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Dublin Day Two: Art Galleries, shopping and walking by Ann Treacy
August 14, 2019, 1:41 pm
Filed under: Dublin

We started the day with big plans to get to several art galleries: Hugh Lane, National Gallery, Irish Modern (in the old Kilmainham Hospital). On the way to Hugh Lane, we noticed that Penney’s (cheap and cheerful clothes) was open. So we had to stop and Kate got a few things, including a much needed jacket. Then off to Hugh Lane – by way of the Garden of Remembrance. It really is a gorgeous park and it was so sunny.

At the Hugh Lane we saw my favorite stained glass art and the walking video. (When the walking video first opened there were videos all over town supporting the show. I loved it!) We also the Plundered Planet show by Mark Dion, which was thoughtful and yet beautiful. It does make a statement on the impact of people on nature. After that we got caught up shopping for shoes at the ILAC Shopping Center. If you see Aine in her new creepers, you’ll know where she got them.

Then we made a stop by the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Trinity College – mostly because it’s part of the short cut to get to the National Gallery – but they had some out there stuff that I really liked. Poor Kate – the only artist in the group – is not a fan of modern so she sat outside.

Then folks were hungry so we got some food and Marks & Spencer’s and headed to Stephen’s Green and had a little picnic outside. Picnic is always a good idea in Dublin because as much as it rains, there’s usually some sunny spots too. And it’s easier when you have someone who is vegan plus (That’s plus more restrictive.) with someone like me who doesn’t really like vegetables.

Post picnic we stopped by the History Museum to see the bog bodies (bodies preserved in the bogs for centuries) a long time favorite attraction for us. Finally we headed to the National Gallery. We saw a few things – mostly French Impressionists and Jack B. Yeats. We also saw a cool collaboration between the Gallery and a nail salon called Pop Tropical (or something like that). They did nail-based art. It was very cool, each manicure represented a different work from the Gallery.

Then the girls got tired. SO they went for a nap and I went for a walk. I walked from the Ha’Penny Bridge to the Grand Canal Docks and back. I saw a lot of street art – including the Lane of Icons in Temple Bar. I saw some kids taking swimming lessons. I walked by Google and Facebook. All in all a pleasant day!

At night we walked around. Saw some buskers. Checked out the Whitefriars Church were St Valentine is buried. (Not really, but they do have a St V relic.) We saw checked out a pub with some traditional music.



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!



Sleeping No More in NYC by Ann Treacy
June 14, 2019, 8:14 pm
Filed under: New York

The most interesting (aka strangest) thing we did in NYC was go to Sleep No More, a fully immersive art thing. It’s set in the McKittrick hotel. So it’s part arty haunted house. You have to wear a mask – so makes you feel like you’re in Eyes Wide Shut. And we were immediately separated, which left us to walk the halls alone.

I say walk, but Mary was singled and escorted down the hall in an old wheelchair. I walked up to the third floor. It’s very dark but arty. You walk from room to room to maze to graveyard. My favorite room artistically was the empty vintage baby cradle with decapitated dolls hanging from the ceiling like birds flocking.

There are 21 performers in the hotel. They will interact with you; you cannot instigate an interaction – or I guess you can’t touch them. Each has their own story. I feel like I maybe saw 3 of 50 stories or vignettes. Many of the spaces are empty but you can open drawers or read notes. In the bar there is a well-choreographed bar fight. The story that caught my attention was the asylum nurse. She meticulously cut words out of an old book (cleanliness/germs). Then she danced in the beds, in the bath in the dilapidated walls. The dance was amazing and she was so intriguing.

Kevin and Mary saw their own stories. We intersected a few times but briefly because it is really a singular journey. It’s not scary just eerie and maybe suspenseful. They both saw naked dancing. Not sure if I should feel disappointed or relieved that I didn’t.

We all loved the experience. We were there for two hours and decided that was enough time but agreed we’d all go back at the drop of a hat.

Before Sleep No More, we had super yummy tapas at Mercado Little Spain. After we heard jazz in the Village.

 



Work week in New York – but you can always find time for fun with friends by Ann Treacy
June 14, 2019, 7:00 pm
Filed under: New York, Uncategorized

This week I was lucky enough to be part of a contingency of 10 Minnesotans who headed off to the ICF Summit to talk about broadband and economic development and how smart communities are making their lives better. (You can read all about that on my work blog.)

On our first day we saw everything. We walked about 15 miles mostly around Midtown Manhattan. We started with a quick jaunt to Grand Central Station and then I headed to NY Public Library to get online. (Ironically the library had better access than our conference about broadband.)

There was a Stonewall exhibit at the library to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. For younger readers, Stonewall was a series of riots that began June 28, 1969 when members of the GLBTQIA crowd rioted against a police raid. It is debatably the start of expanding equal rights to people regardless of sexual orientation or preference. Sadly we’re still fighting that fight; in the last month I have seen modern renditions of some of these posters…

After lunch some of us felt the pull of the city was maybe a little stronger than the conference. (Just for the afternoon!) We walked everywhere…

Then there was the Champagne reception at the Finnish Consulate. (Yup, that was work.)

We took advantage of Museum Mile festival with free access to the Met, Cooper Hewitt (Smithsonian) and the Jewish Museum.

 

We ended the day with a fancy cocktail at the Plaza.



Three days and three girls in Winnipeg – worth 16 hours of driving! by Ann Treacy
March 27, 2019, 3:57 am
Filed under: Winnipeg

For spring break Aine and I went to Winnipeg to see Kate (at U of Manitoba) and Lily (at U of Winnipeg). The best thing about the visit was to see how nice the girls are to each other – when they’re not fighting about who is wearing whose clothes. And frankly if there were no fighting, I’d be worried.

Lilly invited us to stay at her place. So that was nice. Kate invited Aine to her dorm’s talent show on our last night. So that was nice. Few high school freshman are invited to the college freshman’s dorm for anything. Everyone posed for me under the lights of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which is my favorite thing to do in Winnipeg – so that was nice too!

We had lots of good food. We met Lily’s boyfriend Sean – who is very easy to fit into the dinner table. Gotta like that in a guy. And he has awesome taste in music (and girls). Lily and I walked around her new, pretty upscale, neighborhood for a couple hours one day. We didn’t see as many murals as we saw in the old neighborhood but we didn’t hear as much yelling either.

We went to see some bands and maybe the worst comic ever at a coffee shop one night. That was fun. Again, few high school freshman get to hang with the big dogs until 11pm seeing bands. And we even went for crepes afterward. Few people older than 14 want crepes after 10pm but we managed it.

We all spent the day today at the Forks – a market of sorts by the River. It’s nice walk around that area – there’s a great view of the Human Rights Museum, St Boniface and the whole downtown. We had different kinds of food and mostly just hung out.

Tomorrow Aine and I will leave at the crack of down – two hours after Lily has started working her shift at the airport. And we’ll look forward to having them home with us for Easter!




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