months Peter and I have collaborated to initiate a series of interviews with a range of creative people who, in various and sometimes invisible ways, reflect and support the literary arts as essential and enriching players in a vibrant arts community in Northeast Minneapolis. The videos are accessible on the IAS website (http://ias.umn.edu/2014/07/29/northeast/)

Ours is a low-key project. Each week Peter engages in a wide-ranging discussion – not an interview but a conversation – with one or two individuals who enrich, expand — and share with others — the literary vibrancy of this neighborhood.

My role, that of identifying, contacting and “selling” the concept to those who contribute so much to the literary scene, has enriched my appreciation of this community – and absorbed more than a few hours and days.

At year’s end Peter and I have been looking back to assess the impact and the future of this model.  One thing we have learned is that the possibilities know no limits – each guest introduces us to other resources – a person, an agency, a player – of which we were hitherto unaware. We know that we have barely tapped the mother lode of players in the world of words that thrives in our midst. Another learning is that the means of sharing the ideas and the words is expanding exponentially. We recognize that access to the recorded interviews cries out for attention.

We are also coming to realize that this simple grounds-up approach offers a frequently unpredictable alternative to cookie-cutter interviews with known subjects… We are coming to appreciate that this is technology harnessed and shaped to accomplish the vision that inspired the early proponents of public access television.

For now, our focus is on two priorities we hope to pursue in the months and year to come. One is to replicate the simple process that has created and sustained our efforts to date. At present we are exploring the possibility of expanding our sphere to explore the stories of artists who live or work on the North Side, which quietly embraces a rich, diverse, burgeoning community of creative artists of every stripe. We are eager to explore the many faces of that reality, including individuals and supporting agencies that together shape a rich arts environment in North Minneapolis.

Peter, the inveterate scholar, and I, the unreconstructed librarian, are also concerned with the challenge to harness the potential of technology to enhance access to the videos that are the tangible product of this project. The first and essential step is a fait accompli – the Voices of Northeast tapes are in the public domain and securely archived for download and editing to suit the user’s purpose.

The need now is to take the next step, to apply the tools of access – aka cataloging/coding – that render the videotaped treasures universally and permanently accessible. The goal is to organize the complex collection of video interviews in a standard system that assures that any seeker is able to search, identify, view or download, then learn and share the recorded words of a diverse community of interest.

So, on the one hand, this is an explanation of the temporary absence of Poking Around. On the other hand, it’s a heads up on what this pilot project has accomplished – and what we are thinking about for the future.

Ideas welcome – especially if you have suggestions of people, places, projects and other possibilities into which we should poke in 2016!

 

Walking Windom Park — and more

For several reasons, most notably the glorious days of an ideal Minnesota autumn, I’ve been walking a lot in recent weeks.  This week I did stop for coffee and found myself on a pedestrian’s holiday reading the recent Journal piece written by Hilary Reeves, communications director for Bike Walk Twin Cities.  As I walked on I started formulating my own thoughts about walking  — the plusses and the problems of one who lives in Stretchers and disdains the very thought of a pedicure.

We all know that walking is good for the bod, even a bod that’s been around the block – literally and figuratively – more than a few times.  It’s also good for the mind – lots of time to craft the perfect retort, the clever ditty, the letter to the editor, or probably the great American novel for well-shod walkers with literary talents.  I muse about what Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote of Thoreau, who communed with nature and eschewed city sidewalks. “The length of his walk uniformly made the length of his writing. If shut up in the house, he did not write at all.”

Lacking the bucolic escape to Walden Pond  — and Thoreau’s way with words –I’m an urban walker with a penchant for walks in Windom Park.  As such, I love to deconstruct the neighborhoods I trod – why the Tudor house on the corner?  Why the row of cozy cottages that bear the indelible mark of post-WWII vintage design?  Why the abandoned shop on the corner that once let families dash out for a quart of milk , a loaf of bread  or a handful of penny candy without driving to the mall.

On summer days I ponder the pied-colored hieroglyphics that foretell what’s about to happen with the plumbing, the electricity or some other mysterious city development project.  The complexity of the coded information gives rise to wild images of which public utility is about to break ground in the hood.

Walking can also engender deep thoughts about the barriers impeding the progress of the city walker – uneven sidewalks that could use a warning stripe if the city lacks the finances to restore the cement, the unleashed dog that threatens to clear the chain link fence in a single bound, bikers who haven’t got the message that the bike lanes are for their personal use, and most of all, the inevitable snow banks that rise at every corner, then freeze so that pedestrians are effectively frozen in captivity while the school bus  or Metro Transit speeds by unaware of their diminutive presence.

Rodgers and Hammerstein notwithstanding, I actually prefer to walk alone. A high-energy pacer would intimidate me.  Besides, I like to choose my own erratic path, to stop and examine the particulars of a site, to chat with neighbor kids, or to quit when I’m too tired, too cold, or if I want to get back to the computer so I can download my musings.

Of late I have been narrowing my thoughts to some forthcoming walks that add purpose to my idle pedestrian ambles.  There are scores of purposeful walks, of course, these are just some with which I am personally involved.  Every walker his a similar slate of walks for a cause.

  • First is the Raise Our Collective Voices to Say No walk and rally next  Saturday, October 20.  The walk is planned to alert voters in North and Northeast Minneapolis to the pernicious implications of the Voter ID Amendment that will face voters on November 6.          
  • Or there’s the Walk to End Hunger, a monumental collaboration in which walkers of every stripe and stature will gather at the MOA early Thanksgiving morning.  It’s a fundraiser sponsored by several hunger-related organizations working in tandem to address the travesty of Minnesotans lack of access to essential food resources.
  • Also playing in my mind are plans underway for the annual President’s Walk in Northeast Minneapolis.  It’s not till February but it’s this neighborhood’s very special way ro honoring our nation’s presidents by walking or biking the streets on which we live, running from Washington to McKinley and (sort of) beyond.  It’s a great neighborhood event during which neighbors celebrate the presidents and the history of Northeast.  Intrepid walkers are delighted that the 2013 walk has caught the attention of some hearty bikers who will defy the wintry odds by peddling the presidential route.  Plans are percolating – details later.

It’s great that walking offers a low-cost fitness routine.  Walking can also promote social justice and political change.  Still, if the sages ask me why my saunters are wasted on the earth and sky, I’ll tell them that, if neighborhoods are made for seeing, then walking is its own excuse for being.

FLOW: Northside Arts Crawl – Triumph of Art and a Community in Minneapolis

 

For weeks now residents and friends of North Minneapolis have crawled – and climbed and cut and commiserated with those whose homes and lives were blasted by the tornado.  On Saturday, July 30, the FLOWNorthside Arts Crawl will bring beauty, talent, and a sense of peace, order and gratitude to this annual event.

Promotional materials state it best:  “FLOW is an arts crawl that shines a light on the Northside through the arts.  It unites, celebrates and transforms in collaboration with the broader communities that surround us.”

FLOW Northside Arts Crawl, now is its sixth year, is a free, family event that runs all afternoon (3:00-8:00 p.m.) throughout the Northside community.  Attendees enjoy a self-guided tour featuring visual and performing arts showing at businesses, studios and organizations along West Broadway; see the website for a good map which includes a free shuttle that runs on Broadway all afternoon,

Artists and programs are listed on Facebook or Twitter.  They include a KFAI stage, an artisan market, outdoor community Zumba dance classes, Latin music ensembles and dance, spoken word performances, a silent auction and much more.  A special feature this year is a grand recognition of tornado volunteers who will pose for a massive group photo.

You’ve heard and seen the devastation – come now and see the beauty, resilience and creative energy – the FLOW – of the Northside!