Tag Archives: Voices of Northeast

Expanding the Feast at Eat My Words!

Long ago there was a vague concept, an idea that the vibrant arts community of Northeast Minneapolis somehow needed a stronger voice for the creative folk who live, write, perform or otherwise work with words, books, literary forms of every sort.  Over time the concept morphed.  It would take the words written or spoken by community members to speak for the role of the written word in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Area.  And thus began Voices of Northeast, video interviews with those good people whose words and work with words expand the very definition of the arts community.

What video conversations need more than easels and potting wheels is “recording space” — not so much “30 Rock” stages and cameras but quiet space that conveys a bookish feel, space that welcomes the viewer/reader to connect with the speaker, and for the guest speaker to feel not on stage but in a comfortable setting.

Eat My Words! Bookstore, the unique bookstore in the heart of the arts community, offered an ideal setting, a cozy space (complete with piano and an ever-changing art exhibit) that I’ve come to call “the parlor.” Most important, EMW extended knowing welcome to two volunteers with a hand-held camera and lights, a mission to share the views of those who give life to words, and a mission to incorporate the “literary arts” into the Northeast arts community. Thus, for the past couple of years, scores of episodes of Voices of Northeast have emanated from the back room at EMW.  One of the interviews is with Scott VanKaughnett, friend and proprietor of EMW  http://umedia.lib.umn.edu/node/1347781

All of which is background, a roundabout way of sharing my unbounded excitement about the new home of Eat My Words Bookstore.  Just last weekend EMW moved from the original site at the corner of 2nd Street and 13th Avenue Northeast just up the block to 214 13th Avenue NE, former home of Two12 Pottery.   Past posts have covered the basics of the move, the collaboration with the previous owner, potter Bob Sorg, and hopes for the expanded bookstore. (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/eat-my-words-a-moveable-feast/)

Beyond our highest expectations, we can now share with readers just how wonderful this move is – all of the good things that will be happening in the NEW Eat My Words!   The space offers bibliographic elbow room for the shop’s 20,000 volumes (no more iffy basement…)   It’s bathed in gentle sunlight room and nooks just right for cozying up with a great read, tantalizing displays of Bob Sorg’s pottery, unique greeting cards, and, still room enough for Voices of Northeast to continue weekly interviews with people whose art form is the written or spoken word!

There is also great space for the incredible public programming series that EMW is now able to expand! This month’s programs are but a sample of the mix:

  • Thursday, August 10, 7PM – – Poetry Reading: Freddy La Force, Georgia Linden, Stephanie Mann. P
  • Friday, August 11, 7PM — Nate Graznow & Steven Hildreth
  • Friday, August 18, 7PM — Film Meets Poetry: Kathryn Oakley & Damian Kussian.
  • Friday, August 19, 3PM – Michelle Leon—I Live Inside: Memoirs of a Babe in Toyland

Each of these programs is announced and generously annotated in the beautifully wrought EMW online events calendar.  In fact, there is so much going on at EMW that the only way to stay in touch is to make haste to get on the list:  http://www.eatmywordsbooks.com/events/?view=calendar&month=August-2017

It is an honor to congratulate and thank Scott VanKaughnett and the staff of this unique community treasure.  Congratulations on your new digs – and sincere admiration for your vision, your commitment and your voice for the writers, readers and word lovers who weave their ideas and energy into the very fabric of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts area.

 

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Poken Sword – A space where love of language matters

The evening’s program is so rich and varied that I contacted the planner to be certain that all of these people, all of the talent, all of these ideas will be shared in just one evening at Poken Sword!   Yes they are, and here are the details!!!

“A luminous evening dedicated to the Love of Language” is the tagline for Poken Sword.   The phrase sings out as we as a nation come to grips with the reality that words matter, truth matters.

The theme for this week’s Poken Sword literary salon is “Solitude.” Guests this week include Franklin Knoll, legislator, judge and poet.   Joining Franklin Knoll are writer and artist Hannah Kreibich, Judoka poet Gumo Orenji (Eric Tu), writer Noel Labine, Earl Crosby and Jason Wells. Each will share an original work on the theme of “Solitude.”

The evening is one in a monthly series of literary salons, gathered the fourth Friday of each month at 2001 A Space, located at 2001 5th Street NE in the heart of the vibrant Northeast Minneapolis Arts Area. Doors open at 6:30 PM.   Salons are free and open with a simple $5 voluntary contribution.

Each salon features original work by local writers and thinkers; each will focus on a specific theme – future salons are these:

  • February 24 – Passion
  • March 24 – Turbulence
  • April 28 – Fools
  • May 26 – Joy

Learn more about Poken Sword in this interview with  founders, Christine Jaspers and Dean Hawthorne:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Z6by48NS1V4&feature=youtu.be

Learn more about this month’s and future guests here: http://www.pokensword.com

 

 

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   

 

 

In Pursuit of Preservation as a Public Agenda Priority

A civilization is a heritage of beliefs, customs, and knowledge slowly accumulated in the course of centuries, elements difficult at times to justify by logic, but justifying themselves as paths when they lead somewhere, since they open up for man his inner distance. ~~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Last Friday our guest on the “Voices of Northeast” series (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/voices-of-northeast-minneapolis-captured-and-shared-on-video/)

was Richard (Dick) Kelly, retired University of Minnesota librarian. Dick spoke eloquently of his work curating a number of major personal papers and libraries, including the John Berryman collection, sharing delightful stories of marginal notes and even the way that Berryman’s books were shelved in his home. Though Dick was quick to remind me that he is indeed a librarian not an archivist, as I listened to his wise comments and his breadth of experience I kept thinking of how complementary – and interdependent. The symbiotic relationship of professions committed to preserving our culture heritage is more than ever essential. The information/communications revolution determines that information and ideas, stored in ever-evolving formats, flow freely through an ever-expanding network of channels. As a society we face the challenge to craft a mix of rules and responsibilities, formats and functions that assure preservation of this “heritage of beliefs, customs, and knowledge.”

And so my thoughts in recent days have tended to revolve that challenge – to explore as a concerned human just how we can assure that this vast resource – the recorded knowledge of humankind – can achieve status as a public priority. Preservation of our heritage must thrive, never languish, in the complex netherworld of “everybody’s business and nobody’s business.”

My pondering and probing soon led me to the inevitable digital dive where I found rich resources, human and recorded, that offer comfort and inspire the compulsion to act.

First, I learned that my timing is spot on – We are midweek of Preservation Week 2016, sponsored by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, the Library of Congress and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. (http://www.ala.org/alcts/preservationweek/sponsors) There I learned that the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation’s collections, conducted over a decade ago, revealed that U.S. institutions hold more than 4.8 billion items, 63% of which are housed in libraries. Forget tomes and Hollinger files, these are moving images, maps, paintings, sound recordings, apps and countless other formats that were not yet envisioned a decade ago. Given the enormity of the treasures, experts assess that 630 million items cry out for attention – while 80% of the institutions, from county historical societies to corporations to academic libraries and museums, have no paid staff responsible for care of the collection.

Needless to say, the history of the nation is yet to be explored, much less interpreted. More than ever, understanding our heritage demands access to the records of the globe. At the opposite end of the continuum, one need only turn on the TV to learn of individuals’ and families’ passion to know more about their roots.

As I dug more deeply I learned that May 1 is MayDay, a complementary event spearheaded by the Association of American Archives/. (http://www2.archivists.org/initiatives/mayday-saving-our-archives#.Vx_xvktEB4M) Though the message may be subliminal, MayDay is not your ordinary distress signal but the annual grassroots initiative to build public awareness of the complexities and critical state of preserving our cultural heritage.

Clearly, this modest blog is something short of a blip on the archival radar.   My hope is that this grassroots call to action, a hope that readers will pause to ponder the imperative to pay heed to the recorded legacy of this nation – a narrative told by millions of individuals in vast formats.   Much like the narrators themselves, these archival records face the challenge of age, obsolescence, vulnerability, and, above all, inattention.

Let us save what remains: not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use in consigning them to the waste of time, but by such a multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident. ~~ Thomas Jefferson

 

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!