Insight News ::: 12.14.09
Insight News for the week of December 14, 2009. Insight News is the community journal for news, business and the arts serving the Minneapolis / St. Paul African American community.
An outdoor procession during La Natividad, in the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre. PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID MINNEAPOLIS MN PERMIT NO. 32468 Photo by Bruce Silcox. ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED La Natividad Returns December 10, 11, 13, 17-20 Tickets can be purchased by calling 612-721-2535 or on-line at www.hobt.org. December 14 - December 20, 2009 • MN Metro Vol. 35 No. 50 • The Journal For Community News, Business & The Arts • www.insightnews.com Mission: Peace MPS guts in the Horn of Africa Covenant, marginalizes advocates PAGE 4 Suluki Fardan Seeking peace for the Horn of Africa: Dr. Fahia Saeed, Executive Director, Confederation of the Somali Community; Petros Haile, President, Eritrean Forum in Minnesota; Magn Nyang, Gambella Relief Organization; Al McFarlane, Editor-in-Chief, Insight News; Obang Metho, Director of Advocacy, Anuak Justice Council, and Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia, Canada; Dr. Bereket Habte Sellassie, Professor of African Studies and Professor of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Ahmed Samatar, Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship, Macalster College; and Seyoum Tesfaye, President of the Eritrean Global Solidarity, Atlanta, Georgia, at Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Pxfairs at Friday, Dec. 4 Forum exploring regional solutions to overlapping crises in the Horn of Africa states including, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritria, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Tanzania. Sponsored by African News Journal, Eritrean Forum in Minnesota, and organized by Confederation of the Somali Community, Eritrean Forum and Gambella Relief Organization, The By Basha Saed African News Journal, Publisher Part 1 of 2 Horn of Africa Peace Forum examined pathways to peace in the Horn of Africa region and explored ways of empowering the grass root and civil society so that a lasting peace can be based on understanding and trust. The Forum that won many nicknames before it even began left participants with hope. It has been called an historic conference, never done before. Even coordinators won nicknames: risk takers, visionaries, concerned citizens, dreamers and so on. What matters the most, after all, for organizers and the attendees was AFRICA TURN TO 9 Penumbra’s Black Nativity PAGE VJ Smith 5 StudioTobechi Faces: Anika Robbins with V.J. Smith, Madd Dadd’s Turnaround Specialist I met VJ Smith many moons, many incarnations ago. After that first meeting, Smith left a lasting impression on me. His spirit was bright and cheery, he was always smiling, he was always wishing the best for everyone. And all of these qualities remain true today. Smith, who considers himself The Turnaround Specialist, is CEO and Chapter President of Minneapolis MAD DADS, Inc. Many know Smith, 51, as the face of MAD DADS and may have seen him on some of the Metro’s toughest city bus lines or at any given community event presenting a strong, yet approachable presence. When the 35W bridge collapsed, Smith was on the scene, ready to offer a helping hand. FACES TURN TO 3 Job crisis hits every family, affects every neighborhood By Lydia Schwartz Contributing Writer On December 3, President Barack Obama held a forum on Jobs and Economic Growth in Washington D.C. While there were actually many good ideas for businesses and nonprofits to undertake in easing unemployment, the forum consisted of a lot of ‘good ole boy’ patting on the back for the great job the federal government is doing to bring the nation out of the recession. So what about our friends and neighbors that are still unemployed? And the struggling ‘Mom and Pop’ businesses right down the street? On December 3, the AFLCIO and its community affiliate Working America held their own roundtable discussion regarding unemployment and the economic situation of Minnesota families. Karen Nussbaum, the Executive Director of Working America, said, “Every night we talk to thousands of people in neighborhoods across the country and they all tell us the same thing; that they need urgent action on jobs and the economy to stay afloat. The job crisis is in every neighborhood, every family. The question we’re asking is what do working Americans think of the economy and how it has impacted them. That’s just as important as what [investment bank] Goldman Sachs thinks.” The AFL-CIO roundtable discussion is part of a comprehensive initiative pushing for the immediate creation of good jobs. Their plan includes extending the lifeline for jobless workers; rebuilding America’s schools, roads, and energy systems; increasing aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services; funding GROWTH TO 8 Suluki fardan Twin cities janitors launch green cleaning campaign Good jobs, green future Hundreds of Twin Cities janitors, joined by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and US Rep. Keith Ellison, kicked off their campaign to make green cleaning a reality in the Twin Cities by reducing waste, saving energy, and reducing the use of toxic chemicals. SEIU Local 26 represents over 4,000 janitors that clean the majority of buildings in the sevencounty metropolitan area, and is preparing to bargain a new contract with all major janitorial contractors in the market. “With our economy in a recession, we all need to think about ways to make our work smarter,” said Javier Morillo- Alicea, President of SEIU Local 26. “We want to help make this industry part of our new green economy by increasing the use of green cleaning products with safer chemicals, recycling more trash, and supporting the transition to day-shift cleaning that can reduce energy use and reduce the carbon footprint of hundreds of buildings in our region.” Day shift cleaning is a growing trend in the cleaning industry; it can reduce energy use by up to 8%, and leads to better client satisfaction with a stable, well-trained cleaning staff. And while safer, “green” chemicals are now available at little or no additional cost, there is still pervasive use of more dangerous, conventional cleaning products. In a recent member survey conducted by SEIU Local 26, over one-third of janitors reported chemicals sometimes or often irritating their eyes or skin. “We are happy to have an opportunity to make our jobs green, but we also want to make sure they are stable, 8hour full-time jobs that can support our families,” said Marie Flores, a janitor at Travelers in Saint Paul and a member of SEIU Local 26. “We are willing to do our part to make our work safer GREEN TURN TO Health Reform is about you and me, not one or the other PAGE 6 Last-minute Christmas gifts-$10 PAGE 8 7 Reconstructing Main Street: Job creation proposal empowers small business and willing workers By Julie Desmond Contributing Writer Speaking at the Brookings Institute on December 8, 2009, President Barack Obama tackled the tough issue of job creation with a new, three-part strategy designed to put resources directly into the hands of ordinary Americans: small business owners, entrepreneurs and people willing to retrain and work in emerging industries. As Obama pointed out, small business in the United States have created 65% of America’s new jobs over the past 15 years. To quickly stimulate job creation in the private sector, Obama proposed eliminating capital gains and extending hiring incentives for small businesses. Modernizing America’s infrastructure is another key priority of this administration, says Obama. Over 10,000 projects have sprung out of the Recovery Act so far, and while these projects take time to start up, physical work on infrastructure improvement projects including roads, bridges, water systems, JOBS TURN TO 2 C’Mon Man: Now LeBron is dancing a jig PAGE 11 Page 2 • December 14 - December 20, 2009 • Insight News http://insightnews.com BUSINESS Comcast partners with Black legislators to promote broadband adoption The Comcast Foundation announced that it has made a $50,000 grant to the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) to form the NBCSL/Comcast Broadband Legislative Fellowship in order to increase efforts to conduct research and develop solutions regarding broadband adoption among African Americans. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Projects 2009 Home Broadband Adoption study and the Broadband Imperatives for African Americans report spearheaded by NBCSL and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, there is a disproportionate rate of broadband accessibility and adoption among African American communities. The newly formed Fellowship between Comcast and NBCSL will provide support for two graduate level public policy fellows to develop public policy recommendations to increase broadband adoption and use by African Americans. The recommendations developed by the Fellowship will further direct the efforts of NBCSL in authoring recommendations to Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as they develop national and local solutions to alleviate disparities in broadband access, adoption, and use. Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen presented the Comcast Foundations financial contribution to NBCSL President Calvin Smyre, creating the Fellowship during NBCSLs Joint Minority Legislative Broadband Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on December 5, 2009. There’s no reason why America can’t become the most connected nation on earth, but to do so it will take hard work and leadership, said Cohen. Comcast is proud to partner with NBCSL to continue progress toward a connected America that includes all of its communities. This is where scholarship and public policy converge to ensure that NBCSL does its part to eradicate the digital divide and provide all Americans with the benefits of broadband, said NBCSL President and Georgia State Representative Calvin Smyre. NBCSL has been a progressive leader in addressing economic, social and political issues that face Americans — particularly African Americans. Healthcare, juvenile justice, education and international trade are among the policies that NBCSL will address at the state, local and federal levels. Comcast’s partnership with the NBCSL further enables Comcast to create opportunities and empower the communities it serves. Comcast powers dreams in the communities it serves by providing access to innovative technology, volunteering time, giving financial support and partnering with organizations to make communities stronger. Its new endeavor with NBCSL further solidifies that commitment. The company focuses its community investment initiatives on building tomorrow’s leaders, promoting community service and expanding digital literacy. Since 2001, Comcast has provided $1.4 billion in cash and in-kind support to national and local non-profit organizations in 39 states and Washington D.C. The company has made a $1.2 million commitment to sponsor the One Economy Corporations Digital Connectors program for three years, beginning in 2009. Jobs require able workers. Obama also called on Congress to consider providing financial incentives for consumers who retrofit homes to become more energy efficient. Promoting energy efficiency and clean energy jobs, according to Obama, “can help turn good ideas into good private-sector jobs.” People who choose to work in the emerging Green industry will require access to education; recent reforms in education and investment at the Community College level are expected to attract students to the training required to succeed in this burgeoning sector of the economy. The timing of President Obama’s latest initiatives seems to be excellent. Early 2009 attempts to stabilize the faltering economy involved bailing out Wall Street’s giants with the expectation that funds would trickle down to middle America and its small businesses on Main Street. With the recent news that job loss has slowed and with the economic outlook becoming more positive, millions of Americans are eager to roll up their sleeves and work, and Obama’s proposals aim to provide the financial incentives that will make that work available. Costs and sources of funding for these priorities is as yet undetermined, but may be derived in part from other government Recovery Act programs which have demanded less financial support than originally projected. From 1 broadband networks, and clean energy will begin soon and will http://insightnews.com Faces From 1 MAD DADS stands for Men Against DestructionDefending Against Drugs and Social Disorder. The original chapter was founded in 1989 by a group of Omaha men and parents who were fed up with unchecked drugs and violence in their community. Since it’s inception, the organization has grown to include 14 chapters nationwide. VJ Smith is the CEO and President of the Twin Cities’ chapter. Smith is the recipient of many father of the year awards. His work as a community advocate and organizer has been recognized on numerous occasions by the City of Minneapolis. He’s also received a Leadership Award from Boy Scouts of America, among many others. He is a true hero. But he will tell you, at one point in his life, he was no boy scout. In fact, this selfdescribed monster led a very different life in contrast to his image today. “I was like Nino Brown (New Jack City). I was a DJ on KMOJ, giving away toys by day and at night, I was a monster,’ said Smith referencing his time back in the 80s as one of Minneapolis’ notorious drug dealers. “My dad was never with me,” said Smith who was abandoned by his parents when he was nine-years-old and placed in foster care. He said he ran away from that foster home and to the drug trade. “I have five sons by five different women,” said Smith. “When I had my first son, I didn’t know how to be a father, I just knew he had to be with me so we’d drive around in my Cadillac to see all my girlfriends!” Smith admitted that like INSIGHT NEWS www.insightnews.com Insight News is published weekly, every Monday by McFarlane Media Interests. Editor-In-Chief Al McFarlane CFO Adrianne Hamilton-Butler Publisher Batala-Ra McFarlane Associate Editor & Associate Publisher B.P. Ford Vice President of Sales & Marketing Selene White Director of Content & Production Patricia Weaver Sr. Content & Production Coordinator Elliot Stewart-Franzen Web Design & Content Associate Ben Williams Distribution/Facilities Manager Jamal Mohamed Receptionist Lue B. Lampley Contributing Writers Brenda Colston Julie Desmond Marcia Humphrey Alaina L. Lewis Rashida McKenzie Ryan T. Scott Stacey Taylor Photography Suluki Fardan Tobechi Tobechukwu Contact Us: Insight News, Inc. Marcus Garvey House 1815 Bryant Ave. N. MinneAPOlis., MN 55411 Ph.: (612) 588-1313 Fax: (612) 588-2031 Member: Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium (MMMC) Midwest Black Publishers Coalition, Inc. (MBPCI) National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Postmaster: Send address changes to McFarlane Media Interests, Marcus Garvey House 1815 Bryant Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55411. Insight News • December 14 - December 20, 2009 • Page 3 many new fathers he was naive about fatherhood. “I didn’t have the skills, the answers — I didn’t know what to do. I remember not knowing how to teach him to ride a bike so I took him to a hill and pushed him,” he recalled. He does lament the son whose life he wasn’t a part of. “I cut his umbilical cord, but [who I was] caused me to be without my son and unable to be a father to help my son’s mother raise him,” explained Smith. Smith learned later that another son he’d fathered was being sent to prison. He began writing letters to his son in an effort to build a relationship with him. “I wanted to instill some hope in him. I felt I could save his life,” said Smith. After an arrest in the early 80s, Smith realized that something had to change. He said, “I couldn’t identify my role as a street hustler with being a father. One night, I had a dream that my son invited me to school for career day. I showed up with a couple of hoes, Hennessy and crack cocaine: I was clean! But my son was disappointed. He said, ‘Daddy, that aint no job!” Smith was confronted with the possibility of his dream becoming his nightmare. “That’s not what I wanted to be known for,” reflected Smith. After turning his life around. and over to Christ in 1998, Smith founded the Minneapolis chapter of MAD DADS. Determined to give back to the community the organization became involved in many street patrols: the Soul Patrol, the Million Man March and other local and national initiatives to reclaim youth from the streets. “At MAD DADS were all bad dads,” said Smith jokingly. “We’re mad at what we did and what you’re doing!” MAD DADS provides a unique opportunity for Smith to be in the streets-but this time as a positive force. “I ain’t got dope, but I got hope,” he said. Many have been transformed by the MAD DADS experience. Approximately 90% of participants —clients and employees— are people who’ve come from the streets or have experienced some form of abuse or dysfunction, drug-related and otherwise. “It’s hard being good. But they come back. You keep trying, doing your best — that’s all God wants,” said Smith of the men his organization serves. “Sacrifice is a big FACES TURN TO 5 Page 4 • December 14 - December 20, 2009 • Insight News http://insightnews.com EDUCATION MPS guts Covenant, marginalizes advocates By The African American Mobilization for Education Change is difficult for most of us. So many are afraid of the unknown, of the consequences of decisions made; no control. It makes people and even school districts, do irrational and even irresponsible acts; all in the name of staying in control. Three years ago, a group of African American parents, educators and community members came together and said they had had enough of failing African American children in the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS). We proclaimed we would work together to hold ourselves and MPS accountable for truly educating Black children. We declared that it was no longer acceptable to over suspend, over medicate and under-educate our children. We called ourselves the African American Mobilization for Education (AAME). We articulated that the continued failure of the majority of African American children in the Minneapolis Public Schools was no longer acceptable. We wanted to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. After two years of struggling to get it right, AAME came up with a Covenant to present to the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS). It was a radical document that represented a broad, crosssection of the African American community, which included intellectuals, business people, parents, educators, students, and those who just had a love for Black children. There were members of the African American community who had historically been adversaries who united behind the Covenant on behalf of Black children. The Covenant developed by AAME included working with and educating teachers to assure they had a good understanding of African American culture and the mores of Black children. It included working with and educating parents on how to support their children and teach them what questions to ask school teachers and administrators to better support and assist in creating successes for their children. It was a Covenant that would educate African American students about their rich culture and the cultures of Asians, American Indian and Latino students; the same as the school system teaches them about the various European cultures. It was a Covenant that would have the teachers working more collaboratively and cooperatively so that students would be encouraged to talk to each other as well as to their teachers. The emphasis was as much on developing the right question as getting the right answer. The was Covenant was designed to increase the number of African American students taking college preparatory tests (ACT & SAT), and reduce the overrepresentation of African American students in negative behaviors, as demonstrated by the high number of absences, suspensions and truancies.; as well as the overwhelming number of Black students represented in Special Education classes (Minneapolis Public Schools are amongst the leaders in the country of African American students in Special Education Programs; primarily boys). A ten-year plan was to be created that would include creative cultural programming Rites of Passage, a clearinghouse for professional contractors to work with teachers/students/staff and a monitoring committee composed of community representatives to observe and to hold both sides accountable. It gave AAME and the District joint responsibilities to assure the success of Black school children. AAME, on behalf of the community was responsible for assuring that the Minneapolis School Board and District administrators were doing their jobs on behalf of African American children. AAME would be held accountable for helping parents understand the importance of making sure their children were getting to school on time, for creating a special place in their homes for their children to do their homework and for helping their children give their best in school. The rallying cry for AAME was to “Reignite the Fire for Education in the African American Community.” In June 2008, the Minneapolis Public School Board unanimously passed the Covenant. The African American community claimed victory! The Covenant received local and national attention. The Star Tribune proclaimed that it was about time there was a partnership between African Americans and the Minneapolis Public Schools. Education Week lauded the Covenant as an historic event. Unfortunately, it was short-lived. The task of developing a plan that was mutually acceptable to both AAME and MPS was the next step. MPS created so many meetings that community members became discouraged and many dropped out; yet many stayed, believing that the District would negotiate in good faith. After one year of meetings, the community and MPS developed a plan that included a pilot project with a preschool, elementary, middle and high school program that had the support of MPS administrators and AAME. The program was based on a successful Rites of Passage program that had been in place throughout the District for the last 11 years that reduced suspensions and truancies, increased attendance and increased academic excellence. All community players and school officials were in place, and a budget was developed. The agreement was presented to the MPS school board and Superintendent Bill Green publically guaranteed dollars. What seemed to be a win-win situation for the District and the community turned into something else. Rather than applauding the agreement, fear seemed to set in for some school officials. Not having complete control over the process, the MPS worked tirelessly to change it; through a takeover of the process. The MPS replaced those who had created the Covenant, AAME, with “their own” community members. AAME members were www.flickr.com/photos/charlynw/ no longer invited to Covenant meetings. The meetings were dominated by 95 percent District personnel and 5 percent handpicked community members. What were to be three schools, as agreed upon as part of the Covenant, turned into one school, not a school agreed upon in Covenant meetings, but one handpicked by the District, that was never part of any of the discussions. Rather than expanding and incorporating the successful Rites of Passage model that had been in place for years, the District took it out of the schools completely. The ultimate say of the Covenant became a unilateral decision by the MPS with no input by AAME. AAME continually requested to receive copies of minutes of the meetings we were not invited to. We were informed that no minutes existed. AAME was told that the final say about dealings of the Covenant were in the hands of the Deputy Superintendent. Rather than putting resources into the implementation of the Covenant which the Minneapolis School board signed in good faith, the District gave a $20,000.00 contract to a consulting firm to “facilitate” the Covenant. Although the District did not put a single dime behind the implementation of the Covenant, they put the money into a consulting firm at the rate of $700 an hour to facilitate a process that excluded AAME. Fear is a terrible thing. It makes rational people act irrationally. Some have purported that if members of AAME let the larger community know what has happened with the Covenant that we would be undermining the Black leadership of MPS. Some would like to make the community believe that as long as the leadership is Black that it doesn’t matter if African American children are failing. Members of the African American Mobilization for Education (AAME) will work to create the best education for Black children and we will struggle against anyone that develops policies that undermine their success, whether they are Black, White, Purple or Green. AAME believes that the Minneapolis Public School Board is in breach of a Covenant that they signed in good faith with AAME on behalf of the African American community. AAME is calling on the Minneapolis Public School Board to honor the Covenant. We call for the MPS to implement the Covenant by bringing AAME back to the table as equal partners. We call for the District to honor the work that was done by so many hard working AAME and MPS members by implementing the plan we put in place. It includes: The development of the pilot Rites of Passage programs at LeCreche Early Childhood Program, Bethune Elementary, Olson Middle School and South High School The development of a summer program that focuses on both the academic and social development for African American yout The development of an initiative to work with agreed upon experts in the African American community, the Minneapolis Teachers Union and AAME that gives teachers knowledge of African American culture & learning styles The development of a clearinghouse for community members, teachers and administrators. The development of a monitoring committee that assures that both the community and MPS are being accountable and implementing the Covenant. The development of an evaluation process that analyses and reports on the Covenant. African American Mobilization for Education (AAME) is calling on all community members from all cultural backgrounds to mobilize and call for the Minneapolis Public School Board to honor the African American Covenant. Honoring the Covenant will create policies and put initiatives in place that will truly benefit African American children. It is in the interest of every member of the community to rally in favor of this agreed upon Covenant. If the Minneapolis Public Schools cannot be trusted to honor an agreement with and for African American children, how can we trust what they say about any of our children? http://insightnews.com Insight News • December 14 - December 20, 2009 • Page 5 AESTHETICS Morris, De Santos captivate in Penumbra’s Black Nativity By Alaina L. Lewis Contributing Writer Prior to 1976, for Minnesota’s African American acting elite and theatre goers alike who’d set out to find a “portrait” of self depiction, the stage was a vacant canvas. Our images were as void as our voice seemed to be in the world of theatrical entertainment. Lou Bellamy, Founder and Artistic director of Penumbra Theatre, located in St. Paul, has blessed the Twin Cities for over 30 years with our own theatrical avenue and a voice within the community of the arts. His work has brought along timeless creations that whisper to all universally yet mirror the hearts and lives of African American’s everywhere. Through his journey of Penumbra’s continued mission, comes Black Nativity: A Season For Change, a production that’s been a holiday tradition for more than 20 years and that quite like the message within its 90 minute spotlight, will never collapse to life’s changing seasons. The show which acts more as a spiritual awakening for the hungry soul, opened Thursday December 3, to a mixed crowd of patrons, who with open arms, came ready to absorb the emotion, understand the message and celebrate the music within a tale that continues to resound the real meaning of Christmas. The play was conceived from Langston Hughes’ Wasn’t It a Mighty Day, and reinvented by one of its stars, the great T. Michael Rambo, and co-written by Lou Bellamy. Black Nativity, directed by Dominic Taylor, tells the story of a disenchanted Grandmother (played by actress Greta Oglesby from the Guthrie Theatre’s acclaimed Caroline of Change) whose heart for the holiday and its real meaning has now passed since the hour her beloved was laid to rest. To bring peace to Grandma Walker’s life, the Creator sends a “Wanderer,” to their home, played by the ever-talented Dennis Spears, who even as a stranger adorned in rags and unshaven, receives a welcoming heart, and an open door from a family, who beyond the surface of their personal pain, understand the meaning of God’s love and the power behind the Black Nativity. With an incredible cast of some of Minnesota’s finest African American talents, including Ginger Commodore, who plays the role of Mother; T. Faces From 3 word,” said Smith. “You have to sacrifice a lot of things for your children, for your community.” Today, Smith pushes his new drugs: empowerment, self-reliance and self-renewal. Although renowned, highly-acclaimed and respected, he is far from a corporate activist. Understanding the value of the hands-on approach, Smith can be seen galvanizing local and national officials one minute, and sharing laughs, spending time in the streets with city youth the next. Beyond his own children Smith is a father-figure to many. He’s often called to homes to help mediate disagreements between parents and children. One mother said: VJ Smith “Since VJ talked to me and my daughter, the way we interact with each other is MUCH better!” “People just need someone to listen to them and show them love and that you care.” said Smith who also counsels women. “I let them (women) StudioTobechi know that no matter how emotional they may feel, etc, I’m someone they can trust to Michael Rambo, who plays Son; and the young and incredibly talented Iman Fears and Jackson Hurst, who play Granddaughter and Grandson, the show never fails to engulf audiences with its undeniable magic. Spreading the element of the original Biblical story, Alanna Morris and Marciano Silva De Santos captivate audiences with their emotional portrayal of Mary and Joseph, as their story is told through the spirit of dance. Each piercing move from the couple, both eloquent and refined, erupts in a passion across the stage that even as the show closes, leaves a feeling that remains locked inside your spirit forever. Bookended by an outpour of gospel music, and timelessly reinvented to remain fresh through all seasons, the show has little to say… verbally, but does handle them with care.” Smith has been married for 14 years and is continuing his journey as a renewed selfmade man. He reflected: “It’s not going to be easy to build relationships with (your children)...but it’s not going to be easy if you don’t.” “There’s no cure for an absentee father, but there’s something to be said for a father who keeps trying. My hope is that my children will say, ‘That’s a MAN! He might have had issues, but we could count on him.’ People would know that I came through for my children.” His latest cause is a call for mentorship. “I met Susan Taylor a few years ago at The Ann Marsden 2006 without words what only the spirit desires; peace. Black Nativity: A Season For Change is playing at Penumbra Theatre until December 27. For more information, www.penumbratheatre.org or (651) 224-3180. Essence Festival in New Orleans,” said Smith. “I knew we would work together, it just took some time to pull everything together.” And come together it has! On December 10, Mentoring Cares launched in Minneapolis featuring former Essence Editor, Susan L. Taylor and WCCO’s Angela Davis. The event was a call to action for adults to mentor youth. This initiative is a collaboration between area agencies including Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Bolder Options, Kinship and many others. Studies show that mentoring reduces teen violence, pregnancy and drop out rates by 52%. The goal of the movement is to enlist as many adult mentors as possible....especially men of color. We often reminisce about the ‘good ol’ days’ when neighbors kept an eye out for our children....even disciplined them when they were ‘doin’ wrong’. In a way, Smith and all the other MAD DADs are a throwback to that time offering a kind word, a pat on the back or a firm stance when needed. They say it takes a village to raise a child....VJ Smith is doing just that...one MAD DAD, one child at a time. Stay tuned for more FACES OF MEN Page 6 • December 14 - December 20, 2009 • Insight News http://insightnews.com HEALTH Health Reform is about you and me, not one or the other By Fredette West, Director, African American Health Alliance In all of the talk about how can the nation can pay for health reform; and in all the talk about where can we find savings; and in all the talk about finding “offsets” — media, legislators, and analysts, I point your attention to study findings by researchers, including recent studies from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. A major portion of the answer to questions about where can money be found is “eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities.” By doing so, we could save over $57 billion each year from direct healthcare costs. To achieve these record savings means putting an end to substandard healthcare for racial and ethnic minorities. Communities of color deal with substandard healthcare that lacks quality, accessibility, and appropriateness. Inadequate care leads to health disparities that affect individuals whether they are insured, underinsured, or uninsured; and regardless of their educational attainment or socioeconomic status. These health disparities result in prolonged illnesses, needless disabilities, and premature deaths for thousands of American citizens. This exacts a devastating human and economic toll. It doesn’t have to be this way. While some of the provisions in the bill appear to address the issue of health disparities, in its current form the bill will not eliminate health disparities to the extent we need and that it is capable of without a targeted, deliberate strategy to eliminate health disparities. With respect to communities of color whether insured, underinsured, or uninsured, to maximize the health improvement benefits from the health reform bill requires the inclusion of provisions in the bill for the development and implementation of a National Strategy to End Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. And, clearly, to achieve the $57 billion annually from direct excess medical care requires the inclusion of provisions for National Strategy to End Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in the health reform bill. What we need are provisions in the bill that would support developing and implementing a national strategy to eliminate these disparities. To do this would require adding about two additional pages to a bill that is already over 2,000 pages long. The savings—in dollars, suffering, and lives—would be well worth the addition. And, we need to ensure that communities of color are participating in implementing health reform and that they are members of the monitoring and decision-making bodies. We need to strengthen and protect provisions pertaining to cultural competency, data, workforce diversity, prevention and wellness. By adding provisions to address these issues, we can save $57 billion annually and more than $570 billion over 10 years, by eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities. Doing so would ease the country’s economic burden, lower the cost of health care, and help pay for health reform. These savings could be invested in growing small businesses, and generating jobs in transportation, construction, healthcare, and technology. We could use those savings to sustain job growth in ways that will rebuild the Fredette West this must be perfectly clear that one size does not fit all and needs even vary by District and by State requiring that certainly direct community input must be used to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate the national strategy. Is this worth the effort? Absolutely! The savings to be We can save $57 billion annually and more than $570 billion over 10 years economy for the long-term and reduce the deficit. Congress must pay attention to this important issue. Legislators must include provisions in the healthcare reform bill that will support developing and implementing a National Strategy to End Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. That strategy must be developed jointly, in partnership with communities, government, business, and industry. By now gained by eliminating health disparities are more than seven times greater than those to be generated by the pharmaceutical industry, and more than three times greater than those to be generated by hospitals in health reform. The Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition Chaired by the African American Health Alliance, continues to bring this important requirement for cost effective health reform to the attention of the Congress and the Administration. To date, africanamericanhealthalliance.org pending legislation still does not include provisions for this important strategy—despite the fact that effective and efficient health reform must address health disparities in a comprehensive way. Including these legislative provisions in the bill is not just good health sense—it’s good business sense and good economic sense. Without a national plan to end racial and ethnic health disparities, it will be impossible to reduce healthcare costs, provide access to quality healthcare for all, and guarantee this and future generations that our nation will remain a global leader. Congress must not overlook or ignore this opportunity to reduce the deficit, save lives, and improve quality of life by including legislative provisions for a National Strategy to End Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in the final health reform bill. http://insightnews.com Insight News • December 14 - December 20, 2009 • Page 7 Lilligren blocks efforts to dismantle Minneapolis Civil Rights agency By Lydia Schwartz Contributing Writer Monday evening, December 7, the Minneapolis City Council voted 7-6 in a motion led by Council Member Robert Lilligren (Ward 6) to strike down a controversial amendment to the 2010 General Appropriation Resolution. The amendment would have reappropriated funding for the next two years from the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Complaint Investigation Division. The amendment was championed by Council Green From 1 and better for the environment, but at Travelers ‘going green’ meant reduced work hours and new work and language requirements for all Member Betsy Hodges (Ward 13) who argued that the Complaint Investigation Division’s (CID) backlog is unacceptable and the city should forward new cases to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) “while we reevaluate how the City of Minneapolis should handle violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The amendment also would have cut four full-time employee positions from the CID.” “The State of Minnesota has the resources to take these cases… The people of Minneapolis cannot wait two to three years for a decision on their cases. They deserve better results than that,” said Hodges. The funding that normally goes to the CID would have instead been transferred to the City Coordinator’s Office to conduct studies on, and involve the community in, how to make the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) work better. Council Member Scott Benson (Ward 11) disagreed, saying, “We all think that the MDCR needs to do a better job. But I am not confident that [City Coordinator Steven Bosacker] can do one iota to solve the backlog problem. I think we should hire more investigators…The MDCR seems more efficient because it dismisses more cases than the MDCR does. I don’t want to advance a system like that.” Council Member Ralph Remington (Ward 10) added, “We need true visionary leadership in MDCR. It needs to be reengineered and once you take [funding] away, it’s gone…Civil rights protect all of us.” Other amendments to the 2010 General Appropriation Resolution that passed include an amendment by Minority Leader Cam Gordon (Ward 2) to add $20,000 to the Restorative Justice program and an amendment by Council President Barbara Johnson (Ward 4) to extend the 311 phone service hours to 7am7pm. An amendment to temporarily stop funding for the Police Activities League (P.A.L.) also passed and the Mayor of Minneapolis R.T. Rybak plead to the City Council saying, “Please don’t let the City lose this program completely.” P.A.L. is a program sponsored by the Minneapolis Police Department in which employees participate in sports and recreational activities directly benefiting the city’s youth. In Minneapolis, the Mayor sends a proposed budget to the City Council Ways & Means committee and it is then presented to the entire council. The current budget includes the 2010 General Appropriation Resolution, the 2009 Tax Levy, 2010-2014 Five-Year Capital Programs, 2010 Capital Improvement Bonds, and Utility Rates. The entire Ways & Means Budget was passed by the City Council. The next regular City Council meeting is Friday December 18, 2009. For more information, visit http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn. us/. of us with little advance notice and no opportunity for training. Going green should be a winwin for everybody.” Participants also hailed the work of the newest members of SEIU Local 26, the Safe and Clean Ambassadors of the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District. “We are proud to be Ambassadors for Downtown Minneapolis, and we are committed to making Minneapolis greener, cleaner, and safer,” said John Johnston, a Clean Ambassador for the Downtown Improvement District and a new member of SEIU Local 26. “But those of us cleaning outside right now make $1.30 less per hour than our fellow union members who work inside, and we can’t afford the health insurance.” The janitors’ campaign has gained the support of environmental organizations including the Blue Green Alliance, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, and the Sierra Club. “The Minnesota North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club is proud to stand with SEIU Local 26 in their efforts to make janitorial jobs part of our new green economy,” said Margaret Levin, Sierra Club State Director. “Their efforts will prove that we can reduce global warming pollution and energy use while also ensuring good, full-time jobs that can support a family.” The current union contract for janitors throughout the seven-county metropolitan area expires on December 31. Page 8 • December 14 - December 20, 2009 • Insight News http://insightnews.com Last-minute Christmas gifts-$10 or less Style on a dime By Marcia Humphrey Are you starting to sweat right about now? Are the pressures of that day-when expectations are at their peak-making you feel as if you are stuck in the jaws of a vise? Don’t fret; I have a couple of ideas that will help you escape the trap. Actually, let me rephrase that statement using the lingo they would have used at the first Christmas, over 2,000 years ago: “Behold I bring you good news of great joy!” The first good news is that you do have a choice about how you will respond the pressure of the holiday season, so choose to relax (and breathe). Resist the temptation to try and meet everyone’s Christmas time expectations; it’s impossible to do Growth From 1 jobs in our communities; and putting TARP funds (Troubled Asset Relief Program) to work for Main Street. As Liz Freeberg, an unemployed Working America member from Circle Pines, points out, “We need to focus on putting people back to work. Put individuals back into the discussion and equations. We hear the economy is doing better, but people aren’t going back to anyway! Instead focus on the joy, love, and anticipation of new beginnings that the season brings. Having covered that important principle, here are some suggestions on simple gifts you can give-all around $10 or less- as expressions of love to those special people in your life. Fill ‘er up- with gourmet coffee with a personal coffee cup. (This was one of my favorite gifts last year for my children’s teachers.) This year I think I may go for a box of herbal tea and teacup, for those who like their drinks “unleaded.” Go nutty- A pound of pistachios or mixed nuts is always a welcomed treat The time is write-consider purchasing a journal for a young writer and then hand-write a special encouraging note inside. Another option is to purchase pretty stationary and a nice pen. Say cheese- Place a special photograph in a beautiful frame or purchase a budding photographer work. People are losing their jobs and not able to support their families. Let’s focus on that instead of bank bailouts.” While it is easy to blame bank bailouts for government inaction, we must remember that it is our community banks that drive small, local business. However, giving banks a simple one-time money injection will not solve the credit crunch that America faces. There needs to be a condition that bank bailout funds will go toward expanding their small business lending programs. Startup business lending two disposable cameras. Fresh from the oven- Bake something fresh; cake, cookies, bread, and include a recipe card. Dinner is served-A holiday serving bowl or platter is a great option for your favorite entertainer. Also, you could give her decorative napkins and napkin rings. Chocolate anyone? Everyone loves this stuff! Purchase fancy bars and tie them with pretty ribbon. In addition, anything dipped in chocolate makes a wonderful gift. Don’t forget the gourmet popcorn-My Aunt Doris’ favorite! Big screen viewing-Movie gift certificates are fun for all ages and can sometimes be purchased at a discount (at Costco). Gift certificatesfrom McDonald’s, Starbucks, the bookstore, and my favoriteTarget! You can never go wrong this way. Hopefully this list will inspire programs are the most important service a bank can offer to the community. At the White House forum, in a discussion headed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, called “Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs and the Engine of Job Growth,” one economist noted that the creation of new businesses generates the most job growth. Another big issue is that stimulus money is not trickling down to the local level as it should be. Stimulus programs are at risk of having a limited effect or even failing if the state and local government fiscal crisis continues. Stimulus money for local construction jobs has worked well so far but as roads are being fixed contractors are having a hard time finding more projects. As new businesses pop up in our communities and neighborhoods, you to think of other creative and budget-friendly gift ideas. Remember, it’s not about the amount you spend-it’s about the fact that you cared enough to give. During church Bible study last week, there was teaching on how Jesus faced many pressures to perform (John, chapter 7). He faced pressure from his (unbelieving) brothers who wanted him to crash a big party and “prove” himself. He faced pressure from the government officials and the intellectuals, who wanted him killed because Jesus was making them look bad. Finally, he faced pressure from the crowd (Junebug and ’nem), who all argued over their opinions of Jesus and what they thought he should (and shouldn’t) be doing. Sound familiar? This is how Jesus responded to all that pressure; he got alone, settled down, and prayed to God for wisdom and proper timing to accomplish His mission. Instead of reacting to the pressures that this busy season can bring, settle down, get focused, and pray for the wisdom to keep Christmas Merry!… Enjoy! construction contractors should be able to renew vacant business properties using stimulus funds. Allison Drusch, an independent contractor and member of Working America in White Bear Lake, stresses the importance of unions when workers are not paid fairly. “The economy can only thrive if the middle class is strong. The middle class thrives when unions are strong because they get the benefits they need. If workers earn less wages and benefits, they have to go on welfare and we end up paying for it anyway,” she says. Dursch’s husband is a union construction worker and it has become increasingly more difficult for him to find work since fewer companies are hiring union workers. Another issue in the job market is underemployment. “People with excellent Presenting... Marvelous Mondays at BROOKSIDE BARBERSHOP Starring “Barber Extraordinaire” DARIUS KNIGHT CALL FOR AN APPOINTMENT (APPOINTMENT ONLY) SHOP: (952) 929-3998 CELL: (612) 414 - 9696 6102 Excelsior Boulevard, St. Louis Park, MN 55416 Check out travellingbarber.com for deals and updates http://store.digitalscrapbookplace.com/images/gifts/giftcert10.jpg Marcia Humphrey is an interior decorator and home stager who specializes in achieving high style at low costs. A native of Michigan, she and her husband, Lonnie, have three children.I experience are desperate for work so they are willing to take jobs at entry level pay,” said Phil Ekstand, a Working America member from Minneapolis. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people in part-time jobs who want full-time work, including people in jobs that do not employ their skills, has grown to 9.3 million individuals, the highest on record. Many people who had comfortable full-time jobs with benefits are now forced to rig together several small jobs at low pay. This shift could become permanent for many individuals stuck in the cycle. Underemployment and unemployment are widely seen as major forces slowing down economic recovery. Local discussions regarding increasing employment opportunities, such as the AFL-CIO’s roundtable, are important for every neighborhood and community. Whether facilitated by a public or private organization, these discussions bring together local business and the local labor pool to create solutions for jumpstarting a sustainable, community-based economy and bringing our friends and neighbors back to work. Working America recently launched an Unemployment Lifeline (unemploymentlifeline.org) that has resources for people in financial strife. For more information on the White House Jobs and Economic Growth Forum, visit www.whitehouse.gov/issues/eco nomy/jobsforum. http://insightnews.com Insight News • December 14 - December 20, 2009 • Page 9 What does a criminal defense lawyer do? By F. Clayton Tyler P.A. Attorney at Law At the Law Office of F. Clayton Tyler P.A. I have been practicing criminal defense in Downtown and North Minneapolis for decades. Over those years of respected service to people facing a wide range of criminal charges, I have taken on many different roles for a variety of clients. Saying that a criminal defense attorney defends people accused of committing crimes only scratches the surface. Primetime television paints lawyers in a way that doesn’t match up with reality. The clients I serve rely on me not only to stand up and fight in court, but also to be a strong negotiator, an informed investigator, a reliable counselor, a fierce advocate, a savvy interviewer, and a constant source of knowledge and guidance. I work hard to make sure that you get the professional and capable defense to which you are entitled. For many of my clients, I am able to reduce the number of court appearances and the amount of time spent at the courthouse. Oftentimes the most important work a criminal defense attorney does is negotiating with law enforcement and prosecutors to seek pretrial interventions. Sometimes this becomes a plea bargain that allows a person to get reduced charges or penalties. Other times, if we can show that a district attorney or prosecutor doesn’t have a very good case, it can even lead to a dismissal of charges. Each client’s case is as different and unique as the people involved and the evidence presented. That is why a defense lawyer also needs to be able to adapt quickly to a changing situation. As a highly experienced lawyer, I know the decisions I make with my clients will depend on the facts of the case, what the law says regarding the case, what evidence is being presented against you, and what evidence you can produce to support your defense. I pride myself in giving people a realistic understanding of what they’re up against and what the best options are. I attempt to insure that my clients always understand what is happening and what I expect to happen next, based on years of experience. Working closely with clients so that they can make informed decisions about their own case is as much, if not more, a part of the job as crossexamining witnesses or conducting investigations. When you have been charged with a crime, the attorney you work with makes a big difference. As a private law firm, we make sure that we give every client the attention the client and his or her case deserve. Part of my job is to make sure that my talent, experience and workload is the right match for the clients I represent. When it comes to your defense, I look at the facts of your case, and the law, and apply both to your defense. That’s the core of what I do. But it’s the many different ways that I work to pull the pieces together that makes the legal profession complex. Only a very small part of my job involves arguing in front of a judge – it’s the other 90% of the work that will make the biggest difference in your case. To find out more about how I handle criminal defense cases, or to find out if my firm is the right fit for your defense, call (612) 3337309 or visit my website at www.fctyler.com to schedule a free initial consultation. Copyright 2009 F. Clayton Tyler, Attorney at Law. Text may not be altered or reprinted without permission. Dedication and drive key ingredients in the quest for excellence, success on a high school football field on Friday night while a team was playing, especially a state powerhouse team like Cretin Derham Hall. I was on a huge field with a crowd full of screaming fans, and there I was, little Tyler, in the middle of all the coaches, players and hoopla. It was crazy! The dream was born!!! That was such a blessing, it prepared me mentally and got me ready for the high school football atmosphere. That opportunity introduced me to some of the best high school football players ever, including Michael Floyd, Shady Soloman, and John Nance. Not only did I meet the players and coaches, but I started to form relationships with them, and more importantly I learned from them. I observed Mike and Shady’s work ethic on the field, and learned about all of the hard work that had to be done off the field. I saw the dedication and drive that was needed in order to play championship high school football, and eventually college football. Like The educators, clerics, and statesmen gathered Friday, December 5th at Hubert H. Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs to set the stage for intentional movement toward peace and reconciliation in the Horn of Africa. Saeed Fahia of Somali Confederation, a member of the organizers, read the introduction speech and reminded the audience that for the past 50 years, governments and opposition groups have been brought together without any tangible results. This time, he said, "we want to target and give opportunity to people, use the people power. The purpose of the conference today is to engage the Horn of Africans, Eritreans, Ethiopians, Somalis, Djiboutians and others, to engage peacemaking efforts in their respective countries." "In this region, we have seen all kinds problems --famine, wars, droughts or even genocides and I think it is time for the Horn of Africans to take the matters into our own hands and try to find a last solution for our people. How can we stop the ongoing problems? One of the objectives among others of this conference is to open a genuine dialogue between us. So, now we begin our long awaited discussion for the future of our people in the Horn of Africa and rest assure, it will not be the last one," said Fahia. Absence of peace: Can there be Progress toward Democracy & Development? "Peace is the key for any development." said Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie, Professor of African Studies & Law at the University of North Carolina. Bereket, who was the first speaker from four speakers of scholars and human rights activists, expressed that how in the Horn of Africa, the word peace is "a valued and hot commodity." Selassie argued the need of democracy in the region. "Democracy is a prerequisite for everything and development should By Tyler Hamblin Guest Commentary For as long as I can remember I wanted to play football. It started at Jimmy Lee Recreation Center and L.E.S. football program, where I first met up with Willie Roller and Jonathan Harding, my current teammates. My relationship with Cretin Derham Hall, started in 6th, grade, with football camp, where I attended two years before my dad and I spoke to the coaches and Bro. Michael Lee, and I was allowed to be the “ball boy” (the person who throws and takes the ball from the referee after changes of possession). Being the ball boy was like a whole new world to me, because I never went Africa From 1 accomplishing one objective: bringing these communities together to talk about their common future. "Well, if that was the case, it was accomplished," said Ahmed Jaber, an Eritrean, former UN employee who came from New York for the meeting. The conference brought together academics, human rights activists and intellectuals in the largest gathering of Horn of Africans ever in Minnesota. Courtesy of the author Tyler Hamblin(R) and Willie Roller have been teammates since 3rd grade. Both received all-state honorable mention this year, and were two of only three, 10th grade starters last year. older brothers, they were nice enough to give me advice, and of course I took it! Their advice accumulated and marinated in my mind as I would continuously think of how to make it my reality. Sadly, 2007, we lost to Eden Prairie in the championship game. I started at quarterback my whole freshman year, and the first half of my sophomore year. After having some issues with the secondary on the varsity team, the defensive coaches went on a search for defensive backs. So my sophomore team coaches put me in at corner, and on the first as a corner, I got an interception! Coincidentally, the defensive back coach and defensive coordinator were watching the practice that day and chose me to play varsity corner as a sophomore halfway through the season. That year, the 2008 season, we went to the Metrodome, for the semifinals, to end up losing to Blaine by one point, by one foot, in overtime. That was devastating. We all remembered that feeling, and decided that we did not want to feel that way ever again. The summer of 2009, was a hot and long one, but was worth it, and set the tone for this season. God kept us safe and healthy; well most of us. Our star quarterback, Mark Alt, was injured in the middle of the season but healed quickly and returned to lead us into the playoffs and eventually the championship game. A rematch, in the Metrodome follow, not vice versa. That is dictators arguments, they say development now and if you bear with me, I will hold the elections later, sometimes, setting up fake dates for elections. That is lie. Democracy should be first." He said the whole world now embraces democracy including China, but what happened to the Horn of Africa. "I know and you know, the region is ailing and we can change that. The question is how?" said Selassie. "This is the "People to People" initiative. That is crucial, because our governments failed us. It is common problem throughout the continent of Africa," said Selassie. "Even though some are better than others, like Botoswana before and Ghana now, we still have a long way to go in all Africa before our governments become accountable to the people. What we need. at minimum is accountability and officials elected by the people for the people. Until we see that, we will not reach our goal of stability and development. Human security is important, my friends, for human development. Making secure anyone from any danger from violent and non-violent threats to their lives and well being is crucial, that is a human security. So, peace brings democracy and democracy vise versa, let us embrace all." HAMBLIN TURN TO 11 Page 10 • December 14 - December 20, 2009 • Insight News http://insightnews.com Common ground: Neighbors cultivating community Two neighbors, one AfricanAmerican and one EuropeanAmerican met each other harvesting tomatoes in the community garden on 24th and Upton Avenue North. Their talk turned to the neighborhood - what was good about it : great people, people who were active in block clubs and political activities and want the neighborhood to be safe, wonderful children and youth, businesses and organizations in the neighborhood that were committed to the people who live here, for example and also what was missing, that we are not deeply connected, that many of us do not know most of our neighbors and the relationships that we do have are not very deep. Our children and youth do not see that we know each other, that we trust each other and will call on one another when a neighbor needs help or when a child needs correction or support. What would it be like, we asked, to have a neighborhood, a village, so great that forty years later our kids will think back to the neighborhood and realize that they grew up in an incredible place? They would realize that they were indeed, raised by a village And that they would feel inspired to create that with their neighbors, wherever they were living. Sunday, December 6th, a gathering of neighbors was held at True Vine Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Jesse Griffin opened the doors of the church for the neighborhood to use as a meeting place. Thirty five adults and children came to eat, celebrate, deepen connection and share dreams for our neighborhood. Previous to the event, neighbors had been sharing ideas in smaller groups, one-on-one, regarding what the neighborhood is like now, what the future will be if things stay the same and what we can create in the neighborhood that inspires us. Ideas shared include: Strengthening and extending the community garden, creating a health fair for youth in cooperation with the local CVS store on Broadway, a local playground, foreclosure prevention, organizing to bring more support and attention for city planners and government, more public art, boulevard gardens, expanded and permanent community garden, a circle to help solve problems and conflicts, a 4-H club, Christmas caroling, more communication and get togethers, more music, peace, friendship, singing , dance, cross country skiing.... Children made posters with their dreams sketched out in bright colors. Neighborhood businesses (North End Hardware, Glover Insurance Agency, CVS, and Broadway Liquor Outlet/Bean Scene) made contributions of food and door prizes. This neighborhood will gather again as a whole in March and meet in smaller groups in the meantime to continue this creation. Part of the vision is to create something so wonderful that it will motivate neighborhoods across the north side to create their own villages. A gathering of neighbors If you live between Penn and Vincent and Golden Valley Road and Broadway and want to join in this Suluki Fardan creation call Nettie Smith at 612-5884934 or email email@example.com. COMMUNITY CALENDAR St. Joan of Arc Mental Illness Ministry – Dec. 14 Mon, Dec. 14; 5:45 - 8:15pm. 5:45: Light meal provided; 7pm: Topic: Depression and Holidays; Speaker: Earnie Larson; No RSVP needed; free; open to all; Certificate of Attendance available; St. Joan, Roseann, 612.823.8205; Mary firstname.lastname@example.org t; St. Joan Hospitality Hall, Door 1, 4537 3rd Av S, Mpls; www.stjoan.com/mimfr.htm MPRB Commissioner-Elect planning meeting - Dec. 15 A planning meeting for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Commissioners-Elect will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15, in the Minnehaha Room, MPRB Headquarters, 2117 West River Road. The meeting includes introductions, commissioner-elect goals, and discussion of committee assignments and meeting schedules. No action will be taken during this meeting, which is open to the public. St. Paul Poet Laureate Carol Connolly Hosts Readings by Writers - Dec. 15 Tues., Dec. 15, 7:30 pm at The Commodore Hotel, 79 Western Ave., St. Paul. Readers will be Antay Bilgutay, Tom Cassidy, Antonio Express News, Jim Lenfestey, Kimberly Nightingale, Jude Nutter, Diane Wilson, and Joe Selvaggio. 651- 290-0921, www.publicartstpaul.org. A Call to Participate in Building the Road to Detroit – Dec. 16 People’s Assembly: Dec. 16th, 6:30pm, Pillsbury House, 3501 Chicago Ave. S, Mpls. US SOCIAL FORUM II June 2226, 2010 • Detroit, Michigan. For more info, visit www.ussf2010.org. 8th Annual Minneapolis MOSAIC Community Meeting – Dec. 16 Weds., Dec. 16, at Midtown Global Market, 2929 Chicago Ave, Mpls. Lower Level Conference Room. Discussion: 4 - 5 p.m. Social Hour: 5 - 6pm. Community meeting is open to all artists, entertainers, ethnic food vendors and artisans, and all Minneapolis arts and cultural organizations. www.minneapolismosaic.com, (612) 673-3379. Moving Beyond a Criminal Record: Building a Road to Restoration – Dec. 16 Weds., Dec. 16, from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center, 2001 Plymouth Avenue North, Mpls. Light refreshments will be served. Bobby Joe Champion and the MN Second Chance Coalition will be there to discuss. Pilgrim Baptist Church Thespian Ministry presents “The Shepherds” A Play Production – Dec. 18 Dec. 18, Pilgrim Baptist Church, 732 W. Central Ave. St. Paul. Donation $5. For more info, call 651-227-3220 or visit www.pilgrimbaptistchurch.org Come Out and Play Family Nature Club – Dec. 19 Saturday, Dec. 19, 10:30 a.m. to Noon – Lynnhurst Park/Minnehaha Creek – 1345 W. Minnehaha Pkwy, Lynnhurst Recreation Center. “Come out and Play” is a free program sponsored by Minneapolis Parks that encourages families to get out and enjoy nature. Snow Flake Bentley - Dec. 19 Show times: 10 AM & Noon. Make-n-Take workshops: 11 AM. Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, 1500 E. Lake Street, Mpls, 612-721-2535, www.hobt.org. http://insightnews.com Insight News • December 14 - December 20, 2009 • Page 11 SPORTS C’Mon Man: Now LeBron is dancing a jig Mr T’s Sports Report By Ryan T. Scott email@example.com LeBron James has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. For the World to witness an embarrassing moment of his is only a cell phone away, as it is for all the famous faces of the day. Indeed it is a new World that we live in, and I almost feel bad for the likes of LeBron James, Tiger Woods, actor Brad Pitt, and on and on, because they have to be a little too perfect on a daily basis, and obviously as I said in my last article, none of us are perfect. I mean, If LeBron went to the grocery story with a hole in his sock, you can bet that someone is going to click the ‘record video’ button on their Hamblin From 9 against the number one ranked team in the state, the Eden Prairie Eagles. This was our chance to redeem ourselves, past players, our school, and our fans. Anticipation of the game was so tense you could cut it with a knife! Time moved so slowly. My dad often said, “defense wins the game and offense decides by how much.” So we, the defense, knew if they could not score they could not win. And the offense? Seantrel Henderson, #1 recruited down lineman, “WE WILL SCORE! AND WE WILL WIN!” The goals were set . Everyone, and I mean everyone on the team had given there all throughout the phone, take the footage home to edit and add background music, and then post it on the internet in hopes of selling the production to Reebok as proof that Nike socks are raggedy. From the time James steps out of the house he is on stage, and no longer is the World just watching, but they are poised to pounce on any irresponsible moment in hopes of knocking James from his perch, and hopefully get a little stage time for themselves. Thus what remains is a struggle for James to maintain his dignified, intelligent image, while others attempt to tear it down; quietly, we all have this struggle, and responsibility. LeBron James is a fun loving kind of gentleman as we have seen in many videos and interviews. Knowing that, it is no surprise to have seen James dancing it up on the sidelines of a recent game against the Chicago Bulls, as his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, ran away with the game on this particular night. With the night also being dedicated to the promotion of Breast Cancer Awareness, James and his teammates wore pink colored equipment accessories including shoes, armbands and such. And so the image all put together was very ornate, brash, and showy; they only needed those big, huge, fluffy Broadway feathers to complete the dance show production, which went on intermittently throughout the entire game. The only problem, of course, is that it was a basketball game, not a Broadway year to make us a better team. Sometimes people forget that the people on the side lines work hard and are as important as the people on the field. All our coaches, support staff, parents, Alumni, and especially the players on the sidelines make the players on the field great. In practice, in the gym, in the weight room, in the summer heat, when all of us play intensely against each other using healthy competition to drive us all to be starters and to be ready when our number is called, that is where the hard work is done. When the coaches research and plan who, what, when, where and how we will play every game, that is where the championships are won So when we came out against Eden Prairie, all of this history was behind us. From the first play we knew we were ready to play the best game of our lives. We were challenged early and had to make some big plays to stop EP. Our offense made some big plays on the other side of the ball to score early. No penalties! Every player played at a level I had never seen. It was like we were Gladiators, rehearsed and not to be denied. The score was never an issue, it was all about playing every play, to the best of our ability. One play at a time, and it seemed like every play someone would step up and be a hero. We made mistakes but everyone covered for everyone, like a team should. We all knew that we were great players as individuals, but a championship team when playing together. It was a long time coming! Mission accomplished! Dream realized! Cretin Derham Hall State Andrew Weber LeBron James show. The most engaging person in James’ original production though, was the older African American (looking) arena attendant that sat in the front of the background crowd. Considering how atypical the scene James created was – there’s no courtside dancing in basketball. There’s hooting and hollering and slappin’ five, but James’ dancing surpassed anything anyone has done after winning a championship, let alone an early regular season game. I wondered what that elder man thought of James’ buffoonboogie wonderland. I wondered what life had been like for that man in the 50’s and 60’s; how his struggle for respect had to be earned by maintaining poise and class (as he was doing at this time). I wondered what NBA legend Bill Russell thought of James’ “on-the-job silly show”. I suppose when you think about the judgmental eyes that Russell had to fight off in his day, things haven’t changed that much as far as watching what you do in front Football Champions!!! Tyler Hamblin currently attends Cretin Derham Hall, in St. Paul, MN. He is a sophomore currently holding a 4.1 gpa., while starting on the “Varsity” football team and playing basketball. He is in the School Band, on the Mock Trial Team, and in the Investment Group Hamlin is also the author of “15 Ways to get A’s.” His second book, “Putting Your A’s to Work” is in its final stages of editing and will be out soon. Hamlin was introduced as the keynote speaker, Nov. 18, 2009 at the Statewide Graduation Summit. He addressed senators, state representatives, school superintendents, mayors, major business leaders, and others, as the youth spokesperson, concerning the national and local drop out crisis. of others so people can’t degrade your integrity. As one of my favorite songs says, “some people had to stand in line to get up in this place”, and thus respect the struggle of those who suffered in that proverbial line so that James could even play basketball. Any mentally developed adult knows that James was simply calling for attention like a child by propagating his sideline act. James’ response of course was that he was “just having fun”. By that measure then perhaps we can look forward to James and his teammates jokingly pulling each others pants down, or playing ringaround-the rosy, as that was all fun too when we were kids…and then we turned 25 and realized that there is a time an place for being gleefully silly, and it sure ain’t in front of the entire World. Fun too, has limitations; dance when the game is over and the job is done. Fine, score a bucket and maybe do a little bop once, but all game long dancing a jig…C’mon Man. I mean, some might say it’s cute and all, but James might want to look forward to that day when a grown man comes up and says, “Hey LeBron! Do that little dance you do!” Kids, don’t put yourself out there like that; show some poise like the President. 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