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Friday August 18th 2017

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¡Agua es Vida! Water is Life!

BY BELEM GOMEZ and TALIA HANSEL

The Young Leaders Program of St. Paul’s Church and the Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts will be exploring themes of watershed education, conservation, and activism this summer. As emerging leaders in our communities, we want to bring an awareness of the importance of water in our lives and change the way we think about water as a resource.

By creating boulevard gardens along 15th avenue and 28th Street, we Young Leaders hope to filter water from our alleys, gutters, and rooftops through our boulevard gardens. Every drop of rain that runs into the street goes directly to the Mississippi River, without being treated. Native grasses and other plants will help to cleanse the runoff which is beneficial to our lakes and rivers. As we learn new skills in leadership, art installation, and gardening, we will be able to problem solve and think critically about our communities in relation to our water lifestyles.

We Young Leaders are working to make our communities more beautiful, from our neighborhood streets into the Mississippi River! Learn more about watershed protection at our block party on July 15 (10 am to 2 pm) on the 2700 block of 15th Avenue, and at Lake Streets Open Streets on July 23. For more information, call 612-724-3862 or e-mail semillacenter@gmail.com.

Belem Gomez and Talia Hansel are Community Ambassadors for Young Leaders

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“I, Daniel Blake”

By Howard McQuitter II

“I, Daniel Blake”

*****

“I, Daniel Blake” winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, is another example of director Ken Loach’s (“Cathy Come Home” [2006]), “Kes “[1969], “Ladybird, Ladybird” [1994) body of work as a master at giving the working-class their due on screen.

Daniel Blake (Dave Johns), 59, a widower and carpenter, from Newcastle, England (in northern England) has recently had a heart attack and told by his doctor he should take some time off. Things begin to get much worse when he makes his way to the harsh bureaucratic system. He goes to Jobcentre Plus and finds the people there cannot or will not help in his plight. While waiting there, he meets Katie (Hayley Squires), with two small children, who is getting the shaft too. Security personnel force Katie (and the two children) and Daniel too, out of the office when he stands up for her.

Daniel does an act of mercy by taking Katie and her two children to his place. Katie and the younglings are homeless just arrived from London. Katie’s landlord kicked her out when she complained of a leaky roof. All four form a strong bond in the desperate circumstances they face. They all have something in common being poor and up against a callous bureaucracy.

Daniel is eager to get back to work after getting nowhere at Jobcentre where he is told to reapply at Job Seeker’s Allowance. There he meets another snag, a Catch-22 , he is told he has to find work when his doctor hasn’t given the Okay to go back to work. Also, his meager income is almost out. Even at the Job Seeker’s office, Daniel doesn’t know how to use a commuter; he’s not tech savvy.

But the key to this film is at the beginning of “I, Daniel Blake”. Daniel calls the medical clinic and immediately tells the woman on the other end he’s had a heart attack, but she rattles off other questions. Frustrated, he asks, “Are you medically qualified?” Later in the film, Daniel remarks,” When you lose your self-respect, you’re done for.”

Mr. Loach’s focus on the failure of the medical world to help poor people in many instances is indeed a scandal. For many who have seen “I, Daniel Blake”, and for others who will see it in the future, it may be a surprise that the UK has flaws in its medical and employment areas similar to the US.

Dave Johns (Daniel Blake), Hayley Squires (Katie), Briana Shann (Daisy), Kema Sikazwe (China), Dylan McKiernan (Dylan), Sharon Percy (Sheila). Written by Paul Laverty. Director: Ken Loach. Running time: 100 minutes.

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Letter to the Editor: Tell History in full context; A Single Story is dishonest, disrespectful, and sometimes a monstrous mistake

BY LAURA WATERMAN WITTSTOCK

It is the artist’s responsibility to understand the society in which he/she lives and to create art that moves society forward. Apparently this artist thought building a scaffold to reveal the horror of mass hangings would shock and wake people up about the scaffolds of the future unless society comes to its senses. What the artist achieved was a grotesque placeholder of a time in history when white settlers brought along fried chicken and other snacks to watch 38 human beings being hanged en masse. We have had many such events in England, for example. The tower and square where beheadings took place are merely tourist attractions today. The blood has long dried.

But 1862 is a year that is unsettled yet today. Dakota land was invaded, impinged upon, and even treaty land got no payment. The Dakota were at the point of starvation.

Building a scaffold in a courtyard that holds other art rips open the wounds made to the Dakota people. A quiet burning is the only remedy to this monstrous mistake.

We have yet to learn the lessons of 1862. We have yet to become Minnesotans. No time better than now to begin.

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Letter to the Editor: Profile Police Stops that fear non-whites of any age

By Laura Waterman Wittstock

I don’t know how many studies I have read that non-whites are stopped far more than whites. In MN American Indians are arrested far more than their population should suggest when compared to other populations. A great majority of these arrests do not result in convictions.

We can’t have an intelligent conversation without understanding what the relationship is between nonwhites driving cars and the stopping rates. In a non-scientific way, I have also noticed a lot of stops of older cars, whatever color the driver happens to be so. So poverty is likely another factor.

The police represent the expectations of the presumed law-abiding public.

Ten years ago I was stopped in a sweep around Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis for presumably not stopping long enough at a stop sign for the officer who was in a car perpendicular to me on another street. As I stopped and looked left, I saw him. After stopping I started out and he came after me. I told him I stopped and I saw him but he said I did not stop. I had to be somewhere in a few minutes so I took the ticket, but as I argued with him he told me to put my hands on the dash. He said he was getting fearful. That was a signal. He was about 6’2” and young. I was 70 and small. I had no idea why he would say I made him fearful. So I just stopped talking.

He got away with a lie. I paid the ticket. It was the last one I got. None since then.

Why they were sweeping the Franklin area I have no idea. But many if not most of the stops would have been to people who could ill afford a $113 ticket. I have not seen a sweep there since. I think there were a lot of complaints. I think I complained too at the time.

But for that big strapping cop with a gun telling me he was getting fearful was a terrible signal to me. It ended the discussion because I had some idea of what his next move would be.

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Pondering the “Potato Bugs”

By Peter Molenaar

Neighborhood gardeners have begun again to taste the harvest of their labor. The season has imposed unusual difficulties, but certainly the best is yet to come.

As for my potatoes, two, fifteen-foot-long mounds are joined at one end via a semi-circle. In the semi-circle, the remnants of last year’s red fingerlings were planted. Big potatoes occupy the main rows and will supply calories for a year.

But what?

Potato bugs remain among us. These “enemies of the people” are quite happy to exploit our labor while contributing nothing in return. But the savvy gardener will plant reds, knowing the eggs will preferentially be deposited there. It is then squish, squish, squish with maximum efficiency. Trust me, the karma is good.

On the other hand, by way of comparison, Marxists have always condemned individual acts of terror. The recent assassination attempt, perpetrated by a lost brother, is a case in point. Whatever goodness was in the man’s heart has been lost in the commotion, along with media attention to recent hate crime murders.

Moreover, Lenin took pains to define what constitutes a “revolutionary situation.” The three aspects are 1.) The old ruling class has run out of solutions 2.) The people will no longer submit to the old order 3.) A viable socialist vanguard exists. Theoretically, such a situation is inevitable, but evidently, it won’t be tomorrow or the next day.

It follows that the slogan “only socialism defeats Trump” is more than a little dubious. Let’s not forget that real socialism involves the displacement of private capitalist ownership in favor of public ownership of industry. No doubt this displacement will involve the placement of flowers in the barrels of their guns.

Clearly, the path ahead is a long one involving many forms of struggle and compromises which fall short of the goal. For now, I’m headed back to the garden to squish more potato bugs.

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FAKE NEWS SENT TO THE EDITOR: Conjecture, opinion, and prejudice

The Alley Newspaper has a firm policy excluding the printing of Letters to the Editor that are not signed.

In May an ANONYMOUS packet of papers was sent to the Editor. The Alley Newspaper is choosing to acknowledge receipt of these papers albeit with a label of FAKE NEWS/propaganda/revisionist history.

We believe it is important to acknowledge this repudiation of truth so that we realize the task at hand and its complexities in the 21st Century. See Spirit of Phillips cartoons with his quotes from the 19th Century about Freedom, Truth, and History. He lays bare “half of history is loose conjecture and much of the rest is the writer’s opinion;” and “most men see facts not with their eyes but with their prejudices.”

The contents of the papers received bear witness to the words of Wendell Phillips in the mid 800’s.

We assume the sender is aware of the absurdity of the pages sent or they wouldn’t omit their name.

We hope the sender has the moral fiber, integrity, and honesty to identify themselves so that a dignified dialogue can happen with mutual benefit.

The papers are under two headlines: three and one third pages headlined Ancient Whites in North America: Why American Indian Activists Should Listen to the Ancestors;” and one page entitled Rapid City, S.D. 15 Indicted for illegally trafficking eagles, other birds from the St. Paul Pioneer Press Tuesday 4-25-2017.

The four-page article is copied from Barnes Review November/December 2012. A short description of Barnes Review is reprinted here from Wikipedia.

Barnes Review Read the rest of this entry »

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It Is Summer and Time To Be OUT in the Backyard!

By Bernice Arias, a member of the Backyard Initiative OIBY Community Health Action Team

The OUT in the Backyard (OIBY), a Community Health Action Team or CHAT of the Backyard Initiative, continues to work toward improving the lives of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) population living in the Backyard by connecting people to each other and to resources. We also work on reducing the gap between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ people. We help to grow healthy queer communities by identifying LGBTQ ally providers, appropriate resources, and improving community relationships. The activities of the OIBY CHAT closely align with the Backyard Initiative’s four health priorities: Social Connection, Social Cohesion, Health Education and Health Empowerment. (see shaded box.)

This past year we were able to sponsor several activities that included:

Community dinners where members of the community shared their “stories”. Story sharing over a meal helps build community and acceptance.

Three herbal classes centered around the seasons in an effort to learn how we can use local plants for healing and maintenance.

Free exercise classes (Yoga, Pilates, Zumba) six days a week and cultural dance classes (Bollywood) once a month. Each class is designed so that people at all levels of fitness and experience can benefit from them.

Free self-defense classes in an effort to provide skills of protection for people living in the Backyard.

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June 2017 Alley Newspaper

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Native Culture, Cuisine, & Good Will: Tours, France also savoring French Culture, Cuisine, History and Politics

AIM Interpretive Center Achieves Success in Tours France

By Norma Renville & Jack Swanson

After two years of planning and development work conducted by American Indian Movement Interpretive Center (AIMIC) board members, staff and consultants the AIMIC sold over 750 bags of White Earth’s Organically Certified Wild Rice at the Foire de Tours in Tours, France.  The Foire, which is similar to our State Fair, is an international fair held each year with feature themes that have included Portugal, Italy and Japan in the past. Minneapolis, Minnesota was the theme of the Foire this year because it marks the 25th anniversary of Tours, France and Minneapolis being Sister Cities.

AIMIC wanted to take advantage of the Foire theme being Minneapolis, Minnesota and also the fact that Tours is one of four cities in France that are designated a Cité de la Gastronomie (a city of gastronomy) by the French government to launch our wild rice venture. The people of Tours really appreciate and understand specialty food items, like wild rice, and how food can be used to develop friendships and bridge cultures.

AIMIC staff along with two board members, three volunteers and a consultant departed to France on May 1, 2017 and arrived in force at the Foire De Tours on May 3, 2017.  The hard work began to provide the visitors with an authentic American Indian Cultural Experience like no other in coordination with the Meet Minneapolis Staff, the Mayor of Tours and Denis Schwok the Chairman of the Board for the Foire de Tours.

The Meet Minneapolis Staff were able to defer to our request to send singers and a drum group to the Tour De Foire as the AIMIC planning committee members knew that the drum was the heart of the people and it would bring to life the center of our culture and spirituality through songs. Midnite Express was selected and they are recognized as a nationally acclaimed drum group in Indian Country.  Rodney Stanger, one of the Midnite Express singers, also spoke French and was able to communicate to the crowds the songs that were sung and the Native Pride Dancers who performed.  The plaza was packed at the three daily performances and all the visitors were mesmerized by the singing and dancing.  The Native Pride dancers consisted of two women dancers who are a jingle dress and a traditional dancer and two men dancers who are a traditional and hoop dancer.  Each performance was different as the hoop dancer varied his performance and the traditional dancer danced a warrior’s’ dance changing his performance and jumping into the crowds to the delight of the visitors.

Artist, Wolf Bellecourt, painted two tipis and AIMIC staff carried the tipis to and from airports, hotels finally arriving at the Foire De Tours.  The tipi poles had to be debarked and they were erected under the direction of Clyde Bellecourt, Executive Director for AIMIC with the assistance of AIMIC staff and volunteers.  The commitment and hard work dedicated to this effort was repaid in kind when the visitors of the Foire went in and out of the tipis taking pictures in amazement.  Unknown at the time, the AIMIC staff was breaking down stereotypes of American Indian people and building a cultural understanding as the people of France learned about the beauty of American Indian Culture and History.

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East Phillips SummerFest

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