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June 2019 edition of The Alley

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New public art at Bde Maka Ska

Photo by BRUCE SILCOX

The city of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) announce the dedication of a new gathering space and public artwork at Bde Maka Ska on June 8, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. Festivities will include music, comments from descendants and artists, refreshments and activities for the whole family.

The artwork includes a website, decorative railing and pavement stamps by artists Mona Smith, Sandy Spieler and Angela Two Stars honoring Maḣpiya Wicaṡṭa (Cloud Man) and Ḣeyata Ọtunwe (Village to the side), the Dakota leader and community that inhabited this area in the 1830s. 

The three artists collaborated on the entire design with Angela Two Stars conceiving the pavement stamps depicting plants and animals significant to the Dakota, as well as selecting the Dakota words and phrases incorporated into the site. Sandy Spieler invented the overall railing design highlighting crops grown and harvested at the village; and Mona Smith oversaw production of the website featuring information about Maḣpiya Wicaṡṭa, Ḣeyata Ọtunwe, and interviews with descendants and artists. 

The idea to recognize the 1830s Dakota village had been discussed for many years, but wasn’t formally adopted until the MPRB began the Bde Maka Ska/Harriet Master Planning process and responded to the strong desire by community members to reveal and interpret the natural and human history of the lakes, specifically around the Native American history of the area. Funding came from the regional park improvements and support from the city’s Art in Public Places Program.

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MayDay, HOTB: What will we build together?

By CORRIE ZOLL, HOTB EX. DIRECTOR

 

Photo by Tesha M. Christensen
A record number of people attended the 45th annual MayDay parade and celebration on Sunday, May 5, enjoying beautiful weather while celebrating organizer Sandy Spieler’s last year.

A lot has happened over the past six months. HOBT experienced many of the same challenges faced by other legacy arts organizations that have been lost in recent years. Though this period has been difficult, at every step we felt and appreciated the support from your calls, messages, donations and social media posts. You are the reason we continue to strive toward finding a future for this work.

As you may know, in January HOBT announced budget and personnel cuts after $130,000 in projected income did not come through. The layoffs are significant, more than half the staff have been laid off. Added together, the stories of those people and their time with HOBT take up a century. The loss is painful for these individuals, for the organization, and for the communities where we do our work. These cuts reduce HOBT’s staff capacity by more than half in order to allow HOBT to finish its current fiscal year in August without running out of cash.

Though significantly diminished in capacity, HOBT remains committed to its vision of building creativity, empathy, and interconnection in its core neighborhoods. HOBT’s tens of thousands of supporters want us to continue our work. We believe transformational change is possible that will lead to a more resilient future organization.

After layoffs are complete, the remaining staff will be at 4 FTE. This is not enough staff capacity to operate MayDay, the Avalon Theater and other HOBT programs in the coming year. Any future for HOBT will include increasing staff capacity, and we are committed to a future in which staff and artists more closely reflect the communities where we do our work. HOBT’s board of directors is active and committed to the next steps for the organization. The board recently added two members in preparation for the hard work ahead.

Photo by TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Hundreds of local residents participated in the 45th annual MayDay parade and celebration on Sunday, May 5, 2019.

Among the announcements we made in January was that MayDay 2019 would be the last under Sandy’s artistic direction, and the last solely produced by HOBT. Both decisions were in deliberation a full year earlier and, though not triggered by HOBT’s financial situation, were certainly impacted by it. HOBT received an outpouring of response to the January 9 announcements. Scores of people told us that HOBT and MayDay were the reason they lived in South Minneapolis, or the reason they returned to South Minneapolis after they had children, or the reason they became working artists.  People told us over and over again that HOBT’s work is intricately tied up in the very identity of these neighborhoods, and they don’t want to lose what has been built here. Excerpts of those stories are included here. 

Now in May, four months since those announcements were made, HOBT is still in the process of figuring out what future is possible for the work and for the organization.  In that time, we have identified three core goals that are essential to any future for HOBT:

1. Developing a decentralized model for producing MayDay. The event had grown too large to be held by a single organization. HOBT will seek producing partners and shared ownership.

2. Developing an equity framework. HOBT must better understand the priorities of stakeholder communities and draw on these communities for artists, staff members and board members who will make the organization more genuinely diverse, inclusive and equitable.

3. Developing a business model that balances the needs of communities, the needs of artists and employees, and the needs of the organization. HOBT’s work must be relevant and accessible to core communities. Artists and employees must be adequately compensated and supported. The organizational infrastructure and finances must be strengthened by the work.

Photo by TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
As the crowd cheers, workers break apart the wall they have just built in the middle of Bloomington Ave.

This moment in time provides unique opportunities. In Sandy’s transition away from artistic leadership of MayDay, in the loss of staff capacity through layoffs, and in the wake-up call that the entire arts nonprofit field needs new business models, this is the time to marshall community support to work for change.

HOBT will not do this work alone.  Stakeholder communities will be essential along with peers, champions, elders, board, and staff. Consulting group Imagine Deliver, along with Juxtaposition Arts and Amplify DMC, are working with HOBT to design and facilitate a community engagement process. Over the summer, when HOBT programming is typically at its lightest, board and staff will set the highest priority on this transformational work.  While HOBT will hold up all existing commitments, this will also mean saying no to some new projects in order to make time to keep our transformation front and center.  We know that the work ahead looms large. And we know that if we have any chance of moving forward as a more resilient organization, then this is the work we have to do, and this is where we will invest our resources and energy.  

If we succeed, the possibilities are boundless. Imagine a MayDay that is built not only at HOBT with HOBT artists but at sites across our neighborhoods by artists of many communities. Imagine an Avalon Theater with its doors open every day and its marquee lit up every night as a cultural center serving the incredible diversity of South Minneapolis. Imagine developing a successful model that shows other nonprofits how to change patterns of diversity equity and inclusion. Imagine a HOBT better able to support the wealth of artists in these neighborhoods to share the stories of the people of these neighborhoods with the world.

We have every reason to think MayDay will continue. It is in the muscle memory of South Minneapolis on the first Sunday in May to find the picnic blankets and the lawn chairs and the sunscreen and the sun hats (or maybe the raincoats) and head over to the parade route. How often have you seen the clouds part and the sun emerge as the Sun Puppet makes its way across the lake to wake up the Tree of Life and welcome spring? Ask any long-time observer from the hundreds of blankets on the ceremony hill.  It happens more often than could possibly be a coincidence.

This year’s BELOVED COMMUNITY MayDay theme asks attendees how we will carry forward the legacy that MayDay has nurtured for 45 years. That question is held in the potential of a seedling tree. With one tree for the first year of HOBT’s MayDay, two trees for the second, three trees for the third, etc., 1035 tree seedlings will be distributed with the intention that they take root in our neighborhoods as an investment in our future.  MayDay 2019 will thank Sandy Spieler for all she has given us over 45 years leading this event and will say yes to carrying her work forward.

The impacts of the work are clear. HOBT’s work has become part of the visual and cultural identities of a whole set of South Minneapolis neighborhoods. Hundreds of artists have taken what they learned at HOBT and carried it with them across the neighborhood, across town, across the state, and even across the world. That is just a small fraction of the thousands of artists have been trained in puppetry and mask performance, pageantry, arts education and more. Tens of thousands of youth have learned how to tell their own stories through educational residencies. Hundreds of thousands of people have participated in MayDay. It seems no exaggeration to say that a million or more people have been touched by HOBT’s work over 45 years. HOBT has the support to continue impacting communities and the proposed work plan sets the organization on a more resilient path. 

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MayDay 1974-2019: Tree of Life reflections

Photo by Susan Gust
The 2019 Tree of Life team stands under the ToL on the stage of HOBT. What keeps crew members there for decades are the same feelings and experiences that make MayDay a cherished event.

By CAROL AND DAN NEUMAN, CARETAKERS OF THE TREE OF LIFE

Performing the Tree of Life (ToL) at the Mayday Ceremony is an honor and a responsibility.  

It’s thrilling and scary.  

While all around thousands of people are cheering and exulting, and the adrenaline is coursing through your veins, you must have intense focus on the job at hand.  

The Tree has a lot of weight way up in the air and the gusty winds (and it seems there is always a gusty wind) billowing the arms like giant sails. As the Tree circles, the force of the wind shifts from one side to the other in an instant, requiring quick, decisive action by the people on the guy ropes, and no interference by any of the celebrants on the ceremony ground. No one on the crew relaxes until the circle and blessing are completed, the streamers come out and we join in singing, “You Are My Sunshine.”

  The ToL crew duties include ongoing repairs, maintenance, and storage of most of the parts.We gather each spring before the workshops to reverently make the Tree ready for the ceremony, painting new leaves, repainting the birds, and assembling its many parts. There is constant adjustment as age takes its toll on the Tree.

“Participating in the Tree of Life crew is a lot of fun. Learning about the ingenuity that Dan, Larry, and crew have applied to the building of it over the years is really interesting and reminds me of what the power of setting your mind on something can accomplish. It all started as a simple idea that grew into an amazing tradition. Through much trial and error, the crew has created a pretty solid system of managing the giant puppet that is the Tree of Life. Coordinated team work is imperative to making the Tree of Life successful, which is ultimately very fitting with the overall communal message of the MayDay Festival,” said Ilya, second year crew member.

What brings the crew members to this work, and keeps many of them there for decades, are the same feelings and experiences that make MayDay a cherished event for everyone else, too.

“In my work life I was surrounded by strangers –  fulfilling a role and purpose that were not authentic or very energizing. During Mayday and especially with the TOL crew, I feel a welcome part of a large, expanding community. Each year I identify and keep a new contact, a new resource, a new friend to add to my life. Even when it is raining, MayDay is like the sun shining on your face with thousands of happy friends,” stated Vicki, many decades crew member.

“I had been a jubilant spectator of the MayDay Parade and Ceremony since its inception when I was 25. MayDay was transformed for me in 2001 when Vicki recruited me for the ToL crew, along with my daughter, Hannah. When she left for college, my husband Dennis took her place and he continues in his stalwart role, older but just as devoted as we all are. To this day, it is my annual spring ritual to which my yearly calendar indelibly adheres. Passing it on, my six-year-old granddaughter Aria, bemoaned to me last week… “Bubbe.. MAYDAY can’t end!!  I’ve gone every year of my life!” said Lisa, longtime crew member.

Many people have been members of the ToL crew over these 40 years.  Some for a year, some since the beginning. All are greatly appreciated.  

There are three families with two and three generations on the Tree.  The children of the children who have grown up working on the ToL are stepping in to keep the family tradition.

“To have our family’s values reinforced by the many other souls we share this tradition which is remarkable.Our children, now grown, through the years have brought with them dear friends, fiancés, and significant others. Our son is coming from Alaska, for the weekend, just because it’s MayDay and it’s a family holiday. Our daughter, unable to come due to school demands, has traveled far in past years because it is an impor tant part of her and she is feeling a bit left out this year,” said Nancy, many decades crew member.

We’d like to remember Bob Caldwell and Sue Hale, stalwarts of the Tree of Life Crew who have passed on. Rest in Peace.

Note of Information for those who have not seen this event: The Tree of Life is shrouded as it rides on a carriage along the MayDay Parade route from 25th to 35th and Bloomington Av. So., into Powderhorn Park, across Powderhorn Lake, and rising on the western shore, TRIUMPHANTLY!

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Hennepin County’s first African American commissioner Angela Conley is a lifelong Southside resident with innovative ideas on how to bring more diverse voices into government.

By Tesha M. Christensen

Photo courtesy of Chris Juhn
Angela Conley (center) is Hennepin County’s first African American commissioner, and she’s staffed her office with other women of color who are working on racial equity issues. On the left is Policy Director Cacje Henderson and on the right is District Outreach and Scheduler Cheniqua Johnson.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series that originally appeared in the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger.

Angela Conley has yearned to be a Hennepin County Commissioner for 20 years so that she had the power to make changes to the system she worked within.

On Jan. 7, 2019, that dream came true.

The lifelong Southside resident was sworn in as a county commissioner for District 4, and became the county’s first Black commissioner in 166 years.

“Being in this level of leadership now has really opened my eyes to seeing how the system is set up in a way that perpetuates disparities, that limits people’s abilities to really live their best lives,” said Conley.

She’s working to shift the narrative and move into a holistic approach for county business. Conley now chairs the health and human services committee, drawing from her years of experience working in that field.

“I feel this obligation to change systems to work better for people,” remarked Conley.

That could be anything from real estate services to tax forfeiture to housing and homelessness.

In addition to being the first African American commissioner, Conley is the first Black female commissioner and is one of two new diverse voices on the previously all-white Hennepin County board. Joining her this year is another woman of color, Irene Fernando, a Filipino-American in District 2. With their election, five of the seven-member board are women.

RACE EQUITY WORK

Bringing more diverse voices into the county is a priority for Conley, who campaigned with a goal of creating a Race Equity Advisory Council.

“Before I was elected, the county would come up with ideas on their own on how to reduce disparities. Well, unless you have people of color and those directly affected by those disparities guiding the discussion you’re not going to get anywhere. You’re not going to make any progress,” said Conley.

She envisions that a council would have a place at the table to inform the board on how disparities can be reduced on issues such as lowering the number of people of color being arrested to the overwhelming number of people of color who are part of the child protection system.  

Inspired by how she saw the Hennepin County Community Advisory Council on Adult Mental Health operate while she served on it, Conley believes that the needle can be moved on an issue when you have many people with a range of lived experiences giving input on a topic about missing pieces and gaps.

Thus far, Conley has met with the county’s new Disparity Reduction Director to learn what’s being done there, and what form the Race Equity Advisory Council could take.

“Disparity reduction has to start internally first,” she observed. She’s glad to see that the new composition of the county board finally reflects the composition of the communities being served and direct-line county staff. Part of what drove her to run for office is that those at the top didn’t look like her.

“I think we sent a very strong message to the status quo Nov. 6 that folks want to see diversity in leadership,” said Conley. “County leadership can function differently now. We’ve got new voices with various backgrounds and experiences.”

She believes that having that those voices on the board can inform how policy changes going forward. 

“It’s changed the conversation,” Conley said. “It’s changed the narrative. It’s changed ‘business as usual.’”

GOING DIRECTLY TO SOURCE

For Conley, the first quarter of her first term in office has been spent meeting people, being out in community, touring homeless shelters and the jail, and talking to people directly impacted by issues she’s concerned about. “That’s how you’ll see my leadership continue,” she promised, “going directly to the source.

“We’re pushing back against outdated ideas and really trying to get innovative in how we approach issues.”

Bail reform is one place where Conley thinks changes could be made for lower-level, low-risk offenses. “What would it look like to have a system that didn’t hold you if you couldn’t afford to get out?” asked Conley.

She intends to be mindful of what the ripple effects are of decisions the county makes, and recognizes that a 1% increase in property taxes might push a resident out of a home.   

EQUITY THROUGH TRANSIT

As someone who didn’t have a car until she was 23, Conley is a fan of transit, and heard from constituents on both sides of light rail during her campaign. She’s advocating for the Rapid Bus Transit D Line along the Route 5 corridor in the fourth district on Chicago and Emerson/Fremont avenues.

She pointed out that the D Line is a modern mode of bus transport that uses technology to keep lights green so the buses can move people from place to place quicker. 

“That will bring transit equity to an area that typically doesn’t have it,” stated Conley. “The 5 is the highest ridership route in the state. It’s always crowded. There are safety concerns. And it runs through four of the seven commissioner districts. It runs through two of the poorest neighborhoods in Minneapolis, too. Bringing Bus Rapid Transit or the D Line would bring access to 200,000 jobs.”

Read part two in the July edition of The Alley.

 

Southside resident Angela Conley campaigned as a Black woman, and even her logo identified her as someone who would bring a diverse voice to the Hennepin County Board. 

She continues to focus on diversity and racial equity in a variety of ways — not the least which is staffing her office with other African American women.

Cacje Henderson – Policy Director

Cacje Henderson was born and raised in South Minneapolis, and is a the oldest of seven children. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and is an alumni of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. She began her political career in the grassroots movement as an economic justice organizer and has gone on to work for a variety of elected officials including U.S Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) , Gubernatorial Candidate Erin Murphy (DFL-MN) and most recently as the Senior Policy Aide to Minneapolis City Council-member Jeremiah Ellison (DFL-MN). She has a commitment to building power in low-income communities and communities of color through local policy, and is looking forward continuing this work as Policy Director.

Cheniqua Johnson – District Outreach and Scheduler

Cheniqua Johnson was born and raised in Worthington, Minn. She is a first-generation, TRIO college graduate. She received a bachelor’s degree in family social science from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities College of Education and Human Development. She comes to the 4th District of Hennepin County from the Office of Congressman Keith Ellison, where she served as his Legislative Correspondent. In addition, she has spent the last five years in public service having previously served for the Office of Senator Al Franken (DFL-MN), Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL),University of Minnesota’s Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice, and the City of Saint Paul. Now, she is ready to amplify voices and serve the most diverse district in the county as the District Outreach Coordinator & Scheduler.

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To end all violence

Photo by Monica Nillson
Kalpulli KetzalCoatlicue dancers at the first Indigenous Women’s March held on May 11. Over 200 people participated in support of ending violence.

Native community gathers for first Indigenous Women’s March on May 11

By CAMILLE GAGE

2018 was a challenging year for the Native community, but also a time when Indigenous people and their allies came together to form new alliances, friendships and future plans. 

The Franklin Hiawatha encampment and Minneapolis Navigation Center were major catalysts for these new relationships. They brought people together to care for our unsheltered relatives and imagine a future where everyone had access to a safe place to sleep, health care, mental health care, and chemical dependency treatment. 

Many of the people who spent time at the camp, either as volunteers or as employees of groups like Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors, American Indian Community Development Corporation, WiiDooKoDaaDiiWag/They Help Each Other, Simpson Housing, or Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, were women. And sometimes these women, and their Two Spirit colleagues, faced harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence. 

Working together under such difficult conditions it was natural that these women and Two Spirits began to forge friendships. They came together to support each other – and after months of harassment and threats – to say in a united voice, “No more!”

Soon meetings were being held to discuss ways to proactively take on the issue of harassment of women and Two Spirit people. The conversations widened and began to include intimidation and violence aimed at ALL people; it didn’t make sense to advocate for just one or two groups of people when so many suffer from violence, both directly, as victims and survivors, and indirectly, in the myriad ways violence hurts our loved ones and traumatizes our community. 

Photo by Monica Nillson
March organizer Stephanie Stewart.

Thus the Indigenous Women’s March was born.  Organized by an ad hoc group of women and Two Spirits who had experienced intimidation and harassment, the march was held on Saturday, May 11, 2019 with participants marching from the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center to Little Earth of United Tribes. There it joined the annual Little Earth Mother’s Day Pow Wow. 

Photo by Monica Nillson
March organizer Jase Rose (left), with the Eagle Staff created for the march, with Mo Mike of Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.

Over 200 people participated to support the march’s stated mission of ending violence in all its forms. 

As a Native-led march, the organizers acknowledge the disparate impact of violence on the Indigenous community – both in the thousands of missing and murdered Native women in the United and Canada, and in the high rates of domestic violence, rape and assault.  

The Indigenous Women’s March differentiated itself from the annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s March by casting a wider net: both Native and non-Native women were welcome and acknowledged. And the Indigenous Women’s Marchers made the strong statement that it does not have to be a serious crime like murder for the community to pay attention; intimidation, harassment, and threats of violence are real and cause real harm to individuals and our community. 

In the words of Angelique Morgan-Voss: “When I saw Jase (a Two Spirit march organizer) holding the eagle staff I cried tears of happiness. I will remember this march for the rest of my life. The love and positivity was overwhelmingly beautiful. To see so many women who knew what I was going through come together in solidarity lifted my spirit high. I want my daughters to know that violence against women – and all people – is not okay.”

Photo by camille gage
Signs supporting women and calling for an end to violence in all its forms were held by over 200 marchers during the first Indigenous Women’s March held on May 11.

The Indigenous Women’s March organizers have pledged to make the march an annual event, a safe place where survivors can come together in solidarity. They believe there is great strength in numbers – and hope that real change will happen when we speak with one voice against the violence that plagues our community. 

Stephanie Stewart said, “I’m so proud of everyone that came together for the first Indigenous Women’s March. Despite the ongoing harrassment, threats and abuse, we were able to rise above it all and organize a positive event that aims to end violence in all forms. Led by women, children and Two Spirits, the march was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever participated in!”

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Transit Transit: Accessibility – a personal perspective

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

There really isn’t any transit news to speak of in the Phillips neighbourhood this month, so I am going to write on a more personal, but transit-related, topic.

If Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory rode the bus, he could be me. Since the age of 17, I have been considered by society to be mentally ill. Since my fanaticism about public transit is a part of my mental state, for years I lived in the irony of having a disability that, rather than impairing my ability to use transit on an equal basis with the general public, gave me an advantage over the average user because I know all the arcane details about how the system worked.

Unfortunately, for the last few years, I have had back pain which has limited my ability to stand or walk for long periods of time without sitting down. My tolerable standing/walking time has gradually shrunk to where travel by bus is now a serious pain (pun intended).

Whereas I used to think in terms of efficiency for the average customer, I now see the wisdom of transit taking into account its less-mobile users. Moving bus routes farther apart and bus stops farther apart along those routes may be technically more efficient, but it leaves out many would-be riders.

I am probably eligible for Metro Mobility at this point, but even though it takes you door-to-door, it has the disadvantages of requiring advance reservations and being so expensive for Metro Transit to provide that it is cutting into their ability to provide regular fixed-route bus services.

The idea of maintaining routes with frequent stops overlaid by Bus Rapid Transit for those able to walk a few blocks is probably the best solution to making everybody happy: a close ride for those who need it, and a fast ride for those for whom speed would be more useful. I definitely am now among those who actually ride buses like the 16 and the 84, when in the past I would have used the Green Line or the A Line instead.

I now seethe every time I see a bus stop without a bench, or a big box store or a mall where the bus stop is far from the entrance. This is a literal cruelty to a certain percentage of the public.

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What’s Up at the Franklin Community Library June 2019

By ERIN THOMASSON

All Ages
Learn Together: Connect & Play
Tuesdays, 6-6:30pm
Connect with your child during this drop-in program exploring early literacy activities. Join your neighbors each week for a different theme including music, art, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), reading and creative play.

Franklin on the Green
Tuesdays, June 11, 18 & 25, 3-4:30pm
Play games outside this summer! We will have badminton, soccer, frisbee and other games set up to play, weather permitting.

Science Wednesdays
Wednesdays, June 12, 19 & 26, 3-4:30pm
Join us for a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) activity each week!

Puzzlemania!
Thursdays, 3-5 pm
Enjoy a variety of educational and fun puzzles and games!

Game On!
Thursdays, 5-7pm
Join us for all types of gaming! Enjoy card games, board games, Xbox, VR and more. Play an old favorite or learn a new one.

Family Storytime
Fridays, 10:30-11am
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.

Brodini Comedy Magic
Saturday, June 15, 3-3:45pm
Magician Graylyn Morris will raise spirits and test kids’ powers of concentration as he manipulates ropes, scarves, balls and other magician’s props in a perplexing “now you see it, now you don’t” performance! Sponsor: MELSA (Metropolitan Library Service Agency).

Read Together
Tuesdays, June 18 & 25, 1-2 pm
Practice reading and enjoying books one-on-one or in a small group.

Snake, Rattle and Roll
Wednesday, June 26, 3:30-4:45pm
Learn about salamanders, turtles and snakes, and meet several of the species that call Minnesota and Wisconsin home. Sponsor: MELSA (Metropolitan Library Service Agency). Collaborator: Snake Discovery.

Teen Programs
Urban 4-H Club
Tuesdays, 5–7pm
We do everything from urban gardening to digital photo/video to theater. Partner: University of Minnesota.

PinBox Arcade
Wednesday, June 12, 5-7pm
Come play original pinball machines made out of cardboard!  Play against a friend or beat your own personal best. Collaborator: PinBox 3000.

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.

Adult Programs
Open Crafting
Monday, June 3, 1-3pm
Looking for a space to sew, knit or work on other crafts? Bring your current project and materials and join us! Sewing machines, knitting needles and other equipment will be available for your use.

Master Gardener: Your First Vegetable Garden
Thursday, June 6, 6-7:15pm
Learn the basic information you need to become a more successful vegetable gardener. Topics include selecting cool and warm weather vegetables, minimizing insect damage and soil diseases without using chemicals, basic tools needed and more. Collaborator: Hennepin County Master Gardeners, University of Minnesota Extension.

Franklin Technology Hour
Thursdays, 12-1pm
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.

Cards and Board Games
Saturday, June 8, 2:30-4:30pm
Come play a variety of games with new or old friends. Games are provided, or bring a favorite from home.

Fasal furan oo ku Saabsan Barashada Teknoolojiga Maktabadda/Library Technology Open Lab
Wednesdays, June 12, 19 & 26, 10:30-12 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-on-one support. Schedule of topics: • June 12: Signing onto library computers and accessing the internet. • June 19: Using the library website and best practices for privacy. • June 26: Using email. • July 3: Scanning and printing. • July 10: Creating a library account, using the library catalog. • July 17: Online library databases for learning, literacy and employment.

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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In Brief June 2019

First East-African Chair of the MPHA 

Sharmarke Issa is the first immigrant and first East African to serve as Chair of the MPHA Board of Commissioners in the city’s history. He is also the first Somali immigrant in the country to lead a public housing agency’s governing board. 

Mayor Jacob Frey said, “Sharmarke’s life experience and background in urban planning are especially important to MPHA’s mission. At a time when the federal government continues to shortchange housing funding, he will be a skilled steward of our public housing infrastructure who understands and centers the needs of residents.” 

“I believe that everyone has a fundamental human right to housing, which ensures access to a safe, secure, habitable, and affordable home,” said Issa. “I’m truly humbled by the Mayor’s appointment and look forward to working with my colleagues on the MPHA board  to guarantee that all of our residents can exercise this right to live in security, peace, and dignity.”

Issa grew up in Minneapolis Public Housing after coming to the United States as a refugee at age 11. Approximately one-third of Minneapolis Public Housing residents are members of the East-African community.  Issa received both his bachelor’s degree and a master’s in urban planning from Minnesota State University in Mankato.

Puppet Lab 2020 

MayDay may be over, but the puppet magic doesn’t have to be: apply to be a 2020 Puppet Lab artist. Puppet Lab is the emerging artist incubator program. Facilitated by Alison Heimstead, this program is entering its 9th year of radical, genre-expanding, boundary-pushing work. Deadline of submission June 15, 2019, 5 p.m. Puppet Lab creates space for emerging puppet and mask theater artists to advance their artistic development – to test and create new works within a supportive and challenging workshop environment.

App helps residents with low vision 

Minneapolis is now using an app that helps people who are blind or have low vision get around Nicollet Mall, City Hall, Target Center and the Minneapolis Convention Center.The Aira app connects users with agents who are trained professional guides. They access the user’s smartphone camera (or Aira glasses) for a live video feed combined with GPS and maps so they can describe these public spaces and help users maneuver through them. Read more at aira.io/guests.

Nordic food

From cultural culinary traditions to the contemporary “New Nordic” food movement, celebrate and explore northern foodways with American Swedish Institute (2600 Park Ave.) through workshops. “Our instructors know a thing or two about Nordic food, and we’re excited for them to share their insights in a variety of workshops,” said organizers. 

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Navigation Center: Collaboration, safe housing, new beginnings

This article is reprinted courtesy of the blog at www.simpsonhousing.org. 

The Navigation Center is a Native-led, collaborative community response. Red Lake Nation, Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors, Hennepin County, the State of Minnesota, shelter providers in the Minneapolis shelter collaborative, including Simpson Housing Services, and several other organizations united to provide outreach to the primarily Native American community living at the Franklin-Hiawatha encampment and develop plans for the Navigation Center. 

Sam Strong, Director of the Red Lake Planning and Economic Development Department commends the approach of this planning group and their success in creating effective and compassionate change for people experiencing homelessness: “It’s about partnership — building trust to start making a dent in homelessness, finding best practices to get people off the street.”

Designed as a low-barrier and service-rich temporary shelter for adults, the Navigation Center provides a safe and dignified transitional housing option for more than 120 community members who previously lived outdoors at the encampment, respectfully known as the Wall of Forgotten Natives. 

The Navigation Center was constructed over an eight-week period. Guests were welcomed into the Navigation Center during the latter half of December 2018.

“The mobilization involved all the pieces that had to be put into place. All the zoning, planning, and permits. The health inspections. The fire inspections. The city approved $1.5 million for the project. The wheels were just greased by the will to get something done quickly as a community collaborative,” said Simpson Housing Services Executive Director Steve Horsfield. 

“The Native community made this big change happen. All the people who had been at the Wall — they had been homeless for a very long time, scattered all the way around town. They decided to come together and take a stand. That is how the Wall of Forgotten Natives was created, by people saying that we are going to come together and show how real homelessness is. It made a big difference. They are why the Navigation Center was built. It was built specifically for them. This was a historical thing that they did,” observed Marian Wright, Navigation Center Shelter Manager, Simpson Housing Services.

What the Center Means to Community

Wilder Research’s 2015 Homelessness Study highlights the disproportionate impact of homelessness in the lives of Native people: 1% percent of adults in the overall Minnesota population identify as American Indian, but 8% of homeless adults in Minnesota identify as American Indian. This racial disparity in housing stability stems from a history of discrimination and trauma for the American Indian population that extends to present day.  

Horsfield views the Navigation Center as an opportunity for the broader community to come together to provide shelter and support in a culturally competent manner.

He said, “My hope was that we might see two outcomes as a result of this significant representation of people who were sleeping outside at the encampment. First, I hoped that we might see increased attention brought to the issue of homelessness – and unsheltered homelessness in particular. And that we might see something happen around Native-specific services. This is an opportunity for all of us to do some better work alongside our Native brothers and sisters than we have done in years past. 

He added, “We have a talented staff that is committed to building relationships with guests, helping them overcome barriers, and providing connections to housing and services.”  

Simpson as Provider 

Early in the planning process, Simpson Housing Services was selected by the collaborative planning team to provide shelter operational support for the Navigation Center. Given Simpson’s 37 years of experience providing housing, support, and advocacy to people experiencing homelessness, the agency was recognized as a leader in the field, strongly suited to serve in this role.  

“We are blessed to have Marian Wright as the Navigation Center shelter manager given her 10 years of experience with Simpson and as a Leech Lake tribal member,”  said Horsfield.

Dedicated Staff and Volunteer Team 

Central to the successful operation of the Navigation Center has been the selection of its staff.  To date, 31 Simpson staff members, including three case managers, provide support at the temporary shelter. Many Navigation Center staff members have connections to Native American community members and previously provided outreach at the encampment. 

Simpson trains and coordinates volunteers who serve the evening meal at the Navigation Center each day. Breakfast and lunch are self-serve. To date, 100 volunteers are part of a dozen groups serving meals. 

“Everyone has a right to have a safe place to sleep regardless of who they are, where they come from, and what they’re struggling with.I’m happy that we’re able to provide that,” said Wright.

What happens at the Navigation Center? 

The Navigation Center guests reside in heated, indoor structures with cots and partitioned areas arranged by guests for sleeping and daily living. Just a few steps away, two large trailers house a dining hall for meals and office space for guest meetings with shelter staff and community resources. Buildings with heated bathrooms and showers are conveniently located on the premises. Three meals as well as snacks are provided for guests each day. Bedding and hygiene supplies are also available. 

The Navigation Center’s low-barrier approach incorporates guidelines that create a safe, welcoming, and respectful living environment for guests. The temporary shelter is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Individuals living at the Navigation Center are allowed to leave and reenter the premises according to their own schedules instead of predetermined times.  

“Since the beginning, safety has been the focus of the Navigation Center. We have been successful in getting people into a safer environment. We talk to people about taking care of themselves in safer ways. Our best strategy to build safety is through our staff. And our relationships with the police and fire departments continue to be absolutely vital to ensure the safety of our guests,” said Horsfield. Building working relationships between staff and guests is an important part of what happens day-to-day at the Navigation Center.   

“It’s really important just to be present and available. It’s important to be welcoming — to say hello and greet guests by name. To always put guests’ needs first. We provide support when it’s needed and let people know that they are safe where they are. And we let them know we want them to be here rather than outside,” said Wright.  As the staff becomes familiar with an individual’s needs and goals, they can offer connections to community resources, helping each person create his or her own path of increased stability.  

“Whatever we can do to help people become more stable than they were before they got here will be worth it. Whether it is getting them connected back to their doctor, getting them back on their medication, or getting their ID, birth certificate, or social security card. Having a Rule 25 [chemical use assessment] done, getting into treatment, applying for an apartment.  Getting an eviction off their record.  We want to help people get as stable as they can be,” stated Wright.

Housing First and Harm Reduction 

The Navigation Center — and all of Simpson Housing Services’ shelter and housing programs — operate from a dual philosophy of Housing First and Harm Reduction.

The Housing First model is based on the concept that people first need a stable place to live before addressing other issues such as substance use, mental health concerns, employment or other barriers.  

Navigation Center staff utilize a harm reduction approach in their working relationships with guests, introducing helpful steps aimed at reducing risks of an individual’s behavior.

Harm reduction is often applied to people who actively use drugs. Guests who use drugs or alcohol are welcome and have access to different kinds of supports designed to help them stabilize and reduce harm associated with substance use. 

This harm reduction approach creates a caring and accepting environment where people are more likely to seek safe shelter and take steps to reduce harm, according to Marian Wright: “As we provide this support, we are letting them know they are important. You deserve this help. You are human. We say, ‘I know you are struggling, but you can stay here. What can we do to help you get a little bit more stable?’ Whether that means to help them use less, encourage them to use safer supplies, get connected with a Native navigator or talking circle, or get them connected to a mental or chemical health support group. Whatever it takes to keep people safe and get them a little more stable than when they came in.” 

Community Resources 

Guests may voluntarily connect with on-site community resources focused on stable housing, health care, mental and chemical health, and other needs. The Navigation Center is inclusive of traditional Native practices, and on-site Native navigators work closely with guests to discuss needs, offer clinical support, engage in prayer and ceremonial work, and access other culturally competent resources. Community resources are added at the Navigation Center based on guests’ needs and interests.  

The Navigation Center is a collaborative effort to provide safe, temporary shelter for community members. By offering support and connections to community resources, it is hoped that each guest will experience enhanced stability and well-being, now and beyond the Navigation Center. 

The Navigation Center remained open for guests through May 2019. In June, Red Lake Nation plans to break ground for permanent housing on the site. 

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