ם M 40
40 has been a mark of time and a symbol for centuries within the myths, literature, and story-telling of many cultures— often a time of trial and tribulation endured because of hope for a better future. It has often been only a figurative measurement of time. Some see it as a cycle of the world or the rhythm of cyclic repetitions of the Universe.
The figure with the numeral 40 above is the 13th letter of the Hebrew alphabet called Mem. It also represents 40 and Water. In the ancient script, the pictograph for Mem was drawn as a wavy line – – indicating waves of water and is evident in the Latin M. When written at the end of a word, it takes the final form – ם – which is more square, and smooth like calm water.
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre is 40 years old. The 40th MayDay Parade and Pageant will be next year.
In the Heart of the Beast has done exceptional dramatic and educational work for 30 years about the significance of water to each individual and to the world. The need for hard work “in the heart of the beast,” yes, even trial and tribulation, becomes obvious. It is the focus on hope for “calming the water” in the future that sustains the work and the celebration.
By Laura Waterman Wittstock
The American Indian Movement will open its first exhibit telling the story of its history on May 10th at the All My Relations Gallery. Planning for the exhibit has been underway for months, as Executive Director Clyde Bellecourt and AIM’s board of directors worked to narrow down thousands of choices to a fraction of the holdings that depict the history of the Movement. They chose a photographic exhibit, featuring the work of Dick Bancroft, long known informally as the “AIM photographer,” and Roger Woo, a photographer who worked in black and white in AIM’s earliest years.
Woo joined the AIM patrol in 1968, at the beginning of the organization’s formal activities. He took photographs of elders in Minneapolis neighborhoods, some of the early pow wows and children at play. He recorded the poor living conditions in the Indian community and students in schools and after school programs. Woo was born in Canton, China and he came to Minneapolis as a youth, graduating from West High School and the University of Minnesota. He began his journalistic career by following his curiosity and his heart, reaching out to populations in need, just as he remembered those in his homeland China.
Dick Bancroft is a Minnesota native, who had an interest in photography since childhood. When he and his wife Debbie went to Africa, Dick learned the power of capturing portrait images of people whose personal dignity and humanity shown through in his photographs. When he returned to Minnesota, he sought out other places and people he could photograph and by happenstance came to be introduced to AIM in St. Paul. He never left his subject, following the Movement throughout the U.S. and overseas. His collection of slides, photographs, and AIM posters numbers into the many thousands. Bancroft has put together color photographs and slides from his association with AIM into a book, “We Are Still Here: A History of the American Indian Movement in Photographs,” co-authored by this writer, which chronicles the sweeping history of the Movement from 1970 to 1981, including some of the most well-known events in the organization’s history. The book, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press will be released in May.
By Carstens Smith
People who work outside year round know where to find high-quality work clothes at a reasonable price. For decades, that place was Kaplan Brothers, at 1414 East Lake. “Word of mouth was very good to us,” says Jerry Kajander, one of the store’s owners. But even word of mouth and a loyal customer base couldn’t keep the 86-year-old business alive after a series of setbacks. The combined stresses of Lake Street construction, a broken water pipe flooding the store and forcing a 4-month closing, and years of mild winters that lessened the demand for warm outdoor clothing, resulted in the current owners’ reluctant decision to close this past February. The flooded basement, which destroyed large amounts of inventory and forced the store to be closed for four months, was the greatest factor influencing the owners’ decision.
Kaplan Brothers came to East Lake Street in 1988. The original store was founded by Joseph and Jacob Kaplan in 1926 and located at Franklin and 15th Avenue. The store stayed in the family for sixty years. Then, after a fire, the family decided to sell the store’s name and inventory. Four Kaplan employees, Jerry Kajander, Pat Christensen, Dan Grant, and Pavel Wasserman, bought the business and moved it to East Lake Street. “We chose the new location because it was at the identical cross street, just ten blocks south,” says Kajander.
The new location worked well for the store and the adjacent businesses were good neighbors. Kajander recounts, “Every business had its own personality. It was great fun to get to know the other business owners and talk to them. Some were real characters, like Stan, who had a pet shop. Others were really helpful, like In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, who was really supportive and helped us with signage while we were closed because of the flood.”
By David O’Fallon
In this age of disconnection, we seek each other. In our isolation, we hunger for eyes to meet ours. Faced with problems and dangers that are, literally, world-size, we doubt our own strength to change energy into creation rather than consumption, into collaboration rather than competition. Always some spark in each of us believes that we can.
From such sparks came the fire that glows and warms us now as In the Heart of the Beast Theatre.
Wandering back into Minneapolis, 40 years ago, after travels and studies from California to Pennsylvania to Vermont, I brought images and commitments nurtured at Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont and New York.
And a question; Could a theatre belong to a place, a people? Could it be a living part of their search for connection? Many theatres and their performers traveled. A production in New York might tour a dozen states. Theatre in colleges and universities too often looked the same.
These are valuable–but not what I felt I needed. What we needed.
The commitment to place, to a people, to a neighborhood, started in the basement of Walker Church as Powderhorn Puppet Theatre 40 years ago. This became In the Heart of the Beast Theatre.
The “seed” ideas were grown into a garden, into a forest by Sandy Spieler. 40 years later— still in the neighborhood–still walking near Lake and Bloomington. The search for relationships among us and with our water and air, with the living beings that feed us–goes on. And it is immeasurably richer and deeper because of Sandy and the communities and now, generations of artists–of all of us–invited into the work. We have made connections and told the stories that deepen our relationships– year after year. We have more to do–as one once wrote,
“Thank god our time is now.
When wrong comes up to meet us everywhere never to leave us till we have taken the longest stride of soul we have ever taken.” *
Stride on “in the heart of the beast” In the Heart of the Beast Theatre and us with you.
Dr. David O’Fallon is recently President of the Minnesota Humanities Center after a decade as CEO of MacPhail Center for Music and other national and international work.
*Excerpt from “A Sleep of Prisoners,” a poem by Christopher Fry
145th Memorial Day Observance
Join us for the 145th Memorial Day Observance at Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery. There will be speakers, an honor guard firing team, student leaders from the Transition Charter School and the wonderful Seward Community Concert Band. The traditional observance begins at 10 a.m.
“Talk” and “Tales”
At 1:00 PM, after a short break, attendees may choose to enjoy a “Talk” about the history of the Cemetery and some anecdotes from “Tales” about the lives of some of those people buried there. The talk may extend into a tour for those interested.
“The cat’s out of the bag.”
The Annual Memorial Service,
Tales from Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery by Sue Hunter Weir,
volunteer Cemetery cleanups, plantings, flower embellishments, flag postings,
By Sue Hunter Weir
Imagine that it’s 1905 and that someone you love is mentally ill. Medical professionals and the courts recognize that there is such a thing as mental illness but they don’t know what to do about it. There are no medications to prescribe and talk therapy as doesn’t exist. The only available “treatment” is confinement in a State Hospital for the Insane or, for less serious cases, a private hospital.
The Mollan family ran a private hospital at 2429 Twenty-seventh Avenue South (on land that is now part of Matthews Park in the Seward Neighborhood). In city directories, Ada Mollan, the oldest daughter, was listed as the matron or proprietress of the hospital that she and her father started sometime in the first decade of the 20th century. At various times, Ada’s mother and two sisters worked at the hospital as nurses.
Some of their patients were “volunteers,” brought to the hospital by concerned family members. Others were sent there by the courts who had determined that the patients needed to be confined but were not ill enough to warrant being sent to one of the state’s mental hospitals.
All seemed to go well until February 1911 when the State’s Board of Visitors paid a visit to the hospital and declared that it was a firetrap. They called for the revocation of the hospital’s license. The state’s Board of Control, which had oversight over Mollan’s and similar institutions, vigorously disagreed, as did Dennis Bow, the Alderman representing that section of the city on the city council, and Dr. Peter Holl, City Health Commissioner.
Despite the support that Ada Mollan received from a number of different sources, James Houghton, the city’s building inspector, issued a warrant for her arrest charging her with operating an unsafe building. Specifically, he charged her for having metal screens and barred windows which would prevent patients from getting out of the building in the event of a fire. Houghton stated that he intended to have the Fire Chief and other expert witnesses from the fire department testify against Miss Mollan.
By Connie Norman
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By Carol Pass, President
East Phillips Improvement Coalition
Over 100 people attended the EPIC ANNUAL MTG, April 27th in the rotunda and gym of the East Phillips Park Cultural & Community Center. It was a huge success with election of 6 new Board members. EPICs commitment of representing the wonderful diversity of East Phillips was continued with the newly elected Board members: Mary Gonsior, Linda Leonard, Earl Simms, Sherdl Kordian, Ali Macali and Aisha Gomez; joining returning Board members, Carol Pass, Rosie Cruz and Jenny Bjorgo.
The Breakfast was Mexican style scrambled eggs (Huevos Rancheros) sausage, tamales, sambusas, fish tortes, fruit, all the accoutrements, and 3 EPIC birthday cakes and cupcakes. Many East Phillips residents helped with everything from set-up, food preparation, serving, providing door prizes and even clean-up. Mark Welna of Welna Hdwe., the best hardware store in the world, donated the door prizes & the traditional grand prize– the Weber Grill.
The Greenway Heights Apartments, a 7-year EPIC project to provide one of the only affordable family rental apartment buildings on the Greenway, received a unanimous but one vote to support contributing $35,000 to the project for balconies to overlook the greenway, providing the safety of eyes on the Greenway plus giving residents the pleasure of an outdoor experience inside their apartment.
By Harvey Winje
40 years ago a building was added to the Wendell Phillips Junior High School with a pool and a gym. The school itself was demolished 12 years later. The pool and gym building was kept, restored with its own furnace and remained used until 2008 when renovations were necessary. Desires to abandon the pool were thwarted and from that challenge grew a unique partnership between individuals, organizations, and the owner of the facility, the Mpls. Park Board.
Today the entire building is remodeled except the pool. Enough money has been raised to restore the pool to new requirements and normal maintenance.
There are hopes to expand the size and number of pools to enable more use and supportive income.
There are many facets to consider with reopening the pool at any size. The more all of the information can be shown “the light of day” the better because then each facet may be scrutinized and receive the benefit of wider spread thinking and resources. With so many parts to consider it is crucial that there be times to consider all of the parts and see how they relate to one another. It is like making a drawing by just outline shapes with dots and then drawing a line so all of the dots connect and the shapes become clearly obvious. Just such a meeting happened again on April 24th called “Connecting the Dots” community meeting. It extended the information and knowledge of the proposals to more people. It brought together some who have worked on it for a long time with others who were new. It was a tremendous success. There is considerable momentum and enthusiastic support for a solid plan and optimism that the trials and tribulations over 40 years will once again lead to success of a fine community facility.
The adjacent photo is of a groundbreaking for a previous evolution of the pool in March 1988. Some of these people are still involved. Some preceded them and many have followed. All together it has been an amazing journey.
As you read this another chapter of this saga is being enacted and written. You may become a part of the story if you already haven’t. Come on along.