Northland Morning Interviews

Daily interviews with a local focus airing at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday on Northland Morning.

Tim Olsen/Flickr

The title of the project is a mouthful ... but Duluth Mayor Emily Larson's proposal is one of three finalists (among 144) for the Knight Cities Challenge.

To win, a project needs to focus on one or more of the following three criteria:

●      Talent: Ideas that help cities attract and keep talented people;
●      Opportunity: Ideas that expand economic prospects and break down divides;
●      Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement.

If you're a Native American or Alaska Native mom, your baby is twice as likely to die before it's first birthday than if you're white.

And your baby is three times as likely to die before it's first birthday.

Jamie Harvie

Without a "garbage patch" in Lake Superior (like the floating rafts of plastic debris found in our oceans),  maybe it's hard to work up concern about the plastic bags merchants tuck out stuff into when we buy something or the foam containers restaurants give us for our leftovers.

Bag it Duluth - For The Love of Place is suggesting a city-wide ban on plastic bags and foam containers, hoping to move consumers to reusable bags and compostable containers.

The Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) provides an economic safety net for 70,000 kids and their parents, and it hasn't seen a funding increase since 1986.

The problem is, the program is what most people think of when they think of "welfare," and it strikes right to the heart of the resentment about "subsidizing people to do nothing."

And it's just that kind of misinformation that an event this evening, sponsored by Leaders Partnering to End Poverty, is hoping to correct.

Lisa Johnson

For most of us, public transportation does a great job of getting us to school or work.

But the snowbank we have to clamber over at the bus stop, for example,  is more than a nuisance for someone with disabilities: it might mean a missed doctor's appointment,  being late to pick up a child or even another day spent housebound.

We wrap up our series from the 2016 Local Solutions to Poverty Candidate Forum with the comments of Jemel Jones, a community activist looking for some changes in public transportation to better accommodate people with disabilities.

Chris M Morris [via Flickr, modified]

Our guest this morning on the Caring and Sharing Holiday series is John Doberstein with the North Star chapter of the Sierra Club.

This week on Backyard Almanac, Larry Weber details the dramatic highs and lows from this past week with a nearly 50 degree swing.  He shares the surprising fact that snow fall so far this year is average and answers a listener question about why the trees didn't drop all their leaves in fall. Listen for details about who is moving about over the snow and of course details about the Annual Christmas bird count.

Rubber Chicken Theater

The delightful creative troupe that is Rubber Chicken Theater does not disappoint with their holiday offering this month. 

YWCA GirlPower Duluth

300 girls in 10 different locations around Duluth are rocking GirlPower these days thanks to the YWCA ... and it's amazing how many ways there are to give back to the program and what a difference a mere $25 can make.

Life House

650 kids came through the doors of Life House this year.  More than half were homeless and for most of them, it wasn't the first time.  And in the 18 months or so since Life House opened Sol House for youth who've been sex trafficked, 12 kids have been sheltered there.

And the numbers keep adding up.  There are 140 kids on a waiting list for housing with nowhere to stay, and Life House has big dreams to be able to help them.

John D'Auria

When Willie Kruger died in an accident six years ago, John D'Auria lost his friend and his cousin.

But Duluth lost a man who wanted to keep kids out of trouble by keeping them on their toes - literally.

D'Auria says Willie Kruger wanted kids to dance.

So year after year, he honors his cousin with the Willie Kruger Dance Competition.

John M. Cropper/Flickr

The Northern Minnesota chapter of the American Red Cross was established in 1915 here in the Northland, and none other than Chester Congdon became the first vice chairman of the organization.  That's 101 years of accepting donations of blood and sweat, and drying tears.

Even so, Community Chapter Executive Dan Williams turns down a chance to ask for donations, preferring instead to make an impassioned plea for folks to make sure they have working smoke detectors.  And that means replacing units that are over ten years old, not just changing the batteries.

With Duluth's housing vacancy rate hovering around 3%, it's hard enough to find a place to live.  It would be bad enough if you were trying to find housing when no one wanted to hire you ... but where would you go and what would you do if no one wanted to rent to you, either?

Low-income Duluthians took center stage at a unique candidate forum in October.  They shared their experiences and struggles with candidates for state and county offices and then asked the candidates - pointedly - for specific commitments and actions on several critical policy measures.

By some accounts, every day, 22 veterans of our armed forces take their own lives.

Mike Waldron was almost one of them.

Until he became - and created - the 23rd Veteran.

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