Archive | OPINION

Gratitude, radical acceptance and seeing the silver lining

Posted on 24 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Too Much Coffee


Is this really happening? I don’t know about you, but I’ve asked myself that more than a few times the past weeks as we’ve gotten the news that more and more things are shutting down. Schools and colleges. Barber shops, optometrists, fitness centers, theaters, museums, and concert halls. Restaurant and coffee shops (although they’re still doing take-out and delivery as of press time). Sporting events. Government and courthouse buildings. We’re all being encouraged to stay at home, and socially distance when we’re out for only the essentials. Jobs are on hold. Education is on hold. Lives are on hold.
But are they?
Sure, we’re living in unprecedented times as we watch the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. And it involves making changes to our daily lives in big and small ways.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t still connect with each other, continue learning, and grow as people.
I have a friend who has spent a large part of her adult life in an abusive relationship, one that has continued to be traumatizing past the divorce because they have a child together. She sent me this the other day, and I found it so inspiring, I wanted to share it with Messenger readers:
“I’ve done a whole lot of work in the past few years on handling difficult things emotionally. The most impactful things I’ve found and work to model for my child are 1) gratitude; 2) radical acceptance; and 3) purposefully and consistently focusing on the silver linings.
“I highly recommend spending time reading about radical acceptance. It’s been super helpful to me. It’s basically about letting go of worrying about what you can’t control, but actually spending time reading about it is really helpful and a good thing to model for kids I think. The goal is to teach them resilience and use this experience to train their way of thinking for the inevitable obstacles life will throw in their path.
“To some extent this is helping me now, that I’ve already done this work in my head and in my son’s. We are looking at this as the best time in our life because we are together. We are safe. We have everything that we need. This will end. So we may as well enjoy it.”
This doesn’t mean that she’s not finding it tough to simultaneously work and school her child at home. It doesn’t mean that sometimes tears don’t overtake her. And it doesn’t mean she’s going around pretending this isn’t happening because she’s focused only on the good without seeing the bad.
What it does mean is that she’s accepting this current situation as she has other tough things in her life, and she’s focusing on what she can control. Herself. She can manage what is within her own grasp and she can decide what she tells herself. Mindfulness techniques and prayer have been powerful ways to get through difficult times for centuries.
New today is how we can use technology to connect while we’re staying at home. My kiddos have discovered the joys of Messenger Kids and Facetime this week as a way to see, talk to and play with their friends without physically being in the same room. This, is, indeed a different life on screen than disappearing into a video game. I’ve connected with folks via Google Hangouts, GoTo meetings and Zoom video conferencing. We held a virtual birthday party for my niece. Then there’s regular phone calls, texting, emails, and letters – and a printed newspaper Editorial page. I asked via the Messenger’s Facebook page what folks are doing right now to stay occupied and connected.
Rebekah Peterson said: “My elementary age kids are posting a video daily to their classmates (using a private Facebook group) asking one question (what was your favorite part of the day, show and tell, etc.), and asking the students in their class to respond with a short video. They love seeing their friends via video.”
Others have created private Facebook groups for their block, and focused on getting to know and help those closest to them. Nokomis East Business Association launched a new Instagram account: 34aveneba.
Morgan L’Argent shared this group: Folks are organizing some really creative and innovative things via Facebook. Some hung shamrocks in their windows for kids to look for as they walked by on St. Patrick’s Day. Musicians are live-streaming concerts, and comedians are doing live comedy hours. Others are doing live meditation and mindfulness. There’s a Live Cat Stream and the Auburn Squirrel Project. (Yep!)
Peter Danbury posted: “Inspired by a story about Italians doing something along these lines, some south Minneapolis neighbors on Nextdoor had the idea of a nightly community sing-along, with people singing through a window or from their porch or front stoop every evening at the same time. A lot of us liked the idea, and we settled on singing John Lennon’s Imagine at 7 p.m.”
If dancing is more your jam, turn on the lights in your house once it gets dark, open the shades, and dance like a maniac in your living room. Maybe you’ll find yourself doing a dance off with the neighbors.
Others are simply slowing down; baking bread, cooking a meal, reading a book, journaling, figuring out how to conserve things, and planning their gardens.
Our children are watching us (all of us, not just parents and grandparents) and learning how we handle crisis. When they look back on this time in their lives, they will remember how they felt. They will remember the emotional climate in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. They will remember the board games and movie nights and walks through the park – the dance parties and songs from our front stoops.
Let’s come together for their sakes – and our own.
I’d love to hear more about how you’re connecting and managing. Email, reach out on Facebook or Instagram, or send me a letter.

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Letters to the Editor April 2019

Posted on 24 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Responsibility for taking gender out belongs to men

Dear Editor:
I’m writing this letter in response to one published in the February Messenger.
Mr. Mark Brandt wrote, in response to your article “It should never have happened,“ to suggest a “slight rewrite” to a sentence on page 2, column 3: “Like many men, he didn’t really start showing his abusive side until…”.
Mr. Brandt suggested “Like many eventual abusers…”, claiming that “would take the gender out of it,” as he felt the sentence you wrote “was a little unfair to my gender.”
I suggest the responsibility for taking the gender out of domestic violence belongs to the 71% of abusers who are men. They are the only ones who can do this, by stopping their abuse of women, children, and other men.
There are, of course, two genders involved. The gender of the victims is mostly female, except for half of the children.
Reading about domestic violence often elicits automatic reactions from women (“If my partner ever raised a hand to me, I’d be out of there immediately.”) and men (“But what about women who abuse men?”).
Please, before shutting off what you’re reading with an automatic response, listen to the end of the story. Then look for more information about domestic violence. These excellent articles include a lot of information. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is another good resource.

Helen Hunter
St Paul

Thanks for sharing story on overlooked dark side

Dear Editor:
I wanted to thank you and Leigh Ann Block for her bravely coming forward to share her story about her daughter Mikayla Olson Tester.
It is such a sad story and of course Leigh had to relive it all over again. How brave of her!!
Thank you, Tesha, for reporting carefully and eloquently an often overlooked dark side of our society.

Corinne S. Rockstad

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The fate of Minneapolis neighborhood associations beyond 2020

Posted on 08 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By Candace Miller Lopez and Melanie Majors
Neighborhood Associations (NAs) have long been the connective tissue between the city of Minneapolis and its citizens, but as the Neighborhoods 2020 (N2020) planning process closes, it looks like a total unraveling is on the horizon.
NAs come in all shapes and sizes — serving from fewer than 1,000 residents to over 20,000 annually. There are 70 serving 81 separate neighborhoods. Since the early 1990s, NAs have received funding from the city under the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) and the Community Participation Program (CPP). For many, this was and is the primary source of revenue. In return, NAs provided the city with a direct link to residents. Key to the success of these programs was the emphasis on citizen-driven engagement and, in most cases, adequate resources to get the job done.
Neither program was perfect. The NRP has faced questions of disproportionately benefiting white homeowners and the CPP about the level of representation of minorities and renters on NA boards. Yes, there were unintended outcomes and not all communities benefited equally.
However, NRP was a well-resourced, $300-million bricks-and-mortar investment that, over 20 years, stabilized the city’s housing stock and made neighborhoods safer and more livable. By any standard, it was a success. The program, administered through NAs, empowered residents to develop plans for their neighborhoods. It was fully driven by citizens.
CPP, which replaced NRP around 2010, focused on broad citizen engagement and has been funded at a dramatically lower level – $4.1 million a year for the past 10 years. Because of this substantial cut in funding, many neighborhoods have been limited in the type and amount of programming and engagement they could reasonably provide.
So what is next for neighborhoods? In May 2019, the city council voted to adopt a set of draft recommendations assembled by the Neighborhood Community Relations (NCR) Department that would define the next iteration of neighborhood engagement and funding. The council included a requirement to engage an outside consultant to work with NCR, the associations, the Black, Indigeneous and People of Color (BIPOC) community and other stakeholders to address many of the concerns raised by NAs about the patriarchal and punitive nature of the draft 2020 framework as well as to gather the perspectives of marginalized groups and their relationships with NAs. The council also required the new program not to cost any more than the current one: Base funding for each neighborhood would be set at $25,000 annually. The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) was selected to do this work.
There have been a couple of significant problems with the NCR/CURA process. First is the abbreviated timeline condensing what was supposed to be a six-month process down to six weeks during the holidays, due to delays in executing the contract with CURA. Second, a proposed set of program guidelines bears little resemblance to the input from the participants at five large group meetings. Last, key deliverables in the CURA contract, like developing the program guidelines, logic model, defining input, outcomes and how NA participation results will be evaluated, are all being developed without input from NAs. In fact, the entire process has largely ignored the insights and opinions of NA staffers and board members.
This has resulted in a new program outline, driven primarily by the results of a Racial Equity Analysis that CURA conducted of the previous funding models (NRP and CPP), and their conclusion that both programs were representative of systemic racism experienced throughout the city. It is important to know that NRP in particular was not designed with racial equity in mind. CURA has developed a program and funding model that prioritizes racial equity. Under this model, the lion’s share of $4.1 million per year would go to community-based nonprofits (CBOs) other than NAs and a select few neighborhoods with a high percentage of BIPOC and housing cost burdened residents, which will most certainly destroy the current NA system. It is important to acknowledge that across the board, participants in the large group meetings held by CURA overwhelmingly stated their support for both the need for racial equity work and the funding of CBOs to increase the efficacy of this work, but we firmly reject the idea that this is an either/or proposition.
Under this model, NAs like Standish-Ericsson and Longfellow Community Council will see their funding from the city fall to roughly $1 per resident per year, down from the current level of around $7. This means that less than 25% of available funds will go to base funding for neighborhoods. The city says it is providing this $5,000 to $10,000 in annual base funding to “preserve the network of neighborhood associations to minimum standard.” There is no minimum standard that can be supported by this paltry sum. The network the city is hoping to preserve will crumble. “Show me your budget and I’ll tell you your values.”
What happened to the council’s requirement of $25,000 in base funding? The balance of the funds will be distributed through competitive grants to NAs and CBOs focused specifically on racial equity work, with priority given to racially diverse communities experiencing gentrification and housing disparities. What does this mean for residents of neighborhoods that do not meet this criteria and whose NAs will not survive without meaningful funding from the city? No more community meetings to inform about new developments, transportation activity and other community concerns; no more summer festivals or community garage sales; no more newsletters, environmental programs or programs that serve residents like home improvement loans, support for small business, emergency grants, or clean-up events, etc.
CURA uses a racial-equity framework to inform its work. It is based on three precepts: Context, or insuring solutions address systemic inequity; Community-centered, or working with the population negatively impacted to co-create solutions; and Reparative, or co-creating solutions that are commensurate with what caused the inequity. This framework is the driving narrative in its proposed changes to the program.
We applaud the city and CURA’s intentions regarding racial equity, but we question this strategy. The new program is feeling a lot like reparations, but how on earth do they expect to address and correct inequity generated out of a $300 million capital investment with $3 million of outreach funding? This response does not fit with the CURA framework, and the declaration that all neighborhoods should be doing equity work but with only some benefiting from the city’s financial support for this work is simply wrong. Additionally, and no less important, the city has yet to define what racial equity will even look like under this new program.
The decision-making process for the future of neighborhood associations will come to a close by April 9. It has been an arduous and often frustrating process. Recommended program guidelines will be released for public comment on Feb. 24, and residents will have 45 days to review the guidelines and submit comments. As directors of two successful South Side neighborhood organizations, we want to make sure that residents understand what is at stake if the city council adopts the recommendations of NCR and CURA. Some NAs will no longer exist, all but decimating this decades-old network.
Thirty years of resident-driven organizing and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours created the NA network we have today, which has benefited the city in countless ways. In determining the fate of Minneapolis’ neighborhoods, residents must decide whether they will be voiceless consumers of local government output or citizen participants driving the decision-making process.
* Editor’s note: In order to further define the recommendations, the city postponed the release by a few days of the Neighborhoods 2020 guidelines for public comment. As of press time, it anticipated releasing the guidelines by Feb. 28.

Letter to the Editor
Minneapolis waging war on neighborhoods

Dear Editor:
The city of Minneapolis has been waging what I choose to call an undeclared war on neighborhood organizations as well as neighborhoods and neighborhood activists. By the time this letter is published and read it is likely that this attack will have reached its climax at the monthly meeting of the Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission (NCEC) on 2/19/20. At this meeting the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department is supposed to have made public its plan for what amounts the dissolving of NCEC.
For years the city has been pursuing “engagement” with neighborhoods and the community. Now there is evidence that the city was better off with empowered neighborhood organizations thanks to NRP (Neighborhood Revitalization Program). Dissolving NCEC will leave many neighborhood organizations on life support. Some will ultimately cease to exist. The City power grab will be complete.
The interaction between the city council, the Neighborhood and Community Relations Dept. and the Neighborhood and Community Relations Commission (NCEC) cries out for some solid, in depth investigative reporting that exposes exactly what is going on in the name of engagement and the spending of our tax dollars. A good place to start would the neighborhood grounded members of the NCEC.
Donald Hammen

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What we’ve learned: Highlights from Intimate Partner Homicide Report

Posted on 11 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Now in its 30th edition, the Femicide Report has a new name: the Intimate Partner Homicide Report coinciding with the renaming of the Minnesota Battered Women’s Coalition to Violence Free Minnesota.
Over three decades, at least 685 people were killed due to relationship abuse. The youngest victim was just 22 weeks old; the oldest was 88. Homicide victims include not only the victim of abuse, but people who tried to intervene to stop the violence: bystanders, first-responders, neighbors, friends, family, and children. Such victims represent the ripple effect of domestic violence and how it permeates communities. In sharing their stories, we chip away at the discredited notion that domestic violence is a private, family affair to invite public discourse and action towards a violence free future.

Power and control
While public perception of relationship abuse often emphasizes long histories of physical violence and noticeable injuries, relationship abuse is about a larger pattern of power and control.
People who abuse feel entitled to use physical, sexual, financial, and emotional tactics to control, isolate, and trap their partners. Relationships that have not previously involved physical abuse may involve long histories of humiliation, intimidation, and gaslighting that can culminate in an act of homicide. These tactics are used to instill fear in victims, increase compliance, and cause psychological injury. Victims who experience such abuse may gradually lose access to support services, become isolated from social networks, start to blame themselves, and believe they do not deserve better.
Abuse can look different in every relationship but always ties back to the same motivation: to gain and maintain power and control. Abusive partners may become horrifyingly creative in their tactics, including knowingly transmitting infections to victims and endangering their health; threatening or injuring their children and loved ones; responding with severe violence to rejection; monitoring their location and movements; controlling their access to healthy relationships; and undermining their mental and chemical health by sabotaging their recovery efforts. Many victims who have experienced pervasive levels of abuse report feeling helpless, confused, “crazy,” and defeated due to a gradual breakdown of their sense of self.

Children affected
Intimate partner homicides have a devastating impact on children, as well. CDC-Kaiser Permanente’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations of the impact of childhood experiences on life-long health and well-being. The ACE research demonstrates that exposure to domestic violence can increase risk for physical, mental health, and substance abuse conditions. The impact of chronic domestic violence exposure in childhood was found to have long-term effects throughout the life span.
Impacts on minor children are seen throughout our 30 years of data: children who witnessed the homicide of a parent (22% of cases); children who were killed alongside their parent (16 children); and children killed as a method of coercion by an abusive partner (17 children). This data does not include the number of adult children who may have witnessed or were murdered alongside their parent. In many of the cases involving minor children, the need for protection was raised in a court proceeding or made known to another professional.
While some children are injured or killed as part of the relationship abuse against their parent, many more children are harmed by witnessing the violence. Over three decades, 151 cases of domestic violence homicide occurred with a child witnessing the murder. While experiencing and witnessing relationship violence negatively impacts children, research shows that children are most resilient and have the best emotional recovery when there is a strong relationship with the non-abusive parent. Safety of children is directly linked to the safety and support of victim-parents.
Selection of report above. Read the full report at

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Letters to the Editor Feb 2020

Posted on 11 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

We are not believed about our own lives
Dear Editor:
Thank you for interviewing Leigh Ann Block and, presumably, believing her story. Unlike the lawyers, judges and social workers who cared more about giving the violent man who would murder her daughter “a chance to demonstrate good behavior.”
I could have lost either or both of my children to their abusive father many years ago. But they and I – were luckier than Mikayla and Leigh.
I had decent lawyers for my divorce, unlike Martha Eaves of SMRLS. But I knew that most people, and most professionals involved in divorce and custody cases, think women trying to protect our children from violent men in their lives are making up stories to get revenge. That’s the baseline wrong done to Leigh, Mikayla and so many other victims of abuse, most of which is perpetrated by men.
We are not believed about our own lives and our children’s lives, and the violent men in our lives. My children’s father was a – now retired – Presbterian minister. You think most people believed me about his violence, his refusal to recognize other people’s rights or boundaries, his resentment at “having to be a good boy”?
My children are grown, and caring, nonviolent, great people, We’ve survived. But part of me will feel safer when that man is dead.
Thank you, Leigh Ann, for your love and courage to keep going after being abused by that monster, suffering your little daughter’s murder, and having your warnings ignored by people who should have paid attention.
It’s a disease of “professionals,” of “experts,” to think they know better than the people who come to them for help. Doctors, lawyers, cops, judges, social workers, even some teachers and mental health workers have this disease. People die every day because of this disease of arrogance, distrust of women, racism.
Thank you again for writing this. I’m sure you’ll receive a lot of letters like mine.
Helen Hunter
St Paul

Impactful series in wake of triple murder by father
Dear Editor:
Just finished reading your two stories about domestic abuse in the most recent edition of the Monitor. Very impactful writing, especially with the tragedy today in south Minneapolis, demonstrating the worst outcome of an abusive relationship.
May I offer a correction of the name for one of the resources for those in an abusive relationship? You referred to the “Alexander House”; I believe you meant the Alexandra House in Blaine.
Joel Carter

What about men who are abused by women?
Dear Editor:
I received the newspaper today, and read the article about Leigh Ann Block and her late daughter Mikayla. The story is at once heartbreaking and frustrating, and I thank you for writing it. I admire Ms. Block’s activism, and I wish she could find more peace of mind, though given what happened, that may not be possible.
I wanted to bring up one sentence from the article, that I’m kind of stuck on. It’s on page 2, column 3, 4th full paragraph: “Like many men, he didn’t really start showing his abusive side until…..”
I feel like doing a slight rewrite on the first phrase of that sentence. Maybe something like “Like many eventual abusers….” This phrase takes gender out of it (since women are abusers, too, though not nearly as often as men) and it also shrinks the pool from all males to just abusive people. As written, that sentence struck me as a little unfair to my gender.
But I’m nitpicking, and I’ll stop now. Thanks again for the article – it was an engrossing account of a very sad situation.
Have a Happy New Year,
Mark Brandt

Editor’s note: While it is definitely true both males and females can be abusive, the majority of abusers are men, and the majority of violent abusers are men. Many do argue that while both genders employ power and control dynamics, it is significantly worse for women. This isn’t something everyone agrees on, though, and is currently a hot discussion topic with the recent renaming of the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women to Violence Free Minnesota.
I hope that the graphic that accompanied the article you’re referring to helped put things in perspective by showing the exact breakdown of murders by father/mother/etc. according to the Center for Judicial Excellence.

Impactful series in wake of triple murder by father
Dear Editor:
Just finished reading your two stories about domestic abuse in the most recent edition of the Messenger. Very impactful writing, especially with the tragedy today in south Minneapolis, demonstrating the worst outcome of an abusive relationship.
May I offer a correction of the name for one of the resources for those in an abusive relationship? You referred to the “Alexander House”; I believe you meant the Alexandra House in Blaine.
Joel Carter

What happened to Parkway Motor totem pole?
Dear Editor:
There is a post on NextDoor that is asking what happened to the totem pole that was originally part of the Parkway Motor Hotel at Hiawatha Ave. and Nawadaha Blvd. It was removed from its original place during the Hiawatha Ave. reconstruction, then sat on its side by the old Bridgeman’s/SomTaste building for awhile. Do you have any knowledge of where it went to? Neighbors are dying to know!
Thanks for any info you can share!
Wade Johnson
Hiawatha nieghborhood


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Meet Our Staff: Asking questions, talking about interests and events

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen


A little bit about me… I grew up on a cattle and crop farm in north central Iowa. With no brothers, every day was “Take Your Daughter to Work” day. I have vivid dreams every fall about helping with the harvest.
My father and I both loved horses and ranch rodeos, and my earliest career choice was to work on a ranch. That career never happened, but it’s still fun to think about.
It’s striking to realize that after many generations of farmers on both branches of the family tree, no one in my extended family farms today.
Our farm was in a rural area known as Heathen Valley. We had many friends and many youthful adventures in our rural neighborhood, which was near a landmark still known as Four Corners. It got its name because with ponds and the east fork of the Iowa River, you could fish at all four corners.
My sisters and I attended a K-12 school, where my graduating class was the second-largest in school history. There were 34 of us, and almost two dozen of us classmates began kindergarten together.
I always liked to read and write, so journalism was an extension of that. My newspaper career began at age 12, as a writer for small weekly newspapers. I worked with some wonderful editors and correspondents during that time. School news and sports were my first “beats,” but I also covered local meetings.
One paper let me hang out in the back shop where the paper was produced. The young people who helped were known as “printers’ devils.” Many of us get to revisit those days at the Minnesota State Fair Newspaper Museum, housed in the 4-H Building.
After high school, I graduated from Iowa State University. My career path never strayed from community journalism, with papers in Iowa and Minnesota. I moved to the Twin Cities in 1983 and live in Macalester-Groveland neighborhood in St. Paul, after many years in Merriam Park.
Many, many people and stories come to mind when looking back on my career. One of the strangest was in the early 1980s, when a rural Minnesota high school bought a portable breath tester to use with the junior-senior prom attendees. The story was picked up by the wire services. Today we’d say it went viral.
Another story a few of you might remember is the all-night public hearing on I-35W expansion in south Minneapolis, back in 1992. It may have been the last public hearing on such a topic with that format. To those who stayed all night with me, I salute you.
My current work has me editing Access Press, a monthly paper for people with disabilities, and writing for community papers including the Villager, Monitor and Messenger. I do some writing for Food Service News and other trade publications.
My work is largely focused on St. Paul city and county government, land use and regulatory issues, although I do venture across the river to do Minneapolis stories from time to time. I also write and research St. Paul history.
A few random thoughts on my work life:
*Issues take time to be resolved. I began writing about what became the Green Line light rail in 1983. I also remember when the Blue Line was Hennepin County’s third transit priority. It was the first light rail line built in the Twin Cities.
*The second thought is that so many things have changed over my years of writing. How communities organize, who is involved, what form outreach takes, which issues are important … things in some ways look very different than they used to.
Journalism itself has really changed. I remember listening to the wire services machines humming and clicking in the background of a newsroom or hearing the bells for major news. I remember when getting a fax machine for a newsroom was a big, big deal.
But what hasn’t changed is the need to get the news out, deadline after deadline. And for me, it continues to be a great general education. You learn something new every day.

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Too Much Coffee: Shovel the sidewalks, say hi to your newspaper carriers

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen


Let’s give a hand to our newspaper carriers, those wonderful people who are out delivering the news before many of us wake up. As winter sets in, give your newspaper and mail carriers a hand. Keep sidewalks shoveled and ice-free, and make sure there’s a clear pathway to your front door. Some folks even clear a house-to-house trail on their lawns so the carriers don’t have to go up and down steps. It could speed delivery, just a tiny bit.
Nearly 30 million U.S. households still get a newspaper delivered to their doorstep, according to 2018 data from the Pew Research Center.
The job hazards are what you’d expect – dogs, sprinklers, rain, snow and sleet.
The carriers may not be what you’d expect. Henry Huggins, the beloved fictional character created by Beverly Cleary, epitomized a time when kids filled the majority of newspaper routes. Today, most carriers do the routes as a second job. This side hustle pays for vacations, cabins, and home repairs. For some, it’s a way to stay active and fit when they retire.
Delivering newspapers has been a crash course in business training for many famous folks, including Walt Disney, Warren Buffett, Kathy Ireland, former Vice President Joe Biden, actor Tom Cruise, and director David Lynch.
Our newspaper carriers aren’t TMC Publication staff members, but employees of Fresh Heir, a small business that delivers for a variety of neighborhood newspapers in the Twin Cities. They earn their wage based on the number of papers and routes they deliver. Carriers can earn $13-15 an hour and their hours are flexible. To accommodate those without cars, the Fresh Heir van drops bundles off at street corners. Carriers can then fill their bags multiple times over the next hour or so without them becoming too heavy, and then work through way up and down the street. A 12-inch stack of newspapers weighs about 35 pounds, so a carrier is always balancing how much they can carry versus the length of the route. In poor weather, the carrier places the newspapers in polybags (that can be recycled by readers), and in better weather they roll them with a rubber band to make it easier to throw.
It takes some muscle and finesse to deliver a paper to your front steps. I can tell you that my arm got pretty tired by the end of my routes this summer, and some papers didn’t make it exactly where I was aiming. My apologies for those of you that found your papers closer to the bushes then your front steps.
Some of our carriers have been delivering the same routes for years, and although I tried to talk them into being interviewed for this column, they all declined, leaving the spotlight for others. These carriers regularly walking our neighborhood streets help keep them safe. And they feel connected to the homes they’re serving.
Every once in awhile a newspaper carrier makes it into the newspapers they’re delivering. Here are a few stories compiled by the News Media Alliance:
• In 2018, Howard Shelton was shot on the job. He is a carrier for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The 60-year-old was delivering to customers on his route when his car was stolen and he was shot. His customers set up a GoFundMe to help with his expenses while out of work. It was the first time in 20 years Shelton missed work.
• In 2017, Mari Schlegel was delivering the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star when she noticed a home on her route was on fire. After calling 911, Schlegel knocked on the door of the house to wake up the resident, Debra Sherard, and alert her to the fire. Thanks to Schlegel’s quick thinking, Sherard and her pets escaped the house unharmed, and the fire department was able to put out the fire before it spread further through the house.
• When Debbie Brazell, a newspaper delivery woman for Columbia, South Carolina’s The State newspaper, noticed that papers were piling up in the paper box of a long-time subscriber on her route, she thought something had to be wrong. And she was right. The 93-year-old resident had fallen and couldn’t get up, so Brazell called 911. The woman, it turned out, had fallen and blacked out on Friday, and was not found until Brazell arrived on Monday.
Feel free to leave a tip for your carrier during these tough winter months (it’s customary to tip a carrier $5 to $10 per month, and up to $25 during the holidays), and I’m sure they’d also appreciate a smile and a thank you.
Newspaper carriers don’t just deliver papers; they also deliver democracy door to door, according to Lindsey Loving, a spokesperson for News Media Alliance. “Without newspaper carriers, many people wouldn’t receive the news that keeps them informed about their communities,” she said. “Both the news and newspaper carriers play critical roles in preserving our democratic society, and we couldn’t be more grateful to them.”
I completely agree.

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Letter to the Editor December 2019

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Feeling charitable? There are many ways to help

Dear Editor:
Almost 10% of our global population is living in extreme poverty, on less than $2 a day. 3 billion people worldwide lack access to toilets, and 1 billion don’t have access to clean water. The Borgen Project is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that is addressing global poverty by working with U.S. leaders in securing support for poverty-reducing legislation. I’m writing this today as a volunteer and advocate who strongly believes in this cause and hopes that others who read this will feel the same and do something.
We all know that there are many nonprofits working directly to end global poverty, and these efforts should not go unnoticed. The Borgen Project is doing something different, though, and that’s advocating for federal dollars to go towards these endeavors.
$5000 towards an aid agency could build one freshwater well that provides 250 people with clean drinking water, but $2000 is all it takes to meet directly with 70 congressional offices in order to build support for a bill that would provide 100 million people with access to clean drinking water (Water for the World Act). Basically, using the same amount of money (or less) that an aid agency needs to assist hundreds, The Borgen Project can help to shape policy that affects millions.
All it takes is our voices, telling our leaders what should be done, to make some change in our world.
Find out more at There are internship and volunteer opportunities, plus much more information regarding global poverty and legislation ways we can address it.
Thank you for your time,
Ashley Strand

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Longfellow Directory: Use to support local merchants

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

View from the Messenger

Denis Woulfe has been working for the Monitor and Messenger since her was a college intern from Hamline.


Over the years the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger has had the good fortune to have a great working relationship with the Longfellow Business Association (LBA). Since the early days of the Messenger in the 1980s, the Messenger has relied on the LBA to get information on things going on in the Longfellow community, and also to tap the mindset of business owners in our community. Many of the stories that the Messenger has covered over the years have started with ideas that have come out of the LBA and/or LBA sponsored meetings in our community.
I currently have the pleasure of serving on the Board of the LBA along with other business reps and business owners from Longfellow who are devoted not only to improving the business climate in Longfellow but also the quality of life for residents and businesses alike in the community.
Without a doubt, however, one of the most important byproducts of the relationship between the Messenger and the LBA is the Longfellow Business Directory, which is published every two years as a joint effort between the LBA and the Messenger.
The Longfellow Business Directory has had a history in the Longfellow community going back to the 1990s. It was started with the assistance of City of Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program funds to help foster better communication within the business community. When grant monies dried up, however, the Longfellow Business Association (LBA), recognizing the importance of the Directory, approached the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger about taking on the project despite the absence of an outside funding source.
While prior Directories had contained some advertising, the question posed to the Messenger was whether there would be enough support in the Longfellow business community through advertising to cover the costs of the printing and distribution of the Directory to the Longfellow community.
The first Longfellow Business and Community Directory published in cooperation with the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger was produced in 2004 and the cover was a vibrant mosaic of the Lake Street Bridge in full autumn bloom. The text on the cover of the book described it as “Your guide for everything you need to work and live in the Longfellow area of Minneapolis.” Since then the Longfellow Business Directory has been published every two years, being released with the December issue of the Messenger.
This brings me to today. I’m pleased to announce that Longfellow readers of the Messenger will find a copy of the Longfellow Business Directory delivered along with their December issue of the Messenger this week. It’s a hefty book, chockful of important information. It lists the Longfellow businesses that provide the goods and services that our kind readers use on a weekly basis. I would encourage you to hang on to the Directory and use it as a guide to find local merchants and “Buy Local” when you need to restock your refrigerator, service your automobile, or perhaps find those special gifts for your friends and family during the year. Your local merchants need your support and work hard to earn your respect and patronage.
If you would like additional copies of the Longfellow Business Directory, or perhaps live outside the boundaries of the Longfellow community, additional copies can be found at the Longfellow Community Council at 2727 26th Av. S. You will also find copies of the Directory at many of the Longfellow businesses which already carry copies of the Messenger.
And if you own a business in Longfellow and are not currently a member of the LBA, I would strongly encourage you to check out the LBA and consider becoming a member and getting involved in the organization and in your neighborhood.
If you have questions about the Directory, don’t hesitate to email me at


Click here to view the 2020 Business Directory.

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Letters to the Editor November 2019

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Thanks, students

Dear Editor:
I want to thank the high school students that participated in the world climate strike. There are many in my age group (over 60) that may have concerns regarding climate but clearly not strongly represented in the strike. thanks for the courage, sacrificing homecoming and being a voice for change.
A thank you to the school district for respecting the students right to strike. your measured are is appreciated.
Dave Rompa

Let’s empower women

Dear Editor:
I am writing to give another perspective to the one presented in the column, Too Much Coffee. In the article, Let’s start believing women and children, Tesha Christensen writes, “The sad thing is, being smart and educated, kind and empathic, 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.” I believe that it is just this kind of thinking, “there is no safeguard from it” actually contributes to women not protecting themselves – which I believe is possible.
There are many, many signs – red flags – (and they are called that for a reason) that alert women that men are controlling and abusive. There are folks of either or any gender that can be unsafe partners. The problem is that while girls and women are most often being socialized to believe that they should be “a good mom and a good wife,” they are not socialized around how to take care of and protect themselves. The belief that it is of primary concern for girls and women to be in a relationship, to be moms, to be wives, is in and of itself a dire premise.
Thankfully, we are moving in a direction that gives women many more options than in the past, and not being partnered is a viable alternative to being a good wife and mother if you are not certain you know how to take care of yourself and what to look for in a potential partner.
We need to stop telling women that there’s no way to protect themselves, because there are lots of ways. In his book, “The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence,” Gavin De Becker states, “Every day people engaged in the clever defiance of their own intuition become, in midthought, victims of violence and accidents. So when we wonder why we are victims so often, the answer is clear: It is because we are so good at it (p. 30).” I recommend that women every where read this book.
Like most women, I was socialized to be kind and giving, and ended up married at a young age to someone who didn’t have the relationship skills that I was hoping for (and neither did I). I sought out a divorce, and instead of focusing on this relationship, I began accessing my own power. It took a lot of work (and time) for me to deconstruct the many messages from my culture and my family, and of the religion I was raised to believe in. I started to believe that I could support and care for myself, and once I did, I began living a life that I couldn’t have imagined possible. I cannot support the premise that men are horrible and violent (although some are) and women are incapable of learning how to look for and recognize signs in potential partners that are destructive and controlling. Women can learn to recognize signs that can alert them, can learn boundaries and how to say, “hell no” to anyone who tries to manipulate and control them.
Theresa Crawford, LMFT
Catalyst Mental Health

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