| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

diversity : Buzz

20 diversity Articles | Page: | Show All

U of M team wins DOE challenge

“Team OptiMN,” a group of 14 undergraduate and grad students at the University of Minnesota with diverse majors (including building science, sustainable design, construction management and business), was the Grand Award Winner of The Department of Energy’s second annual "Race to Zero" Student Design Competition. The team won for its design of the OptiMN Impact Home in North Minneapolis.

Teams competing in the “Race to Zero” challenge were asked to design cost-effective zero-energy-ready homes for mainstream builders, according to a press release announcing the award, adding that, "The winning design uses high-performance features that sharply reduce energy use, and allow for most of the remaining energy use to be offset with renewable energy." The contest is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This year, the competition involved 33 teams from 27 universities in the U.S., Canada and China. "Along with energy-efficiency, the designed homes must be comfortable and attractive as well as affordable," the release stated.

Green Homes North, one of team OptiMN's partners, plans on building 100 energy-efficient homes in North Minneapolis in the next five years. Team OptiMN made sure the home followed their guidelines. The team also partnered with Urban Homeworks to design a high performance, affordable, flexible home. Residential Science Resources was the team's energy rater partner.

Team OptiMN’s design goals centered around meeting: the DOE’s challenge to build a zero energy ready home; Urban Homework’s mission to produce equitable, dignified communities; and Green Homes North Initiative to revitalize North Minneapolis neighborhoods with affordable, sustainable and quality homes.


Louise Erdrich receives American Book Award

This year, Minneapolis author Louise Erdrich was recognized with an American Book Award for her 14th novel, The Round House.

Erdrich’s novel, set on an American Indian reservation, tells of a teenage boy’s struggle in the aftermath of an attack on his mother. 

The American Book Awards “celebrates the diversity of the country’s literature,” according to an article in the Star Tribune. The awards were established in 1980 by the Before Columbus Foundation, a nonprofit organization, founded by author-poet-playwright Ishmael Reed, that promotes multicultural literature.

A ceremony for the 34 authors who received awards took place at the Miami Book Fair International last month. Erdrich is also the owner of Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis.

The awards don’t involve a cash award or individual competitive categories, the story adds. 

Source: Star Tribune 

Local arts leaders appointed to NEA's National Council on the Arts

Of the three new appointees to the National Endowment for the Arts' prestigious National Council on the Arts, two are Minneapolis arts leaders: Ranee Ramaswamy, founder and co-artistic director of Ragamala Dance, and Olga Viso, executive director of the Walker Art Center. The third appointee is Rick Lowe of Houston, Texas, founder of Project Row Houses.

The National Council on the Arts convenes three times a year to vote on funding recommendations for grants and rejections; to advise the chair on application guidelines, budget, and policy and planning directions; and to recommend to the President of the United States nominees for the National Medal of Arts. The three new appointees were confirmed by the U.S. Senate and appointed by President Barack Obama.

The appointees "bring their varied experience--ranging from contemporary art curatorship, to classical Indian dance, and creative placemaking--to help the NEA advance its mission to support artistic excellence, creativity and innovation in communities across the country," states the press release.

Ramaswamy has been a master choreographer, performer, and teacher of the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam dance since 1978. She founded Ragamala Dance in Minneapolis in 1992. Her work has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, American Composers Forum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and has been supported by the National Dance Project and the Joyce Foundation. Ramaswamy’s tours have been highlighted by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Dance Festival, and the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India. She's earned numerous regional and national awards for her work.

Prior to joining the Walker, Viso was director at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – Smithsonian Institution. She was a curator at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida from 1993 to 1995, and held several curatorial and administrative positions at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia from 1989 to 1993. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. From 2003 to 2006, she served on the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts

Slingshot Guide names Sabes Jewish Community Center top innovator

The Slingshot Guide named Sabes Jewish Community Center in Minneapolis one of 18 “leading Jewish organizations committed to fostering inclusion of people with disabilities,” a prepared statement reads. 

Slingshot sifted through hundreds of finalists, evaluating organizations based on innovation, impact, leadership, and efficacy. 

The Slingshot Guide is a resource to “volunteers, activists and donors looking for new opportunities and projects that, through their innovative nature, will ensure the Jewish community remains relevant and thriving,” a prepared statement reads. 

The community center’s inclusion department rose to the top for its “comprehensive range of programming options that meet the needs of persons with disabilities at all stages of their lives, as well as the way that Sabes JCC embraces the inclusive model as a central component of its organizational mission,” the statement adds. 

Source: SlingshotFund.org 


CNN series features local schools and educators

Recently, a CNN news crew spent quite a bit of time visiting local schools and talking with area educators and advocates about the racial achievement gap, according to Minnpost

It was for a CNN special, “Great Expectations,” which is part of the ongoing documentary series, “Black in America.” The program airs on Aug. 30. 

The project, led by Soledad O'Brien, looks specifically at the education of black boys, Minnpost reports.

O’Brien raises tough questions about whether charter schools re-segregate children.   

Chris Stewart, executive director of the African American Leadership Forum and a former MPS board member, who was interviewed for the show, sees the show as a way to connect people. “It’s like [O'Brien is] building this network of African-Americans nationwide who are seeing each other do good work,” he says in the piece. 

New York Times story shows how local American Indians are shaping the area

A recent New York Times story titled “Quietly, Indians Reshape Cities and Reservations,” shows the impact of American Indians in Minneapolis and other major U.S. cities.

In recent years, there’s been a “largely unnoticed mass migration of American Indians, whose move to urban centers over the past several decades has fundamentally changed both reservations and cities,” it reads.

Despite major challenges such as poverty, “many view Minneapolis as a symbol of progress.”

That is, in Minneapolis, the Indian population is “more integrated than in most other metropolitan areas, and there are social services and legal and job training programs specifically focused on them.”

Also, the city also has several Native American leaders,the story states.  

Minneapolis named a top city for women entrepreneurs

Personal finance and small business site NerdWallet recently released a ranking of "Top Ten Cities for Women Entrepreneurs" and Minneapolis came in at 4th place, after San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
"Minneapolis has the dual benefits of having a very low unemployment rate and an educated workforce," the article noted. "Additionally, women own almost a third of businesses in Minneapolis."
NerdWallet continued with a mention of the quarterly networking events held at Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota, an organization that promotes connections among female executives in the state.
Also garnering a nod was the National Association of Women Business Owners of Minnesota, a very active organization that provides networking and other events. Nearby St. Paul got a shout-out as well, for WomenVenture, which offers loans and transitional career services to female entrepreneurs.
Other cities that landed on the list include Portland, Atlanta, Denver, and San Diego.

Two local writers win National Book Awards

Two Minneapolis authors recently won National Book Awards, a prestigious designation that highlights the rich literary culture in the state.
Louise Erdrich won for her novel "The Round House" and William Alexander won for his debut young adult novel, "Goblin Secrets." As noted in The New York Times, Erdrich's book centers around a teenage boy's effort to investigate an attack on his mother on a North Dakota reservation.
Speaking to the newspaper, Erdrich said the novel is about a huge case of injustice, and focuses on the violence that can happen on reservations. The Times adds that in her acceptance speech, the author noted: “If this prize means anything, it is that small stories in so-called hidden places matter because they implicate and complicate what we consider to be the larger story, which is the story of people who do have political and economic powers.”

Frogtown makes Travel + Leisure list for best ethnic food

Travel + Leisure magazine named 13 U.S. neighborhoods as top examples of ethnic food destinations, and St. Paul's Frogtown got a nod for its Hmong specialties.
Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to 30,000 Hmong, the largest community outside of Southeast Asia, and their restaurants are clustered along University Avenue, the article says.

Also in the area is the Hmong Cultural Center, as well as a farmers market where Hmong and other Southeast Asian immigrants shop and eat, Travel + Leisure noted.
The article adds that other top neighborhoods include ones in Houston and D.C., cities that are home to large numbers of Indians and Ethiopians, respectively.
"[An] open mind and sense of adventure helps when exploring these communities, which can be a little gritty and less accessible than touristy Little Italys," the article's writer notes.

Cities expert shares thoughts on Twin Cities

Renowned urban expert Charles Landry recently spent time in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and shared numerous thoughts on how citizens and developers could make the area into a world-class region.
As noted in a recent article in MinnPost, Landry spoke with more than 1,000 people during his seven-day visit, and gave advice on how to increase appreciation for diversity, view community projects in a broader context, and rally behind small-scale efforts.
Writing about Landry in MinnPost, Erik Takeshita noted that the Twin Cities show up on many national "Top 10" lists, but that we shouldn't get complacent. "So, as we bask in the glory of national kudos for best this and best that, let's rededicate ourselves to making sure Minneapolis-St. Paul continues to have a place high on those lists for many years to come," he wrote.
For more on Landry's visit to the metro and his insights on our urban landscape, check out Camille LeFevre's recent article in The Line.

Minnesota Book Awards winners announced

The Minnesota Book Awards have become popular and highly competitive honors, and more than 750 people attended the announcements about who won, according to a story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Nine categories were included, and some of the winners were: Laura Purdie Salas, for her children's book "Bookspeak! Poems About Books"; Richard A. Thompson, for his novel "Big Wheat"; and Ed Bok Lee, for his poetry book "Whorled."
Allan Kornblum, founder of Minneapolis-based Coffee House Press, received an award for lifelong contributions to the state's literary community.
The award program is a project of the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, in consortium with the St. Paul Public Library and the city of St. Paul.

Korean-American community thriving in Twin Cities

The Korean Beacon reports that Korean-Americans are thriving in the Twin Cities, in part because of a sizable adoptive population.

It studied the Twin Cities' Korean-American population, influential people in the community, local programs, and "hotspots."

The story states that "The booming population of Koreans in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, and in Minnesota in general, is due not only to a vast number of immigrants, but also to adoptees from the Motherland--the latter of which is estimated to comprise 50% of the state’s rich Korean population."

Northside social-service startup awarded $28 million federal grant

Northside Achievement Zone, a joint initiative of the public schools and social service agencies in North Minneapolis aimed at boosting the academic achievement of thousands of neighborhood kids, has received a $28 million implementation grant from the federal government, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

The money, from the Department of Education's Promise Neighborhood Program, will help the NAZ scale up its school-and-community work, which focuses on helping both students and families via "connectors"--mentor/coach/facilitators who assist students with schoolwork and families with issues like housing. The program is modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City.

According to NAZ CEO Sondra Samuels, who is quoted in the piece, the grant will allow the program, which currently serves 150 families, to grow exponentially. "We have about 2,000 families and about 5,500 children that make up the Northside Achievement Zone," she says, "and we want to get to as many families and kids as we possibly can."

Utne Reader names Representative Keith Ellison as one of 25 visionaries for 2011

U.S. Representative Keith Ellison was recently named by the Utne Reader as one of 25 visionaries from around the world who "don't just concoct great ideas but also act on them."

"These people also have delivered hope and renewed faith and tangible improvements to the lives of millions, the Utne reads.

The magazine describes Ellison as someone who is "A make-no-apologies progressive surrounded by a party of 'moderates.'" and adds that "the nation's first Muslim congressman believes true justice begins with tolerance--cultural, racial, and religious."  

Local author featured in New York Times Sunday Book Review

The novel “Crossbones,” from Somali author Nuruddin Farah, who lives part of the year in Minneapolis, is featured in a recent issue of the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

“Some in the media may paint Somali pirates as womanizers with lavish tastes and an eye for Nairobi real estate, but Nuruddin Farah exposes the shallowness of such depictions in his 11th novel,” the review states.

One of the book’s central characters is a New York-based war correspondent who is part Somali and part Malaysian. With the help of his father-in-law, he embarks on an international journey to track down his teenage nephew who has left Minnesota to join the militant Islamic group al-Shabab.

Warfare and poverty in Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu are also part of the story, which reviewer Hirsh Sawhney describes as “politically courageous and often gripping.”

Sawhney writes that the Farah “takes great pains to illuminate the roots of Somalia’s turmoil in a nuanced manner.”

All in all, the book is a “sophisticated introduction to present-day Somalia, and to the circle of poverty and violence that continues to blight the country,” Sawhney concludes.

20 diversity Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts