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How Does Birth Order Affect Self Esteem? by Ann Treacy
December 8, 2017, 2:56 am
Filed under: Minnesota, St Paul

Today was Aine’s science fair. She researched the impact of birth order on self-esteem. I wanted to post her results so that we could easily share with the many people who helped her out by taking the survey that was key to her project.

Here’s the quick take – birth order doesn’t have an impact on self-esteem. She used a survey to gauge self-esteem and compared results based on birth order (oldest, middle, youngest, only). You can read her whole report or check out her poster board in the picture



Aine’s robotics team is going to State by Ann Treacy
November 20, 2017, 6:49 pm
Filed under: St Paul

 

The Cinderella story of the robotics world is the meteoric climb of the Circuit Sisters. OK maybe I don’t mean meteoric, maybe I mean lucky as all get out!

Aine’s team is all girls. This is their second year. If you’re not wise to the world of robotics, the deal is you work and work and work and you get one meet to show your stuff. So today the girls’ robot probably didn’t not perform as well as it could have. They had five qualifying heat. At one point they were in 20th place out of 24; next we looked they were 16. I’m not sure where they ended in the ranking – and the beauty of robotics is that it doesn’t really matter. There’s a lot of room for wildcards.

So the drill is a morning full of qualifying heats leads to determining the top four teams. Those four teams each get to select two teams to form their alliance. It did not occur to us that the Circuit Sisters would be selected. But the first team chose the second team, third team selected the fifth – in other words the top teams were all forming alliances, which I thought might be good for the wildcards. But you could have knocked us all over when Circuit Sisters were the second choice of the first team!!

The next stage is a play off – the first and fourth alliances (and second and third) play a best of three tournament. The winners play each other for another best two out of three for big winners. Turns out the robot from one of the teams wasn’t working so Circuit Sisters ended up in the ring (only two teams of two in the ring at a time) all of the first three matches. Things were up and down. At one point, they forgot to turn the robot on. It didn’t move – at all. As luck would have it, another team on the other alliance made the same mistake. Yup it’s that kind of intense.

In the end, the first ranked team (Next Gen) just rocked -. really, really, really rocked and that brute muscle got the win for the alliance. And all of teams on the winning alliance go to State. But the girls had something about them that got them selected for the alliance. AND they were able to help out another alliance team with an extra motor and some expertise. So they absolutely proved their worth. And no one can underestimate the cheer-ability of 13 teenage girls!

Also the girls won the innovator award!!

So now we’re basking in the glory – and by basking I mean Aine has been figuring out how to make the robot better for the tournament in February.

I have to add that the robotics leaders are amazing. Mr Harrier and Mrs Dougherty have spent hours with these kids helping them learn how to build a robot, helping them how to work effectively with each other, helping them internalize the robotics (First Tech) motto gracious professionalism. These kids help each other, make room for each other and cheer each other on. Nice job leaders!



The terrible beauty of a well-kept homeless campsite – awesome and heartbreaking by Ann Treacy
November 18, 2017, 8:00 pm
Filed under: St Paul

My friend Monica and I have walked literally hundreds of miles together. She has introduced me to running, a more purposeful generosity, Minneapolis politics and the world of advocacy for the homeless. On a classically Minnesotan cool, crisp sunny autumn day a couple weeks ago she brought me face to face with an unusual homeless campsite.

It was amazing. The footprint is easily the same size as a generous house. There is a dining room, living room, sitting room, lots of sprawling space. And every inch of every room is filled with a little piece of art or tchotchke. The parameters of the space are loosely a bridge, a walking path, a rusted out truck and a shed-like building. You could walk by this place a hundred times and note realize how extensive it is.

The home is kept by a couple – that I will call Peter (Pan) and Wendy because this reminds me of Never Never Land. It’s as if someone brought everything out of your grandma’s house and rebuilt the home outdoors. Commemorative plates, dolls, a dining room set up with china! The tree decorated with empty pop cans and airplane bottles of booze is less grandma-like but crafty and weirdly beautiful when it catches the light. And clever use of refuse. Walking up to the “door” we saw pots of plastic flowers lining the walkway. There are matching sconces on the wall, tennis shoes, pictures and hubcaps.

Each item had significance or purpose at some time and it feels like that significance or purpose has been extended by being a part of this home. It’s post-apocalyptic; it’s timeless. It is the childhood fort beyond your wildest dreams. It’s very romantic – even as you imagine being out here in the dead of winter. Even as you imagine trying to get cover from the rain. Even as you wonder how this place has been preserved and not vandalized or gentrified. It still seems romantic.

Until Monica says – but just imagine the rats and mice. It’s snaps you back into grownup reality that while the creativity, perseverance and ingenuity are applauded, the need for a home without walls is heartbreaking. There is a chance that this couple sleeps in a shelter. Most shelters, most of the year, are run like bed and breakfasts – you can’t hang around during the day. So this may be a daytime haven. The couple is unable to qualify for more permanent housing together. (They are not teenagers; these are seniors.) They busk for money and apparently are gifted musicians. Mental health plays a role in their circumstances. As it often does with homelessness.

Visiting their home was a reminder to me that my reality – my worries and joys are not universal. I have a lot; I have so much I don’t save commemorative plates, hubcaps or shoes. I have to remember the other realities out there – when I donate, when I volunteer, when I vote.



Day of Religion Part 2 – Confirmation by Ann Treacy
November 6, 2017, 1:37 am
Filed under: Minnesota, St Paul

After our morning at the peaceful Buddhist Temple, the confirmation at the Cathedral was like a mad house. Well – like a full house anyway. I tried to look at the art like it was art but of course I have spent hundreds of hours in the Cathedral (and that was today alone!).

The Cathedral is majestic. Often I walk there and back from my house. I like hearing the bells. I like how stately it is. And the art inside is amazing – but it’s dark. As Lily pointed out mostly you see a lot of suffering. It does make you wonder what the crucifix is the symbol of the Church – not a resurrected Jesus or an angel or Ricky Bobby’s little tiny baby Jesus. I’ll have to go back another today – today there were too many people and most of the art is far away – on the ceiling really but I bet on a sunny day you can see it.



Somali Independence Day – July 1 – a reason to learn a little about our neighbors by Ann Treacy
July 3, 2017, 6:01 am
Filed under: St Paul

Yesterday I just missed enjoying the Somali Celebration down on Lake Street by minutes. We walked around watching the different booths pack up – we were there too late. But it was fun especially to see the women decked out in sparkling hijabs and made up in a way that I don’t usually see.

I was thrilled to see today that there was an informative session tonight at the Minnesota History Center. (It’s Somali Week!) So Aine and I went to visit to learn more about Somalia and Somalis in Minnesota. It was interesting. We saw some Somali dance, music, poetry, hiphop and heard a keynote speaker in Somali. The keynote was a woman who had been recruited to play basketball at an American college and after was traveling back and forth encouraging other young woman to take up basketball. There was a fair number of young women in the audience (who seemed to understand Somali) so that was nice to see.

I hate to admit that my knowledge of Somalia is very limited. I know that a huge percentage of Somalians in the US are based in Minnesota. That was all I knew. Tonight I learned more about the importance of 1960. In 1960, the Somali Republic was established when two British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland united. (Clearly I’m skipping huge chuck of Somali history here but tonight focused on Independence.) The Somali Republic became the Somali Democratic Republic in 1969 under Mohamed Siad Barre, who touted a scientific socialism focusing on the national over clans. In 1991, a civil war broke out, which led to fighting among factions. There was some relief from fighting in 1998.

Transitional governments were set up in 2000 and 2004. More fighting in 2005-2007 – although apparently with less intensity than in the 1990s. The Federal Government of Somalia was established in 2012, after Kenyan troops entered Somalia in 2011. Somalia is currently considered a fragile state. They are working toward stability but continue to deal with insurgents, especially in the countryside.

The first speaker to take the stage tonight spoke about the importance of maintaining Culture, Language and Religion. I think he’s right – it’s important to keep those three alive both in a home country and an adopted country. Our lens is through life as Irish Americans. We have absolutely seen that happen with Irish culture. (Language being a little different.) There’s room to celebrate nation of descent and choice. I think the last performer highlighted that duality. He was a hiphop artist, American of Somali descent. He sang – don’t judge me by my clan but my merits. He also noted (I think it was he) that this is a big week as we celebrate Independence Day for Somalia and the US.

It was an interesting event. I’m glad we went. I’m glad I learned a little bit about folks I see around Cedar Riverside, at the YWCA and various cultural events around town.



Gathering for Philando Castile – sad, warm, motivating by Ann Treacy
June 17, 2017, 4:52 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Yesterday police officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of the death of Philando Castile, a young black man who worked in St Paul Schools. Last summer Yanez stopped Castile for a broken brake light – or some other minor, car-related violation. Minutes later Yanez shot him multiple times – while Castile’s girlfriend and her young daughter watched. She live-streamed his death (post shooting) on Facebook.

Last night approximately 2,000 people met at the Capital to demonstrate their disappointment in the event. And I say “event” because there are so many points of failure in the system for Philando Castile.

Tom and I went to the demonstration. We did so to show support for the community, to let people outside of Minnesota know that inside Minnesota many of us recognize the points of failure, to help community leaders see that we want change and honestly because it’s helpful to see that other people care when times are dark.

We listened to the speakers. One noted that this isn’t a black and white issue – it’s a dark and light issue. And while it’s definitely a black and white issue, the point is well made. It’s a dark time for all of us when one of our own (many of our own!) are unsafe doing daily tasks.

The police play an important role in civic society. We need our brightest and best in that role. Yanez was clearly not the brightest or best. He was fired but to read it in the paper, he was fired like a football coach who gets caught doing something bad. He’ll lose his job but some form of compensation is coming.

I don’t understand why the police officers who are our best (and they are out there!) aren’t more vocal about needing better team members. He clearly did not have the confidence to stop a black man without resorting to violence. So he should not have been in that position. That’s one of the first points of failure – and maybe the biggest.

It may be a bad analogy – but to this day it bugs me to see a bad waitress (or waiter) because back in the day I was good at it. When I see terrible service I want to go in and show someone how to balance a tray, how to pay attention (ketchup before the bill please), how to smile. A good cop has to feel the same way. Better training, better standards have to be in place. Collateral damage for a waitress in training is a broken dish and a hungry customer. If collateral damage for a police officer is death of citizens – that is unacceptable! As Nekima Levy-Pounds said – it’s our right to demand justice.

OK back to the demonstration. We heard speakers and singers. We heard from family, friends and folks running for office. In the crowd we met classmates of Philando Castile – who told us they will be holding an annual fundraiser for him akin to a class reunion.

I was proud to see Lily, Kate and Lucia (our adopted road trip kid) at the demonstration.

We stayed with the March for an hour or so. My favorite stranger was the young woman of small stature with the “Water and Snacks (free)” sign and backpack. My least favorite stranger was the young woman who (with her friends) suddenly covered her face with a make-do mask and then put on latex gloves. Unnerving in any setting.

People were saddened but warm. There was a lovely woman making stenciled posters and giving them away. I proudly carried it until I gave it to Lily to carry. We moved on feeling sad, warm and motivated to try to make things better. I am a huge proponent of transparency and I think a video in every hand, stories from every corner support that effort.

We were not there when the march moved to 94. It had occurred to me earlier that might happen but then later I was surprised to hear that it had. I thought the plan was to backtrack to the Cathedral via Selby. Ironically on the way back to Minnetonka I saw the miles of traffic backed up due to the protestors on the highway.

It looked like the police remained cool for the most part. I heard secondhand account of some pushing. And reading the paper today 18 people were arrested – after they were all convinced/shepherded off the highway.

I have mixed feelings on a protest on the highway – but I think it’s much less destructive than allowing unprepared officers on the street. And if helps bring better training to police (they clearly handled the situation much better than last year) and encourages police departments to really look at the skillsets on their forces then it’s an action with a purpose, which again is much more than we can say for Yanez’s actions!



Women’s March in St Paul: we march so that no one stands alone by Ann Treacy
January 22, 2017, 7:47 pm
Filed under: St Paul

march20Yesterday we went to the Women’s March in St Paul. I marched with my mom, Aine and my friend Mary. I thought I’d be marching with 20,000 kindred spirits – turns out 100,000 people marched!

I was reminded that patience is a big part of demonstrating – just as patience is going to be a part of change we need and holding ground we can’t afford to lose.

We waited – in sloppy, slushy, slippery muck of the St Paul College backfield for more than an hour before we began marching. But we cheered, we read signs, someone handed out donuts, another had chocolate kisses. The crowd was predominately women but lots a colors, a few languages and all ages – from strollers to walkers.

It was a march of solidarity. An important reminder that we stand together against predatory people in power – if we don’t remind ourselves we run the risk that some may imitate predatory, bullying actions and other may be afraid.

The march was the first step to build a momentum to make sure everyone can survive and thrive – we need to be vigilant and act for what we believe is right. But it was a really powerful first step!




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