By Kathy Kullberg
With summer here and most of us itching to get rid of cabin fever, some of our residents are able to get their hands dirty and create green space with visions of ripe tomatoes, peppers, and lettuces dancing in their dreams. They will plant a Victory Garden. When the world achieves a victory over COVID-19 -- what a sweet taste that victory would also be.
Victory gardens, however, are nothing new. With the world at war in the 1940s and all manufactured goods dedicated to the war effort, factories and farms were put on high alert to deliver their production for the boys overseas. Gasoline, electricity, and food were in short supply at home and oftentimes rationed. This made it imperative for those at home to plant and share what they could with family, friends, and neighbors.
Going further back in time in our city, the first Great War forced additional sacrifices. The Victory Garden was officially born as a result of severe shortages during this war and exacerbated during the flu pandemic of 1918. Families were challenged to grow produce for themselves and others. Many raised chickens for eggs and meat in backyards.
One of our own Wedge women became the face of the original Victory Garden project through the public school system. In the late nineteenth century, while school gardens as a medium of education were a very old idea throughout Europe, in America, the idea of gardens as a vehicle of dispensing knowledge and food never took hold. At least not until a Minneapolis school principal, Mary Delia LaRue, formulated a project for the Pierce school located at Fillmore Avenue and Broadway.
LaRue led the way, beginning in 1899, for Minneapolis schools to cultivate gardens for the purpose of teaching the principles of horticulture. Beyond that goal, the children learned about the interdependence of man, plants, insects, and birds in the cycle of life. The program was so successful that soon the school board expanded the project throughout the district. This garden model concept, developed by LaRue, soon spread throughout the United States. But the Pierce School became the first in the country to claim recognition for the program. By 1910, the Minneapolis schools project was going strong, with Mrs. LaRue still at the helm. It continued to serve as a model for school and homegrown gardens throughout WWI as well.
Mary LaRue was recognized not only for her gardening achievements throughout her lifetime. Foremost an educator, she also founded and served as President of the Society of Citizenship, an organization that taught the principles of good government and patriotism to native and foreign-born groups. She took an active part in the Americanization work of women’s clubs, churches, and schools. Up until her death in 1942, she lectured throughout the country, sharing her love of the land and her values for education.
When she lived in Lowry Hill East, her home was shared with her daughters at 2710-16 Girard Avenue South. She was born as Mary Delia Woodruff in 1858 in Elgin, Minnesota. She married George S. LaRue, a noted speaker and educator, in 1879, but was widowed in 1888 when her husband suddenly died from pneumonia while on a speaking tour in Iowa. The couple had three daughters, Blanche, Beth, and Isabelle, who were raised in Minneapolis while their mother became a beloved schoolteacher and principal. Mary Delia LaRue died on August 27, 1942 and is buried in her hometown of Plainview, Minnesota, alongside her husband. But LaRue’s Victory Garden legacy lives on. Once again, we are in a new era and challenged to find new sources for sustenance. Plant a Victory Garden this year and remember, it all started with Mary LaRue at an elementary school in Minneapolis.
June 5, 2020
Dear Mayor Frey and the Minneapolis City Council,
In the wake of the horrific murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police officers, and in light of the continued brutalization of black and brown people at the hands of those sworn to defend the peace, we request that city leaders take these immediate steps:
1) Radically transform the collective bargaining process between MPD and the Minneapolis Police Federation so that the community is at the table as a bargaining partner. The City Council has the authority to name one or more community organizations as interested parties in the contract, and we ask that the Council exercise this authority immediately so that it applies to ongoing negotiations over the current open contract.
2) Remove management from the MPD bargaining unit of the Minneapolis Police Federation. Lieutenants like Bob Kroll are management, not labor, and have no place in the bargaining unit. Mixing management and labor in contract negotiations creates systemic problems that allow for the continuation of bad practices. We must do more than replace one leader of policing status quo with another.
3) Do what is possible locally, and petition the state executive, legislative, and judicial branches to nullify current arbitration precedent and practices that shield cops from accountability for misconduct and start anew.
4) Push for a commitment from the Governor that some form of state receivership is put in place to protect us from police misbehavior. During this unprecedented crisis, sparked by extraordinary police misconduct, many police officers continue to abuse their power even while the world watches -- they have racially profiled journalists, tear gassed peaceful protestors, and shot paint canisters at residents sitting on their front porches. These continued abusive behaviors are traumatizing and make us frightened of what happens when national media attention turns away.
5) Ban the use of chokeholds and strangleholds, require the exhaustion of all alternatives before shooting, ban shooting at moving vehicles, and require comprehensive reporting for all uses of force regardless of whether they result in injury.
6) Ban the use of rubber bullets (or its equivalent). Ban the use of tear gas (or other equivalents) against peaceful protestors.
7) Establish an ordinance mandating clear identification for private security.
8) Provide resources to neighborhood associations and community groups to implement non-militarized safety initiatives including programs such as neighborhood-wide implicit bias and conflict resolution trainings, on-call drug and mental health crisis teams, and data and network support for neighborhoods experimenting with digital platforms that connect neighbors to each other and to other community safety resources.
Since the start of this state of emergency brought on by the murder of George Floyd, our neighborhood community has been at the front lines of protests and in providing aid. We are very humbled and inspired by the immediate and unequivocal response of solidarity and support by our local businesses and residents. LHENA has worked to provide a channel of communication for providing aid through all our social media outlets, and after it became apparent that provocateurs had arrived to co-opt the revolution for racial justice, we created an online neighborhood watch of 850 people that has now transformed into a solidarity network. The ethos of this network is adamantly anti-racist and will not simply reproduce the biases and aggressions of the status quo. The Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association and our Wedge community partners pledge our support in working as agents of transformation so that as neighbors, residents, and local businesses we can become better stewards of the safety and well-being of all our neighbors and bring about racial justice and healing.
Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association
Morgan Luzier and Josh Wilken-Smith
LynLake Business Association
MPD Chief Arrandondo
Scott Dibble, MN Senate District 61
Frank Hornstein, MN House District 61A
To those of you who donated to LHENA these past few days to help our community rebuild - physically, mentally, spiritually - thank you from the bottom of our hearts. There are neighbors volunteering their time this very minute to help uplift families, livelihoods, and voices. The Wedge community is incredibly inspiring. It always has been, and continues to be.
You know the powerful feeling you've felt in your chest over the past nine days? The raw emotion? That urge to act? To reflect? Don't lose sight of those feelings. Ever. Carry them with you always.
We implore you to write to an elected official, champion a cause, donate your time/money (there are MANY great organizations in Mpls), run an errand for a neighbor, support Black-owned businesses, get out of your comfort zone, run for a board, express yourself creatively. Bottom line: we are all capable of making a difference. None of us are truly free unless we all are.
LHENA is but one organization in this city putting in work to support our communities. None of us have all the answers or resources, and many are working collaboratively to meet people where they're at in this time of need and transformation. All of us are listening, adapting, reflecting, and pushing for a more equitable Minneapolis.
We hope you're able to rest, be with loved ones, and find some peace tonight.
LHENA Executive Director