1. A warmer welcome in a colder state

    The Economist makes the case for Minnesota Nice in immigration:

    The difference may be partly because, when it comes to immigration, Minnesota is more like Canada than the rest of the United States. Being far removed from Latin America, the main source of immigrants to the country in general, Minnesota has little cause to worry about unauthorised migration.

    But it is also a matter of policy. The state has been a national leader in refugee resettlement programmes since the 1980s, and its main metropolis, the twinned cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, has adopted a series of initiatives aimed at supporting refugees of all kinds as well as regular migrants.

    Both are sanctuary cities, for example, meaning that police are barred from asking about migration status during the normal course of business. They have also spent money on integration. Mr Samatar’s centre, for example, specialises in helping African immigrants who want to start small businesses.

    Click through title to read the article in its entirety.

    -Nekessa

  2. For Kenyan émigré, Minnesota has become home, but his heart and energy remain focused 8,000 miles away

    I haven’t met Timon Bondo, but I have heard a lot about him from many older Kenyans who live here in the cities. Perhaps, it is time I gave him a visit. The Strib’s Curt Brown writes a heartwarming piece about this how Mr. Bondo came to the states and continued to live here while building two schools in his hometown on the shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya. 

    (click through the title to read the profile)

    -Nekessa

  3. Amplifying the stories of newest Minnesotans

    Finding my Minnesota identity: the Star Tribune’s Curt Brown writes a nice profile of my work on his weekly column My Minnesota.

    (click through title to read the story)

    -Nekessa

  4. This. Yes, this. Dear Minnesota, I hope we beat the marriage amendment in 2012. And here’s New York to encourage us right along. 
-Nekessa

photo via wr3n:
I-35W Pride
In honor of Pride weekend, the I-35W bridge lighting will be rainbow colors this weekend. Click thru to view large on Flickr.

    This. Yes, this. Dear Minnesota, I hope we beat the marriage amendment in 2012. And here’s New York to encourage us right along. 

    -Nekessa

    photo via wr3n:

    I-35W Pride

    In honor of Pride weekend, the I-35W bridge lighting will be rainbow colors this weekend. Click thru to view large on Flickr.

  5. Hard Times. Today, I met Patrick at the Hard Times Cafe in Minneapolis. As irony would have it, he has fallen on hard times and has been selling flowers for the past two years on the West Bank. Turns out he is a Nigerian immigrant with a masters degree in pharmacy; and lost his job two years ago. He insisted on buying me one of his roses. Pink for friendship, he said. 
-Nekessa

    Hard Times. Today, I met Patrick at the Hard Times Cafe in Minneapolis. As irony would have it, he has fallen on hard times and has been selling flowers for the past two years on the West Bank. Turns out he is a Nigerian immigrant with a masters degree in pharmacy; and lost his job two years ago. He insisted on buying me one of his roses. Pink for friendship, he said. 

    -Nekessa

  6. Interactive map: Where are the immigrant youth in rural Minnesota?

    We learned from the 2010 Census that Minnesota’s population became more diverse between 2000 and 2010. There are nearly 107,000 more Hispanic residents in Minnesota today than there were 10 years ago. And residents who checked the box next to “Black, African American, or Negro” on their 2010 Census form rose almost as much: close to 103,000 people.

    Immigrants settling in Minnesota are driving this new diversity, and as their children come of age and start their own families, Minnesota communities will likely become still more diverse.

    via Minnpost

  7. ruralmn:

    Don’t miss this relentlessly charming video of a Hmong farming family in rural Minnesota. To read more about the family, check out video journalist Steve Date’s post at the project page for Rural Minnesota: Generation at the crossroads.

  8. Today is World Refugee Day: Minnesota is home to over eighty thousand refugees. My show last week looks at the remnants of war in Laos: the loss of life and place that continues to this day.

     Channapha Khamvongsa, the executive director of Legacies of War, uses art, culture, education, and community organizing to bring people together and create healing and transformation out of the wreckage of war.

    During the U.S. bombing in Laos, an American educational adviser and his Laotian colleague collected illustrations and narratives from Laotian refugees. Etched in pencil, pens, crayons and markers, these accounts are raw and stark, reflecting the crude events that shaped the reality of these victims’ lives. Only a small circle of individuals knew of the existence of these illustrations.

    Decades later, they were rediscovered by Legacies of War Executive Director Channapha Khamvongsa and were returned to the Laotian-American community. Today, accompanied by historical photos, maps and other relevant documents about the decade-long bombing, they form the core of the Legacies of War National Traveling Exhibition.

    Apart from the context of the covert war, Khamvongsa touches on her identity crisis growing up with the legacy of her parents memory: of a land they knew before the war; and how straddling her multiple identities pushed her towards learning more about Laos.

    A local immigration attorney, Loddy Elizabeth Tolzmann, also a Laotian refugee, joined us in the Mines Advisory Group. She talks briefly about how this organization works to stabilize regions that are left to deal with bombs that are leftover:

    Too often landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), small arms and light weapons (SALW) are left behind after conflict and remain harmful to innocent civilians even after peace is established.

    These remnants of conflict kill and injure an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people a year - around one person every twenty minutes. And the devastation is much wider than physical. Remnants of conflict affect the way people live, work, and play, and prevent entire communities from escaping the poverty and suffering caused by conflict. They restrict people’s access to education and healthcare facilities, as well as to clean, safe water and land for cultivation. They hinder links between villages, preventing refugees from returning home and restricting local trade.

    Check out the Legacies of War website to see the important work that they are doing. For me, one of the thrills, and the privileges of being a journalist, is learning so much about issues that I would otherwise never have known about. For many of us, war is very removed from our daily lives, it is easy to forget that even during peaceful times there are communities around the world that are continuously dealing with the consequences of war. And some of these people are our neighbors are here in Minnesota as there are many Vietnam-era refugees (and other) living here in the Twin Cities.

    Today (June 20th) is World Refugee Day and, tragically, a report from the United Nations shows that there are more people living as refugees around the world today than did fifteen years ago:

    there were 43.7 million refugees and people displaced within their country by events such as war and natural disasters at the end of last year.

    The Guardian has a good run down on the numbers, and where these refugees live today, their return rate (return to their motherland) and their socio-economic plight. Most striking, and unsurprising, is that most refugees flee to neighboring countries, most of which do not have the infrastructure to support them.

    This show aired on June 18th, 2011; click here to download.

    via newminnesotans

  9. Listen to my interview with Ahmed Sirleaf, Program Associate at the Advocates for Human Rights at their International Justice program.

    Sirleaf is a human rights advocate and scholar, and is particularly interested in transitional justice initiatives in the world. Speaking on the ground breaking involvement of the Liberian Diaspora’s (Minnesota’s particularly) involvement in holding public hearings as part of larger reconciliation efforts, Sirleaf said:

    In the history of any truth commissions or analogous bodies—current or past— this is the first time that a truth commission is systematically engaging both the people in the country where human rights and humanitarian law violations occurred (Liberia) and the Diaspora community; particularly in the United States.

    With that came challenges: only victims spoke about crimes committed against them. Fear of prosecution kept perpetrators in the shadows. How then, is the Liberian community in Minnesota, and other refugees communities, dealing with post-war trauma and the very likely chance that their neighbor here in Minnesota was once a war criminal from the country from which they fled?

    This show aired on June 11th, 2011.

    via newminnesotans

  10. The Differences Between the Daily Planet and Huffington Post

    Many thanks to all of you who responded to my recent message asking you to support the Twin Cities Daily Planet by making a membership contribution. We really need the support, and many of you responded generously.

    But I received one response that really caught my attention:

    “Would totally make a donation once you start paying your writers.”

    I replied immediately: “Actually, we have been paying our writers for years. We don’t pay for blogs and commentary pieces, but we do pay for assigned news stories and most reviews. You can find the details here: http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/contribute.”

    And then I added this reminder: “If you feel like making a donation, you can visit our secure online donation page, or send a check (in any amount) to TCMA, 2600 E. Franklin #2, Minneapolis MN 55406.”

    The reader was not impressed: “Guess I just don’t want to support a business model that relies primarily on unpaid/underpaid bloggers, whether it’s HuffPo or Patch or eHow.com or Daily Planet.”

    Here’s the gist of my reply: “Actually, our business model is quite different… “Those other publications give priority to stories that generate the most search engine traffic. Our editorial priorities are covering under-reported stories, and giving voice to under-served communities.”

    Many of Huffington Post’s unpaid bloggers felt cheated when Ariana Huffington and her investors cashed out and got $315 million dollars. We can’t cash out because we don’t own the Daily Planet. The Twin Cities Media Alliance is a non-profit, and the Daily Planet belongs to the community. We get 95 percent of our revenue from foundation grants, memberships and individual gifts, and only 5 percent from advertising.”

    “We operate on a shoestring budget, and all that money goes back into the community - to pay our writers, our editors, our support staff and our rent. The staff, including myself, contributes many unpaid hours, without benefits, because we believe in the work we are doing - our award-winning journalism, free citizen journalism classes, media skills workshops and public forums, where many hundreds of Twin Citizens from diverse backgrounds have learned how to be smarter producers and consumers of media.”

    And if you now feel totally like making a donation, you can visit our secure online donation page, or send a check (in any amount) to TCMA, 2600 E. Franklin #2, Minneapolis MN 55406. A contribution of any size will make you a member of the Daily Planet - and entitle you to reduced ticket prices and advance notice of special Daily Planet events. Any new or increased donations will help us earn a $75,000 matching grant from the Challenge Fund for Journalism.

    Thanks,
    Jeremy Iggers
    Executive Director, Twin Cities Media Alliance

    **********

    [Twin Cities Media Alliance] [Twin Cities Daily Planet]

    freshmn:

    Just got this by email.

    **********

    What Jeremy said. I want to know when the Daily Planet is worth $315 mil. And Mary Turck would never publish any of the tabloid content that the Huffington Post is very fond of. 

    PS. I write for the Daily Planet; and my first attraction to them was their support for ethnic media, who are generally alienated by both the mainstream and alternative press. 

    -Nekessa

    (via tcdailyplanet)