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Truce Center 10

Truce Center opens in Summit University

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Community conflict resolution center is response to gun violence

Stand out quote from the wall in the Reflection Room:
“Another day,
another chance.”

It’s no secret that the city of St. Paul has been hard hit by gun violence in the last several months, and that the victims have been disproportionately African American.
Miki Lewis, an African American man who grew up in the Summit University neighborhood, felt called to do something about the violence.
He started formulating a plan last summer, and opened the 8218/Truce Center on the northwest corner of Lexington and Selby avenues in December. He said, “This is a place where kids ages eight to 18 can come to learn, to relax, and to figure out how to settle their differences peacefully.”

Understanding value of their own lives
Walking through the door, visitors are welcomed into a room filled with African artifacts. Lewis explained, “Africa is where we came from, so it seems like the right place to start.”
The 8218/Truce Center is both a space for conflict resolution and an African American museum. Lewis created the dual mission because he saw a multitude of needs going unmet for young people.
The center offers classes in community awareness, conflict resolution, health and wellness, entrepreneurship, leadership, self-respect, depression, suicide prevention, and African American history. Lewis and his team of volunteers mentor African American youth in gaining more self-knowledge and understanding.
Students earn a certificate of leadership when they complete all of the courses. Lewis said, “We teach them things they aren’t being taught in school.”
Leaving the reception area, a visitor walks through a doorway over which a sign is posted, “For Colored Only,” a remnant from the Jim Crow era of segregation. Every inch of the African American Museum shows images of the African American experience – images that speak both to great struggles and to great accomplishments. Lewis said, “There is no substitute for our kids knowing the reality of who they are. We’ve got to help them understand the value of their own lives, and that starts with learning their history.”

Space to be safe in
Lewis was born just a few blocks away, on Hague and Milton. He said, “Gun violence always had its mark in this neighborhood, but it has gotten so much worse. I’ve been mentoring kids out in the community for more than 20 years, and I knew it was time to create a space where they could come and be safe. I feel like, if you don’t know who your neighbors are – it’s a lot easier to get in trouble. And there are just fewer places for kids to go these days. ”
Youth come to the center to learn about themselves, and they also come to learn about each other.

Miki Lewis is the founder and director of the 8218/Truce Center. He is shown standing in the Reflection Room, where photographs of more than 50 Minneapolis and St. Paul residents who died of gun violence or drug overdoses line the wall. He tells young people, “This is one wall I do not ever want to see your picture on.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Reduce violence in community
If there’s an argument happening out in the community, or bullying, or threats, Lewis and his volunteers can help. He said, “Because I’m from this neighborhood, I’m a known person. We’re here to help parties mediate their differences, and to get conflicts resolved safely. This is our effort to reduce community violence.”
While the center is dedicated to mentoring African American youth, anyone is welcome and encouraged to take a tour. The 8218/Truce Center is located walking distance from several schools at 175 Lexington Ave. N. Hours are Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m; call 651.340.4081. Visit www.8218trucecenter.org to learn more.

‘We’re in this life together’
Lewis is finalizing the details of getting non-profit status for the center. Since it opened, he has paid the bills himself. He said, “I believe we’re all put here to assist in saving the world. I can’t do it by myself, and neither can anyone else. We’re in this life together. If someone wants to make a donation to the center, they’re welcome to. But what would light me up more than anything would just be for people to come down to the center and learn some African American history.”
As Lewis is fond of saying, “Just do what your heart allows you to do.”

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Welcome Frogtown readers

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

From Editor and Owner Tesha M. Christensen:
The Monitor is expanding into the Frogtown neighborhood. If you’re a regular reader of Greening Frogtown, you know that Tony Schmitz and Patricia Ohmans (shown at left wth their daughters 25 years ago and today) are retiring from the business of putting out a newspaper every two months, and they are passing the torch onto the Monitor staff. We’re delighted to add over 5,000 new readers, and have set aside monthly space in our publication that will be clearly labeled Frogtown.
We are commited to bringing the community together in our section of St. Paul.

Send story tips, letters to the editor, comments, ad inquiries, bulk drop site suggestions and more to Tesha@MonitorSaintPaul.com or call 612-345-9998.


Read past Greening Frogtown papers here: http://greeningfrogtown.com/archive/

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Frog Food by Z Akhmetova March 2020

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

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Tyler Olsen-Highness DSC_0584Sm

Show support for Victoria Theater at Capitol

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen


VTAC Executive Director Tyler Olsen-Highness served the Victoria Theater project for seven years as a project manager, events producer, advisory board member, board chair and member of the executive, building, and fundraising committees before becoming executive director in 2019.

Support the Victoria Theater Arts Center on Wednesday, March 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We need your help visiting our representatives to thank them and encourage their continued support of the Victoria Theater Arts Center (VTAC),” encouraged VTAC Executive Director Tyler Olsen. “This is will be a fun and exciting way to meet other VTAC supporters, and let your voice be heard.”
The governor, the House, and the Senate all have bills in supporting this project.
“Now, we need to ensure that legislators know just how passionate we are about creating a home for community and arts in Frogtown and Rondo,” stated Olsen. “So, on Wednesday, 3/18, we’re going to gather and take the Capitol by storm, so our elected officials get the chance to meet their neighbors.”
The group will gather at the State Office Building room 300 South at 8:30 a.m. From 9:15 to 10 a.m. there will be speeches by Representative Rena Moran, Senator Sandy Pappas, and community artists and leaders.
From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., community members will visit with representatives and senators at the capitol.
“No experience necessary- part of this day will be learning about the process of how to make the change you want to see happen and making friends and allies around the project!” said Olsen.
Governor Tim Walz included $2.4 million for the 105-year-old building in his bonding recommendations this year, as he encourages a significant investment in community organizations that serve people of color.
The center’s Facebook page had this announcement after hearing the news: “Victoria Theater Arts Center is thrilled to be included on this list! How amazing to have champions like Representative Rena Moran, Senator Sandy Pappas, and now Governor Tim Walz for our project. Be sure to send them your support and thanks!”
The theater was nearly paved over as parking lot in 2009.

~ Tesha@MonitorSaintPaul.com

Colorful past at 825 University Ave.
• The Victoria Theater opened in 1915 for movies and live performances, but became a nightclub less than a decade later. The nightclub was known as the Victoria Café and later Casa Grande.
• The nightclub itself was a speakeasy during Prohibition and was raided at least twice by federal agents during that era.
• It became a target of political leaders who wanted it shut down. Some suspected anti-Semitism in the attacks on the club and its ownership.
• In 1927 the recording “Moonshiners Dance: Part One” was recorded there, by the Victoria Café Orchestra. Moonshiner’s Dance is the only one of 84 recordings in the Anthology of American Folk Music not recorded in the American South or Chicago.
• The Victoria Theater, at 825 University Ave., was one of three University Avenue movie theaters that catered to Frogtown children and families.
• It was designed by noted architect Franklin Ellerbe.
Information courtesy of Jane McClure and Historic Saint Paul.

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MelvinGiles_Peace Bubbles

Peace Bubbles for Peace Makers

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Melvin Giles


When you blow these Peace Bubbles
you transcend all limitations!
As you blow- bubbles, or you find yourself surrounded by bubbles,
Visualize & Energize the Circle of Connectedness:
with other Peacemakers!
By blowing these bubbles,
you will be spreading the seeds of Peace and Hope;
which when nurtured, will sprout & flourish!
When used, these bubbles create a favorable atmosphere
that reduces tension & violence in the world.
Become aware of others who are making Peace.

Blessed are the Peace Makers!

By Grateful Wolf (aka: Mary G. Salter)

May Peace Be In Frogtown, May Peace Be In Rondo, May Peace Be In Hamline/Midway, May Peace Be In St. Paul, May Peace Be In Our Homes & Communities, and May Peace Prevail On Earth!!!!!

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ShotSpotter program will help city’s response to gun-related crimes

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Dai Thao, St. Paul Council Member

Ward 1
St. Paul City Council

Dai Thao

As your Ward 1 City Council member, I am proud to continue to serve the hardworking people of Ward 1. I have a lot of ambitious, but necessary plans and proposals that I am working on to ensure that St. Paul remains the best place to live and work. Coming out of the budget discussions at the end of 2019, I heard loud and clear that public safety is a priority for residents.
I am encouraged and inspired by the conversations I have with residents and have always believed that community building and working together is our best path to success. During budget conversations last year, I had hoped to secure more money to provide support and funding to more of our small, local organizations that work directly with youth and communities of color. I am excited that in 2020 we will be able to utilize Community Organization Partnership Program (COPP) money to provide funding to more organizations that were previously being left out of funding opportunities. Working with my city council colleagues has given us the opportunity to bring more people and organizations to the table and really help support the work already being done to address the root causes of violence in our community.
Another key component of this issue that I hear about frequently is getting ShotSpotter in our city. This month I hope to introduce a resolution that will seek private funding for a two-year pilot program for ShotSpotter. I believe there is significant value in including a gun-shot detection program as part of our public safety tool box. If we can track and collect data in real time about shots fired, we provide St. Paul Police the ability to more effectively and efficiently patrol and respond to gun-related incidents.
Public safety is a multi-faceted issue that requires a multi-pronged solution. Funding organizations that are doing intervention work and community building on the ground is a necessary and valuable endeavor. We also have an immediate duty to stop gun violence in its tracks and that’s where tools like ShotSpotter come in. I am willing to do everything we can to demand a safer St. Paul. Lewis is fond of saying, “Just do what your heart allows you to do.”

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