NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Saturday February 23rd 2019

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Phillips West plans winter social

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Listen to What’s possible for HOTB/MayDay article

Whats-possible-for-HOTB-MayDay_February_2019_Alley-podcast

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The Alley newspaper February 2019

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Backyard Community Health Hub launches

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What You See February 2019

JOSELYN PETTIT, age 9
Our first submission comes from 9-year-old Joselyn Pettit who loves the colored glass and “giant brick of cheese” toy at the Phillips Community Pool.
To be part of our new WHAT YOU SEE feature, post a photo to your Instagram account and tag #alleynews, or email it to copydesk@alleynews.org. All ages encouraged to participate.

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What’s possible for HOTB, MayDay?

by TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

Bruce Silcox
HOTB has been a offering after-school and summer programs for kids at Little Earth, the Waite House, and Collaborative Village (a PPL project) for several years. About 150 kids are part of this year-round program that focuses on telling the stories of the Phillips neighborhoods and participants’ cultures. Along the way, children learn shadow puppeting, stilts, storytelling and more.

In the Heart of the Beast Theater (HOTB) has already said farewell to two staff members, and by June 2019 it won’t have any full-time staff left.

But it isn’t disappearing. 

Executive Director Corrie Zoll is hopeful about the organization’s future and believes it is full of exciting possibilities.

“This is an extremely painful moment,” Zoll admitted. “At the same time, I’m really looking forward to conversations with people about what is possible.”

WHERE DOES THE MONEY COME FROM?

HOTB announced in January its plans to significantly reduce its operations in 2019 and cut staff. Grants it had been counting on when the budget was made in August did not materialize.

 HOTB relies on a variety of funding sources, including foundations, donations, and grants. Complicating things is that most of the funding available for arts is given to new projects. Programs that are ongoing are not typically given the grants that are available, Zoll noted. While Minnesota is lucky to have so much money available for the arts courtesy of the Legacy Amendment, it is not given to fund ongoing projects either. HOTB does receive some operating support through the Legacy Amendment, so it is ineligible for the festival support program for MayDay.

Last year, HOTB had expected to receive a $30,000 foundation grant that it did not get, which meant that MayDay operated at a loss of over $50,000. This was covered by reserve funds but HOTB can’t continue to do that. For about the last 10 years, MayDay has operated at a loss of between $20-30,000, according to Zoll. 

After the 2016 election and through 2017, HOTB saw an increase in individual donations, which Zoll feels was from a desire to invest in what people believed in.  In 2018, there was a significant drop in donations. “Now it seems that people are much more scared of where the economy is going and being more cautious in their investments,” Zoll observed.

Prior to the cut, HOTB had 15 permanent staff members; nine were full-time and six were part-time. By June, there will be half as many staff members and no one will be full-time, not even Executive Director Zoll who expects to work three days a week. 

Max Haynes
A central ritual of the Mayday Ceremony in Powderhorn Park is the raising of the Tree of Life puppet as a yearly commitment: of  human communities to be in right reciprocal relationship with each other and the whole of creation,” wrote organizer Sandy Spieler in a letter annoucning that organizaing MayDay 2019 will be her last year. “Remembering insight from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., my prayer is that MayDay  be a promise to uphold and nourish the whole ecosystem, our Beloved Community,  with Power that is wedded to Love. Thank you for all that has been, and thank you for all that will be!” Spieler is one of the founders of MayDay (1975), and has midwifed the artistic part of MayDay since this beginning.

Staff members will leave as grants for their programs run out. 

HOBT will present Puppet Lab performances as planned March 15-16 and March 21-22. This will close out a project that began last June courtesy of a Jerome Foundation grant that focuses on providing support for early career artists.

Puppet Cabaret (an evening of short, experimental puppet acts) will still be presented on Feb. 14, and HOTB will continue to share the Avalon Theater as a rental venue for events and performances.

Many people in Phillips don’t know that HOTB has been a offering after-school and summer programs for kids at Little Earth, the Waite House, and Collaborative Village, pointed out Zoll. About 150 kids are part of this year-round program that focuses on telling the stories of the Phillips neighborhoods and participants’ cultures. Along the way, children learn shadow puppeting, stilts, storytelling and more.

For seven of the last eight years, this program has been funded by the State Arts Board, but it has not been funded for this year.

In the two and a half weeks after its announcement, HOTB received $20,000 in individual donations. It will continue fundraising for this year’s MayDay event, which planners began working on in September.

MAYDAY: PART OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD IDENTITY

HOTB has decided that 2019 will be the 45th and final year that it will solely produce its annual MayDay celebration. In recent years, HOBT’s MayDay brings in approximately $150,000 in income, mainly from individual donors. Annual costs for producing MayDay, however, generally land between $180,000 and $200,000.

MayDay 2019 will also be the last year that the event is led by Sandy Spieler, who has been a part of the event since the beginning. She decided a year ago that it was time to step aside to make space for new artists to lead.

Zoll has been the executive director of HOTB for the last 3.5 years, but as a 25-year resident of Midtown Phillips he’s been at the majority of the MayDay events. He recalls acting in a production at Theatre de la Jeune Lune, where he first heard about MayDay. 

“People there were talking about MayDay as the greatest moment of the year in Minneapolis,” Zoll stated.

They all told him he had to go – but had troubling explaining just what the event was. 

Corrie Zoll of Heart of the Beast

He went. “As an artist, at the time it struck me as exactly everything that art should be,” he said. “It was relevant. It was dealing with current things happening in society. It involved laying around in the sun in the grass. It was running into neighbors you haven’t seen all winter. People would participate in it on any level they wanted to.”

MayDay has become a part of the very identity of the neighborhoods it goes through, as well as the ones that are adjacent to East Phillips, West Phillips and Powderhorn Park neighborhoods, he pointed out. 

There are banners up on Lake Street and tiles embedded in the sidewalk. Many south Minneapolis garages house puppets. 

“For many people it is the most important holiday of the year,” said Zoll. “There are many stories of people who get engaged in the park on MayDay; who get married in the park on MayDay; or have their ashes scattered in the place where the Tree of Life happens. 

“It’s really humbling to realize people think of it this way.”

In 2016, 50,000 attended MayDay. It grew to 55,000 the next year, and 60,000 people came in 2018.

“The event has gotten too big for us to produce on our own,” acknowledged Zoll. “A MayDay with more genuinely shared ownership could be a much stronger MayDay and more inclusive.”

Perhaps puppets will be made at more locations than the HOTB location at the Avalon. Maybe it will become a weekend event or a week-long event. 

“So many people tell us how important MayDay is to them. We want to spend the next four months having conversations about it,” said Zoll.

“What is possible for the future of MayDay?

“The best we can do at this painful moment is look at re-starting things from scratch. 

“What would be a more resilient way to do it?”

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

HOTB has put out a request for proposals (RFP) to bring in a consultant to help engage the community and identify stakeholders. 

Be a part of the conversation by signing up for the email list at www.hotb.org, and pay attention to web site and Facebook updates.

“We want this MayDay 45 – if it’s going to be the last – to be a big one,” said Zoll. 

“Let’s make Sandy’s last MayDay an amazing thing.”

 

How to help HOTB

Give Your Financial 

Support

• Give any amount online or via mail.

• Hire HOBT to bring an arts residency to your school, park, or place of worship.

• Rent the Avalon for events up to 200 people. Beer and wine service available.

• Buy tickets to Puppet Lab and Puppet Cabaret events this spring.

Give Your Time

MayDay relies on 1000 volunteers. Spend just part of your MayDay (or the days before or after) sharing the scores of tasks that need doing. Sign up online.

Give Your Ideas & Input

• Say what’s on your mind. 

• Find more detailed information at hobt.org/imagine

 

HOBT’s decision to reduce its operations comes at a challenging time for midsized arts organizations 

in the Twin Cities. Peer organizations that have been temporarily or permanently impacted by similar challenges 

over the past two years include The Soap Factory, VSA Arts, Red Eye Collaborative, Intermedia Arts, NEMAA/Art-A-Whirl, Art Shanty Projects, Patrick’s Cabaret, and Bedlam Theatre.

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In the Heart of the Beast is short of funds, losing staff but looking to the community for answers

Bruce Silcox
HOTB Executive Director Corrie Zoll is hopeful about the organization’s future and believes it is full of exciting possibilities. “This is an extremely painful moment,” Zoll admitted. “At the same time, I’m really looking forward to conversations with people about what is possible.” Last year, HOTB had expected to receive a $30,000 foundation grant that it did not get, which meant that MayDay operated at a loss of over $50,000. This was covered by reserve funds but HOTB can’t continue to do that. The organization doesn’t feel that it can be the sole organizer of the event anymore as it has grown so much. Drop by Feb. 5 to share your ideas at a community meeting, 7-9 p.m. at 1500 E. Lake St.

AT A GLANCE

>> MayDay Parade and Festival will indeed happen this year: Sunday, May 5, 2019.

>> In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre has been the sole producer of MayDay for 45 years.

>> Because of fragile financial conditions of the In the Heart of the Beast Theatre, and in order to assure the continuance of MayDay, HOBT is calling for community conversation to evolve the leadership base of MayDay and adapt for sustainability.

>> MayDay 2019 will be Sandy Spieler’s last year as MayDay Director (after 45 years). This pre-planned evolution of her own career coincides with other recent financial developments and announcements by In the Heart of the Beast Theatre. 

>> The first community meeting will be  Feb. 5, 7-9 p.m. at the theatre, 1500 E. Lake St. The MayDay theme this year is “Beloved Community.” Attend to help flesh out this theme.

>> Community workshops to build MayDay begin on April 6, 2019 at HOTB. Each year, HOTB enables thousands of community residents to participate in the MayDay workshops, the parade, Tree of Life Ceremony, and festival.

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Updated Aldi opens

by Tesha M. Christensen

Tesha M. Christensen
Despite opening a second Aldi in the neighborhood along Lake St., the company does not plan to close the Aldi a few blocks away at the Hi-Lake Shopping Center, according to the owner of both buildings.

The former Rainbow Foods at 2912 28th Ave. S. has been transformed into a brand new Aldi with wider aisles, more refrigerated items and a wider selection of fresh foods.

“We are thrilled,” stated site developer David Wellington of Wellington Management, Inc. “Aldi is a world class grocer that is unparalleled in delivering high-quality food at a premier value. Their new, bigger store looks great in the space, and we think this updated format and layout is going to be great for the retail center and the neighborhood.”

According to Wellington, Aldi plans to continue operating the store nearby at the Hi-Lake Shopping Center in another building managed by Wellington. “We know of no plans to close it,” he said. 

Aldi is in the process of revamping its stores, but was not able to redo the store at 2100 E. Lake St. because “the building footprint, access, and layout were not conducive to the significant modification that was required,” stated Wellington.

Aldi is part of a second phase for redeveloping the site. There is additional retail space for lease next to the grocery store.

The first phase was the 19,600-square-foot, second-story addition built on the back side of the building for the K-8 Universal Academy Charter School.

The third phase will include 110 units of affordable housing for seniors and 15,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level. The construction of this mixed-use building on the northwest corner of the parking lot is behind schedule as Wellington Management works to put the financial pieces together to make it affordable. 

The Rainbow site, Cub land and Target property together represent the second largest piece of continuous asphalt in the city of Minneapolis, pointed out Wellington. They have worked to align their project with the the city’s plans for greater density in the area due to the nearby lightrail line.

“We appreciate the neighborhold’s collective patience as we’ve worked through the challenging redevelopment,” stated Wellington. “We are excited about the next few years for the site and think the future is bright for the area.”

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City says ‘no’ to Roof Depot urban farm

Council prioritizes office space to farm and jobs proposed by local residents

DJR rendering of EPNI farm proposal.

by CAROL PASS, EPIC & EPNI

On Dec. 7, 2018 the Minneapolis City Council voted to deny any space at the Roof Depot site for the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm project, replacing it with a voter services office, class space for ELL, citizenship classes and resume building and meeting space for community conferences. 

Adding these features here does not respond to the needs of this community. First, all can be accommodated at the nearby East Phillips Park Cultural & Community Center, which this community funded, designed and caused to be built. Second, the critical lack of parking and extreme traffic congestion at the Roof Depot site make it seriously problematic for any of these activities. It would be helpful if more council members were familiar with this location before voting to further challenge it. 

However, council member Cano inserted several caveats in her “Staff Direction” document which provide a door to re-enter. It provides the possibility of a two-site solution, which we are pursuing. Follow this link for city information: https://lims.minneapolismn.gov/File/2018-01471.

The community is asking the city for the following:

• All decisions affecting the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm (EPIUF), the Roof Depot Site and the community must include timely and meaningful input from all affected namely, the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) and the community.

• The new Hiawatha Advisory Committee (HAC) must include members from EPNI and the community to be chosen by EPNI and the community.

• 1-acre at the south-east corner of the Roof Depot site including a saved portion of the Sears warehouse building be designated to house the bike repair facility, the lo-tech aquaponics and gardening, the coffee shop and World Café, the certified commercial citchen and cultural carket.

• 1.5-acres at CPED site at E. 26th St. and Minnehaha Ave. will house the high-tech aquaponics, an existing local business, commercial kitchen and job training area for community and Aurora School. 

The priority goal of EPIC’s 2014 attempt to purchase the Roof Depot site was to eliminate the environmental injustice that has plagued East Phillips families and children for generations, in particular those of our Native American neighbors, by preventing more pollution at the site. The city is now thwarting these goals and making things worse. Who in good conscience could endorse such a policy? 

Therefore, the city must either find another location for the water yard or: 

1) Commit to converting its’ Hiawatha Campus fleet of vehicles to pollution free electric or hydrogen vehicles by Jan. 1, 2022.

2) Commit to mitigating the congestion effects of its additional commercial and worker vehicles by all means possible including seriously pursuing an entrance and exit to the Hiawatha campus from and to Highway 55. 

3)The city must use its influence to find alternate locations for Bituminous Roadways and Smith Foundry encouraging them to leave East Phillips while also using its influence to convince the MPCA to use all the tools at its disposal to stop the pollution in East Phillips including using the Clark – Berglin Environmental Justice Bill written specifically for this neighborhood for this purpose.

We are also asking the city to provide monthly reports to the affected community and organizations.

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To feast and to flourish

162 sheltered at Navigation Center, 119 placed in housing and over 100 sheltered

by Camille Gage

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared as a blog post at www.franklinhiawathacamp.org.

On Friday, Jan. 11, a feast was held at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. It had been three weeks to the day since the last residents of the Franklin Hiawatha encampment were moved to the new Minneapolis Navigation Center. It was, and remains, a time of cautious hope and pragmatic optimism.

No one thought the move to the new Navigation Center would be easy. As winter approached, relocating residents as quickly as possible became the pressing goal, with the specter of 100+ tents flapping in the bitter wind and freezing temps bringing an intense urgency to the work. More time for setting up processes and systems would have been useful, but it was a luxury no one could afford.

In the end the encampment was closed without protest or incident. Over the past four months every individual who sought shelter was found housing, shelter, or taken to the new Navigation Center. No one was left behind. From August 2018, when Native-led and other agencies began their efforts:

• 119 have been placed in housing (with more move-ins pending)

• 100+ have been sheltered (exact numbers unknown as some were family groups)

•162 have found temporary shelter in the Navigation Center.

Gratitude and recognition is due the housing specialists at Avivo and Hennepin County, and the staff at Simpson Housing, St Stephens, Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, and the American Indian Community Development Corporation. Gratitude as well to the Red Lake Nation, Native American Community Clinic, the tireless outreach, health and harm reduction workers, and to the leadership and member agencies of the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID). Many of these groups continue to devote time, energy and resources to this work because the Navigation Center is not a typical shelter; it is intended to be a temporary refuge as more permanent housing and supportive services are found for each resident.

The work continues

And so the work continues. In many ways it has just begun. The feast was a welcome chance to come together to reflect and reconnect for both residents and those who’d worked side by side for months. It was also an opportunity to look toward the future, in the hopes of becoming more pro-active as we continue to address the issue of unsheltered homelessness, especially within the Native community.

As someone who was on the ground at the encampment, taking in the pain and struggle firsthand, I’ve thought long and hard about what it took to create what is by any measure a success. Most cities simply bulldoze or break up tent camps, sweeping homeless individuals and the community’s responsibility to care for them under the metaphorical rug.

Looking around the room at the feast, I saw my answer. Success was made possible because:

• The mayor, city council and department leadership took on the responsibility to care for the most vulnerable among us – even when it meant moving well outside their comfort zone in terms off financial commitment and the need for speed. The county and state were likewise engaged.

• The Native community – including the Red Lake Nation and the leadership and member agencies of Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors – stepped up to partner with each other and various government agencies in ways that were innovative and groundbreaking.

• The Minneapolis Police Department stated unequivocally that being homeless is not a crime, and stepped up as partners, including deploying Grant Snyder, the MPD liaison to the homeless community, to assist daily at the camp.

• The Minneapolis Fire Department approached the encampment and those living there with full recognition of both the needs and the dangers inherent in a tent city in winter. They tried to do the right thing at every turn, including instituting a fire watch at the camp when the weather turned unbearably cold.

• Journalists took the time to educate themselves on the issues and truly engage everyone involved. This was a story that could have slid into sensationalism, but instead most of the journalists who covered the encampment gathered information from stakeholders at all levels, including camp residents. They also spent a serious amount of time in the camp, learning and observing firsthand.

• Finally, the community stepped up in a way that is almost impossible to overstate. Over 900 people emailed the camp through this website, offering donations, food, or to volunteer. Many more engaged via ad hoc Facebook groups. Literally thousands of meals were served by everyone from U of M students to church groups and book clubs. It took a village to keep a sprawling tent city population safe, warm, and fed, and the village showed up with generosity and conviction.

SUCCESS, IN A WORD

I believe that in the end what it took to create success amidst so much challenge and near-daily crisis can be summed up in single word: compassion. The compassionate intent of those involved formed an unbreakable web of connection and commitment. I am still musing on the power of this invisible force. We set out to transform a bleak situation into one of hope and possibility, and in the end we, ourselves, were transformed.

WiiDooKoDaaDiiWag: They help each other

Now we must take our compassion and turn towards the future. Housing the residents of the Franklin Hiawatha encampment was a needed but temporary fix. Building a Navigation Center did not end homelessness. There are still many challenges ahead.

With that in mind, last week’s feast was also the perfect opportunity to kick off a Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) initiative called WiiDooKoDaaDiiWag (Translation: ‘They help each other’ in Ojibwe). 

Through WiiDooKoDaaDiiWag, NACDI will host a series of gatherings which will center Native voices in the effort to create grassroots solutions to the issues facing the Indigenous community, especially the challenge of creating culturally appropriate and affordable housing, shelter and supportive services.

I invite all to follow the work of WiiDooKoDaaDiiWag and related efforts at www.franklinhiawathacamp.org in the weeks and months to come. And to everyone who made a donation, stepped up to volunteer, said a prayer, or engaged in any way: Thank you. We are one in this work now and always.

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