by Kelly Smith
Local journalists are local. We live, work and play here and care deeply about getting information to our fellow Minnesotans. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, local has taken on a new meaning after our downtown Minneapolis newsroom, like businesses everywhere, closed last March. For the first time in 153 years, we put out a newspaper with 240 journalists working from their own homes instead of a central newsroom.
My tiny Wedge apartment has become my office where I interview most sources over the phone or by video and write articles. Instead of the daily commute on the 6 bus, I roll out of bed and walk six steps to my table. The daily chatter of reporters interviewing in cubicles next to me has been replaced by the hum of construction on a new apartment building nearby.
After work, I decompress with a run or walk around Lake of the Isles or on the Greenway. It’s definitely more isolating than being in the newsroom, which is usually abuzz with activity.
Instead, I haven’t seen most of my coworkers – from graphic designers and web editors to page designers and copy editors – for a year as they all work from their homes across the metro. Meanwhile, photojournalists have documented the pandemic safely from a distance or by photographing COVID patients from behind windows or doors, or by donning personal protective equipment (PPE).
Then in May, George Floyd’s death while in the custody of Minneapolis police spurred global outcry and civil unrest. Our photographers and reporters rushed to document what was happening across the metro area and, at times, were caught in the middle of violence and injured by projectiles. One photographer was punched in the face. Another photographer had his camera snatched and thrown into a burning Arby’s restaurant.
Months later, inside the U.S. Capitol, our Washington, D.C., correspondent huddled with other journalists in the press gallery, donning gas masks amid the insurrection. Someone scrolled "murder the media" on a door while others stomped on camera and TV news equipment outside.
In Minnesota, our newsroom has been preparing for the growing threats against journalists since the 2018 mass shooting at the Capital Gazette in Maryland, where a gunman shot and killed five employees. This year, our newsroom has bolstered security even more, with some reporters and photographers carrying gas masks and bulletproof vests along with their notebooks and cameras.
We also face a growing threat financially as a newspaper industry. Across the U.S., more than 2,000 newspapers have closed in the last 15 years, creating news deserts in these communities. In just one year, at least seven newspapers closed in Minnesota in 2020, including the Southwest Journal and City Pages in Minneapolis.
The pandemic has magnified the financial strain on newspapers, which generally rely on only two sources for revenue: advertising and subscriptions. Advertising essentially evaporated at the start of the pandemic, and subscriptions, for many news outlets, have followed a downward trend.
When local newspapers close, there is often no replacement, leaving that community without anyone covering local city councils and school board meetings or high school sports and community events.
Amid these extraordinary and difficult times, we’re grateful for the community’s continued support. Local news is perhaps more important than ever before, especially in an era of growing misinformation on social media.
At the Star Tribune, we haven’t stopped printing a newspaper since 1867 – the same year Minneapolis was incorporated as a city. And we hope to continue to be here for decades to come.
Kelly is a Wedge neighbor and reporter for the Star Tribune.
by LHENA Vice President Eric Ortiz
Minneapolis didn’t get here alone. The actions and decisions of many people created the challenges facing the city. Solving them will require the work of many people, too.
But before anything changes, people need to start listening to each other.
Imagine if Derek Chauvin had listened to George Floyd and let him breathe. A 46-year-old man and father of five would not have died. Minneapolis would not have burned. The city would not have had over $1 billion in damage. And communities would not have had to deal with the fallout of the most expensive civil disorder in U.S. history.
After Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, the site of his death turned into a memorial to honor Floyd’s life. A group of community artists, Cadex Herrera, Greta McLain, and Xena Goldman painted a mural of Floyd outside of Cup Foods, the market where Floyd was killed.
“We wanted to portray him in a positive light, not as a martyr, but as a hero,” said Herrera, an artist, educator and community member. “We wanted to make sure that his name was remembered. It was a terrible thing that happened to him, and it’s devastating, and I hope that at least some peace can come from this to reflect on a life of a human being that was unnecessarily taken away.”
The George Floyd mural at Cup Foods became an iconic symbol of solidarity for protesters against racism, police brutality and injustice. It was one of the hundreds of George Floyd murals that were painted across battered Twin Cities neighborhoods to memorialize Floyd. They expressed every emotion you can imagine: fear, anger, grief, disgust, courage, optimism and love. They had heartbreaking thoughts and uplifting messages that called for justice, equal opportunity, change and peace.
All of the art was born from a terrible tragedy but offered a glimmer of hope — a belief that freedom, justice and equality for all might no longer be an impossible dream. This time, maybe we really could end the systems of exploitation that have oppressed Black people and all people of color for generations. Would this moment be different than other racial watershed moments that happened before? We still don’t know.
But the George Floyd murals provide a roadmap on how we could get to justice. Now, all we need to do is recall those words, listen to them, and figure out how we can work together to put those words into action.
Art helps people heal and helps people unite, and all of this street art had a unifying effect. The murals were more than expressions of what people were feeling. They offered a path to change.
“It’s like all these empty canvases up and down the street that people feel drawn to express themselves on,” said Todd Lawrence, a professor at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul. “It’s not just murals, it’s tags, it’s graffiti, it’s all kinds of different art that’s popping up everywhere, the emotions that people are feeling, pain, anger. You know, like you opened up a book and it just sort of tells you what people are feeling.”
Professors and students at St. Thomas preserved the murals as digital images in the George Floyd Anti-Racist Street Art database. The Floyd database was created out of a COVID-19 database that had morphed from a mapping project of street art in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood. The achievements and work of those on the margins are often overlooked. This was a way of ensuring the uplifting artwork did not fade from memory.
“Street art in a lot of ways has been marginalized. People think of it as not being important, maybe not even worthy of study,” Lawrence said. “But all art has the power to affect culture.”
The visual story of George Floyd is a story that didn’t just need to be told. It needs to be remembered and saved. Beyond just documenting this art history, two Black women are leading an effort to preserve the physical murals painted on storefront plywood boards in the Twin Cities after the civil unrest. The goal is to keep the visual legacy of the racial justice and police accountability movement alive. Kenda Zellner-Smith, 24, and Leesa Kelly, 28, joined forces to form Save the Boards to Memorialize the Movement. They gathered more than 600 panels and created a GoFundMe to raise money to create a public exhibition.
“So often Black history gets whitewashed,” Kelly told Meet Minneapolis. “But this is a raw and honest representation of what we went through the week George Floyd was murdered.”
It sparked growing interest to confront a painful part of Minneapolis history—a history of racism—and rectify wrongs. More than just a city, but a nation started to look at years of oppression in a new way. The epicenter of that awakening was Minneapolis.
“Minnesota has this progressive image, one of the top places to live, parks, lakes, Fortune 500 companies, but that’s only for white people,” said Tina Burnside, the cofounder and cocurator of the African American Heritage Museum and Gallery in Minneapolis. “Because these other lists come out and it’s one of the worst places for Black people. We need to quit ignoring that.”
Many conversations have started since Floyd’s death. Many resolutions have been made. But 400 years of racism, oppression and inequality toward people of color do not get reversed overnight. Since the killing of George Floyd, the area where Floyd took his last breath has turned into a space controlled by the community. The autonomous zone called George Floyd Square (GFS) consists of four city blocks around 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis. It’s a community that is seeking justice (you can read their justice resolution here).
Eliza Wesley, known to the community as “the gatekeeper” of George Floyd Square, is confident that justice will be served. “God allowed this to happen, so life can be changed and people can see what’s going on,” Wesley told The New York Times.
But the area is not without controversy and has been a difficult place to live for residents at times. In March, a man was shot dead near George Floyd Square, the 12th homicide of 2021 in Minneapolis (one month later, that number has risen to 20 homicides in Minneapolis for the year), another dream snatched and another reminder that we have work to do with a both-and leadership approach for transformation that listens to the communities most impacted by injustice.
The most impacted have good ideas. So do the George Floyd mural artists. Their voices need to be heard. The powers that be need to start listening to the whole community and investing in ideas that can work for everyone. We are all in this together, and we need to work together to find solutions to all of the conditions that led to the protest in Minneapolis in 2020.
Many of those same feelings continue in 2021. They are the same simmering feelings of grief, anger and hopelessness that many people have had for years.
“These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention,” said Martin Luther King in 1966. “A riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
So when will Minneapolis lawmakers and policymakers who can effect change — and all American lawmakers and policymakers who can effect change — start listening? Burning and looting and riots might get people’s attention, but history has proved that the destruction of communities hurts communities. As the Foundation for Economic Education reports, riots can leave a lasting shadow on a city that haunts its economy for decades. Whether that city is Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles or Minneapolis.
The man in the video above was from the 1992 Los Angeles riots. His name is Art Washington, and he became a national hero after his pest control business got looted, and he called out the looters.
It’s not RIGHT what you’re doing!
I came from the ghetto too!
Why destroy MY business?
I tried to make it!
Can’t y’all SEE it?
Washington’s anguish was broadcast on network TV news shows while Los Angeles was burning, the Los Angeles Times reported. When the riots ended, hundreds of people from around the country wrote Washington letters of support and sent him tens of thousands of dollars to help rebuild his business.
“It’s changed my whole attitude about people,” said Washington, the son of a Mississippi sharecropper, six months after the Los Angeles riots in 1992. “Especially white people. I was real negative about white people because it seemed all my life they were trying to keep me down.”
We can rekindle that spirit of hope in Minneapolis. It’s time to start caring about all people and create a community of caring for everyone. We still have two Americas — one for the haves and one for the have nots—just like Martin Luther King talked about 50 years ago. We still have to create economic equality for all people. That is how we can help all people heal.
The journey toward healing has begun, and it will continue. “Healing is an art. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes love,” writes poet Pavana Reddy, who goes by the pen name Maza Dohta. We have to keep fighting the good fight to transform systems of injustice, and never waver from kindness, empathy and love.
So we can be the change we need, and see these words of Martin Luther King come true: “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
At the same time, we have to remember the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, the civil rights icon and voting rights pioneer, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we want a change.” Hamer said those words in 1964.
Four years later, in 1968, she said words that still ring true today:
“The flag is drenched with our blood because so many of our ancestors was killed because we have never accepted slavery. We had to live on it, but we’ve never wanted it. So we know that this flag is drenched with our blood. So what the young people are saying now is, ‘Give us a chance to be young men, respected as a man, as we know this country was built on the black backs of black people across this country, and if we don’t have it, you ain’t gonna have it either. Cause we gonna tear it up.’ That’s what they saying. And people ought to understand that. I don’t see why they don’t understand it. They know what they’ve done to us. All across this country. They know what they’ve done to us. This country is desperately sick, and man is on the critical list. I really don’t know where we go from here.”
Where do we go from here?
Bad things can happen when people don’t listen. But just as bad things can happen when people don’t listen, good things can happen when they do. The days ahead in Minneapolis call for good listening and fair negotiations.
Imagine a circle of compassion, and no one standing outside that circle. It’s not us vs. them. It’s just us. That’s how we get to justice.
Pay attention to community leaders who are calling for justice through peace, unity and reconciliation. We need to build bridges, not put up walls. Compromise is how we will move forward and make things better for every community in Minneapolis. This does not have to be a zero-sum game, where gains for one side mean losses for another.
“We need to move from either/or decision-making to both/and,” wrote Jeffrey Bolognese in a 2016 blog post for the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, when explaining both/and leadership. And it applies to Minneapolis today.
“Either/or pits people and ideas against each other.
Either/or means there has to be a winner and a loser.
Either/or starts from a belief that resources must be limited (a ‘scarcity mindset’) even if they aren’t.
Either/or limits options and by doing so limits the true breadth of possibilities.
There is another option, though. Instead of the two choices offered by either/or, we have a third way. We can choose both/and.
Both/and focuses on the big-picture goals that can accommodate multiple voices and opinions. It’s inclusive rather than exclusive.
Both/and doesn’t place artificial limits on our decision space.
Both/and starts without worrying about resource limitations: an ‘abundance mindset.’
Both/and can produce true ‘win/win’ solutions.”
No matter what the verdict is in the Derek Chauvin trial, we will have work to do to achieve justice for all. The advances of society have not brought us there yet.
Opportunity knocks, but how do we stop preparing for war and start preparing for peace? How do we create better systems for everyone in society? How do we get to where we need to be?
Wise people in the community have the answer. The streets are speaking to us. They know the way.
We need to listen.
Anne Spaeth, owner of the Lynhall, spent 9 years researching ahead of its opening on June 14, 2017! She’s a lawyer by trade who had the opportunity to live in London, England for 5 years. “The decor and food are very much inspired by our time living abroad. The original name I wanted was The Grange because I believe so much in the Grange movement. Grange Halls were important places of gathering and having important conversations. Lynhall is a mash up of Lyndale and Hall.”
Anne reports that the chefs’ secret ingredients are secret even from her, but their pastry chef, Katie Elsing, is “amazing, and all of her pastries and desserts are sought after. Chef Adam is known for his delicious comfort dishes such as short ribs, roasted chicken and delicious roasted vegetables.”
You might not realize that the Lynhall, in addition to being a restaurant, has a tv kitchen studio, The Linney, available for photo and full production shoots! They also host private events, as well as their own Lynhall events, such as the Nourish Series, Wisdom Series, Sunday Sober Suppers, Drag Teas, and Afternoon Tea.
The Lynhall is currently open for brunch on Sundays from 9-2. This summer, they will be putting their tent back up across their parking lot.
If you’re looking to branch out of the Lowry Hill East area, they also have a sister restaurant in Edina, where they will be adding additional hours and days of operation, as well as the new Lynhall Club.
The restaurant has a lovely mission statement:
We are inspired by food, drink, story-telling, community and people experiencing the richness of time together around a table. The Lynhall will provide a multi-functional culinary destination which includes our restaurant, bakery, private event space and the Linney TV studio.
Address: 2640 Lyndale Ave South
Phone: (612) 870-2640
Brunch Wed - Sun: 9am - 2pm
Dinner Thu - Sat: 5pm - 8pm
Afternoon Tea Sat - Sun: 2pm - 3pm
(Afternoon Tea orders must be placed by noon the day prior.)
Indoor Dining Hours:
Brunch Wed - Sun: 9am - 2pm
In 2008, Rinata opened at 2541 Hennepin Avenue, taking over the space from another popular Italian restaurant, Giorgio. “Rinata in Italian means reborn, so when Giorgio closed, we thought Rinata made sense as we were opening another Italian restaurant opening in the same spot,” shared Amor Hantous, who owns the restaurant along with Scott Butters.
The fresh, handmade fare on Rinata’s menu includes salads, pizzas, pastas, entrees, desserts and, of course, their signature, freshly-made focaccia bread. Wine and beer are also available to-go.
When asked about creating the menu, which changes seasonally, Scott admits, “We are borderline obsessed with food and so we're always cooking for ourselves or getting together after work and doing barbecues or making pizzas.” When experimenting with new menu ideas, their inspiration spans the regions of Italy. Scott also revealed that Amor has thousands of cookbooks at his house to spark their creativity.
Rinata’s Spaghetti and Meatballs is a mouthwatering rendition of the classic dish, and their Bucatini All'amatriciana featuring house pancetta, tomato, garlic, chili flake, and Parmigiano Reggiano elevates a simple tomato sauce with a rich spiciness. When prompted, Scott admitted to the Bucatini being his current favorite.
Just in time for spring, a new addition to Rinata’s menu is their Local Spring Lamb Maltagliati featuring porcini mushrooms, fava beans, asparagus, peas, and locally raised lamb from Red Rock Ridge in Comfrey, Minnesota. Rinata sources local ingredients whenever possible. “Once the farmer’s market opens, we’re there a couple of times a week,” said Amor.
While the quality of Rinata’s food is upscale in flavor composition, the atmosphere is relaxed and inviting. It’s a neighborhood restaurant where you can celebrate a special occasion or stop in to grab a salad and a pizza. The casual intimacy of this small scale restaurant is enhanced by the distinct dining environments. The main dining room is perfect for dates, family dinner or a night out with friends. The cozy bar area with high top tables and bar stools gives solo diners and couples a place to dine and unwind. The small room off the host stand offers a semi-private dining with advance notice. And in the summer, al fresco dining is available on the sidewalk out front.
For many in Lowry Hill East, Rinata feels like a second home. That’s the environment Amor and Scott desired and intentionally created. “We truly love our customers and honestly cannot wait to open again,” shared Scott. “This has been a really challenging environment for restaurants, obviously, but also for human beings in general. I can't tell you how many friendships have been made just from people sitting next to each other randomly at our bar. I think it’s really important to get back to serving our customers as soon as we safely can.”
Due to the size of their restaurant and their concern for staff safety, Rinata is open for online orders/take-out only at this time. Dine-in service is expected to return as case numbers fall and vaccines become more widespread. “Tentatively we're thinking early May,” said Scott. Fingers crossed!
Hours: Tues – Thurs 4 - 8 p.m.; Fri – Sat 4 - 9 p.m.
Address: 2451 Hennepin Avenue