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Dave’s Dumpster November 2009

Dave's Dumpster November 2009

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How about also making Park, Portland, 26th and 28th Streets more “Accessible, Vibrant, Pedestrian and Biker Friendly with Less” and Slower Speeds?

Hennepin and 1st Avenues have been changed to two-way streets again so they will be “more accessible, more vibrant, with slower speeds and less around the block trips,” according to city planners and politicians, plus many pedestrian and bicycle improvements.
The City widened Park and Portland Avenues and 26th and 28th Streets decades ago:

  • decreasing pedestrian space,
  • removing old well-canopied trees
  • decreasing space for new trees,
  • and increasing speeds on former residential streets thus making them speedways unfriendly to residents, pedestrians and bikers alike.

Is it time to return residential streets so they, too, are more “accessible and vibrant” with less around the block driving and slower speeds coupled with improvements for pedestrians and bikers?

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Irony Of Ironies

By Peter Molenaar

Followers of this column might recall a two-part slogan issued prior to the Obama presidency. The first part read: “Unite to fight the ultra-right”. The second part: “even as we project the vision of socialist future”. It occurs now that it might be helpful to define some terms.
By ‘ultra-right’ is meant: those political forces which are manipulated and set in motion by the most greedy and self-absorbed section of the capitalist ruling class. The Republican Party is said to be dominated by these forces. Whereas, the more liberal wing of the ruling class consents to a political alliance with the social-democratic wing of Labor (and the other sectors which make up the Democratic Party).
The term ‘social-democratic’ refers to that trend within Labor which seeks to improve life without fundamentally challenging the power of accumulated wealth, i.e. without challenging the property relations which constitute the “rule of capital”. However, during a prolonged period of declining living standards, social-democracy of necessity evolves towards a more militant socialism. Similarly, the liberal tendency will be altered, but in reaction.

Note: We will endeavor to define working class socialism as opposed to “national socialism”.

Socialist society is based on public ownership of large scale industry, transport, and real estate. Thus it involves the revolutionary transfer of a huge sum of wealth to the public domain. It follows that a strong “worker’s state” must be built upon a foundation of democratic institutions which in turn must reflect necessity itself. Socialist society strives to eliminate all forms of oppression and inequality while seeking to elevate the spiritual content of each individual. Peace between nations and harmony with nature is the goal.

But for now, “our” state rests upon a highly unstable capitalism: hyper concentration of wealth …mass consumer debt…stagnation…financialization…housing bubble burst…meltdown…bailout…Obama…stimulus.

In essence (consciously or not), we have elected Obama to save capitalism (to save capitalism from the capitalists!) until such time as a viable socialist vanguard develops in conjunction with the requisite mass movement. As for now, I suggest we defend our president from the radical right saboteurs (and racists) on the one hand, and from certain “left” agitators who falsely focus blame on him.
Is Obama a good and competent man? Yes, he is. However the gods of history might yet view his election as the irony of ironies.

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THE WAR ON DRUGS HAS EXPANDED; Or Has It Really? part III

By Raymond Jackson

This epidemic consists of highly addictive legal drugs that go under the moniker of painkillers. Because they are legal, and the big profiteers from them, is the pharmaceutical industry, it will be quite awhile before they are made a relevant part of ‘The War on Drugs’. Long considered a Suburban high, painkilling drugs, such as Percecet, Oxycodiene and Vicodine, have found their way into the inner-city. Many addicts trying to get off of crack-cocaine have resorted to these highly addictive pain medications as a way out, only to become addicted to these alternative drugs. A lot cheaper, but just as destructive and deadly!

One could even include the various types of sleeping medications into this epidemic. These pills sell for 2-5 dollars each on the street, so therefore the big profit is being made by the manufacturers, who charge millions to the Health Insurance companies that cover these medications. These pills were once the choice of unemployed suburban housewives and their associates. Just as we, the inner-city communities, had to wean each other away from the Prozac fountain, we will have to do the same with these prescription medications.
AMERICA WAKE UP! According to a Pain Specialist, who spoke under the condition of anonymity; “The state of Minnesota is very strict when it comes to pain killing medication. Their one strike and you’re out concept drives many a recovering addict back into the streets, looking for pain relief. This state does not take into account that we are all human, and humans do make mistakes. In most games there lies a multiple strike or fouls clause. You know, like in baseball, three strikes and you’re out. If a client tests positive for non-legal medications, we have no choice but to either, ignore the positive test or simply take them off of our care. They usually wind up in jail or dead as a result of this strict enforcement. It’s like we just give up on them,” he said. “These laws and regulations must be changed or modified, for the sake of humanity.”

As long as high society profits, there will be no pending regulatory efforts. Aren’t you tired of being bamboozled!
So what one can do is question the need of the prescription. Be very careful when it comes to signing pain contracts that are very open ended and vague. Have someone close to you monitor your doses. Do not tell others that you are on pain medication. And if you feel a growing desire to take more than what the dosage is prescribed; do not hesitate to get professional help in getting off the medication.
Raymond Jackson is a staff writer and can be reached for comments and opinions.
Raymond Jackson, long time on and off Phillips resident or business affiliate, past organizer for People of Phillips,an advocate for positive growth and development opportunities for all children. He is legally blind and disabled, so is also a strong advocate for the disabled. He has written four plays, three of which have been performed in front of audiences, He is a Spoken Word Hip-Hop Artist; and strongly believes that if we want it solved, we must get involved! Please feel free to contact him anytime at 612-558-8630. Thank you and please have a great day.

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Recovery Act Project Activity to Remove Soil at Arsenic Levels That Pose Long-Term Health Threat to Residents

EPA will use the $10-25 million in Recovery Act funds allocated to the Minneapolis Residential Soil Contamination site to conduct all cleanup and restoration work at the approximately 500 remaining residential properties with soils above the arsenic soil cleanup standard. The activities include the excavation and off-site disposal of all contaminated soil above the cleanup standard, with excavation to occur to a depth of 12 inches in lawn areas and 18 inches in garden areas.

If confirmation samples from the base of the excavation show arsenic levels above the acute arsenic cleanup standard, EPA will continue excavating soil until the acute standard is met or foundation depth is reach. Once excavation is complete, the properties will be restored to their original condition. The activities also include establishing institutional controls on properties where excavation is not possible due to access restrictions. Concerning the possibility of household pesticide Application Skewing EPA Date, the EPA replied that, “If common use pesticides was the primary explanation for the residential arsenic contamination at the site we would expect elevated levels on properties from both pre and post 1960 periods (of homes built). However we do not. This all indicates that elevated arsenic levels resulted from some source other than pesticide application.

All of this information supports EPA’s conclusion that the former plant site caused elevated levels of arsenic in the soils of the surrounding areas, and that the area affected is limited to the current investigation area as defined by the results of the EPA’s air dispersion model.”
-Source, EPA Responsiveness Summary to Public Comment (from June 2 through July 1, 2008) Available on the web.

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16 residents will interview 750 households door-to-door by year’s end

By Janice Barbee
The Backyard Initiative’s Community Interviews are now happening in the Phillips Community and in Powderhorn Park, Central, and Corcoran neighborhoods.

Over the past several months, community residents have been meeting weekly as part of the Backyard Initiative’s Assessment Team. The Assessment Team has been charged by the larger BYI community group that meets monthly to oversee the process of creating a picture of the current state of health and well-being of the residents and families in the Backyard area.

Early on in the process, the community had given feedback to Allina that they did not think that a proposed mail survey would be an effective and accurate method for assessing the health of people who live in the Backyard area. They decided that a better process would be to hold a number of Listening Circles where people would give their input in groups, and a Walk-around process where people would be asked questions about their health in a one-to-one interview. The Assessment Team has been designing the details of this assessment process, including choosing the questions for the Listening Circles and the Walk-around. The team members, including Africans, African Americans, Natives, Latinos, and European Americans, have worked hard to ensure that all the questions are based in the BYI’s definition of health that was first developed by the large group. The questions address physical, mental, and spiritual health as well as personal, family, and community health. The questions focus on what people need as resources for their health as well as what people can do for themselves and each other to improve health.

Members of the community have conducted 20 Listening Circles and the notes from these meetings will soon be read and analyzed by community members with support from staff from Allina, Wilder Research, and the Cultural Wellness Center. The Listening Circles included members from the different cultural communities, men and women, youth and elders, mothers and fathers, members of the GLBTQ community, and people from all the neighborhoods in the Backyard. The questions asked of the residents were:

  1. How do you keep yourself and your family healthy?
  2. How do you maintain harmony and balance in your life?
  3. Who do you turn to for help?

The second phase of the assessment, the Walk-around, will start in early November. Approximately 16 community residents, recruited by the Assessment Team and the Cultural Wellness Center and hired by Wilder and who represent the neighborhoods and the cultural communities, will go door-to-door and conduct interviews with members of 750 households. This number was chosen so that approximately one out of every twenty households in the Backyard area will be asked to participate. The goal is that the community interviews will be completed by the end of the year.

The Assessment Team will also be involved in interpreting the information collected and in creating the reports (both written and by presentation in community gatherings) to the community. Look for announcements in the beginning of 2010 to hear about the results of both the Listening Circles and the Walk-around.

All residents of the Backyard area are welcome to join the large gathering on the first Thursday of every month from 5 – 7 PM. Call the Cultural Wellness Center at 612-721-5745 for the location.

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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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