Saturday, February 11, 2017

DeFEnd Planned Parenthood demonstration on Central Entrance

Demonstrators on Central Entrance show their support for Planned Parenthood 
(Video and photos by Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff)

Anti-choice protesters organized nationwide DefUnd Planned Parenthood protests today. Planned Parenthood supporters countered with a DeFEnd Planned Parenthood Day of Action.

Organizers of the Duluth rally say about 200 supporters of Planned Parenthood showed up between 9-11am and only about 15 anti-choice protesters.

Demonstrators defending Planned Parenthood stood across the street at 1001 Central Entrance in Duluth, MN. (Photo by Rebeccca Yaeger-Bischoff)

1001 East Central Entrance,

Friday, February 10, 2017

'Listening Sessions" bring City Hall to neighborhoods

Mayor Larson
Join Duluth Mayor Emily Larson and city councilors for these upcoming community listening. It’s a great way for you and your neighbors to speak comfortably and directly to the mayor, city councilor or a city staff person one-on-one about your issues or ideas.
Your input is critical in helping the mayor and city councilors work better.
The 2017 City Hall in the City community listening sessions will occur on the third Wednesday of the month and run from 5:30-7:00 pm. These events are open to all residents. Children are also welcome to attend.
The first set of dates with City Councilors and locations are as follows:  

February 15 – Councilor Em Westerlund at Grant Recreation Center, 901 East 11th Street


March 15 – Council President Joel Sipress at Kenwood Lutheran Church, 2720 Myers Ave


April 19 -  Councilor Noah Hobbs at American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO), in Trepanier Hall, 202 West 2nd Street


May 17 – Councilor Zack Filipovich at Piedmont Heights Community Center, 2302 West 3rd Street
Future dates and locations will be announced at a later time.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Circle of Courage can lead to successful lives

Dr. Martin Brokenleg shares a lifetime of experience and research on at-risk youth  
Martin Brokenleg

By Mark Nicklawske

People growing up in troubled environments face difficult life obstacles, but through a powerful natural resilience and greater community support, these children can still find success, said a noted author, a doctor of psychology, and retired Native American Studies professor.
Dr. Martin Brokenleg shared his life experiences and decades of career research during a Woodland Hills Community Event at Mitchell Auditorium on the campus of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth on January 17, 2017. More than 350 people attended the presentation.
Martin Brokenleg speaking at the College of St. Scholastica.

Brokenleg told the audience that previous generations have attempted to change overwhelmed cultures through unsuccessful methods like residential schools, failed trauma treatment, and a focus on problems rather than success. These methods have never led to positive change.
“There’s a dark energy for every generation that doesn’t do its healing work well,” he said. “For example, you don’t learn to be a parent in a residential school environment.”
When children are removed from their families and forced to learn a new culture away from home, an entire way of life is placed at risk. Brokenleg said past residential schooling has led to “intergenerational trauma” for cultures like Native American, Irish and Ethiopians. (Editor's note, this is also true for African Americans)
Without family support, children are exposed to addictions, abuse, domestic violence, incarceration and neglect.
“Traumatized people don’t wake up in the morning and think about going to the gym,” he said. “They’re just glad they woke up.”
Brokenleg, a Lakota and member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, grew up in south central South Dakota as a first wave baby boomer. Ten other children were born the same year in his neighborhood. “I am the only one left,” he said.
All of his childhood peers were victims of intergenerational trauma, said Brokenleg—a trauma afflicting a Native American culture that has been under attack for generations.
“If somebody convinces you you’re just not good enough, nobody will hold you down,” said Brokenleg. “That’s because you’ve been holding yourself back in your own mind.”
Some young people survive only on their strong will and resilience.  
Brokenleg studied psychology and education for 30 years at Augustana University in Sioux Falls where he served as a professor of Native American Studies. In 1990, along with two educators, he developed a model for positive youth development called the Circle of Courage. The model was highlighted in the book, “Reclaiming Youth at Risk,” which has been published in 15 languages around the world.
The Circle of Courage focuses on four areas of youth development: Belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. The model is designed to educate the heart, character, and soul of an individual as much as the mind.
“Many times your kids will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel,” said Brokenleg. He told a story about his aunt walking five miles in a snowstorm to see him off to high school. The moment made him feel like an important part of the family.
Giving children a feeling of belonging is an important first step. Gang culture thrives on artificial belonging, said Brokenleg. It is up to families and schools to supply the real thing.
Children must be exposed to many interests so they can discover their talents and find success. Success then leads to independence and a healthy adulthood.
Brokenleg pointed to a shift in child psychology studies since the 1950s. In the past, psychologists studied what went wrong with a group and tried to fix the problem. Instead, methods changed to examine what went right with a group and promote those discoveries.
Experts learned generosity through things like compliments, affection, empathy, and volunteer service often led at-risk children to make successful choices. Brokenleg encouraged parents and educators to be generous, and never give up hope in improving the lives of young people.
Native Americans use the drum circle as an important tribal gathering point. Each member of the tribe plays a role in producing the instruments, rhythm and sound. Brokenleg said the same idea must be applied to raising young people.
“Working with these methods, it gives them support, it gives them spiritual well-being and that’s the role for all human beings,” he said.

Mark Nicklawske lives in Duluth and writes for Woodland Hills. The piece was originally published at and reprinted with permission from the writer.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

March for missing and murdered Indigenous women

A march for missing and murdered women will be held on Tuesday, Feb 14. Those interested in marching are to gather at  4:45 p.m. at the Central Hillside Community Center/One Roof Community Housing Office on Lake Avenue and East Fourth Street. The march will start there and continue to the  Minnesota Power Plaza at Lake Avenue and Superior Street.

Featured speakers include Shannon Smallwood, Millie Richard and Babette Sandman. Afterwards participants will march to the lake for a ceremony and open mic. The event is Participating groups include Mending the Sacred Hoop, AICHO, Idle No More /Northwoods Wolf Alliance, PAVSA, Men as Peacemakers ,Hildegard House and Survivors by Survivors

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bag It, Duluth! It’s time to quit single use plastic bags

 Above:Screenshot from Movie trailer for Bag it.

Below: Youtube trailer for Bag it.


By Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff
For The Hillsider

I grew up in a small town and on the weekends my dad and I would drive to the “big city” to stock up on supplies for the upcoming week. We’d usually go the the grocery store, home improvement store, and the mall. Each one of these stores gave us plastic bags to carry our items home.

Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff
Even as a kid I didn’t like to throw away things I thought could be reused, so I’d stuff all of the plastic bags into one big bag to reuse again later. We’d inevitably get way more plastic bags than we could ever reuse, and my dad would throw some away. Even though I didn’t like waste, I didn’t think anything about using the plastic bags from the stores. It’s what everyone I saw was doing, so it was normal.

These days I carry my own reusable bags when I go shopping. Not only do I feel better about reducing my waste, but I have also learned how harmful plastic bags are for the environment and our health.

The average amount of time a plastic bag is used is 12 minutes, but plastic bags remain in the environment for hundreds of years before they degrade, and they never really disappear. Instead the bags break down into tinier and tinier pieces, eventually becoming microplastics.

Microplastics are a pollution double-whammy. On top of contaminating our soil and water, they act like a sponge for toxic chemicals, absorbing toxins such as PCBs and DDT (chemicals linked to hormone disruption and cancer). Much of these microplastics end up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans where birds, fish, and other marine animals mistake these toxic plastic pieces for food.

In a recent study from the Rochester Institute of Technology, researchers that found nearly 22 million pounds of plastic debris enter the Great Lakes every year—about 70 thousand pounds of it into Lake Superior. Lorena Rios Mendoza, a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, has been researching microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes and says she is surprised by how much she is finding in fish stomachs. Bad news, especially for those that enjoy fishing on Lake Superior.

What Can Each Person Do?

Start by learning more and meeting with others that want to help. To help address the impacts of single-use plastics, Bag it, Duluth, a group of citizens, community leaders, businesses, and organizations, is calling for legislation that would encourage reusable carry-out bags and environmentally preferable food to-go containers. As part of the Bag it, Duluth campaign, the League of Women Voters Duluth is sponsoring a free showing of the film “Bag It” at 7pm Thursday, February 16th at the Denfeld High School Lecture Hall. The film will bring greater insight to the impacts of plastics on our environment and ideas on reducing plastics in our community. 

For more information on Bag it, Duluth go to

(Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff lives in Lincoln Park, has a degree in environmental science, is a 5 Gyres Ambassador, leads Zumba classes and is interested in health and wellness. Full disclosure: She is also the daughter of The Hillsider editor Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff.)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Duluth Women's March draws more than 1,400 participants

Some 1,400 people gathered in downtown Duluth, Minn at the Technology Village at the corner or Lake Avenue and Superior Street on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. 
(Video by Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff)

On Saturday, Jan. 21, thousand of people descended on the capital of our nation for a Women's March on D.C.  Some 673 marches took place on  seven continents. Some 1,400 attended the Duluth Women's March.  (More Videos and photos to follow.)
From the Women's March on Washington:

We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.  The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us - women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear. In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers is too great to ignore.  We call on all defenders of human rights to join us.

The Women’s March will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world, that women's rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

This is an INCLUSIVE march, and EVERYONE who supports the march's goals are welcome to join this peaceful gathering!

Hundreds gather at Technology Village for Women's March