So people won’t forget…

Posted on 11 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Novel focuses on mining strike of 1916

Longfellow author Megan Marsnik said she agreed with the statement made by author Toni Morrison: “If there is a book you want to read and you can’t find it, you must write it.” (Photo by Jan Willms)

Megan Marsnik wrote her novel “Under Ground,” based on the mining strike of 1916 in northern Minnesota so that people would not forget.
Marsnik teaches creative writing and philosophy in Minnesota and has written poetry, short stories and two unpublished novels. But when she returned to her home town of Bilabik on the Iron Range about 10 years ago for a class reunion, she sensed a story waiting to be told.
“I ran into a bunch of old friends, and I noted a lot of anti-union sentiment,” Marsnik recalled. “Up until then, the area had always been strongly pro-union and voted Democratic. We’re the reason we got Wellstone elected.” She said the Iron Range voters were strong supporters of candidates who stood for labor and human rights in general.
“Things were starting to shift,” Marsnik said. “Union membership was declining, dropping to between 6 and 11 percent. And a strange anti-immigrant sentiment was starting to crop up. I could see it sprouting and could not understand it.”
Marsnik said she, like most of her friends, is two generations removed from the immigrants who first settled in the Iron Range. She described herself as being very curious about why this anti-immigrant feeling was emerging.
“My theory is that people forget,” she claimed. “Once you are no longer hungry and have a job or insurance or a little money set aside in case your car breaks down, you start to forget the feelings of poverty.”

Suspenseful and traumatic
She started doing research into the mining strike of 1916, which had been a huge turning point on the Iron Range. Marsnik took a sabbatical from her teaching and researched for two years. “There was a strike in 1907 that failed, but in 1916 it was more a point of no return,” she said. “Almost everyone living on the Range was hugely impacted.”
As she started researching her book, Marsnik said she went on the ideological premise that stories can turn people’s minds. “This was a story that had not been told, and I know why,” she reflected. “It is rooted in trauma. It may seem suspenseful with twists and turns, but to the people who lived it, it was traumatizing. They did not want to talk about it.”
She said that even though she grew up on the Range, she and a lot of others did not know the stories. “I knew them better than most, because I worked at the Range Research Center. But many people had never told their own families these stories of violence and intimidation,” Marsnik said. “They were things people wanted to forget, but they should not be forgotten.”

Love poem to the Iron Range
Marsnik tells the story of “Under Ground” from the perspective of Katka, a young immigrant from Slovenia who journeys to Bilabik to live with her uncle and his family after her parents have died from typhoid. Although Marsnik is the granddaughter of immigrants, she said she had never envisioned herself as Katka. “I needed someone coming into the Range for the first time. If I had written from the perspective of someone like me, who had already been there, it would have been from a very different viewpoint,” she noted.
“Katka is one of the very few characters who is not based on someone real. She embodies things I admire, but I have been surprised by how much people like her. I did not work on her character very much; she was the storyteller.”
As the story progresses, however, Katka does become an Iron Ranger. “There is something that happens at the end of the book, and it had to happen that way,” Marsnik said. “It really is a love poem to the Iron Range.”
“Under Ground” first appeared in serialized form in the Star Tribune in 2015. “I finished the novel in 2014, and went back to work teaching and put it aside. But I saw an ad that the paper was looking for manuscripts that had an Iron Range connection,” Marsnik said. “I did not even think; I just sent it off and got a response in 24 hours, asking me to send the rest of the book. I was incredibly surprised, but it was a good choice. Thousands of people were able to read this story.”
The Star Tribune had the rights to the book for four years, but Marsnik was able to negotiate to get them back in three years. “Bill Burleson said he would publish, so I never even shopped it around,” she said. “I love his work, and we are friends. I just respect him. I know how hard it is to make it in the publishing world.”
The book came out this past July, and Marsnik immediately started touring with 11 readings. She said she very deliberately wrote the book for the people of northern Minnesota. “I launched it in my home town and then went to Ely and Madeline Island, among other locations,” she observed.

Book belongs to readers
Marsnik said she was telling her students a week or two ago about how to show and not tell. “I was telling them how to express emotion without saying it. You can be the best writer in the world and still not convey the emotion you want,” she said
“Once you have written a book, it is no longer yours,” Marsnik explained. “It becomes the emotion of your reader. That book is theirs. The story is very different depending on who is reading it.”
According to Marsnik, the people of northern Minnesota were so happy to have a book with characters with names that sounded like theirs.
Most of the local characters in “Under Ground” are fictional, but the union organizers who appear in the book are real. ‘It was a decision I had to make,” Marsnik said. “I wanted to make it clear that during the strike of 1916, everyone was watching. I think it’s important that Eugene Debs gets more attention than in history books.” She also wrote about union organizer Elizabeth Gurly Flynn. “I did a lot of research, and determined where she was at this month and time.”
Marsnik said the important thing for her is to just write, whether a book is published or not.
“A lot of people say they are writers, but they never write. A writer is one who writes. It has nothing to do with publishing. It is about the discipline,” she noted.
Even her students would laugh at her if they saw her process of research, Marsnik said. “I use different colors for characters, and I like to have my yellow notebook and put post-it notes on the wall. I like to be able to organize it myself,” she commented.
Marsnik said there is never a time she is not writing, and her next book of historical fiction is about Nina Clifford. ‘She was a really important woman in St. Paul who owned a brothel,” Marsnik said. “She was a mover and a shaker who started the first African American orphanage in the Twin Cities.”

History rhymes
Reflecting back on “Under Ground,” Marsnik said that if you look at reports from the time, stories were whitewashed to make the conditions sound less brutal than they were.
“I felt if people remembered these stories that have been forgotten, we may not repeat the mistakes. Someone said that history does not repeat itself, it just rhymes,” she remarked.
“I was thinking how is it possible people my age have anti-immigrant feelings, when their own parents and grandparents were immigrants.”
She wrote her book so people would not forget.


“Flexible Press is housed in the Longfellow neighborhood – literally housed, since it’s a home-based business. Or even more precisely, a neighborhood restaurant-based business, since that’s where we meet and I do most of my work.” said William Burleson. “In 2020, technology means we can farm out all the printing and distribution, so all that we need to do is focus on the writing.”
“I and a group of fellow writers started Flexible Press to give voice to authors and at the same time support the community and support mission-driven causes. We now have four books out, two of which we have devoted all the profit to local non-profits.”
“Under Ground” is the publishing company’s first novel. Burleson said he is excited to be able to help Megan put this important historical fiction out there at a time he thinks we really need to learn from history – namely histories of the labor movement, of immigration, and of women.
Next will be a poetry anthology called “Rewilding” from Split Rock Review and edited by Crystal Gibbons, who is a rising star in the world of poets. All the profits from that will go to Friends of the Boundary Waters.
“We hope that this is just a start. We want to grow while not drifting off our mission. There are just so many great authors who need to be heard, and so much opportunity to help along the way,” Burleson said.
More at

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In Our Community Feb 2020

Posted on 11 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse: rethinking waste at Feb. 3 event

Curious to know where your recycling goes once the city hauls it away? Interested in learning more about zero-waste strategies? Not sure where to take your gear when it needs to be fixed? Join us at Matthews Park Recreation Center on Monday, Feb. 3 from 6-8 p.m. for an interactive, informational event to find out the answers to these questions and more. Featuring guest speakers:
• Kellie Kish, Recycling Coordinator with the City of Minneapolis
• Kate Marnach, Tare Market
• Nancy Ford, Repair Lair
This event is co-sponsored by the Longfellow Community Council’s Environment and River Gorge Committee and the Seward Neighborhood Group’s Environment Committee.

State sets Ford Area C dumpsite public meeting for Feb. 20

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has set the date for a public meeting on the Ford Area C riverfront dumpsite: Thursday, Feb. 20, 6-8 p.m. at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul.
As reported in the November 2019 Messenger, the dumpsite is buried in the bluff across from Minnehaha Falls Park trails and dog park, and visible from the Veterans Hospital in Minneapolis.
On the St. Paul side, the dumpsite bluff section is just north of and adjacent to Hidden Falls Park, and south of the Ford bridge and long-closed steam plant.
While appearing normal from a distance, concrete chunks, rebar and other construction debris are visible in this off-limits but frequently trespassed area.
Such “filler” and rubble – dumped over the bluff from the mid-’60s to the early ’80s – covers barrels of industrial waste and liquid solvents.
Ford dumped industrial waste and solvents over the bluff from roughly 1945 to 1966. According to the MPCA, the company disposed of paint sludge and solvents. But precisely what was dumped or in what quantities remains unknown.
With the cleanup of Ford’s larger blufftop parcels complete, and their redevelopment into 3,800 housing units plus office and retail spaces given the green light, attention is now turning to the river or dumpsite parcel. (While the blufftop sections were originally Areas A and B, Ford’s riverfront property was known as Area C.)
Capitol Region Watershed District and Friends of the Mississippi River have been advocating for additional monitoring of the ground and surface water. The state has agreed to install additional wells and is exploring the feasibility of various cleanup options. The public is invited to learn more at the Feb. 20 meeting.

Art inspired by music
Welcome writers! Bring your written draft material to a weekly writers meeting. “We are a group of experienced writers who provide constructive feedback and support to fellow community wordsmiths,” explain organizer Jim Collette. “Whatever you write — fiction, poetry, memoir, history, essays — join us to sharpen your skills and fine-tune your work.” The writers group meets at Merriam Park Library, Marshall and Fairview avenues in St. Paul, every Thursday, 10:30-noon. Call 651-442-3544 for more information.

Elder Voices meets
Elder Voices (Telling Our Stories) will meet the fourth Friday of February (2/28). Elder Voices meets at Turtle Bread Company, 4205-34th St. at the corner of 42nd Ave. and 34th Street from 10-11:30 a.m. There will be time for people to tell or update their elder stories, the challenges and joys of elderhood. There will be a review of last months stories. There will be a discussion about participation in the 2020 Census.

Restorative Justice Fundraiser Feb. 15
The 10th annual Restorative Justice Fundraiser is set for Saturday, Feb. 15, 5-7:30 p.m. at The Hook and Ladder (3010 Minnehaha Ave.). It’s a night of wine, beer, and spirits tasting in support of Seward Longfellow Restorative Justice.Tickets now on sale at Zipps and Eventbrite for $25 or $30 at door. Enjoy jazz by Joel Shapira, delicious food from local restaurants, a silent auction, and dozens of samples of beer, wine, and spirits.

Intergenerational story time at Vet’s Home
February Baby/ Toddler Intergenerational Story Hour & Play Time at the Minnesota Veterans Home is Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Veterans read books and sing songs (with a ukulele player) for 1/2 an hour followed by 1/2 hour play/ craft time, all led by a recreation therapist. This is free and open to the public, and held monthly. Children of all ages are welcome, just know the songs and books are geared to little ones. The Minnesota Veterans Home is at 5101 Minnehaha Ave S. and the program is in the Building 19 Community Room. The facility is a nursing home within Minnehaha Falls Park. Contact Erin, / 612 548 5751, to RSVP or with any questions.

Auditions planned
Classics Lost ‘n’ Found Theater Company, a community theater in south Minneapolis, has announced auditions for its spring 2020 production of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” Auditions will be held at Faith Mennonite Church (2720 E 22nd St.) on Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, March 4 at 7p.m. The cast will need seven men and seven women, ranging in age from 15-70, with 4 of them in the 20-40 age range, and technical staff. This in a non-union, non-paying production. For more information, contact Noreen Brandt at 612-724-4539 or email
Veggies classes set
The Veggie Basics class offered by Transition Longfellow runs for 4 Saturdays in April: April 4, April 11, April 18 and April 25 from 10 11:30 a.m., in the community room at Gandhi Mahal (3009 27th Ave So.). It is taught by various Hennepin County master gardeners. Cost for the entire series is $10. Beverages will be served. For questions about class content, email reierson.deb@gmailcom. For questions about registration or payment, email
Learning garden tour
One of Minnesota’s most anticipated summer gardening events – the 2020 Hennepin County Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour being held on Saturday, July 11, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This self-guided tour includes nine gardens from Prospect Park to Edina and into Linden Hills. The variety of gardens on this year’s annual tour offer many learning opportunities. They include eight home gardens designed and tended by Master Gardener volunteers, as well as one Community Garden. At each garden you’ll meet Master Gardeners who garden not only for their enjoyment, but to contribute to the health of our local ecosystem. Buy tickets and learn more at


LoLa’s Winter Fine Art Exhibition offers tasting menu of works

The League of Longfellow Artists (LoLa) welcomes everyone to the third annual Winter Fine Art Exhibition at Squirrel Haus Arts, 3450 Snelling Ave. in Longfellow, Feb. 22–23 and Feb. 29–Mar. 1.
Meet the artists and enjoy refreshments and music at the opening, Feb. 22, 5–7 p.m., during which a DJ from Solsta Records will spin vintage vinyl. Libations at the reception include wine, beer, and nonalcoholic beverages, and the table will be spread with an array of sweet and savory snacks. Gallery hours are noon to 5 each day. All events are free, family friendly, and open to the public.
It’s a local art tasting menu because artists select just one or two pieces to showcase at this event, ensuring room for all the LoLa artists who want to exhibit their work together in one spot. See what these Longfellow artists have been up to and make note of those you may want to visit during this year’s LoLa Art Crawl, Sept. 19–20.
Artwork will be for sale at the discretion of the artists, who set their prices and receive all proceeds from any sales. Exhibited works span a wide variety of media and styles, including paintings (oil, acrylic, watercolor) on canvas, board, and paper, photographs on paper and metal, printmaking, mixed media, mosaics, and sculpture.

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Longfellow Businesses: LBA wants to hear from you

Posted on 11 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

This March, the Longfellow Business Association (LBA) is hosting focus group to learn how to better support the business community in the Greater Longfellow Area. “We’re interested in hearing from business owners about the tools, resources, connections we can offer to help your business thrive,” explained Kim Jakus.” If your business falls into one of the following categories, consider joining us: Industrial Business, Minority or Immigrant owned Business, Next Generation / Millennial owned Business, or Arts & Entertainment
Lunch will be provided and all participants will receive a $20 gift card to a local Longfellow business. For more information, as well as dates and times, please contact Kim at or 612-298-4699.

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NENA update February 2020

Posted on 03 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

NENA Crock-Pot Cook-Off
Bring your family and friends to the 3rd Annual Great Nokomis East Crock-Pot Cook-Off, now with a meat raffle, on Saturday, Saturday, Feb. 29, 6- 7:30 p.m., at the Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church (5011 S 31st Ave.)! Revel in these two Minnesota traditions in one night. All proceeds raised from this event will go towards NENA’s programs and initiatives in Nokomis East. It’s a truly stew-pendous event!
Minnesotans know how to whip up a dish in a pot. Have a soup-erb recipe you would like to show off? Is your specialty a traditional cream of mushroom delight or do you have something a little bit more exotic? Let the community be the judge of who will be the 20120 Cook-Off Champ. Did we mention there will be a trophy?
This is a family-friendly event. Ingredients will be listed for each entry to avoid allergies or food sensitivities. More information, including the registration form, is available on the NENA website: .

Meatless movie night
There has been plenty of discussion recently about the positive impacts of a plant-rich diet or a locally sourced diet on climate change. But what does that look like exactly? Join NENA’s Green Initiatives Committee for a “Meatless Movie Night” on Friday, Feb. 21, 5:30 -7:30 p.m. at the Morris Park Recreation Center (5531 39th Ave. S.). Sample meat alternatives like the Impossible Burger and watch a documentary about food sustainability. This event is casual, so bring a blanket to stretch out on or even wear your PJ’s. We won’t judge.

NENA Home Loan Program
NENA is now offering two home improvement loan programs. Homes in the Keewaydin, Minnehaha, Morris Park and Wenonah neighborhoods are eligible.  Loan applications are processed on a first-come first served basis.
For more information or to request an application, call the Center for Energy and Environment at (612) 335-5884, or visit the CEE website.

Meetings and events:
2/5/20: NENA Housing, Commercial, and Streetscape Committee, NENA Office, 6:30 p.m.
2/12/20: NENA Green Initiatives Committee, NENA Office, 6:30 p.m.
2/24/18: NENA Board Meeting, NENA Office, 7:00 p.m.

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Use Enneagram as tool for self-discovery this year

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen


Workshop host Holly Johnson shares why she values it and how it is helpful

Holly Johnson teaches workshops locally on the Enneagram.

Holly Johnson is committed to helping people better understand themselves and others through the Enneagram. She offers regular workshops on this tool. The next is slated for Feb. 11, 2020 from 6-9 p.m. at Squirrel Haus Arts. Go to to find out more info and register.
Johnson is also pastor at Spirit Garage, which meets at the Hook and Ladder Theater and Lounge. She paused while writing two holiday sermons in December to share a bit more about the Enneagram with the Messenger.
Just what is the Enneagram?
The Enneagram is a tool to help us understand how we live, move, see and respond in the world. It lays out nine basic styles of people, though there are an infinite number of expressions of each of the nine numbers.
What drew you to the Enneagram and how have you found it valuable in your own life?
When I was in seminary out in Berkeley, Calif., everyone was talking about it. I was drawn to it because I like tools for self discovery, and also tools for understanding other people.
Some people think its funny to have a pastor do this kind of work; certain kinds of Christianity think that anything that doesn’t come out of the Bible comes from the Devil. I’m not that kind of a pastor. I believe in studying all kinds of things, and self-awareness helps us understand our styles of spirituality better, as well.
What is your Enneagram number?
I understand myself to be a “social two with a three wing, and a super well-traveled 8 line.” And if that doesn’t make sense to you but you’re intrigued, come to a workshop!

Courtesy of the Enneagram Institute

How can people use the Enneagram as a tool for self-discovery?
The Enneagram helps us understand that we see and experience the world in a particular way, like a lens. Understanding that we have a lens, and that it is different from other people’s, helps us see what motivates us, and how that shapes our lives. Sometimes this lens sees things accurately, and sometimes it is distorting things. Bringing an awareness to this helps us see where our way of being is helpful, and where it might be hurting us or others. Once we have that awareness, maybe we can think about a different way to see things or respond.
In what ways can the Enneagram help people live in harmony with others?
Similarly, when we figure out that other people see the world in different ways, and have different motivations, hopefully we can bring some grace into our relationships and quit trying to make everyone believe, act, behave and respond the way we do. For example, one of the types (sixes) is going to plan for all possible problems that might arise before you go on vacation. That’s okay – just let them do that. They’ll be prepared for things you never thought of. Another type (eights) has a tendency to have a pretty large presence in a room, and can be quite intimidating to people. Another type (nines) doesn’t like making decisions, particularly if it means siding with one person and not another. So, if they never have an opinion about where you should go to dinner, that’s probably why.
How can the Enneagram help people achieve better health and wellness?
The Enneagram is a tool for emotional intelligence, so as a tool, it helps us bring awareness (and hopefully grace) to our own way of being, and also helps in relation to one another. Emotional intelligence is an important indicator in job success, and helpful in relationships of all kinds.
What resources do you recommend people use to learn more about the Enneagram?
I’m enjoying “The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. That’s a book and a podcast.

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Inside schooling decisions

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Get a glimpse into the lives of local families who are navigating through the many educational choices available today, and forging a path that fits their families.

The Hide family


Meet Longfellow resident Julianne Hide, parent of Landon (age 10), Holden (7), and Isla (3). She’s married to Phil.
Why did you select this school?
We began homeschooling when my eldest started to suffer with anxiety at school. We did our best to address the issue, but he was not happy at school. After looking into options for other schools we decided to give homeschool a try. We’re into our third year now. It’s so much fun to learn together.
What do you appreciate most?
We greet each day with the idea of doing what feels right. Sometimes we stick with the plan, sometimes we grab an opportunity to get outside and enjoy the weather. We go to nature center programs, theaters and museums. The kids are able to pursue their area of interest in long sessions uninterrupted. Play is part of everyday. We attend a homeschool group each week and have made many friends.
What are the challenges?
The challenges have come in the form of being willing to accept that each homeschool day looks different depending on the mood of the kids. Sometimes we have to change the plan. Our daily rhythm also has to adapt to the needs of the kids as they change. As long as I’m willing to keep going with the flow I know everything will be fine!
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
I think the skills needed for 2020 revolve around getting people to work together to solve problems. Creative thinking. Good communication skills. The strength to believe in yourself.
Share your school hacks or tips.
I think the best ‘hack’ I’ve come across is actually just really talking with him my kids and letting them help guide our learning. Anytime I let them lead they blow me away with their willingness to work.


Northrop Elementary

Meet Gina Brusseau, PTA President at Northrop Elementary School, a K-5 school at 4315 S. 31st Ave. She is mom to Finnegan (grade 2) and Stella, who will be a kindergartner in fall 2020. Rounding out the family is her step-daughter Becca and husband Karl.
Why did you select this school?
We chose Northrop because it was our neighborhood school, had an environmental STEM focus, and had a great reputation in the neighborhood. Big factor: late start.
What do you appreciate most?
We love the community, the entire staff is awesome, and the teachers are dedicated.
What are the challenges?
Diversity – as it is declining based on the demographics of the neighborhood. We wish we had more diversity representing an urban school.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
Social emotional learning, environmental, STEM, working hard, teamwork, individuality, respect, and caring for others.
Share your school hacks or tips.
Be involved with your kids education, be involved with your PTA, volunteer when you can, and connect with other families.

Career Pathways

Meet Kelina Morgan, whose daughter Nasi is in ninth grade at Career Pathways, one of the Minnesota Transitions Charter School options.
Why did you select this school?
I chose Career Pathways for her because it was close to my employer, and it offered a non-traditional way of learning, with small class sizes.
What do you appreciate most?
Career Pathways also is a welcoming place with diversity of race, culture, religion, and sexual orientation. It’s a place where my daughter feels a sense of belonging. We’ve lived in various cities, including Vadnais Heights and Somerset, Wis. It was important to me that she attended a school where the staff and students welcome diversity.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
I believe that acceptance and appreciation for differences is a valuable skill to learn, as well as life skills needed to find and maintain a career if college is not the choice.
Share your school hacks or tips.
Because education is important to us and can open many doors, our family hacks on how to help kids learn are 1) read to kids early and daily, 2) require they read at least 20 minutes five days a week, and 3) purchase workbooks for their next grade level that they complete over the summer breaks to continue learning.


Yinghua Academy

Meet South Minneapolis resident Starr Eggen Lim, who is married to Albert. Her daughter Lily is now in 11th grade at Highland Park High School, and daughter Magdalena is currently a ninth grader at Highland Park High School. They are at Highland because Yinghua Academy has an agreement that kids can continue their Chinese education at an appropriate level at Highland Park in St. Paul.
Why did you select this school?
I chose Yinghua Academy because it is a total immersion school meaning that the entire school is focused on Chinese and not just one area or several classrooms. Being that our children are Asian and adopted, it was a good fit as they would learn much about their birth culture as well as having Asian role models and influence. Many kids at that time who were attending the school were also adopted from China, so I felt it would help normalize their experience as kids and adolescents. I had read many books about some of the difficulties Korean adoptees had in the 1970s who grew up in rural areas with little acknowledgement about their birth countries or even issues being racially different than most of their peers. I really wanted to find a school that would allow my kids the opportunity to be around many other Asian kids and many who also had similar birth stories.
What do you appreciate most?
Having my kids learn to read, write and speak Mandarin has so many advantages. If they ever chose to search for their birth parents, or even wanted to live or experience their birth country, having the language and cultural understanding would help to cross over so many barriers that could inhibit that from happening. I also wanted to give them the opportunity to feel at ease around other kids in college who may be international students from their birth country, whereby they could understand and feel a part of that community. I had read that some kids who were never given these opportunities would sometimes go to college and didn’t feel like they fit in with the Caucasian population (even though these kids had grown up in “white” culture), so were initially not accepted into those circles… And even though they looked like the Asian international students, they did not fit in there because they did not understand the culture, so were not initally accepted there either.
Yinghua Academy not only provided this backdrop for my kids, but also having a second language like Mandarin allows so many doors to be opened for them. When learning a second language at the tender age of five, kids absorb things so much easier. Having the ability to read, write and speak can open potential careers opportunities, as well. The school’s academic expectations are quite rigorous and kids have adapted well into all kinds of high school experiences. I liked that the school uses Singapore math, allows for different levels of learning in math and Chinese, and provides many extra curricular activities after school. They also put on a dynamic Chinese New Year program every year which is held at Bethel University, and is almost always sold out. As adoption from China has slowed, Yinghua Academy continues to grow as many kids from all sorts of backgrounds attend the school.
What are the challenges?
Chinese Immersion is not for everyone. Yinghua does have some expectations for kids to do quite a bit of learning in a more traditional style and hasn’t, at least in my experience, allowed for a lot of diversity in teaching styles or methods. Parents need to be in tune to what their specific child’s needs are and how best to meet those, but Yinghua has worked well for our family.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
As far as the most important skills for kids to learn, I would think preparing them to be global citizens is a priority. Language immersion does help to accomplish this. Critical thinking is probably one of the most important skills for kids to learn as our current administration (in my opinion) has become so harsh on scientific research, facts, and the media in general. Learning how to decipher facts from fiction and how to ask questions is critical to our society’s survival as a democracy.

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In Our Community Events January 2019

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Art inspired by music
Vine Arts Center, a nonprofit, volunteer-run art gallery located at 2637 27th Ave. S. is inviting all artists to submit their work for the Creation by Sound – Art Inspired by Music exhibit. The show will run Feb. 8-28. Submission are due Jan. 15 and can be in a variety of mediums, paintings, sculpture, collage, assemblage, photography, etc., which are inspired by music, sound, noise, a musician or group, album or body of work. More at

Elder Voices meets
Elder Voices (Telling Our Stories) will meet the fourth Friday of December (12/27) and January (1/24) at Turtle Bread Company, 4205-34th St. from 10-11:30 a.m. There will time for people to tell or update their elder stories, the challenges and joys of elderhood. There will be a year in review look back at 2019 and a forecasting look ahead to 2020.

Bid farewell to SENA program manager
Attend the Goodbye Happy Hour for Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association Project Manager Bob Kambeitz on Thursday, Jan. 2, 5:30 p.m. “Just a note to the community to thank you for letting me serve you as staff at SENA for the past 18 years, as I move on to a new adventure,” said Kambeitz. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with all of you, making these neighborhoods a great place to live!”

Pasta dinner Fundraiser Jan. 8
Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church (5011 So. 31st Ave.) will host the annual pasta dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 from 5-7 p.m. to benefit the Minnehaha Food Shelf. Treat yourself to a great meal and help your community at the same time. There will be a band and opportunities to win prizes. For more information: Tickets are $15 per person and children (ages 10 and under) are free.

Garden club Jan. 8
Longfellow Garden Club presents: Exotic Plant Collections at U of M on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. (social half hour and set up chairs at 6:30 p.m.) at Epworth United Methodist Church, 3207 37th Ave. S. Learn about the newest U of M conservatory with four biomes of tropical and Mediterranean plants. See photos from the 1,500 species of plants growing there from climates in ten countries in the southern hemisphere.

Small business help
The Minneapolis Small Business Team staff holds regular open hours at the East Lake Library on the third Tuesday of each month from 3-5 p.m. to consult about resources and support for small businesses. Everybody is welcome; no cost, no appointments.

Community Connections Feb. 1
On Feb. 1, 2020, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., the city of Minneapolis will hold its annual Community Connections Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The 2020 conference theme is “We count.” Read more about the conference at

Free Nature Connections for 55+
This January, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) launches Nature Connections, a new program designed for adults 55 & up. Join MPRB naturalists at Loring Park or Matthews Park for varied indoor and outdoor activities focused on nature, including bird-watching, winter tree identification and flower arranging. All sessions are free. More at

Bo Ramsey show
Grammy Award-winning artist, two-time Grammy-nominated producer, Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Iowa Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Bo Ramsey, will make a rare Twin Cities appearance on Saturday, Feb. 22 at The Hook & Ladder. He will perform with Tom Feldmann. More at

Uprising Theater Company announces 2020 season at Off-Leash Area Art Box

Uprising Theatre Company announces its 2020 season with four enterprising plays – all new to the Twin Cities area – written by transgender and nonbinary playwrights. All shows will be performed at Off-Leash Area Art Box, located at 4200 E. 54th St.
Season tickets are on sale now at Single general admission tickets for individual shows go on sale soon. General admission tickets are $20 with every performance offering pay-what-you-can options starting at $5.
The 2020 Season line-up:
March 6-23, “Doctor Voynich and Her Children: A Prediction,” by Leanna Keyes. Directed by Ashley Hovell. Dr. Rue Voynich and her apprentice Fade travel the American Heartland dispensing herbal medications. Covertly, they perform abortions, which have been illegal since “the Pence days.”
June 12-27, “Skimmed,” by Anthony Sisler-Neuman. Directed by Caroline Kittredge Faustine. In this absurd romp around the business of making babies, Zeke and Sydney are ready to start a family, but since there are no little swimmers “in house,” they need to get some an alternative way. Can their marriage survive the scheme?
Sept. 11-26,”Oddity,” by Ashley Lauren Rogers. Directed by Emily England. In this Steampunk Body Horror piece, a trans man “Gender Specialist” is brought into a secret Victorian–Era medical facility, deep within the earth to solve the mystery of a series of murders and body mutilations. As the specialist meets the sole survivor and begins to unravel the secret, his claustrophobic paranoia sets in and he finds it hard to believe anything he’s told.
Nov. 6-21, “The Place That Made You,” by Darcy Parker Bruce. Directed by Anthony Sisler-Neuman. In the aftermath of a tragedy, Jonah attempts to reunite with his best friend, Ben returns to her childhood home, and a giant white whale haunts the coastline of a sleepy Connecticut town. A modern day queer re-imagining of Jonah and the Whale, this dark comedy becomes a ghostly tale of love, loss and glory in small town America.

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New CEO of VOA from Longfellow

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Volunteers of America Minnesota and Wisconsin (VOA MN/WI) is pleased to announce that Longfellow resident Julie Manworren has been named its new President and CEO. Manworren will start work with VOA MN/WI on Feb. 28. VOA MN/WI serves more than 25,000 people in over 110 neighborhoods and communities across Minnesota and Wisconsin with 800 employees and 1,400 volunteers. It has an annual budget of over $46 million.

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B Line route may extend to St. Paul

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

B Line as initially proposed.

After hearing from community members, planners now recommend extending the B Line to downtown St. Paul.
The B Line will run along Lake St., Marshall Ave. and Selby Ave. Initial plans called for the B Line to only go as far east as Snelling Ave.
Planners recommend that the existing Route 21 along that corridor remain on a limited basis, running on Lake St. between Hennepin Ave. and Minnehaha Ave. every 30 minutes.
From April to October of 2019, B Line staff attended or hosted 26 community events, participated in bus ride-alongs and stop pop-ups, and connected with over 1,500 individual people to help inform the planning process and preliminary recommendations for the B Line.
Community input on preliminary recommendations is still being gathered to shape a draft corridor plan for the B Line.
This draft plan will be released for public comment in 2020, and will include more detailed information on planned station locations. To co-host an event or schedule a presentation, contact Cody Olson, Community Outreach Coordinator, at or 612-349-7390. The Metropolitan Council will consider approval of a final B Line corridor plan in 2020.

B Line as currently proposed.

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After 50 years, she’s encouraging others

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen


Editor’s note: The text below was from a speech Nadine wrote and gave at two Twin Cities churches during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We have used just her original first name and not her new name to protect her and her daughter.
My name is Nadine. I am 77 years old. I was married for 47 years. My daughter and I are in a protection program through the Minnesota Secretary of State and share a home. I work three part-time jobs, I assist my daughter who has a chronic illness. I am active in my church and community.
I’m telling my story not because it’s unusual, but because one in every three women will be faced with a similar story. It happens in every neighborhood, religion, nationality and workplace. Today in the time it takes me to tell my story over 200 Minnesota women will be abused.
It’s difficult to put 50 years into a few minutes.
I married this good humored man who came from an abusive background. His parents and grandfather were murdered by a family member.
We moved to Nebraska, where he was going to college, far from my family and friends. The first week, he came home from school and went into a rage because I fixed creamed corn when I also made gravy. He cleared everything from the table, leaving food and broken dishes on the floor, walls, everywhere. I was shocked! I had never seen anyone do such a thing. This was not the last time.
When I learned I was pregnant, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to tell him. He became very angry, called me terrible names. “How could you be so stupid as to get pregnant!” He grabbed me by the hair and dragged me across the room and pulled out a handful of hair from my head.
We moved to Minneapolis. He became Comptroller of Hennepin County Department of Social Services for 25 years. He learned the system well. At home, he controlled everything. He controlled what, when, where, and if we ate. He controlled when we went to bed and when we got up. Often in the middle of the night, he’d make us get up to do something he wanted done now. He went on lavish fishing and hunting trips, but there were no family vacations.
At Christmas, we opened gifts and ate, if and when he said we could. My daughter and I were nervous wrecks before holidays. His expectations of our daughter were totally unreasonable. Nothing we did was ever good enough. Everything that went wrong for him was someone else’s fault.
A friend told me he had purchased three airplanes. He didn’t even have a pilot’s license. When I asked why, he became very angry. He shouted, “I am the financial expert in the family and I’m not going to let you make the financial decisions. You are so dumb, you think 2+2 = 5. He threatened that he would take my daughter and I’d never see her again. “I have friends in high places. No one will believe you. You are nobody.” He threw me against the wall. I had large bruises on my legs, hips and head.
One day, my daughter and I went shopping. It took longer than he thought it should. When I took her home, she had a message on her answering machine that he was coming over with his .357 Magnum. Soon he was at her house yelling and waving a loaded gun at us. We were terrified. We were too afraid to call the police, for fear it would just get worse. I was threatened with a loaded gun on many other occasions.
I started having panic attacks every time I got in the car with him. He called me names, swore and yelled at me, and I felt trapped. One day alone he yelled at me over 74 times. I quit counting.
For over 40 years, I managed the accounting practice we started, but I was never allowed to get a salary or any benefits. He said,”I’m the accountant, so it’s my money.”
When he touched me, my stomach turned to knots. It was not affection. If he showed anything, it was a signal to go to bed with him. If I didn’t, I was called crude names and was told I was worthless.

Why didn’t I just leave?
• I feared what he would do to my daughter, my family and anyone who helped me.
• I feared that no one would believe me.
• I didn’t know who I could trust to turn to for help.
• I felt paralyzed, overwhelmed and couldn’t think clearly. All I could focus on was surviving each day.
• I didn’t know if I had the strength to leave.
•I was over 70 years old, with not a lot of technical skills or formal education. Who would hire me?
I had no job, no money, and I had no idea how I would survive financially.
• I feared my church would abandon me.

What made me leave?
Through counseling, I realized the real danger I was in. Have you ever seen someone with a loaded gun in his hand in such a rage that their face does from red to gray? It was like seeing pure evil. I felt if I didn’t leave, I would be carried out in a body bag.

So I prepared to leave
I joined a support group, I prepared a safety plan, I packed a suitcase. When I shopped, I wrote the check for more and hid it. I coped important documents. I opened a checking and charge accounts in my name only.
In November 2007, with very little besides the clothing I had and the help of my daughter, I went to the Alexander House battered women’s shelter with the support of my family and his. They not only provided me a place to collect myself, by assisted me in finding housing, resume writing, resources and support.
My ex harassed my daughter. He called her doctor and said she was missing and wanted them to help him find her. He had people stalk her, take pictures of her and her home. One of the stalkers strangled and killed a woman three blocks from her house. She and I moved six times in five years to try to feel safe. She sold her home where she had lived for 30 years because she no longer felt safe.
After I left, he did everything possible to destroy me emotionally, physically and financially. He broke into my house twice, destroying things, got rid of gifts that were sentimental to me, left loaded handguns and ammunition in the house. Had people drive by my house, take pictures, report what lights I had on and who was in my driveway. A dead deer was left by my back door.
He sold our accounting practice to a friend for $1. He changed titles on properties we jointly owned. He sold a car that was titled in my name, without my signature. He removed me as a beneficiary on all of our life insurance. He filed joint tax returns without my signature and took all the refunds. He took all the equity in our home, even though our line-of-credit required both of our signatures. He is in contempt of court of nearly every court order. He moved to Arkansas to avoid enforcement by Minnesota courts.
And I thought none of this could ever happen!
In support groups I learned how many women have gone to their pastor or priest and left feeling hopeless, trapped and rejected. It is important to me to share with you my experience with my church. Over the years, I spoke with many priests and basically was told to pray – pray harder – be a better wife, love more, turn the other cheek, be forgiving. But when I left, I went to my priest, his first question was, “Are you safe now?” He told me to contact a shelter and do whatever they told me to do. Each time I went to court, he gave me a blessing and prayed with me. Knowing my church was there to support me meant everything to me. And I wish every abused woman would have this kind of experience.

How do I manage?
I work three part-time jobs. I’ve gone to a food shelf. Family, friends, and my therapist pray for me. I have reminders throughout my house: “I am with you always, signed God.”
One day at a time, I have seen miracles unfold in my life. I have a roof over my head and I can actually laugh and celebrate holidays. It wouldn’t have happened without the support of a shelter, the support of my friends, daughter, family and God’s every present help. I know God loves me and I am worthy of peace.
I don’t believe I am here to just survive a marriage. I am here to encourage others.

Click here to read her daughter’s story.

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