Restorative Actions and the power of a single conversation

Part II in a series on Restorative Actions

It all started with a conversation during a two-and-a-half hour car ride in the winter of 2016. Rev. Anthony Jermaine Ross-Allam and Jim Koon were driving to a men’s retreat for members of Oak Grove Presbyterian, a predominantly white church in Bloomington, and talking about things they cared about.

Five years later, as an outgrowth of that conversation, Oak Grove is testing a model for faith communities to surrender wealth in recognition of the historic and ongoing harm done by Christian churches to Indigenous and Afro American communities. Oak Grove itself is surrendering $267,000, or 16 percent of its wealth — in land, property and financial assets.

Organizers hope their model, called Restorative Actions, will catch on with other congregations and secular communities.

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Minneapolis City Council’s reasoning to move and expand Water Yard into East Phillips remains a mystery

The city of Minneapolis suppressed a report that said it would be less costly to expand its Water Yard in its current Marcy Holmes neighborhood location than the City Council’s current plan to relocate it to the East Phillips neighborhood.

Surprisingly, the report didn’t sway a majority of councilmembers.

On Oct. 18, I filed a Data Practices Act request with the city for more information on the report.

I am requesting emails and other communication (both internal and external) to and from the Public Works Department regarding the production of the June 2021 report: “Minneapolis Water Yard: Proposal for New Two-Story Structure on Existing Site.” This includes staff directions, discussion around the report’s purpose, drafting, and distribution of the report, and any communications with City Council members.

I had no inside information. I was just curious about the internal conversations around what seemed like an important report.

On Monday, I received an email with 1,022 pages of documents. None of them helped answer my questions.

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Episcopal Bishop in MN: The church is dying, and needs to die to move forward

Reject division, white supremacy; return to community, simplicity

The Rt. Rev. Craig Loya, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, said the Episcopal church has been dying for more than 50 years. It needs to die and return to its roots in Jesus’ teachings.

The church, he said, has been co-opted by the state.

“The church we’re afraid of losing is largely one that went along for the ride of the domination systems, of empire and white supremacy and patriarchy and genocide of Indigenous peoples, decimation of the planet, on and on and on,” Loya said Nov. 6 in an address to the Episcopal Church in Minnesota’s 2021 online Convention.

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Unhoused Indigenous women’s camp faces eviction, asks for show of public support Monday

Rally Saturday: ‘Justice for Rittenhouse Victims’

Camp Nenoocaasi (Hummingbird) at 25th and Bloomington. Organizers asked no photos be taken inside the camp for security reasons.

Nenoocaasi, a camp for unhoused Indigenous women, is asking for a public show of support during the day Monday as it faces eviction.

Community members helped organize the camp, located at the vacant Speedway gas station at 25th and Bloomington Ave. S. in Minneapolis. The camp is behind the chain-link fence surrounding the property.

Erica Whitaker, one of the camp’s volunteers, said representatives of the city and the property owner will come to camp Monday to get them to leave. There will probably be police presence, she said.

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Line 3 updates: ‘Drop the Charges’ petition launched, new frac out site videos, and more

In this post:

  • ‘Drop the Charges’ petition launched for water protectors arrested during Line 3 resistance
  • Recent videos of frac out sites near the Mississippi Headwaters available
  • Indigenous groups engaged in ongoing Line 3 monitoring, including thermal imaging
  • The Star Tribune’s uncritical eye on Line 3 revisited
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Haiti, its historical and ongoing trauma, the latest call for U.S. intervention, and the brutal backstory on zombies

Back in 2017, I had a fascinating conversation about zombies with author and Professor Zara Zimbardo, who was leading an equity workshop I attended. She shared an article she wrote on zombies. I saved it in my “things-I-should-write-about” file.

I was recently reminded of that conversation while reading an editorial in the Washington Post headlined: Haiti descends into chaos, yet the world continues to look away. It spoke to the latest in a litany of the island’s tragic stories.

And it got me reading articles on Haiti’s history and rereading the article on zombies, spirits which grew out of Haiti and the African slave trade.

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An update on criticism of MPR’s coverage of Enbridge Line 3 and human trafficking risks

On June 2, I published the blog: “MPR fails to cover Line 3’s connection to human trafficking and recent trafficking stings.

The post recounted how four workers on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline have been arrested in two separate human trafficking stings, one in February, one in late June. It went on to say that not only did MPR fail to cover the stings, but according to an MPR website search, it hadn’t written anything about the concerns and connection between Line 3 and human trafficking.

Some readers, including my friend Jami, wrote the MPR newsroom and pressed them to cover the issue. She got a response which requires a small correction to my initial story, but it doesn’t change the broader critique of MPR’s uncritical Line 3 coverage.

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Proposed legislation to waive building codes for traditional Dakota earthlodges, and other news

In this blog:

  • Legislation would waive building codes, allow traditional Dakota structures
  • Buddhists and friends invited to Water Protectors Welcome Center Feb. 28
  • Civil Rights arm of the bar association links environmental racism to higher pandemic rates and other harms
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Acknowledging my mistake, thankful for the reminder

Dear Readers: It’s important to admit when you make a mistake and this is one of those times.

I have gotten deserved push back on yesterday’s blog on the looming March 8 trial of Derek Chauvin, who’s charged with the murder of George Floyd. That post leaned heavily on a statement from the city of Minneapolis about its plans to reopen 38th and Chicago — George Floyd Square — after the trial.

Several friends have written, upset the blog lacked any community voices critical of the city’s plans. It was a great reminder. A hallmark of this blog is that it centers marginalized voices and stories, not institutional ones. I understand why people reading the blog felt I had broken trust with that mission.

I rushed to run a piece of news the traditional media was reporting anyway. I regret not holding off until I could center community voices to provide critical perspective and shape the story. A follow-up is in the works. Thanks to everyone who wrote for getting me to refocus on what’s core to the blog.

Line 3 updates and images: What will Biden do?

Submitted by Laura Triplett as part of a U.S. District Court filing supporting an injunction against Line 3 construction. (Photo by Alexander Aman, interpretation by Triplett.)

In this blog:

  • Line 3 update and images
  • Next ‘Watch the Line’ monitor training Thursday, Jan. 28
  • In the Dakota language, January is the ‘Hard Moon’
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