Community Conversations

Lisa Johnson

Jafra Said is a human rights activist who came to the US from Syria several years ago when she married an American.  Jafra spoke recently at a Loaves and Fishes Roundtable Discussion on sanctuary, nativism and the lives of people caught in the middle.

©Lisa Johnson

Americans are talking about the death penalty these days; Arkansas pledged to put eight death row prisoners to death in 11 days in an effort to use up one of the drugs used in lethal injection before it expired at the end of April. Court orders eventually blocked half of the scheduled executions, but four men – the last one late last Thursday night - were put to death.

Nathson Fields knows more about their experiences on death row than he’d like: in 1985, he was arrested and wrongly convicted of a double murder in Chicago.  UMD’s Criminology Club invited Fields to UMD to talk about his experiences last month.

©Lisa Johnson

Monday night on Community Conversations, we'll hear the story of a man who spent almost 20 years in prison - over half of them on death row - wrongly convicted of a double homicide.

Life - and death - on death row, Monday night at 6pm on KUMD.

Veteran's Day honors the veterans among us ... but many veterans aren't comfortable with the stereotypes they face when they get home.  What if they don't want to be seen as either heroes or "damaged," somehow? Is there anything in-between?

Reyna Crow

Many environmentalists and tribes have been united in recent years and months over proposed mining or pipeline projects they’re concerned post a hazard to our Minnesota waterways.  But on the Standing Rock reservation in south central North Dakota, a quiet, lonely place where three biggest towns have under a thousand people each, some kind of tipping point has been reached.  On this reservation in the middle of nowhere, where about 15-thousand people live on just over two million acres of land thousands of native people and allies have gathered to shut down construction of the Dakota Access

Photo 1: Mathers Museum of World Cultures/Flickr
Cheyenne woman Jennie Red Robe with her child.
 Location: Crow Reservation, Montana
Date: 1909
Photo 2: John Tewell
A black family at the Hermitage Plantation, Savannah, Georgia, USA, about 1907
Photo 3: Marion Doss/Flickr
Prisoners in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, Germany, December 19, 1938.

 

Photo 1: Mathers Museum of World Cultures/Flickr
Crow Woman and Child, Location: Crow Reservation, Montana
Photo 2: elycefeliz/Flickr
Photo 3: Raymund Flandez/Flickr
A Jewish woman walks towards the gas chambers with three young children after going through the selection process on the ramp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Sheila Sund/Flickr

This month's Community Conversation, talking about local reactions to the mass shooting in Orlando, is as notable for who's NOT on the air as for who is.  Several people we contacted didn't dare do an interview, even anonymously, for fear they'd be outed, threatened or hurt as a result.  A year after same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota ... have we continued to move forward?  Or back?

Creative Minnesota

Is art a frill?  If you can’t make a living at it, is it worth bothering with?  On the other hand, the first  Creative Minnesota report, issued last year, says the Northland – that’s just our little corner of the state - benefits from over a million dollars in economic impact from the arts and culture.

It’s a fascinating conversation that needs history to give it context – and out of the box thinking to project into the future.

©Lisa Johnson

Money.  Whether we have it or we don’t, it’s a constant in our everyday lives.  Its presence – or absence is felt as we go about our business every single day.  So why is it so hard to talk about?

©Bryan French Photography

It started as a way to grieve … and honor a respected journalist in our community.

It’s grown to be a project involving more disparate people and groups than anyone could imagine.

Caroline Gluck/Oxfam

Fear of Muslims.  Fear of refugees.  Fear of immigrants – we’ve heard it all and then some on the news in recent months, with wildly differing ideas of how to cope with that fear.

Community Action Duluth

Jobs in the Northland don't come just from mining, industry or tourism;  it turns out there’s good money   generated – AND jobs – in the arts and in the groups charged with taking care of other folks. 

©Deb Holman

Even after an entire semester in Jacki Buffington-Vollum's class on mental illness and crime, many students refuse to believe that anyone could commit violence without being mentally ill.​  The numbers say society is more afraid of mental illness now than we were in the '50s - but here in the Northland, are we afraid because we're actually in danger or because we're just ... uncomfortable?  UMD Professor and forensic clinical psychologist Jacki Buffington-Vollum and Duluth patrol officer Jake Willis are our guests as we talk crime, mental illness and what we're really afraid of.

ashley rose/Flickr

Brittany Maynard gained the sympathies of a nation when the 29 year old woman with terminal brain cancer ended her life last fall with drugs prescribed by her doctor.

Here in Minnesota, Senator Chris Eaton is proposing  the Minnesota Compassionate Care Act, legislation designed along the lines of the law in Oregon.

Despite plaudits for Maynard's courage, though, the conversation is far from over.

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