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Monday April 12th 2021

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April 2021

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Little Earth Partnership Redefines Research

By SARAH McVICAR

Reprinted with permission from Metropolitan State University’s Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship

https://littleearth.org/scout

In 2015, Metropolitan State Human Services Professor Roberta Gibbons and residents of the Little Earth community embarked on a rare, shared project that would impact them both in fundamental and enduring ways. Like Little Earth itself – the only Native-preference Section 8 housing community in the nation – the initiative was unique from the start.

It began with a proposal for a small research grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to gather data about the drivers and causes of violence at Little Earth – and potentially secure a subsequent larger grant to fund community programming.

At the heart of the project was the unique way in which it embodied its model of Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) – what the Healthy City program defines as a “collaborative approach to research that involves all stakeholders throughout the research process…” and “aims to address the practical concerns of people in a community and fundamentally changes the roles of researcher and who is being researched” – or, as Gibbons describes it: “Research with a community rather than research on a community.”

“This was a project that followed very true to the model of participatory action research,” Gibbons said. “Working with the community, focusing on action, you really learn more because there’s trust and investment. The impact of this kind of research can be far greater than research that is just about numbers and publishing – especially for the community.”

Also central to the model was the convening of critical community stakeholders who have not historically worked together, including notably the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and Minneapolis Park Police.

“[One of the things] that surprised me the most was the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and MPD’s willingness to work with us to try to change perspectives, to engage the community,” said former interim Little Earth Executive Director and Participatory Action Research (PAR)-Team member Jolene Jones, whose steadfast leadership was crucial to the project’s launch and continued growth. “Our biggest goal was to protect our children [notably, some 50%-plus of Little Earth residents are under 21, and half of those are children under the age of 10]. We wanted to show them that this [violence] isn’t normal…gunfire in the middle of the day isn’t normal. We wanted to show them a better way of living.”

The project’s early work included the formation of the PAR-Team – now SCOUT (Safe Communities of United Tribes) Team – where Dr. Gibbons worked with Little Earth residents to discuss the foundations of research, pertinent resources, and the answers needed at Little Earth.

For Jones, who had worked with researchers before, Gibbons’ willingness to listen and acknowledge what she didn’t know was “refreshing,” and a key aspect of the successful partnership.

“Most people come in and think they know everything,” Jones said. “[Gibbons] was willing to listen and change.”

True to the participatory action research model, the community was involved in driving each aspect of the research. The team chose to gather initial data through a door-to-door household community survey – a shared decision that was not made lightly.

“We wanted to make sure it was something the community was invested in, “ said original PAR-Team member Margarita Ortega. “At the time a lot of data was gathered [by others] but nothing would come back to the community…We wanted to do something ourselves.”

The truly unique nature of the partnership was further illuminated at the DOJ-sponsored training of teams who received the initial research grant, where – along with Gibbons and other researchers – Little Earth was the only community represented. “We were the only ones that had an actual community member present,” recalled resident and former PAR-Team/SCOUT Safety Champion Coordinator Cassandra Holmes. “People would run up and ask, ‘How did they get you here?’ I said, ‘What do you mean? We’re part of the team!’”

The team’s work was a success, and the results of the initial survey were vital in securing the subsequent Dept. of Justice programming grant which funded the continued work of the research team along with a number of other initiatives aimed at reducing violence and building community, including peace-making/conflict resolution and a Pathway Advocate working with youth and their families.

One key focus was improving the relationship between police and community members – one that had been fraught with mistrust.

As part of her work with SCOUT, Holmes emphasized the importance of creating fun, community-centered events – like a Friday night drive-in movie and meet-and-greets where community members could interact with police in a relaxed environment. One such event included games like badminton, bean bag toss, and free food like popcorn and cotton candy where SCOUT members partnered with police to run the booths.

Additional events included “Circle Time” at the main bus stop on Monday and Friday mornings with sage, drummers, juice and snacks for kids on their way to school and community-wide Narcan trainings (Narcan, or nal-oxone, is a medication administered to reverse opioid overdoses, a significant issue at Little Earth).

Holmes described how once community members saw the work other residents were doing, they started proactively reaching out to address community issues. Holmes said, “We would be out in our bright shirts letting people know we were here…people knew we were trying to work with the police and bring them into our community but nobody called us snitches…People loved that we were community members involved, that we had youth involved.”

In 2019, following the ongoing work of SCOUT and the other initiatives funded by the programming grant, the team administered a follow up survey to compare to the initial survey data, measure progress on targeted areas, and ultimately inform decisions for further community action.

As an incentive for completing the survey, an Institute for Community-Engaged Scholarship grant funded 200 $10 Cub Foods Gifts for participants (gift cards for both surveys were also funded through a donation from the East Phillips Improvement Coalition). The follow up survey – which garnered responses from a remarkable ~85% of households visited – ultimately found progress in all targeted areas, including procedural justice, police legitimacy, and collective efficacy.

While the results are promising, as with many things of late, the work has been complicated by COVID – as well as the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police, which hit especially close to home given the relationships the team worked so hard to help community members cultivate with police (from the very same precinct). Despite the challenges and the ambiguity around the project’s future directions, residents – and Gibbons – are hopeful that progress will be ongoing, which wouldn’t be possible without the deep community investment. “I always resort back to the love I have for the community,” Ortega said. “I walk around here just to look at the people and they remind me how much I love them. That’s what keeps me going when I’m afraid.”

“If this work isn’t instilled in the community it won’t be able to continue,” said Makenzie Nolan, the Director of Safety Programming funded through the grant. “But if together [we] can plant enough seeds, that’s a success and I think that’s what we’ve done.”

Ortega, too, frames the work in terms of cultivating a foundation for continued community growth: “Our goal wasn’t just to address the safety issues, but to empower community members and give them the skills and resources to address community safety themselves. We’re building more leaders.”

Indeed, fostering meaningful and lasting change is central in the CBPAR model, as is recognizing and elevating knowledge that comes from within community. “When you come from a poor background…you feel like[people with additional privilege] have more knowledge, more everything,” Ortega said, regarding the importance of empowering community voices. “But really your knowledge is just different and it does matter.”

According to Ortega, residents are now assuming ownership of the work: “It’s mostly resident-driven now…now residents feel like their voices are heard and they can actually be a part of creating something and make a difference.”

Said Holmes, “As community members, we’re still moving forward….[the work] is Little Earth’s; it’s ours, it’s our residents’. We did that.”

Little Earth residents, though, are not the only ones who have been inspired by the unique partnership. Gibbons, too, feels a personal commitment to the community and building on the foundation laid by their joint work. Prior to beginning the project – which she noted has garnered national attention – “I didn’t know much about Little Earth except that I used to bike by it every day to work….Now I feel like Little Earth is my second family.”

Gibbons expressed her admiration for the community members she has had the opportunity to work with – and the lasting impact of the connections and learning she has taken from their partnership over the past several years.

“I remember applying for the grant,” Gibbons said, “and saying if we get it, my life will never be the same…What I’ve mostly learned is the strength and resilience of community members – many of whom are suffering historical trauma and still trying to do the work, being good parents, caring and making the best decisions they can for themselves and the community.”

At present, Gibbons is staying on as a member of the cross-sector team – an advisory body for violence prevention, safety, and community-building work – and looking for ways to move forward and bring in new funding. “I’ve made it really clear that I want to continue to be involved in the community,” Gibbons said. “I don’t want the grant ending to be the end of me.”

Ultimately, Ortega believes the work has had a profoundly positive impact for Little Earth and its residents: “The empowerment that came from the project, the community engagement; what it brought to the community – it brought our voice back, it brought our spirit back. It’s a blessing.”

To learn more about the SCOUT Program, visit its website at https://littleearth.org/scout

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Neighbors Rally for Environmental Justice in East Phillips

By STEVE SANDBERG AND KAREN CLARK, EAST PHILLIPS NEIGHBORHOOD INSTITUTE BOARD MEMBERS

(Photo By: MICAH SPIELER-SANDBERG)

On Sunday March 7, supporters of the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm Project gathered atop the Greenway bike path‘s Martin Olav Sabo Bridge in East Phillips Neighborhood. Organized with the help of the local chapter of Global Shapers, an estimated 200+ socially distanced supporters rallied at 1PM to display protest banners over Hwy 55 and to hear speakers. On this unseasonably warm 58 degree Sunday afternoon, the bridge was filled with many neighbors — from babies to elders; East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) organizers; Little Earth of United Tribes drummers and singers; American Indian Movement carriers of the AIM Flag; numerous racial and environmental justice organizational allies; four candidates for Minneapolis’ 9th Ward City Council’s 2021 election race; all welcomed by the rousing sound of local sousaphone-powered band–the Brass Messengers.

The rally was called 1) to urgently protest and stop the City of Minneapolis’ dangerous proposal to consolidate their city-wide Public Works storage and distribution plants into East Phillip Neighborhood and 2) to instead strongly promote our community-led alternative to save the huge former Roof Depot warehouse from city demolition and to convert it into an indoor urban farm with affordable housing, good jobs and small business opportunities, BY and FOR the neighborhood. Urgency arises from the March 25 deadline for public comments on the city’s recently published “Environmental Assessment Worksheet” (EAW). It is weak, deeply flawed and totally fails to address the serious public health dangers to residents that the city’s proposed Public Works project would impose on this majority people-of-color, Native American and very low-income neighborhood. Our residents are already overburdened with toxic pollution-related racial health disparities. Thus one protest sign: “Urban Farm, Not Toxic Harm”– an environmental justice rallying call!

Participants were gratified to hear strong support for the community-based proposal from 9th Ward candidates Margarita Ortega, Jason Chavez, Haji Yussuf and Michael Moore plus organizational allies who rallied in solidarity including: DFL Native People’s Caucus, DFL Environmental Caucus, Little Earth of United Tribes, MN 350, Minneapolis Climate Action, Project Sweetie Pie, Black Visions, Reclaim the Block, Comunidades Organizando el Poder y la Accion Latina (COPAL), NetImpact MN, U of M Medical Students Association, Women’s Environmental Institute, Midtown Greenway Coalition, George Floyd Square Coalition, and more. All spoke AGAINST the city’s plan to demolish the huge, well-constructed 230,000 sq foot Roof Depot warehouse which we could see from the bridge. All urged support for the neighborhood’s plan and for a strong new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Official comment period for the EAW ends March 25, but EPNI urges all supporters to continue sending comments to City Council members at: CityCouncilMembers@minneapolismn.gov; and to the mayor; jacob.frey@minneapolismn.gov; Tell them their weak EAW is not acceptable, a stronger EIS that recognizes pollution-related health disparities and environmental racism is urgently needed and that you support the neighborhood-based urban farm and housing plan.

On April 20, the City Council’s BIHZ Committee (Business, Inspections, Housing & Zoning) chaired by Council Member Lisa Goodman, is scheduled to hear the City staff’s recommendations and vote to accept or reject the city’s EAW. The entire Council votes on their recommendation April 30. Mayor Frey will then either sign or reject the City Council’s action. If he approves the EAW, demolition of the Roof Depot building can follow anytime.

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Tips from a COVID-19 Case Investigator: I’m Vaccinated. Now What?

By LINDSEY FENNER

As more neighbors and loved ones are getting vaccinated, we’re entering a hopeful yet complicated time of the pandemic. If you’re like me, only some people in your household or social group are fully vaccinated (I’ll probably be last on the list!). This means while there are some things fully vaccinated people can do with other fully vaccinated people, they should be careful when they’re around folks who haven’t been vaccinated yet.

First a definition: “Fully vaccinated” means someone who has completed their full vaccine series (2 shots for a 2-dose series like Moderna/Pfizer, and 1 shot for the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine) and it has been at least 2 weeks since they had their final dose. Had one shot of a two-dose vaccine? Nope, not fully vaccinated. Had your last shot yesterday? Still not fully vaccinated.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came out with new guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated last month. This guidance attempts to balance our need for social connection with what we still don’t know about how the vaccines reduce transmission of COVID-19.

The COVID vaccines approved in the US have shown a really remarkable ability to prevent death or serious illness from COVID-19. But, like most vaccines, they don’t work 100%. Very rarely, people who are vaccinated can still become infected with COVID. This is called “vaccine breakthrough,” and MDH keeps track of people who test positive who have been fully vaccinated. So far, it seems like these instances have been very uncommon, and people have had zero or extremely mild symptoms. And although fully vaccinated people are unlikely to get seriously ill, we’re still getting information on how much vaccinated folks can still spread the virus if they get infected.

New CDC guidance for if you’ve been fully vaccinated (as of March 9, 2021):

What’s Changed

If you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.

What Hasn’t Changed

For now, if you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You should still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Take these precautions whenever you are:
  1. In public
  2. Gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one other household
  3. Visiting with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 or who lives with a person at increased risk
  • You should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
  • You should still delay domestic and international travel. If you do travel, you’ll still need to follow CDC requirements and recommendations.
  • You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
  • You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.

Many more people are eligible to get vaccinated in Minnesota, and it is changing rapidly. Visit https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/ to see who’s eligible, find vaccination sites near you, and sign up for the Vaccine Connector, a tool that helps Minnesotans find out when, where, and how to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

Lindsey lives in East Phillips and has been working a pandemic reassignment for almost a year as a COVID-19 Case Investigator for local public health. The pandemic isn’t over yet, but we’re getting SO close!

For questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504, Mon.-Fri.: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS LINE

Call: **CRISIS (**274747)

COVID COMMUNITY COORDINATORS: Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES):

651-768-0000, Mon – Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm; Saturday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm (Spanish)

Cultural Wellness Center:

612-249-9528, Monday – Friday 24 hours; On call weekends (English)

Division of Indian Work:

651-304-9986, Monday – Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (English)

WellShare International:

612-254-7308 (Somali/English)

651-318-0051 (Spanish)

763-312-6362 (Oromo)

Mon-Fri 8:00 am to 8:00 pm; On call evenings/weekends: English, Oromo, Spanish, Somali

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Living Near Major Roadways

How Phillips and surrounding South Minneapolis communities continue to be burdened with traffic-related air pollution

By H. LYNN ADELSMAN

Many statements and studies exist to promote that East Phillips deserves to be a “Green Zone” and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) confirms there are multiple negative health effects from air pollution worse in the central city. Yet for over 5 years the city continues to push for an expanded public works department storage and maintenance facility with over 100 diesel vehicles to replace the Roof Depot site in East Phillips. Why is there no effort directed to place this facility in the western or southern most neighborhoods of Minneapolis? This will increase traffic in Phillips and the surrounding communities to further add to existing high emission levels harmful to residents.

The concentration of high traffic related air pollution (TRAP) in communities where there is less private property ownership and low equity in housing / wealth has a history in Minneapolis. In 1956, the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act created plans for 35W’s Southside path with no community input but from white homeowners. In the 1950s, as 3Ww plans were laid out, with Lyndale Avenue being the most logical route, Lyndale residents resisted and 35W was rerouted through the redlined south-central African American community.

In a planning report prior to eminent domain takeover of homes entitled Freeways in Minneapolis by Barton and Associates, they described how there were no “unified and strongly functioning groupings” or “viable communities” in the pathway where 35W would be built. So it should be no surprise then that planners today would not see and value the families that are not majority-white who live in East Phillips. Less than a mile away is Little Earth, the only Native preference Section 8 housing project in the nation.

In 2013, a seventy page City of Minneapolis Environmental Justice Working Group Climate Action Plan recommended support for “increased funding opportunities for low-emission infrastructure. Green Zone designation would ensure that communities most highly impacted by environmental hazards and economic stressors receive much-needed resources and support.” This supports the plan the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) has created for the Roof Depot site to host an indoor urban farm project, affordable housing, urban food production, a coffee shop and a bicycle shop on the seven acre site.

In January 2020, a University of British Columbia at Vancouver study confirmed that there are associations between road proximity and impaired cognitive function and neurological disorders drawing a definitive connection between Alzheimer’s, dementia, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s to living near major roadways and freeways. Add this to the existing list of health effects from traffic related air pollution (TRAP) that includes cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases (ie: asthma). To counter these negative health effects the study suggests spending time in green space. Which there is little of given the many high traffic roadways in Phillips such as Hiawatha, Cedar, Lake, 26th and 28th streets.

MN POLLUTION CONTROL AGENCY

East Phillips historically has held many commercial and industrial properties which continue to pollute air, soil and water. This includes air pollution from the Smith Foundry & Bituminous Roadways, contaminated soil from lead from high traffic and arsenic from Reade Herbicide manufacturing plant, and groundwater contamination into underground aquifers per the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The MPCA notes regarding “Vehicles and equipment, pollution from vehicles is an important environmental justice concern. A 2015 study by MPCA researchers found that while communities of color and lower socio-economic status tend to own fewer vehicles, do less driving, and use public transit more often than other groups, they are also exposed to higher levels of traffic-related pollution. This is because busy roadways and the associated air pollution emissions, often run through communities of color. Many communities of color therefore bear a disproportionate burden of traffic-related health impacts while contributing less to vehicle pollution.” Such “busy roadways” in East Phillips already exist and adding the public works storage and maintenance facility site will further increase diesel vehicle TRAP.

Spending thousands of dollars, if not more, for years to research, study and announce that there are notable negative health effects requiring a Green Zone label in East Phillips are meaningless without infrastructure change. Many of us and our neighbors are not well where we live. Cancers, heart disease, stroke, asthma, and now neurological related diseases are seen in infants to elders, beginning at unusually early ages. It is past time to listen to the people who live in Phillips and support a healthier community within. And recall the wind does not blow in one direction only, carrying this TRAP into Phillips alone.

H. Lynn Adelsman is a community historian who focuses on public health, housing and school history in Minneapolis.

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BEANS – Good for the Earth, Good for You, Good for Your Wallet

By MARY ELLEN KALUZA

The Scarlet Runner Bean, native to the highlands of Mexico and Central America, is not only delicious and nutritious, it is lovely like a precious stone. The bright red flowers of the Scarlet Runner attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The pictured beans were grown right here in Phillips.

World population is growing by 3 billion people over the next 40 – 50 years, and with it is a growing demand for beef. Over the past 60 years, global production of cattle meat has grown over 40%. Cattle grazing accounts for 80% of the loss of Amazon forests alone. One acre devoted to beef produces just 15.6 pounds of protein. One pound of beef needs 1800 gallons of water to get to our table. Additionally, and alarmingly, all meat production accounts for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, with beef taking in the lead at 2/3 of that.

We need protein for repair and growth of cells, fighting disease, moving oxygen in our blood, and more. Meat is a good source of protein. But, meat isn’t the only source of protein.

Enter dried beans, also known as pulses. Pulses are also a good source of protein. One acre of pulse crops can produce 94 pounds of protein, and use 1/10 of the water beef needs.

Other important nutritional comparisons, to continue picking on beef:

A 5-ounce steak has 300 calories, 44 grams of protein, 120 milligrams of cholesterol, 12 grams of fat (much of it is saturated fat), no carbohydrates, and no fiber.

A cup of pinto beans has 265 calories, 15 grams of protein, no cholesterol, 1 gram of fat (which is polyunsaturated), 26 grams of complex carbohydrates, and 15 grams of dietary fiber. Beans have more potassium and less sodium. Both beef and beans have iron, but we absorb plant-based iron more efficiently.

While beef provides more protein per ounce, we also get protein from other foods: dairy, grains, nuts, vegetables, and even fruits. Most Americans consume twice the protein they need.

Pulses are members of the legume family. Legumes actually feed the soil as they grow, pulling nitrogen (considered to be the most important nutrient for plants) from the air and fixing it into the soil. Legumes are widely used as cover crops and in crop rotation for this very reason. A crop that feeds itself and the next crop. How cool is that?!

And, beans are dramatically more affordable. Dried beans cost an average of $1.20/lb. vs. $5.70 for lean ground beef.

Beans are growing in popularity in the United States. Growing up the only beans I had were navy beans in the sweet barbecue side dish – baked beans, and in split pea soup. Back then I never heard of hummus (made with chickpeas), but now it is a staple and on menus everywhere. An heirloom bean club out of California has a 10 month waitlist to join! There are over 400 varieties of beans, each with their unique color, taste, and texture.

You may say, “But beans make me…you know…” Despite the old rhyme “Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot,” the more you eat, the more your digestive system adapts and the less gas beans will produce. Beans, with all their nutritional value are such a great food bargain, they easily make up for any errant gas.

Cooking dried beans can be intimidating. They require planning and time. Consider investing in a pressure cooker – watch sales and second hand stores to save money. Cooking time is cut to a fraction and eliminates the need to soak the beans. Cook extra beans to freeze for later use to save more time. Canned beans, while ounce for ounce are almost twice the cost of dried beans, are still a better bargain than beef. No shame in using canned beans.

Take away: Eat more beans!

Author Mary Ellen Kaluza is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling. LSS Financial Counseling offers free counseling for budgeting, debt, student loans, foreclosure prevention, credit report reviews, and much more. Website: www.lssfinancialcounseling.org

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Random alley News

By LINDSEY FENNER

Hennepin County Lead Paint Removal Funding Assistance:

Hennepin County has a program to help eligible homeowners and landlords pay for lead paint removal, which includes a free home test and up to $12,000 for work, including new windows. Visit https://healthyhomes.hennepin.us/ to see if you qualify. Contact healthy-homes@hennepin.us Phone: 612-543-4182.

In 2018, more than 200 children tested for lead in Hennepin County had blood lead levels high enough to damage their health.In young children lead ex-posure can cause:

  • Brain and nervous system damage
  • Slowed growth and devel-opment
  • Learning and behavior problems
  • Hearing and speech prob-lems

The government banned lead paint in 1978. Homes built before then likely have lead paint.

Abbott Northwestern Parking Ramp Expansion Passes City Planning Commission:

As part of their planned Allina/Abbott Northwestern campus renovation (see the February 2021 alley for project details) Allina has been granted permitting, zoning, and variance changes to build a new 8-story parking ramp and expand an existing ramp at 28th St. and Chicago Avenue. Part of a planned “transportation hub”, the ramp will include approximately 1,825 additional parking stalls, a bike center with parking for 200 bikes, electric car charging, and a roof-top solar array. At the public hearing on March 8, community speakers expressed concerns over increased car traffic and air pollution. The project was approved by the Planning Commission with a vote of 7 to 1. The lone “no” vote came from Commissioner Chris Meyer, who expressed concerns that the increase in car parking was not compatible with the goals of the 2040 plan and was a step back for environmental justice and Green Zones. Other members of the Planning Commission called Allina’s plan “innovative” and believed Allina had justified their need for more parking.

Phillips Pool Lifeguard Classes:

Minneapolis Parks and Rec are offering Red Cross Lifeguard Certification at Phillips Pool this spring. Scholarships are available for Minneapolis youth in need to complete their training. Through American Red Cross certification, lifeguards learn CPR, first aid, and AED (automated external defibrillator). Lifeguards are certified first responders and can provide emergency assistance in a range of situations. Register for classes online at https://apm.activecommunities.com/minneapolisparks/Home and search for “Red Cross Lifeguard Certification”.

Landmark Voter Intimidation Settlement Reached:

In February, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the League of Women Voters of Minnesota reached an agreement with security contractor Atlas Aegis to settle a Voting Rights Act lawsuit. The lawsuit came out of Atlas Aegis’ plan to hire and deploy armed ex-soldiers to polling sites in the state of MN during the 2020 elections to protect them from “antifas and supporters of Black Lives Matter’. In the settlement, Atlas Aegis and its chairman Anthony Caudle are prohibited from deploying armed guards within 250 feet of any election-related locations such as polling places, and canvassing or tabulating locations, and from “taking any action to intimidate, threaten, or coerce voters, people aiding voters, or people engaged in tabulating, counting, or reporting votes”.

Minneapolis DFL Caucus Registration Starts April 1:

The Democratic Farmer-Labor (DFL Party is holding their Minneapolis caucus online this year. April 1-30, caucus attendees can register, share their preferences for candidate subcaucuses, and mark down if they want to run to be a delegate to later City and Ward Conventions. At city and ward conventions, delegates will endorse candidates for Mayor, City Council, Park Board, and Board of Estimate and Taxation. Delegate elections will be May 12-May 18, and City and Ward Conventions will be later in the summer. Folks can sign up online at caucus.dfl.org, by calling (612) 552-4215, or by texting (612) 712-7461. As of press time, the alley could not find any information about upcoming Minneapolis caucuses for other political parties.

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RETURNING – Chapter 8: Sweet & Sour

By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL

As our little family walked towards Lake and Bloomington, two other forces started to move. On 17th, the evening crew began to disperse towards the corners that their regular customers knew well. And from a small house deep in the swale near 24th, an elderly woman wrapped a colorful shawl around her neck and stepped out into the night wind.

Angel and Luz had met at the San Miguel Bakery six years before, when it was still located in the old People’s Bakery spot near Bloomington. The People’s Bakery had made the Guinness Book of World Records for making the World’s Largest Dog Biscuit, and Luz’ Uncle Jaime was running the bakery the day they met.

St. Michael the Archangel of pan dulce and tres leches had moved two blocks east to a larger place, and on this cold night, the aroma given off caught little Angelito’s nose.

“Mami, papi,” he said. “Tengo hambre. Can I have a concha, please?”

Luz and Angel had not planned on stopping at the bakery, but they realized that none of them had eaten dinner. As they walked through the doors into the warmth and scent of fresh bread, a skinny man in a hoodie brushed past them, bumping Angel with his arm.

“Excuse me,” Angel said.

“Whatever,” the man said.

His face was hidden by his large hoodie. Angel watched him walk across the street to the empty lot on the corner. There’s something off about that guy, he thought. His voice sounded more like a dog barking than a human.

Little Angelito changed his mind three times before he settled on a large roll with red sprinkles. Luz grabbed one of the cakes with nuts, and Angel settled on a plain roll. He didn’t feel like eating anything sweet.

When they left the bakery, the man in the hoodie was back on the corner, talking in low tones with a man wearing a black and purple letter jacket with not letter. Together, they blocked the way for them to cross Lake Street.

“Excuse us,” Luz said. “We just want to cross.”“So go ahead and cross,” the man in the letter jacket said. “Nobody’s stopping you.”Neither man moved out of the way, so Angel said:

“C’mon man, my little boy just got new shoes. We don’t want him to step in all that slush and dirt. Just move over a bit.”

Both men moved toward Angel until they were less than a foot from his face. Angel knew he had seen the man in the letter jacket out selling before. He didn’t recognize the other man, whose face was still mostly hidden by his hoodie pulled tight.

But Luz did recognize him. It was his eyes, and the little scar just above his lip. It was him. It was them. It was the same man and the same evil force that had haunted her and Angel six years ago; it was the same face that had violated here many years before that. She had heard that he was sent to prison for a long spell; but there he was, blocking the way of the two men she loved.

She picked up Angelito in her arms and grabbed Angel’s arm.

“C’mon, mi amor,” she said. “We’ll just go this way.”

The man in the letter jacket laughed and said, “Yeah, mi amor, better do what the woman says.” The man in the hoodie just snorted, a sound that shook Angel.

They started walking down Lake Street fast. Angel fought the desire to turn and look at the two men. He wanted to make sure he could identify them, but he knew that looking at them right now was not a smart thing to do.

Meanwhile, the older woman had reached 27th and Bloomington. She stopped in front of the Mercy Center to catch her breath. Why am I doing this? she thought. Just then, the siren started up at the fire station kitty corner across the street. The harsh noise startled her, and she realized that she needed to keep walking south. Her life was needed there.

To be continued..

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Movie Corner: Unhoused

By HOWARD MCQUITTER II

Howard McQuitter II

Adjust your eyes when you see director Chloe Zhao’s superb road film Nomadland because it has a feel of a documentary and a feel of an arthouse film, yet it’s a true narrative. The principal star is Fern, played by Frances McDormand, who has recently lost her husband; and the local gypsum and sheetrock factory in Empire, Nevada where she worked, closed shop. The town just disappears, even the zip code doesn’t show up on the map.

Fern decides she will not stay in Empire so she packs up some small possessions and puts them in her beat-up van and takes off on the road. But before she hits the road the townspeople offer her help, even places to stay. She smiles and quietly refuses the offers. What we learn early is Fern is fiercely independent and refuses any help from churches, social services, and charity.

Now she’s a nomad traveling from one nomad community to another meeting various people with circumstances similar to hers, becoming kicked out or pushed out by corporate America. Surely this nomad feeling is quite evident today with COVID-19, massive unemployment and racial tensions swirling around us like a gale.

Everybody she meets is friendly, leaving her with good feelings without getting too attached with anyone. Nonetheless, there are many heartwarming stories others share with her. On the way she picks up odd jobs, including some work at Amazon. She stops to visit her sister in California, someone who understands her probably better than anyone else. During her road trip she meets David (David Strathairn) who takes a liking to her and invites her to visit him at his son’s house. He offers her the guest house to stay in as long she wants, but she only stays for a few days. Early in the film she tells her neighbors she’s not “homeless” but “houseless”. What a outstanding road movie with Frances McDormand, an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Cast: Frances McDormand (Fern), David Strathairn (David), Swankie (Swankie), Bob Wells (Bob), Angela Reyes (Angela), Carl R. Hughes (Carl), Douglas G. Soul (Doug), Ryan Aquino (Ryan).

Director: Chloe Zhao. Running time: 108 minutes

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Random alley Labor News:

By LINDSEY FENNER

Union Workers at Abbott and Phillips Eye Institute Hold Strike Vote:

After Allina Hospitals refused a to extend an expiring contract for union workers, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare workers in negotiations at Allina/Abbott Northwestern Hospital/Phillips Eye Institute voted at the end of March to decide whether to authorize an Unfair Labor Practices Strike against Allina. Results of the strike authorization vote were too late for print. According to the union, Allina has declined to negotiate health and safety issues. SEIU-represented workers at Abbott went on a two-day Strike last October over safety and COVID-pay. SEIU workers at Children’s Hospital are in separate contract negotiations, where key issues are pay and safe staffing levels.

Teamsters Locked Out at Marathon Refinery:

The labor movement in MN is asking everyone to avoid buying gas at Marathon and Speedway gas stations in solidarity with locked out Marathon Refinery workers. About 200 workers at the Marathon Petroleum Refinery in St. Paul Park have been locked out of work since January 22 and have been on the picket line 24/7 ever since. Workers, who are members of Teamsters Local 120, have been fighting against staffing cuts and changes that they are worried will make the refinery more dangerous. You can learn more about the lockout at Teamsters Local 120’s Facebook page, or at the Minneapolis Labor Review: https://www.minneapolisunions.org/.

International Workers’ Day March Returns:

May 1st is International Workers’ Day, and the Twin Cities Labor Movement will be marching, Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 2 PM, Minneapolis. Exact location is to be determined: check the MN Workers United Facebook page for more details as they become available https://www.facebook.com/MNWorkersUnited. The organizers demand: Labor Rights! Immigrants Rights! Stop Police Violence! Stop Line 3!

Support Needed for Hospitality and Event Workers:

The hospitality industry has taken a huge hit from COVID, and these workers need our support and solidarity. Ninety percent of hospitality and event workers have been unemployed due to the pandemic, and financial support is running low. The Twin Cities Hospitality Relief Program, a coalition relief effort with Unite Here Local 17, IATSE Local 13, Restaurant Opportunities Center of MN, and other partners is supporting union and non-union workers in events and hospitality facing hardships due to COVID-19. To support this important work, you can send a donation to:

Working Partnerships

Memo: Hospitality Fund

312 Central Ave. SE Suite 524

Minneapolis, MN

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“Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners”

SOMETHING I SAID

By DWIGHT HOBBES

Dwight Hobbes

There are times you have to question how seriously black folk take our own history. Two examples are the films currently arching eyebrows, turning heads and topping just about everyone’s must-see list, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and 2012’s “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” (LionsgateDVD). When you consider what Fred Hampton, chair of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense Illinois Chapter and iconic activist Angela Davis went through so the bourgeoisie could blithely change its tune from “We Will Overcome” to “I have overcome” it truly is saddening.

The plain facts are that even in the 60’s, while even middle class blacks rallied around Martin Luther King’s social protest, freedom fighters like Hampton, Davis and Malcolm X weren’t socially acceptable. They were too angry for assimilationists. Today, scores of African Americans less interested in the African as anything but a way to look cool around white liberals, are no longer interested in struggles, period. They have their equality, content that some black men, women, and children are more equal than others.

The Panthers, no less than the hallowed American Revolutionaries, battled to throw off the yoke of oppression. An aspect you never hear much about is part and parcel of that war against the white system was not race hatred but simple self-empowerment, which included by the end of 1969 setting up kitchens across this country, sending impoverished kids to school mornings with a hot meal in their stomachs. Angela Davis constantly spoke before thousands, standing on the premise, Free your mind and your a— will follow.

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was so terrified by and angered at young Fred Hampton’s (21 years old) success at inspiring resistance to ruthless subjugation he had him drugged and murdered in his sleep – if that sounds like an irresponsible accusation, look it up. Or view the stark dramatization , Judas and the Black Messiah. Hampton had the chance to run for it and refused, standing his ground for the movement. Davis was not about to be gunned down like those before her and went underground, eventually acquitted of trumped up charges by, of all things, an all white jury in ultra conservative Orange County, California.

This soul brother and sister were among legions who devoted their lives improving black life. To improving it for us all, not just those eased their way into material success via affirmative action tokenism whereupon they pulled the ladder up after themselves, not interested, much less invested in social progress beyond their front door.

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