The Alley

These articles originally appeared in “The Alley,” the newspaper for the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Life vs. People

I recently started reading Ghost Rider, Neil Peart’s account of a 55,000 mile road trip he did by motorcycle to help him deal with personal tragedy. His 19 year old daughter died in a car accident, and ten months later his partner of 22 years died of cancer (although he claimed the real cause was …

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Pleased to Almost Meet You

I stole the title for this column from Colin Hay, the lead singer from Men Without Hats. His song Pleased to Almost Meet You is a tongue in cheek commentary on how people these days tend to talk a lot about getting together without ever actually meeting. The song opens with the lines: I’m pleased …

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Where are our “Leaders”?

For whatever reason, I’ve been wondering lately who’s in charge, or, to put it another way, who is the leader. If a space alien gave me the cliché, “Take me to your leader,” I’m not sure who I would take him to. Many years ago, one of my college instructors defined a leader as someone …

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It Might Be A Start

I recently received a survey regarding racism in the Hennepin County homeless shelter system. The results of the survey will become the basis for a workgroup that will look for ways to eliminate racism from the shelters. Because of my work schedule I can’t attend the workgroup meetings, so I don’t know what outcomes to …

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The Never Ending Tragedy

I’m writing this on February 5, during the first really cold spell we have had this winter. Yesterday was not a shining moment in my career of serving the homeless. One of our community members who has serious physical handicaps mentioned in passing that he needed to get his tent and belongings from another part …

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A Golden Age, or Fools Gold

I try to find positive things to talk about in this space, but I also want to make sure the voices of the homeless and others who come to Peace House Community are heard. Those two goals sometimes conflict, as homelessness and hopelessness often go together, especially in Minnesota in February. The optimist in me …

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In Praise of Creativity

About a month ago, I attended a seminar for grant writers. Everyone there hoped to find more effective ways of convincing foundations to give money to our agencies. During the discussion, someone asked me how Peace House Community had pivoted in our service delivery model since the onset of covid. If you aren’t sure what …

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A Time for Action

Samuel Beckett’s two-act play Waiting for Godot has been called “the only theatrical masterpiece where nothing happens. Twice.” The title, after all, is also the plot summary. Two vagabonds wait in a field for Godot to arrive, passing the time in various discussions. Although a few other people pass through the scene, Godot himself never …

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Looking Forward

A recent email from HousingLink, a local nonprofit that works on low income housing issues, contained links to news articles with depressing titles like: “Elderly and homeless: America’s next housing crisis” “New report shows Minnesota LGBTQ teens and adults overrepresented in homeless population” “Homeless and facing winter in Minneapolis “Homeless families struggle with impossible choices …

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Keep Calm

American society seems to have become a lot less civil over the years. I know bullies and those who overreact to perceived slights have always existed, but it seems as though people now think it is their patriotic duty to accuse others of committing a moral wrong every time they hear something that offends them. …

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