Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Hillsider editor moves to Duluth Budgeteer News, board and new editor will need backing

Well, it’s time for me to write the last Naomi’s Notes for the Hillsider. This is both an exciting and a sad chapter in my life. By the time you read this I will be the editor of the Duluth Budgeteer News and the Hillsider board will be working to hire someone new.

This is exciting for me because I still get to stomp around in Duluth, the city I love, and I still get to mix with “my peeps.” It’s sad because I care about providing a way for those who rarely get news coverage to be heard. The Hillsider belongs to you, the people. It’s fun giving you a voice. It’s also fun to provide an alternative, cheaper forum for small businesses and non-profits to advertise.

I hope that as editor of the Budgeteer News I can help to bring a nice mix of community stories to a larger audience than I do at the Hillsider. Someone else will worry about selling and designing ads, so I’ll have more time to focus on editorial content. It’s also exciting because my new bosses like my photography, which is my passion.

The Budgeteer News is owned by the Duluth News Tribune and Forum Communications. My office will be on the first floor of the Duluth News Tribune building on First Street.

I started as editor of the Hillsider in May of 2006. The first issue that I produced came out June 15. It didn’t take long to realize that there was more than enough community news in the Central Hillside, East Hillside, Chester Park, Endion and Observation Hill neighborhoods for this paper to be issued every month, rather than only every other month.

Soon, the board and I decided to add Lincoln Park to our catchment area of stories. We noticed that the people of Lincoln Park often faced the same issues as those of the Hillside. Of course we took ads from any neighborhood. A few years later we added new distribution spots in neighborhoods further out. We found that even though our stories focused on Duluth’s core neighborhoods, our news was of interest to people in many of Duluth’s neighborhoods.

I know that people love the Hillsider, by the reaction I get when I tell people of my move to the Budgeteer. People tell me, “Congratulations,” and then almost immediately ask, with worried looks on their faces, “But what’s going to happen to the Hillsider?”

The Hillsider board is working with a person who will be the interim editor. Please give the board and this person your support. You can help by purchasing or encouraging others to purchase advertising, by giving story ideas and by helping with distribution. Our snail mail address will remain the same, but the email is now The new contact phone number is (218) 724-5220. You may also contact Scott Yeazle at (218) 260-5390 or, or any of the board members, who are listed on page 2.

And I’ll see you in the Duluth Budgeteer News.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Parents to petition DTA on stroller restriction

DTA Stroller Policy Challenged

In November, DTA manager Dennis Jensen met with a group of women concerned about a policy change set to go into effect on January 1, 2011. The new policy restricts the use of strollers on city buses and has brought up some concerns among parents who are dependent upon public transit.

Minnesota is well known for its harsh winter weather, and Duluth is no exception. For individuals whose primary mode of transportation is the bus, protecting infants and children from the harsh weather is a serious concern. The increase in stroller size that the DTA had noticed was due in part to the protection they provide from the elements. There is concern among parents that being forced to give up this winter weather protection may place their infants and young children at risk of exposure.

The DTA is also restricting the use of uncollapsed portable shopping carts. These carts make it possible for individuals who depend on public transit to do their weekly (or monthly) shopping. The bus is the only real transportation option for many families on a tight budget. The restriction on both carts and the number (and size) of packages that can be brought on board significantly reduces the amount of shopping that can be done in a single trip. The strain this new policy places on low-income families is understandably high.

The same group of women who met with Jensen in November met again in December to propose a ‘Shopping Bus’ to run every Monday (at a minimum), making stops at all major department stores and grocery stores, and allowing both strollers and shopping carts to board the bus and remain uncollapsed. In addition, the group is asking the DTA to consider a long-term plan to purchase physically modified buses that can provide a safe means of transportation for both strollers (with children in them) and shopping carts while still maintaining special seating for wheelchairs and the elderly.

Concerned individuals are being encouraged to sign a petition being circulated or to contact the DTA at 218-722-SAVE and express support.

Also discussed at both meetings was the increase in incidents of unprofessional behavior on the part of bus drivers toward individuals traveling with young children in strollers. The DTA is encouraging all patrons of the bus system to call and register complaints whenever an incident between a driver and a passenger occurs. When submitting a complaint, a passenger will be asked for the bus number as well as the date and time of the incident.

Anyone concerned about this issue, or interested in becoming more involved in its resolution, is encouraged to attend Community Action’s Circles of Support meetings. Contact Community Action for more information at 218-726-1665.

January is time to look forward to priorities

Scott Yeazle... Serving the Twin Ports

January is the time to look forward, make plans, and set goals. People always ask about my goals and priorities. Some wonder if I will run for office, but the answer is “not anytime soon.”

As chairman of Twin Ports Action Coalition I see things I want to accomplish and things I want to change. One is the amount for General Assistance and MFIP (Minnesota Family Investment Program). These rates are too low. The amount of money for people on General Assistance has not changed for more than two decades. It has been $203 since 1986.

I would like to see some of our legislators try to live on $203 a month. Many people on GA have a disability that makes it impossible for them to work or hold onto a job, yet the federal government does not recognize them as disabled. Minnesota should force the federal government to help make the process easier for those with mental or physical disabilities.

As a Duluth Human Rights Commissioner I see many changes needed in our society. We need to work to educate the public and prospective employers that stereotypes are wrong. This year our state legislature proposed immigration policy similar to that of Arizona, giving police the right to stop people on the street, question them about their immigrant status and demand to see legal documents.

Ending hatred or discrimination and making sure everyone has a home are goals, but realistically neither will happen in 2011. I will work for policies to ensure nothing gets worse. I hope that every elected body will work to enhance everybody and not tear down the walls of hard work that people have been working toward for years.

As a Hillsider board member, my goal is for this newspaper to keep shining a light on the good things going on in the Hillside and Lincoln Park. Last month we highlighted Paul Steklenski, who has recently retired from Positively 3rd Street Bakery. He worked in the East Hillside for 27 years and was “positively” a good influence.

This month we highlight the PASS program, which works to help parents get involved with the schooling of their children. Frequently I hear that this paper means so much to so many. I enjoy my time on the board, and I look forward in 2011 to working to continue to use this media as a way to build community in our neighborhoods.

Officer Jim Hansen named Duluth Police Department public information officer

Perspectives from Lincoln Park Patrol

By Pam Kleinschmidt

Last month I wrote about the departure due to reassignment of Officer James Hansen from his 13-year role as Community Oriented Police (COP) Officer for District 25. Chief Gordon Ramsay began a new rotation policy in order that more officers could have the valuable relationship-building experience that the COP position affords those who serve in it. Officer Hansen, one of the first to be moved, has now assumed the office of Public Information Officer for the Duluth Police Department.

Hansen brings an approachable and knowledgeable persona to his new assignment. “ I will use my skills learned in 25 years in law enforcement to continue to strengthen our relationship with the public and the media by providing timely and accurate information,” Hansen said. “ I will continue to work very hard to maintain the trust and confidence this community has in the Duluth Police Department.

“The DPD currently has a page on Facebook, and we are exploring new ways to get our information out quicker and to a broader audience by looking to set up a twitter account as well as additional social media. We realize this is the wave of the future and want to be ahead of it.

“Along with the Public Information Officer position I have a dual role as our department’s Extra Duty Job Coordinator in which I will assign Duluth police officers extra-duty overtime. I will be working with individuals, business owners and promoters to make sure we have an adequate police/security plan to provide a safe environment and assign officers in an overtime capacity to ensure that. I am looking forward to the challenge of learning these new positions and glad that they both provide direct interaction with the community.”

To sign up to automatically receive press releases from the City of Duluth, go to and click on the yellow tab on the left side of the homepage To find the DPD page on Facebook, search for Duluth Minnesota Police Department.

DEDA meetings are open to all

Open to the public - Anyone can go check out DEDA meetings. They are held on the third Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. in the Third Floor City Council Chambers, City Hall.
DEDA’s members are city councilors Jeff Anderson, Tony Cuneo, and Fedora, local industrialists Heino, Monaco, Townsend, and Aronson Norr, and executive director Hanson.

DEDA - Duluth Economic Development Authority

- Tax Increment Financing.
In its inception stage, the TIF was thought of as a “last resort” type of financing.

DEDA uses TIFs to redevelop neighborhoods

By Zachery Hammer

DEDA and housing

DEDA has also used Tax Increment Financing to assist with low-income housing needs in three different areas around Duluth. The first to be certified, in 1989, was a project called “Scattered Site Redevelopment District,” or District 7. Hanson said this district is “virtually impossible to describe” with a number of different pockets throughout the city, including Spirit Bay, West Duluth, Fremont Point, Ramsey, Irving, and Nicolet St. neighborhoods. This project is set to expire in 2015.

Another TIF housing district, Jefferson Square, was certified in 1990 and included a one-block area bordered by 9th and 10th Avenues East and East Second and East Third Streets. This district was decertified last year.

A third TIF area was created in July 1994 and will expire in June 2021. The Washington Center District is located between Lake Avenue and First Avenue West and between East Third and Fourth streets.

These districts were put in place to redevelop aging buildings and infrastructure, as well as to create more housing opportunities for those who may not be able to afford it otherwise.

DEDA: helping business developers, low-income housing, large employers, and urban sprawl?

By Zachary Hammer

The Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA) has been in the news lately as it faces what to do with the historic Norshor Theater.

DEDA is also in talks with a business group, Pier B, about purchasing the city-owned area surrounding the LaFarge property next to Bayfront Festival Park. The group wants to create a commercial waterfront property there with restaurants, entertainment, and hotels.

DEDA has recently teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to develop the long-abandoned Universal Atlas Cement Site that was purchased by the city in 2003. Once the site is cleaned up, DEDA hopes to create an industrial park out of the blighted area, thus fostering economic growth.

But just what is DEDA? What is it meant to do, and what tools does it have to accomplish those goals?

DEDA as matchmaker

One of DEDA’s main tasks is searching for properties that have potential economic benefits for the community, purchasing them, and then attempting to match an owner to the property, with the intent of creating more jobs for Duluthians.

John Heino, DEDA Commissioner and CEO of Como Oil and Propane, says DEDA “contributes to getting projects together” that may not have been organized otherwise.
Heino, along with Don Monaco, Christine Townsend, and Nancy Aronson Norr, are citizen representatives from local industry that have been appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council. Heino “didn’t exactly set out to serve,” he said, but when approached by Mayor Ness, he agreed.

Heino said. “One thing we need is good jobs, so I’ll do what I can.”
One of the tools at their disposal is Tax Increment Financing. TIF gives businesses or land developers the benefit of having their property tax rate frozen at the pre-development rate. Ideally, the property value increases, and the amount of new property tax revenue generated because of this development “goes to pay off any new water, sewer, streets…associated with the new development,” said Todd Fedora, one of three city councilors who also serves on the board. When the TIF is decertified, the property will be taxed at a higher rate, creating more revenue for the city.

A company may well see an area as more attractive than another if offered a TIF.
The idea of TIF was conceived over 50 years ago as a tool for developing areas considered to be “blighted,” and to spur economic development in those areas where it may not have occurred otherwise. In its inception stage, it was thought of as a “last resort” type of financing.
Now, though, Arizona is the only state without some kind of TIF-related law.
DEDA and Jobs

A TIF area created for United Health Group on Rice Lake Road in Duluth led to a multitude of jobs that otherwise might have gone elsewhere – “an example of how TIFs are supposed to work,” according to Fedora.

The Duluth News Tribune reported in 2000 that a tax relief package valued at $4.55 million over 25 years was assembled as an incentive for the company to stay and grow in Duluth. “Without the package, United indicated it would leave the community altogether, taking away 660 jobs.”
“United had a lot of people working from home” before they built their new facility, says DEDA Executive Director Brian Hanson. They were looking for a central location to do business.
Hanson says he is “not wild about saying that the TIF district ‘saved’” these people’s jobs, but it definitely did “help keep” them.

“The UHC building had an estimated value of $15 million when it was built,” said Hanson. “The city agreed to return tax increment of $1.5 million to UHC over time as the taxes were paid. In addition, the city agreed to invest $150,000 in site work related to a trout stream impacted by the project.”

“There was, essentially, no utilities or infrastructure up there to handle a building of that size,” said Fedora. The TIF revenue went owards creating “higher capacity water, sewer, [and] electrical utilities to handle their operation.”
DEDA and urban sprawl?

While elected officials are quick to paint Tax Increment Financing in a positive light because it is a potential alternative to raising revenue without raising taxes, there is a possible dark underside.
Four of DEDA’s members are not directly elected, but chosen from local industry by councilors and the mayor. This means that economic leaders are charged with the power to create economic policy, possibly leaving room for abuse.

One check on this misuse is the “but-for” test. This holds that TIFs can only be awarded if the “anticipated growth in property value at the effected site would not would not happen but for the availability of TIF capital,” as James Krohe, Jr. explains in At The Tipping Point.

A problem with this stipulation is that is difficult for city officials to predict such a thing, and in many cases the growth may have occurred without using a TIF. A study performed by Chicago’s Neighborhood Capital Budget Group found that the city gave $1.6 billion in TIF tax incentives, but they projected that $1.3 billion worth of development would have occurred without TIF. As Daniel McGraw states in Giving Away A Store to Get A Store, Chicago “invested $1.6 billion for $300 million in revenue growth” – hardly a bargain to the taxpayer.

Krohe compares TIFs to a “reverse Robin Hood: they rob from the average taxpayer to give to multi-million dollar development projects in thriving areas of the city.”

Another legal constraint is the “blight test.” However, the definition of “blighted” has been so expanded that in Baraboo, WI, a cornfield was found to be blighted in order to create a TIF district for an incoming Wal-Mart SuperCenter.

This example is also consistent with what studies have found nationwide regarding another problem: the law is more likely to be flexible to large businesses than small to receive the benefits of Tax Increment Financing. “In effect, a TIF subsidizes big businesses at the expense of less politically influential competitors and ordinary citizens,” McGraw writes.

Tax Increment Financing was originally intended to revitalize urban cores, but has been found to subsidize sprawl in many cases — the opposite of sustainable development. A report by 1000 Friends of Wisconsin found that 45 percent of TIFs in the state were used on undeveloped land.
The United Health Group development on Rice Lake Road is an example of this — “an absolutely accurate example,” Hanson said.

Another example of this sprawl can be seen on Miller Hill, where a TIF district was used to pay off “some infrastructure needs” for the Mall area, according to Fedora.

A TIF can be used responsibly, and by DEDA it mostly is. Hanson says that the “vast majority of our projects are redeveloping” in the urban center; only one or two can be described as not.
Zachary Hammer is a third year journalism student at UMD. He completed a case study regarding DEDA for a state and local government course.

Task force: reframe Duluth’s acceptance of prostitution to rejection of human trafficking

Caption: Lt. Scott Drewlo of Duluth Police Department, gestures while speaking about human trafficking during a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters in November. From left to right are Shunu Shrestha - Trafficking and Prostitution Task Force Coordinator, PAVSA, Kelly Martin-Kurtz - Outreach Coordinator, PAVSA, Bree Bussey -AIHCO and Scott Drewlo -Duluth Police Department.

By Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff

For most people, Duluth means ships, trees, tourism, and Lake Superior. It’s unlikely that the average person realizes that Duluth is also a city identified as the entry point for young women, especially Native American girls under the age of 18, to a life of being trafficked.

For years, support staff at the Duluth domestic violence shelters for Native American women have heard stories of women being beaten because they wouldn’t sleep with their boyfriend’s friends. These women will often not see themselves as being trafficked, but by Minnesota law a person can never consent to being sexually exploited. Under state law, anyone who had been prostituted by others is considered a trafficking victim.

Each year, the Minnesota Office of Justice Programs and the Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force produces an annual report to the Minnesota Legislature and provides training on identifying trafficking victims, and methods for promoting the safety of trafficking victims.
A 2009 report titled “Shattered Hearts: the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of American Indian Women and Girls in Minnesota,” uses data from interviews with 95 Native women and girls. The results suggest that the trafficking of Native girls into prostitution is a significant, though rarely discussed, problem.

Overall, 40 percent of incoming clients reported involvement in some type of commercial sexual exploitation, and 27 percent reported activities defined as sex trafficking under Minnesota law.
Anyone can become a trafficked human being, but several factors combine to determine an individual’s level of vulnerability. Foster children and former foster children are targets of sexual trafficking in disproportionately high numbers, as are people in poverty.

This fall a task force to stop human trafficking was created through a grant from the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. This is a three-year grant made possible through the American Indian Housing Community Organization and the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA). Shunu Shrestha, has been hired to coordinate the task force.

Shrestha, with masters degree in human rights from Columbia University, is originally from Nepal where extensive poverty and difficult living conditions have fueled human trafficking. While countries like Nepal struggle to protect their most vulnerable citizens, it is less well known that these problems also exist in the United States.

Many organizations, including the Hillsider, have signed on for the task force.
In November, speakers for PAVSA (Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault), AIHCO (American Indian Community Housing Organization) and the Duluth police department presented a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

The panel and audience raised several key questions:

• Mainstream society may view these women as prostitutes. How do we educate society that prostitution is not a choice, but a decision made in desperation? Can we reframe thinking of a prostitute as a criminal to a victim?

• Many young women have been forced to have sex for money. In our legal system they are victims while they are under-aged, but the moment they turn 18, they become criminals. Is there a way to have the legal system see women as trafficked victims and help them rather than arrest them?

• Why aren’t more men who are using the services arrested? Sweden has seen a dramatic decrease in prostitution since legalizing prostitution but making the purchase of sex illegal.

• If a person is forced to perform tasks under the threat of violence against herself or her family, if she is forced to work and not allowed to come and go as she pleases and otherwise treated like property, then she is a slave. But how many people in the United States see what a pimp is doing as no different than a slave master?

When they think of Duluth, many in social services and law enforcement think of “the Duluth model,” a proactive approach to domestic violence that began here and is now used around the United States. Perhaps with time and effort, they will one day also think of a “Duluth model” for dealing with human trafficking, a compassionate and effective model that starts here and grows.

For more information phone Shrestha at 218-726-1442 or email

CVS plans to purchase entire block in East Hillside, wiping out a community strip mall

By Rolf Flaig

Rolf Flaig owns Rolf Flaig State Farm Insurance Agency located at 1223 E. Superior Street.

CVS has made an offer to purchase the upper side of East Superior Street from 12th Avenue East to 13th Avenue East. This includes the gas station, the apartment/massage house and the Plaza Building. Their intention is to build a new CVS Pharmacy here to compete with the new Walgreens. (Walgreens’ plans to build on the entire eastern portion of the block from Superior Street up to First Street.)

The CVS action will displace nine businesses. It is my opinion that some of these businesses will not survive the transition. We all operate as a community collective here and our survival in part is based on the combined traffic that we create. In other words, people will come to the Beijing Restaurant for lunch and stop at the Hallmark to pick up a card, or come down for a workout at Anytime Fitness and stop at the Duluth Running Co. to look at shoes. Without the collective of these businesses it may be hard for some to survive on their own.

My fear is that by putting another pharmacy next to an existing pharmacy we will lose this area as a community shopping location. All we have to do is look at what happened to the Hillside around East Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue East when the hospitals bought up the property and displaced those local businesses. I find it ironic that the city would allow this to happen.

After all, one of the first things the Lincoln Park area did to revitalize their part of town was build a strip mall for local businesses. The West Duluth mall on Grand Avenue is now the focal point of a revitalized business community. Allowing CVS to circumvent Duluth’s comprehensive land use program and displace these businesses is counter- productive.

Currently I have not found a suitable relocation spot in the area. I have expanded my search now to include the Kenwood neighborhood and the Central Entrance area and have not ruled out the Miller Mall area either. I would like to stay in this area but new locations are very limited here. I also have to consider the issue of destination versus location. It is much more desirable for my business to be located in an area like The Plaza and its collective of businesses. As a stand-alone office I suspect I would have a considerable drop in “walk-in” business. Convenience is important for today’s consumers, and one-stop shopping lends itself to that end.

New program, PASS, empowers parents to help children with school success

By Allegra Henderson

Parents and Students Succeeding (PASS), a new parent involvement initiative in Duluth, has graduated its first class of 33 parents at Laura MacArthur School and is now in planning for a February workshop at Nettleton School. Offered through the Duluth school district’s Office of Education and Equity, the free seven-week workshop encourages parents to get involved as much as possible in their children’s education.

Dennis Line and Patrick Ribbich graduated from the Duluth school district’s seven week Parents And Students Succeeding program. The program empowers parents to help their children do well in school. Contact the Office of Education and Equity at (218) 336-8714 to learn more. Photo by Tamara Smith

Studies show parents’ involvement in their children’s education has a direct correlation in the academic achievement of their student. Higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates are some of the results when parents regularly communicate with school teachers via phone calls, email and letters; attend parent teacher conferences; and volunteer at the school through PTA or other parent organizations.

In fact, family participation in education can be up to 10 times as predictive of students’ academic success as family socioeconomic status. Parent involvement creates better school attendance, increased motivation, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of suspension.

PASS is modeled after Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) in California, which began as a bridge of information and knowledge for parents who didn’t speak English and grew into a powerful parent involvement forum which has graduated over half a million parents nationwide.

During the PASS workshop, parents learn the importance of homework and how to enhance home learning environments, understand tests and assessments, and promote positive communication between home and school. The workshop sessions are dialogues, not lectures, and parents create community, supporting one another, sharing experiences, and problem-solving together.

PASS gives them the skills and tools needed for their children’s academic success in school: knowing what essential questions to ask during parent teacher conferences, learning how to decipher tests and assessments and calculate GPA’s and report cards, and finding out how to access academic school services and programs that enhance student performance.

“There was so much valuable information,” said Katrina Thunberg, a PASS parent from the initial class at MacArthur. “Every week, I felt so supported in my parenting, and knowing that I have a community of parents that go through similar challenges was so empowering! When I saw many of the parents again at the Christmas program, I greeted them and was so happy to see them. We built a sense of community each week, and I miss that.”

For many parents, PASS was not just an education in how to navigate the school system — it became a support system for parents to feel validated, encouraged, and empowered. When parents have a chance to share their stories and challenges and support one another, the workshop becomes a forum to develop leadership and community.

Parents are encouraged to become involved in the school, whether with increased home school communication, through volunteerism, or by joining the Parent Teacher Association or other school-based committees to express their voice and leadership. Information regarding funding for college and other schools after high school is also covered during the workshop.

The next PASS workshop will be held in February at Nettleton School. Childcare and a meal for parents are available. Please contact the Office of Education and Equity for more information at (218) 336-8714.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

True change happens when people with power allow themselves to be uncomfortable

"Too much equity, diversity, and multicultural education work is shaped to be comfortable and easily digestible."
~ Donna Ennis

By Donna Ennis

I believe that too much equity, diversity, and multicultural education work is shaped to be comfortable and easily digestible. While I believe that people need some level of comfort in order to grow, in order to ”inform ourselves,” I also believe that true change can happen only when people, and particularly people with power, allow themselves to be vulnerable to difficult and sometimes uncomfortable dialogue. This dialogue is the first step toward greater change in our schools and communities.

Diversity in Our Community

It is my goal to help affect change in individuals, schools, communities, and society by working with people and organizations at any level of awareness or development along the diversity, cultural competence, inclusion, and equity continuum that are committed to positive change.
The people with power often sit at the table and support diversity efforts but at what price? It is my opinion that our lame duck county attorney Melanie Ford is out of office because of her support of racial justice efforts in our community.

Moving Forward to Accountability
The Duluth Task Force for Improved Accountability (DTFICPA) held a community report-back session on December 6 to share the final draft proposal for establishing a Civilian Review Board for the police department. The overall goal of this effort is to strengthen trust and respect between the police and all aspects of the Duluth community.

For civilian review to work, it must have the widespread support of the community, the confidence of complainants and potential complainants, the cooperation of the police department, and a supportive legal and procedural infrastructure. The results of the community and police meetings and surveys clearly show community support and confidence in civilian oversight. The results also show that police personnel are open to civilian oversight, and that there is support for the concept among the DPD command staff.

Improving Racial Justice
The American Bar Association (ABA) has selected St. Louis County as one of four sites in the nation to receive a two-year grant to support a racial justice improvement project. The other three grant recipients are Brooklyn, NY; the State of Delaware; and New Orleans, LA.
A six-person team from St. Louis County traveled to Washington, DC in October to receive training in developing and implementing the project. The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) is designed to address the effectiveness of juvenile detention across the United States by helping jurisdictions restructure policy and practice to create system improvements that reach far beyond detention. I think the time is right to also determine whether the rate of minorities involved in the adult criminal justice system is disproportionate. We will be using a five-step process to determine the degree to which racial disparity exists in our criminal justice system in St. Louis County.

Donna Ennis is a licensed social worker and the regional director of PATH. She is co-chair of the Duluth American Indian Commission, a member of the task for the Duluth police department civilian review board, member of the JDAI committee, a member of the Racial Justice Improvement Project, a commentator for Minnesota Public Radio and a blogger known as Donna Changing Elk.

She says: I am a diversity change agent and as such am tasked with informing the community of great diversity efforts as well as opportunities to improve social justice. For more in depth discussions visit Changing Elk is able to adapt to her surroundings similar to a chameleon. Many people in the dominant culture will not even sense my presence among them as I do my work.

Greener and cleaner for all generations

If our animals are healthy, we will be too

By Rebecca Yaeger-Bischoff
Feasting during the holiday season is a tradition that many of us share. We look forward to having special foods that are only made this time of year. My grandma’s Julekage (Christmas bread) is one such delicacy I look forward to every Christmas.

Holiday feasting also creates some anxiety for me. Being the environmentalist that I am, I am very concerned about the farming practices used to grow our food and the ingredients used to make our food. I am the strictest about the type of meat I eat because I just don’t see how it can be healthy to eat an animal raised in unhealthy conditions: think confinements that force dense populations of chickens, pigs, or young cattle into cages, crates, or tight pens to more efficiently utilize farm space. This is common practice. The pretty pictures we see of cows living in a lush, green pasture with a nice red barn in the background are a form of deceptive advertising. The majority of our meat comes from animals raised in confinements.

Raising animals in such poor conditions also does a number on the surrounding ecosystem. According to the World Watch Institute, “73 percent of emerging human diseases are derived from animals. Raising farm animals in constant close contact has led to bacterial resistance and other health concerns. Concentrated animal waste can pollute waterways with high nitrogen and phosphorus loads, and both manure and livestock release methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide.” The animal waste pollutes the streams and groundwater, creating problems for other living beings, and the smell can be overpowering. Again, how can animals raised in these conditions be healthy?

I don’t like to be rude at parties or family gatherings, so most often I end up saying that I am a vegetarian. At first I got weird looks and teased a little, especially within my family. Many people thought I had something against eating meat, and maybe that I was putting them down for eating it, but that is not what I intended or intend to do.

While I value the health and environmental benefits of eating a vegetarian meal, I do think humans were made it eat meat. Other animals do, so why not us? I just want to make sure that the animal that gave its life for my meal was treated humanely while it was alive. Not only is that the proper way to treat another living being, but it also makes for a meal that is healthy for me and better for the environment.