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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.

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.
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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

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.

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

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

Day One MN Emergency Crisis HotLine: call or text 1.866.223.1111
LGBTQ Domestic Violence Hotline
Teen Dating Violence Hotline
Native Domestic Violence Helpline

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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.


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

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.
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For South High students: Homecoming or Climate Strike

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha 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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Riding across Minnesota at 84

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

While Wayne Tellekson didn’t really enjoy biking 40 miles a day this last year, he did enjoy the people, the scenery, and the experience. And when you ride through the big orange arch at the end it feels like quite an accomplishment, he said. (Photo by Terry Faust)

By Iric Nathanson
Wayne Tellekson had convinced himself that last year would his final ride with Bike MS.
Most years since 2009, Tellekson had joined a group of avid bikers who rode 250 miles over five days raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He was 83 in 2018. It was time for him to hang up his bike for those long distance treks, he told himself.
But Tellekson’s resolve to stop riding crumbled when one of his biking buddies asked him if he was going to do the Bike MS in 2019.
“Right then, I realized that I needed to do it again, even at the age of 84. I changed my mind in an instant,” Tellekson recalled.

Doing more than writing a check
The Longfellow resident first becomes involved with the Multiple Sclerosis Society when his son was diagnosed with MS in 1996.
The next year, Tellekson’s daughter Karin participated in a roller blade event, skating from Duluth to Hinkley to raise funds for the national health organization. Karin moved on from roller blades to bikes when the Multiple Sclerosis Society switched to long distance biking as a fund raiser. The group started TRAM (The Ride Across Minnesota), now called Bike MS, the five-day, 250-mile ride held each summer in July.
Tellekson had always written checks in support of his daughter’s participation, but one day he decided that he could do more than just write checks. If he rode in the TRAM himself, he could raise even more money to combat MS.
When he floated the idea by his wife, Sindy, and his three children, they objected, saying that the old, heavy bike he had ridden around town was not fit for a 250-mile trek.
But they knew his heart was in the right place, so they got together and bought him a new bicycle fit for long distance riding Still, Sindy was uneasy about the prospect of Wayne going off that first year and riding for five straight days.
“Sindy knew I was stubborn and she worried that I would keep riding until I fell over, so Karin agreed to ride behind me to make sure that I stayed vertical.”

Doubts about his decision
During this year’s ride, Tellekson, himself, had some doubts about the wisdom of his quick decision to do the Bike MS. again. He had second thought after another biker, who was also 84, had to drop out after two days because of some heart problems.
“I ended up being the oldest person, out of 450, on the trip,” Tellekson said. “And I was probably the slowest. People were passing me all the time because my legs just wouldn’t move very fast. I knew I wasn’t in good shape for long-distance biking. I only decided to do ride about three weeks before it started so I hadn’t trained for the ride as I had in the past.”
Each day during the five-day event Tellekson was able to take advantage of the sag wagon, a van that picked up riders and drove them along the route for a while, giving them a break from peddling. He used the sag wagon for about 10 miles each day, but that still left about 40 miles that he needed to bike.
“Those last few minutes just before rest stops were the hardest,” he remembers. ”That’s when I said to myself: ‘This is really foolish. Should I really be doing this?’
“But I never thought about stopping. I was never ready to give up as rough as it was to keep going.“
Tellekson said he envied the younger riders who kept passing him by. “Those guys whizzed by me and their legs were just like pistons. They were going 25 miles an hour. I looked at their legs and I said to myself ‘How do they go that fast?’ At the most, I could do 19 miles an hour and that was going downhill.”
“My knees are probably the weakest part of my body when it comes to biking. I just don’t have the strength to push as hard as those younger bikers do. I don’t wear clips that help with the upswing. If I did, I am afraid I would forget that I have the clips on. Then, when I start getting off the bike, I would fall and land in a heap. “

‘A real feeling of accomplishment’
Tellekson confessed that he really didn’t enjoy biking 40 miles a day.
“I enjoyed the people, the scenery and the experience, but biking that far is really not fun, at least not for me.
“That long ride each day is a real strain, but when you ride through the big orange arch at the end of the five days, and people are there cheering you on, there is a real feeling of accomplishment. More important than the cheers is knowing that the money I raised — $4300 – will be put to good use combatting Multiple Sclerosis.
“I realize there are not many people my age who are doing something as foolish as riding 250 miles in five days. But my body can handle it, at least for now. I don’t feel 84 even though I am 84. I really can’t take credit for my condition, maybe it’s genes. I eat healthy but I don’t obsess about what I eat. I walk and bike, but I don’t spend a lot of time exercising just to stay in shape.
“This year, I told everyone it would be my last ride But I made it this year, so if I train maybe I can do it again next year. Maybe I will break my pledge again not to ride. Who knows what next year will bring? I’ll just have to wait and see.”

Saga of the Ride
In 2019, as he has done other years, Wayne Tellekson composed a poem—a saga, he calls it— celebrating the five days he spent on his bike, raising funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Here is the final stanza from this year’s saga:

The Orange Arch of Triumph, we rode through with pride.
Tired, proud and happy, it had been a very good ride.
We’d raised $400,000, we’d peddled 250 miles.
We’d raised funds for MS research, that explains our smiles.
A quick lunch and we hurried off. A hurried goodbye to friends.
Next year will be another ride. Will you? That depends.

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‘Green’ cemetery opens in Twin Cities

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Executive director Joan Gizek stood on top of the plot she has already purchased in the natural burial section of Resurrection Cemetery. She said, “I love the idea of coming into the world, and leaving the world, simply. I look forward to going back to the earth, to being part of creation. More than 100,000 tons of steel and 1,600,000 tons of concrete are used in the U.S. for traditional burials each year. Natural burial is the original recycling.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Catholic Cemeteries begins offering natural burials in three-acre restored prairie
In the Catholic tradition, the body upon death is re-committed to the earth, “for we are dust, and to dust we shall return.”
Some people are taking this belief to heart again, with a desire to have a more organic, less industrial approach to death and burial.
The Catholic Cemeteries consists of five locations that have served the Twin Cities Catholic community since 1856. Their Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights has recently become what is known as a hybrid cemetery. It contains a traditional cemetery, and a newly created natural burial allotment on a nearly three-acre restored prairie.
As the gravesites in the allotment become occupied, native perennial flowers and grasses will cover them. Eventually, the natural burial area will become a peaceful, uninterrupted prairie maintained in perpetuity along with rest of the grounds.

What is a natural burial?
Catholic Cemeteries Executive Director Joan Gezik said, “We’ve been studying the natural burial concept for the last eight years. Our allotment was just blessed and dedicated by St. Paul Arch Bishop Hebda on Memorial Day 2019. Our mission is to bury the dead – not just Catholics. The first of several sections that we’ve opened can hold 40 graves, and we have sold over half of them.”
A natural burial cemetery can use machinery to dig graves, but no chemicals are used to prepare the bodies of the deceased or to maintain the cemetery grounds. In the natural burial process, the bodies of the deceased, and the earth to which they return, are treated with reverence.
In a natural burial, the deceased is placed directly into the ground where it decomposes naturally — without embalming fluid, and without a burial vault. The remains of the deceased are placed directly in the earth, allowing the body to decompose naturally.
If the body of the deceased is clothed, the clothing must be made of natural fibers such as cotton, linen, wool, or silk that will decompose over time. The garments must be free of all plastic and metal such as buttons, zippers, and hooks. Jewelry, belt buckles, and other materials that are not biodegradable cannot be buried along with the deceased.
The body of the deceased may be washed, wrapped in a cloth shroud made of natural fiber, and placed in a grave – which at Resurrection Cemetery is dug to four feet deep. The wrapped body can also be placed in an open or closed container made of biodegradable material like pine, wicker, or bamboo.
Rather than placing individual headstones or markers on grave sites, the names of the deceased, along with their birth and death years, are listed on a permanent community monument in the natural burial area. The cemetery office will also maintain burial records, and a grid map with the approximate location of each burial site.
Costs associated with a natural burial are less than those of a conventional burial. The purchase of a gravesite includes a contribution to the permanent burial site care fund, and the cost of memorializing a name on the common memorial. The internment (grave opening and closing) fee is paid at the time of burial; with natural burial, no outer burial container is required by law.
The natural burial area at Resurrection Cemetery is located at the southwest corner of the Chapel Mausoleum. Access it from the front of the mausoleum by following the sidewalk along the west side of the building. Resurrection Cemetery is located at 2105 Lexington Ave. S. in Mendota Heights.

From then to now
When the body of Jesus was removed from the cross, it was washed, wrapped in a cloth shroud, and placed in a tomb. For many years, most burials took place in a similar manner. These practices changed in the U.S. around the time of the Civil War, when bodies were transported long distances for burial. By treating the body with embalming fluids to prevent decomposition, the body became suitable for transportation and for viewing.

Renewed interest in natural burial is influenced, in part, by people’s desire to honor their loved ones in a manner that is sensitive to the environment. The first “green” cemetery in North America was opened in South Carolina in 1998.

Inspired by Pope Francis
Pope Francis – whose reverence for nature led him to choose his papal name inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, is committed to the sanctity of nature and the need to protect it. The Pope asks Catholics to be mindful of the natural world, and to dedicate themselves to having a gentler impact on the planet.

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Documentary on serial killer filmed in Longfellow

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Nora and Ken Krahn leased their home to Committee Films of Eden Prairie last year for the filming of a documentary that recently aired. “Serial Killer: Devil Unchained” tells the story of convicted murder and rapist Todd Kohlhepp. With the help of former FBI profiler John Douglas and Kohlhepp’s own biographer, Gary Garrett, journalist Maria Awes goes down a twisted path, talking to Kohlhepp’s family, as well as his victims and their families, uncovering early warning signs that might have helped stop a killer in his tracks. (Photo right by Tesha M. Christensen)

Ken and Nora Krahn’s home used to film scenes from Arizona

A Longfellow house along 37th Ave. S. served as a filming location for the documentary, “Serial Killer: Devil Unchained” that aired this summer on Investigation Discovery.
Despite the chilling topic, homeowners Ken and Nora Krahn were reassured that no graphic scenes would be filmed in their house.
Filmed by Eden Prairie’s wife-husband duo Maria and Andy Awes of Committee Films, the documentary unravels the mind of rapist and murderer Todd Kohlhepp in three two-hour-long sessions. The first aired on July 22, 2019, and the last three weeks later on Aug. 5. Each episode was followed by a digital companion series “Kohlhepp Uncut: The Devil Speaks” with Kohlhepp himself providing chilling details about crimes spanning 30 years.
The Krahn house was used to film an abduction that happened in Arizona. To make it look more like the southwestern state (and avoid the green hues of a Minnesota September), the filming was done at night, Nora pointed out.
They filmed a scene in the alleyway, one in the upstairs bedroom, one in the downstairs bedroom, one by the front door, and another by the back door.

Interesting to see what goes into a production
The Krahn’s had received a letter last fall from Committee Films that stated the company was looking for a location to shoot a documentary. “We responded,” recalled Nora. “My daughter is in production, and I immediately thought she’d love this.”
Previously, when her daughter had explained her work, Nora couldn’t visualize it. Now she can.
Ken admits he was cautious about signing on, but they researched the film company ahead of time before agreeing to anything. “We were impressed by their resume and the bulk of work they had done,” he noted.
That includes America Unearthed on the Travel Channel now in its fourth season, as well as 20/20: In An Instant, Top of the World, Bigfoot Captured, Who Really Discovered America, Secrets of Einstein’s Brain, Templars’ deadliest Secret, Aloha Life, Myth of Monster, Mystery of Easter Island, and more.
Nora said the company’s location manager was really easy to work with. “I liked the fact that they kept us in the loop,” she said.
“It’s just so interesting to see how much goes into a production. It’s really huge.”
Signs were put up the day before to make sure no one parked on their street, and the neighborhood was leafleted so that everyone knew what was going on when the trucks arrived with gear and crew members. On the day of, the alley was closed. A few people arrived at their house at about 3 p.m.on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018 to begin setting up.
By 4 p.m., a whole crew was bustling around, setting up equipment, putting up lights, serving food and putting screens up around the windows, Nora recalled.
“They were extremely well organized and obviously they had the production down very well,” said Ken. “Everybody knew what their job was.”
Staff placed rugs on the floor, plastic on the stairs and cardboard on the walls to protect them. They moved some things around, took down photos, and put up other pictures. The couple had already tucked some items away, based on the recommendation of the film company. In all, there were about 40 people associated with the film, and three trucks.
“They told us we could stay if we wanted to, but it was kind of overwhelming,” said Nora. The couple walked by a few times to check up on what was going on and Ken ducked inside the house for a bit, and then they headed off to their complimentary hotel room.
By 3:30 a.m., the crew was gone.
Nora wasn’t sure what to expect when they returned, and was delighted to see that they’d put everything back the way it was.
“It was cleaner when we came back than when we left it,” said Ken.
Afterwards, when they talked to their neighbors they heard that the production crew was nice and friendly, Ken observed. “They were not at all off-put by little kids coming and asking questions,” he said.
“I would have no hesitation to invite them back. For us, this was a positive and entertaining experience.”
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Organics recycling changes coming for businesses

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Mallory Anderson, waste prevention and recycling specialist, said, “Organic materials are a resource, not a waste.” Waste-sort studies show that organic materials are the largest proportion of trash at about 25%, according to the county’s solid waste management master plan.(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Restaurants and others with food waste must compost by Jan. 1, 2020

Businesses with a large amount of food waste must start recycling it by Jan. 1, 2020.
Hennepin County Ordinance 13 also will require cities within the county that have more than 10,000 residents to offer curbside organics recycling beginning in 2022. The new ordinance was triggered by a state mandate that counties recycle 75% of their waste, and a county resolution to send no waste to landfills by 2030.
Under the new ordinance, grocery stores, hotels, sports venues, senior living facilities, office buildings with food service, food shelves, colleges and schools with food service, shopping malls, and airports that generate one ton or more of trash per week (or more than eight cubic yards) will have to recycle their food waste.
Mallory Anderson is a waste prevention and recycling specialist with Hennepin County. She said, “We’re already well into notifying businesses about the new requirements. Outreach has been coming in the form of mailings, phone calls, and site visits. There are about 90 businesses in the 55406 zip code that could meet the limit of generating an eight-yard dumpster or more of trash weekly. We really are going after places with commercial kitchens; there is a lot of food waste happening out there.”

Grants available to help
Thanks to a county and state tax on trash, there are funds set aside to help businesses comply with the new requirements.
Anderson said, “Last year the county issued about 70 grants, with an average amount of $4,000. A request up to $10,000 can be funded anytime until the money runs out – which will probably be later in the fall.
“Examples of things we’ve funded in the past have been organics compactors, compostable products, or containers to hold organic matter until it can be moved outside. The requirements for participation are to submit an application, complete a grant agreement, and report back to us within one year to tell us how it’s going.”
Businesses are strongly encouraged to apply for grants while they are still available.
For more information about the new organics recycling requirements, and about granting opportunities, call Mallory Anderson at 612.348.3837 or Amy Maas at 612.348.6848.
You can also email or call 612.543.9298 with questions.

Focus on smooth roll-out
Note that all Minneapolis businesses will be required to have recycling bins in the front-of-house, if they have trash receptacles there. Dual bins are an efficient, attractive way to get the job done, and are covered under the cost of a grant ($1,200-$1,500.)
The county will have authority to enforce the new requirements, including the ability to issue warnings or citations.
Anderson said, “What we really want to focus on in the beginning though is compliance. We are doing our due diligence to inform businesses and ensure a smooth transition. Once the roll-out is complete, it’s likely that the county and city health department will observe how the organics recycling containers are being used as part of their health inspections.”
Ordinance 13 had not been updated since it was last signed into law by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners in 1986. Hennepin County waste prevention and recycling specialists Mallory Anderson and Amy Maas led the team that wrote the updated version of Ordinance 13.
Anderson concluded, “It sets a new bar for recycling that our residents have asked for and expect within their community.”

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