10 Questions About…


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.



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.



Peeps in the time of Coronavirus: a Peepademic by Ann Treacy
March 28, 2020, 11:19 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Aine and I finally made our Peeps diorama! It’s too late (by 24 little hours) for the Pioneer Press contest but I’m going to share them here. And apparently I have a history of being too late, which really means maybe the deadline is too early.

I think the title says it all. We’re in lockdown. We’re trying to stay 6 feet apart from everyone else. We have enough time to do a diorama for the first time in probably 9 years.



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.




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