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Wednesday July 18th 2018

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Bow to Rwanda

by Peter Molenaar

At the corner of 31st Street and 16th Avenue exists a modest reddish brown brick structure –- home to United Methodist Walker Community Church. For decades, the Peace and Justice Community has used this facility for planning meetings and public forums. It is a proud church.
About early April of this year, the pews were occupied by supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal, political prisoner wrongly convicted of murder. An exposition of developments in Mumia’s case was delivered by a world famous professor of law. Shortly thereafter, Peter Erlinder would find himself imprisoned in far-away Rwanda.

Peter’s initial call to Africa had been issued in the year 2003 by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He was to lead a defense team assigned to persons charged with perpetrating the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Please google “Rwanda genocide” and follow the Wikepedia links.

No doubt, the anti-Tutsi genocide delivered by Hutu forces is near the top of the list of 20th century horrors. Perhaps one million people were exterminated in 100 days. That would be 10,000 every day, 400 every hour. The machete was the weapon of convenience.

However, the genocide occurred in the context of a civil-war with roots in the age-old humiliation of the Hutu under Tutsi domination.

Question: Who precipitated this genocide by shooting down (Hutu) President Juvenal Habyarimana?

Question: Why did the radio voice which fomented and guided the genocide emanate from a European?

Question: Should the military force under (Tutsi) Paul Kagame be viewed as an invasion force under U.S. sponsorship?

So, Peter returned to Rwanda in order to defend Victoire Ingabire, the leader of political opposition to Paul Kagame, now president of Rwanda. It appears that both Peter and Victoire are guilty of “speech critical of the official version of the 1994 genocide”. Conclusion: A just law against “genocide ideology” has been perverted for purposes of political repression.
Elected persons Klobuchar, Ellison, and McCollum have pulled strings. Hillary Clinton has acted. Peter has bowed before the Rwanda judge and is coming home.
Let us all bow our heads…

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Love the Midtown Greenway?

Take The Greenway Challenge!

By Lauren Fulner, Community Organizer, Midtown Greenway Coalition

The Twin Cities community will be taking over the Greenway this September, and we want you to join in the celebration! Riders in the first annual bike-a-thon on the Midtown Greenway on September 25, 2010 will be delighted by live music, colorful community art, and delicious snacks along all 5.5 miles of the Greenway trail.

We’d love for you and your friends to participate; cyclists commit to ride 44 miles in the Greenway on event day and secure at minimum of $250 in personal pledges beforehand. Fantastic prizes await the fundraising fanatics—the top pledge-getter wins airfare for two and a week at a chateau built in an old winery in the bike-friendly Loire Valley of France. This grand prize is being donated by Bob Corrick and Beth Parkhill. Other prizes will be given away via raffle open to all bikers in the Challenge, and for best costume and best decorated bike. The Midtown Greenway Coalition invites trail users to sign up months early so that the pledge raising is a cinch, and will be hosting Pledge-Raising How-To parties throughout the summer.

Cyclists have all afternoon to complete their ride, and can begin as early as 11:00 a.m., with an awards ceremony capping off the evening at 6:00 p.m. at the Cepro site (10th Avenue entrance to the Greenway by Midtown Exchange).

All funds raised go directly to keeping your Greenway safe and beautiful. You can register for The Greenway Challenge online following links from midtowngreenway.org, or by contacting or visiting the Midtown Greenway Coalition office inside the Freewheel Midtown Bike Center to request a hard copy of the registration form. Thanks in advance for your support!

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CHAT: Citizen Health Action Teams mobilize to improve health

Hilma Grundstrom Johnson Winje, 1948, taking clothes and quilts from the clothesline in their backyard at 2512-14 Chicago Avenue at this spot where a 800 car parking ramp has replaced the backyards and homes of 26 families. Send photos of your Backyard that has been affected by institutions for The Alley’s Gallery of Loss to editor@alleynews.org

Update on the Backyard Initiative

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center

Community Residents’ Strategies to Improve Health in the Backyard
Residents of the Backyard have been meeting at the Cultural Wellness Center for the past six months to develop their ideas for health improvement. People with similar interests have been contributing their ideas and designing projects together that they believe will make a difference in the health of the community. So far 11 teams have formed and are now working on their projects. The CHATs are continually recruiting new members to join their teams.

The Backyard Initiative was initiated by Allina Hospitals and Clinics in the fall of 2008 in the neighborhoods of Phillips, Powderhorn Park, Corcoran, and Central. What was once a project led by Allina is now a community-owned project in which Allina is a major partner.

The Community Commission on Health
Some of the CHATs have developed their projects to the point that they are now in the process of presenting their proposals to the Community Commission on Health, a group of approximately 35 people who are members of CHATs or represent institutions that have been part of the process. The Commission’s work is to monitor the health of the community, build the community’s capacity for taking responsibility for its own health, and support efforts to maintain and improve the health of Backyard members.

In June, the Commission discussed how it will make decisions about which projects to fund.  They have approved a list of criteria that each project has to meet (see BYI update in the Alley’s June edition) and are now looking at how to score each proposal so that the most important criteria carry more weight than the less important. This will make it easier to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal. They have decided they do not want to use a scoring system as a formula to determine which proposals are approved, but only as a basis for discussion in order to reach consensus  Members of the Commission are excited about developing a process that keeps the interests of the community in the center. Members have said they want to act differently than a funding board; they want to help build capacity in the community and support each good idea to move to implementation.

If you have a great idea to improve the community’s health that involves community residents working together, please come to the next CHAT meeting. You may also join an existing CHAT.
Current Citizen Health Action Teams

  1. Rebirthing Community: Bringing Elders and Youth Together: The team has discussed mentoring and visual arts as a way to bring the generations together.
  2. Establishing Anchor Families: This team is seeking to establish “anchor families” on each block who can teach life skills and guiding values to youth as well as connect youth and their families to resources for wellness.
  3. Did You Know?: Working on establishing and strengthening informal networks of communication through neighbors by recruiting, training, equipping, and supporting block leaders .
  4. LGBT: A team that is working to connect individuals from all cultures who are LGBT with the resources they need to be healthy and safe.
  5. Food and Nutrition: This group is focusing on creating an empowered community that is actively involved with the production and distribution of its own food.
  6. Dakota Language Revitalization: This group is concentrated on keeping Dakota language and life ways alive and vibrant in the Dakota community.
  7. Ancient and Traditional Healing Arts: The focus of this group is on educating community about natural and ancient ways to be healthy and well and connecting people to so-called ‘alternative’ health practitioners for healing and wellness purposes.
  8. Environmental: This group is looking at the impact of environment on the health of residents in the Backyard.
  9. Communications/Media: This group is working to lessen or eliminate the divide between people who have information and those who don’t so that everyone has the opportunity to be engaged in a healthy community.
  10. Organizational Leadership: This group is working on connecting the organizations of the Backyard with each other and with residents in the interests of the whole community.
  11. Assessment/Analysis Team: Guiding data analysis and utilization of the data collected in the Backyard assessment.

Call the Cultural Wellness Center, 612-721-5745, for more information.

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CURIOUS?

“Curiosity didn’t kill this cat!” …Studs Terkel

When you asked too many questions as a child, you were probably scolded with this advice, “Curiosity killed the cat!”

Studs Terkel died on Halloween Eve 2008 at 96 years of age. Three years earlier, at the time of major heart surgery, he said he wanted his tombstone to read, “Curiosity didn’t kill this cat!!” He was curious when he asked questions of many great Americans—not Presidents, Generals, and the famous–he was curious as he interviewed hundreds of common folks. After graduation from law school he became a doorman instead of a lawyer–so he could constantly meet and greet people. His consummate curiosity was only exceeded by his superb listening. Terkel asked poignant questions and overbalanced that adroit inquisitiveness with listening and documenting the answers.

Are you curious? That’s probably, why you are reading this newspaper. You may be curious about topics explained in this June issue of The Alley. So, read on, curb your appetite of curiosity. And then, “Tell Us Your Story,” because neighbors are curious about your stories and opinions, too.
Are you curious about……………?????

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Curious about a “key victory” in the Xcel Powerline dilemma?

By Tim Springer, Executive Director, Midtown Greenway Coalition
As many Alley readers may know, Xcel energy applied to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for a permit to construct two new high voltage transmission lines over the Midtown Greenway or nearby, and two new substations. The community has concerns about potential impacts on human health, aesthetics, and historic resources, and consigning this part of town to blight.

Because of the relatively short distance of the lines, about 1.2 miles, a “certificate of need” was not required for the project. This means that the PUC cannot deny the project, they may only say where the wires go. This was a frustration to many people who felt that a closer look should be taken at energy conservation, local power production such as with photovoltaic solar panels, electricity storage, and smart grid. The only way to require an analysis of this bundle of alternatives is to require a certificate of need.

Enter State Representative Karen Clark, our rock star legislator. Karen pulled together a group of people, including lobbyists for Xcel Energy, and hammered out language acceptable to community members and Xcel Energy. Then she changed state law to require a certificate of need! Other legislators who deserve thanks are Senators Linda Berglin and Ellen Anderson.

The certificate of need process will be undertaken over the next year or so. The route permit process that is already underway with the PUC to determine where the wires and substations will go will be finalized and decisions made, but the permit will not be signed and the project will not be constructed until after the need for the lines is proven. Even if a certificate of need is provided and the high voltage lines are allowed, the analysis of possible energy alternatives created as part of the certificate of need process could provide a great energy efficiency and energy alternatives roadmap for south Minneapolis, potentially making us much greener and providing many green jobs. Yeah Karen Clark, shero of the day.

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Curious about another threat to East Phillips Community Center?

Cockroaches may have been our “canary in the coal mine” at Cockroach Park, the neighbor’s name for the East Phillips Park for the four decades since housing was demolished.

By Brad Pass, Chair East Phillips Park Community Design Team

Once again East Phillips Cultural and Community Center has uncovered a deeply dismaying setback. Serious hazardous pollution was discovered as excavation proceeded this spring as if the struggles to gain political support, funding, and an appropriate design were not enough,. Borings and beginning excavation last Fall did not find this problem.

Foundation rubble from houses demolished in the early 1970s left small quantities of numerous pollutants; asbestos, lead, ash and fuel oil, and others thoroughly intermixed with the excavated soil. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) require all excavated material be treated as hazardous waste and disposed and new soil brought substituted. The total cost of removing this and purchasing more clean fill and top soil far exceeds budgeted project funds.
The solution proposed by the Park Board was to reduce the building’s size and function by:
Eliminating 1,000 Sq. Ft. at the south end of building designated as the Elder and Family Gathering Space;

Eliminating all commercial kitchen equipment: refrigerator, freezer, range, exhaust hood, fire suppression system, make-up air system, and all counters, cupboards and storage cabinets;
Eliminating the sound attenuating system in the gymnasium.
Eliminating many other building amenities.

Downgrading was a nightmare after the long struggle to deliver a wonderful multi-use building for the many needs of Phillips’ incredible diversity. The losses were too severe to accept without a fight. The Community Design Team and EPIC scrambled quickly and found two sources of money to help.

One is a Hennepin County Pollution Mitigation Grant. The second is a bill rushed through the legislature in the last days of the session by Representative Karen Clark.

Members of the Design Team worked frantically on May Day weekend to meet the Monday, May 3rd deadline for the Hennepin County grant.

Rep. Clark worked tirelessly at the Legislature to shepherd her bill through and to attain the Governor’s signature.

These two options were minor miracles.

We will have most of the “solution,” if we are successful with Hennepin County and if we are able to use all of both grants. We are continuing to seek funding to avoid any losses to the building.
Stay tuned and curious.

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Curious about a United Phillips plus Waite House Proposal for Phillips Pool and Gym Community Center?

The Phillips Pool and Gym Community Center on East 24th St. between 10th and 13th Avenues closed for repairs and awaiting operating proposals.

by Robert Albee, Ventura Village Secretary
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has set July 9th as the date by which interested parties must submit their applications for future leasing of the Phillips Community Center. The Park Board has clearly stated that they are interested in proposals compatible with, and complimentary to MPRB programs and services and have a good reputation and an interest in the community being served.

Accordingly, successful applicant/s must have the resources “to renovate the interior and exterior of the building and provide rental income to offset the building utilities, operating costs and provide for long term building maintenance and operation of the project.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Curious about Seward’s Folly and Sarah Palin?

By Harvey Winje
The only connection of Seward’s Folly with Seward Neighborhood in Mpls. is the namesake—William Henry Seward, 1801-1872.

Seward was a staunch fighter of slavery and, in fact, was so outspoken that it probably lost him the nomination to the presidency in the year that Abraham Lincoln (a country lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, a member of the United States House of Representatives, and twice an unsuccessful candidate for election to the U.S. Senate) won the nomination of a new political party called Republican. He had been the 12th Governor of New York and a U.S. Senator from New York.
After winning the presidency, Lincoln appointed Seward to be Secretary of State. Does this sound familiar? A Congressman from Illinois becomes President after winning nomination from a Senator from New York who then appoints his previous adversary as Secretary of State?.

Seward was stabbed in a associated, conspiratorial assignation attempt the same night that Lincoln was killed.

Seward survived and continued as Secretary of State under President Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor.

It was during that time that on March 30, 1867 he negotiated the purchase of the 586,412 square mile territory of Alaska from Russia for $7,200.000. It was broadly considered to be a wasteful purchase and thus was called Seward’s Folly.

Perhaps, history has vindicated him giving the United States an outpost State to the North. If it wasn’t for Seward’s Folly, Sarah Palin would not be looking at Russia from her deck–she would be Russian!

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Mayor Rybak Appoints Sue Hunter Weir to the Heritage Preservation Commission

Are you curious about history, how we preserve and celebrate history in Minneapolis, and who writes it?

by Harvey Winje
If 19th century Irish poet and author Oscar Wilde is correct that “any fool can make history, but it takes a genius to write it,” then, who we commission to preserve and celebrate our local and national history is very important. Selection of those to lead us in acknowledgment of our past do well in listening to American historian Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison’s advice, “an historian should yield himself to his subject, become immersed in the place and period of his choice, standing apart from it now and then for a fresh view.”

Sue Hunter Weir, our own local, Phillips historian, is a hands-on chronicler of the past who does “yield herself to her subject, become immersed in the place and period of her choice,” and stands “apart from it now and then for a fresh view.” She toils in the soil planting flowers at our own Cedar Avenue and Lake Street Cemetery and she rummages through scores of newspaper archive pages to tell the stories of those thousands buried there.

Perhaps agreeing with Alexis de Tocqueville that when “the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness,” a commission to preserve and celebrate our heritage was created by the City of Minneapolis in 1972. The Mayor and City Councilmembers make appointments to the Commission.  Mayor R.T. Rybak appointed Sue Hunter Weir to assume a vacancy on the Commission in May 2010. The Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) serves as a citizen advisory body to the Minneapolis City Council. HPC is part of a nation-wide network of groups dedicated to the preservation and celebration of our local and national heritage. The Commission holds public hearings twice each month. The public is welcome to attend and highly encouraged to participate.”

The Commission sponsors summer walking tours of Minneapolis historic sites, partners with American Institute of Architects Minneapolis (AIA), and Preserve Minneapolis to “…recognize projects, individuals, and organizations that celebrate and enhance the heritage and historic
character of Minneapolis.” (That’s about 10 awards each year). The more routine business includes designating historic landmarks in the city and holding public hearings about proposed changes (usually architectural) to historic properties.

Other members of the Commission are: Mr. Chad Larsen, Ms. Denita Lemmon, Mr. Kevin Kelley, Ms. Kathleen Anderson, Ms. Meghan Elliott, Ms. Christina Harrison, Ms. Ginny Lackovic, Ms. Linda Mack, and Ms. Deborah Morse-Kahn. (they include architects, realtors, preservationists, an archeologist and historians).

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SEARCHING – a Serial Novelle CHAPTER 15: The Ties that Bind

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

Our searchers, Angel and Luz walked west in the alley, holding their silence like a candle in front of their faces. They paused for a moment by the mural at Kaplan’s. Angel said he knew some kids that had worked on it; Luz said that she did as well, and as they compared notes they realized that their world was both smaller and more connected than they thought.

They walked past the makeshift memorial in front of the store where Eddie had been shot on his way home from basketball practice. The teddy bears and dried flowers poked their heads through the fresh snow. At first, neither one of them spoke, but then, almost as if a wind had blown through them, they both sighed.

“What a waste,” Angel said.
“He was such a good guy.” Luz said.
Luz said, “I think I know who the shooter is.”
Angel replied: “I know I know who the shooter is.”

And in that moment they knew that their lives which were weaving together into the future, were also intertwined in the past. How far past they had no idea.

After they stood at Eddie’s memorial for a few minutes, Luz asked, “Angel, where are we going? You said your teacher could help us—where is he?”

“I’m not sure it’s a he”, he said, softly.
“You’re not sure it’s a he!” Luz said, not softly at all. “What do you mean? I thought you said you had a teacher who could help us find Uncle Jaime. Is this some kind of game for you?”
Angel turned to look at Luz directly. “It’s not a game. When we were talking in the dark in the puppet theater, I was thinking of one teacher who actually is a teacher although he’s not teaching right now.”
Luz stared at him: “If you think that made sense to me, you’re wrong.”
“No, Luz, listen. I was thinking of my teacher from Roosevelt, Mr. Bussey. He has been helping me understand my history, and the history of my people, the Hidalgos”.
“The Hidalgos?” Luz said. “You told me your name was Angel Cruz Rojas. Since when are you a Hidalgo?”
Angel thought she said that last name of his grandmother as if she owned it, as if it were hers to confer or withhold.
“My great grandmother was a Hidalgo, and my great, great grandfather, and going back and back.”
“Hidalgos where—here or there?”
“Now you’re not making sense.”
“I mean are your Hidalgos from Guanajuato or are they from here, from the swale?” Luz said.
If Angel had been holding anything at that moment, he would have dropped it. He could feel a cold wind up his back, even though the air around them was still.
“Luz, did you say Hidalgos from the swale?”
“Yes, and Hidalgos from Guanajuato.”
“How do you know about that?” Angel asked, although he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
“From my abuela. Her family goes way back—to Guanajuato, to Texas, all the way to Spain. Her great, great, grandmother was Guadalupe Hidalgo, who lived for awhile in the swale—right over here around 18th Avenue. “
“Luz, mi abuela said the same thing: that her great, great grandmother was Guadalupe Hidalgo, who was married to an Irishman, who gave birth to twin boys here, in this neighborhood.”

Now it was Luz’ turn to be surprised. Shocked. She opened her purse, and rummaged through it until she found a copy of a large family tree. At the top were Guadalupe Hidalgo and Matthew Kelley. Below were two boys, Marcos and Mateo Kelly Hidalgo. Below Marcos’ name were straight lines showing descendents. Below Mateo’s name was a gap, with three penciled in question marks. After the gap, a line of descendents. As the lines of the two boys grew, they began to intertwine in the center, almost like a double helix, then separated in different directions.

“This is where I am”, Luz said, as she unfolded the genealogy to show a greater widening web of names.
“And this…”, she said, turning the paper over, “this I think is your abuela. Socorro Cruz Rojas.”
“So that means…”, Angel began to ask.
“Yes we’re related,” Luz said, calmly.

Angel had two equal and opposite reactions: joy in finding someone that was closely tied to him in blood, and wonder about what would have happened had they kissed. The look on his face made Luz smile
“Don’t worry, Angel”, she laughed. “If we’re cousins, we’re like tenth cousins or something.” And then she reached up and kissed Angel on the cheek, a kiss that promised more.

Angel looked at the family tree intensely.
“So are you and I descended from Mateo or Marcos? Did Mateo even live long enough to have children? Is his ghost still around here like I’ve heard? ”
“Yes! No! Maybe!”, Luz said, laughing even harder.
“So what do we do know?” Angel asked.
“I think we need to go talk to abuela—my abuela”, and they started to walk again.

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