Peace Bubbles

Center for black youth opens


“Urban has become the new word for Black. Let us say Black Students.” - Lucky Rosenbloom

“The bonds of our common humanity are stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.” - President Jimmy Carter

“We can use words to uplift and include. We can use our words to fight back against oppression and hate. But we must also channel our words into action.” – Stacey Abrams

Hello Monitor readers,
Once again, I must give a shout-out to TPT and MPR. Great job of viewing First Nation, African-American, and early Minnesota History during the month of October and November. I enjoyed seeing and hearing the stories and information that are finally being affirmed for me and for my Summit-University/Rondo elementary-through-high-school classmates. It is another lesson and example that positive change is happening – or that the Arc of Justice is moving forward.
I have been thankful for the ongoing meetings, events, and growing opportunities that I keep experiencing on Zoom. A few of my friends have expressed how they really can’t wait to when we get back to all in-person meetings/gatherings and things are back to normal. I normally smile and reply that I wasn’t too happy with the normal. I often also express the obvious – that the growing majority of Black, Brown, and First Nations folks have never been happy with the Puritan/Superiority normal way of life. I find it amazing that some folks (including Black and Brown folks) prefer going back to the false and misguided philosophy of Manifest Destiny of controlling and mastering the life of women and non-White people, in order to keep America safe and great. These days, I think people who think that way might want to get a plane ticket to Russia; however, I would prefer that they consider participating in a human intervention and let go of their pain, fears, and hate, which I know is a very hard and courageous participatory act of faith.

And, speaking of faith, congratulations to the Irreducible Grace Foundation! Here’s an update on this fantastic group from the well-known and adored Jan Mandell:
Do you know there is a new safe space for youth right here in Frogtown?
The former St. Paul City School building is now the Black Youth Healing Arts Center (BYHAC). The BYHAC will provide cultural, ancestral, and innovative processes of healing for Black youth foremost, while creating safe spaces and healing opportunities for youth of color. The BYHAC is designed by young people in the Irreducible Grace Foundation (IGF). IGF is a St. Paul non-profit that has been housed in Camphor United Methodist Church for 10 years, led by executive director, Dr. Darlene Fry. Now they will continue to serve youth in the community through programming in the new building on Virginia Street.
The BYHAC will be a multi-faceted center with cooperative values, residential leaders, services, activities, and training opportunities for youth throughout the day. All offerings will have a holistic integrative health/healing focused approach rooted in the African Diaspora. Current spaces include an industrial kitchen, recording studio, ceramics, pottery, painting, weaving studio, performance space and a full gym with a basketball court. Future include housing for 16 site leaders as they earn, learn and prepare to move into the community. A dream of creating a therapy dog training center is also in the works.
• Sunday, Dec. 11, 2:30-4:30 p.m., Gifts that Don’t Break the Bank: Join us making homemade gifts for the Holidays: Candles, granola, decorations; just show up and create in community! Supplies and snacks provided.
Ongoing in 2023:
• Gym hours 3:30-8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday starting in January.
• Sunday Self Care Sundays: 2:30-4:30 p.m. A meal and activities. Sunday, Jan 8 and Sunday. Jan 22
All programming is free. Focus: youth ages 14-24.
Contact us at or call us at 651-226-6594.

And now, a few insight words of wisdom for our transitional Minnesota season.
Since the snow flew in November, have your bones settled in with the stillness of winter? Has your breath shifted to brace the sting of windy days? Have you been able to bask in the still-cold sunshine? The stillness in the air has an essence of nostalgia, it might be the changing of seasons or how we gather for the holidays. Most likely, a blending of it all. Reflecting on the year, you might have a lot to sit with, to grieve and to celebrate. I hope that as you look at your year, you’re able to commemorate how far you’ve come. With warm and breezy fall days, like most of us at the Capitol Region Watershed District, you probably didn’t get around to raking all your leaves this year. That’s alright! As soon as there is an opportunity, keeping leaves and other debris out of the storm drains is a helpful way to improve our waterways and prevent pollution from entering the Mississippi River.
As we adjust to our present moment and breathe with the changing season, you might be taken aback by how fast winter found us. In moments where grief and change find us, collectively or individually, how do we breathe with this shift? In matters that seem uncontrollable and hopeless, finding a comfortable pace with stillness can shield protection over our hearts and minds. Yung Pueblo says in their book “Lighter”: “Nature is always changing; nothing ever stands truly still. If you look deep enough, you will always find movement. This same principle is true about identity. Your being is in a state of perpetual motion. Nothing about you has ever been static, even at your most subtle core there is the dynamic movement of change.” Just as you might have ways of protecting your heart and mind in uncontrollable change, at the watershed, through data collection and observation, we know that there are ways we can protect and strengthen our surrounding waterbodies. Protecting freshwater, not only comes from watersheds but can be done through residents and business owners, too!
If you’re new to Minnesota or have been here for a while, your shoes could be a telltale sign that we’ve arrived in the season of salting! We all can prevent chloride (salt) pollution in our aquatic environments, by knowing when and how to salt. Though we are navigating harsh winters, it’s important to know, when it’s below 15 degrees outside, salting doesn’t work! The ice is too cold to melt. Knowing when to choose our battle with salting is important. It’s also good to know that how we scatter is valuable too, generally about 3 inches between the granules is all you need.
When it seems there’s less happening in our neighborhoods and when winter delivers its unique silence, we know that people are gathering inside, preparing for the next year, and keeping warm until spring. Similarly, though the waters seem still and frozen above, deep below, fish are still swimming, and turtles are burrowed in the mud. Though the ecosystem is slowed, there is still life there. Those beings and habitats bring such critical balance to our ecosystem. Salt on sidewalks and driveways might seem far from the fish and turtles below, however, there is a strong correlation between our actions and how it impacts other beings and their ecosystem, and in return, our environment.
“The trees before you and the bushes beside you are not lost. / Wherever you are is a place called Here / And you must treat it as a powerful stranger…” wrote David Wagoner in “Stand Still.”
“Being mindful of how and when we salt is crucial for protecting our waters and the surrounding habitats. Knowing that over there is a place that is Here to other beings, is important for protecting us all. Wishing you a safe and cozy winter! To learn more about how to mindfully salt, visit:,” said Maricella Xiong, Community Engagement Coordinator at the Capitol Region Watershed District.
Stay optimistic and I trust that you had a grateful Thanksgiving, and I send you blessings as we move into the Divine Season of Light and a fresh new year!
May Peace Be In the Rondo, Frogtown, Hamline/Midway, Como, and Surrounding Communities...
May Peace Be In Our Homes & Communities…
May Peace Prevail On Earth (MPPOE)!


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