NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday June 19th 2018

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i think i can i think i can-“Thinking I can,” just ain’t enough

Commentary By Harvey Winje

For decades neighbors here have said, I think I can. I THINK I CAN! That “Little Engine That Could” chant became “We think we can. WE THINK WE CAN!” Thinking alone wasn’t enough so they added hard work—phone calls, meetings, leaflets, lobbying, money raising, and much more. Finally, they were often able to say, We thought we could, WE THOUGHT WE COULD, We Did, WE DID!”

Remember this old ad? “When America has a problem, America turns to Black and Decker.” In America, after 911, when the United States government had a problem it began increasing employment of Blackwater and other private, profit making companies for high level security intelligence work.

Locally, when we have a problem, we don’t turn to Black and Decker or Blackwater. Initially, we don’t turn to private companies, politicians, or bureaucrats to solve our problems and innovate. We depend again and again on neighbors. Hats off to those neighbors who voluntarily under-gird our community year after year, decade after decade with dedicated work to improve the quality of our urban life.

Their optimism behind each of our page one stories really began four decades ago in this “Community that Could.”

The Phillips Pool and Gym story began when neighbors envisioned and worked for a pool and gym to be attached to Phillips Junior High School. They were successful only to see the school itself torn down a decade later by a school board and city council run amok. They weren’t able to stop the demolition of the school building but were able to save the pool and gym building albeit without a heat source. Ironically, had e-mail and other electronic communication (forcing the transparency that alerted neighbors in March 2010 to the filling of the pool with dirt and concrete) been available in 1984 to rally neighbors and more quickly expose the ill-conceived plans of the bureaucracy and politicians; then perhaps the school could have been saved. Had they saved the school, they wouldn’t have had to buy Mt. Sinai Hospital five years later and remodel it into a school.

The East Phillips Park site was well on the way to be developed with dense housing until neighbors initiated action to have it changed into a park after houses were demolished. Neighbors knew the overwhelming needs of a high youth population that needed recreation facilities in equal ratio to children in other parts of the City. The drive for a park facility and staffing has also been neighbor driven.

In 1992 after a 12 year struggle, Phillips neighbors prevented a garbage transfer station from being built in Phillips and anywhere in Hennepin County. Out of that struggle arose the Green Institute and the ReUse Center. We will soon find out whether the signs of reduced hours, lessened inventory, a suburban store closing, week-long 50% off inventory clearance, many employees laid-off, diminished service, and executive leadership forced to resign mean we neighbors need to embark once more in preserving the fruits of those labors.

Along the paths of each of these projects there has been set back after set back. Often the adversity has been the doing of others by whom the projects were managed –bureaucrats, politicians, or non-profiteer executive directors many of whom were driven by mercenary goals or otherwise divergent goals than the goals of the neighbors who fashioned the projects with their volunteer leadership.

Let us hope that the current efforts of community building and enhancement last for years because safeguards are included to protect the work for the “Community that Could.

See the articles about the Changes to the Phillips Pool and Gym, building of the East Phillips Community Center and the Open Letter.

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Five separate suitors seek space in Phillips Community Center (2323 11th Avenue)

by Robert Albee, Secretary of Ventura Village

The 9th of July was the due date for submissions to the Mpls. Park and Recreation Board’s Request For Proposals (RFP’s) for future use of the currently closed Phillips Community Center. Scheduled for a reopening in early fall, the 49,000 square foot center has been shut down for replacement of heating, insulation and plumbing since November of 2009.

Proposals were submitted by:

  • Waite House (Pillsbury United Communities) that would execute a complete relocation from their 13th Avenue and 25th Street location into the PCC facility and
  • The Phillips Community Partnership proposal, which was submitted by Ventura Village on behalf of all four Phillips Community neighborhoods and other long-term stakeholders.
  • SOOS Early Childhood Learning Center (SECLC) is a Phillips-based group proposing to open a day care center.
  • Freeport West, which was a tenant before the building closed down wishes to continue operating a wellness program for youth ages 11-18 and possibly include entrepreneurship activities as well.
  • Minneapolis Swims, a Phillips-based group is seeking to restore the swimming pool to its original shape including diving boards and bleachers to enable sanctioned swim meets along with various recreational and instructional uses.

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East Phillips Community Center project set for Completion State and County Add $571,328 for Environmental Cleanup

The EPCC building project is guaranteed completion because $571,328 was made available for removal and replacement of contaminated soil.

The Minnesota Dept.of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and the Hennepin Cty Environmental Response Fund (ERF) were thanked by John Erwin, Mpls. Park Bd. Pres. on July 7th. “The Park Bd appreciates the support this project has received from the State and County. So many people and organizations have worked hard to develop a facility that will effectively meet the needs of many populations and interests, and these funds ensure that the project maintains momentum,” said Erwin. [also] …thanks to Dist. 61A State Rep. Karen Clark and the State Legislature, Cty. Comm. Peter McLaughlin and the HN Cty Bd, Councilmember Gary Schiff and the Mpls. City Council, and Brad and Carol Pass and EPIC…”

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Ancient traditions “unmasked” in Kennedy’s dynamic ancient art masks

Interview with Alvin Kennedy by Howard McQuitter II

“My art reflects a blend of urgan and primitive themes, expressed in pen and ink drawings and rigid paper sculptures,” Alvin Kennedy says. “The latter most often take the form of unique masks that reflects my heritage and bridges ethnic communities.”

Alvin Kennedy is a sculptor-painter par excellence who concentrates on making African masks. While he worked as a social service counselor for youth in trouble, Alvin used his artistic talents.

Interviewer (Howard McQuitterll) (HM): How long have you lived in the Twin Cities?

Alvin Kennedy (AK): Since 1984. I was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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Casper’s Ghost says, “‘People were dying to get into the cemetery.’ But were they really dead?”

The Original Gated Cedar Avenue Entrance to Pioneers and Soldiers Cemtery The wooden gates that was replaced by the current limestone pillars and steel gates. Photo is undated but had to have been taken in the early 1900s since the “new” gate was erected in 1928. Notice the streetcar tracks.

by Sue Hunter Weir

Casper Link was terrified of being buried alive, and he was not the only one. There is a word for this fear—taphophobia—meaning the fear of graves. Mr. Link died on Sunday, July 21, 1872, but not before his wife and friends promised that they would not bury him until three days after he had been declared dead. Mrs. Link arranged for a funeral service, though not a burial, to take place on the day after her husband died. During the service, Mr. Link’s worst fears appeared to have been realized when one of the people in attendance noticed what he thought was perspiration on Mr. Link’s forehead. The funeral service was brought to an abrupt halt and a doctor was summoned. The doctor examined Mr. Link one last time and concluded, yet again, that he was dead. The funeral service continued as planned, and Mr. Link’s body was taken to the cemetery where it was stored in the vault until the promised three days had passed. Throughout, his wife held out hope that her husband was not dead but was merely “sleeping.” But that was not the case, and after the specified time elapsed, Mr. Link was buried in Lot 33, Block P.

Mr. Link’s fears were not uncommon. There may well have been a small number of people who were buried before their time, but the exact number of cases will never be known. Stories about “premature burials” appeared in the papers from time to time, often enough to keep a fair number of people alarmed about the possibility. The stories were memorable, including accounts from witnesses who said that they heard knocking sounds or voices coming from inside of coffins. This led some of those who could afford it to buy “security coffins” which had glass windows on the lids. There were stories, mostly from Europe, of people whose coffins had holes drilled in the lids so that strings that were attached to their fingers could ring an above-ground bell that would alert the sexton that a quick exhumation was in order. Other coffins were reported to have air pipes that extended from the coffin to the grave’s surface so that those who were buried too soon would be able to breathe until they were rescued.

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Searching – A Serial Novelle Chapter 17: Family History [“Paper” proof of birth]

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

As the party wound down, Angel danced one more dance with Luz. As the song melted away and they began to release their embrace, he noticed who was left in the room: Mr. Bussey, talking with Mother Light and Ana; Luz’ grandmother Dolores, and Angel’s father, Augusto. It was nearly 11, and though tomorrow meant heavy work, Angel could tell no one felt like ending this party.

There was still an hour left in December 12, one hour to celebrate la Virgen de Guadalupe. He called to Mr. Bussey: “Hey, where can we go to keep celebrating Guadalupe on such a beautiful cold night?”

Mr. Bussey scratched his head and said, “The only place I know that’s open is Denny’s.”

“Denny’s!” Angel shouted. “Do you think they celebrate Guadalupe there?”

Luz laughed. “I think it’s the perfect place for Guadalupe Night!”

So they put on their jackets and walked outside. There were seven in all, but Mr. Bussey’s Honda could only fit five.

“C’mon, son”, Augusto said. “We can walk there.”

Angel looked at Luz, who nodded in her knowing way.

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Food Obsession: Salad Days

by Jane Thomson

The dictionary says that “salad days” refers to “A time of youth, innocence and inexperience.” So much for that. The term could also mean the times of year when we like to eat all kinds of salads. Here are three recipes:

Sweet Potato Salad

  • 4 pre-cooked, refrigerated, medium sweet potatoes (about 6 to 8 oz each)
  • About 2/3 cup of sliced green onions
  • ¾ cup of diced celery
  • ¼ cup of olive oil (I used less when I made the salad just for myself)
  • Juice of ½ lemon Juice of 1/2 orange 1 Tbsp.of soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder ½ tsp. chili powder ½ tsp. seasoning salt (I used Spike and a little salt) ¼ tsp. black pepper (I tend to use a little extra seasoning.)

Peel the sweet potatoes (the peels are good eating) and cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces. Thinly slice the green onions, including some of the tender green tops. Dice the celery. Add both to potatoes. In smaller container, mix the juices, oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, chili powder, seasoning salt and pepper. Whisk together well and pour over the cut-up vegetables. Serve at once or refrigerate. Serves 8 people.

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“Tell Me a Story”…in Joyce Krook’s words

Joyce Krook as she tells her story on youtube.com/VisitLakeStreet. Joyce grew up near Lake Street, took first job as a secretary in a medical ward at Northwestern Hospital at her mother’s suggestion, “you don’t have to stay there all of your life, just to get some experience,” well, stay she did—retiring after 48 years mostly being “the face” of Abbott-Northwestern Hospitals and Allina to the entire southside of Minneapolis working from her leadership position in community affairs. Her last office was in the new Allina’s Commons portion of the old Sears Roebuck building in which her mother worked in the dry goods department. She was one of the original Board of Directors of the Lake Street Council decades ago.

Lake Street Council is working hard this year to collect and promote the history of the Lake Street area. The first stage to this project is collecting oral histories of longtime residents. We started with Alley ally Joyce Krook. Here are some excerpts of Joyce recalling her childhood growing up in the Hennepin & Lake area.

Please visit youtube.com/VisitLakeStreet to watch the whole video interview with Joyce and others! And if you are a longtime resident who remembers well the Lake Street from decades past, and would like your story recorded, please get in touch with us!

Call 612-824-7420 or email coien@lakestreetcouncil.org.

Joyce Krook Reminisces about childhood near Lake Street
About the apartment Joyce & her family lived in near Lake Street

After we moved to 29th & Dupont, we lived there until 1955 so that was quite a few years. … It was a four-plex. I have no idea how old the building was. We lived upstairs. It was a one bedroom apartment and it was my mom and dad and four kids, and we were cramped. My sister and I slept on a rollaway, and in the summertime we could open up our front porch and double our bedroom space. My brothers then had the porch, so that was nice. Otherwise, it was a pretty small place: kitchen, bedroom, bath, dining room, and then the porch in the summertime. I remember that there was another fourplex right next door, and the people next door got the first TV of anybody in any of these buildings. We could sit in our living room window and look over and see their TV on. But then we were the next ones to get a TV. It was a Muntz TV, it was huge. The people in my building would come over to watch TV in the evening, and my dad had to get up really early to go to work so he’d say “I’m going to bed now, turn off the TV when you go home.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Ondine & Holy Rollers

Ondine (2009)

Ondine (2009)
***1/2
Wayforce Entertainment
111 minutes
Director: Neil Jordan

Syracuse (Colin Farrell) makes a living by fishing off the coast of his native Ireland free of a catastrophic BP oil spill, with untainted fish at the end of his line. One day Syracuse unexpectedly catches in his net, a woman likened to the Celtic myth of the selkie – a seal that can shed her skin and transform into a human.

Syracuse’s bright 10 year old daughter, Annie (played extremely well by Alison Barry) realizes her dad’s past tense story of the mythical mermaid Ondine, is real in the present tense.

Syracuse’s new guest seems bemused by her surroundings as well as insisting on being away from people. He hides her in his deceased grandma’s cottage in a cover. Almost reading her father’s mind, his physically challenged daughter Annie visits the cottage, and finds Ondine swimming in a pool.

Colin Farrell has shown on several occasions his versatility as an actor. Noteworthy is his subtley and nuance “In Bruges” a couple of years ago and again wonderfully exhibiting himself as Syracuse in “Ondine.”

Neil Jordan’s “Ondine” of what initially appears to be a selkie, illustrates similarities (and differences as well) to John Sayles “The Secret of Roan Inish” (1994). Yet all the while the cameras are clicking, the woman out of the sea likely has a secret. Syracuse divorced and recovering from alcoholism, likewise his ex-wife who hasn’t put down the bottle altogether, share custody of wheelchair-bound Annie. However the father-daughter combination capture nearly every camera shot.

Ondine is Syracuse’s secret other than his perceptive daughter, along with Ondine – mean more to him than a fisherman’s catch. Though Syracuse willingly consults his priest (Stephen Rea) regularly, Syracuse unwisely doesn’t take his priest’s spiritual advice on one critical issue.

Holy Rollers (2010)
***
89 Minutes
Director: Kevin Asch

The title “Holy Rollers” may easily throw you off – thinking the plot revolves around some Protestant evangelists but no the characters are Orthodox Jews living in Brooklyn, 1998. For starters, Jesse Eisenberg as Sam Gold, and Justin Bartha as Josef Zimmerman, are Hasidic Jews living in a tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.

What’s different, Sam’s next door neighbor Josef is not being the clean-cut Jewish man rooted in the synagogue but rather a trafficking middle-man for the drug Ecstasy, from Amsterdam to New York.

“Holy Rollers”, like Joshua Marston’s “Maria Full of Grace” (2004) captures the subject of drug smuggling, the former with less intensity and not with the usual suspects in crime. Sam’s dilemma is choosing between aspiring to be a rabbi, his father’s wish, or working for Josef between Amsterdam and New York, by cashing in big time in smuggling and selling Ecstasy. Jesse Eisenberg brings some complexity to his character, a genuine innocence of a boy next door.

Around the same age as Sam, Rachel (Ari Graynor) gives him Ecstasy and asks him to run away with her. Sam’s structured way of life is severely tested and upstaged by the hedonistic secular world. Once rumors emerge in the neighborhood, Sam’s new job is unsavory. His father’s patience runs out and he is then rejected by his father.

Sam is definitely conflicted between his Orthodox Judaism (his father selects the bride) and the unsavory business of drug trafficking. Jesse Eisenberg is good, as the boy next door leaping into the underworld.

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Dave’s Dumpster August 2010

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