NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Sunday January 20th 2019

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December 2018-January 2019 The Alley Newspaper

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Residents storm city hall to protest

Phillips community not given a voice at meetings on public works expansion

BRAD PASS
As part of a protest by Phillips residents who have been ignored by city staff and council members, a Native American Drum group performed a prayer and request for understanding prior to the Transportation and Public Works Committee meeting on Dec. 4, 2018. Throughout this process, the city has ignored its own principals and civic engagement, and sought to railroad its own plans for the neighborhood.

by Carol Pass, EPIC Board president

Neighborhood residents continue to oppose the city’s plans to expand its public works facility into the Roof Depot/Sears site in Phillips neighborhood (1860 E. 28th St.) that would further increase pollution and illness in the area. 

Instead, they support a plan fashioned by local residents themselves that bring jobs, affordable housing, an indoor aquaponics urban farm, solar energy, and a bike repair shop to the location along the Midtown Greenway.

Under pressure, probably from Public Works staff, to make something happen, the city scheduled meetings with the Ways & Means Committee, Transportation & Public Works Committee (T&PW), the Committee of the Whole, and the Full City Council and then rescheduled some, making notification of Urban Farm supporters difficult at best. 

Nevertheless, Urban Farm supporters filled the council chambers and overflowed in the hall at the T&PW Committee meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 4, as a Native American Drum group performed a prayer and a request for understanding in the pre-meeting chamber. Citizens were not allowed to speak but carried signs to express their support of the Urban Farm concept.

Chair Abdi Warsame (Ward 6) passed a motion that would provide no space for the Urban Farm and permit demolition of the incredible Sears warehouse through T&PW without recommendation to the full council, with the stated hope that it could be modified to meet the needs of public works and the community. 

On Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, the full council passed the bill, modified by Ward 9 Council Member Alondra Cano, which requires the formation of another committee, this time called HAC, which will provide “feedback” on what will be allowed in the Roof Depot site such as Voter Services, but apparently not be the Urban Farm. 

Cano did include a statement prohibiting the demolition of the building without “input” from HAC. 

The bill also provides an extra $950,000 for RSP, the public works architect, for “additional architectural and engineering design services” bringing their total fees to $2,700,000 to date. The Urban Farm architect was not granted extra fees. 

The HAC will take us back a year and a half to the beginning of the GAC. 

History and local solution: 

In 2014 East Phillips residents looked again at solving our serious air pollution problems. More scientific evidence had become available relating the dire consequences of air pollution to our children. We were making a major effort to remove the two biggest sources of this pollution, the asphalt plant and the foundry, from the neighborhood when we heard that the owners of the Roof Depot indicated a desire to sell.  

East Phillips Improvement Coalition (EPIC), along with neighbors and other organizations, sought to gain control of the 7 ½-acre site to prevent its sale to another polluting industry. 

Residents and local organizations had already been pursuing the goal of green jobs and an economic future for people here with limited education. We had been lobbying the state Department of Employment and Economic Development for months for funding to try to produce a “job creator” for our low-income residents. 

Suddenly all the things that we were most concerned about seemed to come together. 

The community saw that the Roof Depot site could provide a pollution-free source for jobs and we would also continue to work to remove the asphalt plant and foundry. 

Many community meetings were held as the residents and members of local organizations came together, hired a professional consultant and developed a plan to re-use the building and the whole 7 ½-acres for a community-driven sustainable low-impact industry to provide an economic future for people in Phillips, something dramatically needed and never attempted before. 

2015 Community Plan: 

The plan that emerged from countless meetings through 2015 and 16, the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm project, gained traction with strong support from the Native American, Somali and Hispanic communities and other interested neighbors. 

The community sought and found investors, presented and received unanimous endorsement of the plan from the 150 residents at the 2015 East Phillips Annual Meeting. 

At this time, EPIC contacted and began negotiating with the owners of the Roof Depot site for purchase. Also, during this time, we learned of the city’s interest in this property… and we also learned that this interest and their plans went back over a decade without ever informing and including us. 

In 2016, our years of lobbying with the state began to pay off. With the help of legislation sponsored by Rep. Karen Clark and senators Jeff Hayden and Patricia Torres Ray, EPIC received a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grant to plan and help develop the East Phillips Neighborhood Indoor Urban Farm project. 

As indicated in the grant, EPIC and others helped form an inclusive non-profit corporation with the name East Phillips Neighborhood Institute Inc. (EPNI) to be responsible for the creation of the indoor Urban Farm. The plan initially involved repurposing and reusing the entire building, adding at least 28 units of affordable family housing and creating the largest solar array in the state to power it. 

City’s response – Collision Course: 

In 2015, the city threatened the use of eminent domain and the Roof Depot owners quit talking to us. 

The City Council voted 9-4 to allow public works to purchase the building, which they did, and to convert the site to more industry – the City Water and Sewer Maintenance facility. 

Council members Cam Gordon, Jacob Frey and Andrew Johnson joined Council Member Alondra Cano in opposition. 

As a condition of the council vote, Public Works appointed the GAC committee to determine community use should there be any un-needed space at the site. 

As the meetings proceeded, we struggled to get the community voice heard while the city’s space needs at the site ballooned well beyond water yard needs, even including early voting space, guaranteeing that there would be no excess space for the community. 

In mid-2017, at the 4th GAC meeting, Staff Chair Friddle erupted angrily and threateningly to prohibited State Rep. Karen Clark from explaining how the Cumulative Pollution Legislation she wrote would affect this project. His angry fist-waving-rush across the room shocked us all. 

Rep. Clark, saying she would not tolerate such disrespect, left the building. The Native Americans, also claiming disrespect, left followed by most of the remaining GAC members, thus terminating the GAC charade. 

Since then, the community has been trying with no success to have meaningful negotiations with the city staff decision makers to save a 3-acre parcel with a necessary portion of the building. The community recently, to facilitate the possibility of negotiation and to meet the needs of the city and the community, reduced this to as little as 2 acres of the site – 12% of their 16+ acres. Still no response from the decision makers. 

Negotiation requires a two-sided relationship. Where is the city?

EPIC hosted two huge community meetings at East Phillips Park in November 2017 and September 2018 with approximately 250 community members at each. 

Votes were taken at both as to those favoring the city’s Water Works plan or the community’s Indoor Urban Farm Project. 

No one at either meeting voted in favor of any of the city plans. 

They nearly unanimously favored the 3-acre community plan (two votes at the 2017 meeting went for increasing the size of the community plan to include the entire 7 ½ acres). 

It must be noted that a presentation of the community plan was not included on the city’s agenda or permitted at the 2018 meeting nor was it permitted at the subsequent city council meetings listed below. So much for community engagement!

The current situation:  

After the demise of GAC, in direct contradiction of their own principals of Community Engagement, the city has never allowed the community to present or speak at any of these meetings or decision-making sessions. The number one principal of community engagement states:

“Right to be involved – Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process”. (Passed by Mpls. City Council in 2007 – updated in 2014) 

There has been absolutely no effort by the city to understand, honor or even hear of the hard work of the community or abide by the principals of the Blueprint of Equitable Engagement endorsed by the city of Minneapolis.

The East Phillips Community has a reputation for not taking “NO” as an answer.

Ethical Imperative: 

The Roof Depot site has become the focal point of a struggle in East Phillips over the community’s self-determination and its right to protect its children from harm. 

This is not some abstract “feel-good” concept as some have suggested. 

It is based on the belief that residents should have the right to protect their children and themselves from the very serious health-challenging and life-destroying effects of asthma, ADHD and cancer, caused by hazardous air pollution from the heavily polluting industries already in the Roof Depot area. 

The many additional huge diesel trucks coming with the proposed City Water Yard project along with hundreds of employee vehicles will add to the cumulative pollution already emanating from adjacent asphalt plant, foundry and roadways.  

These major industries are only a fence or an alleyway’s distance from family housing and apartments with many small children and their playground as well as a major daycare center, and it is less than a block from the largest urban Native American population in the United States, Little Earth of United Tribes’ with their large population of children and many vulnerable adults. 

That parents and friends of the neighborhood should fight against this pollution and try to mitigate it as well as the dangerous traffic congestion should surprise no one. Frankly, it is a duty incumbent on all of us, especially city leaders, to try to mitigate negative impacts on low-income families and children with few resources. 

The objections of the neighborhood should be responded to by the city with generosity and a clear effort to assist those who are trying to better a situation that has pulled down the lives of the people of East Phillips for generations. 

The community is saying, “Enough is enough.” 

The neighborhood families have hosted this life-damaging situation long enough. They wonder why city leaders will not listen, understand and respond.

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ANALYSIS: Environmental racism, degradation not new to Phillips

Residents disregarded by city for decades and, perhaps, more is yet to come

by HARVEY WINJE

The Mpls. City Council’s recent denial of any use of the Roof Depot site by East Phillips Neighborhood Institute is a continuation of the institutionalized environmental racism that has plagued local residents for decades.  The continuing prejudicial treatment ensures that the same devastation to the neighborhood will keep happening in years ahead.

In 1939, an incinerator was built adjacent to Pioneer and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery in spite of broad disagreement and protest by the South Minneapolis Association (a large coalition of many sub-groups), the area’s City Council Alderman, and the Mayor. Organizing meetings at the old South High School (current site of Little Earth of United Tribes) had 3,000 people attending and 300 people protesting at a city council meeting.

At the time of the building of this incinerator in the 20th century, large tracts of land east of the Cemetery were occupied by railroad yards and large industries. Also nearby, at the intersection of 28th St. and Hiawatha, there was a large Sears Roebucks Warehouse, an oil and fuel distributor, an arsenic distribution center (arsenic was used as pesticide to wipe out the grasshopper infestation), and other businesses.

There were three dozen houses in the immediate area and many more between there and Cedar Ave.  In the early decades of Minneapolis, it was convenient for worker housing to be near the industry.  As the impact of industrial pollution became apparent, this closeness of industry and residential living became an obvious contradiction and harmful to thousands of people.

The pattern was set as government then proceeded to allow more facilities around that incinerator. With the incinerator’s existence, it was more convenient and was the path of least resistance in an area where residents were perceived to not have the same clout as wealthier residents in other parts of the city.

More environmental degradations attempted in name of ‘Public Good’ 

The pollution increased but the houses remained for a time. Additional land was cleared nearby when the original South High School was demolished to build housing (now Little Earth of United Tribes).  Then, three decades ago, 35 houses and 8 commercial were purchased and demolished to clear land for a large garbage transfer station by Hennepin County for 750 city garbage trucks to dump their loads each day.

Neighbors fought that intrusion for over a decade and finally succeeded in convincing county authorities that, in fact, this garbage transfer station wasn’t needed anywhere in the Minneapolis.  The county had been using outdated garbage and recycling statistics to justify the need for this facility.  The city disagreed but lost the battle. There were other victories such as the defeat of the Midtown Eco-burner (Cogenerating Plant) proposal in 2007 and the campaign to force Xcel Energy to bury high voltage power lines in 2009 along the Midtown Greenway in Phillips rather than having them overhead.

Further colonization and city

Today, the city is still after more land and the environmental degradations continue. The city again runs rampant against local opposition in their intent to demolish the Sears Warehouse (now called Roof Depot) to expand the city’s adjacent public works facility (including asphalt production).

At a recent meeting in the neighborhood, a city official said, privately after the meeting, that testimony during the meeting declaring that other neighborhoods didn’t want such a facility wasn’t true.  He said that there were other areas where it could be located successfully.  He then added that no other site had the advantage of having a current facility such as Public Works like that between the Sears/Roof Depot site and 26th St.

This declaration was a forewarning in disguise that this whole area is doomed.  With this mindset, the city will cross 28th St., Longfellow Ave., and 26th St., demolish existing houses and buildings, and amass more city facilities and add to the environmental degradation to a part of the city they deem dispensable. The current 9-acre proposal will be increased to who knows how many acres. This, in turn, can add to broader community destabilization.

It is a “domino effect” – as one domino falls, it knocks down another.  As one house is demolished,then another will be demolished.  As one block is demolished, then another will be lost. 

The current city council and city staff are repeating and promoting the strategies employed through environmental racism that began decades ago and has been repeated again and again. 

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Navigation Center built

Franklin/Hiawatha Encampment respite ready

TESHA M. CHRISTENEN
Workers put the finishing touches on the Navigation Center in mid December 2018 so that those experiencing homelessness will have safe and secure, low-barrier housing at 2109 S. Cedar Ave.

by CAMLLE GAGE and MARGARET KING, COURTESY OF METROPOLITAN URBAN INDIAN DIRECTORS

If you’ve been following the situation at the Franklin Hiawatha homeless encampment, you’ve probably heard of the new “Navigation Center” being created by the city of Minneapolis and a variety of government and other partners. 

After months of waiting, information about the center is now available to share. Here is a list of frequently asked questions about the center, which will provide safe and secure shelter for the homeless residents of the Franklin Hiawatha encampment. 

Thanks to Margaret King, the city of Minneapolis Navigation Center project coordinator, for helping to compile these answers.

What is the Navigation Center and when will it open?

The center is a low barrier 24/7 access shelter designed for people living in the Franklin Hiawatha encampment. It will provide a calm, clean, safe environment with access to intensive support services. The center is scheduled to open in mid-December.

Who came up with the idea?

The Navigation Center concept is being used in a variety of cities across the country who are experiencing large numbers of homeless residents. It is often considered an emergency or transitional solution – to house people as they wait for more traditional shelter, GRH or Section 8 housing, or other affordable housing options.

What does ‘low barrier’ mean?

It means that many of the barriers people face going to traditional shelters are eliminated or minimized. 

People can come with their pets, partners and (adult) family members, and can opt to sleep near one another. There will be ample storage for personal belongings. There will be a strong harm reduction orientation. 

The center will be open 24/7 and will not have a curfew. 

People do not have to be sober. People who use drugs or alcohol will be welcome and will have access to different kinds of practical supports designed to help them stabilize and reduce the harms associated with substance use. Medication assisted treatment will be available on-site. 

Violence and highly disruptive behavior will not be tolerated, but other than that there are as few rules as possible. 

Families with minor children will not be housed at the Navigation Center, but other options are available for those with children.

What are the sleeping areas like?

TeshA M. Christensen
Information about the Navigation Center is available in the warming tent accross Franklin Ave. from the encampment.

The center will have three large heated tents that each have approximately 40 beds. Each bed will have a locking storage locker that fits underneath it. The tents will have a mixture of sleeping cots and gathering spaces with tables and chairs. 

The guests staying in the center will have some freedom to design the placement of beds to create a livable and personalized space.

What services will be there?

The center will be open 24/7 and have spaces for gathering in large and small groups, meals, showers, and close access to services. Livio, a mobile health care services provider, will be on-site providing health care. Native American Community Clinic will be on-site with a suboxone clinic, Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors group and other agencies will have staff on-site on a regular basis and Native healing practitioners will be available. 

Various other housing and service agencies will also be on-site regularly to serve the center’s guests. 

The intention is to provide intensive support to people so they can stabilize, set self-determined goals for the future, and gain access to the  warmkind of long term housing that best serves their needs.

What will happen to the current encampment when the Navigation Center opens?

Out of concern for the well being of the residents of the encampment, city and state officials have allowed the current camp to remain in place and have provided various supports to minimize public health and safety risks while the Navigation Center is being built. 

However the intention to close the current encampment once the center opens has always been clear. 

How and when the closure will happen is still under consideration, but at some point the current encampment will close.

How does a camp resident learn more about the Navigation Center and sign up for a bed there?

There will be an information table for the Navigation Center at the warming tent across Franklin Ave. from the encampment. The Navigation Center will be able to shelter 120 individuals and current camp residents are encouraged to visit the HSA tent and learn more.

The center is located on land temporarily provided for this purpose by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa on site that previously was Ambles Hardware and Machinery. It is across from Cedar Box Company and adjacent to the Franklin Light Rail Station and Takoda Institute – American Indian Opportunities Industrialization Center at 2109 Cedar Ave. S.

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Karen Clark honored

Tesha M. Christensen

As she retires after 38 years of service as the District 62A Representative, Karen Clark was honored by various community members, including Indigenous Peoples Task Force Executive Director Sharon Day (above) and several members of the Somali community (below) on Dec. 6, 2018. She was the first openly gay representative in America and worked on social justice issues. Clark quoted Dr. Dorothy Cotton, former Associate to MLK, Jr., “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!”  She added, “I’m not going away.”

Karen Clark Tribute upon Retirement from Pam Colby Productions on Vimeo.

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Cepro site may become neighborhood park

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) may aquire the Cepro site along the Midtown Greenway to add a path from 10th Ave. S., a stage with seating and onsite utilities.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MINNEAPOLIS PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
A public hearing is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 19, 6:30 p.m. at the MPRB Headquarters, 2117 W. River Road N. to discuss whether the Cepro site should become a neighborhood park.

The site currently belongs to Hennepin County. 

The MPRB, Hennepin County and community members collaborated on a concept plan for the property in 2016-17.  

If the Cepro site is transferred to the MPRB, the site would become a neighborhood park and MPRB would assume responsibility for operations, maintenance and public safety. The park would also be eligible for funding through the 20-Year Neighborhood Park Plan.

About the Cepro site

The Cepro site is a 1.65-acre green space along the Midtown Greenway between 10th and 11th Avenues S in the Midtown Phillips neighborhood. 

It contains bike and pedestrian paths that serve as a connector to the Midtown Exchange building, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Anderson Schools, Powderhorn Park and the Midtown Phillips Community.

Hennepin County acquired the former grain elevator site in 2000 to support Midtown Greenway Phase 2. The elevators were demolished in early 2004, greenway connections constructed in 2007 and a variety of placemaking and landscaping projects have been completed since 2011.

To learn more, visit www.minneapolisparks.org/planning.

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Bangoura returns as Minneapolis Parks Superintendent

As former team lead in Phillips, he knows area well

Superintendent candidate finalist Al Bangoura

Alfred Bangoura, currently of Charlotte, N.C. but formerly of Minneapolis, has been named as the new Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Superintendent.

He replaces interim Superintendent Mary Merrill.

Bangoura formerly served as the Director of Recreation Centers and Programs for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. From 2001-2015, Bangoura held a variety of progressive recreation leadership positions with the MPRB, which included supervision over East Phillips, Phillips, Stewart, Elliot and Peavy Recreation Centers.

Commissioners hope to have Bangoura aboard as soon as possible.

“We’re excited to welcome Mr. Bangoura back home to Minneapolis,” said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President Brad Bourn. “Al believes our parks are for everyone and he’s ready to advance this board’s mandate of increasing our investment in youth and building an even better park system for our guests and everyone who calls Minneapolis their home.”

Bourn added, “His knowledge of Minneapolis and our parks coupled with his unique professional skills will provide cohesiveness and inspire collaboration.”

Bangoura is currently the Recreation Superintendent of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, which includes Charlotte, N.C. and serves over 1.1 million people. Bangoura oversees community and recreation services for the county’s 17 recreation facilities and three senior and active adult facilities. Bangoura is currently leading the construction and program development of the county’s first 100,000-square-foot recreation facility. 

He is a Certified Park and Recreational Professional (CPRP) and has a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism. 

President Bourn and other commissioners praised Superintendent Emeritus Mary Merrill for her service and many accomplishments during this critical time of transition. Under Merrill’s leadership, a new community-led Juneteenth celebration was held, ordinances on spitting and lurking were repealed, agreements with Graco were settled, and her 2019 recommended budget was supported by the Mayor and the Board of Estimate and Taxation and included a down payment for investing in Minneapolis youth. 

Under her watch, several significant projects were completed, including the Phillips Community Center, Wirth Trailhead, and improvements to Peavey Park and Central Gym. 

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December 2018 service changes and a comparison between Minneapolis and Milwaukee transit

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

The last “pick” of the year is upon us. A “pick” is when Metro Transit changes bus schedules and drivers are assigned new routes. This service change goes into effect the 1st of December 2018 and includes the following adjustments that will affect the Phillips Community:

• Route 5 will have trips reinstated that were eliminated during the driver shortage.

• Route 21 will run slightly less often.

• Route 53 will have one trip in each direction reinstated.

• Route 67 will have one weekday morning trip reinstated; however, there will be significant cuts in both the morning and evening seven days a week.

In addition, please be reminded that special schedules are in effect on Black Friday, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve. Black Friday and Christmas Eve are usually a Saturday schedule plus a few rush-hour trips on commuter routes. New Year’s Eve is usually almost a regular weekday schedule minus a few rush-hour trips. Non-rush-hour fares are charged all day on Black Friday and Christmas Eve. 

In other news, I recently had the opportunity to visit Milwaukee for two days. While I didn’t have time to ride the buses there, I did pay attention to their system as best I could. One glaring difference between their transit system and ours is theirs is run by Milwaukee County, whereas we have the Metropolitan Council, which includes seven counties. Unfortunately, metropolitan Milwaukee extends beyond the county line to the north and to the west. While the Milwaukee County Transit System does run buses to Waukesha and Ozaukee Counties, except for the route to Brookfield Mall, it is mostly commuter service. For example, I went to Costco in New Berlin. Near the Costco was a bus stop sign for MCTS Route 6. Unfortunately, that bus is aimed mainly at industrial workers and only runs at shift change times. This is in a busy area comparable to Eagan. 

The contrast served as a good reminder how lucky we are in the Twin Cities to have the transit system we do.

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What’s Up at the Franklin Community Library | December 2018

By ERIN THOMASSON

Family Storytime
Fridays, 10:30-11 am
For children of all ages and their caregivers. Talk, sing, read, write and play together in a format appropriate for young children. Share books, stories, rhymes, music and movement.

Joke Telling with the Mobile Comedy Suitcasee
Wednesday, Jan. 9, 4:30-6:30 pm
Learn the art of writing and telling a great joke from a professional comedy writer and theater artist. And if you’re brave enough, perform your favorite joke on their portable stage! Funded by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. 

Teen Programs
Urban 4-H Club
Tuesdays Dec. 11 & 18, 5-7pm
We do everything from urban gardening to digital photo/video to theater. Partner: U of MN.

Teen Tech Workshop
Wednesdays, 5-6:30pm
Get creative and make music, videos, animation and other projects using both high- and low-tech tools, everything from iPads and 3D printers to synthesizers and sewing machines. Led by the library’s Teen Tech Squad.

Dhalinta Horumar sare rabta / Young Achievers
Wednesdays, 4:30-6pm 
U dabaaldag Dhaqanka Soomalida, sameyso saaxiibo cusub iyo in aad isticmaasho hab nololeed cafimaad leh. Lamaane: WellShare International. Celebrate Somali culture, make new friends and practice healthy lifestyles. Partner: WellShare International.

Teen Anime Club
Saturdays, 3-4:30 pm
Discuss manga and share artwork. Something different every time!

Act Out for Teens: Intro to Physical Comedy
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 4:30-6 pm
Registration Required. Grades 9-12. Are you ready to get serious about being funny? Led by an experienced Guthrie teaching artist, you will set off on an adventure to explore theater techniques for a wide variety of physical comedy. Let your humor run wild in a safe and creative environment. No experience necessary! Collaborator: Guthrie Theater. Funded by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Adult Programs
Fasal furan oo ku Saabsan Barashada Teknoolojiga Maktabadda/Library Technology Open Lab
Wednesday, Dec. 5 & 12, 10:30 am-12 pm
Kaalay oo baro Teknoolojiga maktabadda. Shaqaalaha waxey ku bilaabi doonaan Open lab-ka 20-daqiiqo oo horudhac ku saabsan teknoolojiga maktabadda. Mowduucyada laga hadli doono waxaa ka mid ah: sidaad u isticmaali laheyd kombiyuutarada maktabada, Internet-ka iyo Email-lada, asturnaanta, printer-rada iyo Scanner, iyo sidaad buugaagta uga raadsan laheyd bogga maktabada iyo kheyraadka laga helaba. Markuu mowduuca horidhaciisa lasiiyo, ka qeyb galayaasha waxey waqti u heli doonaan iney sii dabaqaan waxey barteen iyadoo shaqaalahana diyaar u ahaan doonaan iney uga jawaabaan su’aalahooda mid-midna u caawiyaan.

Come and explore library technology. Staff will start each Open Lab with a 20-minute orientation to library technology. Following the orientation, participants will have time to explore on their own, while staff will be available for questions and one-to-one support.

Franklin Technology Hour Thursdays, 12-1 pm  and Fridays, 3-4 pm
Do you want to explore new technology, practice using a computer program, or learn more about the library’s electronic resources? Then come to Franklin Technology Hour! Bring your questions, or come and explore a spotlighted resource.

Crafting for Good: Crochet a Washcloth
Saturday, Jan. 5, 2:30-4:30 pm
Registration Required. Learn how to crochet and make a simple cotton washcloth. Keep it for yourself, or donate it to someone in need. Materials provided.

Franklin Learning Center:
612-543-6934 flc@hclib.org
The Franklin Learning Center offers free, one-to-one tutoring for adults who are learning English and math, preparing for the GED and citizenship exams, and gaining life skills. We are always looking for community volunteers! No experience necessary; we provide training and materials. Contact us at 952-847-2934 or flc@hclib.org.

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That was an interesting workday

Tales from Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery

By Sue Hunter Weir

In the 1890s Congress passed legislation allowing a number of organizations to apply for military surplus equipment. This “decorative” cannon and mortar were placed in the cemetery in the1920s and removed during World War II – they were most likely used for scrap.

162nd in a Series

Albert Nelson, caretaker at Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery from 1927 until his death in 1953, had a keen awareness of the role than many in the cemetery played in the state and city’s history.  It seems unlikely that he had any idea about his own role in that story.  He had intended to write a book about the cemetery, but it appears that he ran out of time.  Nonetheless, he left us an amazing amount of information that Mike Barth, current caretaker, found in one of the cemetery’s ancient file cabinets.  

The file contains Mr. Nelson’s monthly reports to his supervisor between January 1939 and March 1944.  There are 95 pages, carbon copies, most no more than one or two pages long.  In addition to reporting on routine maintenance tasks – mowing, raking, shoveling, etc. – he provided important information about many monuments, tree plantings, memorial and dedication programs, burials and removals. He answered a question that we have often wondered about – who built the addition to the caretaker’s cottage and when?

The original building, built in 1871, consisted of two rooms.  Nelson first mentioned the addition, a “tool house,” in June 1939.  The men who worked on it were employees of the Work Projects Administration, a program created by the Roosevelt administration to combat unemployment during the Depression.  Work progressed slowly, interrupted by funding shortfalls and a nation-wide labor strike in 1939 when hundreds of thousands of workers walked off their jobs to protest a cut in wages.  Masons, stonecutters, and carpenters stayed off the job until October.  When they returned carpenters cut an opening that connected what is now the middle room and the back room.  The addition was completed in July 1940.

There were 19 burials between 1938 and early 1944; most were widows in their 70s or 80s. One of the most interesting pieces of information that Mr. Nelson provided was about the family of Katherine Smith.  Mrs. Smith was the mother of Lafayette Mason, a South High football star, a professional pianist, and one of the city’s earliest African-American firefighters who in 1910 died at the age of 29 and was buried in the family’s plot. Mr. Nelson described Mrs. Smith’s 1941 funeral as “ a very large funeral,” and noted that she was buried near her grandmother, father, and mother “all born slaves.”  Her father, Morgan Jones, at 101 years old, is the oldest person buried in the cemetery.  His story appeared in the Alley in December 2017 (http://alleynews.org/?s=morgan+jones).

Then, as now, people seemed to have been prone to driving into the fence.  On April 21, 1938, a car or truck crashed into a section of fence.  The fence was repaired but in February 1940, another section of the fence was knocked down.  Fortunately those drivers hit the chain link rather than the decorative steel and limestone fence.

And the turnaround at the end of the cemetery’s only road posed a problem for at least one driver whose car “pinched its wheels on the outside curb.”  The driver stepped on the gas, jumped the curb on the other side of the loop and crashed into a tree.  The result according to Mr. Nelson was “a bent bumper, broken headlight and small dent in the fender.  A little bark was loosened from the tree.”

Cars weren’t the only potential hazard to the cemetery.  In October 1941, a horse got into the cemetery where a section of fence had been removed.  Nelson and the horse had to stay in the cemetery until the horse’s owner was found. The following month, a different horse got into the cemetery but, according to Nelson, it “was a very old horse and no damage was done.”

Mr. Nelson frequently reported that friends and family members of those buried in the cemetery came to visit.  In September 1938, James Needles traveled from Honolulu, Hawaii, to visit the unmarked grave of his father, Joseph Nettles, a Civil War veteran who had died in 1890.  Four years later Joseph Needles had a military marker placed on his grave.

Not all visitors came to visit graves.  In April 1938, Nelson “…played nurse to a lost baby boy…for two hours until the mother and police came for him.”  Nelson wrote his funniest comment in July 1941:  “I had to request a young woman who mistook the cemetery for a nudist camp to leave the grounds.  She was sober and good looking but had a very bad temper.”

Some of his workdays were just more interesting than others.

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