Friday, March 28, 2008

Arpil 2008 Calendar

April 1 14th Annual Empty Bowl 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. at the Depot, 506 W. Michigan St. Proceeds benefit Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank that donates food for distribution to 140 NE MN and NW WI non-profit agencies and approximately 40,000 people in need. $15 admission fee. Participants are able to choose a handcrafted ceramic bowl and dine on delicious soup, bread and beverage.

April 4 "Voices From Iraq" 6:30 p.m., Peace Church 1111 N 11th Ave. E., lower level. The forum features 3 speakers: Sami Rasouli of Najaf, Iraq; Michelle Naar Obed, recently returned from working with the Christian Peacemaker Team in Kurdistan, Iraq; and Murtadha an exchange student from Baghdad, Iraq. This Northland Anti-War Coalition event is free and the public is welcome.

Tuesdays The Northeast Entrepreneur Fund Business Planning Workshops, Ordean Building. Call 1-800-422-0374 to register or email
April 8: “Start a Business… Here’s How!” 6-8 p.m. $20.
April 15–May 6: CORE FOUR Business Planning Course, Tuesday nights from 5:30-8:30 p.m. $244 (financial assistance available to eligible participants).

April 10 Walk A Mile In Her Shoes fundraiser for PAVSA. The march begins 6 p.m. at Fitgers followed by a rally beginning at 7 p.m. at Harbor City School. The event will consist of men walking a mile in women's shoes, in drag, or at least with sashes consisting of sexual & domestic abuse statistics with the intention of raising awareness. Visit for details.

April 16 Diabetes Screening 12-3 p.m. at the Lincoln Park Center. The screening will include foot checks, accu-check system, a BMI scale, blood pressure, med review, and an education table. Professionals will be available to have your questions answered.

April 17 9-1-1 Facility Open House 1-7 p.m., 2030 N. Arlington Ave. The public is being invited to tour the new 9-1-1 facility.

April 18 Progressive Action's "Spaghetti Dinner Extravaganza and Political Rally!" 6-8:30 p.m., Peace Church, 1111 N 11th Ave. E. Dinner, live music, silent auction, political speeches, children's activities. $10 for adults, children 10 and under free. Tickets available at the door or Green Mercantile. For more info or call 349-6681.

April 19 Duluth Farmers Market Earth Day Celebration 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 14th Ave. E. and 3rd St. Come and join us in celebrating this special day and enjoy music, food, and vendors of a variety of art, crafts, and services. For more information contact Lois at 624-4159 or

April 21 "Comfort and Connection at the End-of-Life: A Holistic Perspective” 6:30-8:30 p.m., Peace United Church of Christ, 1111 N. 11th St., with keynote speaker Dr. Nancy Sudak, a physician with the Lake Superior Community Health Center and holistic practitioner. Local practitioners of Qigong, Shiatsu, Reiki, Acupuncture and other holistic therapies will be available at a “health fair” between 6-6:30 p.m. & 8:30-9 p.m. Free. Sponsored by The Greater Duluth End-of-Life Coalition. Call 728-0161 or email with any questions.

April 23 Roots, Realities and Resistance: Human Rights and Migration Across Borders Potluck at 5:30 p.m., presentation at 7 p.m., Peace Church Fellowship Hall. Padre Uvi, a parish priest and well-respected leader in the human rights community, from Oaxaca City, Mexico, will connect the dots between US policy, migration and resistance. Discussion to follow. Sponsored by the Just Peace committee of Peace UCC, Witness for Peace, YWCA, and League of Women Voters.

April 24 Apart at the Seams:Sylvia Schuster and Al Carter Opening Reception 3-5 p.m., Tweed Museum of Art, 1201 Ordean Court, UMD. All events are free and open to the public. Hours: Tues. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Wed.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 1-5 p.m., 726-8222.

April 24 Take Back The Night Food, Rally, and March 5:30-10 p.m., Washington Center. Performances from 6:30-7:45; March begins at 8. Visit for details. Men as Peacemakers will be conducting a training for men on how they can become better communicators regarding gender, and domestic and sexual abuse issues prior to the event at the MAP office. Contact Daniel at 727-1939 X12,

April 25-27 Free Democracy Summit a weekend of art, education, and inspiration organized entirely by the students of UMD MPIRG (Minnesota Public Interest Research Group), or 726-8157.
Friday: "The Current State of Democracy" panel to include Mayor Don Ness, 7 p.m.
Saturday: Panel discussions on the environment, human rights, media, and others, a Community Picnic and Fair Trade/Local Vendor Fair, & Reggae music by Prince Paul and the Conscious Party.

Sunday: interfaith service and community brunch and "How Politics and Technology Affects How We Grow Food" discussion with Becky Lourey, 3 p.m., Peace Church. Co-sponsored with Lake Superior Slow Food, lakesuperiorslowfood@yahoo

Powered by WebRing.

Ongoing April Calendar Events

April 2008

Alternate Weekly Parking Schedule
Change sides Sundays between 4-8 p.m.
03/30 - even numbered side
04/06 - odd
04/13 - even
04/20 - even
04/27 - odd

All phone numbers listed have the 218 area code unless specified otherwise.

Daily The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, Canal Park. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. with 6 p.m. closings on Fridays and Saturdays. Call the Boatwatchers Hotline at 722-6489 or visit the vessel schedule at and Free admission.

Every Monday Duluth Laughing Club 12:10-12:20 p.m. Duluth Civic Center in front of the St. Louis County Bldg.

1st Tuesday East Hillside Community Club 6:30 p.m. Grant Rec. Center, 901 E. 11th St.

1st Thursday Central Hillside Community Club/ND 5, 6 p.m. Central Hillside Center, 12 E. 4th St. April meeting will be on the 10th.

2nd Tuesday Free mini ceilis with instruction 7 p.m. at Carmody's Pub, 308 E. Superior St. Cash bar. FFI call 728-1438.

2nd & 4th Sundays The Northland Anti-War Coalition, 2 p.m., Chester Creek Café, 1902 E. 8th St.

2nd Monday The Hillsider Board,
6:30 p.m. HBA office, 928½ E. 4th St.

2nd & 4th Mondays The Arrowhead Stamp Club, 7 p.m. Rainbow Center, 211 N. 3rd Ave. E.

2nd Tuesday The Twin Ports Coin and Currency Club, 7 p.m. Rainbow Center, 211 N. 3rd Ave. E.

3rd Tuesday Campus Neighbors, 7 p.m. Grant Rec. Center, 901 E. 11th St.

3rd Wednesday Hillside Business Association, 12 p.m. Village Place meeting room, 602 E. 5th St.

3rd Thursday Park Point Community Club, 7 p.m. Lafayette Square, 3026 Minnesota Ave.

4th Tuesday At Home in East Hillside, 5:30 p.m. Grant Rec. Ctr., 901 E. 11th St.

4th Saturday Gloria Dei Community Breakfast, 9-10:30 a.m. Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 219 N. 6th Ave. E.

Submit your calendar events to Mona: or 724-1193

Powered by WebRing.

Minnesota Health Care Act supported by citizens concerned about high insurance

Board member of the Citizens Federation- Northeast, Vicki Sanville, listens to a presentation. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff)

In February the Northland Health Care for All Coalition sponsored several Minnesota legislators at the YWCA Trepanier Hall to kick-off the Minnesota Health Care Act. This act would provide affordable coverage to all Minnesotans in a unified, efficient plan without insurance companies.

Currently more than 1,200,000 Minnesotans pay more than 10 percent of their income on health care. Some 200,000 Minnesotans spend more than 25 percent of there income. The majority of both these groups are insured. Some
Sen. John Marty (D-Roseville)
Powered by WebRing.

ARTworks aimed at arts to activate economy

Caption: Crystal Pelkey, New Moon Media, Duluth, and Sibley Johns, The Music Resource Center, Charlottesville, VA, in a breakout session on how to enhance the value and appreciation of art and culture in the community.
Photo by Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff

by Tamara Hensley
The Twin Ports are awash in talent and this was clearly evident at the recent ARTworks conference held March 13-14 in Duluth-Superior. Over 300 artists and businesspeople attended this event aimed at formulating ways to activate a creative economy. Building on the region’s artistic and cultural assets to boost the economy by engaging the arts, business and civic sectors was the encompassing goal of the event.

The ARTworks conference was the result of a grant received by the Knight Creative Communities Foundation which aims to pull together the ideas and talents of all parts of the community in building a more attractive environment for economic growth. KCCI uses author Richard Florida’s idea that four T’s are necessary for a healthy and vibrant community: Technology, Tolerance, Territory and Talent. Research has indicated that the greatest challenge for the Northland lies in being a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming place though we have tremendous territorial assets, a growing technology sector and a wealth of talent within our current population.

Speakers and panelists from a handful of cities that have proven success with the arts, business and civic sectors working together for the betterment of their communities and increased appreciation of the arts. Panelists from Portland, Oregon, Charlottesville, Virginia, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Paducah, Kentucky, and Portland, Maine shared their successes. These initiatives included artist relocation programs, corporate investment in the arts, artist-in-residence programs and creative tourism.

Creating arts districts was a frequent sentiment at the conference and one in which Superior is prioritizing and Duluth is already making strides. The Duluth Local Initiatives Support Corporation has implemented “quality of life” plans in a number of neighborhoods. The Central and East Hillside neighborhoods are among the areas that have expressed an interest in establishing arts districts to include elements such as the Washington Studio Artist Cooperative.

Attendees to the conference also had the opportunity to formulate proposals and initiatives to maximize the creative assets of the Northland. A music resource center for the youth of our area was one such proposal. Such a center exists in Charlottesville, VA that attracts youth from grades 7 to 12, an age group which was lacking in a place to go and hang out. The group here in Duluth plans to gather research from our youth to determine if there is interest in such a center in the Northland. Groups formed at the event will continue to meet and fine tune their plans and eventually apply for grants to move the initiatives forward.

Enthusiasm was evident among all the conference goers as they networked and planned follow-up meetings and collaborations or just formed new friendships with kindred spirits. A sentiment heard over and over at the event was “having this conference is a great thing” and one of the many creative positives present in Duluth as we work towards greater
Powered by WebRing.

Architects’ loyality is to the owner, not contractor

The general public might think an architect is only a person who draws and designs buildings. But a licensed professional architect is really an advocate for the client with a building project. Traditionally, an architect serves as the client’s agent on all matters surrounding construction. He or she resolves disputes that may occur, designs to a budget, analyzes costs that a contractor may propose and implements many other administrative and legal functions connected with construction.

In the case of the new plans for ISD 709, the Duluth Public Schools, Johnson Controls is the contractor and project manager. Instead of having state licensed architects represent the school district, Johnson Controls is in charge of hiring the architects and engineers to represent—who?— Johnson Controls. This is highly unusual for any public entity to allow this.

This multinational corporation is not in the business of guiding and protecting owners from the pitfalls related to construction, as is a licensed architect. The people of Duluth need to know how serious this is. The architect is licensed by the state to represent owners of building projects, not a contractor, especially one who is a big multinational corporation.

I believe there is a huge conflict of interest in this arrangement, which creates a disservice to the school district and our city. There is also little value in having the architects represent the contractor. It is similar to asking the fox to guard the chicken coop. Or asking your butcher to recommend a vegetarian diet. It’s just not smart.

The Red Plan is, perhaps, the most expensive fix to the situation with the least amount of accountability and return we could have imagined. This scenario will be disastrous for the community and the Duluth Public School District. It is an unwise plan.

We have all these really great architecture firms in Duluth, and rather than selecting licensed architects to represent the district, they are going to a big multinational corporation. How is this big multinational qualified to represent the school district in this regard, or any regard for that matter? And then there is this incredible price tag.

Like so many Duluthians, I have a job, kids, and very little extra time in my life. Well, I am also an Architect in charge of his own firm. On a fateful Friday in February of this year, I received a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from Johnson Controls, Inc. There was nothing too unusual about this RFQ, except I noticed that they seemed to be asking that I represent them rather than the Duluth Public School District. I must have misunderstood, because no school district, or public entity for that matter, requires the Architect to represent the Contractor—at least none that I, or any of my colleagues that I have spoken to, have ever heard about.

So, I then asked for more information about this RFQ.

What I discovered led me to write a very strong letter to the Duluth Public School Board, where I indicated the following major points:

• Johnson Controls is asking that the Architects turn over full ownership of their documents to them, the Contractor, Johnson Controls. This is a big no-no for Architects because it potentially compromises their service and raises safety concerns.

• The Architects are required to hold Johnson Controls legally harmless.

• The Architects are required to defend Johnson Controls.

• Johnson Controls dictates what can and cannot be discussed about the project, even to the school board, or to anyone.

• The Duluth Public School District hired Johnson Controls, the Contractor, to tell them what they think should be built, and then the Contractor is hiring the Architects to represent them and to justify this wish list to the school district.

• Because the Architect works for the Contractor and not the school district, the Contractor would be allowed to charge whatever he wants and provide less than was agreed upon -- essentially being given the green light to greatly increase the scope and cost of the project. There is really no upper limit to what could be charged, and no one to report abuse. We would be at a legal disadvantage.

I think what we need to do as a community is to realistically and smartly take an assessment of the situation. Then we all need to take just a few precious moments, each of us, to get involved and to democratically voice our opinions. Let’s act like true Americans.

What would be better and far less expensive would be for the school district to hire an architect or two in-house. From there they could create a staff that could manage the situation and select local firms who really care about this community, and who could represent the school district directly. We need to build consensus and to stop allowing this situation to tear the community apart.

Yes, something needs to be done, there is no doubt about that; but not in the way it is currently progressing. We need to find a better way that will not bankrupt the district and create unreasonable tax burdens. We need to think about finding a cost-effective way to solve some very important issues for our community, our schools and for our children.

Powered by WebRing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Joanne Gerber
The month of April brings thoughts of new beginnings and warming weather to Northlanders but the month of April is more than spring flowers and longer days; April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While many of us prefer to think that sexual assault occurs only in big cities or to other people, crime statistics prove otherwise. According to the 2001 National Criminal Victimization Study, 248,000 people over the age of twelve reported being a victim of sexual assault. In the United States, a woman is sexually assaulted every 90 seconds.

Sexual assault is any act (verbal or physical) that breaks a person’s trust and/or safety and is sexual in nature. The term “sexual violence” includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, marital or partner rape, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism. Sexual assault is an act of violence where sex is the weapon.

Sexual assaults on college and university campuses are occurring at an alarming rate. A 2000 U.S. Department of Justice study on the sexual victimization of college women reported that 2.8 percent of those surveyed were the victims of rape or attempted rape per academic year and about 90 percent knew their attackers. On a campus of 10,000 women, that is 280 rapes or attempted rapes each academic year. The study further found that less than five percent of sexual assaults are reported to the police.

Date rapists often believe the myth that women owe men sex if they spend money on her, or that when a woman says no, she really means yes. In reality, when a woman says no, she means no. Rape is never the victim’s fault no matter what she was wearing, where she was, whether or not she fought back, or whether or not she and/or the perpetrator were drinking. Sexual assault is a crime and the perpetrator is 100 percent responsible for his actions.

In hundreds of ways, women’s lives are shaped by the persistent threat of sexual assault. Women hesitate to venture out at night without a male escort, they are afraid to live alone, hitchhike, stay late at the office, or take certain jobs. Sexual Assault Awareness Month brings an annual opportunity to focus awareness on sexual violence and its prevention. It is also an opportunity to highlight the efforts of individuals and agencies that provide rape crisis intervention and prevention services while offering support to sexual assault survivors, victims, and their families.

Events in Duluth such as the April 10, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” and the April 24, “Take Back the Night” rally and march, raise awareness about sexual assault and provide a catalyst for social change within our community. For more information about these events, or to learn how you can become a sexual assault advocate or volunteer, call Tammy at the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA), (218)726-1442, or go to

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, call PAVSA’s 24-hour crisis line, (218) 726-1931, or toll free 1(866) 229-7425. PAVSA’s services are free and confidential.
(Joanne Gerber is an intern with the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA).)

Get a new bike at United Way’s Bike Swap, April 19 & 20

Peter Lillesve pedal kicks off a large rock at Spirit Mountain. Catch Lillesve and Shawn O’Brien showing bike trial demos during the Bike Swap on April 19 and 20 at Continental Ski and Bike Shop, 1305 E. First St.
Photo by Dave Whalen

Bill Howard, owner of Continental Ski and Bike, and Bryn Jacobson, bike mechanic pose at the store. Jacobson will be on hand for minor bike repairs. Howard said Jacobson is known as “The best wrench in town.”
Photo by Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff

By Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff

Just about every basement or attic in town has a neglected old bike waiting for someone to fix it up, love it and ride it home. At least, that is the theory of Bill Howard, owner of the Continental Ski and Bike Shop, 1305 E. First Street.

This April is your chance to bring in an old bike, give it new life, make a little money, and give to United Way all at the same time. And if you don’t have a bike, this is the place to purchase one at a reasonable price.

Bring bikes in on either Friday, April 18 between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. or on Saturday between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Bryn Jacobson, mechanic for Continental Ski and Bike, will be on hand to perform minor repairs on bikes. “Bikes need to be in good condition,” said Jacobson. “ We can’t sell wrecks.”

Only bikes will be accepted, no helmets, shorts or exercise bikes. If your bike sells, you receive 75 percent of the selling price. The remaining 25 percent is donated to United Way of Greater Duluth.

The public is invited to shop on Saturday and Sunday, April 19 and 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

A special treat will be the performances of Peter Lillesve and Shawn O’Brien, trials bike riders, who will demonstrate the balance and control you need to be a talented trials (not trail) competitor. Catch them on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. And Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (Although not their website, you may visit the website at www. to learn more about trial bike riding.

Greg Schultz of the Loaves and Fishes Community’s Bike Cave will assist people who bring in bikes. Any bikes left over will be donated to Safe Haven.

Cyclists of the Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) members will also assist at the event to help with the Bike Check-in process. They are knowledgeable about bikes and can help set the price of the bike for people bringing in a bike. They will also be able to help determine if a bike needs any repairs or adjustments. Visit their website

Payment accepted is cash and credit cards only. Food and beverages will be available.
John Bartikoski, of the United Way Greater Duluth, said, “The bike swap was a great success last year. It gives area people a chance to get a great bike and makes bikes available to people who couldn’t go out and buy a new bike, or afford a better bike for less money. It is a way to give an old bike a new home and a happy rider; and it helps raise money and awareness of United Way of Greater Duluth. He added, “St. Luke’s is donating helmets for toddlers who don’t already own a helmet.”

The event will be held rain or shine. Call (218) 728-4466 for more information.

Powered by WebRing.

Country meets city: Nettleton & Homecraft give civil rights concert

Nettleton student Giana Presley Baum sings on the stage of the Mitchell Auditorium at the College of St. Scholastica. Baum was one of 280 to participate in a joint concert of Nettleton Magnet School and Home-croft Elementary Schools. “Songs of the Civil Rights” was the theme.All students wore T-shirts that read, “Peace begins with me!"

Students of Nettleton and Homecroft schools performed a rousing concert of civil rights songs on the stage of the Mitchell Auditorium at the College of St. Scholastica on Tuesday, March 18.

Over 450 parents, siblings and friends watched and listened as traditional American Folk Songs, such as “Get on Board, Children,” “I’m Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table” and “We shall Overcome” were interspersed with short commentary by the students about events in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement.

The concert was part of a Peace grant project and involved 280 students in grades 3 through 5. Many Nettleton and Homecroft students will attend Woodland Middle School together starting in 6th grade.

Tywuan Young introduced the first song, saying, “Get on board children, let’s fight for human rights. It’s not just adults but young people, kids just like us!”
Tywuan, grade 5, is the son of La Donna Adams. Her daughter, Ashanti Young, grade 3, was also in the chorus.

Adams said she is impressed with Nettleton School. She appreciates the leadership of the staff. “They are very family-oriented,” she said. “They care for the children.”

On an Internet website,, Nick Lansing posted, “Two of our four children attend Nettleton. It’s a gem. Nettleton is in the city’s poorest, ‘toughest’ neighborhood, yet parents throughout the district send their children there. The strengths are the many extracurricular activities, aggressive pursuit of grant dollars, and Principal Heilig’s leadership.”

Nettleton is located at 108 E. Sixth St. Homecroft is located at 4784 Howard Gnesen Road.
Nettleton students are mostly from inner city Duluth, while Homecroft students include students living in the country.

Shari Rud, principal of Homecroft said some students come from as far as Caribou and Island Lake and not many ethnic minorities attend Homecroft. She said the concert was, “Country kids and city kids working together and becoming friends.” She added, “It was a spectular peformance ... It’s what we are all about, being kind, not harassing or bullying each other.”
Powered by WebRing.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nominate some who is building peace

2008 Peacemaker Nominations

Nominate someone that you think is creating/building peace in our community. Past nominees have included: a drop-in center director, a youth service worker, a day care provider, a government official, a student activist, a hospital volunteer, a student who worked with people with developmental disabilities, a men’s group coordinator, a mentor and a teacher. This year we will offer a youth scholarship of $1000, an adult award of $250 and an award to an organization of $250. You can also check our web site and send a nomination on line at
Powered by WebRing.

Mentoring Works celebrate 10 years of helping kids succeed

March 2008 constitutes the 10th anniversary of the Men as Peacemakers Mentoring Works program. What started as a program with 8 men mentoring 8 boys at Grant Elementary School has grown to serve over 400 elementary students each year in its mentoring and reading partner programs.

Men as Peacemakers will celebrate this important milestone and the people and organizations that have made it possible at its Annual Meeting on March 26th. Over the last 10 years more than 1000 local volunteers have given their time to mentor a student. Many more than a 1000 students have been touched, directly, by having a mentor and indirectly by the involvement of these adult volunteers in the school. None of this would have been possible without the constant support and hard work of the principals and staff of our elementary school partners.

Hundreds of additional individuals have supported the effort with cash donations. The Ordean, Northland, Sheltering Arms, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundations, Minnesota Power and SMDC have provided grants that make it financially feasible.

The Annual Meeting will take place:

Date: Wednesday March 26th, 2008
Time: 5:00 – 6:30
Place: Arrowhead Place 2nd floor meeting room – 205 W. 2nd St .
(park in the lot behind the building. The entry is off the parking lot)
Beverages and light snacks will be provided.
Powered by WebRing.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

League of Women Voters to have a "Bake-Off" to demonstrate Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV)

The Duluth branch of the League of Women Voters is hosting an Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV) Forum and “Bake-Off” on Tuesday, March 18, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Duluth City Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall, at 411 West First Street.
The event is being billed as a “Bake-Off” because it will show how Instant Run-Off Voting works by using desserts as “candidates” in a real balloting session, with members of the public sampling desserts and then ranking them on a ballot using IRV.
Participating in the panel will be Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Minneapolis City Councilor Elizabeth Glidden, Duluth City Council President Roger Reinert, and FairVote Minnesota Executive Director Jeanne Massey. Duluth
Mayor Don Ness will deliver the opening remarks.
These participants will discuss why IRV is catching on in Minnesota and across the country, how the IRV method of voting works, and how IRV would work in Duluth. Panelists will also host a discussion of IRV with the audience and will take audience questions.
Moderating the forum will be League members Barb Olsen and Jill Rogers. Positively Third Street Bakery, Amazing Grace Bakery, and Chester Creek Café are donating the desserts, along with LWV President Deb Ortman, who will be baking one of her dessert specialties for the “election.”
The event is free and open to the public and will be recorded by PACT-TV (Channel 7 on cable) for later airing.
For further information about the forum, call Barb Olsen at 218-349-6681 or Jill Rogers at 952-210-5415. For information about FairVote Minnesota, see

Powered by WebRing.

Friday, March 07, 2008

JRLC ‘Day on the Hill’ bring faith-based values to state legislators

Minnesota’s Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) will hold its annual “Day on the Hill” on Thursday, March 13 at the State Capitol in St. Paul. The event provides opportunities for citizens to meet with and lobby their legislators to craft government policy to continue the bold mission to END POVERTY by 2020. You are invited to be part of the movement to advocate for public policy change because ending poverty is about all of us. It is possible and it is time.

You can register for “Day on The Hill” by going to JRLC’s website: or by contacting Kim Crawford, CHUM’s Congregational Outreach Coordinator. Early registration, by March 5 is $25, after $40. Student prices are $15 and $25.
CHUM will be organizing coach bus transportation for this event. Please contact Kim Crawford at 428-0290 or to discuss possible transportation.
Powered by WebRing.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Businesses need to shovel snow off sidewalks

I appreciated the information in the January Hillsider about the city ordinance on shoveling sidewalks.
The ordinance deals with the duties of abutters; (“any person who owns, leases or otherwise lawfully occupies any parcel of land, which abuts any public sidewalk within the city”).
“Any person”, as I understand it, refers to everyone, including businesses as well as residences.
When the City of Duluth asks residents to be diligent about clearing sidewalks, I’m sure they aren’t just referring to residences.
Many businesses get their mail delivered through parking lots, (usually well plowed), while residences have mail delivered via sidewalks. Unfortunately, many businesses are ignoring the sidewalks that abut their “parcel of land”. Their mail isn’t apt to be undeliverable because of unshoveled walks.
It occurs to me that notices could be stated in such a way as to point this out. The Central Hillside, in particular, is highly pedestrian, meaning that the sidewalks abutting a business do get used. And I’m not fond of having to walk in the streets.
Perhaps the various business organizations (such as the Hillside Business Association) can help point out the importance of businesses also complying with this ordinance.
Sarah L Chambers
Powered by WebRing.

Free tax prep help and free express refund loans provided by local agencies

The Earned Income Tax Credit is “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.” - President Ronald Reagan, 1986

It’s tax time and families are busy getting doing their taxes or paying someone else to do them. Many people are visiting the free tax preparation sites operated by Community Action Duluth, AARP, CHUM and UMD and volunteers are busy assisting low and moderate income people to file their taxes and claim their refunds. A large number of our tax site customers are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the MN Working Family Credit (WFC). These credits increase the prosperity of Duluth and For the lowest wage workers, it can transform the earnings of a $7.00 an hour job into a $9.00 an hour job. The Earned Income Credit provides a significant tax break to low- to moderate-wage workers, which makes it one of the most effective weapons in the battle against child poverty in America. During the 2005 tax season, over 12 percent of all Duluth taxpayers claimed this credit. The total value of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the MN Working Family Credit to Duluthians was over $9 million dollars last year.

Many people are not aware that they are eligible to claim these refunds. Some low income people do not earn enough income to be required to pay taxes, however they might be eligible to claim a refund. For example a single parent with two children who is transitioning off of public assistance and earned $3,000 in 2007 may be eligible for a $1,200 EITC.
The EITC and MN Working Family Credit are only available to people with earned income from working. However, the powerful effect of these credits can be eroded in several ways. In 2005, more than $366,240 million of the federal EITC funds claimed in Duluth were spent on tax preparation and filing costs, rather than on meeting working families’ basic needs and stabilizing their households. An additional $113,200 was spent by these Duluthians for high interest Refund Anticipation Loans (RAL) also called instant refunds. RALs are extremely short-term loans that use the family’s anticipated tax refund as collateral.

Community Action Duluth offers free Express Refunds now in partnership with Northern Communities Credit Union to help families keep all of their hard earned refund. Families and individuals who come to the Community Action Duluth free tax sites can save up to $400 in fees and interest on an Express Refund Loan. Our tax site customers open a savings account with Northern Communites Credit Union while they get their taxes done. In most cases, the federal part of their refund is available the next day from the credit union at no cost to the customer.

The free tax sites were designed to give low and moderate income people an alternative to expensive tax preparation fees and high interest loans. The times and hours of the free sites are below. Both sites serve individuals and families with less than $39,000 income for 2007. The Community Action Duluth sites do e-filing and, in most cases, people have their refunds within 5 - 10 days.

Community Action Duluth – Tuesday evenings 5:00 to9:00 pm and Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 19 N. 21st Ave. W.
For people with dependents only – Wednesdays from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Memorial Park – 5315 Grand Ave.
Appointments are available at this site only by calling (218) 726-1665.
Also at this site only – child care and a free credit report from LSS Financial Services.
For more info on additional free tax sites in Duluth call – 211 for times, dates and locations.
Written by Angie Miller Associate Director at Community Action Duluth

Powered by WebRing.

Affordable new downtown studio apartments for low-income workers to be built this spring

Women in Construction
, a local construction company, is remodeling an old building to provide affordable efficiency apartments to low-income people who work downtown. These apartments named, Urban Studio Apartments will be located above the current office and shop of the Women in Construction business, 114 N First Ave. W. The funding for this is through a training program Women in Construction Training Program (WiCTP.) WiCTP will invest $338,000 in construction funds from Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and Greater Minnesota Housing Fund to create nine units of affordable workforce housing. The Home Depot Foundation will invest an additional $12,500 toward energy efficiency and green improvements.
The Urban Studio Apartments, designed by DSGW Architects, will attract people who work in downtown Duluth and make 50 percent of median income, $18,000 or less annually. The units will be modern, energy efficient and built using many green products.
“Women in Construction is committed to using green building practices on all our projects, including affordable housing. We want to lessen the negative impact of construction on our environment as well as create a healthy space for the people who live in our homes,” says Michelle LeBeau, executive director of Women in Construction. “We are very pleased to assist them with their goals of being good stewards of the environment as they build and renovate homes in our core neighborhoods through the support of these three partners.” said Pam Kramer, executive director of Duluth Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).
“This funding not only provides housing for those who need it, it will also improve education and health outcomes, enhance the productivity of workers, and generate substantial economic activity,” wrote Timothy Marx, commissioner of Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, in the letter awarding funds to the project.
“The Home Depot Foundation is proud to be a funding partner,” said Kelly Caffarelli, president of The Home Depot Foundation. “Our Foundation supports organizations that embrace green practices while building affordable, healthy homes for working families. By forming this partnership, we are furthering our shared mission of being responsible caretakers of the environment and health of local communities.”
Article submitted

Powered by WebRing.