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A dream for the amazing post-apocalyptic home on the streets by Ann Treacy
July 5, 2018, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Minneapolis

Last fall I wrote about the terrible beauty of a well-kept homeless campsite. It is under a bridge in Minneapolis – hidden out in the open. It’s what you would picture a post-apocalyptic home in the wilderness would be as a kid. There’s a truck at one end and a car at the other but otherwise no formal structure. There are rooms but only in the sense that a fort made of blankets has rooms. Well and furniture and art.

The room that always impresses me the most is the dining room, with a table, chairs and usually set with dishes.  There’s a porcelain doll on the shelf and a gorgeous, vintage ballgown hanging behind the table.

The house is missing so much – link running water or a ceiling but the details and decorations make you forget that. There’s a brick in-laid path leading into the house. There are knickknacks and art – so much art of all different forms.

Sadly I’m writing about it again because we found out that the man of the house passed away a few years ago – and the woman of the house was recently found dead. Marsha and Chester. Now that they have been named in the paper I feel like I can say their name too. I never met them although I stopped by a couple times to try. It was just a few weeks ago that Monica and I walked by – we heard some clanging about but no answered when we said hello. Both were musicians and apparently well known in nearby the West Bank neighborhood.

I have been so struck by this house that I went in to do a brief video tour and take some pictures because I don’t know what will happen to it now. I wish the site could be left ASIS or maybe modified. Keep the table, chairs and couches or maybe have an artist create a heartier version of what is there. Keep the art that was so painstakingly created and maintained and quietly; keep the space open for anyone who needs a place to rest. That might be someone experiencing homelessness. It could be a runner coming down the path in front of the home. It could be one of the kids from the neighborhood. It’s just a good reminder of daily humanity.

I don’t know who owns the land under the bridge – the city of Minneapolis  I would guess. Or it’s close enough to the University of Minnesota to be theirs. Apparently the space nearby was used when the 35W Bridge came down, yet the construction folks found a way to leave this space alone. It does inspire such reverence.

It would be a nice gesture to use that space to memorialize the creators. To remind people of the art and humanity in all corners of our works.



The Worst of Times: A vigil for Thurman Blevins, a black man shot by police in Mpls by Ann Treacy
June 25, 2018, 3:31 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

After the best of times this morning at the Pride festival, tonight I got a taste of the worst of times – a vigil for Thurman Blevins. Here’s an account of what happened from the Police (via Minneapolis Star Tribune)…

According to police, just before 5:30 p.m., at least two people called 911 to report that a man walking in the 4700 block of Bryant Avenue N. was firing a silver 9mm handgun into the air and ground. The callers provided a detailed description of the suspect.

Officers confronted the man and a “foot chase ensued that ended in shots being fired,” a police statement said. The man died at the spot where he was shot behind a garage in the alley between Aldrich and Bryant avenues N.

It doesn’t exactly gel with what I heard tonight. The story I heard was that Thurman was sitting on the curb with his girlfriend and a baby. The cops found him told him to stand up. He put his arms up. They yelled at him. He did run. (As half the vigil said – who wouldn’t?) They shot him. No one there saw a gun. (I have video of one account below.)

I don’t know which account is true. I know that this is a problem. I know my heart is sick.

The vigil was hard. We heard from family. We heard from people who have been through this before. We heard from people who were very angry. We heard from people who drew solace from God. Here are the snippets that caught me

  • The woman who pointed out that if these police are too afraid to talk to people without brandishing a gun – they should not be police. AND you need police from the community. People who know the people they are protecting and serving.
  • I saw a boy about 3-4 years old holding a poster for the Thurman Blevins – or Junior. That should not be a regular summer memory for anyone but especially not for someone so young.
  • The young man who was angry was angry and looking to fight. Just as my friend’s brothers were angry when she died – of cancer.  It’s a natural response for some. BUT that need to fight is dangerous unless it’s well channeled. The knowledge and the drive are powerful.
  • Every man killed is someone to someone. And probably someone to a lot of people.
  • People are gracious. They thanked everyone who came out. They recognize that being a cop is hard. They reach for scripture to say that they can withstand this and God is watching. I don’t know that I could feel that way if that shooting was in my zip code, if that person killed was someone to me personally.
  • Everyone has something to give – like the people who opened up their house for a public bathroom and charging station.


Best of Times: Pride makes us proud and happy by Ann Treacy
June 25, 2018, 2:51 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

Annual pilgrimage to the Pride festival today. I went with Aine and a friend. Special treat today – we had a purpose. I Tweeted for the Women’s March. Aine did SnapChat.

The festival spirit was dampened by the fact that Minneapolis police shot and killed a black man last night. So heartbreaking. (Will post on that vigil next.) And yet in some way all the more reason to celebrate progress made – unfortunately that progress has not been evenly distributed to all people. Black Lives Matter did protest at the parade they held it up because they were unhappy with officers participating in the parade. (One video highlight – we caught the start of the parade – and it starts with motorcycles – so much fun!)

They held it up for about an hour. We watched for a while on the way to march in the parade with the Women’s March. I think the shooting last night speaks to the need stand up – just as we all stood up a few years ago before Gay Marriage was legal. So while we waited, we didn’t mind. We are there to raise all voices.

Then we enjoyed the festival. Aine described it as like St Patrick’s Day will less beer and fewer body image issues. You do see a lot more skin. And I think last night there may have been more beer – but it is the same feeling of joy and fun.



Father’s Day Protest to keep families together – so hot and so uplifting by Ann Treacy
June 17, 2018, 11:39 pm
Filed under: St Paul

It was 98 degrees today. I only went to the protest because I committed to Tweeting for the Women’s March there. The cause was keeping families together – the Minnesota Immigrant Rights  Action Committee hosted it. It started at the offices of the Republican Party of Minnesota and the march went through Cedar Riverside to the top of Washington Ave. (For readers outside the Twin Cities that has the largest immigrant population in the area – especially from East Africa.)  I figured I’d be there 10 minutes, Tweet and leave. I figured there’d be a few dozen people.

Wrong on all accounts. There were loads of people there. And I marched for the duration because it felt good to be with people with compassion. People – some who seemed likely to be personally at risk for immigration issues – and many who just recognize that families need to be together, who realized that as a country we’re better with greater diversity. Better on all fronts – better problem solvers, better art, music and food, more innovative.

I walked for a while with a woman who was not American born but was adopted as a child to American parents. She said she felt some form of survivor guilt. So despite a disability (and again crazy heat) she marched. I met new candidates running for office. I saw one I knew – and I’m anxious now to hear her views on other issues. I met a woman with two daughters (maybe ages 6 and 8) who thought it was important to get kids going young. I told her it would pay off – that I have seen my daughters at rallies and protests with and without me now that they’re older and they started young too.

Walking down Cedar Ave, a woman from Wadajir grocery in lovely robes and head scarf handed out boxes of water and other drinks – thanking us for marching. Holding cars up at each street we passed, I saw a driver and passenger get out of their car to applaud the march. There was a ska band marching with us! So awesome!

Unfortunately I also saw a truck try honk and mock run down a marcher as he yelled get a job. (Wanted to tell him we took the Lord’s day off to protest idiots like him but I was too far away.) While buying a Diet Coke, I heard the manager of the convenience store say – no bathrooms for protestors, we’re closed to them. I suggested maybe he wasn’t as closed to protestors as he thought. And I did see organizers buy a lot of water from him later – so again closed only in his mind.

In the end, the kindness and compassion far surpassed the ill will – which I hope is an omen for the end of this movie!



Week of Graduations: Congrats to Aine (8th Grade) and Kate (High School) by Ann Treacy
May 31, 2018, 4:19 am
Filed under: St Paul

We have had a very eventful week – two graduations – Aine graduated from 8th grade – and Kate graduated from high school. It’s the end of an era in a few ways. I have had a kid in Nativity for 14 years. No more.

Mostly we’ve been happy with it. It’s probably too religious and definitely too conservative for me. BUT the same school – in walking distance from home – for 9 years for each kid. The school knows them and they had a big comfort level with the kids and the school. Also – they have the best principal ever – Kate Wollan. She knows every kid’s name – and really gets what makes each individual kid shine.

Aine’s graduation was very nice. She looked like a grown up kid – and not only because she was wearing my high heels. After the ceremony the kids had a party. It was bitter sweet. The hope is that Aine will go to Nova (she’s 4 on the waiting list!), which is an unusual choice for her class. So she’ll be moving on and making many new friends. I think the thing Aine may miss most from Nativity is the robotics team – although she plans to visit to help out next year.

The week topped off with Kate’s graduation at the Cathedral tonight. Actually we started this morning with Mass and brunch. It was very nice. And then ended with the ceremony at the Cathedral. It was beautiful. Kate looked great in her cap and gown. It was fun to see her with her friends, especially Lucia. (They were voted Best Best Friends in the yearbook!)

I am excited for Kate next year. She is going to the University of Manitoba (Lily goes to U of Winnipeg). I’m glad that they will be near each other and also glad they are not at the same school. I think it will be good for Kate to be in control of her own day to day destiny. I think it will bring her peace. I know she’s ready.

Memorable in her graduation was the speech by her favorite teacher Mr. Spika. (His picture is included below.) He teaches religion but as Kate says, it’s not really like religion. He has had diverse guest speakers come to talk to the kids about everything under the sun. Then he got the kids to give speeches about some of their most personal accomplishments and stories.

Recently someone gave me a very hard time about sending my kids to Catholic schools. I did it because I think the education is good and I like the sense of community. But in many ways, I diametrically oppose the Church’s view on many things but Mr. Spika’s speech reminded me that part of the education is helping kids learn that doing good is as important as doing well.

He started off with the big guns – literally. He praised the kids for their March For Our Lives march in support of gun reform. (You may recall Kate was a planner.) He spoke about several students and their firsthand experience with  gun violence on and off the school grounds. He spoke about the need to make the community (all communities) safer – so that women could run down Summit Ave at night, so that GLBT kids could walk where they want, so that we all understood that all lives matter – but in a spirit that recognized that really we need to know that Black Lives Matter. He reminded everyone that financial success was not the only or best success. And he told the kids that the voice in your head says “someone ought to do something about that” was really the Holy Spirit telling you it was your job. I might not use the term Holy Spirit – but I like the idea – and I feel like teachers like him have given them the tools to succeed in making the world better.

And I have to add that while I disagree most with the Church on issues related to women it is worth noting that the Top Ten Academic positions were all held by young women.

As a mom I never wished my kids would stay little forever. I am always excited at their steps forward. It’s so much fun to see what they take on, to seem them rock it, to see them happy. Today we all took two giant steps forward.



March for our Lives – kids should not worry about being shot or being left behind to grieve by Ann Treacy
March 24, 2018, 8:01 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Aine and I went to March for our Lives MSP. We were helping to amplify the messages as the Women’s March. I used Twitter; Aine used SnapChat. I’m glad we had a little role to play. And I’m grateful that so many people showed up for the event – thousands! Here’s hoping that we’re loud enough to be heard. Loud enough to get run reform bills heard in the Minnesota Legislature.

There’s something exciting and shaming to have the next generation take over because we the grownups are falling down on the job of keeping kids safe. I guess all we can do is ask – how we can help?

The students met at Harriet Island and marched to the Capitol. We met them there. It was cold. So cold! But we were out there for hours chanting, holding signs, listening to stories, demanding change – and some registering for vote!!

There was one speaker who struck a chord with me. A 15 year old girl who talked about her brother teaching her how to disarm a gunman when she was 8. Heartbreaking on its own, she went on to talk about the evolution of planning for a shooter in your classroom. At 8 there was a bravado of planning to save your classmates as you take down the shooter. Sadly as you grow older and school shootings become more common the lessons shift to how to keep yourself safe. You learn to use the blood of fallen classmates to disguise yourself before playing dead.

Her tear-wrenching last line spoke brutality of the schoolyard today – she feared being shot at school but more than that she feared being the last one left standing – drenched in her friends blood.

I’ve included video and pictures. Sadly I don’t have this young woman on video. If/when I get her name I’ll add it. The video is rough – it was difficult to hear on site at times – but it gives a flavor of the crowd, the day, the wind. (Let’s hope it’s a good wind!)

 



Kate leads the revolution to safer schools and gun control by Ann Treacy
March 7, 2018, 9:12 pm
Filed under: St Paul

OK – maybe she isn’t singled-handedly leading the effort – but she’s there in the front row and I’m super proud of her. The MN School Walkout is a student-led effort to raise awareness and protest gun violence – especially in the wake of the school shooting in Florida last month. Apparently there were 15 schools participating. I saw that 770 people had signed up to participate as of yesterday. I’m terrible with estimating crowd size but I heard there were 2,000 students.

Kate worked with her school (CDH) to get involved. In fact, Kate was one of a few students interviewed for an Editorial in the Pioneer Press. For the CDH kids, the walkout started around 10:30; they walked (or drove) to Central High School where they met with the rest of the group and walked to the Capitol.

I caught up with them midway; I was Tweeting for the Women’s March at the event. They marched to the Capitol – cheered and then moved to the Leif Erickson Park (next door to the Capitol) for a rally. Their signs were great. They kids were super enthusiastic. Plenty of legislators watched and I talked to a few who also had kids in the crowd. People were proud and optimistic for our future to have kids so ready to rally. I couldn’t hear much of the speakers – but there was plenty of cheers. It was chilly (20 degrees and windy) and the park was covered in deep snow but the kids persisted.

Kudos to CDH for embracing the opportunity. I got a call saying Kate was missing from school, that many students were going to the walkout and that the school was OK with it. Please contact the school if as a parent you weren’t OK with it and your kid would get Saturday detention.

There was one odd duck in the crowd promoting “Castle Laws” but I have to give him props – he’s exercising his right to free speech!




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