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Trail detour will last 2 years

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Beginning the week of Sept. 23, 2019, crews will be working in the Minnehaha Park area to prepare the site for construction and construction staging. Work will include:
• Tree protection and tree removal. MCES has worked closely with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) regarding tree removal and tree protection. MPRB has been compensated for tree removals and tree replanting is at their discretion.
• Security fencing
• Erosion control installation
• Preparing for the aboveground temporary wastewater conveyance system pipes and pumps.
Temporary conveyance pipes and pumps were installed starting in October. Residents, businesses and park-users can anticipate the following:
• A section of the Hiawatha Bicycle Trail between the Minnehaha Creek Trail and Minnehaha Parkway will be closed until fall 2021. Bicycle detour signage will be posted along the trail (see trail detour map above). Parking will not be permitted on E. Minnehaha Parkway during this time.
There will be approximately 2-3 day closures on Minnehaha Ave. just north of the traffic circle and on 50th St. near Hiawatha Ave. when crews bury temporary conveyance pipes beneath the roadway. Traffic warning signs will be posted prior to these closures with as much advance notice as possible.
The National Park Service will monitor water flows to Coldwater Spring Monday-Friday during construction even though no dewatering is expected. The National Park Service will regularly post the results of their monitoring on their website. More at https://metrocouncil.org/sewerconstruction/minnehaha.

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Local rap artist releases album

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

MaLLy is known for exhibiting a strong artistic duality in his music; he owns both a commanding, fiery delivery of rhymes detailing his ambition with an introspective tone of a man striving for improvement of self and the world around him. MaLLy’s appeals to a broad spectrum of listeners. (Photos submitted)

30.
To many, this is the age youth dies. To some, the age you stop caring about looking happy and start caring about *being* happy. This is where MaLLy is at, and he raps with urgency and honesty about growing up, situationships, racism and more while smiling through it all.
“The Journey To A Smile” is a jazzy, soulful record with a mean jab.Sometimes you’re floating with MaLLy through piano-driven prayer (“Praying Since 22”), other times you’re marching in triumph to mystical boom-bap (“Black Moses”).
One of Minneapolis’ finest is back and harder than ever with his first full album in five years. The album includes 13 tracks, all produced by PC, with one feature from Aby Wolf, the amazing singer, songwriter and frequent tour mate of Doomtree’s Dessa.
Each song serves as an ode to life, self empowerment, embracing one’s true identity, and the redefinition of spirituality and masculinity.
“The Journey To A Smile” was released on Sept. 24, and is now available on all streaming platforms including SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube, CD and MP3. It is also avaialble to purchase online and at select retailers.
Malik Watkins, better known by his stage name MaLLy, is an independent hip-hop artist from Minneapolis, Minn. Active since 2009, MaLLy has cemented his place in the Twin Cities music scene with a strong discography boasting three critically acclaimed albums – “The Passion,” The Last Great…, “and “The Colors of Black” – along with two well-received EPs including “Free on the 15th” and “Strange Rhythm.” In 2012, he was voted the Twin Cities’ best hip-hop artist by the City Pages.
MaLLy has toured nationwide with Atmosphere on their “Welcome to Minnesota” tour in 2012, with Brother Ali on his “Home Away From Home” tour in 2014, and with Webster X and Kweku Collins on the Orbit Series Tour in 2015. Additionally, he’s made two appearances – one as a performer (2011) and one as co-host with Brother Ali (2012) – at Soundset, the largest Hip-Hop festival in Minnesota.
He continues to perform, serve as a teaching artist and collaborate with community-oriented organizations dedicated to the arts and social justice such as Common Ground Meditation Center, TruArtSpeaks, COMPAS, Kulture Klub Collaborative and KRSM Radio. In 2018, MaLLy was awarded the McKnight Foundation Fellowship for musicians.

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Jennifer’s ex tried to convince her, others she was crazy

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

She finally left, but the abuse continues through court system

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness month, the Messenger is launching a new series that seeks to puts a face on domestic abuse and intimate partner violence.

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Jennifer* grew up in a loving, two-parent household in the suburbs. She didn’t think she was in an abusive marriage but she knew that after five years and two kids, she had to get out. On the day he started screaming at her in front of her mom, she decided she’d had enough. She kicked him out.
It was only later that someone gave her a label for what she had experienced: domestic violence or intimate partner terrorism.
“I was so naïve,” admitted Jennifer, age 41. “I am an example of someone who is educated and grew up in a loving home, but had no idea that emotional, financial, or psychological abuse existed – or what it was.”
A business and French major, Jennifer had gone back to earn her master’s from Carlson in business management. She dated Dave* for two years and they got married in 2011. Their son was born in 2013, and their daughter was an infant in 2016 when they split up.

No, she didn’t see any signs
“The number one question I get is ‘Did I see any signs?’” Jennifer pointed out.
“No I didn’t. That question isn’t helpful. People think I went to Vegas and married a douchebag. When we first started dating, he came across as very alluring.” He was well-groomed, took care of himself and was attractive. “He didn’t fit the mold of what I thought an abuser would be,” she said.
Now, Jennifer knows she’s the typical victim. “We’re all helpers,” she observed. “We’re all pleasers.”
When they were dating, Dave might mention that his back hurt. She was quick to call the chiropractor for him to schedule an appointment. She’d feel good that he felt better. “Five years later, you’re exhausted from doing everything for him and not helping yourself,” Jennifer said.
He always came across as a victim, even from the start – something she knows now should have been a red flag. His family life was horrible. He believed everyone was mean to him at his job. When he took a class, he leaned on Jennifer to do the work. All of his past relationships failed because of the women he was with. Things were never his fault.
Jennifer used to think that being abused in a marriage meant black eyes and physical beatings. But Dave never hit her.
He engaged in gaslighting behavior, telling her she was misremembering what he’d said and pretending that other things never happened. When they moved into their newly-built dream house in the suburbs, a fixture in their master bathroom didn’t work, so Jennifer had to use a bathroom down the hall to blow dry her hair. It was a bit of a hassle. One morning, tired from a night awake with her baby, Jennifer absent-mindedly plugged the blow dryer into the outlet – and it worked. She excitedly told her husband about it, and asked when he had fixed it. “It always worked,” he responded. “What are you talking about?”
Jennifer remarked, “He tried to make me feel crazy.”
During an argument, he would go on and on, and keep her up late. Other nights, he’d wake her up every two hours. She was exhausted. When she’d finally leave the room for a break, and then come back ready to talk anew about the 3.5-hour-long conversation they’d just had, he’d look at her and deny it occurred. At other times, he’d refuse to talk about something unless she could remember word for word exactly what he’d said previously – down to the right pronoun.
Everything was always Jennifer’s fault.
He’d hide her computer mouse or her keys. After she looked through the entire house, she’d find the item in the room where she had started, the room where he was.
He spent all their money and racked up credit card bills, buying things for himself but not Jennifer or the kids. “It was always about him,” said Jennifer. He was arrogant and entitled. At one time when they were strapped for cash, Jennifer agreed to give up a hobby for the month and let him take the $200 to attend a family event without her. He blew that and more at a casino – and never said thanks. He earned thousands in cash at side jobs, telling her he made less than he actually did. He quit a well-paying job and relied on her to cover their living expenses.
Every house they ever lived in had holes in the walls. He’d punch the walls or throw items at the walls. “He would hit other thing that hit me,” said Jennifer, even when she was pregnant. In fact, she’s learned that abusers often intensify when a woman is pregnant or they have a child because the attention isn’t focused on them anymore. When she was pregnant with their son, she shut a door and he kicked it open, hitting her so hard she fell down. When she’d tried to leave a room, he’d stand in the doorway and block her exit.
Sometimes she’d call Dave’s mom to come help. She found out later that his mom had helped remove the guns in every house he had ever lived in. That’s the kind of information she wishes someone would have told her before they got serious.
Dave said a lot of put-downs, Jennifer recalled. When she called him out on the mean things he had said, he’d retort, “Kidding, just kidding! You need to learn how to take a joke.” He tried to isolate her from family members and friends. He bullied and manipulated and lied, while showing her just enough affection here and there to give her hope.
These incidences didn’t happen every day. “This type of abuser will play the victim and then seem ‘normal’ for awhile before another incident,” observed Jennifer. “Each time I would make excuses for his behavior and there would be many days in between the next incident. The longer I was with him, the shorter the time in between incidents became. In the beginning it was maybe only monthly, if that. By the time I left, it was probably every other day.”

Significant incident
On the day Jennifer had finally had enough, it wasn’t that it was worse than it had ever been, but that the thousands of straws piled together finally broke the camel’s back. They had an infant, and he wouldn’t her sleep. So her mom came over so that she could get more than 45 minutes every three hours. Jennifer laid down and Dave came in to change the garbage can in their room, upset that she wasn’t cleaning their house. Then Dave insisted they run errands. Jennifer gave in, got up, and left with Dave. When they finally got back home, she was beyond exhausted. He started yelling at her in front of her mom.
“Because my ex showed his behavior to my close family member, it become real and I something I had to get out of,” said Jennifer.

Abuse affects kids, too
To help resolve disputes after their divorce, they were assigned to a parenting consultant (PC) with the understanding that they would split the fees equally. They did an intake together, and then meet separately with the PC, who immediately referred Jennifer to the Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) in Minneapolis after seeing the interactions between the two of them. “When he said that to me, I was so confused. Because he’s so mean to me verbally in the things he says?” Jennifer recalls asking. “I didn’t quite get it.”
But she did start a 16-week support group at DAP in late 2016, and it was life-changing. When she heard the stories that the other women in her support group told, she couldn’t help but cry. “They all said something that was just like my life,” said Jennifer. “It was freaky.” One in three women have been in an abusive relationship, which means that Jennifer is far from being alone in her experiences.
She admits, “I feel ashamed and stupid that I should have known better, but also so glad and strong for getting out. It also was important to hear that these men, more than likely, will not change. I stuck around for a long time hoping he would change… that never will happen.”
In her support group, Jennifer learned that abuse isn’t just physical and verbal. It’s also psychological, sexual, financial, and emotional. And it doesn’t just affect the mom when a dad engages in intimate partner terrorism. It negatively affects the kids, too, and those issues continue after the divorce.
“When I left my abuser my kids were tiny (newborn and 3-years-old). My son had already started having issues with anxiety,” said Jennifer. “During our separation and long process to divorce, my son developed emotional trauma/PTSD. He has issues learning and issues with memory. He has regressed and speaks in ‘baby talk,’ and gets frustrated easily. Overall, both kids are extremely attached to me – and have to sleep with me at night.”
Both have a lot of emotional issues compared to their peers and have trouble focusing.
One of the things that Jennifer learned during her support group really sticks with her: “If you help a mom, you help the kids.”

No justice in family court
Jennifer has not found justice in the court system. Instead, Dave has continued to abuse her, changing some of his tactics but not the controlling behavior and disrespect that drive his actions. “He can be as abusive to me as he wants and there are no repercussions,” Jennifer said.
When it came time to sell their dream house after the divorce, he moved back in and refused to cooperate with a real estate agent in order to put the house on the market. He wouldn’t respond to emails about the sale. Jennifer didn’t have enough money to pay the bills due to the financial abuse and had to move back in with her parents. The high cost of continuing legal bills means that she’s still living with her parents.
Mediation didn’t work. “It didn’t matter what I said, he said no. He was that entitled,” said Jennifer.
When it was time to exchange the kids, he would give her an address in Blaine. Then he would tell her they were actually in Chanhassen And then he’d say they were in Woodbury. If she responded that he could drop them off at her house, he’d refuse and insist that she come to him. A PC advised her to do that anyway, and then go home and wait. But she struggled with her kids’ needs, to eat and go to bed and not be pawns in a game of power and control, and how to balance those things. Today, she’s protected somewhat by an order to exchange the kids at a local police station, thanks to a PC ruling.
There isn’t much she has to say that’s positive about the court system she’s now been involved in for three and a half years.
Jennifer has been shocked that the court system recognizes that Dave is abusive and has mental health issues, but has still granted him overnights with the children. “When people hear just a portion of my story they assume I have full custody,” she observed. “People outside of divorce have no idea that custody equals three things: physical, legal, and parenting time.”
Jennifer and Dave have shared joint physical and legal custody since their divorce, which means they have to reach decisions together on things like education and health. “He always wants more parenting time because if he gets it, he pays me less child support,” said Jennifer. Dave currently has their 6 and 4-year-old for two overnights once a week, 24 hours at a time. Jennifer is concerned about her kids during that time as their dad doesn’t always feed them, refuses to take them to a doctor when they have a fever, “forgets” about occupational therapy appointments, leaves them sitting in poopy pants, and ignores safety issues.
“I picked up my son one day and he had a Cascade dishwasher pod in his mouth,” recalled Jennifer. When she said something about the dangerous poison to Dave, he yelled at her. “Don’t tell me what to do on my parenting time!”
When she asked the PC about it, she was told, “Something needs to happen for something to happen.” In other words, the child needs to be hospitalized, require surgery, or die for the court system to restrict his parenting time. “The slogan should be ‘Reactive not proactive,’” said Jennifer, who wishes that the courts would put the well-being of children first and enforce the statues that limit parenting time and custody in cases of domestic violence.
“It’s sad because the system is so reactionary. Instead, when abuse is proven, all custody should be given to the non-abusive parent, and the abusive parent should need to earn their way back,” said Jennifer. “Sadly, I do not see the system changing.”
It doesn’t take long for Dave to get mad and fire a PC, leaving Jennifer to pay the bills. It takes about three months or longer to get another one, and things are pretty difficult during that time as he refuses to follow any previous agreements.

‘You need to get along for your kids’
Jennifer has been frustrated when they get a new professional involved in their family as each time they tell her they will be drawing a line in the sand and moving forward, and that the past is in the past. She believes that what has happened before is important to know to understand what they’ve already done and what their situation is, but is told to essentially forget about the past. Move on.
And so it keeps repeating itself.
It’s a situation that’s common enough to have its own term: domestic abuse by proxy or post-separation abuse, as in domestic abuse through the kids after the couple has split up.
The police in her city know them by name because of how often Dave has called complaining that she is withholding the kids from him when they’re sick or when it’s not actually his parenting time. He threatens and yells at Jennifer and her parents regularly at their home. But it is never enough for the police or courts to take action. Recently, their new judge told them he wasn’t going to restrict Dave’s involvement despite his threats and parental negligence because “he loves his kids.”
Jennifer often hears the refrain, “You need to get along for the sake of your kids. You guys need to figure this out for your kids.”
She asks, “How do I?”
Editor’s note: *Names changed for protection.
Contact editor at Tesha@LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com

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Defining abuse

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

 

Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.

It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive.

In fact, many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.

Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner.
~ From www.thehotline.org

Gaslighting: A form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Named after a movie called “Gaslight.”

Coercive Control: An act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten victims.

SUPPORT GROUPS
Cornerstone Services ‑
Ongoing groups meet regularly for women, children and men
24-hour helpline: 952-884-0330
cornerstonemn.org

Domestic Abuse Project ‑
Sessions offered regularly for women, men and children
612.874.7063 ext.232
www.domesticabuseproject.com

CALL FOR HELP
Day One MN Emergency Crisis HotLine: call or text 1.866.223.1111
LGBTQ Domestic Violence Hotline
612.824.8434
Teen Dating Violence Hotline
866-331-9474, LoveIsRespect.org
Native Domestic Violence Helpline
844-762-8483

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SURVIVOR STORIES

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

ALLY is a beautiful, independent, charismatic woman who is a single mother and full-time student and paralegal.

However, her life wasn’t always like this.

She spent many years in a very emotionally, mentally and physically abusive relationship, living day-to-day in fear and constant turmoil. The good news is that Ally managed to make the decision that some abuse victims don’t get to make: She left her abuser.

The bad news is that things got worse then. Her abuser’s rage grew, and he began stalking and harassing her on a 24-hour basis. He tried to kill her several times. And then he and his family began an eight-year court battle to take custody of their daughter away from Ally.

And then, finally, some really good news. Ally survived the repeated attempts on her life, and she won the custody battle for her daughter. Today, Ally is thriving, stronger and smarter than ever, relishing a life of freedom and peace after abuse, her daughter at her side.

BEA and dating abuse.

The first day of high school was terrifying for Bea. She couldn’t find her friends, so instead she met a new girl who smoked marijuana and had older guy friends from another town. One of those “older guys” became Bea’s boyfriend. He was 19, she was 14.

In retrospect, the signs of dating abuse were there, but back then, there weren’t words for it, people didn’t know what it was or how dangerous it could be.

Bea’s boyfriend’s behavior was flattering to her at first: He was charming and smooth and jealous, called her all the time, bought her her own phone, asked her to call him from school to “check in.” Their relationship moved fast, too fast, and soon the boyfriend was controlling Bea – what she wore, what she did – and isolating her from family and friends. Eventually, it was just the two of them.

Sometime Bea stayed in her room all day, wearing a pink robe her boyfriend had bought her. She cried a lot and whispered and pleaded with him on the phone. Then he would pick her up to “go to the mall.”

One day, Bea told her family she was pregnant. Her mom drove her to get an abortion. It was the worst day of her mother’s life – and maybe Bea‘s as well.

Things went on for a long time, until Bea was 19. Then, somehow, thankfully, the relationship ended.

Bea is in her forties now. She is a family therapist with a master’s degree, has three children and owns her own home. The experience with dating abuse as a young teenager left Bea with emotional scars that don’t show and physical scars – cigarette burns on her arms and long scars from self-inflicted cuts on her thighs – that do. But she is, finally, happy.

~ Stories courtesy of Domestic Violence Awareness and Action based in Maple Grove at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Community.

Paint the town purple
Citizens are asked to wear purple clothing and to change outdoor lighting and décor at their homes to purple by using purple lights, displaying purple wreaths, or tying purple ribbons to mailboxes, trees or vehicle antenna during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

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TOO MUCH COFFEE: Let’s start believing women and children

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN, Tesha@LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com

It’s time to believe women and children.
This month, we launch a new series aimed at putting a face on domestic violence and intimate partner terrorism that we’re calling “Voices of Violence.”
The majority of people in this series will be anonymous for their safety, and to avoid causing trouble with their custody cases. Unfortunately, we can’t get the full story unless they can be assured that it won’t blow-back negatively on their drive to protect their kids – the foremost concern of the women I’ve interviewed.
However, I have carefully vetted their stories, and know that each woman is speaking for many who can tell the same sorts of stories with the same cycles of abuse. They all fell in love with a man who was good to them, and who later switched to angry, manipulative and controlling actions that left them baffled and confused. Things started out with behaviors that didn’t seem so bad, and then got worse with a fair amount of gaslighting thrown in so they would question what was really happening.
And then they got the questions from friends and family: Why did you stay? The answer is complicated, as you’ll see from these stories. And women are often pressured to stay and patch things up for the “sake of the kids” while they’re also told by others that if it were them, they would have left a long time ago. They would never have stood for this. In many way, these women can’t win. And, sometimes, a victimized person may not be able to get away from their abuser because the abuser will not let them do so.
Take a look around you. One in every three women you see and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (including slapping, shoving, pushing), and in some cases might not be considered “domestic violence.” That’s a pretty high number. This kind of thing is happening all around us and we probably don’t know it.
The sad thing is, being smart and educated, kind and empathetic, a good mom and a good wife – none of that prevents you from being abused. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence and there is no safeguard from it, even though we wish there was.
But what is even sadder is the stories women tell about how they and their children haven’t been believed. How someone has questioned if what they said really happened. How a family member sided with the abuser. How Child Protection Services came out and said that the bruises and pain he left weren’t bad enough to launch an investigation that might impinge upon his career. How family courts ignored the signs and put children into unsafe situations because they think that any dad is better than no dad.
It’s true that fathers are important, but what’s even more true is that kids need to be protected. It’s up to us adults to keep them safe.
The children affected by this is staggering, and can be considered the greatest health crisis of our time. More and more research is backing up that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) – such as witnessing abuse, being abused and experiencing your parents divorce – can be traced to a myriad of health and mental health issues that cost the world millions of dollars to treat.
Our series will look more closely at the women affected by intimate partner violence because they comprise the majority of those being abused and they are hurt more severely more often, but we recognize that men also find themselves in abusive relationships, as do those in same-sex relationships.
As I’ve chatted with people involved in domestic violence advocacy and the family court system here in Minnesota and around the country, one thing that is clear is our family court system hasn’t made enough progress in the area of intimate partner violence. It recognizes bruises and may hand out orders for protections for women, but it hasn’t stopped to consider the effect of that continued and ongoing abuse on children. It’s also stuck thinking that “It takes two to tango” when it can just take one disordered and mean individual determined to keep fighting and using the family court system to engage in domestic abuse via proxy. It is sad and hard to believe that some people will use their kids to keep hurting their exes for years – with no regard to the damage inflicted on their children.
Mothers know – and they’re pushing for change even while they are painted as vindictive, crazy and hysterical liars.
It’s past time that we listen when children tell us through their actions that they are in unsafe home environments. Next time you get frustrated by a kid with rebellious or aggressive behavior, consider the message they may be trying to tell you behind that “bad behavior.”
External signs of child abuse include:
• learning difficulties
• problems with relationships and socializing
• rebellious behavior
• aggressive and violent behavior
• anti-social behavior and criminality
• self-isolating behavior (making people dislike you)
• negative impulsive behavior (not caring what happens to yourself).
Signs of a child being emotional abused or in an emotional abusive home include:
• Appear continually withdrawn, anxious or depressed
• Display excessive fear of parents or caretakers
• Avoid doing things with other children
• Behave much younger than his or her age
• Behave older than their age e.g. ‘a little mother’
• Lag in physical, emotional or cognitive development
• Wet the bed
• Blame themselves for problems or believe they are ‘bad’
• Overreact when they make mistakes
• Have inappropriate reaction to pain, e.g. ‘I deserve this’
• Demonstrate neurotic behaviours such as hair twisting or rocking
• Self-harm or attempt suicide

If you are a victim experiencing abuse, contact Day One at 866-223-1111 to connect with services.

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MEET OUR STAFF: Asking questions, talking about interests and events

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jan Willms

I have been a writer for the Monitor and Messenger since around 2003. From the time I edited my high school newspaper, I have loved to write. My undergraduate degree is in journalism, and I worked as a staffer for the Fargo Forum, where I met my husband.
We later started and operated a weekly in Montana. The newspaper was our life. When our first son was born, after my water broke, I went in and did a few things on the paper and then drove myself to the hospital. It was print day, and we had to get the paper out, so my husband met the deadline and then came in to meet our son. A few days later, we put Liberty in a blanket in a drawer at our office, and he observed firsthand how newspaper production works. When our second son was born six years later, he too nestled in a drawer in the office with a colorful mobile above his head.
Running a weekly, we did it all – wrote the features, news articles and commentary; sold the ads; did the layout; wrote the headlines; took the photos; covered sports and entertainment. We were never caught up on sleep, and our social life consisted of covering stories, but it was the happiest time in our lives. After my husband died prematurely, and I entered the human services profession I have still always tried to keep a link to newspaper writing.
Community newspapers like the Messenger and Monitor are perfect, because I can still work full-time and continue to do interviews after work or on weekends. Although I have written about everything from elections to neighborhood meetings to conversations with authors and filmmakers, I love doing feature articles. Exploring what spurs a person’s creativity, what challenges him or her, or what stirs up the passion within is what I like most to do.
What sets off the creative spark in an author’s quest to complete a novel? What drives someone to start a nonprofit and help others less fortunate? Who are the mentors a musician looks up to? These are all questions that I like to find the answers to and share them with our readership.
I also like to write about the events that have shaped a person’s life. A young man once wanted to talk to us about his brother’s murder, and how it affected the family. We agreed to meet on three different occasions, but he never showed up. But the fourth time he did, and we talked for hours, and his story about his brother got told.
Perhaps most of all, writing for these papers has given me the opportunity to meet so many different people from all walks of life.
It is said that writing can be a lonely profession, but not when you are sharing a part of someone else’s world.
Meeting different persons, talking with them about what interests them, and putting it down on paper is a challenging but fulfilling task. I find that just the physical act of writing is therapeutic, and if you can make a story interesting enough to catch a reader’s eye, it makes journalism a very rewarding profession.

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New athletic field with lights at South High

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Those honored for helping make the new stadium at South High a reality include (left to right): South High Foundation President Judy Ayers, 2014-2019 South High Principal Ray Aponte, MPS Superintendent Ed Graff, MPS School Board member Siad Ali, Harvey Feldman, South High School Site Council Field Committee Chair and former SHS parent Scott Schuelter, Parents United for South High representative Anita Newhouse, and MPS District Athletic Director Tony Fisher. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Families can finally watch home games at updated South High

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Thanks to South High parents and students who pushed the district to upgrade the field for 20 years, South High’s teams can finally play night games.
Scott Schluter was part of the group that made the final push towards making this a reality for South High. His two children attended South High, and that’s when he realized what bad shape the field was in and how unsafe it was for athletes. The old grass field was usually a mud field, and players had to avoid the dangerous storm grates on the corners. Much of the track was torn up and jagged parts exposed concrete underneath.
“If you see something you believe could be better, not only say something, but do something positive to help create that outcome,” encouraged the 28-year Ericcson resident. “You might not be able to do everything, but you can do something.”
For him, it was hearing from another soccer parent that the district was not planning to construct a better athletic field as promised nor did it intend to switch the field to a north-south layout in July 2016 with land it had bought and cleared just north along E. Lake St. Instead, the district planned to erect a brand new $29 million, 87,000-square-foot educational building at E. Lake St. and 21st Ave. The new building replaced the adult basic education (ABE+) facility being torn down to make room for a new Hennepin County Service Center and related multi-use development at Hiawatha and Lake.
That parent went to the school board. “She couldn’t do more, but mentioned it to me and then I started,” recalled Schluter.
“Other parents, students, and soccer players took time to go the board meetings and write letters. Each had a role. Each was important.”

‘Shining example of what we can accomplish’
A few of the people involved were honored at a short ceremony and given a commemorative coin by new principal Brett Stringer prior to the South High vs. Breck School football game on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.
Among them was Harold Benson, a 1950 graduate of the ‘old’ South High and football player. After working as an elementary school teacher, Benson moved into principal positions and then consulting work, totaling 34 years with Minneapolis Public Schools. He served on the South High Foundation from the mid-1980s to recently, and was instrumental in helping raise funds and finding workers to build the concession building in 2006. The bronze tiger by the building was donated by his family.
Benson pushed hard for the field upgrades, which include a synthetic track and field improvements, lights, bleachers, scoreboard, press box, and sound system.
“This is a shining example of what we can accomplish,” said Benson, who was given a special plaque as a thank you for never giving up on the students at South.
Also honored was Harvey Feldman, who heard that funds were too short to cover the press box or sound system, and stepped in to pay for both. (Feldman also paid for upgrades at the Southwest High School, where he attended school.)
“Being part of a team, whether it be athletics, arts, or parent organizations, is essential for positive change,” stated Minneapolis Public Schools District Athletic Director Tony Fisher. “It also cements a strong sense of belonging, which is paramount in our community. This new stadium is a metaphor for a launchpad into continued greatness for South.”

‘Football will be a family event’
“We have parents of football players who’ve never seen them play at home, because with no lights, our games have been scheduled immediately after school, at 3:30 p.m. Finally, football will be a family event at South High,” said South High Athletic Director Amy Cardarelle, who noted that the impact of these upgrades on many sports, like soccer, track and field, is significant, but particularly so for the football team.
The first 500 people at the Aug. 29 game received a commemorative t-shirt. At half-time, they also met new incoming Principal Brett Stringer, who replaces Ray Aponte.
Contact editor at tesha@longfellownokomismessenger.com.

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For South High students: Homecoming or Climate Strike

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN and TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

About 200 South High students walked out of school on Friday, Sept. 20 during the Global Climate Strike. Carrying signs, they headed to the Blue Line train station at Lake and Hiawatha to travel to St. Paul’s rally. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The 200 students who left South High School to be a part of the Global Climate Strike on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, were not allowed to participate in their homecoming football game and related activities that night.
Because of that, senior Claire Hennen made the tough choice to not attend the strike so that she could go to her last homecoming pep rally during seventh hour.
It wasn’t an easy choice to make, and she’s frustrated by the district’s decision to prohibit students from returning to school grounds for events later in the day.
“I care about climate change,” said Hennen. “It affects us, but people don’t give us the chance to say anything.”
She added, ‘That’s why I think older people need to step up for us.”

Students strike despite MPS policy
Despite the school district’s policy, many students at all grade levels participated in the Global Climate Strike held three days before the UN Climate Summit in New York City.
Protests were held in more than 150 countries around the world to demand transformative action to address the climate crisis.
The Twin Cities Youth Climate Strike began at 11:30 a.m. with students meeting at the Western Sculpture Park in St. Paul and then marching to the capitol a few blocks away. Some younger students left neighborhood schools with their parents. Many high school students took public transportation to downtown St. Paul to participate in the rally.
Julie Schultz Brown, executive director of marketing and communication for MPS said, “Like Black Lives Matter, Immigration Reform, and so many other worthwhile events, the Climate Strike was a hard call for the district. But our mission is teaching students, and we have an extremely diverse student body of more than 36,000. We strive to be fair, and also to be true to our mission of educating students. We try to avoid ‘mission creep,’ which is what happens when you lose sight of your primary focus. When you choose to protest, you are making a sacrifice. That’s one of the lessons of life.”
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) issued the following statement in a letter sent to all families: “Climate change is a threat to our planet’s future and ultimately to our students. The science is clear, and we share responsibility as a school system, and as individuals, to leave future generations a healthy and livable Earth. There are no easy answers, but our country and our school communities must have real conversations about how to move forward.”
“MPS respects students’ First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble, and will not discipline students for the act of protesting as long as their protest remains peaceful. Our normal protocol regarding students returning to school and after-school activities continues to apply when students leave their school grounds/campuses. To be clear, if students walk out of school, they will NOT be able to return to the school for the remainder of the day or participate in after-school activities such as athletic events or homecoming even with an excused absence.”

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Dessa stops in Longfellow on memoir, ice cream tours

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

‘Ask me about soaring’ jacket references dad’s love of flight and building wings in community ed at Roosevelt High

Dessa sports her dad’s old flight jacket, the embroidered lettering on which reads: “Ask me about soaring.” She was at Moon Palace Books signing her memoir “My Own Devices.” (Photo by Jill Boogren)

By Jill Boogren
Minneapolis rapper, singer and writer, Dessa, embarked on two mini tours in September that took her to the Longfellow neighborhood – to Moon Palace Books to sign her memoir, “My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love,” and to Hiawatha School Park to give out free samples of her latest Izzy’s Ice Cream flavor collaboration, Night Drive.
As the line formed at Moon Palace Books, Dessa threw on her dad’s old flight jacket, the back of which reads: “Ask me about soaring.” Dessa devotes a chapter of her memoir to her dad’s love of birds and flight and his determination to build his own wooden glider. The building kits no longer available, he bought the instructions and raw materials, signed up for a community education wood shop class at Roosevelt High School, and used their equipment to mill and plane his own wood.
It was a project many years in the making, but eventually he took off.

‘What color?’
Everything is fair game in Dessa’s memoir, including how a former relationship gutted her so emotionally she took to neuroscience to try to fall out of love. It’s a story she shared during a performance with the Minnesota Orchestra, in which an oversized sculpture resembling rams’ horns – what this particular part of the brain looks like – was lowered from the ceiling.
Dessa’s artistry with language shines on every page. She brings plenty of humor but isn’t shy about going deep, often with the same snappy delivery as propels her lyrics at a Doomtree show.
As a musician, Dessa’s a pro on the tour circuit. Her chronicles – right down to the banter about which snacks are the most satisfying and games of “Would you rather…” with fellow sleep-deprived musicians – are relatable to anyone who’s been on a road trip, traveling in cramped quarters with the same people for hours and days at a time. As if to recreate a familiar gas station conundrum, she brought some bite-size Dove chocolates and Starburst candies for guests to choose from at Moon Palace. When Starburst weren’t not visible on the counter but requested, she gleefully pulled a package out of a magic bag, opened it and said, “What color?” as if THAT was the order of the day.

A sweet collaboration
Bayley Nolen, who came to Moon Palace to have Dessa sign her copy, has read the memoir four times (including listening to the audiobook read by Dessa). Nolen became a fan of Dessa’s after her friend Maria Lynch, of Circle Pines, “dragged her” to a concert at St. Kate’s. Today she was completing a Dessa trifecta – having also seen her at a “literary conversation” with Curtis Sittenfeld and Nora McInerny at The Parkway Theater in August, and at Dessa’s ice cream stop in St. Paul the previous night.
Ah, yes. Dessa’s sweetest collaboration, naturally, is the one she has with Izzy’s Ice Cream.
Her latest flavor was first unveiled at the State Fair and is described on Izzy’s website as: “Inspired by long espresso-fueled drives between cities when she’s on tour, Dessa’s Night Drive is a remix of classic and inspiring flavors featuring Bizzy Coffee’s House Blend Cold Brew and Izzy’s cream base, chocolate-covered espresso chips, toffee crunch, finished off with a hint of cardamom.” It is as delicious as it sounds and right on par with Dessa’s first Izzy’s flavor, Existential Crunch (fans needn’t fear, an Izzy’s employee assures it will still be in rotation – the two are sort of begging for an ice cream slam).

Chocolate, caffeine and anxiety
This two-hour tour took her from Izzy’s downtown Minneapolis to Izzy’s St. Paul, with stops in between at Kowalski’s Uptown and Hiawatha School Park – Dessa’s old neighborhood. She grew up a few blocks away and played softball at the park.
As she handed out samples – and glow-in-the-dark key chains – Dessa chatted and took photos with many of the few dozen neighbors gathered around the Izzy’s truck.
It’s been a whirlwind of activity for Dessa. These tours were sandwiched between free performances at the State Fair and upcoming book signings and concerts in Eau Claire, Madison, Chicago, Boston and Wales. Collaborator, risk taker, flavor maker – Dessa is in “go” mode, with a streak as independent as the book stores and ice creameries she visits and no signs of taking a minute.
Asked at Moon Palace how she does it – as in, all of it – Dessa’s reply flew off her tongue: “A lot of chocolate, a lot of caffeine and a lot of natural anxiety and fear.”
But you’d never know that last part.

She always sang in the shower
At Hiawatha School Park, Dessa leaned in to listen as a young girl asked when she started singing.
“I sang along to the radio since I was yay high,” Dessa said, gesturing her hand flat at about knee high. “I always sang in the shower, but I didn’t start professionally until I was 20 or 21.”
When the girl said she aspired to be a singer and was in the choir, Dessa replied, “Well, you’re already way ahead of me.”
Like her dad in his wooden plane, Dessa, too, is soaring. Good thing she’s so down to earth.
“My Own Devices” is available at Moon Palace and other locations, and a recording of one of Dessa’s recent performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, “Sound the Bells: Recorded Live at Orchestra Hall,” will be available Nov. 8.

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