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July 2014 Alley Newspaper

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BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVISSIMO! Sandy Spieler receives the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award

By The McKnight Foundation

June 20, 2014

The McKnight Foundation has named Minnesota visual artist, performer, designer, director, and teacher Sandy Spieler as the 2014 McKnight Distinguished Artist, in recognition of artistic excellence spanning four decades. Now in its 17th year, the annual honor includes a $50,000 cash award and recognizes individual Minnesota artists who have made significant contributions to the quality of the state’s cultural life.

“Sandy Spieler understands the power of art in context,” said Kate Wolford, president of The McKnight Foundation. “Even as her sculptures and performances transcend place, lifting us to realms of fantasy and imagination, she never loses touch with the earth below. An artist of true distinction, Sandy’s pieces are an enhanced reflection of the reality around her, and around all of us — our joys and challenges as members and caretakers of our communities and the greater world.”

Spieler is well known for her leadership of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater (HOBT), a Minneapolis company she has directed since 1976. Originally named the Powderhorn Puppet Theater for its neighborhood home in Minneapolis, the theater was renamed in 1979. In 1988 the company relocated to the old Avalon Theater, a building that started in the 1930s as a family-oriented movie house but later became an X-rated theater. (At the time, HOBT noted the transition on its new marquee with “Bye Bye Porn, Hello Puppets.”) Embracing its rich, culturally diverse surroundings in south Minneapolis, HOBT continues to draw on local and regional perspectives to inform its work. The theater performs locally, but also travels nationally and internationally, playing to audiences that include schools, community groups, and churches.

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From Greek Φιλανδρος (Philandros) “friend of man”; Philander Prescott

Prescott, killed in 1862 at the Dakota Conflict after warning U.S. 6 years earlier of inevitable trouble without changes, was buried on the prairie and reinterred later at Layman’s Cemetery when Mary died in 1867.  His tombstone was encased ca. 1938 by the Hennepin History Museum in order to preserve it longer.

By Sue Hunter-Weir

For the first hundred years of the Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery’s history, Philander Prescott was the cemetery’s most written about pioneer. In more modern times he is remembered by those with a keen interest in the Dakota Conflict of 1862, otherwise he is mostly forgotten. Prescott arrived at Fort Snelling in 1819 and lived in what later became Minnesota until his death. Over the course of the years he, like many pioneers, did many jobs in order to survive. He was a sutler (i.e., ran the store at Fort Snelling), trapper, fur trader, translator, Bureau of Indian Affairs agent and farmer. He married Spirit of the Moon (also known as Mary), the daughter of Man Who Flies, one of the elders of the Lake Calhoun band of Dakota. They were married almost 40 years and had ten children. He was one of the casualties of the Dakota Conflict of 1862.

By all accounts, Prescott was modest and unassuming. Although he was the first white man to visit Pipestone quarry and wrote about it as early as 1832, the reddish-brown stone was named not after him but was named catlinite after George Catlin, another, rather more flamboyant explorer. Frank Mayer, a New York artist who visited Minnesota in 1851, spent some time with the Prescott family and described Philander as a “pursey little man,” presumably meaning a “prissy” man. Mayer complained that Prescott was “non-communicative,” a quality that Mayer attributed to Prescott’s long association with Native American people. What Mayer couldn’t fathom is that after thirty years in the “Northwest,” Prescott had little in common with visitors from the East. His family, his work and his life were here.

In his own reminiscences Prescott comes across as a man with a sense of humor who was something of a practical joker. He was an adventurer, someone who was used to living under adverse circumstances. As difficult as his and Mary’s lives were at times, there is nothing in his writing that suggested that he regretted the choices that he had made. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Traditional Somali Hut, Aqal Soomaali, erected on Lake Street

A traditional Somali hut was donated by a community in Xingalool, Puntland, transported to Mpls., temporarily erected on Lake Street near Blasdell Avenue during Somali Independence Day June 21 displaying its iconic nomadic heritage.

The Somali Artifact and Cultural Museum that opened at Plaza Verde 15th and Lake Street last year facilitated the gift and will display it at its new location beginning July 11th.  The Museum is committed to providing opportunities for cross-cultural education and thus is partnering with the Hennepin Theater Trust to co-curate a gallery by animating vacant city spaces with art.

The Somali Museum’s Made Here gallery at 319 1st Avenue North, Mpls. 55401 opens July 11.

Traditional arts are endangered due to upheaval, migration, and the increasing urbanization of Somali society.  The Somali Museum’s collection of over 700 artifacts offers hope that the tradition will continue and is the only center dedicated to preserving and promoting Somali arts and folklore anywhere in the world. Also fostering connections between community organizations, advocates, and artists like at the Festival on Lake Street.  The Museum is currently seeking volunteers to assist with greeting gallery visitors and cataloguing the collection.  Please call (612) 234-1625 to volunteer.  All levels of weekly commitment are welcome.

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SPOKES Bike Walk Connect

spokes-photoSpokes, a community biking and walking center with a goal to get more people biking and walking at 1915 East 22nd Street Minneapolis. (one block west of Minnehaha Avenue on 22nd Street. 22nd Street is one block south of Franklin Avenue) gathered bikers on June 22nd to bike to Somali Independence Day at Lake Street and Blaisdell Avenue. Spokes also repairs, teaches and promotes walking and biking always connecting people at the same time.

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East Phillips SummerFest 2014: A Roaring Success!!!

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By Brad Pass

The East Phillips Community held its First Annual SummerFest Sunday, June 22nd in the extraordinary East Phillips Park. The festival honored the diversity of the community with foods and entertainment from many of the cultures who call East Phillips home and the festival celebrated the 5 ½ year struggle, against all odds, to raise the money and redesign what used to be called “Cockroach Park” into the vibrant community center and park home for the community that it is today with its wonderful soccer fields, basketball courts and baseball diamond. The East Phillips Improvement Coalition (EPIC) and Minneapolis Park and Recreation sponsored the Festival. 

The mantra of success for this community as stated by neighborhood advisor Arthur Himmelman many years ago was and still is:

“If you want to go Fast, go alone. Read the rest of this entry »

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Community Engagement: What does this really mean for Ventura Village in 2014

Ventura Village News July 2014 Issue

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“I’m still using my torch!… I’ll be glad to light your torch!”

20140121_475897.xml-2014+0120+cotton+1In Mpls. 2 years ago, Dr. Dorothy Cotton, former Associate to Martin Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke to a gathering and said,

“There’s been a lot of talk today about elders passing on the torch to the youth.

“I’m here to tell you God gave my torch to me and I am still using it!

“I’ll be glad to light your torch so that together we may light the way and fight the fight!”

Dr Cotton, 84, was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) from 1960 to 1968.  Under the Carter Administration, Dr. Cotton served as the Southeastern Regional Director of ACTION, the Federal Government’s agency for volunteer programs from 1978 to 1981.  She has been president of a university and many other influential positions as well as her own consulting organization in which she is active today.

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Beyond The Great Bdote

By Peter Molenaar

For the Dakota, a ‘bdote’ was most frequently the convergence of two rivers (a place where two waters come together). In today’s world, “great bdote” refers to the ongoing meltdown of the polar ice caps.

Unfortunately, close to 100 million people in Bangladesh stand to be inundated. How many millions of our own people might be reduced to refugee status? Moreover, in what spirit will those with power and guns respond?

Is catastrophe inevitable? Actually, some sectors of the ruling class are behaving accordingly. Yet there is a glimmer which suggests that solar energy will ascend to displace coal via market forces. However, these “forces” tend to be finicky.

Meanwhile, we dare not sleep before the dawn “beyond coal.” To put it mildly, carbon dioxide emissions must be suppressed immediately. It’s like putting a man on the moon…only infinitely more important.

So…

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War’s definition and justification plague individuals and institutions alike

by Frank Erickson

The Catholic Church did a very good thing during the “Gulf War”…from the New Dictionary of the History of Ideas – “The Catholic Church responded to the Gulf War in a statement that put the very idea of a just war in peril. The theory of just war, they said, “was indefensible and has been abandoned. In reality–with the sole exception of a purely defensive war against acts of aggression, we can say that there are no ‘just wars’ and there is no ‘right’ to wage war.”

Beautiful, without even realizing it, the Catholic Church is moving into a realm of seeing “war’s” non-existence–they touch on it, but then contradict themselves…and I get it, I see why it happens, how the human mind works and how our fear works.

How else can it be approached, that when you say “there are no ‘just wars’ and there is no ‘right’ to wage war,” you are flat out saying there is no way to create “war”-but the backdoor is left open for a “purely defensive war – people have a right to defend themselves.

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