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Leon Oman retires after 28 years in Community Education at Andersen Elementary

001 oct 09 Oman Leon try threeBy Harvey Winje
Two hundred people greeted and cheered Leon Oman on his last day of 28 years as a Minneapolis Schools Community Education Coordinator at Andersen School in the Phillips Community. His years as a community educator brought together his passion for education, his seven years experience as a social worker, as well as, his involvement in citizen participation in the Rice Park neighborhood. Five presenters reminisced about years spent, experiences shared and generally agreed that there were no skeletons about which they could “roast” Leon. However, they altered a shared experience while on a car trip in order to be sure we all knew Leon had made at least one mistake in his career.

The Webster Open School Cafeteria was gaily decorated setting the mood for an upbeat celebration that included several of Leon’s family members, Phillips Community residents, community leaders from many neighborhoods, past interns, students, current and former colleagues and many, many friends. Paul Boranian attended the event. He was the founder of Community Education in Minneapolis, its director for many years and was the person who hired Leon 28 years ago. Community Education’s current Director, Jack Tamble also paid a tribute to Leon.

The program was one and a half hours long as attendees shared personal experiences and examples of Leon’s gentle demeanor whether he is handling parking or curriculum issues, interfacing with the day school, student conduct, or sustaining relationships with many community groups in South Minneapolis. One former principal said he recalled that when he first came to Andersen, he discovered that meeting new neighbors, interfacing with personnel for the first time, or bringing up new ideas were all made more credible if he just mentioned Leon’s name first. He then said that he discovered the same was true when he was reassigned years later to a North Minneapols school. Yes, indeed Leon’s name and reputation precede him and it is all good.

01_Leon and company

Leon Oman (center) and some of the AmeriCorps members who have served over the years at Andersen with him

At the end of the program of speakers, awards, a bit of roasting, and much agreement amongst all gathered, Leon spoke as only Leon can with words of gracious diffusion by praising his supportive family and colleagues. He introduced his wife, Elaine, 88-year-old mother, Charlotte, his sister Linda, and son Jeff. He also explained that their daughter Kristen Oman Lokvicic and her husband Tomy Lokvicic were unable to be in Minneapolis due to work at a Chicago restaurant being in the midst of expansion to another location. Leon was happy to report that Jeff has purchased a home in Minneapolis thus supporting Minneapolis schools with real estate tax. This was Leon’s good natured rebuff to long-time kidding that he lived in St Paul Merriam Park neighborhood while working in Minneapolis.

Leon shared several stories and memories but one that stood out from the rest was a childhood memory. He explained that after his mother would take his sister and him to the dentist in Northeast Minneapolis, they would go to Bridgeman’s Ice Cream store for a treat. Their mother would point out to them that the manager was a good manager because he was amidst the other employees and the customers and also bussing dishes. Leon said he never forgot that and kept it in mind at his own community education work all these years. Many community educators in the audience concurred that this is an important attribute to apply to one’s job, to be able to “bus the dishes” along with everyone else.

Students, parents, interns, fellow teachers, and neighborhood friends will miss Leon in the next months just as we miss large, solid trees that have shaded us, and added to the environment in so many ways. However, sometimes we take these trees for granted and don’t notice they are gone until they are uprooted by storms like this past summer on Portland Avenue, for example. Leon is like those trees in many ways.
Leon is anticipating writing something like “An Ode to Retirement” for the November issue of The Alley, one month into his retirement and no longer making the daily trek along Marshall Avenue and Lake Street. Friends, students, parents wishing to still get a note to Leon may send it in care of The Alley Newspaper, P.O. Box 7006, Mpls., MN 55407 or by e-mail. Please consider giving permission for The Alley to print your note at the Editor’s discretion.

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Memories of Leon: Being with Leon, you are the focus

by Jonathan Miller
Without Leon Oman I would probably be unemployed right now. No, Leon didn’t personally give me a job, but the strong impression he left on me during my internship with The Alley Newspaper did steer me away from the career path I was on–Magazine journalism. We all know how swimmingly that industry is fairing right now and in part because of Leon, I realized that believing in what I do is very important to me and I moved into non-profit communications.

Leon was my mentor and advisor during my first internship with The Alley Newspaper way back in 1999. The focus of the project was to get children and teenagers involved in the paper, so Leon was the natural choice for two reasons: 1. He worked at Andersen School. 2. He knows EVERYONE in Phillips and EVERYONE knows him and respects him. Leon was always able to make time to provide guidance or give me background on the complex dynamics of the Phillips Community even though he was constantly being pulled in different directions.
But the advantages that Leon provided were more than just his connections. When you talk to Leon, he has a real knack for connecting with you. He has a real talent for taking young people under his wing and mentoring. It feels like you are the focus of all his attention, but then you look around and realize that he has a similar mentoring relationship with 20 other students and volunteers at the same time. And that was just during one summer. Imagine the hundreds of people that Leon has had this affect on during his career. Amazing when you think about it!

If you know Leon you know that he would never be so heavy handed as to say something like, “Jonathan, after you might want to consider a career in the non profit world.” Leon’s approach is gently probing questions, a genuine interest in you and leading by example. And it was Leon’s example of mentoring and giving students the tools to succeed on their own that made me think, “Yeah, I want to do that.” So here I am, ten years later, mentoring students and hoping to have somewhere close to the impact on them that Leon had on me.
Jonathan Miller, is the Minnesota State Colleges Student Association Director of Communications and Graphic Designer for The Alley Newspaper

What a decent human being looks like
by Donna Pususta Neste
Leon is a gentle, quiet and hardworking man. He is the kind of leader who leads by doing, not telling. Anyone would love to have him for a boss and any youth would be lucky to have him as a mentor and example of what a decent human being looks like.
There are probably many thankful for the major part he played in their lives when they were children growing up in the inner city of Minneapolis.

When the kids in my program were doing a project of interviewing community leaders in Youth Civic Engagement, one of the questions they asked Leon was, “What is the hardest part of your job?” Leon didn’t hesitate in saying that the hardest part was giving kids consequences for bad behavior.

It was wonderful to work with Leon. He was always quick with the complement, but in all the years I have been associated with him in many youth agency networks, like the Youth Civic Engagement Project and South Area Network Partnership (SNAP), I have never heard him criticize a colleague. We will all miss him and wish him the best
of luck in the many retirement years ahead of him.

Donna Pususta Neste is Coordinator of Mount Olive Neighborhood Ministries

“…Always at the ready…”
Dear Leon,
You’ve been such a wonderful addition to our Phillips Midtown community always at the ready to connect partners and to involve the school in our community’s life. Thank you so very much for your many years of service. You will be deeply missed by all.
Best to you always,
Kathee Foran and all the gang at In the Heart of the Beast Theatre

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What’s Up at the Franklin Library: October 2009

By Erin Thomasson
All ages
Bats: Truth vs. Fiction
Fri., Oct. 2, 3 p.m.
Are bats vampires in disguise or harmless flying bug eaters? Learn the truth about these creepy mammals of the night and make an origami bat to take home.
Family Read: The Best Pet of All
Fri., Oct. 9, 4–5 p.m.
Join us for an hour of reading fun with Minnesota author and illustrator David LaRochelle, whose other books include “The End.”

Children’s Programs
Sheeko Caruur Af-Soomaali ah/World Language Storytime: Somali
Tues., Oct. 6 through Nov. 24, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
La wadaag bugagga, sheekoyinka, jaan-gooyada maansada iyo muusikada Soomaalida.
For children ages 2 and up. Experience the world in other languages.
Preschool Storytime
Wed., 10:30-11:00 a.m.
For children ages 4 to 6. Help your preschooler get ready to read. Enjoy stories together and build language skills.
Cuentos y Canciones/World Language Storytime: Spanish
Fri. through Oct. 9, 10:30 a.m.
Para niños de 2 años en adelante. Comparta y disfrute con sus niños libros, cuentos, rimas y música en español. For children ages 2 and up. Share books, stories, rhymes and music in Spanish.
Sonajas de Sol/Sun Shakers
Thurs., Oct. 15, 3 p.m.
Registration required. Register online or call 612.630.6800. For kids in grade 1 and up. Para niños del 1er. grado en adelante. ¡Crearemos fabulosos instrumentos musicales inspirándonos en el Calendario Azteca! Veremos varios ejemplos del arte intrincado del pueblo azteca y luego haremos nuestras propias sonajas para llevar a casa. Create a gorgeous musical instrument inspired by the Aztec Calendar! We’ll see various examples of the intricate art created by the Aztec people and make our own sun shaker to take home.
Monster Mania
Fri., Oct. 16, 3–4 p.m.
For kids in grade 2 and up. Goblins and vampires and skeletons, oh my! We’ll be celebrating Halloween early by sharing spooky stories and creating ghoulish crafts.
Kids Book Club
Fri., Oct. 23, 4-5 p.m.
Join other kids to talk about a great book! Pick up a copy of the book at the information desk

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The Alley Newspaper is Bound for the Future With Your Help!

By Susan Gust and Harvey Winje
The Alley Newspaper is Bound for the Future. Bound into 17 volumes, no less, spanning all of its 33 years! It will be printed on paper much better than the newsprint on which it is printed each month, allowing the many photos, stories and articles to be able to be viewed and used by others well into the future. Once it is reprinted it will be kept in the Special Collections Section of the Main Downtown Minneapolis Library on Hennepin Avenue.

This is great news! No pun intended. What would be even better news would be to raise enough money for a duplicate set of those 17 volumes to be housed at the Franklin Branch Library in the Phillips Community. These volumes would be more readily available to community residents and students. If you or a friend, neighbor, or relative have ever appeared in The Alley or submitted a Letter to the Editor, a photo, or written an article, it will become immortalized–or least be around a long, long time! Please celebrate this great news, or, better yet, help make it happen by attending

The Alley Annual Meeting and Fundraiser
Friday, October 23, 2009
5-7 pm

At the Cultural Wellness Center in Franklin Bank Building
1527 East Lake St. (parking available in the rear of the building)
Suggested donation: $15…..
but we will graciously accept whatever donation you can afford!
Questions? Please call 612-724-5753

Other exciting efforts to help The Alley Newspaper to be Bound for the Future and preserve some of the community’s valuable history:
We will soon purchase a complete set of microfilmed Alley Newspapers from the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). A law was made when Minnesota became a state that requires all newspapers to send a copy of each issue to MHS. For any number of reasons the Society does not have all of our issues. Now that we have amassed a complete set, MHS will make two complete microfilmed sets; one for their archives and one they will sell to us for $35.00 a roll.

We are inquiring to find a cost-effective way to produce a digitized collection of The Alley.
Sue Hunter Weir has volunteered to head-up the task of indexing all of the Alleys.

Come and help us celebrate the many achievements of our incredible community volunteers over this past year. Learn more about this long-surviving, community-governed, nonprofit media source. Consider joining the Board of Directors and help propel us into new partnerships and strategies to inform and engage the community. Hear the words of Abebech Girma, staff member of the Cultural Wellness Center as she provokes us to think about the importance of language and a how a culture expresses itself through its language and how language shapes the culture in her presentation called: “Rediscovering Amharic”. “I am more of me when I am able to express myself in my own language – my Mother’s tongue, Amharic” according to Abebech.

It will take all of us to help The Alley to be Bound for the Future. If you cannot attend the event, we will graciously accept your donation to our important endeavors. You’re tax deductible contribution can be made to: Alley Communications, Inc., P.O. Box 7006, Mpls., MN 55407. Otherwise, we will see you on October 23!

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SEARCHING CHAPTER 7: A New Start

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

We can’t say that Angel didn’t know where to start this leg of his journey. He’d been starting his whole life. Fits and starts. False starts. Start and stop, start and stop. Angel’s problem was finishing. He’d managed to graduate from Roosevelt—barely—and he vaguely remembered the platitudes the locally famous person of color had shared at the graduation ceremony: Believe in your dreams. Reach for the stars. Stay in touch. Good words, he thought, but he’d spent the six months since then pretty much wandering through life, without a plan, That morning, in Mother Light’s house, as he tenderly pulled on his jacket and bent over to tie his shoes, he spotted the webbed ornament in the window.
“That’s a dream catcher, right?” he said to Ana, who was waiting at the door.

She smiled, nodded yes, then pointed to her eyes, to her heart, to her lips and then to Angel. He shook his head and wondered what manner of answer that was: was this beautiful young woman deaf? Or merely insane? “I wonder if it caught any of my dreams”, he muttered to himself.

Ana handed him his backpack, which felt heavier to his bruised shoulders. She led him out the door and down the block to the little park. There was fresh snow on the ground, tender to their feet. It began to snow again, soft, huge flakes, the kind dogs and children love to catch on their tongues. She led him under a red pine, whose branches were heavily laden with snow. Angel thought that he saw her bow slightly. She smiled and then repeated the same motions with her hands as she had in the house: pointing to her eyes, to her heart, to her lips and then to him. Then she pointed to the tree trunk, where hundreds of woodpecker holes were bored into the rust red bark. By the time he thought of something to say, she had gone.

Where now? He did not feel fear, even though his enemies were at large. He wanted to find Luz, but something Mother had told him led him to think he had to find himself—or at least a part of himself—first. The ground was white, the sky was a brilliant white, it seemed like the whole world was new and strange. So he started walking. He walked past the old convent at Holy Rosary—the church where his grandmother had been among the first to push for a mass in Spanish years ago. He tromped through vacant lots promising new townhomes. He stopped at Welna’s for the free popcorn and to use the bathroom.

At 26th street, he saw someone he knew from high school, a young man named Ezekiel, whom many called “The Wheel”, because it seemed his head was always spinning with crazy ideas. He was dressed in a warm coat, with new stocking cap and gloves, waiting for the bus. He was smoking, and offered Angel one. Angel took the cigarette, and tucked it behind his ear.

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“Bring a shawl and get a baby” from a 1908-09 Baby Farm 3341 Nicollet Avenue

“The babies [from the Baby Farm on Nicollet Avenue] are buried in unmarked graves at various locations throughout the cemetery.” This heart shaped grave marker is for Emma Bertta who died June 30th 1886, marker of a heart shaped cross and whose family did provide this marker.

The babies from the Baby Farm on Nicollet Avenue are buried in unmarked graves

By Sue Hunter Weir

Between June 24, 1908 and September 6, 1909, 27 infants died at the same address–3341 Nicollet Avenue South. These babies (13 girls, 13 boys, and one whose gender was not recorded) were under the care of “Doctor” Hans Oftedal. As the quote marks suggest, Hans Oftedal was not a licensed physician; he was the proprietor of one of several “baby farms” operating in Minneapolis at the time.

Baby farms were essentially unlicensed boarding houses for infants whose parents were too poor to care for them. The parents surrendered their children to baby farm operators and paid a fee for the care that they believed their children would receive. In some cases, the parents intended to come back and reclaim their children, but in other cases they expected their children to be adopted by families who could provide for them. Adoption was unregulated at that time, and Minneapolis had the dubious distinction of being the baby-trafficking capitol of the Upper Midwest. The Minneapolis Tribune described the adoption trade in Minneapolis as one in which people could “Bring a shawl and get a baby.”

In October 1909, “Doctor” Oftedal shut down his baby farm. He ordered the utilities turned off and abandoned five infants in the care of two teen-aged girls. The girls had no food or supplies with which to take care of the babies. Eventually staff from the city’s Poor Department, as it was called at the time, got wind of what was happening and tried to take charge of the babies. At first the girls declined to give up their charges but eventually turned the babies over to city authorities. The good news was that all of those babies survived although three of them were in poor health. One of them was a five-month old child who had been one of the incubator babies successfully treated at Wonderland Park but who had lost considerable ground after being fed only skim milk while under Oftedal’s care.

After he closed down his operation, “Doctor” Oftedal, his wife, and a woman identified in the press as Nurse Siegel, fled to Seattle, Washington. City officials did not track them down and prosecute them. Indeed, it is doubtful that anyone had any idea about the 27 babies who had died—at least none of the newspapers mentioned them. The babies died from a variety of causes, many of them from gastrointestinal problems or pneumonia. Two of them died from malnutrition. They ranged in age from two days to 18 months old.

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Frequent + Biker = Freiker Rhymes with Hiker

Freiker + Dero = More Hiking and Biking at Seward Montessor

Dero Bike Racks

Dero Bike Racks

By Kathy Kurdelmeier
Dero Bike Racks in the Seward neighborhood has paired up with Seward Montessori, a Minneapolis Public School, to make the school the most walked and biked to school in the city… maybe the state.

Dero Bike Racks has donated a Freiker/Dero ZAP system to the school, a system designed to encourage kids to bike and walk to school. Freiker (frequent + biker, rhymes with hiker) a non profit company out of Boulder, Colorado, pioneered the concept using RFID technology. Dero Bike Racks manufactures the ZAP unit. The system is the first to be used in a Minnesota school, one of a only dozen throughout the country.

Each registered student is given a RFID (radio frequency identification) tag. Each time the student walks or bikes to school they pass under the ZAP unit, which emits a beep and records their trip and mileage into the Freiker database.

That information will be used to provide incentives to individuals and classes that walk and bike the most. The school also hopes to incorporate the information into the classroom, teaching the students about their carbon footprint and the benefit of walking and biking to themselves as well as to the environment.

Close to 100 students have registered within the first three weeks of school and new concrete has been poured to accommodate new bike racks and all the bikes. On, Wednesday, Sept. 16, the Freiker/ZAP unit system was unveiled at media event at the school with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak present to welcome the kids as they walked and biked to school.

The unit is mounted on the east side of Seward Montessori, located at 2309 28 Ave. South in Minneapolis. Further information can be found about the Freiker system and about the ZAP unit.

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THE Murder and Mayhem TOUR

Do you ever think that you would have liked to live back in the “good old days?” Think again. Murders, suicides, rail yard accidents, mill explosions, car wrecks and drownings were pretty much the order of the day. On our (occasionally irreverent) tour, you’ll hear about some of the highlights of Minneapolis’ history and be introduced to some of the city’s more outrageous low-lifes. We’ll visit the graves of Harry Hayward, mastermind of Minneapolis’ crime of the 19th century, and the victims of the Macedonian Murders, the city’s worst mass murder. And that’s just for starters. This tour is co-sponsored by Friends of the Cemetery and the Hennepin History Museum. Suggested donation is $5.

What Would Your “Last Meal” on Earth Be?
Last Meal: What would be your last meal on earth and who would be your dining companions? Have a fun conversation with these questions as your starting point. The Last Meal celebration will feature gourmet sandwiches and desserts from The Salty Tart, a bakery owned and operated by nationally-acclaimed pastry chef, Michelle Gayer. The Salty Tart’s sandwiches and pastries have received rave revues – come see why she was nominated for a James Beard award and why she received four out of four stars from the Star Tribune. In addition to these tasty morsels, the meal will include locally-based salads and Ms. Kelly’s teas. The cost of the lunch is $10.

Murder and Mayhem and Last Meal Additional Details:
Where: Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery (2925 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN) When: Tours 10 am or 2 pm; lunch served at noon Parking: Free within Cemetery RSVP: The 10:00 am and 2:00 pm tours are limited to 50 people. Lunch reservations are required by noon, on Thursday, October 1.
Note: In case of rain or bad weather, lunch will be served at the
Midtown Global Market at 920 East Lake Street Please email or call Sue Hunter-Weir to reserve your space for the tour and lunch or (612)-874-9233.)

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Former Sears Employees Gathered at Midtown Global Market

005.04 SearsLadies

by Megan Swenson
Former employees of the Lake Street Sears department store, located in the Midtown Exchange building from 1928 to 1994, returned to the site of their old workplace, now home to Midtown Global Market, for a reunion on Thursday, September 17.

This was the first trip back to the historic building for many since Sears closed its doors on December 31, 1994.
Joyce Wisdom, executive director of Lake Street Council, was excited that so many came back to the area. “Lake Street has changed immensely since 1994. It was fascinating to talk with these employees about their memories of Lake Street and how it has changed since they worked here.”

The group met for a reunion, a continental breakfast prepared by the chefs at Midtown Global Market, a tour of the Market and The Chicago condos, and had a chance to share stories about their former place of employment.

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Inglourious Basterds & Cold Souls

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds

*****
Weinstein Company and Universal Pictures
Lagoon
Drama/War/Dark Comedy/Adventure
Running Time: 152 minutes
Director: Quentin Tarantino

It’s Vichy 1941 and Hitler is occupying much of France. The unoccupied France (Vichy), is nervous, cautious and yet determined with the other Allies (U.S. hasn’t entered quite yet, not until after Pearl Harbor), to overthrow the Nazi regime. Quentin Tarantino’s Brad Pitt, playing an American Jewish avenger, Lt. Aldo Raine from the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, is a nod to Aldo Ray in Anthony Mann’s 1957 war movie, “Men in War”.

If one has seen a Tarantino film, “Inglourious Basterds” isTarantino all the way with periodic moments of humor interwoven with the grisly scenes. Deliberately spelled wrong from an Italian action pac (1978) by the same title, Tarantino’s version is only a quasi-remake. He divides “Inglourious Basterds” into five chapters starting with a teenage girl Shosanna Dreyfus (Melaine Laurent) escaping from Nazi Jew hunter Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and his Nazi band. Double spy Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), Shonsanna, Raine, Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), General Ed. French (Mike Myers) have a clandestine operation to appear at the premier of the German propaganda film, “Nation’s Pride” where the Nazi brass, Goering, Goebbels, Himmler and Hitler, will be present.

Raine, Sgt. Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth who was also in Tarantino’s “Grindhouse” and “Death Proof” as “Dov)” and other American Jewish soldiers reverse what’s happening in Germany. These men hunt and kill Nazis. Their claim to fame is scalping Nazis, living or dead.
Tarantino sets a strong tone starting from the opening scene. A dairy farmer, Perrier La Paditel (Denis Menochet), with his three daughters, receives an unwelcome visit from German Col. Hans Landa. Landa has come to investigate rumors about some unaccounted Jews, and with the agenda that La Paditel is hiding Jews. Landa comes across as a man with a sense of humor, in spite of his purpose to kill the Jews he finds. The scenes here are very tense and nail biting, building gradually every step of the way.

Christoph Waltz’s performance is terrific throughout “Inglourious Basterds”. His character is clever, cruel, manipulating, intuitive, and sometimes downright silly.

Cold Souls
***1/2
Journeyman Pictures
Running Time: 101 minutes
Director: Sophie Barthes

Mr. Giamatti plays himself rehearsing for Chekov’s play, Vanya, and finds he is unduly frustrated with the play. At home, Paul fares no better, losing sleep, appetite disrupted, his wife Claire (Emily Watson) at a loss about her husband’s behavior. Paul sees an ad where a person can have his or her soul removed temporarily and repossessed. He meets Dr. Flintstein (David Strathairn) to have his soul removed through a machine much like the MRI machine.

Paul’s journey now moves into more murky territory after he befriends Russians trading souls on the black market in an underground line to and from the U.S. Moreover Paul’s ability to perform the Russian play Vanya, after his soul is lifted from his body, is worse than before his soul was removed. One of the Russian smugglers, Sveta (Katheryn Winnick), is connected to the Russian mob.

Existentialism is at the artery of the film as Paul begins to realize he wants his soul back. The undercurrent of Barthes’ characters – although God isn’t mentioned – is that God gave people (and perhaps animals) souls to be cherished, not to be defiled or sold.
Contact Howard or visit his website.

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