NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Friday April 3rd 2020

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Alberder Gillespie Leads Mpls. Census

By City Neighborhood and Community Relations

Alberder Gillespie, Mpls. 2020 Census Project Coordinator is leading Mpls.’ efforts to ensure that all  residents are accurately counted. An accurate population count is vital in determining political representation for Minnesota and federal funding.

Alberder Gillespie

Projected 2020 Census Under-COUNT in Alley Radius!

Artwork by Ricardo Levins Morales. Curated by Creative City Making Artists Roxanne Anderson and Anna Meyer for the WeCount Minneapolis Census 2020. Creative CityMaking is a program of The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy at the City of Minneapolis. Funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Kresge Foundation. For more information on WeCount Minneapolis Census 2020, please visit http://bit.ly//ccmcensus2020.
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Publisher’s Jacket Preview “The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable” By AMITAV GHOSH; The University of Chicago Press, 2016

“Ghosh’s book serves as a great writer’s summons to confront the most urgent task of our time.”

“Are we deranged? The acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations will think so. How else to explain our imaginative failure in the face of global warming?  In his first major book of non-fiction since “In an Antique Land”, Ghosh examines our inability–-at the level of literature, history and politics—to grasp the scale and violence of climate change.

“The extreme nature of today’s climate events, Ghosh asserts, makes them peculiarly resisitant to contemporary modes of thinking and imagining. This is particularly true of serious literary fiction: hundred-year storms and freakish tornadoes simply feel too improbable for the novel; they are automatically consigned to other genres. In the writing of history, too, the climate crisis has sometimes led to gross simplifications; Ghosh shows that history of the carbon economy is a tangled global story with many contradictory and counterintuitive elements.

“Ghosh ends by suggesting that politics, much like literature, has become a matter of personal moral reckoning rather than an arena of collective action. But to limit fiction and politics to individual moral adventure comes at a great cost. The climate crisis asks us to imagine other forms of human existence—a task to which fiction, Ghosh argues, is the best suited of all cultural forms. His book serves as a great writer’s summons to confront the most urgent task of our time.”

The Alley Newspaper will respond to this summons by including climate change as a topic in each issue. In this issue, notice the quotations at the top of every page by Amitav Ghosh.

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Dorothy Benson: Daughter’s Tribute “I guess because they were hungry.”

By MICHELLE BENSON

Dorothy Benson, my mother, was a resident of the Phillips Neighborhood since the early 1950’s. She and my father fought very hard against “Model Cities”** in the sixties which were trying to isolate and divide Phillips Neighborhood by building freeways like what happened to Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul. They were both very immersed in the DFL (Democratic Farmer Labor party), politics, PNIA (Phillips Neighborhood Improvement Association), and Neighborhood activism.

Dorothy Benson

Philips Neighborhood is where she raised us; a family of six children. While the youngest was in diapers, the oldest was in college. My father worked a day job while my mom had a day care business along with the full time job of raising us, too. However, we were not the only children mom inspired along the way. My sister reminded me of the Christmases when mom took neighborhood kids in, five or six at a time, and they made homemade Christmas cookies from scratch. They would all take their treats home and mom would tell them to “send the next group of kids!”

My mother was very compassionate about the kids. She would always try to find time to read to them out on the porch, or ask them if they were hungry because she knew how important it was and what some of their situations were at home.

Just last summer, she told me a story about a man with a thick Eastern European accent. This man met another man at Peavey Park and brought him over to our house. Somehow he must have known ‘that lady’ was good. They were hungry, so mom fed them. The next week the same man brought another man to our home. I asked mom, later, why she opened her door to them. She just shrugged and said, “I guess because they were hungry.”  All the men had numbers on their arms*** and the man that met them at Peavey Park (between Chicago and Park Avenues along East Franklin Avenue) was trying to find them and the other men housing, and along the way, a bite to eat with that good woman in the house on the corner.

 My mother was a self-made woman who excelled in everything she did including door to door World Book sales, remodeling buildings, being a kind and forgiving landlady, starting and running a tax preparation business (until retiring at age 75); all while being a tough, loving, encouraging and understanding Mother and Grandmother.

My mother passed on October 18, 2019

Editor’s Notes:

**Model Cities was a Federal, inner-city program of Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and War on Poverty. In 1966, new legislation led to the more than 150 five-year-long, Model Cities experiments to develop new antipoverty programs and alternative forms of municipal government. Model cities represented a new approach that emphasized social program as well as physical renewal, and sought to coordinate the actions of numerous government agencies in a multifaceted attack on the complex roots of urban poverty.  However, the nation moved to the right after the urban riots of the late 1960s. This led to a shift in goals to bricks-and-mortar housing and building projects. The program ended in 1974.

*** Numbers on Arms: Identification of inmates in German concentration camps was performed with identification numbers marked on clothing and tattooed on the skin. Mention of this may well portray how significant, poignant, and yet common place, it was to see this after WWII and particularly for someone with German heritage like Dorothy Benson.

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Phillips West Neighborhood Upcoming Events

Check out the Phillips West Website:www.phillipswest.info

Phillips West Monthly
Community Meeting

March 6th & April 3rd
(First Thursday) 6-7pm

Join your neighbors and other Community Partners for updates from Local City Government & Minneapolis Police!  Meeting will take place at the Center for Changing Lives Building in the Centrum Room (2400 Park Avenue). Free parking is available in the rear of building off of Oakland Avenue. Free Jakeeno’s Pizza Dinner will be provided!  If you would like more information or would like to get involved in the neighborhood please contact Crystal at 612-879-5383 or email her at pwno2005@yahoo.com  

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What’s Up at Your Community Libraries

Franklin Library
The Franklin Library renovation is 98% complete! Look for a reopening celebration in the early spring! 

Seeking nature donations for a Franklin Library Teen Program
A teen-led science and technology program at Franklin Library is looking for donated nature items. We are most interested in found animal skulls and interesting rocks you may have in your home. Please no feathers or small shells. These items will be part of a Nature Trading Program at Franklin Library, which will reopen spring 2020. Please drop off any donations to Hosmer Library: 347 E 36th St, Minneapolis, MN 55408 through March 2020.

Coffee & Conversations (for adults)
Tuesday, March 3, 10am-12pm
Minneapolis American Indian Center, 1530 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Join Franklin staff for free coffee and doughnuts, plus special guest performer local hip-hop artist Tufawon

East Lake Library
2727 E. Lake Street
W, F, Sa: 9am-5pm
M, T, Th: 9am-8pm Su: 12-5pm

Youth and Families

Homework Help
M, T, Th: 4-7pm
Free in-person tutoring for K-12 students. No advance sign-up needed. Tutors available September 16 to May 21, except on holidays and school breaks.

Family Storytime
Friday March 13, 2020
Friday, March 20, 2020
Friday, March 27, 2020
Friday, April 3, 2020

10:15-10:45am
For children of all ages and their caregivers. Talk, sing, read, write, and play together in a format appropriate for young children. Share books, stories, rhymes, music, and movement.

Baby Storytime
Friday, March 13, 2020
Friday, March 20, 2020
Friday, March 27, 2020
Friday, April 3, 2020
11:15-11:45am

For children from birth to 24 months and their caregivers. Talk, sing, read, write and play together in a format especially designed for babies. Share books, stories, rhymes, music and movement.

For Adults

Mobile Law Library
Monday, March 2, 2020
Monday, March 16, 2020

2-5pm
Connect with librarians from Hennepin County Law Library about legal resources and support.

City of Minneapolis Small Business Support
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
3-5pm

City of Minneapolis Small Business Team will be available to support individuals hoping to start or who are currently running a small business in Minneapolis. No appointment necessary. Collaborator: City of Minneapolis Small Business Team.

Introduction to Field Recording and Interviewing Techniques
Monday, March 16, 2020
6:00-7:450pm

Learn about the radio interview process with hands-on practice with KFAI Radio’s Melissa Olson and Ryan Dawes. Explore how to use recording gear and learn about creative interview techniques such as scheduling, preparation, planning questions and follow-up questioning. Ethical issues that come up during interviews will also be explored. Collaborator: More Than a Single Story. Funded by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Registration Required www.hclib.org

Hosmer Library
347 E. 36th Street
M, T, W: 9am-8pm
Th, F, S: 9am-5pm Su: 12-5pm

Youth and Families

Teen Tech Workshops
Tuesdays, 4:30-6pm
Get creative and make music, crafts, animation and other projects using both high- and low-tech tools, everything from iPads and 3D printers to perler beads and sewing machines. Led by the library’s Teen Tech Squad. Sponsor: Friends of the Hennepin County Library. Suitable for preteens and teens.

Homework Help
M, T: 3:30-7:30PM Sa: 1-4pm
Free in-person tutoring for K-12 students. No advance sign-up needed. Tutors available September 16 to May 21, except on holidays and school breaks.

Felt Cartoon Characters
Monday, March 30, 2020
1:30-3:30pm

K-Grade 5. Design and sew your own stuffed monster, creature or make-believe animal. Draw an image with dye transfer crayons on paper, and then make your drawing three-dimensional by ironing it onto fabric, and sewing, stuffing and embellishing with a variety of colorful fibers. Materials provided. Collaborator: Textile Center. Funded by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Registration required.

Adults

Conversation Circles
Saturdays, 10:30am-12:30pm
Non-native English speakers: practice your English and make new friends in an informal, volunteer-led setting, and learn about the library, too.

Tech Tuesdays Computer Help
Tuesdays 12-2pm
Knowledgeable library staff and volunteers will be available to answer your tech questions about basic computer skills, how to download eBooks, saving files, using Microsoft Office productivity software, Internet and job searching, and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Oral Histories: Interviewing Your Relatives
Wednesday, March 18, 2020 6-7:00pm
Gathering genealogy facts from family members is different than gathering their oral histories. Learn how to interview your family to yield wonderful and priceless results through practice with professional genealogist Kim Ashford. Funded by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Seed Sorting Party
Sunday, March 22, 2020
3:30-4:30pm

Help sort and label donated seeds for the Hosmer Community Seed Library! A seed library is a collection of community-donated seeds that can be borrowed from the library and planted at home. Volunteer while learning more about seed saving and gardening. Collaborator: Plant Grow Share

Diversity of Gentrification
Saturday, March 28
2:00-4:00pm

Join Dr. Edward G. Goetz, Dr. Brittany Lewis, Anthony Damiano, and Molly Calhoun from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) for a presentation and conversation on their recent study of gentrification in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The study included a focus on the South Minneapolis neighborhoods of Bryant, Central, Corcoran, East Phillips, Phillips West, and Powderhorn Park. Through data and dozens of interviews, they found examples of gentrification in both cities. The presentation will summarize their findings, and describe how gentrification varies from neighborhood to neighborhood.

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Mpls. Pest (pestilence—a contagious or infectious, epidemic disease) House isolated Small Pox infected people; except H. M. Moores

Early in the morning on April 11, 1869, a man, identified in the paper only as “a Swede,” thought that he saw a ghost. He was walking by the Union School when he came across a pale man dressed only in a shirt. The man, who was in an “insensible condition,” was obviously not a ghost but was suffering from smallpox. In his delirium he had jumped out of the second story window at the city’s Pest House and had been wandering the streets before he was found.

The man was H. M. Moores, a 32-year-old traveling salesman who was thought to be from Wisconsin. Several weeks earlier he had traveled to Austin, Minnesota, where he was selling “dampers,” a mechanism that regulated the heat produced by wood and coal burning stoves. He returned to Minneapolis and was staying at the Milwaukee House Hotel when he became sick. He was transferred to the city’s Pest House in an effort to keep him from infecting others. There was only one nurse on staff and she had been caring for Mr. Moores around the clock for more than a week when she dozed off and Mr. Moores made his escape. 

His chances of recovery were originally thought to be good but that turned out not to be the case. He died late in the afternoon on the day that he was found by the Swede. Whether the fact that he had run off played any part in his death is not something that we can know for sure, but the Tribune labeled his death a case of “criminal neglect” on the part of the Pest House staff and called for the City Council to undertake an investigation. If they did, it was not mentioned in the paper. 

Pest houses, later referred to as quarantine hospitals, had been in existence in Europe since the 17th century. The houses functioned somewhat like hospitals but their primary purpose was to limit the spread of disease by isolating people who were suffering from communicable diseases (“pestilence”) from the general population. 

In January 1869, a few months before Mr. Moores died, Mayor Hugh Harrison, had asked the City Council to take steps to establish a pest house in the city which they did. It was located just outside of the city limits in North Minneapolis (around what is now 26th Street North on land now part of Farview Park). As the city’s population grew, it became necessary to relocate the pest house and in 1886 a new one was built in what later became St. Louis Park.

Patients were not the only ones placed under quarantine. An ordinance passed in January 1870 required that caregivers of quarantined patients also be quarantined. Furthermore, patients could only be moved to the Pest House after dark when few people were out and about and unlikely to come into contact with them.

In June 1869, St. Paul’s city health officer reported that there had been 125 reported cases of smallpox that year. The Minneapolis Tribune, always in the business of promoting Minneapolis at St. Paul’s expense, announced that quick action on the part of Minneapolis’ health officer and City Council house had “completely eradicated the disease, so that not a single case remains in the city.” Although smallpox did not seem to infect as many Minneapolis residents, that claim was premature and ultimately wrong. 

In February 1870, two children, Alice and Amos Rafter, aged two and 17 years old respectively, died from smallpox within a matter of weeks, and there were sporadic outbreaks for the next 50 years. Three people who died from smallpox in 1883, two of them from the same family, are buried in the Cemetery. The worst outbreak occurred in 1904 when six members of the Lockwood family died within between March 31 and May 10th, a period of fewer than six weeks.*

TIM MCCALL In February 1870, two children, Alice and Amos Rafter, aged two and 17 years old respectively, died from smallpox within a matter of weeks, and there were sporadic outbreaks for the next 50 years. There is not a marker for H. Mr. Moores, the cemetery’s first recorded case of death due to smallpox, because he is buried in an unmarked grave in the Cemetery’s Potters Field.

There was no known treatment for smallpox—there was only prevention. Smallpox was an airborne disease, spread through coughing, sneezing and spitting. Three out of ten people who contracted the disease died from it. 

Edward Jenner had created a vaccine as early as 1796 but it took almost two hundred years and an estimated hundreds of millions of deaths before smallpox became the first and to-date only human disease to be eradicated. This amazing achievement came about because of a coordinated world-wide program of vaccination. In 1980, the World Health Organization declared the world free from smallpox.

TIM MCCALL

Mr. Moores, the cemetery’s first recorded case of death due to smallpox, is buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery’s Potters Field.

*Their family deserves their own story so watch for it in a future issue.

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Alley’s Editorial Leadership & “Core” Members

The Alley’s Editorial Leadership Committee (ELC) has been a long time coming, but it’s finally here!  Provision for the Committee was written into the Alley’s By-Laws, but somehow never quite came together, formally, until recently. It’s an exciting time for the Alley as we meet some of our long-term organizational goals.

The Committee’s role is to work with the Coordinator and the Board of Directors to help the Alley in its role to facilitate communication with the neighbors of Phillips. The ELC strives to ensure that the Alley stays true to its editorial policy of enhancing communication in the community. The Committee takes on a wide range of tasks for the newspaper, leaving the Coordinator and the Board to focus on their core duties.

Want to participate? The Committee is open to new members. Whether you wish to devote a lot of time to the Committee or you are only able to make occasional contributions, your participation is welcome.

We are excited and proud to introduce our core group of ELC volunteers.

Lindsey Fenner
has been involved with the Alley in various capacities since 2016. She is a proud East Phillips resident, public library worker, trade unionist, labor communicator, collaborative writer, and community gardener. Her work with the Alley is always guided (she hopes) by the spirits of Minnesota writers and journalists Eva Valesh, Meridel Le Sueur, and Marvel Jackson Cooke. 

Mary Ellen Kaluza
“I first moved to Phillips in 1975, buying a house only a block away in 1979. Since its inception, The Alley has been in my home – either a single copy on the kitchen table or layed out on the living room floor for cut-n-pasting (pre-computers) during my sister, Pat’s, time as editor.

“I joined the ELC because The Alley is a critical resource as the only paper with in-depth information about issues in our community. And, it really is a treasure not just for Phillips, but for the whole city, uncovering and preserving our history.”

Minkara Tezet
Griot of Psychology and PsychiatryResident Poet; Cultural Wellness Center

My art form is that of the griot. The Cultural Wellness Center is a cultural community institution that has absorbed my pain, my formal professional training and clinical experience, and my personal journey of healing. These aspects of my experience have then been shaped and alchemized into my work, which is to tell the various layers of that story. This is the artwork of the griot. In cultural communities, it is impossible to separate the art from the work, from personal development, or from life. 

As an emerging griot, my work has focused on community healing, community development, and community health practices. At the Cultural Wellness Center, I have come to learn what it means to produce research anchored in an African System of Thought. Research and the studying of ourselves within the context of the community is a sacred process. My work is to study my heart, what it means to be Black, what it means to be African, and what it means to become conscious of ourselves as spiritual beings. I have learned to use the creativity to study peace and the impact peace can have on my ability to produce knowledge and to be in community. 

Carz Nelson
Carz works and owns a home in Phillips. She has a passion for history and believes that a community gains power by understanding its past. She joined the ELC to assist the community’s dialogue about its history, its place in the present and the potential for the future.

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Council Member Abdi Warsame Resigns from City Council to Lead Mpls. Housing Authority – Ward 6 City Council Vacancy

By LINDSEY FENNER

Phillips West and Ventura Village residents will soon need to elect a new City Council representative. Ward 6 Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame is leaving the City Council to lead the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), pending City Council approval. 

Warsame will be heading MPHA in a time of controversy and crisis. As Minneapolis is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, the recent deaths of five residents in a fire at a MPHA high-rise building in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and the planned implementation of several Trump Administration-backed housing programs, considered by many housing advocates as a step towards dismantling and privatizing public housing, have put more attention on MPHA.

Warsame, elected in 2013, was the first Somali-American elected to the Minneapolis City Council. Prior to serving on the City Council, Warsame lead efforts to redistrict Minneapolis’ political Ward and Precinct boundaries, and was the Executive Director of the Riverside Plaza Tenants Association. Besides Phillips West and Ventura Village, Ward 6 also includes parts of the Stevens Square, Elliot Park, Cedar Riverside, and Seward Neighborhoods. The Minneapolis City Council will be calling for a special election to fill the vacancy.

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Transit – Politicians and Light Rail Safety

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

The Minnesota State Legislature is finally trying to do something about the rising tide of crime and harmful behavior on public transit, particularly on the Light Rail system. While many members of the community are saying, “It’s about time!” it looks like what should be a universal issue is rapidly becoming partisan.

Republicans from rural Minnesota and the outer Twin Cities suburbs have one vision of how to make urban transit safer, while Democratic politicians including the mayors of Minneapolis and Saint Paul have different ideas on how to achieve the same thing. Unfortunately, given Minnesota’s history of gridlock at the Capitol, this may well mean nothing will get done, as it happens: another robbery, another stabbing, smoking on trains, loud and boisterous disturbances, etc.

I have a friend who was robbed in broad daylight as he got off a Green Line train in Saint Paul a few months ago, so this is personal to me. He called the police, and they said they would look at the video surveillance tapes to try to find the culprit. Unfortunately, as far as we know, they didn’t find him, so he’s going to get away with preying on a vulnerable old man. This kind of thing is making people not want to ride the trains anymore, which is a bad thing as this state has spent millions of dollars on Light Rail and plans to expand the system to places like Eden Prairie, which won’t put up with this stuff.

While there has also been a seeming increase in violence on buses, mostly directed at the drivers over fare and rule disputes, the situation on Light Rail is much worse, and directed at innocent passengers. The main problem with Light Rail is the lack of supervision. At least on a bus the driver is present and can see and hear what is going on, intervening and reporting things as need be. However, on a Light Rail train, the operator sits in a sealed cabin in the first car and has almost no interaction with the riders. The obvious answer is more supervision. On that, the parties seem to agree. Where they disagree is on how to handle the homeless and people who cheat the fare. Please, oh mighty members of the Legislature, please don’t let your philosophical differences derail needed changes!

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Peace House Community–A Place to Belong “Relatives are in Danger!”…Native Community responds with speed and determination

By MARTI MALTBY

After over 20 years of working with social services agencies that serve the homeless, I have seen many different responses to ending homelessness. Some have been more successful than others, while some have benefitted from having good salespeople promoting them as the next big thing. Recently, I have been encouraged by the work of the Native American community, especially with efforts around Franklin and Bloomington. In the last couple of months they have opened two overnight drop-in centers, coordinated overnight street outreach efforts, made sure the issue of homelessness doesn’t slip to the back pages, and generally made a positive difference to the homeless and the greater community.

Most of the responses to homelessness that I have seen haven’t started at this level. When homelessness first became a national problem in the 1980s, this was how people addressed it. Churches, community associations, and similar groups saw the problem growing and took action. As homelessness escalated and overwhelmed what neighborhoods could do, government programs began addressing the crisis. (This is an oversimplification, since homelessness and the federal department of Housing and Urban Development predate the current housing crisis, but it gives you the general outline of the situation.)

Over time, homelessness became an institution, with children who grew up in homeless families becoming homeless as adults, only to see the cycle repeat with their children. Responses to homelessness followed a similar path with scientific studies documenting which programs were most effective, only to have later studies show that new approaches were better, with still more studies showing that the earlier studies were flawed in their assumptions. All of this resulted in shifting priorities and funding as society tried to grapple with the ending homelessness. Today, phrases like “cost effective”, “best practice”, “evidence based” and others dominate the conversation.

And into this arena stepped all parts of the Native American community. Last year the encampment sprung up, and no matter what you thought of it, you had to admit that it made homelessness, especially Native American homelessness, impossible to ignore. Other parts of the community mobilized, pushing for funding and solutions, and when those didn’t materialize fast enough, the community put together the responses I mentioned above.

What has impressed me most about this effort is how personally those trying to solve the problem take the problem. At community meetings, the problem isn’t “homelessness”; rather it is that “our relatives” are in danger and dying for lack of resources. The solution isn’t choosing the best model; it is taking concrete steps to turn available space into shelter as quickly as possible. Stopgap measures are adopted until permanent measures can get up to speed. Activists are not afraid of publicly challenging each other or the organizations at the meetings to do more, but it isn’t done in an effort to shame or self-promote. It is done because of the urgency of seeing family members left in a tragic situation. The speed and determination that the Native community has brought to this problem could be a better model than any other model I’ve ever seen.

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