Minneapolis praised for Somali community outreach
Minneapolis, with one of the largest populations of Somali immigrants in the country, has faced its fair share of communication, trust and outreach issues over the past decade. A listening tour conducted in Minnesota’s Somali community last year identified an array of issues that community members felt impacted them negatively, from mistreatment at the MSP airport to a suburb’s rejection of a proposed Islamic prayer center. Andy Luger, the U.S. District Attorney for Minnesota who was sworn in last year, heard these concerns and resolved to fix these problems.
Luger moved swiftly to better the Somali situation in Minnesota, suing the north metro suburb of St. Anthony for denying the Islamic prayer center. He won the case, and the center is currently being built.
To reduce “random” screenings of Somali Muslims, he had TSA officials fly to Minneapolis to hear about racial profiling from an imam who was double-screened each time he flew.
The new outreach efforts also included working with youth workers in the Minneapolis Public School system to reduce suspensions and behavioral problems, and suspensions dropped by about half.
Due to these and other efforts to improve quality of life and community relations, Luger and other community, religious and school leaders from Minnesota will present at a Washington, D.C. summit on countering violent terrorism.
There is a growing concern that young Somalis will be lured by jihadist recruiters to join extremist groups in the Middle East, a highly warranted concern given that at least three Somali-Minnesotans were killed last year while fighting in Syria for ISIL.
DEPARTMENT OF MULTICULTURAL LIFE
BLAC will hold talent show, In the Kitchen with MSA
On Friday, February 20th, the Black Liberation Affairs Committee (BLAC) will be holding its annual talent show, the BLAC Showcase, in the Hill Ballroom of Kagin Commons starting at 9 p.m.
On Tuesday, February 24, there will be an “In the Kitchen with . . .” with the Muslim Student Association (MSA) in the Cultural House from 6 to 8 p.m.
Target Express will open in Highland Park
The recently closed Barnes and Noble location on Ford Parkway in Highland Park will be replaced by a TargetExpress in July of this year. Target opened the first TargetExpress location in Dinkytown last summer. These stores are meant to be adaptable in layout and focus, with the Highland Park location being conceived with families in mind.
The Highland TargetExpress will have a pharmacy, basic clothing items, many private label brands like Target’s Up & Up to offer more lower-priced items, and family-oriented items like kids’ sporting goods, home decor and kitchen accessories, and organic products.
The Target Express stores are about six times smaller than a average-sized Target—the Dinkytown store is 20,000 square feet, while the Highland Park store will be only 16,000 square feet.
The Target Corporation is betting that smaller stores are the future, as the Highland location is one of eight TargetExpress stores being opened this year, compared to six traditional big-box stores.
The Highland District Council’s Community Development Committee will host a question-and-answer session with Target Express at 6:30 p.m. in the Highland Park Community Center, 1978 Ford Parkway.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS CENTER
Wellness Wednesday on Urban Growler, broomball
This week’s Wellness Wednesday will feature the owners of Urban Growler, the first woman-owned and brewed microbrewery in Minnesota. The owners will share the story of how they began their business and also talk about microbrewing in general. Wellness Wednesdays take place in the Wellness Lounge of the Leonard Center from noon to 1:00.
On Friday, February 27, there will be an outing to a local ice rink to play broomball. The event will take place from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. Interested students should email [email protected] to reserve a space.
Eight challengers seek to bring new blood to School Board
Eleven candidates are running for three spots on the St. Paul School Board, and the three incumbents are seeking to defend their seats against those that say the School Board is in need of new faces.
Anne Carroll, Mary Doran, and Keith Hardy, all incumbent DFL Board members, are seeking the DFL endorsement once more, yet eight candidates are challenging them for various reasons.
Opponents of the three candidates say that the St. Paul School District is trying to institute too many changes in the district too quickly. These include giving iPads to all students in the district, shifting sixth graders from elementary to middle schools, and placing special education students in regular classrooms. The St. Paul Federation of Teachers, a prominent teachers union, is refusing to endorse any incumbent candidates.
So far, only Wards 3 and 4 have held their conventions. However, the delegates elected to the city convention from those wards have not been supportive of incumbent candidates. The remaining five wards will hold their conventions over the next few weeks. Macalester is located in Ward 3.
Because St. Paul is so heavily Democratic, the endorsement process usually determines who will win local elections far in advance of Election Day. The St. Paul DFL does not hold primaries, instead choosing to endorse candidates at caucuses and conventions. All eleven DFL candidates said they will drop out of the race if they do not receive the endorsement, so three DFL candidates will be on the general election ballot in November.
Oscars viewing party this weekend in JBD
Tomorrow, Program Board will screen Mockingjay at 8:00 p.m. and The Theory of Everything at 10:30 p.m. in JBD. There will be a viewing of the Academy Awards on Sunday night in JBD, including a red carpet photoshoot and snacks.