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Friday January 17th 2020

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“I’ve been up and I’ve been down. I’ve been all around.”

By MIKE HAZARD

Peter appeared at Peace House, a face out of the past. He jumped in my face and smiled. “I remember you and you don’t remember me, Mike.” I remember your face, but not your name. “Peter. Pete the Greek from Crete. I was the guy who voted against you making a movie about Peace House back in 2007. I was wrong. It came out OK. Now I love you.” 

MIKE HAZARD This is the picture that Pete asked to have added to the We Remember wall where Peace House people who have passed away are remembered.

“I stop by Peace House every month or two. I have been coming here for over 30 years. I’ve been through it all. I have been up and I’ve been down. I’ve been all around.”

“I knew Sister Rose (who founded Peace House). I drove her home daily. She was wholesome, hearty, and spirited. She could settle the biggest guy down. She was so wholesome, she was innocent. She was one of the most giving persons I have ever known.”

“Her brother Larry gave AA talks. When I was in St. Cloud, I was so happy to see him at an AA meeting.”

We clicked pictures in the main room at Peace House. He liked the one “without the smile. No teeth. No toothy grin.”

He was busy working, selling vehicles. “I run a company called We Sell Old Cabs. I want to leave a legacy to my children.” Peter was making it, driving a big, old car he uses to drive people around. Peter had a key to a good life.

Then, a shock. Peter Nikiforakis was found dead in his van at Franklin and Bloomington on Monday, November 11, 2019. He knew his days were numbered. He had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). “I spend 6-9 days a month in the hospital. It is only a matter of time. I am ready to go. I’m OK with that.” It’s not clear if he died from exposure or from COPD or both.

The last time I saw him he was praising Mary Cassioppi, one of the coordinators at Peace House. “Her agenda is to help people.” Mary responded, “I’m always learning.” Mary said Pete always said that he had one foot in the grave and one foot on a banana peel. 

“Pete was always aware of the tenuousness of his condition, yet always had a smile on his face, though we could tell that breathing was getting harder and harder for him with each visit lately,” said Peace House volunteer Mary Robinson. “I think he came to say goodbye in his own way without actually saying it for sure. His pride, his vulnerability, his love of the Peace House community, his humility and his ‘acceptance’ of his journey as well as just his growing appreciation for LIFE, and his compassion for all who walked his walk stand out. He will be greatly missed and his presence will remain with me always.”

Another volunteer, Meg Mannix, added, “About a month ago, Pete made a point to introduce himself to me—knowing I was new-—and engaged me in a great conversation about Peace House and community and friendship. He told me he was dying, and I wasn’t sure how to respond. He said it in such a ‘matter of fact’ manner, more as an aside, that it caught me off guard. I mumbled something being sorry…he brushed that off and went on singing the praises of the various volunteers at PH, and the love he experienced there. I was looking forward to more conversations with him… my loss, for sure. My loss, indeed. May the angels lead you into paradise, Pete the Greek from Crete. What a kind man you were.”

Tressa Sularz, a regular PH visitor, described him succinctly, “He was a quiet man who left quietly.”

The last time he was at Peace House, Peter fixed the dishwasher. Nobody knew he could do that.

His agenda was to help people.

Rest in peace, Pete the Greek from Crete, rest.

This poetical picture story is by Mike Hazard. It is part of a project called Peace House People. A selection of the work will be exhibited at Franklin Library in February, 2020. The project is funded by an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

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Alley Communication’s 2019 annual gathering celebrated 45 years!

When a nonprofit organization has been around for 45 years, it can be a task to find a way to host an Annual Meeting that can both convey some of the important activities of the recent past and to instill the momentum going for the year ahead. With the skills and talents of many Alley Newspaper and community friends and volunteers, we were able to do both! Here is a sampling of what attendees experienced on November 8th:

• We were moved by the words of Phillips Community spoken word artist, Amjed Yusef and our spirits nurtured by the music of Siama Matuzungidi and Dallas Johnson with Tim O’Keefe, Siama’s Congo Music.

FIRST PERSON PRODUCTIONS-AARON THOMSON Tim O’Keefe, Siama Matuzungidi, and Dallas Johnson, Siama’s Congo Music at Alley Gathering Nov 8th

• Tom O’Connell, historian, organizer, professor, and author (including “It’s Up to Us”) inspired us with a dynamic talk about community leadership.

• Media Mike Hazard shared a few words about his poetry & photos project at Peace House Community which is also a new feature in The Alley as of 2019.

• Phillips resident and Alley cartoonist, Dave Moore read the lyrics from one of his “Spirit of Phillips” poems.

FIRST PERSON PRODUCTIONS-AARON THOMSON Dave Moore

• Josie Adkins, who recently received her undergraduate degree in graphic design, presented her “Phillips Finder” senior project and wayfinding display.

• Roberta Barnes, from the Cultural Wellness Center’s Backyard Health Hub help us to experience the connection to community in a matter of a few short minutes!

FIRST PERSON PRODUCTIONS-AARON THOMSON Roberta Barnes and Susan Gust

• Three students from HECUA–Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs kicked off their project to produce a short documentary about The Alley Newspaper. Stay tuned!

• Many folks won a great prize through a wonderful raffle made possible by local businesses and Alley Board members 

• Several of The Alley Newspapers educational and promotional displays constructed through the years were portrayed. These included enlarged cardboard Spirit of Phillips cartoons, cartoon greeting cards, boards showing the front pages of past years and much more! 

FIRST PERSON PRODUCTIONS-AARON THOMSON Spirit of Phillips cartoons by Dave Moore

• Gift of the book “Wendell Phillips: Social Justice and the Power of the Past” presented to two teachers from Trinity First School. The last chapter of this book, “Phillips Community of Minneapolis: Historical Memory and the Quest for Social Justice” is co-authored by Dave Moore, Susan Gust, and Harvey Winje.

FIRST PERSON PRODUCTIONS-AARON THOMSON Attendees at Alley Gathering Nov 8th
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Thank you!

THANK YOU to the wonderful following businesses and organizations!
Your contributions toward the food or great items for the raffle helped to make The Alley’s celebration a terrific event.

A very special thank you to Crystal Windschitl, Phillips West Neighborhood Organization, and her invaluable assistance to help us host and make this event happen!

This event was guided into place and hosted by Alley Communications’ Board Members: Cathy Strobel-Ayres, Board Chair, Thor Adam, Steve Dreyer, Lee Leichentritt, Frances Mendenhall, Gabriel Pass, Steve Sandberg

A special tribute for dedicated service
Beautiful, framed posters created by Ricardo Levins Morales and purchased through his studio allowed us to pay special tribute to the following folks for their 20+ years of dedication to Alley Communications: 

Leon and Elaine Oman for about 2 decades of Leon’s participation on The Alley’s Board and doing the bookkeeping for the organization and Elaine for her support in helping Leon to make this contribution of time and energy.

Jonathan and Amy Miller, in recognition of Jonathan’s being an Alley intern from Carleton College about 20 years ago, a part-time Editor for The Alley and then its graphic and layout designer. Amy made it possible for him to serve in this capacity especially as they began to grow a family. 

Cathy Strobel-Ayres for two decades of her leadership on Alley Communications Board of Directors, currently serving as its Chair. This consistent dedication has been essential to helping The Alley persevere through its transition of the last couple of years.

The Alley has so appreciated the invaluable volunteer time, energy and contributions of each of the following 13 regular writers of The Alley Newspaper for over one year: Bob Albee, Roberta Barnes, Steve Dreyer, Sue Hunter Weir, Howard McQuitter, Peter Molenaar, Dave Moore and Linnea Hadaway, Brad Pass, Julia Robinson, Sunny Sevigny, Erin Thomasson, and Crystal Windschitl. 

Each person received a small framed card of the same print from Ricardo Levins Morales, a Welna Hardware reusable bag, and a voucher for free entry to the American Swedish Institute. 

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Help Wanted at The Alley

Alley Program and Engagement Coordinator

Alley Communications is seeking to contract with a person to fulfill the Engagement and Program Coordinator position. They will work with the Editorial Leadership Committee (ELC) to deepen, broaden and culturally diversify engagement with community members and organizations. This person will identify prioritize, and produce news and information in The Alley Newspaper and Alley social media. Responsibilities include the layout and publication of the newspaper each month in coordination with the ELC, regular Alley writers, guest contributors, and advertisers. Knowledge and experience with Adobe InDesign or compatible software is a must. Email the Board Chair, Cathy Strobel-Ayres, cstrobel11@gmail.com to receive more information about this position. 

Editorial Leadership Committee

Do you like newspapers? Better yet, do you read The Alley Newspaper and want to it to improve, grow or change? VOLUNTEER for the Editorial Leadership Team of Alley Communications and work with the Alley’s Coordinator to lift the many voices of the Phillips Community and how to get them represented within the pages of The Alley Newspaper! Email Editor@alleynews.org or call Harvey at 612-990-4022 for more info and next steps.

Board Member Position(s)

Join the volunteer Board of this dynamic organization and this important community media source to stay strong, vibrant and lifting the many voices of the Phillips Community. Current responsibilities include the ability to attend monthly Board meetings. Email the Board Chair, Cathy Strobel-Ayres,
cstrobel11@gmail.com to receive more information about this position. 

Part-time Bookkeeping/Accounting

Alley Communications is seeking to contract for part-time bookkeeping/accounting services. This person will work with the Alley Board of Directors to manage the Alley’s accounting and bookkeeping needs to ensure we meet our financial and tax reporting requirements and are tracking income and expenses. Email the Board Chair, Cathy Strobel-Ayres, cstrobel11@gmail.com to receive more information about this position.

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The Epic Report – December 2019/January 2020

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Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association News – December 2019/January 2020

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Ventura Village Neighborhood News December 2019/January 2020

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Movie Corner December 2019/January 2020

By Howard McQuitter
oldschoolmovies.wordpress.com
howardmcquitter68@gmail.com

“Motherless Brooklyn” (2019) 
Warner Bros. Rated R
4/5 Stars

 “Motherless Brooklyn” is a novel by Jonathan Lethem, the adaptation a movie by Edward Norton, though the setting is originally in the 1990s, Norton skillfully rolls back to the 1950s. Mind you, Norton worked on the script, of course, with changes, for 20 years. I’m glad he decides to capture New York City—Brooklyn in particular—at a time when the mob and the mayor are often inseparable. All in all, “Motherless Brooklyn” is a detective movie, a good one, in which Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) is like a precursor to Peter Falk’s “Columbo.” Lionel’s boss, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) and Lionel were raised together as boys in a Catholic orphanage. Frank started his own detective business. Both men search for corruption such as insurance scams and other illegal doings.

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20/20 Vision

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Raise Your Voice – Glow lights against hypocrisy

By PETER MOLENAAR

In the small town Christmas season of my boyish years, atop the towering silos of the malting plant, the lights were strewn to form a teepee. At home, my Christian mother decorated a real tree. The living room reverberated all the inspired carols. However, it was the Nutcracker Suite which moved me to lead the siblings in a circle of running leaps.

More recently, a thousand lights swayed to the music of the New Power Generation. Actually, 10,000 had gathered to uplift Ilhan Omar and her guest, Bernie Sanders. Visions of socialism danced in our heads.

Who are the jihadis of love, compassion, and forgiveness? Millions of Muslim people and Ilhan are. They do not harken the ancient crusades… the wholesale slaughter of a people who truly revered Jesus as a prophet. Ilhan Omar has written: “We must apply our universal values to all nations… only then will we achieve peace.”

Why did it take 100 years for the United States Congress to condemn the Armenian genocide? For that matter, why do 1,000 points of darkness remain? Ilhan wonders the same.

Yet, the little-boy-man passed through, in part to augment the death threats leveled against our elected one. Will he even have the decency to repay our city for having protected his presence?

Meanwhile, Trump’s corporate gangsters have sponsored a military coup in Bolivia. The indigenous majority will resist this intent to steal the lithium deposits.

Who or what then constitutes the most vile blemish on the face of the Earth? Actually, it is “America’s Nuclear Tomb”. From the sky it appears as a monstrous canker sore, festering with all our Cold War waste. It is eroding now, in the wake of the climate crisis and rising sea levels.

When I was a child, my country nuked the Marshall Islands 67 times. For many years after, the island women described their deformed birthings as marlins, devils, jellyfish children, and grape babies.

Good people, we are fortunate to have Ilhan Omar as our Representative.

Brave Light, it is written.

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