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Life Goes On at Takoda Institute—American Indian OIC During Covid-19

Takoda means “All Are Welcome” in Lakota Language

By Takoda Institute Staff

Life goes on at the American Indian OIC—Takoda Institute building and over the Internet. The spring term saw regular Takoda Institute class offerings in the Patient Services Specialist and Computer Support Specialist programs held entirely online with the students and staff working mainly from home and using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other online conferencing and learning tools. This was after the instructors took crash courses and the students prepared their devices. As many schools, we have permission from the Higher Ed. Office and our accrediting agency to temporarily conduct classes online.

Classes started on April 13 and are expected to wrap up at end of June, leaving July 6 as the likely starting date for the Summer Qtr. In that quarter, if conditions permit and regulators allow, we hope to offer limited on-site training at a safe distance in our computer rooms while continuing to offer the online alternative. The actual nature of that Qtr. will depend upon both the determination of the AIOIC and of the Governor’s decisions at that time. Looking further ahead, the MN Dept. of Health recently announced they will soon have a plan in place for Higher Ed. as it may look in the Fall of 2020. Their determinations will also shape our method of course delivery in the fall.

Instructor Lloyd Wittstock reported on the gains and losses of the online experience. “We all—teachers and students—have learned from it. Of course, there are differences between face-to-face, all in one place and at one time classes and what we now have. Students like the “lab” portion of the courses on their own. Some send their homework to me right away, while others work later in the day or even into the evening and then send results to me. Some have returned to previous part-time employment with at-home working capabilities as they also complete their education.
On the down side, for one, the total curriculum is hard to fit into the new format. It takes longer to share with each other during the live part of each online session. Second, some courses convert better than others. Keyboarding, for example, works well online because the course needs a lot of individual practice time, so during our online time, we explore various keyboarding software and ways I can sample their progress. Microsoft Office Intro. Class is more oriented to demonstrations and live discussion, and so leaves less class time for their practice, which then goes more into traditional extra homework hours.”

Takoda Institute

Overall Services go on at AIOIC
While Mpls. has been ordered to stay at home for our community’s safety, the team at Takoda/AIOIC is still hard at work to make classes and programs function at the new level of normalcy.

While classes are currently being offered online, other programs are also offering online or over-the-phone assistance. Takoda’s SNAP Outreach Specialist and Enrollment Specialist, Erin Wolf, says: “Anyone who may qualify for grocery assistance can apply online at any time. Clients are encouraged to call or email me with any questions they may have about eligibility or assistance they may need with the application process.” In-person visits to our building at 1845 E. Franklin are by appointment only and will include a temperature check at the entry. Face masks are encouraged.

Contact Erin: 612 341-3358 ext. 113 or erinw@takoda.org to register for long-term Takoda Institute programs, short-term training, or for SNAP services.

Or for youth programs, ShirleenMorseau at ext. 117 or Shirleenm@takoda.org. to set you up with Mpls. Youth Works, for ages 16-24, paid internships, paid work readiness training, paid drivers’ ed classes and more. She also handles Mpls. Works, for those 18 and over, offering employment support for work clothes and transportation.

She is also meeting with youth by appointment only, on Tues, Wed or Thurs.
Barbara Hydeen, Takoda Works Director, helps with: Clients needing a job search or make other use of the Career Resource Room computers, it will be by appointment only on Tues. Wed. and Thurs during hours of 10:00-2:00.
Social distancing: only allow five people in the room to use computers at one time. All appointments to use the room need to go through Angela Fabel who will make a weekly calendar of appointments and coordinate the room activity. Angela at angelaf@takoda.org.

Short-term programs are planning to start up in June. Jose Santos coordinates short-term hands-on training for warehouse workers, forklift and Bobcat drivers and compact excavator operators. Groups are already scheduled for late May and June, and participants are already enrolled. Those wishing to participate in such training in July or on into the fall should contact Erin Wolf.

Jose says that groups will be taught in separate smaller cohorts in different rooms, and sanitary precautions will be taken at the school and at the equipment training sites. He adds, “There are some changes we have made because of the COVID 19. For the months of May, June, July, and August we are not going to provide the Forklift, Boom Lift, and Scissor Lift trainings. HERC-U-Lift has decided that they are not going to provide trainings or let folks on their campus until the fall. They just want to be safe all around for their staff and participants. If all goes well, we can get back to our regular trainings in September.

As for our Warehouse Training Program, folks will still be able to earn five certificates in the following areas: OSHA 10 Certificate, Flagging Certificate, Bobcat Certificate, Compact Excavator Certificate, and Tool Cat Utility Vehicle Machine Certificate.”

More Changes to Follow
The Adult Basic Education and GED room is scheduled to open up for in-person class times starting June 1, and the hours our building is open, currently 9 am to 1 pm, for any visitors, may be expanded in June. Enrollment sessions for a range of programs may also start at that time. As of late May, by order of the Mayor of Mpls, all persons inside public buildings will be required to wear a face mask. For more and up-to-date information, check our website at takoda.org, or the following contact people:
• Food stamp application assistance: erinw@takoda.orgor 612 341-3358 ext. 113 (SNAP)
• Takoda Prep Distance Learning: christyi@takoda.org (That’s the high school)
• Adult Basic Education/GED: ness@takoda.org
• Takoda Institute Career Training: erinw@takoda.org
• Career Counseling/Job Search Support: barbarah@takoda.org
We look forward to serving you at Takoda, whenever and however that becomes possible.

Takoda—”All Are Welcome!”
“Takoda, previously known as the American Indian OIC, was founded in 1979 in response to the damaging education and employment disparities faced by Indigenous people within the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Since its foundation, the organization has grown a workforce of over 25,000 through its culturally-relevant education, training, and workforce programs. Each year, over 900 people, affiliated with tribal nations in the U.S. and Canada, utilize the OIC’s services. Though the OIC was originally founded to strictly serve Native Americans, it has since opened its services and programs to people of every race, creed, gender, age, ability, or sexual orientation. Hence the name “Takoda”, which is a Lakota word meaning ‘all are welcome.’” … “the alley” newspaper, April, 2020 page 1.

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MIGIZI Communications Continues and Expands During Covid-19 2020 School Year

MIGIZI means “bald eagle” in the Ojibwe language.

By JOHN GWINN

Like all other schools and youth serving organizations, MIGIZI rather abruptly shut its doors to staff and participants on March 16 in accordance with the Governor’s shelter in place order. Since that time, MIGIZI staff have switched to an online service platform, whereas participants can log on to a virtual meeting with Migizi staff via Zoom. Not only are we offering homework help and academic support, staff have also come up with other cultural well being programming including Medicine Mondays and Cooking with Jane.

MIGIZI’s workforce readiness and job training programs went virtual as well. With students enrolled in either the Green Jobs or Social Media Marketing career pathway, staff delivered all necessary coursework materials and supplies directly to their homes, including iPads, Apple pencils and solar charger kits.

Migizi Instructors send solar kits to students at homes.

This summer, we plan on offering a combination of virtual and in-person programming to up to 50 American Indian youth and young adults. For more information on all of our virtual programming, go to www.migizi.org
MIGIZI was established over 40 years ago by Laura Waterman Wittstock and others as an organization with an American Indian journalism and communications focus, bringing Native voices and stories to the public through radio, newspapers, magazines and other media.

Over the years, the mission of this American Indian led organization has morphed into one with more of a youth development and education focus, working in collaboration with local school districts and other community and governmental organizations to improve outcomes for Native youth in the Twin Cities.

With our new location, 3017 27th Av. So., and under the leadership of new President Kelly Drummer, MIGIZI is undergoing a new strategic planning and re-branding process that will focus future programming and establish solid goals as MIGIZI enters a new phase in its successful history of advancing a message of success for the American Indian community.

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An Open Letter to Governor Walz and Local Decision-Makers

—from a front-line public health nurse, 5.18.2020

I am reaching out to connect about the resource distribution and conditions for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in MN, and the resonance to a dire time in state’s history.

Summer 1862: displaced Indigenous people, of the recently established State of MN, were waiting on over-due annuity from the U.S. gov’t. Exposed to a series of epidemic diseases, hungry, vacated from land and homes, they asked officials for more credit for food and supplies from locally-controlled stores in order to survive the months to come.

Dakiota Internment Camp at Fort Snelling, MN 1862. Photo: Between Fences (video still) ©Mona Smith, 2012

One local response was, “Let them eat grass, or their own dung.”
2020: displaced Indigenous people, of the still-occupied Dakota land, continue to wait on the overdue annuity from the US gov’t. 2020: Indigenous descendants are 17 times more likely than white-settler descendants to experience homelessness in MN. Access to land and housing has never been an accident, access to land and housing is a purposeful system of displacement that destroys community and erodes culture; leaving individuals at highest risk for hunger, disease, and poverty.

The story of resilience is a MN story, and more specifically, an Indigenous story. It is not a story simply of those who survive displacement, starvation, and genocide – but a story of how culture and resource inherently of this place is meant to thrive. The abundance in MN at this moment will be measured by how well we care for each resident of MN, and particularly those most at the margins. 2020 is a historical time to tell the story that starts with enough is enough – and ends with everyone having enough to thrive.

Art installed on the fence surrounding the Sabo Bridge Encampment and made by neighbors, residents, and local artists. Banner produced by Olivia Levins Holden. Photo: KEITH CHRISTENSEN

Displaced Indigenous people in Mpls. are currently among those without food and water, waiting on local officials to carry out the federal guidelines for pandemic response. Local officials stall plans for food and water distribution, hygiene stations, bathrooms – and now offer that closing encampments is the right response.

State health officials acknowledge that the COVID-19 virus is community spread in the unsheltered community, and yet departments do not fulfill the contact investigation or testing needed to respond to the scale of the community-spread crisis. Now, before monitoring the progress of the disease, state health officials endorse closing existing encampments without alternate places for individuals to go. The duration of the Shelter in Place order left state decision with no plans for unsheltered Minnesotans to access to food/water, healthcare, sanitation, and ability to isolate. Enough is enough.

Enforcement of further displacement under the direction of local leadership and public health is too familiar in MN. Inadequate and inhumane conditions created by the systems that tolerate starvation and disease are not enough.

MN needs partnerships in 2020 that can support us through this moment, so that when we are past the curve, there is never an instance when people are once again left “to eat grass.” We need, at this time – and as always, to center the well-being of each of us, to promote the well-being of all of MN.
Please bring the conversation of provisions and protections forward for unsheltered and displaced Minnesotans at this time, and fully endorse and implement the CDC guidelines for unsheltered homelessness. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/unsheltered-homelessness.html
• Provide isolation by use of hotels for people without housing at the crisis-scale.
• Suspend the executive order, Now!: camps can be cleared as a public health concern.
• Establish state, county, and city partnerships ensuring distribution of food, water, hygiene items, trash collection, & resource distribution to displaced individuals statewide.

Thank you, for your commitment to the resource and resilience of our community now & always.
Sincerely, a front-line Public Health Nurse

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Backyard Community Health Hub

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“Returning”

By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL

Author’s note: this story picks up years after the saga of “Searching,” serialized in 34 issues of “the alley” from March 2009 through June 2012. In that story, we met Luz and Angel, two 19 year olds running from their past and searching for their future, along with a score of beautiful and strange neighbors.

Angel woke up with a start. He didn’t know what time it was, and for a moment, he didn’t know where he was. He had fallen asleep on the couch at 8 am, after helping Luz get Angelito dressed, fed and out the door to Hi-5 at Andersen School, and getting Lupita off to day care. He kissed Luz goodbye, ate the last of Lupita’s oatmeal, took a sip of lukewarm coffee and flopped on the couch.

He had done a double shift at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, 3 pm to 11 pm, 11 pm to 7 am. He hated crossing the nurse’s picket line, and he was angry at the supervisors who had filled in during the strike. The regular nurses, some of whom he saw this morning on the corner of Stewart Park with their picket signs, treated Angel and other orderlies, indeed the whole staff, as colleagues. The supervisors acted as if Angel and the others knew nothing about patient care. They bossed them around, or ignored them as people.

Angel hated crossing the picket line, but they needed the money. Angelito’s asthma had not gotten any better, and without health care, they couldn’t afford his medicine. Luz was trying to finish her degree at Augsburg University, while working part-time. The uncertainty about DACA and an uptake in heroin overdoses added to their stress.

But that stress wasn’t what woke Angel up with a start. It was a dream. It was The Dream. The nightmare of someone chasing Luz and him and the children. He never saw their face, but he knew the evil in them. Who or what was it? The trauma and enemies of his and Luz’ past? The forces of fear unleashed from the highest office in the land? Or was it the ghost of Mateo Kelly Hidalgo, come back to haunt him and the place he called home? Would Angel ever know, and would he ever be free of this curse?
To be continued…

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Transit: When Will Normalcy Return?

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

Note: This column was written between the times Governor Walz announced the lifting of the Stay at Home order and the change taking effect.

Metro Transit has decided to continue running a Saturday schedule on weekdays and not running buses or light rail late at night, even after the Stay at Home order is lifted, and the restriction to “essential trips only” is still in place. Even though it will be legal to go out for any purpose, you are still not supposed to ride transit unless it is necessary. The only change is that wearing face masks will be required on Metro Transit as of 18 May. However, there will be no enforcement of this rule unless non-compliance becomes a major problem.

It remains to be seen whether the schedule change which normally takes place in June will happen this year. With Metro Transit running a limited schedule anyways, they might decide there is no point to it.
The transit situation everywhere is dire. It is expected that many “choice” riders (people who use transit by choice rather than being “transit dependent”) won’t be coming back to the bus or train for a long time after the coronavirus crisis is over. This is partly due to more people working from home and more people choosing to drive because it feels more “safe” and “sanitary”.

This has several implications which are not good:

  1. Transit will be seen more as a “welfare” system for the poor, children, people with disabilities, and senior citizens and less as a public service for everyone.
  2. What little non-user support there is for transit is in danger of drying up, especially if the meme that buses and trains are “unsanitary” is added to the meme that they are “dangerous.” Good-bye, state funding!
  3. Service will probably be more concentrated in inner cities and access to suburbs by transit will become even more dismal than it is now.
  4. The stigma against people who still use transit will increase.

We need to be proactive in fighting the “new normal” before it hits. Wearing masks and keeping transit vehicles and facilities clean is just the beginning. More highly visible cleaning and security staff (not full-fledged police; more like combination conductor/janitors) on transit vehicles and at facilities will probably also help to make skittish people more comfortable.

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Free Annual Checkups for those under 21

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Midtown Global Market

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Peace House Community–A Place to Belong: Canadian Humor (which I spell “Humour”)

By MARTI MALTBY

I decided that this month I wouldn’t mention Coronavirus (it didn’t take long for me to fail on that count, did it?) because it has dominated so much of the news that I wanted to give you a break from thinking about it. I hadn’t fully grasped how pervasive Covid has become until I tried to come up with a topic for this column that didn’t involve Coronavirus, and I failed. Every topic I thought of somehow came back to the pandemic.

As I said, I wanted to give people a break from Coronavirus because of the negative effects the virus is having on our society. I was about to list some of them, but you are probably as aware of them as I am, and if I did list them I would fail even more spectacularly in my effort to give you a break from thinking about Coronavirus.

The best I can do at this point is to offer an alternative to the bleak news, so below you will find links to videos of Canadian humor. I’m proudly Canadian, and I’m sorry that many of my incredibly talented fellow Canucks haven’t received more attention here. In doing this, I do not want to simply wish Coronavirus away or tell people to cheer up. Neither of those have any place in our current crisis. I simply hope to give people a few minutes to forget their stress and recharge, so that when they return to the stress they have a little more resilience for the challenges they have to face. I can’t solve anyone’s problems, but hopefully I can help them cope with them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJRDpTUIrJI – for years Rick Mercer had a comedy/political commentary show. In one segment he would visit people with interesting jobs in different parts of the country. This is my favorite episode.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKeUeO5RwPQ – comedian Lorne Elliot’s commentary about visit Winnipeg in winter. I’m sure Minnesotans will relate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHTnFwsIA-s&list=RDF6FwSb7zd6M&index=2 – Red Green did make it to the U.S., but if you haven’t seen him before, he’s worth checking out. This segment from his show demonstrates the power of lateral thinking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EjPiw0_iIQ – a series of Canadian comedians discuss the Canadian armed forces. This will give you some idea of why Canada isn’t threatening to dominate the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9Sx86Y-dIY – Derek Edwards demonstrates that Canadians may be polite but they can also be bitter.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5BnAMv50Uc – a darkly funny song from Lorne Elliot about playing with a killer whale. If you’re not in the mood for a morbid humor, skip this one.

Hopefully these help you find something to smile about.

Regina. Photo: MIKE HAZARD

Peace House Community “Poetical Picture Story”
A SMILE IS SPIRITUAL

People come here from
all over the world.
Peace House is an oasis,
a little United Nations.
Rose’s place is not all bread and roses.
Who wants to sleep with both eyes open?
Beware, she has bed bugs. They jump.
Tears are holy water. A smile is spiritual.
I keep coming back because it feels good.
We don’t need the experts.
We need us.
We don’t come for a sermon.
We come for food.
He’s a drunk, but we all have hearts.
My favorite race is the human race.
We pray for the human race.
a meditation of words overheard
at Peace House

by Mike Hazard / mikehazard.org
(from Peace House People, an Artist Initiative project funded by the Minnesota State Arts Board)

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The Pillars Senior Living

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