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East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center Ground-Breaking 4 ½ Years after Linda’s Dream, Neighbors-described on ‘Butcher Paper’**

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Ground Breaking for the East Phillips Park Cultural & Community Center

By Brad Pass and Carol Pass
On November 19th, 2009 a momentous event for the Phillips Neighborhood occurred. It was the ground breaking of the long awaited East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center. After years of relentless struggle primarily by the residents and organizations of East Phillips, with help from our adjoining neighborhood to the west, Midtown Phillips, and many others, the end is in sight. Within months we will be able to enjoy this beautiful new building. The East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center will include a big gym with bleachers, a community kitchen, a beautiful entry rotunda, an elder and family gathering space and rooms to provide programs and educational help for our multitude of residents. It will provide space to help them reach their potential, to improve their lives, celebrate their many cultures and just chill out and enjoy one another. Ball fields and landscaping will also be added.

Such a Center was a long held dream going back years, but always stalled out for a thousand reasons. However, when the neighborhood organization, the East Phillips Improvement Coalition, EPIC, began to plan programs for our neglected and desperately needy youth, the board members were stymied and brought to a halt by lack of space. They realized they could not write the grants to bring help to anyone, because there was no place to put the programs that were needed. All the churches were full. All the other possible spaces were occupied. The needs of this very diverse population were overwhelming, and we were helpless to respond.

Then on July 14th, 2005, at the monthly EPIC neighborhood meeting, faced with a sense of sorrow at the inability to move ahead, East Phillips resident Linda Leonard spoke of a dream. She asked, “if we could have a Community Center in East Phillips Park, what problems would it solve and what could it do and be for the community?” She got out a large piece of butcher paper and started copying the neighbors’ responses to the dream. Some of those hopes were that we could offer supervised and safe athletic programs for our youth, home work help to enhance academic success, employment readiness, career counseling, second language classes, classes in healthy living for diabetics and others. The thought of the Center caused ideas to pour out. Then those at the meeting made a commitment to work together and not stop until we had built such a Center. We have a copy of that paper, signed by all the participants of that long ago meeting. It will be displayed in the Center. How many people at that meeting could imagine the community would be gathered in East Phillips Park 4 ½ years later for a Ground Breaking of that impossible dream? Here are the pictures – it seems like a miracle.

East Phillips Park is one of only two large Minneapolis parks, both in the poorest parts of town, which have had no Community Center or gym and so no programs. An indoor facility to serve the 7,000 youth, 40% of whom live in poverty, in this economically challenged and ethnically diverse community has been badly needed since the park was formed. The EPIC leadership decided to go before the Park Board and challenge the commissioners to respond to the neighborhood’s needs. Remarkably, Bill Ziegler, the Director of Little Earth, had come to similar conclusions at the same time and we all ended up before the Park Commissioners on the same night with a totally similar message.

We moved from the dreaming phase to the real struggle when Rep. Karen Clark heard of our joint commitment and created the bill we rallied around for a grant of 3.5 million in State bonding money to build the Center. Rep. Clark stayed at the helm of our effort from start to finish and the relentless lobbying began. Neighbors gathered under the tutelage of veteran lobbyist Maryanne Campo to learn how to effectively put our case as citizen lobbyists. She knew how effective citizen lobbyists can be. Council Member Gary Schiff accompanied us to the Capitol as did Clyde Bellecourt, Bill Ziegler, Shirley Heyer, Rosie and Alfonso Cruz, Linda and Mary Juanita Leonard, Carol Pass, who probably spent as much time at the Capitol as some legislators, as well as many neighbors, their children and heads of organizations. Rep. Alice Hausman of St. Paul also brilliantly pressed our case. Sen. Linda Berglin made a final strong pitch to Sen. Langseth, of the tiny town of Glyndon MN – population 1,049 — who had eleventh hour dealings with the Governor’s office. The governor wanted a specific project and the Senator, Chair of the powerful Capital Investment Committee, countered that he would agree provided that the East Phillips Community Center would be funded. It took a rural Minnesotan Senator, a diary farmer, to respond to the intense urban needs of Rep. Clark’s constituency. The Governor’s office accepted the deal and in May, 2006, the bill for 3.5 million dollars for the Center was signed.

With a major part of the funding in place, the East Phillips Park Community Design Team was formed to continue fundraising, interact with the community to determine building functionality and act as a liaison between the Community and the Park Board. The Design Team consists of representatives of  The East Phillips Improvement Coalition, EPIC; Little Earth of United Tribes; Liga Hispana De Beisbol; Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors; Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Assoc. Inc.; Community Business Representatives; Park Board Representatives; and Elected Officials.

EPIC hired Arthur Himmelman as Design Team consultant. Arthur was invaluable in smoothing the waters and finding a way to bring all parties together. He also helped create the framework for a partnership, which will help program and fund the Center into the future.
The Design Team continued work with the Park Commissioners toward creating the building design and implementing the project. Scott Vreeland, our new District Commissioner, along with Commissioners Annie Young, Mary Merrill Anderson, Tracy Nordstrom and Board President Tom Nordyke helped move the project forward. The commissioners authorized Park Staff General Manager, Mike Schmidt; Director of Planning, Judd Rietkerk; Park Architect and Project Manager John Monnens and District Planner, Lonnie Nichols to help transfer the project from a dream to reality.

When the building had to be downsized due to funding limitations, the Design Team hired Dean Dovolis and Paula Merrigan of DJR Architecture, Inc. to redesign the Center. In a very short time, they created the beautiful and functional design that is being built today.
Rick Carter and Mark Kalar of LHB Engineers and Architects did all the engineering, determining the size and location of the footings, the heating and ventilation system, the electrical and plumbing and etc, and they did all the detailed construction drawings.

Rochon Corporation is the successful bidder on the project and they and their subcontractors started excavating the foundations as soon as the contract was signed. Rochon’s Scott Anderson is our Project Superintendant.

As construction proceeds, staunch supporter, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin is advising us on how to find funding for the playing field renovations.

Even with all the expert help above, this could never have happened without all the people of the Phillips Community who came together and stayed together as a cohesive and diverse force ready to rally at a moment’s notice to keep the project moving forward, to raise money and to drive this project. Without the support and action of the people of the Phillips Community the dream you see unfolding in East Phillips Park today could never have happened.

Thank you to everyone who played a part.
Brad Pass. Chair
East Phillips Park Community Design Team
Carol Ann Pass, President
East Phillips Improvement Coalition
** [For a shorter, yet historic, name perhaps it could be called the “Butcher Block,” which is certainly better than it’s former nickname “Cockroach Park.” Ed]

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December Phillips What? Where? Contest

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November Hint: Out of an explosion order appears.

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December Hint: Framing for shelter across cultures and eras has some similarities and some variations. These examples are just four blocks apart.

NO ONE even ventured a guess of the November PWW so we are repeating that photo and adding another for December.
Tell us the What and Where of these 2 photos correctly and win a chance for a drawing of a $20.00 Gift Certificate at Welna Hardware 2438 Bloomington Avenue.

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December 2009: What’s Up at the Franklin Library

By Erin Thomasson
Children’s Programs
Sheeko Caruur Af-Soomaali ah/World Language Storytime: Somali
Tuesdays, Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29, 6:30–7:30 p.m. La wadaag bugagga, sheekoyinka, jaan-gooyada maansada iyo muusikada Soomaalida. Waxaa lagu maalgaliyey deeq ay Comcast Foundation siisay Library Foundation of Hennepin County.
For children ages 2 and up. Experience the world in other languages. Funding provided by a grant to the Library Foundation of Hennepin County from the Comcast Foundation.
Preschool Storytime
Wednesdays, Dec. 2, 9, 16 & 30, 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.
Waxbarasho iyo Ciyaar Caruureed Af-Soomaali ah/Somali Play and Learn
Friday, Dec. 4, 10:30 a.m.
For kids through preschool. Dhammaan caruurta ka yar da’ dugsi. Ka soo qaybgal sheekooyin caruur, heeso iyo hawlo waxbarasho. Join us for stories, songs and activities! Presented in collaboration with the Resources for Child Caring.
Sock Puppet Workshop
Friday, Dec. 11, 3:30 p.m.
For kids in grade 2 and up. Take an everyday sock and turn it into something creative! Join other kids in making fun sock creatures to take home. Supplies provided.
Swedish Stories
Wednesday, Dec. 16, 10:30 a.m.
For kids in preschool. Learn about Swedish holidays and traditions. Sponsored by the American Swedish Institute.
Kids Book Club
Friday, Dec. 18, 4 p.m.
For kids in grades 4-6. Join other kids to talk about a great book! No pre-reading required! We will share a story and discuss.

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There are no ‘Good Old Days’ Childhood Health Stories

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The woman standing by the cross is the Grandmother Aubele of Annie and Adele Aubele, sisters who died from diphtheria within 24 hours of each other in early December 1915.

By Sue Hunter Weir

Two Year Old Frida Aubele died Dec. 2, 1915 from diphtheria. Six Year Old Annie Aubele died Dec. 3, 1915 from diphtheria. Graves were remarked and girls remembered and honored Oct. 16th 2009.

It pretty much goes without saying that kids hate to have shots. And, many parents are reluctant to have their children vaccinated because of possible unintended consequences. This year, because of all the media attention about the H1N1 virus, there are a lot of people weighing the potential benefits against the possibility of adverse side effects. Cemetery records paint a picture of what life was like for children and their families before vaccinations were a routine part of medical care.

Of the 21,000 burials in the cemetery over half are children under the age of ten. Many of those children died in infancy, the result of premature or stillbirths. Others died of bacterial infections related to contaminated drinking water. But others died of diseases, like measles, that are no longer considered an inevitable part of childhood.

Diphtheria was one of the leading killers of children. It was listed as the cause of death of 815 children buried in the cemetery. Measles accounted for 122 deaths and pertussis for another 37. The numbers are undoubtedly much higher than those numbers indicate because doctors frequently attributed the cause of death to symptoms (e.g., “fever”) rather than to a specific disease. Mumps, though not often considered a fatal disease, was the leading cause of deafness in children. It is worth bearing in mind that these numbers are for one medium-sized cemetery in Minneapolis.

This year, on October 16th, relatives of Annie and Frida Aubele placed a new marker on their shared grave. Frida died on December 2, 1915; she was not quite two and a-half years old. The next day, Frida’s older sister, Annie, died at the age of six. Within a period of 24 hours, Joseph and Madeline Aubele lost two daughters to diphtheria. Annie, the older of the two, was born in Germany, and Frida was born in Minneapolis. For many years, their grave was marked by a large wooden cross. Over the years that cross disappeared, a casualty of water and weather. Now the girls’ grave is marked by a more permanent granite marker. The girls are buried in Lot 25, Block T, in the fourth grave from the north.
When the H1N1 vaccine becomes more widely available, have a conversation with your physician about the advisability of having yourself and your children vaccinated. As far as the health of children goes, there are no “good old days.”

Sue Hunter Weir is Phillips historian extraordinaire, member of Friends of the Cemetery who, with husband Paul Weir, have lived in Phillips over 30 years and together also garden with the 12th & 13th Avenue Block Club, was a co-founder of Phillips website pnn.org. Read the rest of this entry »

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SEARCHING – a Serial Novelle Chapter 9: History, Part I

by Patrick Cabello Hansel
(Author’s note: in the last chapter, Angel met up at Maria’s Café with his high school history teacher, who began relating a neighborhood story from the mid-19th century that he has unearthed during his sabbatical.)

“Between August Ternstvedt’s little house and what became the cemetery was a low piece of ground called the swale. The swale was a worthless piece for kitchen gardens or orchards, and because it was low-lying it wasn’t the first choice upon which to build. But because no one particularly wanted the land, it was a good place to go when you were wanted. Runaway slaves passed through there. There is a legend that refugees from the killings in 1862 stopped one night. AWOL soldiers, people involved in illegal fur trade, women who were fleeing abusive husbands. They would come, they would go, but their spirits always seemed to haunt the place.”

“So where are you talking about—this swale or whatever you call it?” , Angel asked.

Mr. Bussey took a sip of his coffee.

“It’s roughly the area between Bloomington and Cedar, and Franklin to about the railroad tracks—the Greenway today.”

“That’s right where my folks live—on 18th Avenue!” Angel felt a longing, a regret inside him growing.

“Well, and this is where it gets interesting”, Mr. Bussey continued, and launched into the tale again.

“Ternstvedt befriended a man named Matthew Kelly or Matthew Kiley. No one is really sure of his name. He had been in the Army some 20 years, under at least two different names. He fought in the Mexican War—some people say on both sides—was wounded at Gettysburg and fought in the so-called “Indian Wars”. Matthew had seen a lot of killing, had done enough himself, and came to Minnesota looking to settle down. He had a common law marriage with a Mexican woman named Hidalgo, whose first name was, ironically, Lupe, short for Guadalupe…

“Like the name of the infamous treaty between the United States and Mexico.” Angel jumped in.

“Hey, you remembered something from my class!’ Mr. Bussey grinned. “That’s always nice to see.”

“Well, yeah, plus my abuelo Luis and all my people hammered that one into us. It’s when we lost half of Mexico to the United States.”

“Right, a terrible injustice and one that plagues us to this day.” Mr. Bussey continued. “But here’s the really weird thing about this story.”

Señora Hidalgo was descended from a very aristocratic family from Spain, who came to what became Mexico soon after Cortes. They had held huge estates, were provincial governors, founded cities, murdered people, were murdered, the whole bloody history. Padre Hidalgo of the Revolution was a relative. Hidalgos fought and died on both sides at the Alamo, some went back to Spain and their descendants fought on both sides in the Civil War. It is the story of a family divided. Right down to the Lupe Hidalgo who lived in the swale with Matthew Kelly in the 1860’s. Some time in May of 1867, she gave birth to twin boys. One grew up with her and Matthew, the other disappeared. I’ve found letters and diary entries that conflict. Some say that he was taken from Guadalupe by the Hidalgo family still in Mexico and raised there. Some say he died of typhus. And at least two people wrote in their diaries about a young boy named Mateo Kiley, who was murdered a few days before Christmas in 1874, and whose spirit roamed the swale for years and years later.

Mr. Bussey finished his coffee and nodded to the waitress for more.

“Needless to say, this is all speculation on my part. People who lived in the swale didn’t register with the government much, so there aren’t any official records, of course.”

“So she lost half of her family—just like her country lost half of its territory”, Angel said.

“Exactly. I tend to be a little superstitious, so who knows, maybe little Mateo’s ghost is still haunting the neighborhood today”

Well, something sure is, Angel thought. He said “gracias” to the waitress when she brought the coffee, and she replied “de nada, teco”

Teco—what the hell is that?, he wondered, but didn’t have time to think much, as Mr. Bussey began to talk.

“Apparently some of Kelly or Kiley and Lupe Hidalgo’s descendents live around here. Just think how weird that is. One half of the family here.

The rest God knows where.”

“Weird. So were they identical twins—these boys who were separated?”
“Identical except for one small detail. The one who vanished—Mateo—had a small birth mark on his neck that seemed to some people to be the shape of a young owl.”

Angel dropped his coffee and spilled it all over the table. He felt his hand go instinctively to his neck.

“Whoa, Angel, hold on! I’m sure Mateo’s ghost isn’t going to bother you!”

“I wouldn’t be so sure, Mr. B. I think I know exactly where that ghost is.”

Patrick Cabello Hansel, creative & amiable poet, author, dramatist, and pastor (and so, too, Luisa Cabello Hansel) St. Paul’s Lutheran Church – 28th Street and 15th Ave. in Midtown Phillips. Writes a new Chapter for Novelle Searching in each month’s The Alley.
*A new chapter appears every month in The Alley. You can influence the story by contacting the author with your ideas and comments.

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A Letter of Gratitude to the Phillips Community…from Leon Oman

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Leon Oman (right) at the Alley annual meeting

by Leon Oman

Dear Community of Phillips,
Let me express my deepest thanks and gratitude to the Phillips community upon my retirement from Community Education at Andersen School. It has been a profound joy and honor to serve with you over the past 28+ years. I appreciate all the well-wishes that people have shared, both formally and informally, for this next chapter of life.

As I reflect on these many past years, gratitude also swells up within me for all of the ways that Phillips, both you as individuals and you as organizations, have supported Community Education: You have participated in classes and activities; involved yourself as volunteers, teachers and staff; used our gym and meeting facilities; provided input and feedback for programming, both informally as well as formally through our Advisory Council; partnered with us on out-of-school time programs for youth and lifelong learning for adults; provided financial support for many initiatives; collaborated on events; and many other ways. Your personal support along that way has been so fulfilling and motivating.

The community has changed a lot in the years I’ve been here. I can so clearly recall my first day in June, 1981 – getting off the #21 bus on Lake and 10th Ave. and walking up to Andersen – stepping over tree limbs that had fallen when a Sunday tornado had ripped through South Mpls. I traveled a lot on foot in those days, trying to get a close-hand view of the neighborhood and meeting the folks that lived here and were leaders here. The Egg and I on Chicago Ave., was a great place to meet with people, much like Maria’s is today. It was then that I came to know the great community activism that is such a hallmark of Phillips – both leaders who work in the neighborhood organizations as well as folks working on their blocks to make improvements. A wonderful case in point some years ago – a drug house that was down at the end of Andersen Lane, a threatening place for neighbors as well as school children – was removed by the persistent efforts of neighbors and is now a beautiful community garden. It is also wonderful to know that this spirit is being passed on the youth of our neighborhood – civic engagement and service has become a vital component of many of the youth programs in Phillips.

Phillips has always been a landmark of diversity. Back in 1981, it may have been most known as a huge residential center for Native American residents. Then a growing African-American population put roots in Phillips. More recently, large numbers of Latino and Somali residents have established themselves. All the while, this diversity has been a gift. So many people like living (and working) in Phillips because of it being such a multicultural community. The recent development of the Midtown Global Market is a symbol of this but it is in the day-to-day interactions inside of and across cultures that will continue to enhance Phillips as a place to live, work and do business.

The physical transformation of Franklin Ave., the re-development of Chicago-Lake, and the countless housing initiatives led by the neighborhood organizations have been amazing things to see in Phillips over the last three decades. This has extended to many improvements, block-by-block. Yet it has often pained me to be at neighborhood meetings and heard some residents talk about battles with crime on their block and sometimes right next door. It is good to know that though the efforts of the police, including Community Crime Prevention, huge strides are being made. But continued strong neighborhood organization initiatives in housing, crime, and with the criminal justice system, along with constant efforts to outreach to individuals and groups and building coalitions, across cultures, are needed.

There have been many changes at Andersen School too. When I came in 1981, there were three different principals and four different programs – an effort to make alternatives and choices available to inner-city students. Now there is one school – Andersen United Community School. Though there are continued challenges to meet federal and state guidelines, it is and always has been a wonderful place of learning. When I came to Andersen, I was just in beginning of raising a family but it didn’t take long to reinforce to me that public schools were a great resource – where we would educate our children (even if we lived in St. Paul – be gentle with me!). Andersen has always had amazing teachers, administrators and other staff who were/are excellent in their professions and compassionate about the kids. I encourage you to stop over to Andersen – consider becoming a volunteer – you may be surprised at changes inside, including new school informs which all of our K-8 students now wear.

Our Community Education program has changed too. When I first arrived, the expectation would be that we should try to be all things to all people and operate programs from pre-school through older adults. As mobility patterns changed and adults expressed greater interest in going to larger centers of programming, our department made a change and our sites became more specialized. Andersen was changed to become more focused on youth, so we expanded the time we served students after school, began a Saturday program and invested more resources in summer activities. In the team I supervised, South High became the primary location for adult enrichment opportunities. But as that new model took hold, it was still obvious that we needed to better provide for underserved adult populations, including the new immigrant communities. So we developed a new Latino outreach initiative. Building on a successful computer literacy program for Latino adults and a Spanish-English language exchange opportunity, Community Ed has developed a flourishing Latino Women’s Group, leadership initiatives, financial literacy with the NeDA organization and a brand new partnership with La Conexion. All of this, along with continued utilization of the great Andersen facilities, like the Fitness Center, has led to a community center feel with fun and learning for many ages. Forgive the shameless plug, but please contact Marija Nicholson (herself a alumni of Andersen School) at 668-4215 for information about any of the programs or ways to become involved.

As for the future, I will continue to still bleed Phillips, Community Education and Andersen – keeping in touch as well as trying to stay involved in various events. I am not much of a be-at-home person, but I also want my retirement activity to be built on a sense of “purpose”. Right now. I’m working a little part-time (at Roosevelt Community Ed) but am also exploring new opportunities of service and already sprinkling in several volunteer involvements – including remain working with the Alley. I hope that our paths will continue to cross. Thanks, for the great memories.

All the best,
Leon

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Movie Corner: A Serious Man & Tyler Perry: I Can Do Bad All By Myself

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A Serious Man

A Serious Man
**** 1/2 (rated four and a half out of five stars)
Focus Features
Directors: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

Standing on the top of his roof, Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) adjusts his television antenna after his pre-bar mitzvah early adolescent son Danny Gopnik (Aaron Wolff) had been complaining about stations not coming in clearly on the television. Danny stands on the roof as if on top of the world. Looking around he is transfixed by a pretty neighbor Mrs. Samsky (Amy Landecker) sunning in the nude in her fenced in backyard. But for Mr. Gopnik, being on the roof is anything but being on top of the world. He’s mired in a number of problems.

First, Mr. Gopnik, a physics professor at a fictional Judaic private school in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, has an Asian student, unhappy with his failing grade, who attempts to bribe him for a passing grade. Second, Larry is up for tenure. His boss notifies him that some unfavorable anonymous letters have been sent regarding his tenure. His boss assures Larry not to worry but that is no conciliation to him. Three, Larry is confronted by his wife, Judith Gopnik (Sari Lennick) who wants a divorce so she can marry a widower, Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed), a neighbor the Gopniks have known for 15 years. Four, Larry’s off the wall brother, Arthur (Richard Kind), and his convoluted mathematical text is living in Larry’s household. Five, Larry is hounded by calls from the Columbia Record Club. All these problems are pressing Larry not to be necessarily relieved coming home to spats between his son Danny and his older daughter, Sarah Gopnik (Jessica McManus), who is constantly complaining about Uncle Arthur’s prolonged stays in the bathroom or how much money Danny owes her.

The year is 1967, in quiet, quasi-bucolic St. Louis Park, a western suburb of Minneapolis, where Yom Kipper, and Shabouth are sacrosanct in the name of Hashem (“the name” in Hebrew). And prior to 20th century, mid-America suburban angst, there is a short Yiddish drama of a folk tale of a tzadik (Fyvush Finkel) who may or may not be a dybbuk – a jolly old soul who may be a ghost and may have an unsettling touch in a future generation.

While Larry implicitly asks what God wants from him and is looking for answers to his current problems, (facing a divorce), he sees three rabbis – none of whom give him clear answers.

Threads of unresolved dilemmas are a common theme in many of the Coen Brothers movies: “Burn After Reading”, “No Country for Old Men” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There”, as examples. “A Serious Man” is for the serious moviegoer to see the serious work of the Coen Brothers.

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At the Movies: Precious

Precious

Precious

by Raymond Jackson
Oh how precious everyone and everything is, all in their own unique ways! At the end of this very good movie, ‘Precious’, exemplifies the aforementioned statement so much that one could hear a pin drop in the carpeted isles, while gasping for air and exhibiting an inability to clap. This movie is good and leaves you frozen in deep thought! The metaphor, keeping it real, can certainly be applied in this case, with bold caps even.

Stand up comedian, Monique, plays an excellent role as Ms Jones, the mother of Clareece ‘Precious’ Jones, played by newcomer, Gabourey ‘Gabby’ Sidibe; who is said to have auditioned in between classes, while attending college in New York. Directed by Lee Daniels, ‘Precious’ is based on the book, ‘Push’, written by Sapphire, and is sure to be up for many awards. I am allergic to tears, so believe me when I say, this movie will have you crying and even laughing throughout, as you are taken down the path of a junior high school mother, who enters this drama pregnant with her second child, at the age of sixteen.

Based in 1987 New York, Precious, after being told over and over again, by her mother and countless others, that she is nothing and will never be anything but a complete zero; starts to feel better about herself and her capabilities, after being forced to enroll in an alternative school and meeting teachers and students who seemed to care about her.

Mariah Carey, who plays the role of an unbelieving somewhat kooky social worker, has already been mentioned for several awards. This is the best I have seen her, minus all makeup and extra hair. She is good!

There are no murders, nothing is blown to pieces, yet the audience is left glued to their seats, with the vocal communiqué exhibited in this movie. Leaving another ole saying, “Action speaks louder than words” completely falsified in ‘Precious’. Yes there is plenty of action, but the Hollywood sensationalism, most of us have become accustomed to at the movies, is not there. This cast of virtually unknowns, are nothing short of superb, and Monique , in a very serious, high impact role, ices being a mother, very misinformed, by very misinformed people. The physical and mental pain associated with childhood abuse is presented in a way that most can relate to! ‘Gabby’, in the role of Precious, shows that a seventeen year old mother of two, can break the vicious cycle of negative repetition and family curse by utilizing and trusting in the support mechanisms presented to them This is a must see, 4 star production. Precious is currently showing at The Lagoon Theater in South Minneapolis, as well as other locations near you.

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Dave’s Dumpster December 2009

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Wakan Tanka

by Peter Molenaar

It took on the order of 200,000 years for humankind to develop a written language. Subsequently, “the word” accumulated in the form of scripture which in turn made literacy a requirement for entry into “the faith”. Hence, the emergence of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) within the once vast sea of illiteracy.

Note: the various peoples of this neighborhood might do well to acknowledge that we all reside upon Dakota land.

Prior to Abraham, prior even to the Druid elites of Pagan Europe, it was the vision quest which nourished the spiritual community. The trekker was rewarded by nature’s unforeseen coincidences, including close encounters with curious animals. Such were the revelations of “the great spirit”.

Note: A totem animal should be regarded as but one aspect of Wakan Tanka.

Prior to the existence of life sustaining planets, was there a great spirit? Or, did mind emerge merely as a function of highly evolved central nervous systems? Perhaps, as some have suggested, Wakan Tanka translates better as “the great mystery”.

Who among us has not noticed the great flock of crows which resides in this neighborhood during the winter months? What is the explanation for this? I suggest we observe them with great respect and admiration. Might we embrace the crow as our totem connection?

As for me, I will continue to function as a philosophical materialist i.e. liberation in the spiritual realm can be achieved only as we collectively re-harmonize to the material realm (matter is primary). Yet I confess the possibility that matter and spirit have coexisted for eternity and express my preference for the spiritual outlook of preliterate peoples.

I walk upon Dakota land.

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