JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 COMPLIMENTARY
ST U C K AT H O M E IS SUE
Creating an Outdoor Entertainment Area A Time to Savor The Road from Song to Album
BARBARA JORDAN ACTIVIST, MOTHER, FRIEND
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CONTENTS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021
22 ON THE COVER 16 BARBARA JORDAN Activist, mother, friend.
9 THE ROAD FROM SONG TO ALBUM
An interview with recording artist Michelle Hilsman.
22 CREATING AN OUTDOOR ENTERTAINMENT AREA We may be stuck at
EDUCATION/ ENTERTAINMENT 11 中國新年 ZHŌNG GUÓ XĪN NIÁN Chinese New Year 2021.
FOOD/WINE 23 COLD WEATHER, HOT CHAI Spicing up winter.
13 BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2021
FASHION/BEAUTY 28 SAVE IT FOR A SNOWY DAY
The Black family: representation, identity and diversity.
Reclaiming your closet by exploring your personal style.
14 (UN)EQUAL TREATMENT FOR ALL
HEALTH/WELLNESS 30 THE JOY OF BEING BAD AT SOMETHING NEW A roller derby
Health disparities explained.
26 SYSTEMIC RACISM Transforming
home, but we’re not stuck inside.
24 A TIME TO SAVOR A classic comfort menu to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
COMMUNITY 18 A HOME FOR THE HOMELESS Brie Bednar and the expanding services of Family Promise Rochester.
19 BUILDING THEIR CAREERS
IN EVERY ISSUE 6 Advertisers Index 7 From the Editor
Meet two women whose early work in residential construction helped build the future to enduring career success.
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
“Stuck at home.” This idea for a theme struck me as Governor Walz made his November executive order for a dial back on certain activities. As we all grapple with the ongoing difficulty of balancing our personal needs and desires with the safety of our communities, I think we are all experiencing some level of feeling “stuck.”
As an introvert, I am not as bothered by having to stay home as many readers might be. My 13-year-old son, on the other hand, is having a very difficult time not being able to see his friends. I know he understands the basics of why we are doing this, but he’s frustrated, and I understand. We’re trying to find little tweaks to improve things for him. I don't recommend rationalizing staying in a dangerous situation, but there is something to be said about changing your attitude to adapt to reality. As Anne Scherer reports (p. 18), there are a disturbing number of people in our area who don’t even have a home to be stuck in. That dose of perspective helps me appreciate the ability that I currently have to slow down and examine things around me. Although I don’t advocate for putting any extra pressure on yourself right now (We’re in a pandemic, I keep reminding myself!), if you find yourself getting antsy and bored, missing your social life and “normal” activities, consider learning a new skill like Erin Pagel did (p. 30). What about snowshoeing or cross-country skiing? Continue learning about anti-racism with some book recommendations on p. 26. We congratulate all who are starting new jobs as elected officials and in leadership positions in the area. Rochester will soon have a woman city administrator (Alison Zelms), who will join a woman city council president (Brooke Carlson), a woman county administrator (Heidi Welsch), a woman county board chair (Stephanie Podulke) and Mayor Kim Norton, among many other women in leadership in the public and private sector. Southeast Minnesota is full of women who are giving their all, no matter what paid or unpaid positions they hold. Get to know one woman who leads in her paid and volunteer positions: Barbara Jordan brings kindness and graciousness as an activist and community organizer who has made countless connections to help Celebrate Chinese New Year people advance (p. 16). & Black History Month
IN THIS ISSUE...
If you are feeling stuck, remember that we’re all feeling it, but there will be another side to this. Extroverts will be able to get their energy back. Until then, I hope that you can find satisfaction in your surroundings and continue to spread kindness wherever you go.
ONLINE SURPRISES... Find the recipes featured in “A Time to Savor” (p. 24) stuffed pork chops, au gratin potatoes, blue cheese salad dressing and chocolate upside-down cake.
Reclaim your closet by exploring your personal style
She/Her Jam out to James Brown’s “Say it Loud.”
Listen to Dr. Tej Khalsa’s "The Last Breath" Podcast.
RWmagazine.com January/February 2021
MEET THE CREW We asked our team, "What is your favorite thing to do when stuck at home?" Here is what they had to say:
ISSUE 117, VOLUME 20, NUMBER 5 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 PUBLISHER/EDITOR
Rosei Skipper WRITER
My favorite things to do when I am stuck at home are playing with my dog (Donut) and riding my exercise bike. I also like trying out new recipes to make for my family.
We made a list of all the holiday movies we wanted to watch this season—some films that we've already seen and lots that we never have. Every night we put down our phones, make some popcorn and relish the holiday magic!
Enjoying a warm tea or hot cocoa while snuggling up with my teen daughters watching cooking shows. We’ve tried quite a few culinary experiments as a result...sorry, waistline!
Being stuck at home has given me lots of opportunities to bake! I jumped on the bread train early on and have been perfecting my favorite loaves. I highly recommend honey challah!
Kate Brue Tessa Slisz
AB-Photography.us Shari Mukherjee SOCIAL MEDIA
Rosei Skipper ASSISTANT
Thank you to this issue's contributing writers:
Rochester Women is published six times per year by 507 communications LLC, P.O. Box 5986, Rochester, MN 55903 Melissa Peterson is a
Rochester native living in Vancouver, B.C. pursuing her screenwriting dreams. She is co-creator of The ChriMel Show on YouTube.
came to the U.S. in 1986 and worked as a data/protocol admin specialist at Mayo Clinic before her retirement.
Ashalul Aden is a Rochester resident committed to equity, love and justice.
Erin Pagel is
a freelance writer and skater living in Rochester. She encourages everyone to embrace the joy of being bad at something new.
was formerly the director of community engagement for the Women’s Shelter and Support Center. She is currently the SE regional coordinator for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
Shari Mukherjee is
a local self-taught baker and cook who appeared on MasterChef with Gordon Ramsay. She works as a content creator, recipe developer and food photographer. Follow Shari @ spicedupmom.
Subscriptions available for $24 per year (six issues). Send check to the address stated above. All unsolicited manuscripts must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Rochester Women assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials. ©2020 507 communications, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Rochester Women magazine does not necessarily endorse the claims or contents of advertising or editorial materials.
Margo Stich is a Rochester freelance writer and is delighted to share her interest and experience in food and wine. She notes that her culinary interest is rooted in her family upbringing.
is a pro organizer and interior designer with Rescued Room, the life-simplifying business serving Rochester and beyond. Catch her behind the scenes on social media as
is a writer, poet and artist living in Rochester, MN. She has practiced meditation on a daily basis for five years. “Breathing is a gift,” she says. “I am grateful for each breath.”
January/February 2021 RWmagazine.com
Trish Amundson is
a Rochester-area freelance writer, who is inspired by and honored to share the stories of courageous, strong and amazing women in and around the Rochester community.
Audrey Elegbede is an
educator, speaker, consultant and coach. She grew up in La Crosse, Wisconsin and moved to Rochester in 2017 with her husband and three children. She is a lover of travel, mindfulness and lifelong learning.
is an advocate for equity in children’s education and mental health rights. She is the school readiness coordinator for Rochester Public Schools preschool and serves on many boards and committees.
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THE ROAD FROM
ALBUM late for things. I was just imagining, “How did I get here?” At the time I felt I had grown up too fast.
PUTTING TOGETHER AN ALBUM
AN INTERVIEW WITH RECORDING ARTIST MICHELLE HILSMAN BY MELISSA PETERSON
MICHELLE HILSMAN WROTE MOST OF THE SONGS ON HER DEBUT ALBUM, “SAPPHIRE BLUE,” WHILE SNOWED IN HOUSESITTING FOR HER PARENTS IN THE COUNTRY. “All day long, every day for a week, all I did was write, write,
write.” A year and a half later, a completed album was born. From its opening song, “No Man’s Land,” Hilsman’s album feels like a lonesome, determined drive out West—a journey that rises and falls through a range of emotional elevations. Get out of town to the accelerating beat of “Pink Paradise.” Pause in a quiet roadside bar with the haunted, intimate beauty of its title track, “Sapphire Blue.”
Photography by Destiny Boyum.
WRITING SONGS Q: WHAT IS YOUR SONGWRITING PROCESS? A: I usually start by singing little tunes when I’m alone. Sometimes I like what I hear and decide to find the chords. I decide if it sounds like a verse or a chorus. If it’s a chorus, I figure out what my verses are going to be. Then, every song needs a bridge. The song “Sapphire Blue” was written in the car on a drive. Q: WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION? A: On this album, a lot of things had changed in my life. Writing the songs was a way to process the changes that had happened over the past 12 years. Q: WHAT ABOUT STEVIE NICKS INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THE SONG “STEVIE”? A: I was painting while remodeling a house, and I was just imagining that Stevie Nicks wouldn’t do this. She’s been through a lot of loves and has always pushed and kept her dream number one. It’s easy to go forward in life because you have to, but then you worry about it being too
Q: HOW’D YOU GO FROM WRITING SONGS TO RECORDING AN ALBUM? A: I booked the studio pretty quickly after (writing the songs), maybe within three weeks. I didn’t want to lose them. If you write a song and you don’t put it down somewhere, who knows if you’re ever going to remember it. Songs can just kind of go or be forgotten about. Totally refining each song took me up until recording started. Q: WHAT WAS THE RECORDING EXPERIENCE LIKE? A: Seeing the simple songs I wrote come to life felt larger than life. I couldn’t have done it on my own. That’s why I have to say a big thank you to Zach Zurn and the team at Carpet Booth Studios. Zach helped me a ton on the creative process, taking the song from what it went in as to a finished project. Percussions on the album were done by Garret Kolb. The collaboration was the best part about it.
AFTER THE ALBUM Q: DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE GROWN AS AN ARTIST SINCE PUTTING THE ALBUM TOGETHER? A: The exciting part of doing your first album is that it gives you a place to grow from. It’s the beginning of a journey. Going forward, when I write, I’ll think of it in a bigger sense than just me and my guitar. I’ll have more of an idea of how I want my finished product to sound. There are a lot of different directions you can go with one song. It’s been that journey of trying to find myself and realizing I could do some things on my own. But the big thing I learned was that collaboration is everything. Writing helped me heal, and recording helped me process and move on. Q: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC? A: I feel like the album has a real range. It has some folk, overtones of country. I’m curious what other people think about that. Find Michelle’s album on Spotify. ◆ RWmagazine.com January/February 2021
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ZHŌNG GUÓ XĪN NIÁN CHINESE NEW YEAR 2021 BY MARIA LIANG
THIS YEAR CHINESE NEW YEAR FALLS ON FEBRUARY 12 AND IS THE YEAR OF THE OX ACCORDING TO CHINESE ZODIAC. Its other name is 春節 Chūn Jié (Spring Festival), and it is
the most important traditional festival celebrated in China and regions of Chinese and Han communities around the world. Generally the event begins on the first day of the first Chinese lunar month and lasts 15 days until 元宵節 Yuán Xiāo Jié (Lantern Festival).
中國新年 ZHŌNG GUÓ XĪN NIÁN (The Legend of the Chinese New Year) The rich and colorful legends about the origin of Chinese New Year can be traced back thousands of years. The most famous and popular one is the legend of the 年獸 Nián Shòu (Nian beast)—a cruel and ferocious monster that ancient people believed would come out to eat people and livestock on 除夕 Chú Xì (New Year’s Eve). Legend has it that the Nian is extremely afraid of red, fire and the sound of explosion. To ward off the beast, people put red paper scrolls on the sides and top of their door frames, lit torches all night and set off firecrackers. Early the next morning, people shared endless 恭喜 Gōng Xǐ(congratulations), and the air was filled with the joy of victory of defeating the Nian. CUSTOMS OF CHINESE NEW YEAR Most people celebrate the New Year starting on New Year’s Eve. Family members will gather before New Year’s Eve so that they can have a reunion dinner with their families. At this time, the elderly and children will be given red envelopes full of money. Usually the whole family stays awake, and the lights shine all night. At midnight, households set off long strings of firecrackers to welcome the new year. Food plays a very important role during the Spring Festival. Not only is the food deluxe and tasty, but it also represents prayers for blessings and good omens. For example, 魚 Yú (fish) is an essential dish because it symbolizes 年年有餘 Nián Nián yǒu Yú (surplus) every year for the household. The fish is either not eaten at all or only tasted slightly to ensure that the family will have enough surplus in the coming year. 肉圓 Ròu Yuán (meatballs) stand for 團圓 Tuán Yuán (reunion). 年糕 Nián Gāo, a kind of cake made from glutinous rice, symbolizes 年年高升 Nián Nián Gāo Shēng (common greeting for promotion and prosperity). Dumplings are shaped like 金元寶 Jīn Yuán Bǎo (gold ingots), and eating them symbolizes accumulating wealth for the coming year.
The author and her husband (left) and their daughter at age 2 celebrating in Taiwan.
元宵節 YUÁN XIĀO JIÉ / 燈節 DĒNG JIÉ
(The Lantern Festival)
Celebrated on the 15th of the first lunar month of each year, the lantern festival is the last day of the traditional Chinese New Year activities. This day is the first full moon of the Lunar New Year and symbolizes the arrival of spring. The Chinese traditionally celebrate by eating 元宵 Yuán Xiāo /湯圓 Tāng Yuán (glutinous rice balls), hanging and viewing beautiful lanterns, and solving 猜燈謎 Cāi Dēng Mí (riddles) hung from the lanterns. Because Tāng Yuán is a homophone with the word for “union,” eating these symbolizes family cohesion, and their round shape is like a full moon and embodies people’s good wishes for future life. Today, many Chinese still like to celebrate by wearing red clothes, exchanging good wishes and giving red envelopes. The development of technology has changed the celebration of the Spring Festival. Now people wish 恭喜 Gōng Xǐ 新年快樂 Xīn Nián Kuài Lè (Happy New Year) to their relatives and friends by phone and send electronic red envelopes. The celebrations this year will see some changes because of the pandemic. Big family dinners will be more difficult, so greetings may happen more by phone and video calls. But the spirit of joy and family togetherness will remain at the heart of the holiday. ◆ RWmagazine.com January/February 2021
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BLACK HISTORY MONTH THE BLACK FAMILY: REPRESENTATION, IDENTITY AND DIVERSITY BY ASHALUL ADEN
BLACK HISTORY MONTH IS AN ANNUAL CELEBRATION DURING THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY. IT WAS CREATED BY AFRICAN AMERICANS TO RECOGNIZE AND HONOR THE HISTORY OF BLACK PEOPLE AROUND THE GLOBE. HISTORY
Before it was a month-long celebration, Black History Month was just a week. Carter G. Woodson, a Black historian, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in 1915 to recognize and study Black history. In 1926, the ASNLH created and promoted Negro History Week to celebrate the history and achievements of Black people. The Civil Rights Movement began in the mid 1950s with the goal of ending racial discrimination, racial segregation and voting disenfranchisement. This movement multiplied efforts that renewed a sense of self in Black Americans. The Black Panther Party, along with the Black Power Movement, emphasized racial pride and the creation of cultural institutions and studies. For example, in 1968, James Brown released his song, “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” With all of these movements intertwined, Negro History Week became more and more celebrated. Black Americans wanted more time to recognize the struggle they face and more time to honor their ancestors. Finally, in 1976, 50 years after the first celebration, President Gerald Ford officially designated February as Black History Month. Since then, the month of February is dedicated to honoring and remembering Black people and recognizing that the struggle for true racial equity and equality is still not done. Now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the organization determines an annual theme of the celebration to draw attention to important issues. For 2021 it is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.”
This February signals extra significance: It’s the 45th anniversary of the month-long celebration. Current events have also refocused the spotlight. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by a police officer in broad daylight in Minneapolis, reminding us that the world is not a safe place for Black people. Racism exists, and we all need to work to end it. If we want to live in a loving community, we need to work together to ensure every person can live freely and safely. As a Black American, this month is special to me and to Black people all around the world as a celebration of our triumph. During this month, we remember and give thanks to our ancestors
who shed their blood, sweat and tears to ensure we live in a world where we can be Black and free. This fight is not finished. Throughout the world, Black people are discriminated against, violated and harassed for their identity. The constant pain not only impacts their physical health, but also their mental and emotional health. To be treated as non-human is an unexplainable feeling. There is trauma in the collective Black experience. However, this month gives us clarity and a sense of renewal that there will be a day where Black people are free, autonomous beings living in a world that validates and embraces their identity. Black History Month is often celebrated and then forgotten after the month ends. In 2021, I want that to change. I challenge every person reading this to celebrate and uplift Black people—not just in February, but throughout the year. In addition to that, commit to being anti-racist and helping to build a world that oppresses no one. Change is hard, but without doing the hard work, there will never be change. To paraphrase Hellen Keller “Alone, I can accomplish only so much. Together, we can accomplish anything.” Black History Month will be celebrated in Rochester in 2021. The Diversity Council plans to hold some events. Find them listed on their website: diversitycouncil.org. ◆
RWmagazine.com January/February 2021
( UN ) EQUAL
TREATMENT FOR ALL HEALTH DISPARITIES EXPLAINED BY ERIN PAGEL
HEALTH DISPARITIES ARE PREVENTABLE DIFFERENCES IN THE INCIDENCE, PREVALENCE, MORTALITY AND BURDEN OF DISEASES AND OTHER ADVERSE HEALTH CONDITIONS THAT ARE EXPERIENCED ACROSS POPULATIONS. Disparities occur across many
dimensions, including race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, location, gender, disability status and sexual orientation. Health disparities are often identified along racial and ethnic lines, in that African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Alaska Natives and whites have different disease Dr. Tejinder (Tej) Khalsa and survival rates. To learn more about health disparities and understand what we can do to impact the issue locally and beyond, we spoke with Dr. Tejinder (Tej) Khalsa, a general internist and assistant professor at Mayo Clinic and medical education consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO), about health disparities impacting Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) broadly and in our own community. Khalsa is of Northern Indian background, was born in Britain and married into an African-American family. She now calls Rochester home and is a champion for closing the gap in health disparities. Khalsa first felt the real sting of health disparities (something she’d previously only learned about in textbooks and studied as a researcher) when her Black mother-in-law was given substandard care when hospitalized for abdominal pain. Khalsa and her father-in-law stepped in to advocate for her care. “It was a nightmare,” says Khalsa. Seeing this unfair treatment fueled her passion for addressing disparities with her own practice, her work with WHO and her research and academic efforts.
AREAS OF DISPARITY
Health disparities in the United States impact and hurt both white people and BIPOC, though the latter are disproportionately harmed. Disparity exists in preventive care, chronic condition management, cancer screening, detection and treatment and nearly every other health event. “People of color from historically marginalized groups face poorer health in almost every way,” says Khalsa. “Black people, Native Americans and Native Hawaiians all get sicker sooner than white people, have more aggressive progression disease and die sooner.” Analysis of 2014 14
January/February 2021 RWmagazine.com
data indicates that if white Americans were their own country, it would rank 34th in the world for life expectancy. If Black Americans were their own country, it would rank 96th. Khalsa notes, “One of the most alarming health care disparities for women relates to maternal and infant mortality. The U.S. has the second-highest maternal and infant mortality rates among 31 comparable, high-resourced countries. All families, regardless of color or race, are at risk.” And still, “Black women are dying from preventable pregnancy-related causes at three- to four-times the rate of white women, while Black babies are dying at twice the rate of white babies,” adds Khalsa.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic brings its own disparity. BIPOC bear the heaviest burden at every stage, including risk of exposure, access to testing, severity of the illness and death and getting sick and dying of COVID-19 at rates higher than whites and higher than their share of the population. Black, Latinx and AmericanIndian people are experiencing hospitalizations at rates four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half times higher than non-Hispanic whites.
WHY DISPARITIES STILL EXIST
Though real progress has been made in addressing some disparities, reasons for ongoing prevalence of others are rooted in the constellation of factors both inside and outside hospital doors. Access to care, financial concerns and cultural differences all play a part in ongoing disparities. Disparity has deep roots in racism and slavery, Indigenous women and Black women alike having been treated as less than human throughout much of our history. Beyond overt and deliberate racism, BIPOC experience discrimination as a result of implicit bias and a system that encourages racism. “It takes 100 milliseconds to judge someone based on race,” says Khalsa, “and studies have shown that 70% of us, doctors included, have anti-Black bias.” Khalsa shares, “Structural racism denies Black women equitable access to the social determinants critical to health. Examples include job discrimination, low-resources housing, being paid less for the same work and lacking inheritable wealth because of the legacy of slavery. These are very powerful factors that accumulate as toxic stress in the bodies of Black women, contributing to a biological weathering effect that threatens their health.”
ADVOCATE AND ADDRESS DISPARITIES
In 2019, world leaders adopted a United Nations declaration on universal health coverage. However, it remains a political challenge in the U.S. “It’s time to get involved and engage with our elected officials to lift this initiative into law,” says Khalsa. “We can’t have people in our country dying because they are poor.” Address disparities with “knowledge, compassion and action,” says Khalsa. “Every one of us needs to build our knowledge, expand our circle of compassion toward people who are different than us and move into action. We can overcome our own implicit bias and advocate for others who are different from us or missing from the conversation.” Khalsa says we can transform our everyday interactions with enhanced intentional kindness. “We are at a critical point of reckoning in our nation’s history. We are dealing simultaneously with the COVID-19 pandemic, the centuries-old racism pandemic, an economic
crisis and a political crisis. We are suffering with profound grief, loss and rage. Yet we all have the power and potential within us to be part of the transformative healing we need. Fill yourself with knowledge and compassion, then intentionally see the person in front of you as part of your own family. Treat them intentionally with kindness. And keep pushing—push yourself to do more for justice, and push your elected officials to do the same.” ◆
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ACTIVIST FOR LIFE
BARBARA JORDAN ACTIVIST, MOTHER, FRIEND
BY TERRI ALLRED PHOTOGRAPHY BY AB-PHOTOGRAPHY.US
THE FIRST TIME I MET BARBARA JORDAN, I WAS STRUCK BY HER WARM DEMEANOR AND FOCUSED ATTENTION. She was talking to another person, but when I was introduced, her
complete attention shifted to me. That focused connection is a hallmark of Barbara’s leadership, whether she is serving as the administrator for the Office for Education Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Mayo Clinic or volunteering with the NAACP. 16
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Barbara has been a connector and vital member of the community since she moved here 29 years ago. “Back in the day,” she reminisces, she was on the founding board of the Boys and Girls Club, at the time a modest initiative “where we had to do art projects without running water.” Barbara was also involved in the early days of the Diversity Council and Rochester Chamber of Commerce. The thread that runs among her varying personal and professional contributions to the Rochester community is activism, specifically making connections to help people advance. “We are stronger together when we work together. It is my community; it is our community. I take a living here and want to give back. I want to make this community that supports me and my family better.” Barbara started at Mayo as a medical meeting planner, but within three years had moved into administration. She considers herself a medical educator—not a teacher specifically, but rather someone who looks to advance learners in higher education and medical education. In her position, she oversees the development of programming that introduces young learners to careers in medicine/medical roles and biomedical science. “So many kids don’t see themselves on those pathways, so it is a lot about inspiration.” However, it is heavy on the preparation too. The earlier that young adults can envision themselves on a medical or scientific path, the sooner they can get the foundational knowledge necessary to understand the pathway, know the decision points and know how to make the good decisions in order to progress in an efficient and affordable way. She basically tells young adults, “You can become a (doctor, scientist, researcher). Here are the steps you can take.” While she loves her work at Mayo, working in community is where she says she has learned the most. Using her master’s degree in
organizational leadership, she volunteered with nonprofits, the NAACP and her church, learning skills such as how to be a treasurer, how to manage CEOs of nonprofits, how to evaluate staff and so much more. She jokes that her volunteer roles have felt like a practicum. Barbara has also spent time organizing in Rochester at the community level, primarily focused on African-American youth. Every January, she helps organize the Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) birthday celebration and programs. Last Fall she worked with the Rochester NAACP to enact a four-point strategy to get out the vote. This work included organizing volunteers, hosting community forums and registration, and working to establish strong voter protection in the event of suppression.
pandemic, they traveled and dined together. Now they are finding creative ways to stay connected, and they are able to connect even more than before. She loves all kinds of music, and both of her children are musicians. Since the pandemic began, she has taken up walking and intentionally being in nature more. Barbara loves Rochester because it’s small enough to know folks when you are out and about but large enough to have a cultural and restaurant scene. Because of the size, she explains, people still have a great sense of community and see themselves as a collective, not just a decentralized place where you live.
Fortunately, I spend at least 45-50 hours a week working my day job. The five things below are how I spend the rest of my waking hours.
1. Watching every “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law and Order” marathon with W.C. (my husband). The cable networks have made that easy for us, as we have found that between the two shows, at times there are three episodes playing at one time. We love Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T and Sam Waterston! 2. Texting, chatting and Zooming with my girlfriend group, whenever and wherever we might be. There are seven of us, and we have managed to stay well-connected throughout the pandemic. It has been such a blessing to have my girls to lean on during these tough times. The chats and texts can get a bit crazy, especially last fall during the debates—that play-by-play was priceless!
‘SO, WHAT’S YOUR STORY?’
Barbara’s dad was in the Air Force. She and her family traveled with him around the globe. She believes that experience formed her into a person who “never met a stranger.” She is always eager to meet new people and hear their stories. When she isn’t community organizing or working, she enjoys spending time with a diverse group of long-time friends. Before the
WE ASKED BARBARA FOR AN IDEA OF HOW SHE IS SPENDING HER TIME STUCK AT HOME THESE DAYS:
3. Hopping onto the Douglas Trail during ‘THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES…’
People who know Barbara are familiar with her tagline, “The struggle continues …” When asked if she sometimes gets tired or discouraged, Barbara shares a story about a conversation with her grown daughter Angie when she was 6 years old. Barbara had been considering stepping back from helping to organize the MLK program that year and was talking about it in front of her daughter. Angie said, “Mom, you can’t not work on the program.” Her daughter didn’t know the exact, grammatically correct way to say it, but her meaning was crystal clear. ◆
the spring, summer and early fall and on the treadmill once it got a bit too cold! Funny how 4 miles goes so much quicker on the trail—I much prefer the trail!
4. Growing in my faith, as our church now has Zoom Bible Study on Wednesday evenings and Zoom Sunday School on Saturday mornings. Due to some departures from relocation, I found myself being appointed to serve as superintendent of the Sunday school. I am enjoying going much deeper in my study now, as I truly believe that to teach is to learn!
5. Working with W.C. to plan for several Opposite page, top photo: Jordan doing what she loves—working with undergraduate students to help them explore educational programs at Mayo Clinic. This page clockwise from top: Sharing in community engagement with husband W.C. Jordan; The Struggle is Real; Sharing faith and a love for teaching at summer Vacation Bible School 2019.
vacations that we hope to take once the pandemic is over and it is safe to travel. We have fallen in love with Hawaii, and that is definitely on the list, as is Barbados and our domestic favorite: New Orleans. And this year, we hope New York for the U.S. Open.
RWmagazine.com January/February 2021
FOR THE HOMELESS
BRIE BEDNAR AND THE EXPANDING SERVICES OF FAMILY PROMISE ROCHESTER BY ANNE SCHERER
HOMELESSNESS IN A GLOBAL CRISIS
“I have always wanted my son (now 15) to be proud of me. When he was very young, I worked for the American Red Cross and responded to fires or tornadoes, often in the middle of the night. He actually thought I swept off into the night wearing a cape like a superhero. And I never forgot that,” expresses Bednar.
IN 1999, INTERFAITH HOSPITALITY NETWORK OF GREATER ROCHESTER— NOW KNOWN AS FAMILY PROMISE ROCHESTER (FPR)—WAS LAUNCHED AFTER A GROUP OF CARING INDIVIDUALS SAW THE NEED TO PROVIDE SHELTER, MEALS AND COMPREHENSIVE ASSISTANCE TO HOMELESS FAMILIES IN THE ROCHESTER AREA. For 20
years, families were sheltered in partner congregations where they received a meal and a place to sleep. 18
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“COVID-19 forced us to re-examine the way we were operating,” says Bednar. “We were no longer able to shelter in churches, many of which were shuttered due to the pandemic.” Instead, families were sheltered at Airbnbs, in hotels, at campgrounds and on the Bear Creek campus. Leadership decided to find a site to shelter homeless families. FPR now has a site large enough for offices, a day center and shelter rooms that is slated to open in January. Bednar explains, “We have the capacity to shelter four to five families, or 14 to18 people, but we will be operating at half-capacity for the duration of the pandemic.” Prior to the pandemic, meals were served at church host sites and provided by the volunteers of that congregation. When the new shelter opens, FPR will be looking to volunteers to provide meals, evening hospitality and overnight supervision. An individual or family must have physical custody of a child or children under 18 to enter the program. The program is 30 days but, if needed, can be extended up to 90 to 120 days. The average stay is 65 days.
A LOCAL PROBLEM, OFTEN OVERLOOKED
According to Mary O’Neil, program manager for the Housing Stability Team at the Housing Department of Olmsted County, 123 individuals were homeless as of
October 2019. However, Rochester Public Schools identified over 400 school-aged children who were experiencing homelessness in the district last year. “The problem of family homelessness needs more attention,” says Bednar. “Families who are experiencing homelessness are typically not very visible in the community (not sleeping in parks, etc.) and so are often overlooked. Homelessness is tragic, but family homelessness is inexcusable.” Most of Bednar’s career has been in nonprofit leadership, but she states, “My role with FPR has opened my eyes to a very serious problem in the community. I am proud of the families we have served who have worked hard to graduate to stable housing. We can’t solve the problem of family homelessness in one swoop, but family by family we can make a huge difference. And to each family we serve, that difference means the world.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
FPR is funded primarily through contributions from individuals, churches, businesses and service clubs. “A very easy thing that the people of Rochester can do to help them understand homelessness is to volunteer with us,” says Bednar. “Come in and meet the families we serve—you will see that they are not so different after all.” FPR is a home for the families they serve. Even after they’ve graduated out of shelter, the families remain in touch. A community and a beautiful network of families, volunteers and staff who all care deeply has been built inside four walls and a roof. ◆
Photograph by Connie Brown.
In September 2019, Brigitte (Brie) Bednar took on the role of executive director, just in time to adapt to the new and still-changing rules of a pandemic.
BUILDING } THEIR CAREERS MEET TWO WOMEN WHOSE EARLY WORK IN RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION HELPED BUILD THE FUTURE TO ENDURING CAREER SUCCESS BY TRISH AMUNDSON
THERE IS NOTHING LIKE BUILDING A DREAM HOME. In the
beginning stages of residential construction, the structure begins to take shape, and homeowners can better visualize themselves living in a brand-new house. From pouring the foundation to framing the walls and installing electrical and plumbing systems, the skills of the tradespeople quickly become evident. The construction sector has long been dominated by men. Yet women are making important contributions in the industry, including residential building, where they work alongside their male counterparts swinging hammers, connecting wires, soldering pipes and coordinating work plans.
With grit and guts, Mandy Reese and Jodi Wiemerslage began their careers with jobs comprising the initial steps of the residential construction process, which eventually equipped them to forge new paths to their present roles.
EMPOWERING FEMALE BUILDERS
Educational programs and resources can support individuals entering and working in the construction field, including a female demographic that has shown increased interest. Steve Carlson, carpentry instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College, has seen an uptick of women in the program over his 20 years of teaching. The two-semester class of
From residential framer to lead carpenter
BACKGROUND: My husband, Al, and I moved from Rochester to our farm by Zumbrota about 10 years ago. We’ve been together for 17 years and have three children: Amber, Autumn
and Lee. I grew up in Pine Island and graduated from high school there.
HOW SHE STARTED: In junior high, I signed up for shop classes and was hooked! After graduation, I started working with a home builder in Rochester framing houses. I had experience in working with everything from footings, framing layout, floor joists, rafters, sheeting, shingles, siding and windows. Later I was hired on at A G Strobel (a general contractor) and joined the Carpenters Union. I completed a four-year apprenticeship training program and have worked for some great companies, including Benike Construction and, currently, Palmer Soderberg.
18 to 20 students concentrates on residential carpentry, and the number of females has grown from one or two per class in earlier years to four this year. “They can do anything that the men can do,” he says. The primary activity of the program is to build a house. The fast-paced learning experience includes building layout, foundation and rough framing, as well as installation of roofing, insulation, drywall and interior trim. With a placement rate of 90%, many students go on to a variety of construction-related careers. “Most of the female students join the local Carpenters Union,” says Carlson, “where they often work with steel studs and drywall, acoustic ceilings, cabinet installations and concrete form work.”
WHERE SHE IS NOW: I’m a lead carpenter at Palmer Soderberg and have been in the Carpenters Union for 20 years. I’m in charge of keeping the job organized and running on schedule. This includes working with our company estimators to make sure materials are ordered ahead of time and networking with other trades. I really enjoy the camaraderie with a lot of great tradesmen. CAREER INSPIRATION: I come from a long line of strong women in my family, and I like to think I get my strengths from my mom. She sacrificed a lot for our family and worked harder than anyone I know to give us what we needed. She is truly an inspiration, and I hope to be just like her! OVERCOMING CHALLENGES: I work with a lot of great men and women in construction, in many different trades. Like any job, you must RWmagazine.com January/February 2021
prove yourself and show you’re interested in being there. When people think they don’t have to work because companies just need to meet the minority percentages, it never ends well. MOTIVATION AND SUPPORT: Every day in construction is a challenge, and that’s why I
was so drawn to it. There are a lot of projects I’m proud of, including our ceiling projects at the Mayo Civic Center and in the Siebens Building Patient Cafeteria at Mayo Clinic. You get a lot more accomplished when you work as a team. One of my motivations is teaching someone new the tips and tricks I’ve learned
Photography by Kari
From residential construction coordinator to electrical project manager/estimator
BACKGROUND: I lived with my family in Caledonia until my sophomore year in high school, when we moved to Spring Valley to follow my father’s career. I stayed in the area and attended Rochester Community College, where I received my Associate of Arts degree. HOW SHE STARTED: I was a residential construction coordinator for a home builder, and it was my responsibility to negotiate proposals, hire subcontractors and maintain the schedule for the houses. I learned pull scheduling (a scheduling technique), and this tool has become helpful to me in my current position as a project manager/estimator. My favorite part of the job was watching what was on the blueprints come to life. For the first time I felt I like I was being compensated based on my abilities. WHERE SHE IS NOW: I am an electrical project manager/estimator for Hunt Electric Corporation (where she has worked for 15 years) and am president of National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Southeast MN Chapter 346. Becoming a project manager/estimator has brought many opportunities to learn new things. I oversee my projects’ budgets, labor needs, materials and safety. I also assist the field crew
with obtaining the information they need to get the job done with updated drawings, product information and installation instructions. The electrical industry is always evolving, and I am fortunate to work for a company that embraces change. I work on a wide variety of projects including new construction, alterations, institutional, service, maintenance and alternative energy.
OVERCOMING CHALLENGES: Attitudes are changing in the construction industry, but there still is a lot of work to do. The first step is for women to have the confidence to look to our industry as a quality way of life. There are countless levels and jobs that are overlooked. The exposure to open our world up needs to begin at a very young age. Children’s books that include illustrations and text about women in construction is a good start. STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and industrial technology classes need to be brought back into the schools. High school career counselors must provide encouragement to apprenticeship programs. ENCOURAGING OTHERS: I encourage women who are interested in the construction industry to look to the union halls for advice (for example, visit carpenterslocal1382.com). Reach out to the Work Force Development Center for free training and support. Inquire with our local technical colleges for introduction courses. Check out job shadowing opportunities with Rochester Area Builders. Get involved with organizations like the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). ◆
over the years and listening to their ideas. I might learn something from them too! ENCOURAGING OTHERS: My advice for women who want to work in the trades is to do it if you’re really interested. There are so many opportunities, and you will be expected to do the job you’re hired for. Although if you need help carrying, lifting or installing something, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. No one starts out knowing everything or able to do everything by themself. Nor are you expected to. If you’re trying and willing to learn, that’s what it’s all about.
ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES FOR WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION Rochester Area Builders Provides leadership, education, networking and information resources to members, the community and government officials. rochesterareabuilders.com
Rochester Community and Technical College Offers a carpentry program (and other construction-related programs) to prepare students for careers as carpenters in residential and commercial construction, factories, cabinet shops, and building maintenance fields. rctc.edu/program/carpentry
National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Southeast Minnesota Supports and encourages the growth of women in the construction industry through networking, scholarships and educational opportunities. nawicsemn.org
Workforce Development, Inc., Southeast Minnesota Offers career services and programs to help individuals overcome barriers and achieve employment. workforcedevelopmentinc.org/programs
This article is part of a series about women working in different phases of construction. 20
January/February 2021 RWmagazine.com
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As strong and hearty Minnesotans, we know how to get outside in all kinds of weather. If youâ€™re looking for a change of scenery, take your living and dining room outside this winter.
DECORATE String lights up and bring some candles outside. Grab a vintage sled or some old skis or snowshoes. Keep your holiday greenery up or refresh it for a winter look.
Use plywood or a canvas sheet to block that cold north wind. Then add some heat. Christy Buchan of Energy Products and Design, Inc. says one of their most popular items is their smokeless wood fire pit. There are tons of options for fire tables and even gas fire pits. Get some pillows and blankets. How about something with fur?
EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY Plug in a coffee urn filled with hot water that can be used for tea or hot chocolate. Roast hot dogs over the fire. Shovel off your grill and cook up some burgers.
How are you enjoying the outdoors? Share with us on Facebook and Instagram! 22
January/February 2021 RWmagazine.com
COLD WEATHER, HOT CHAI SPICING UP WINTER BY SHARI MUKHERJEE
THIS WINTER I’M PRIORITIZING COZY. I’m living in soft, comfy sweatshirts, pulling
MY FAMILY’S MASALA CHAI RECIPE
Masala means “spice mix.” You can customize the spices and the amounts to your tastes. This recipe is truly just a guide, inspired by the tea from our favorite roadside chai stalls in India. If you don’t like a certain spice, leave it out. Add what you love. I hope you make the recipe your own and it brings a little warmth, coziness and joy to your winter days, too!
on my warmest wool socks and wrapping my chilled fingers around mugs of hot, steaming chai. Nearly every afternoon, around 4 p.m., either my husband or I grab our beloved “chai pot.” The kids, without fail, pull their stools up to the stovetop. We let them crush the spices, smash the ginger, and measure the tea leaves and milk. My husband watches as they stir and helps them as they make our daily chai. I grab a handful of biscuits (Indian-style cookies) to share, and we all warm up on these cold-weather days, enjoying our hot chai together.
INGREDIENTS: 1 ½ cups water 1 ½ cups whole milk Fresh ginger, about the size of a half-dollar, smashed 5-6 green cardamom pods, smashed (just enough to slightly break the shells) 4-5 whole cloves 1 thumbnail-sized piece of cinnamon (crush a cinnamon stick to get smaller shards) 6 tsp. loose-leaf black tea (we like Brooke Bond Red Label, available locally at Rice and Spice, International Spice and even Walmart or Hy-Vee) Sugar, to taste
Add water, milk, ginger, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and tea leaves into a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to mix, then bring to a rolling boil, stirring often so that the milk doesn’t scald and the pot doesn’t overflow. Watch closely. If it looks like it’s about to boil over, turn the heat to low and keep stirring. Allow to steep/boil on medium-high heat for around 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to turn a deep, golden caramel brown (this can take up to 15 minutes). Note: If you cook at a lower temperature, the flavor just does not quite come through as it should—trust me on this. Once done, strain (using a fine sieve or a tea strainer) into individual mugs and add enough sugar to suit your taste. Serve immediately, preferably with a few biscuits or cookies for dunking. Makes 2-4 servings, depending on serving size ◆ RWmagazine.com January/February 2021
A TIME TO SAVOR
A CLASSIC COMFORT MENU TO CELEBRATE VALENTINE’S DAY BY MARGO STICH PHOTOGRAPHY BY AB-PHOTOGRAPHY.US
NOW, MORE THAN EVER, WE CRAVE MEMORABLE MOMENTS. Special occasions,
such as Valentine’s Day, offer a way to spend time with people who are important to us and to create memories with them. Preparing and sharing food is a powerful way to show we care.
COMFORT ME WITH FOOD
My menu for this Valentine’s Day is set. Stuffed pork chops are always a winner for special dinners in my household and one I am sure many meat eaters will find appealing. As a starch side dish, what could be more satisfying than potatoes? I’ll be serving au gratin potatoes flavored with onion, cheddar cheese and a bit of sour cream. And let’s not forget dessert. What is Valentine’s Day without chocolate? Recently Rochester resident Cathy Houghtaling was reminiscing about her childhood days and a dessert she recalls her grandmother making. That recipe has passed down through the family, today serving as a special treat for her whole family, especially the grandkids. She was delighted to share that recipe with us, adding, “Just pretend it has no calories.” Find these three recipes and more on our website. Also, a wine pairing recommendation: Pork dishes lend themselves to both white and
January/February 2021 RWmagazine.com
red wines. Consider lighter bodied wines to complement lighter textured cuts with lighter seasoning and heavier wines for fuller flavored ones. I will be serving Bogle Chardonnay with my pork chops and potatoes.
DINING OUT DELIGHTS
For delicious food without the work, order food for takeout and transfer it to your own special dishes. As area restaurants have continuously adapted to changing restrictions, it’s helpful for us to support them. A popular appetizer on the menu at Five West Kitchen and Bar is their spinach artichoke dip. It has won over many palates, including mine, and is a wonderful starter. For those looking for “comfort food” main dishes as takeout, consider the house-cut sirloin with garlic mashed potatoes from Saints on Second, or Swedish meatballs at the Redwood Room. A great main dish, for vegetarians and others, is the award-winning butternut squash ravioli, a long-standing item on Twig’s menu. These are just a fraction of delicious options at area restaurants. I encourage you to explore the plethora of local menus close by. For the best of all options consider mixing homemade with takeout food. Whatever combination you sit down to may it be one that is truly enjoyed and helps express those simple two words: “I care.” ◆
The ultimate comfort meal: pork chops, au gratin potatoes, salad with blue cheese dressing, spinach artichoke dip from Five West and upside-down chocolate cake, all served on my Great Aunt ,s china. Find all the recipes on our website.
NOTES FROM LOCAL RESTAURANTS It’s no secret that the pandemic has hit local restaurants and bars particularly hard. Two local chefs share some thoughts. Years ago, Pat Reding, head chef at
Saints on Second, stated, “Though often tired at the end of my workday, the rewards are seemingly endless.” While there are still daily rewards, COVID-19 has brought new pressures. In addition to food preparation, as a manager she takes seriously her responsibility to see the restaurant through challenges and make sure her staff has jobs to return to. Rochester native Clayton Welder, chef
at the Redwood Room has adapted his approach a bit to offer more comfort food and maximize value for the guest and for the business overall. At times of increased takeout orders, he offers dishes that travel well and reheat easily. His end goal is unchanged, namely that someone can get a flavorful dinner. Restaurants are experiencing a high level of inconsistent customer demand. Welder notes, “It can be really slow one day, and the next day it can be busy. Every order we receive is a blessing which we are so grateful for.”
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TRANSFORMING THE SYSTEM
BY NICOLE ANDREWS, AUDREY ELEGBEDE AND EMILY WATKINS
SYSTEMIC RACISM (OR INSTITUTIONAL RACISM) REFERS TO “THE SYSTEMS IN PLACE THAT CREATE AND MAINTAIN RACIAL INEQUALITY IN NEARLY EVERY FACET OF LIFE FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR” (FROM USA TODAY). These
engrained sets of policies and practices negatively impact Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) in everyday aspects of life. As Rochester Women Magazine continues its anti-racism work, we again asked Nicole Andrews and Audrey Elegbede to teach and guide us.
EASING INTO AWARENESS
Andrews explains that hearing the phrase “systemic racism” can trigger emotions ranging from confusion to frustration and apathy to rage. “Some may feel like they did not create these problematic systems and therefore shouldn’t be responsible for fixing them,” she
January/February 2021 RWmagazine.com
says. “Some may not believe systemic racism exists and that people of color use the term to get out of working hard and ‘pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.’” “One way to ease into becoming aware of systemic racism is to think of other “isms” or phobias (such as classism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, Islamophobia),” says Elegbede. “Society determines what is valued or ideal and what is not.” She gives an example of a system embedded in our lives: Our traditional work week is Monday through Friday with Saturday and Sunday as days of rest to coincide with Judeo-Christian days of worship. For those in religions whose observances are on other days, this causes a conflict between faith and duty to work. This is an example of a system in our society where Christians are privileged. Those not experiencing systemic racism may point to success stories within communities of color or rely on the narrative that African Americans have seen more successes in the last four years than under any other administration. “However,” says Andrews, “the
data and the lived experiences of Black people do not support those assertions. In the last year, we have seen systemic racism in our judicial and policing systems and watched the pandemic ravage communities of color. Our health care system continues to treat patients of color, and particularly Black women, with deepening disparities. And Minnesota’s educational gap is one of the worst in the country.” She continues, “While there are exceptions, they do not erase the rule. Racism continues to create hardships for many.”
DISMANTLING THE SYSTEMS
After acknowledging that systemic racism exists and informs all of our policies, we can start to dismantle how it shows up. Andrews says, “We look at each system individually and pick apart policies, practices and procedures that
are born out of white supremacy and the centering of white as the norm. We construct policies that are inclusive and culturally relevant. We look at our participation in these systems and how we continue to uphold these practices.” Some examples of systems are IQ tests and using ACT and SAT scores for entrance into college. These tests are intended to measure individual effort, intelligence and future performance, but instead serve more to reflect the lack in preparation that students of color receive. They can also contain biased questions or questions based on knowledge of white culture or norms. White students are more likely to have had exposure to concepts that are typically included in standardized tests, based on their access to education in school and at home. White students are also more likely to have access to testing accommodations than students of color with similar disabilities. If students of color score lower on standardized tests, they will then have a lower chance of being accepted to college. This means that they will not be able to be considered for higher paying jobs, leading to their inability to have equal access to housing and a lesser ability to generate wealth.
INTENT VERSUS IMPACT
Elegbede says, “Systemic racism can exist despite our best intentions. Health disparities exist despite the best intentions of medical personnel, and educational disparities continue despite the best intentions of teachers and school districts. If it was enough just to have good intentions, we wouldn’t continue to see
gaps in wealth, health, education, justice and mass incarcerations. Since those gaps do still exist, that tells us that there is something bigger and more systemic at play.” Racism as individual acts (name-calling, white hoods, etc.) absolutely exists, but the continuance of racism through systems and institutions and the normal operating procedures of everyday organizations becomes the baseline of what is harmful to marginalized groups. Elegbede goes on to say, “The state of Minnesota has identified systemic racism as a public health crisis. While acts of individuals to overcome racism and avoid racism in one-on-one interactions are important, individual best intentions cannot independently transform the entire system if the system continues to marginalize and disenfranchise.”
“THERE IS NO THING AS A SINGLE-ISSUE STRUGGLE BECAUSE WE DO NOT LIVE SINGLE-ISSUE LIVES.” - AUDRA LORDE
A PATH FORWARD
According to Elegbede, Kimberle Crenshaw’s work on intersectionality explains, “We all occupy multiple identities simultaneously among socially important variables such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, ability, age, immigration status, language and religious affiliation. We each may identify with certain variables that make us feel privileged or not, and according to Crenshaw, we are more likely to see the spaces where we are marginalized or disenfranchised than the areas where we have greater opportunity and benefit.” In the wake of last fall’s election, Andrews worries that what many view as a “return
to normalcy” may erase the work done in recent years when acts of racism have been more visible to a wider audience. Current calls for unity may seem good on the surface but may also signify the possibility that some will return to past practices where racism happens more covertly. Andrews reminds us, “The great (but not surprising) news is that Black women have been leading this work throughout the country for decades and continue to push this work forward in all of our systems. We see it in new, culturally responsive practices being introduced by organizations like the NAACP, Southern Law Poverty Center and Midwest Equity and Plains Center. We see it in our own Diversity Council and Intercultural Cities Initiative, as well as community organizer-led trainings and protests and student activists who are demanding changes in our education policies. All of these individuals and organizations are at the forefront of dismantling systems and are working on new strategies to include other marginalized identities in this work.” What can you do? Continue reading this series to learn and grow with us; invite a friend to start the journey with you; research the organizations, key concepts/definitions and individuals mentioned here; answer the questions posed about your participation in systemic racism (spoiler: We all play a role, regardless of identity); write us to discuss the topic further or inquire about trainings; read one of our book recommendations. ◆
BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS ON SYSTEMIC RACISM “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates “A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota” ed. Sun Yung Shin “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
This is the second article in our Anti-Racism 101 series. In our next issue, we will discuss colorblindness as racism. RWmagazine.com January/February 2021
SAVE IT FOR A
SNOWY DAY RECLAIMING YOUR CLOSET BY EXPLORING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE BY SAMANTHA ERICKSON
YOUR PERSONAL STYLE
I’M NOT BIG INTO RESOLUTIONS, BUT I AM VERY RITUALISTIC.
A new routine never starts mid-week in this household. To that end, New Year’s Day is the ultimate reset and a chance to kick off positive self-reflection. We live in a world that often tells us enough is never enough, that YOU are never enough. Social media perpetuates this notion, leaving us empty-pocketed and still feeling inadequate. It’s time to peel away the veneer of Instagram extravagance and forgo extreme advice that only sets you up for disappointment. Let 2021 be the year that you embrace a more personal, balanced approach to style and how it fits into your life. 28
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Take 30 minutes to look through Pinterest or magazines for visual representation. Create a virtual or actual board and pin/paste anything that appeals to you style-wise. Search the people you listed above, as well as outfits by season, work environment, favorite colors or pieces of clothing (like a “denim jacket outfit”). FEELINGS: How would you describe your current style? What are the first words that come to mind? How do you feel about this description? How do you WANT to feel? What do you want your style to say about you? What features do you love and want to accentuate? If you’re having trouble coming up with the right words, see how some of these common descriptors feel: edgy, preppy, glamorous, bohemian, eclectic, bold, trendy, professional,
IDENTIFY YOUR L.I.F.E.
LIFESTYLE: Do you hold onto pieces for sentimental value or because they truly serve you? By doing this, our closet eventually becomes merely a display of impulse purchases, old jobs and fond memories, rather than a functional tool in our daily routine. Think about the different “uniforms” you wear day to day. What do you consider practical and appropriate right now? This may look very different from person to person based on factors such as job environment, family life and hobbies. Stocking up on pieces that you both love and can wear on a regular basis will make your life so much easier and happier! INSPIRATION: Who inspires you and why? Think of those you admire for style, personality and overall energy. What is it about them that you want to embody in your own unique way?
This is the very core of my own closet. You’ll find these pieces in my wardrobe pretty much all year long because they fit well, are comfortable and make me feel most like, well, me!
Photos by Becca Haugen of Twelve Ten Photography. Used with permission
We are always evolving through education, spiritual practices, travel and more. Life experiences like becoming a parent or losing a parent continue to shape who we are, reknitting the fibers of our being. Throughout these different “seasons,” our personal style also evolves, as should our wardrobes.
Honing in on your personal style has many advantages, including: • Reduced “closet clutter.” Cheers to less laundry! • Less time and stress dressing each day. • Savings from not buying clothes that you don’t need or will never actually wear. • The confidence boost of feeling like your best self. And this process doesn’t end at your closet. Becoming more attuned to your personal style is a great starting point for exploring what makes you happiest in other areas of your life, such as home decor, career decisions, relationships and more. Embracing your authentic self is liberating and empowering. Grab a pen and read on to get started with my secret acronym for personal styling success.
ALL IN ALL, EXPLORING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE IS ABOUT EMBRACING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF AND RADIATING IT FROM THE INSIDE OUT.
cozy, unique, casual, natural, androgynous, comfortable, simple, approachable, timeless, refined, polished, sophisticated, spirited, unconventional, whimsical, striking, powerful, confident, bright, modern, vintage. EXAMPLES: It’s time to start putting your inspiration to work! Go back to your Pinterest or vision board, saving only pins that you love and truly resonate with your newly forming personal style. You’ll likely notice commonalities; for instance, my board is full of looks using three key pieces—layering pieces in classic shapes and unique textures, pants that can move yet give a professional vibe and fun accessories such as snake-print boots. You may resonate with a variety of looks and styles. We are multifaceted beings and as such, will connect with more than one aesthetic. This is especially true for different areas of your life— office attire versus weekend casual. Go through your own closet. Pull pieces and/or outfits that embody this inspiration—you know, the ones you reach for every day because they just feel good. Take pictures of these and add to your Pinterest board too. You can (and should) be an inspiration to yourself.
MOVE FORTH AND CONQUER THE WORLD!
These are tools that you will return to again and again as you build outfits and shop. Rather than simply setting a budget
A few of my favorite things: texture, neutrals, effortless layering, cozy knits, booties and bohemian accessories.
or banning yourself from the boutique all together, think about how each potential purchase works into your current closet and represents your personal style statement. This process is not about the clothing you wear; it’s about how you wear the clothing. If it doesn’t fit your criteria AND make you feel absolutely amazing, let it go from your closet or skip it in the store. Defining your personal style truly is a game changer for your time, wallet and confidence and is part of the bigger picture of self-care. However, remember that you are so much more than what you choose to wear. If you begin to question your motives for wanting to change or self-destructive thoughts begin to emerge, step away to reconnect with yourself. Reflect with an empowering book or podcast, prepare yourself a DIY spa night or seek the guidance of a trusted friend or professional to help get you back on a self-loving track! ◆
BUILD YOUR PERSONAL STYLE STATEMENT I am a _____(lifestyle and inspiration)____. My personal style reflects the ___(feelings)___ nature of my authentic self. As an example, mine is “I am a bohemian spirit with a type-A personality. My personal style reflects the uniquely eclectic yet polished nature of my authentic self.”
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THEJoy OF BEING BAD AT SOMETHING NEW A ROLLER DERBY ROOKIE
we learned to skate. At the end of 12 weeks, four women passed the skill assessment, made the team and got to choose their coveted roller derby name. I became PB & Jam (as in Pivot, Blocker and Jammer—the three positions in roller derby). Teammates call me Jam. I became a teammate, a friend, a skater. I became a roller derby player.
BY ERIN PAGEL (AKA PB & JAM)
Photo by Broo
Photo by Brooklyn Pagel.
ROOKIE SEASON: DISAPPOINTMENT
MY LEGS SPLAYED IN SEVEN DIRECTIONS. Seven
seems impossible, but after strapping on my new-to-me roller skates and safety gear and venturing onto the polished cement floor, my legs splayed in seven directions. I fell, got up, fell again. And again. And again. My body was not impressed with my brilliant idea to learn to skate as an older-than-I-liketo-admit adult. I have always been somewhat athletic but was decidedly not athletic on skates. My first day as part of Med City Roller Derby’s new recruits training was less than inspiring. But for some reason I went back. In 2010 I attended my first roller derby bout. Though I admired the skaters, I had 100 reasons why I couldn’t play, including not knowing how to skate. I came back to the idea often but always dismissed it—until the summer of 2019 when I decided to give it a try. “No experience necessary! We’ll teach you to skate!” taunted an advertisement for Med City Roller Derby. I signed up. 30
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LEARNING TO SKATE: FRUSTRATION AND JOY
I had skated exactly twice in the past 25 years. I didn’t know the women in my skating group. Most were (far) younger than me. All seemed to be learning quicker. Still I went back. Again and again I went back. Sore, stiff, feeling REALLY old, I went back. We learned to fall (somewhat) safely, to skate backwards and stop. We learned to weave through cones and jump on skates. We laughed. We encouraged each other. Each two-hour session flew by. All the stressors and challenges of life, work and parenting were forgotten as I tried to get my body to do what the coaches were teaching us. For those hours I was not a mother, I was not a leader, I was not in charge. I didn’t have to plan anything. I just had to try to do what I was told to do. It was freeing. I was terrible at skating, but I fought for each skill. I fell and got up quickly. I laughed at myself. I experienced the joy of completing a skill for the first time. It had been far too long since I had learned something truly from scratch. I had forgotten how exhilarating the small successes were and how much joy and freedom there is in being bad at something new. Somewhere among the sore muscles, frustration and what felt like thousands of falls,
Roller derby is a contact sport. Players wear safety gear, but injuries happen. My first injury kept me from skating for weeks, and I missed playing in our first bout where Med City beat St. Cloud 170 to 156. The following week we learned a tiny virus would end our season. There would be no practice and no games for the rest of 2020. Med City Roller Derby was undefeated, and my rookie season was over— but I didn’t play in a game.
LATER SKATER: GRATITUDE
With months of stay-at-home rules, skating has given me a new way to enjoy the outdoors. I skated a half-marathon, and it wasn’t the challenge I needed, so I skated a full marathon. I skate around lakes, on city trails and the length of the Douglas Trail. I love the speed and being outside. I love the breeze in my face and the feeling of flying. I miss my derby team, and I will skate with Med City Roller Derby when we can skate again. In the meantime, I’ll be on the trails. Or maybe at the skatepark. ◆
Top Photos: Writer, Erin Pagel, in training. Bottom Photo: 2020 Med City Roller Derby team, pre-pandemic. Used by permission of the photographer.
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March & April 2021 P R E S E N T I N G O U R B R A N D N E W LO O K !
THE IDENTITY ISSUE F E AT U R E D TO P I C S : WHAT’S YOUR WINE IDENTITY? WOMEN WHO ROCK VISION LOSS MAXIMIZE YOUR LIVING SPACES GIVE YOUR OLD CLOTHES NEW LIFE FOOD, CULTURE, IDENTITY: THINGS WE CAN LEARN FROM EATING
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