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Getting out the vote in Northern MN with Love Vote Rise by Ann Treacy
October 19, 2020, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Minnesota

You know what qualifies has high excitement during a pandemic? A day trip to Duluth to hand out awesome posters to get out the vote!!

So we got the team back together. My dad drove and I worked as we went from St Paul to Duluth and back. It’s the type of trip we might do a dozen times a year outside of a pandemic.

We handed over more than 200 Love Vote Rise posters to some awesome locals who will now take on the tough job of sharing them around town. I think we’ve nearly hooked a connection to get a few of them over to the Iron Range too. And if that doesn’t work, my friend Mary Magnuson transported a bunch of posters from St Paul to Grand Rapids yesterday; we’ll make that work.

It’s the power of the people. The whole Love Vote Rise is a demonstration of the power of the people. It’s an all-volunteer social justice art installation of posters and light shows (think bat signals calling you to use your super power to VOTE!). It’s headed up by artist Leon Wang. (Learn more.)

If you want posters or have a great location for a light show – please let me know!!



Downtown Run Around with Mile in My Shoes – in Wita Tanka Mpls MN by Ann Treacy
August 24, 2020, 12:47 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

Today Monica Nilsson, Danny (her bro) and I did the Downtown Run Around with Mile in My Shoes. Except we went to the woods for our race. This is an annual fundraiser for Mile in My Shoes, an organization that brings folks who have experienced homeless and people exiting incarceration into a running community around the Twin Cities. (They take donations and running members!)

Normally, the race is held downtown Minneapolis but due to COVID, it went virtual. There were more than 500 runners this year; 150 were from outside Minnesota. And by outside I mean outside; there were folks from Uganda, Canada, the UK and several other places I can’t remember.

We figured this was a little chance to share our nature church (as Monica calls it) with the other runners and to our friends at home. We all did a 10K. One of us ran it; the other two wogged (walked/jogged). It was steaming hot but beautiful. Our only disappointment is that we didn’t see any dear, which is not unusual during the lush, hot summer. Next time we do come across the herd – we may try livestreaming again!



Como Zoo and Conservatory reopens after COVID19 closure by Ann Treacy
July 29, 2020, 11:42 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Aine and I visited Como Zoo and Conservatory for opening day today! We (including Lily and Kate while home) have loved Como forever. It’s super affordable. (Suggested donation $2-3 per person.) It’s small and therefore accessible for kids of all ages. Affordable and small have always meant that we could visit for brief times. So never has there been pressure to stay and get our money’s worth. So we have never had a bad time!

We were excited to be back. There are some new rules:

  • First and obviously, you must wear a mask. But the bonus is that it literally masks some of the smells of the zoo. And no one goes to a zoo for the smells.
  • You have to sign up for a timed entrance. There was no rush to get us out – but the entrance is scattered.
  • There is a path to take now. Frankly, this makes life easier. It certainly would have chilled some disagreements with toddlers who always want to go in different directions.
  • Some buildings and paths are closed. There’s clearly an effort to keep people outside and distanced. For better or for worse, the zoo is not huge and you can find the animals whether they are inside or out.
  • Another bonus: the butterfly zone is part of the package. It has been somehow separate in the past. Unfortunately we didn’t see a lot of butterflies in the area.

But with rules come some benefits. There zoo was not very busy. So we could get as close as we could get. For the first time ever, I saw the cougar outside. Turns out the cougar outside is pretty close to the visitors – like scary, exciting close. So that was fun! Also with so few people, we could camp out by the polar bear. The zoo expanded the polar bear area about 10 years ago. They seem happier and today we could soak up that happiness. (Although they looked hot too – but I may be projecting.)

We wondered if the animals noticed the difference of masked (versus naked) faces. Some were aware of us; some weren’t but that’s pretty usual. I was delighted that while they are working on the seal space – that building is open. So we got to see our very favorite puffins. We also timed our journey perfectly to see the orangutan climb to the top of the exhibit space – looking very much like King Kong. The kid near us loved that. (Watching the people at Como Zoo is always half the fun!)

We also spent some time in the inside rain forest space. Watching the underwater activity of turtles and fish is always relaxing. I hope they are able to keep that open through the school year. Whether we have online, on-site or hybrid, I feel like a mini-break to watch the underwater world of Como will help us both center ourselves.

One added note – the Conservatory is open. It has been for a while but even if you don’t go in – check out the lily pad ponds near the front doors of Zoo. Honestly even Monet would have a hard time doing justice to them right now!



What does it take to walk a marathon for your birthday: FAQ by Ann Treacy
June 28, 2020, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Minneapolis, St Paul

The quick answer is that it takes 11 hours and some great friends to walk a birthday marathon! Below are some of the details in a FAQ format:

Why?
I always feel like if you have a summer birthday, you should make the most of it. With social distancing, that meant getting creative. This was a way to see different people while keeping pretty social distant and outdoors.

Who do you want to thank?
Katie Lynch, Monica Nilsson and I walked a marathon on my birthday (June 26)!! I want to thank them so much for humoring my crazy idea. I want to thank my family (special nod to Chef Billy) for help with lunch and dinner! I want to thank Liz Draper with crew (Sarah York and AJ Srubas) and Little Man for playing at a couple of the stops. And I want to thank the friends who joined us along the way!

What’s the best part?
Having no responsibilities except putting one foot in front of the other – for 26 miles. Katie lists it as one of the top 5 days – ever!

Did you plan a route?
Yes. I used a tool called Plan A Route. (You can see the plan online.) It was pretty easy. I only planned for 25 miles because I knew we’d make up the difference running across the street to get water or running back three blocks to get a picture with the Mary Tyler Moore statue. Here are the highlights I planned:

  • 9:30am – start at my house
  • 10:45 – Minnehaha Falls
  • 11:30 – Dunn Bros at Lake Street
  • 1:30 – Sculpture Garden lunch
  • 3:00 – Stone Arch Bridge
  • 5:30 – The Monument
  • 6:30 – Turf Club
  • 8:15 – Midway Express Car Wash Cookout

Did you stick to your route?
No. I had a very urban wilderness plan where we stuck heavily to the River Road. (That’s Mississippi River for the non-local readers.) Then about 11am I freaked out that we were going to be late for lunch and then meeting Liz. So we took the most direct route from the River to the Sculpture Garden, which turned out to be Franklin Avenue.

Franklin Ave is pretty gritty. Monica, who has dedicated her life to the homelessness community, has worked in that area a lot. We walked past the homeless encampment of two years ago, The Wall of Forgotten Natives. Katie had two favorite moments – one was Monica giving us the history of the area for the miles we walked. Ask Katie about the history of Peace House, you’ll be impressed. Monica is a good storyteller! And every third person yelled hello to Monica by name.

Did you really go 26.2 mile?
Even with the detour, we walked into the car wash at 26.11 and then walked the extra four minutes until we got to 26.2! That was our marathon miracle. Monica, who is amazing at math, hit the wall before we did. So Katie and I had to trust our math – substellar plan. But it worked out perfectly!

What was the hardest mile?
I’m going 20-26 on that one. Monica hit the wall at 20. In part because she is the only one of us who has run a marathon – so she knew what was ahead. Also she got blisters. (Tip: can’t say enough about Glide for your feet. Not one blister here!) Katie and I hit the wall about mile 24.

Who joined you?
I was amazed that people joined us along the way. It made the walking so much easier. My dad started with us. He left at one end of the Ford Bridge and we met Mary Lindgren Carter on the other with her friend Tanya. Mary has been a friend since high school and we try to walk sometimes – although she’s an early bird and I’m a nigh owl. Mary and Tanya turned around at Lake Street and we met Denise Cumming who told us a very funny story about taking an online ornithology class at the U of M and unknowingly shouting the F word while unmuted. She dropped off as we got to her block and that left three of us until the Sculpture Garden, where my mom and dad, Kevin Somdahl-Sands and kid and Alyssia met us. We had a quick lunch, nice chat and a chance to sit down and a few pictures. Then the core three headed to downtown.

Kevin met us again downtown near the Mary Tyler Moore statue. We headed to the Stone Arch Bridge where Liz Draper and crew were playing for us. That was Katie’s other highlight. It had been so hot walking across the bridge then to get to the shade and awesome music was such a treat. And Ellie Sherwood met us. (Ellie did the amazing picture of me and Monica last year.) Then traced out steps over the bridge, walked by the place of a former homeless encampment that I thought was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. Then I think we walked our longest stretch alone until Su Reanny met us on Summit Ave. (Summit Ave for non-locals is polar opposite to Franklin.) Su is a Women’s March buddy – we saw her the next day too doing extraordinary work marshalling a protest at the Governor’s Mansion. Kevin met us again near the Turf Club.

Right at 8pm, we landed at the Car Wash. (My dad and brother own the car wash. Billy often has a start and end of summer car wash cookouts and was kind enough to do the same for my birthday.) And we had Chris Perricelli (Little Man) play a few songs. Chris did a car wash video and interview with me and Heather Baker earlier this year. So I’m trying to think of the new people who joined us – Kevin and his family, my family, including Aine, Heather, Kathi Eilers, Jake and Julie Mortenson. Then as a special treat Daniela Smith met us at the Dubliner after the cookout!

How was the weather?
Amazing!!! We (Katie, Monica, my dad and I) left my house in the drizzling rain. We were worried but hopeful. We decided against umbrellas, which was a good call. Frankly we had near perfect weather all day. A few misty showers in the morning and cloudy all afternoon. Not too hot for too long.

How do you get musicians to play at your marathon or party or picnic or whatever?
You call, ask and pay. Without trying, I’ve been saving money during the COVID shutdown because the “no live music rule” saves me going out the 6 nights a week I used to average. I was super happy to invest a little into musicians. Maybe small outdoor shows are a way to help musicians pay bills, keep in tune and for us to have fun again! And maybe that’s an idea worth spreading.

Did you train?
Yes and no. We didn’t do anything special. (Heck, Katie decided to join us on Thursday!) But all three of us are pretty avid walkers. I probably walk the most with 8-15 miles a day. (Depending how many Zoom calls I can do on the move.) But the other two are runners; I am mostly not a runner.

Would you do it again?
Abso-stinking-lutely!



Ann-demic: birthday walking marathon – June 26 by Ann Treacy
June 15, 2020, 1:22 am
Filed under: Minneapolis, St Paul

We’re going to walk a marathon. We have the route planned. You’re welcome to join in for all or part of the walk. Or we have some stopping points picked out. Or meet us at the end for the car wash cook out!

We’re roughly thinking 3 miles an hour. We’ll keep track of our progress on the day you can access our route – or aim for one of our landmark stops below.

9:30am – start at my house
10:45 – Minnehaha Falls (photo op)
11:30 – Dunn Bros at Lake Street (water/bathroom)
1:30 – Sculpture Garden lunch
3:00 – Stone Arch Bridge
5:30 – The Monument (Summit & River Road)
6:30 – Turf Club (photo op/drink?)
8:15 – Midway Express Car Wash Cookout
10:30 – Dubliner (we might get a Lyft there!)

Please let us know if you plan to meet up with us so we can keep an eye out and plan accordingly!! And if you have a stop between stops to suggest – please do!
ener”>plotaroute.com



The Christopher Columbus statue in front of the MN State Capitol comes down by Ann Treacy
June 10, 2020, 11:35 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Today I livestreamed as AIM of Twin Cities & AIM Patrol of MinneapolisNative Lives Matter, their followers and supporters pulled down a state of Christopher Columbus. I got there just as it happened. There were a few dozen – maybe 100 people there. I saw one police officer out in the open, apparently holding the form you can use to request the removal of an offensive statue.

I missed any introductory remarks. I got there when they were putting the rope around the statue. They invited the women to the front and then everyone pulled. It fell easily. (My guess is that some screws were loosened to help – or we are very lucky that statute hasn’t fallen on someone’s head earlier.) There were cheers.

I absolutely support removal of the atrociously offensive art in and out of the Capitol building. I was fortunate enough to join a tour with Jim Bear Jacobs talking about the art in the building and it’s horrifying. I come from a line of people who believe in tearing down statue’s (such as Nelson’s Column in Dublin).

I left soon after they pulled down the statute. The police were called and they were lined up – not in full riot gear but as an obvious presence. But that wasn’t the main reason. People were kicking the statue and then someone knelt on his neck. And I had to leave.

I support the removal. I support the work it will take to unlearn a biased history, to un-internalize stories from the patriarchy. I recognize that being loud means being heard and quiet voices have not been heard. I think these continued action of civic engagement and civil disobedience will keep up the pressure required to effect change that will improve lives.



George Floyd Protests Day 5: Peaceful protests by day, riots by night – what are we doing? by Ann Treacy
May 31, 2020, 3:56 am
Filed under: Minneapolis, St Paul

Last night I slept for the first time in days. Yesterday I toured places in St Paul to see the damage from rioters. I have much of the travels in video below. The girls in Canada wanted to see what home was starting to look like. So I’ll just give some highlights.

I was halfway to Midway (by foot) when I got a call from Alyssia – she was nearly to the Turf Club so we met here there; a bar with great music and better staff, a place where I’ve spent a night or two and where Alyssia works. The Turf Club looks OK – smelled like smoke, doors broken, certainly work to be done but mural outside intact, the posters inside still hanging. We checked on the Ax-Man down the road and learned from Eric, who works there and lives nearby, that he had been watching shenanigans in the for 9 hours the night before.

I saw buildings that were destroyed. The Sports Dome is gone. The Pawn Shop burned so hot the paint on the garage across the alley was melted. There were 8 fire trucks surrounding Big Top Liquor the whole time I was there. Liquor stores, vape store, convenience stores, anyplace with electronics or tennis shoes were gone – looted and burned. Some places like Furniture Mart were full of broken windows and broken glass but otherwise, not bad. Bars seemed OK – Midway Saloon (formerly Big V’s) and Black Hart’s (formerly the Townhouse) had clearly been broken into but others OK. The Auto Zone totaled. (For some reason Auto Zones and Targets seem to take the brunt.)

And I saw the helpers. Dozens of volunteers sweeping, shoveling, handing out masks, water, other necessities and niceties. Fireman putting out the remaining fires. Shop owners doing what they can and wondering out loud why they had been hit or why they had not.

I ran into Kevin we walked around. Just as I was feeling weird about walking around taking pictures we saw one my favorite Midway Murals (still intact.) next to a burned out gas station and I remembered it was less than a month ago I was out taking pictures of the murals. It’s what I do except usually a celebration of my town.

We also drove down Grand Avenue, a little closer to home. I had heard about some grab and go looting the night before. We saw lots of shops boarded and boarding up. The convenience stores had been hit and one half a mile from my house was totally burned out.

Then we ventured to Lake Street in Minneapolis, near the Third Precinct. On that same corner is a place (The Hook and Ladder) where I have danced for hours. Just down the road is a place where Aine participates in an amazing STEM program (Midtown YCWA). But now it looks like the city I see on Unicorn Riot – not the city I know.

We walked around. We saw the homeless encampment where they kicked everyone out. Imagine being homeless and having to move because of riots! The buildings are burned out. Again, volunteers were cleaning. The State Patrol and the National Guard are keeping civilians out. One skinny, young white dude is taunting a tired officer while a personal of colors watches. He’s explaining racism to a cop and a person of color. There’s got to be a term that combines mansplaining and white privilege with the need to be seen and heard.

Usually I’m a fan of graffiti – what I saw was mostly sad. There was a Marxist quote, “When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.” It strikes me more even than the “This is Hell.”

Today was a new day after a very dark night. The terrorists are winning. A press conference with Governor Walz and the Mayors of St Paul and Minneapolis it was clear that the protestors and rioters outnumber the police (and National Guard). There is worry that rioters on both sides have come from all over the US. They are extreme and care little about our community. The level of misinformation, persuasion and bias is overwhelming. We have an 8pm curfew and the Governor asked people to stay home so that they can fight the rioters without worrying about bystanders.

It feels like the Twin Cities are being sacrificed in a war of anarchists, fascists, white supremacists. Each faction seems to feel their view is worth the destruction of our community. It’s frightening as I sit in St Paul alone listening to the helicopters and wait for the sirens. And I can’t think too hard or abstract freight will turn into internalized fear. Instead I will remember today our community came out to remember George Floyd and ask our leaders to demand more from our police. As Mayor Carter said we can hate what happened to George Floyd and want our community to be safe. Those are not conflicting views.

We saw so many helpers leading traffic, handing out masks and food, holding signs, chanting, showing support and registering people to vote.



A terrible beauty is born in the death of George Floyd by Ann Treacy
May 29, 2020, 3:38 pm
Filed under: Minneapolis, St Paul

May 25, Minneapolis Police Officer Chauvin killed George Floyd, while three other officers did nothing. The circumstances are in debate (did Floyd resist arrest, did Floyd work with Chauvin, is there a criminal offense?!) but there are pictures and video of Chauvin kneeling on his neck until he appears lifeless. I have not heard that disputed.

These four men opened the door to hell for the Twin Cities community. As I type, rioters are in the Third Precinct; they are setting off fireworks and burning a police jacket left behind. Closer to my home in St Paul, I can hear helicopters, sirens and popping – maybe of guns. I’m lucky in that I don’t know for sure. I was at Midway Target earlier and saw a cat and mouse game of people getting closer to the cops until they drew their guns. But that was hours ago. I can’t find a livestream but I hear that Midway is burning. Earlier tonight Aine and I were at a peaceful protest downtown Minneapolis streaming for Women’s March MN. But it feels like maybe that was some kind of distraction.

The revolution will not be televised; it will be livestreamed.

I hope this is the birth of a terrible beauty. A terrible beauty is born is a line from WB Yeats used to describe the 1916 Easter Rising, when Ireland started a revolution that led to a free Republic of Ireland – a revolution from the British. The movement gained tremendous momentum after the British executed the Irish leaders of the weeklong rising. The deaths of those leaders was the turning point in public opinion. That’s a reminder to folks who wonder – have they gone too far? People asked the same thing of the Irish before 1916. The question is – have we pushed too hard?

Will this be the moment that brings change? I have been on the frontlines BUT on the off hours. I haven’t seen much in person. I’ve been thankful to the livestreamers. Everyone is there for their own reason. Many are looking for justice for George Floyd. Many are looking for systemic change – a reformation. Some are looking to incite violence to support or hinder change. I’m afraid for my city. And the only hope is that this brings the systemic change we need to make the Cities safer and better for everyone. To quote Paul Wellstone – we all do better when we all do better. And to misquote – we all burn when we all burn.

I will highlight a video from Chicago and 38th. Nia Wilson was registering voters in the middle of an angry but peaceful demonstration. It gives me hope!

I started writing this last night. I am no smarter today but I figured I would post it – before I head up to Midway for the community clean up.



Amazing Grace for George Floyd played at Governor Walz’s mansion by Ann Treacy
May 27, 2020, 3:11 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

Tonight in front of Governor Walz’s mansion two musicians played Amazing Grace in the rain to honor George Floyd, a black man who was killed last night (May 25) by Minneapolis police.

I happened to drive by at just the right time on my way home from the protest for justice for Floyd. I had heard rumors of music teachers playing at sundown. I have always wanted to go and tonight I just happened to drive by seconds before they started their last song, in honor of George Floyd who was killed 24 hours earlier.

Floyd was a 46 year old man who was killed as a police officer knelt on his back and neck for several minutes. I haven’t watched the video but apparently he told them he couldn’t breathe, called for his mama and then nothing. I have seen the picture. It doesn’t look as if the police officer (or his three colleagues) were in danger. It is reprehensible. They have been fired.

Today there was a protest to let Minneapolis police, mayor and city council know that firing isn’t enough. There were thousands of people there. Most were wearing masks. Social distancing not as easy, but from what I saw people were respectful and supportive. The gathered at 38th and Chicago where it happened. I heard from local neighbors that protesting started at noon, although it was scheduled from 5-7pm.

The crowd moved from the original location to the Third Precinct. We followed. I was streaming for Women’s March MN and Monica streamed to her formidable Facebook friends. People were angry. As angry as protestors I’ve seen at rallies in the past, which is to say angry and fed up. This seemed so senseless. This racism and hateful act dwarfed the COVID-19 pandemic for a day.

We left after 7pm. The protest was still going strong. It was starting the rain hard. I have learned that the longer a protest goes past scheduled end, the increase in dangerous ending. When we left it was still nonviolent but on my way home I drove past 6-10 police cars away from the Precinct but poised. Apparently after we left the protest become violent.

What I want the police, mayor, city council and world at large to hear is that thousands protested what happened. We want change. I want them to hear the sadness and reverence in Amazing Grace and find the humanity to make that change.



Randonauts – choosing our own adventure/distraction during a pandemic by Ann Treacy
May 25, 2020, 3:08 am
Filed under: St Paul

We are solidly entering the third month of the coronavirus pandemic. Aine is very good about social distancing – with the exception of one friend. I’m going to give myself a good grade. Probably not very good, but someone has to go to Kowlaski’s.

We are getting bored but we’re pretty good about creating distraction. Today, Aine introduced me to Randonauts – an online app and choose your own adventure reality game. You let it track your location, make some selections that get matched with a randomly generated number then somehow comes back with coordinates that you can map to – and visit. Our first randoventure led us to the trail on the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi. Aine loved it.

Then we tried another. The app is supposed to tap into your intentions to provide an apt location. So we decided to focus our intention on a color – pink to match Aine’s new hair. (Hair color being a big pandemic hobby!) We were sent to the St Paul side of the Mississippi near Lake Street. Actually we were sent next door to one of Aine’s favorite house. We didn’t immediately see the pink connection until we saw a pink rose on the park bench nearby. Funny, huh?

Clearly it’s the sort of thing where you can probably make a connection happen – but the pink rose did seem like an easy and apt one.

The app is free. Most of the adventures seemed to be 1-2 miles away. I’m sure there’s a way to set a limit but for now I might just stick with it and use it to fill out my 10-15 mile-a-day walking goal.




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