14 September 2008

Obama Works with Habitat for Humanity in Minneapolis in September 2008

Habitat for HumanityFounded in 1976, Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to the simple idea that shelter from rain, wind and sun is a basic human need. Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) works to provide decent shelter and eliminate "poverty housing." Relying on donations and volunteer help, deserving families can have genuinely adequate places to call home; places which in turn foster self-respect and the hope of a better life. HFHI has built more than 250,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1 million people in thousands of communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter.

Obama Works is a national grassroots organization comprised of volunteers dedicated to implementing Senator Barack Obama’s message of positive change through public service. These are volunteer organizers harnessing the energy of people inspired by Obama's example as a community organizer and highlighted by his campaign for the U.S. Presidency to serve by undertaking activities such as food drives, clean-up up after parades, and other community service. Obama works is not affiliated with the Obama campaign, yet there's an obvious harmony between Obama's message of hope and the goals of HFHI.

Energized by their success cleaning up the Dodge Nature Center, on September 13th, 2008, the Obama Works Twin Cities group partnered with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity to apply some elbow grease to two projects in Minneapolis. What follows hints at what transpired leading up to and during the work at the south Minneapolis location (I couldn't be two places at one time.)

Neignbors helping neighbors

Making a house into a home.

While home is ultimately about people, we often think in terms of walls, a roof, and plumbing when describing the house. Saturday a group of about a dozen intrepid volunteers set aside campaign efforts and worked, instead, under the guidance of two volunteer Master Gardeners planning promotes performance(connected with the Hennepin County Extension Service) to perk up the landscaping for a family that had moved into their property during the summer. According to Meleah Maynard, a Minneapolis freelance writer and master gardener who has volunteered with Habitat for the past three years, the Habitat/master gardener partnership began in the mid-1990s when master gardener Jack Duchow was landscaping Habitat properties and realized they were sorely in need of a plan.

getting startedHabitat for Humanity Twin Cities was glad to have the help even though the Obama Works volunteers had come together originally based on shared political goals. We dug up new areas for planting, re-worked some gardens that needed help, and added plants that the family had selected (in consultation with the Master Gardeners) which were donated by Bailey Nursery.
The Master Gardeners had worked with the local Habitat organization to insure sufficient tools, compost, and mulch would be available on site.

time for compost

They had laid out a plan with the homeowner in advance; on Saturday they coached, taught, and helped lay out, dig, plant, and liberally mulch the beds.
It was a cool, cloudy day, raining on and off, but the material, tools, and plants were there so we worked through the drizzle digging new garden areas, a spot for a new tree in the front yard, and then moving wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of compost and mulch from the alley to be spread around the new plantings.

dig it

While I was busy editing video, cropping pictures, uploading, and trying to figure out what to say here, other Obama Works Twin Cities volunteers spent Sunday doing Mexican Independence Day parade clean-up, (and probably some voter registration as time allowed.) If you'd like to learn more about the Twin Cities group you can follow the links to their pages on the BarackObama.com website, or at Facebook. (The national Obama Works group also has a Facebook page.)

If you'd like to attend the next Twin Cities planning and community organizing meeting, it's on October 8th. No experience necessary -- but you'll have a great experience at either the meetings or the events.

There were a few pictures I took that didn't get published here. To see the album in its entirety do that click thing. Remember: Together We Can!

"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." ~Mohammed Ali

09 September 2008

Civic Pride

In early September of 1876 the combined James-Younger gang attempted a brazen robbery of the First National Bank of Northfield, a community about 30 miles south of the state capitol. It went wrong, as has been detailed in books and movies, and resulted in a thousand-man posse and the downfall of one of the most notorious, dangerous gangs of the era.

This is not a history lesson, however.

Presenting the colorsThis is about how the city of Northfield commemorates the September 1876 defeat of the Jesse James Gang each year on the weekend following Labor Day, with an art festival, rodeos, fair rides, bank raid re-enactments, and then on the last day, a parade featuring over 100 entries - one of the longest parades in the state, and officially the third largest gathering since it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to a community that's home to under 20,000 people (and two fine colleges.)

Here are two video clips. First, the Northfield High School Marching band passing the now famous First National Bank while they're approaching Bridge Square, the heart of the modern downtown:
Next, a short excerpt of the last ride by the re-enactment gang riders, firing their 6-shooters as they file down Division Street approaching the end of the parade route on Sunday, 7 September 2008:

This is a civic pride exercise. High School students who could be watching the NFL give up their Sunday afternoon to march through town, attorneys and others set aside their craft and become street performers to lend authenticity to the scene... the town celebrates that by working together regular citizens defeated one of the most feared groups of armed desperados in the late 1800s.

There go the riders...James Younger re-enactment riders leave Northfield
...more stills to follow soon!