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Family Trip to Washington DC for Veteran’s Weekend – Newseum, Capitol, the Mall & Smithsonian by Ann Treacy
November 10, 2019, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Washington DC

This weekend Aine, Auntie Katie, Bridie, Grandma, Grandpa and I all headed to Washington DC for a super quick trip over Veteran’s Weekend. It’s been a whirlwind!

We started yesterday with a walk past the Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural on the way to the Newseum, a museum dedicated to news. It’s funny, sad and informative. Most of all it’s an important reminder of the integral role journalism and the media play in our democracy – for better and for ill. From Washington Post (and several TC newspaper articles) to Twitter, the Newseum recognizes the importance of freedom of information inherent in the five promises in the First Amendment: free of the press, speech, assembly, religion and petition.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, we got to touch a piece of the wall and see some old school German graffiti. And 50 years after the original Stonewall riots, we got to learn about day the actions that led up to that day and the progress we’ve made as a country is civil rights and sexual preference and identification. (Hopefully we’ll continue to make strides!)

The 911 exhibits were chilling. I shouldn’t admit but I remember little of that day – in part because with two sleeping babies upstairs and my work downstairs, I was oblivious until much later in the morning. We did remember that Grandpa was in DC at the time – heading to the Pentagon. Luckily Grandpa has always had a cell/car phone so we were able to reach him. But it was scary. Juxtapose that with the late night section featuring Jon Stewart, James Cordon, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and others. It’s easy to see why we need a filtered view of what’s happening these days.

Pro Tip: The Newseum is slated to close at the end of the year. It’s worth a trip if your in DC.

After the Newseum, some of us headed to the US Capitol. We got there 2 minutes before the last tour stated. We didn’t exactly get an insider’s view of the building but we saw the glitz and glamour. It is a pretty amazing building. We learned that each state gets two statues. We saw a lot of them – but not the ones from Minnesota. Also, a nod to the pretty decent orientation video on “e pluribus unum” – out of many one on the idea of America being/needing to debate together to get to one voice.

Then one of us hiked back to the AirBNB. I love a hustled walk in a city like DC. Such a treat – especially when it seems so much warmer than home.

We ended the day at Bristrot du Coin. I’m just going to say – foie gras, paté, crème brule, salmon, mussels, champagne cocktail… So yummy and we got a quiet table in an otherwise bustling location.

Day two was the family-selfie tour of The Mall.

We picked the perfect day to spend outside. It was almost 60 degrees, in the sun. We started at the WWII Memorial. As we arrived a series of marching bands showed up. So we got to hear some touching songs and a speech recognizing the service of Vets. It was very nice.

Next up – the Lincoln Memorial – with a special stop at the “I have a Dream” memento on the steps where Martin Luther King Jr stood to give that speech. We learned that 37 people fall down the stairs to the Memorial each day. Pleased to report that we weren’t part of that statistic – on this trip. We checked out the Korean War Memorial and Vietnam Memorial. I like how these memorials recognize the personal sacrifice in a way that the WWII doesn’t. I think in the 1940s there may have been greater internal connection between individual and state (or nation), I’m not sure that’s there in the same way. Subsequently, featuring the soldiers coming out of the woods (Korean) or names of the deceased soldiers (Vietnam) is a nice touch back to the soldier as individual.

We took a walk down The Mall to the Smithsonian for American History. We trekked through to see our favorite things – the ruby red slippers, first lady dresses and a few techie things for me. DC is very fun – but it’s hard to be here when we are so divided as a people. For example, hard not to judge the reaction to the First Lady dresses. I love Michelle Obama, I have room for Nancy Reagan, love to hear about how Dolley Madison held parties to bridge hard topics but I wonder about the people swooning over the most current addition. I’m not necessarily proud of that; wish I saw a road to change it.

Our last gasp was the Sculpture Garden. I’m a sucker for a good Sculpture Garden. I walked through it just a month ago when I was in town to present at the First Native Broadband conference but always more fun to tour with family. Even if some of the family is super tired and ready for a rest.

The trip isn’t over quite yet – we’re resting up in Baltimore waiting for a crab-cake forward dinner before we fly out in the morning.



Going deep into the Department of the Interior – and a few obvious stops in Washington DC by Ann Treacy
September 24, 2019, 2:15 pm
Filed under: Washington DC

Day two of my work trip to DC. I survived moderating the first panel of the day. (Again I followed FCC Chair Pai.) Actually it was fun to hear about what folks are doing to build and use broadband on tribal lands. I’m always impressed with the champions of deployment who go from knowing nothing about broadband to knowing every nuance – because they have to. It’s like me learning how to build a car – just so I can drive it.

During a break I checked out the library at the Department of the interior. The had a exhibit on Women’s Suffrage. I’ll share the best and worst of it below. I feel like voter suppression supporters might use the same postcard today. Maybe not publicly – but internally. So scary and a good reminder to protect the rights we have!

Then I saw the weirdest grandfather clock ever. Apparently it was a gift to a former librarian – from her brother. It apparently exemplified her personality. It is shells and that fantastic demon face glued onto a grandfather clock. It almost makes me wish I had time to be crafty. (I;m also including the coolest shoes I’ve seen so far – beaded sneakers.)

Then I had lunchtime and post-conference daylight to catch some usual DC sites. I’m a big fan of Hirshorn – where much of the arty sculpture comes from (as opposed to the government/historical stuff.)

Finally I enjoyed a drink and the view at the W Hotel rooftop bar.



Quick trip to Washington DC – where I present with FCC Chair Pai by Ann Treacy
September 23, 2019, 12:13 am
Filed under: Washington DC

I’m not sure how I got here – but I am giving a couple presentations and moderating a panel at the National Tribal Broadband Summit in Washington DC. I start my day tomorrow moderating a session 20 minutes after FCC Chari Ajit Pai speaks. Mucky muck city.

But today I arrived early afternoon and I had a few hours to walk the streets for about 9 miles. I start with a visit to free festival at John F Kennedy Performance Center. It was fun to get in and check out the place.

Then it was a walk down the Mall. I decided I should try to check out anything that might be closed when I have time to walk around later in the week. So I checked out the Smithsonian. I had to check out the Ruby Reds – of course and the Wonder Woman costume. And I was obliged to check out the technology/phone stuff for work.

After that I started on a hike to find the Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural that popped up last week. It’s weird to be here and have no interest in visiting the White House, despite the fact that I’m staying about 3 blocks away. So it’s nice to have something to replace it – the RBG mural. But on the way to the mural I passed the National Museum of Women in the Arts – or rather, I didn’t pass, I stopped in.

They were showing Judy Chicago’s The End juxtaposed with Live Dangerously a collective with 12 women artists. No photos allowed – but it was a striking look at different views of death.

Live Dangerously shows dozens of photos from all over the world. in which there’s one woman lying as if dead in each one. As patron, I felt removed and even desensitized to the deaths, yet fascinated. Where Chicago has several parts to her exhibit that makes death very personal. There are a series of drawings that asks – how will I die? Asking things like – Will I die screaming in pain, in the arms of a loved one…  From desensitized to worrying about my own demise. Then she used the same process and drawing style to highlight extinct animals.  A heavy show!

From there to the big hike to RBG. It was fun to walk away from the Mall, to get a view of a part of the city I don’t know well. Then when I get there – super treat, there were several murals. Now – if I get any free time in the next couple days I will be tracking down every #DCMural I can find.



Flutag 2019 by Ann Treacy
September 8, 2019, 12:37 am
Filed under: St Paul

We went to the Flutag in 2010, the last time it was in St Paul. It felt like there were a million people. This year it was colder and less sunny and less crowded. But still so much fun to watch the competitors “fly” off the 30 foot jump in their man-made flying machines!



Last day in MN and Day One in Dublin: Talk about an amazing race! by Ann Treacy
August 13, 2019, 7:31 am
Filed under: Dublin, St Paul

It seems like maybe I can’t start talking about the family trip to Dublin before I mention my last day in Minnesota. I woke up early (pre 6 am) to trek to a triathlon. It was my second – it includes 500 yards swimming, 16 miles bike and a 3 mile run. I actually liked the swim and the run. I hate the biking. Since math has never been my strong point, each year I forget that biking is the largest portion of the race.

But I did the race with friends. I met friends along the way. I got to know a few people better. And now I’m done.

After that, Heather and I hosted Erik Koskinen and Al Church on our radio show. I’m big fans of each and I am so thankful that they are both easy going, super talented and were OK with the fact that I have been sharper on better days. It was a perfect distraction and a great show!

Then we left for Dublin. Honestly I’m not sure that I had an hour of (to use the term hammered into us in my open plan high school) unscheduled time before we got to the airport.

Aine, Kate and I are in Dublin for a few days. We’ll meet Lily (and her boyfriend Sean) in Belfast where we’re staying with one of my kindest friends in the world, who someone got Aine a Dr Seuss makeover last time we went to Belfast.

We are staying right on top of the Ha’Penny Bridge in the city center. Smack dab in the city center. The view is awesome. Aine has remarked at how she forgot about how the doors and everything here is just a little different. We were tired on the first day. So tired. But we got in a few walks, an Indian meal and Kate and I went for a drink. I did get to visit Mother Redcaps – a pub and market where I worked years ago. It hasn’t been open in a long time but I still love visiting.



When you’re homeless, people don’t want to see you – MN Gov & Lt Gov visit homeless sites by Ann Treacy
July 1, 2019, 4:19 pm
Filed under: Minneapolis, St Paul

Saturday night I toured with Governor Tim Walz, Lt Governor Peggy Flanagan, Monica Nilsson and a small entourage to two small homeless shelters and an encampment site to talk to people experiencing homelessness. It was a listening session, a show and tell, a you-can’t-believe-until-you-see tour.

We are more than our worst moment

We toured Simpson Shelter, a small full-service shelter. Guests gushed about the people who work there. One noted that shelter workers came to visit him in jail. I could see plates made up and left out for specific guests who were coming in late. People sleep in bunks. There are 50 men in one room and 25 women in the other, but there was some air-conditioning. It’s close quarters but a few TVs and lots of couches, which I was told are very comfy. Guests had lots of questions and suggestions.

First question – why do they keep building expensive apartments when we need affordable housing? The quick answer, because developers want to make money. Next, people want to know what is being done to improve affordability of life. Someone suggested better training programs. Another pointed out  the circular nature of subsidized affordable living. Housing is cheaper outside of Minneapolis but Section 8 Housing (rental subsidies), requires tenants to stay in Minneapolis. The other problem is if you live too far, you’ll need time and money for public transportation. Then if you’re on any kind of disability, there’s a balance of how much you can work/earn before you lose access to healthcare. There’s an ecosystem to life and if you get sick, lose a job or a car, change your living arrangement, at this level of living you jeopardize everything.

Many of the people at Simpson work. Some have chemical or mental health issues. But based on the questions, many are suffering from repercussions of decisions made decades ago. They can’t get housing, work or other support because they (or a partner) has a criminal record. One man had been in the armed forces, worked many jobs but also had several felonies. Nearly 60 years of living and his felonies defined him. Guests at Simpson want to know about how to expunge old records, restorative justice that lets everyone heal and redemption.

I just want a shower or to make a cup of coffee on my own before work

Next we went to First Covenant, under the shadow of the US Bank Stadium. People sleep on mattresses. There are services but it doesn’t seem as full service at Simpson. But people prefer First Covenant to the bigger shelters that feel like dorms or prisons or army barracks. They are not as secure or personal as the smaller shelter. (Especially unsafe for women, transgender people and anyone with gender fluidity – but that’s a different post!)

People here have many of the same questions. One woman works at the Mall of America. She’s well dressed but unable to find housing she can afford. She talks about how exhausting it is to worry about a bed. And sharing three bathrooms with so many people is a challenge. She just wants to get up in the morning and have a cup of coffee in her own place before going to work. Another gentleman just wants a place where he can get a shower. He can find food and a place to sleep but he works and would love to have a shower. He suggests a 24-hour shower facility. I can see this has (retired National Guard) Tim Walz thinking.

People have ideas and theories here. They think about their needs and the needs of their community. Some people know their stuff (regulations and red tape); some may be confused or ill-informed but they know the lives they lead are tiring and hard. It was here that someone observed – when you’re homeless people don’t want to see you.

There’s a predatory nature to being on the street

Our final stop was under a bridge. A small quiet place with a dozen or so tents. Monica and I have been here before. The residents keep the place clean so they are quietly allowed to stay for now but they are in the shadow of a few larges businesses so who knows what will happen in the future. It is heartbreaking to see how quickly homelessness turns into a normal way of life. Women especially talked about having to learn how to be homeless, learn where sleep, how to start a fire, where to get clean. Living that close to the edge makes you near-sighted. So when asked to think about what to ask from the Governor, the answer is a port-a-potty or for city workers to empty the public trash. So that daily life can be cleaner, safer, more comfortable.

These people are living too far down Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to think bigger. Someone observed that there’s a predatory nature to being on the street. It’s not pretty but it happens.

There is a women who is sick. She has seven children. Her family can’t take care of her because they are taking care of her children. Any government money she gets she sends to them. Another woman had her children taken away. She can’t tell the story without tears. She admits to drug use and I have no idea whether her kids should be with her, but it’s clear that she needs them.  We spoke to several women at the campsite (there were men around but only women spoke) and they all mentioned some level of drug use. They all also mentioned some level of sexual violence – abuse too – but really rape. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a woman on the streets.

The story that touched me most was a young woman who looked like someone I would have met in library school – small, blond and dark rim glasses. She was well spoken and very approachable. Her story was tough. She said she was born into poverty. She grew up on the streets. Her mother was a hustler and she had been trafficked as s girl. She told us she was an addict and Monica was quick to point out that while she may be addicted, she was more than an addict. She had been through very tough times. She did say that sometimes the pain was so bad, the high couldn’t reach it. Meth was not strong enough to take her away from her past – a past she was born into.

Post tour I recognized that we had been through a surreal (yet too real) version of Dante’s Inferno. Each stop bleaker than the last. Or seen in reverse order it’s a ascent from hell, the more attention a person experiencing homelessness gets, the more hopeful they become. They go from asking for the most basic of support – a toilet, to dignity – a shower, to help for the future – training for jobs.

We heard from three people who had formerly been homeless and now are not. For one the key was getting sick and tired of being sick and tired and using the resources around him on the day he was ready. For another, it was having a specific outreach worker (Monica) reach out to him on the right day. A common denominator for anyone experiencing  success in moving away from homelessness was a personal connection. Just as we learned people had to learn how to be homeless – and that is likely a one-on-one lesson, people need support learning not to be homeless. That means finding them a safe place. Then it means having someone confirm or deny “rules” you hear on the street – like you can’t get services without an ID and if your ID is stolen, it’s very difficult to replace. (Several people seemed to think that a lost ID was a stopper.) It means having people around you who are making the same healthy decisions you want to make. It means giving people room to progress and opportunity to go from needing support to being support.



The rain stops for our NYC harbor cruise by Ann Treacy
June 14, 2019, 8:25 pm
Filed under: New York

The last day of the big ICF conference it rained. But that’s OK – by then folks knew us and we were absolutely OK walking around like drowned rats. The best news is that the rain stopped just in time for the conference harbor cruise dinner and the unveiling of the ICF winner. Funny enough the rain started again once we got back to the pier.

It was a fantastic end to a great conference and trip!




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