By Sophie Dolan
This story is part of a conversation with Thrace Soryn, who lives on the 2500 block of Emerson.
"Looking back, I was naive but righteous," Thrace Soryn recounted when asked about her childhood in Omaha, Nebraska, in the early 1940s. "I really identified with people in the world who were not being treated fairly. I think a lot of us lose that awareness and sensitivity. It’s educated out of us."
Thrace, who is 79 today, had a particular sense of curiosity that drove her to ask every person on the street then. "Hey, mister! Hey, lady! Whatcha doing?" No matter their race or age. Most of the time, Thrace's perceptiveness was met with contempt. "As a little girl, I was so often met with people saying, "You can’t do that, little girls don’t do that."
By age 10, Thrace found herself reading books by journalist Carey McWilliams, who wrote about politics and culture, from racism to labor unions, which she considered deeply formative. "That did not go over so well with adults. The education I got from his books was just phenomenal."
Ten years later, Thrace attended the University of Omaha for her undergraduate degree. This is where she found her heart settled into activism. Not long after, she found herself on a Greyhound bus with her husband and a few precious belongings, ready for a fresh start in Princeton, New Jersey. It was here where she got involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Thrace and her husband went south to Mississippi to focus on voter registration. Hostility toward SNCC volunteers often escalated into violence. "We were very deeply educated about civil disobedience and how to remain calm and stay peaceful yourself, and how not to react," recalled Thrace. "It was quite a training that we went through. It was very demanding. But it was also essential that we were taught how to comport ourselves."
At the time, representative John Lewis was the coordinator of SNCC. "He was remarkable in many, many ways. Deeply spiritual, profoundly intellectual, and kind. John was very supportive of women in leadership positions. He asked me — which was very unusual at the time — if I would take over and be the coordinator of a Northern support office. I accepted right away."
John Lewis died of pancreatic cancer in July of 2020, but his mission lives on. Thrace carries their shared values to this day. "This is my view. Our job as citizens is to take care of each other, and try to create the world and the country that we want for all of us."
Sophie Dolan is a coffee drinker, cat mom, storyteller, and small business manager residing in the Wedge.
In 2018, LHENA began issuing neighborhood awards at its annual meeting to recognize the good work and dedicated individuals in our community. Wedge neighbors submit nominations to the board of directors for final the vote. Our 2020-21 Project of the Year is the LHENA Food Share program.
The LHENA Food Share program was created by Wedge resident Joan Moser in spring of 2020, at the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. The idea was simple: wanting to ensure that no neighbor needs to make the choice between paying rent and eating in these difficult times. The program is now operated by 75 neighbor-volunteers, and offers free groceries twice a month to anyone in the Wedge who needs it. This means one bag of fresh fruit/vegetables and one bag of pantry items. To date, over 120 households have been served. Over $10,000 was raised by 65 generous donors to keep the program serving our community through 2021.
What neighbors had to say about Food Share:
The way it has grown into such a huge service is amazing, with so many volunteers coming together and so many neighbors receiving low-cost quality food!
It is an incredible project, reaching so many neighbors with an essential need! The incredibly organized way it has unfolded is simply astounding - volunteers in all kinds of categories and capacities that fit each person's skills/abilities - and the feeling of coming together to accomplish something truly meaningful, each of us doing a small (and for some people, like our neighbor of the year, not-so-small!) part, is incredible.
A tip of the hat to all of the the incredible neighbor-volunteers who run this vital program to support their fellow Wedge neighbors.
How to Help Out
Most volunteer activities are two hours or less, on a Friday or Saturday. We need helpers for assembly, distribution, deliveries, and making cookies. If you have time and would like to help, contact Joan Moser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reserve your groceries up to the Friday before. Reserve by emailing Foodshare@thewedge.org or calling 612-807-9080. If you can’t pick up your groceries we can deliver. We can also accommodate gluten free, diary free, vegetarian, and vegan – let us know yours dietary needs when you reserve.
In 2018, LHENA began issuing neighborhood awards at its annual meeting to recognize the good work of dedicated individuals in our community. Wedge neighbors submit nominations to the board of directors for the final vote.
Our 2020-21 neighbor of the year is a longtime LHENA resident and has been helping residents in the Wedge with many different programs and committees. She is as involved as a neighbor can be. She is humble, organized, a hard worker, cooperative and kind. This year's LHENA Neighbor of the Year award goes to the very deserving Joan Moser.
Here is what Wedge neighbors had to say about Joan:
Joan pulled us together in countless ways to create community and address deep yet unspoken needs. She was the lead organizer for two big projects were the LHENA Food Share and the Restaurant Fan Club. Joan organized tirelessly around helping people during the pandemic. She has helped to make sure help is getting to our most vulnerable neighbors and local businesses.
Joan has boundless energy and assistance at her fingertips for whatever you need it for. She can pull together the impossible within hours. She isn't afraid to ask for what the neighborhood needs and figures out how to get it every single time. Whenever she is on a project, you know we're in good hands and she helps to make the time we spend together fun.
Everyone she works with is impressed by how well the programs are coordinated as I have shown up to help sort the food.
She has gone above and beyond to set up a program that serves those in the Wedge community struggling from the pandemic. Has continued to maintain and improve the program.
The Food Share is an incredible project, reaching so many neighbors with an essential need! The incredibly organized way it has unfolded is simply astounding - volunteers in all kinds of categories and capacities that fit each person's skills/abilities - and the feeling of coming together to accomplish something truly meaningful, each of us doing a small (and for some people, like our neighbor of the year, not-so-small!) part, is incredible. She has made neighbors so grateful and proud to be a small part of this project!
Joan is a force of nature! She has brought so many neighbors together to help each other in a wide variety of ways. The food share is the most well known of her projects, and the way it has grown into such a huge service is amazing, with so many volunteers coming together and so many neighbors receiving low-cost quality food! Joan also connects neighbors to help with small tasks, and her newest project, the Restaurant Fan Club, is a great idea to help local independent businesses - truly to support the livelihoods that depend partly on our neighborhood - that also brings an aspect of lighthearted and social fun, true connection, to our neighbors, during a time that has been challenging for all of these things. Joan is amazing!
Led an amazing program that has helped so many neighbors and also started another program to show support for our small business neighbors.
Joan Moser has been my neighbor for close to 30 years. I couldn’t ask for a better one. She is wonderful, responsive, kind and a master cake baker. It’s difficult to imagine us getting through this pandemic without her leadership, organizing and communications skills. Or getting through the park planning process without her.
A few of Joan's many contributions:
Congratulations, Joan, on your well deserved recognition as Neighbor of the Year from your fellow community members!
We're excited to announce our schedule for the Spring 2021 Wedge Lawn Concert series! Mark your calendars and plan to stroll by and hear some great music right here in the neighborhood. We were lucky to receive a grant from the Minneapolis Foundation to host these events, pay the artists, and promote neighborhood connectedness and safety. Eleven of 12 acts will feature BIPOC musicians.
Wedge Lawn Concert Series Schedule
Thursday May 6 at 26th and Dupont (5:30-8pm)
DeTrell Melodies - Soul
Rumba Forever - Cuban Music (Son, Salsa, Rumba)
Momoko Tanno - Japanese Folk, Classical, Opera, Fusion
Saturday May 8 at 27th and Aldrich (2-5pm)
Lisa and Jason - Vocal Upright Bass Duet
Bahubali Featuring 69 - Bluntry (Blues/Country)
Sachiya and Eri Isomura - Classical chamber music
Charlie McCarron - Folk & Classical
Tuesday May 11 at 25th and Bryant (5:30-8pm)
The Red Hot Django Peppers - Gypsy Jazz
Shahidi - Soul Songwriting
Debbie Moore - Violin
Thursday May 13 — 24th and Bryant (5:30-8pm)
Jarelle Barton - Chinese Folk, Traditional & Classical Contemporary Chinese Music
Art Dept - Blues and Rock
Ellie Bryan of Crow Call - Old Time Banjo
The Soulful Uke - Chill vibes and realness