Category Archives: Assigned

Bike Path Etiquette

From a discussion of Bike Path Etiquette on the website Streets MN: 

I live a block from Lake Calhoun, so I’m on the lake’s bike and walking paths almost every day. When the weather is nice, these have to be the most congested recreational bike and ped facilities in the state, and probably several states in any direction. People clearly love Calhoun, but small discourtesies and thoughtless behavior mar the experience when it’s busy–or even when it’s not busy. Time for an etiquette lesson.

On the walking path
The Calhoun walking path is 4 people wide. Since the path is 2-way, it’s not difficult math to determine that a pair walking side by side in one direction can comfortably meet and pass a pair walking or running in the opposite direction without anyone having to move to avoid a collision.

This simple truth eludes those who walk 3 or 4 abreast. It devolves into a game of chicken. I try to hold my ground in the hope that the 3rd and 4th person will do the right thing and yield. Perhaps half the time they do, and just as often they don’t. Not wanting to body check my way around the lake like a hockey enforcer, I yield.

Assignment:  Minneapolis has been lauded as a national (and even global) bike haven, but how clear are the expectations for use of bike-only and pedestrian-only paths?   Interview the author of this piece – Transit planner / engineer / historian Aaron Isaacs, and possibly others.


Taking Heart Dinners Build Bridges

The Minnesota Council of Churches and the Muslim-American Society of Minnesota sponsor an annual interfaith exchange intended to increase understanding between communities.

It’s called Taking Heart.

Non-Muslims are invited to join their Muslim neighbors for an iftar dinner during the holy month of Ramadan.

Assignment:  Do a Morning Blend interview – or –  attend one of the early Taking Heart events and produce a report for the Morning Blend and

Here are the dates and locations for this year’s dinners:

Saturday, June 20 at 7:15pm
Masjid Al-Iman
1429 2nd St. NE; Minneapolis, MN 55413

Tuesday, June 23 at 8:30-10:30pm
Masjid Taqwa
1608 Como Ave.; Saint Paul, MN 55108

Saturday, June 27 at 6:30pm
Islamic Center of Twin Ports
145 West Winona St.; Duluth, MN 55803

Saturday, June 27 at 7:00pm
Islamic Center of Minnesota
1401 Gardenia Ave. NE; Fridley, MN 55432

Sunday, June 28 at 8:30pm
Jafari Islamic Center
10301 Jefferson Highway; Brooklyn Park, MN 55445

Tuesday, June 30 at 8:30-10:30pm
MAS Inver Grove Center
4100 66th St. E; Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076

Wednesday, July 1 at 7:30pm
Al Farooq Youth and Family Center
8201 Park Ave. S; Bloomington, MN 55425

Tuesday, July 7 at 7:45pm
Dar Al-Hijra Mosque
504 Cedar Ave. S; Minneapolis, MN 55454

Tuesday, July 7 at 7:30pm
TASMN Center Niagara Foundation
999 50th Ave. NE; Minneapolis, MN 55421

Tuesday, July 7 at 8:30-10:30pm
MAS Blaine Center
12175 Aberdeen St.; Blaine, MN 55449

Thursday, July 9 at 7:45pm
Islamic Society of Woodbury/East Metro
680 Commerce Drive, Ste. 130; Woodbury, MN 55125

Thursday, July 9 at 8:15pm
Masjid Al Rahman Islamic Center
8910 Old Cedar Ave.; Bloomington, MN 55425

Friday, July 10 at 6:45pm
Masjid Al-Ihsan
955 W. Minnehaha Ave.; Saint Paul, MN 55104

Saturday, July 11 at 8:00pm
Abu Huraira Islamic Center
3055 Old Highway 8; St. Anthony, MN 55418

The Future of Immigration Policy

Assignment:  Attend Vargas’ keynote speech and the Law & Policy round table discussion on Tuesday, April 14th.  Produce a report for the Morning Blend and

Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas at U of M for Three Events

Includes screening of his documentary,  Documented addressing his experience as an undocumented immigrant

Minneapolis-St. Paul (March 27, 2015)–Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas will take part in three events as part of a University of Minnesota symposium, “Out of the Shadows? The Future of Immigration Policy for Undocumented Americans,” that will address immigration policies, including President Obama’s executive action, in Minnesota and the United States. The symposium takes place Tuesday, April 14 at Cowles Auditorium and Willey Hall, both on the University’s west bank campus.

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker whose work centers on the changing American identity. He is the founder of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America, and the executive editor of #EmergingUS, a multimedia news platform launching this spring, focusing on race, immigration, and the complexities of multiculturalism.

In June 2011, the New York Times Magazine published an essay Vargas wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. Vargas then wrote, produced, and directed Documented, a documentary feature film on his undocumented experience. It was released theatrically and broadcast on CNN in 2014, and received a 2015 NAACP Imagecla. Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary.

While in Minneapolis, Vargas will take part in three public events:

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Cowles Auditorium, 301 19th Ave S, University of Minnesota west bank

He’ll deliver the keynote speech of the symposium, addressing immigration policy, personal identity, and his own experiences as an undocumented immigrant.

2:30 – 5:00 p.m. Cowles Auditorium, 301 19th Ave S, University of Minnesota west bank

He’ll participate in the Law & Policy Roundtable with panelists Jacqueline Esposito, National Immigrant Integration Conference, Rep. Carlos Mariani, Minnesota House of Representatives, and Professor Lauren Heidbrink, National Louis University.

7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Willey Hall Auditorium, 225 19th Ave S, University of Minnesota west bank

He’ll be present at a screening of Documented and take part in a post-film Q&A session.

Out of the Shadows is hosted by the University’s Immigration History Research Center and Center for New Americans, and The Advocates for Human Rights. All events are free and open to the public.

FFI: Immigration History Research Center, 612-625-4800

Downtown East Commons Alternative Approaches

On April 8th,  the next Downtown East Commons meeteing will lay out “alternative approaches” to shaping this new park in the middle of downtown Minneapolis.

As a new billion dollar football stadium rises in Minneapolis, planning is underway for Downtown East Commons, a green space that so far has only some lovely drawings to its name.

The development has a history tied to the new stadium and before it, the Metrodome.    An early controversy about Downtown East involved ownership and responsibility – the Minneapolis Park Board didn’t propose it and wasn’t enthusiastic about taking control of it.   An agreement from late 2014 describes an ownership hand-off sequence that gives the Vikings an undue amount of control long-term, but the design, construction and programming of the park are all question marks, clearly explained here by blogger Sam Newberg as “Joe Urban”.

Assignment:  Attend the meeting and produce a report that describes the alternatives being offered, with reaction from some of the people in attendance.

Huck Finn at Children’s Theater

Huck Finn is a great work by Mark Twain, and something of a lightning rod, especially when presented to children. The Children’s Theater in Minneapolis is producing this classic for most of March.

Here’s an interview pitch that came from the theater – looking for some attention from KFAI:

I wanted to reach out to you about our upcoming production of Huck Finn opening next week and see if you may be interested on one of the KFAI shows in a chat with either Greg Banks (in town until March 6), Peter Brosius or perhaps Ansa Akyea who plays Jim.

It is a really special adaptation of the book, most notably for its stripping out of the n-word due to the violence it provokes and distraction from the key power of the story.

Ansa especially has an interesting perspective of why he does this production still; he does it for his children, he does it because looking back at the history of slavery in this country is still important and especially a look at racism and how far, but also how little we have come. I’m attaching the press release that talks about all these points.

Peter and Greg can talk also about the development and artistic choices they have taken in creating this work.

Assignment: Schedule an interview with actor Ansa Akyea, Artistic Director Peter Brosius and/or Director Greg Banks on the Morning Blend. This can be live or recorded.

The Nile Project @ Northrop

Assignment:  Interview artists from The Nile Project, scheduled for February 24th at Northrop Auditorium at the U of M.


For millennia, the Nile has nourished lands of human, ecological, and cultural beauty. Connecting the polyrhythmic styles of Lake Victoria and the pointed melodies of the Ethiopian highlands with the rich modal traditions of Egypt and Sudan, the 4,200 mile river yields an enormous range of songs and dances, expressing stories, emotions, and daily life.

The Nile Project intertwines these traditions into a new, unified sound. A powerful pan-Nile percussion section drives the collective, which reunites traditional instruments of common ancestry while merging new ones. The plucked harp (lyre) and spike fiddle have been at the heart of the Nile’s musical identity since ancient times. Today, modern versions of both instruments are found in every country within the Nile Basin. In the music from their first album, Aswan, the lyre is represented by the Sudanese masenkop, Ugandan adungu, and Egyptian simsimiya and tamboura, while the spike fiddle manifests as the Ethiopian masenko and Ugandan endingidi. In curating the collective, co-producers Miles Jay and Mina Girgis sought to highlight the unique timbres of these instruments, while also surrounding them with complementary sounds from their respective traditions, including the Ethiopian saxophone, Egyptian ney, oud, and violin, and the bass guitar.

With its power to promote dialogue, change perceptions, and inspire action, music is the Project’s natural starting place. By exposing local audiences to the cultures of their river neighbors, the initiative’s music provides a space for audiences to learn about each other and create a shared Nile identity. Building on this awareness, the Nile Project is developing educational programs, an online dialogue platform, and a Nile Prize to incubate innovative solutions to the region’s cultural and environmental challenges.

Check out this TED Talk featuring The Nile Project.

Recently New York Times reporter Jon Pareles said of The Nile Project: “”With such vibrant music…the Nile Project was a superb example of what I call small-world music, of what happens to traditions in the information age.”

Other media appearances include an interview from BBC’s Focus on Africa with co-founders, Mina Girgis and Meklit Hadero; inclusion in NPR Music’s recap of globalFes; and an interview with the Miami Herald.


Racial Disparities in Juvenile Justice

The interfaith group ISAIAH will push for reform of the juvenile justice system with a particular focus on racial disparities.

Assignment: Attend the Thursday press conference and file a report for the Morning Blend on Friday or the following Monday.

Event: Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 9:15 AM

Contact: Ginny Gleason;; 651-747-6164

African American Faith Community to Announce Campaign to
Repair Juvenile Justice System

On Thursday, February 5, leaders from African American and ISAIAH faith communities and supporters of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiatives (JDAI), a program of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, will hold a press conference in Room 181 of the State Office Building to announce their plans to push for an end to racial disparities in Minnesota’s juvenile justice system. The group aims to create a fair and objective system that eliminates current disparate juvenile justice treatment for children of color and prevents the over-incarceration of youth.

WHAT: Press conference to demand an end to racial disparities in our state’s juvenile justice system.

WHEN: THURSDAY, February 5, 2015, 9:15 AM

WHERE: Room 181, Minnesota State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Saint Paul

WHO: Rev. Ovester Armstrong Jr., Macedonia Baptist Church, Minneapolis
Demetria Carter, Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, Minneapolis
Brian Smith, Institute on Culture and Policy
De’Arreon Robinson, Appetite for Change/Youthprise
40 faith leaders and community members

WHY: While the overall number of juvenile offenders being imprisoned in Minnesota has hit record lows, a disproportionate number of young African American, Native American, and Latino American people are put behind bars. In fact, youth of color are three times more likely to be arrested for a delinquency offense. We will discuss several policies that will help curtail this problem, most notably JDAI, which seeks $5 million dollars to support efforts to reduce the gap.

ISAIAH is a faith-based community organization of 100 congregations in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud regions working for racial and economic justice. ISAIAH seeks to create healthy communities by transforming the policies that are creating concentrated poverty and racial disparities in areas such as affordable housing, tax base sharing, education funding, transportation, sprawl, and economic revitalization. ISAIAH is multi-racial, anti-racist, interfaith, grassroots, and non-partisan.