Out Today: My Story About The Hmong In Minnesota In Today’s Star Tribune

I was inspired to write the story two years ago. I walked into a Hmong-owned insurance office near the school I work for to find it decorated like my grandfather’s den: deer antlers, wildlife photography, and pictures of hunters in blaze orange all along the wall. In my mind, such outdoor interests were almost exclusively…
Read More

The World Evolves Around You / My Story About The Hmong In Minnesota In This Sunday’s Star Tribune

On a sunny Saturday in the summer of 2010, I walked a few blocks from my apartment in Minneapolis to the Loring Park Art Fair. Dozens of exhibitors showed their sculptures, paintings, and more to the scores of neighborhood folks walking about. One exhibitor’s work caught my eye. He displayed his black and white photographs…
Read More

Janice At An Ecuadorian Orphanage, Finale: Top 9 Traits Needed

She shared about the children (who were a handful) and the scenery (which was breathtaking). Now Janice reflects on her time in Quito with a list of nine capabilities needed to best survive working at an orphanage in this mountainous, third-world environment. Interested to volunteering in Ecuador as Janice did? See how many of these items…
Read More

Deeper Than Judgement

Last Saturday I had another chance to share with others my experiences having others share their lives with me. I was honored to present at the Bemidji Public Library, which generously sponsored my presentation, “Voices of the South.” I appreciate those who came out to learn from (and connect with) these other voices from our world. Indeed,…
Read More

Photo Album: The Natural (And Manmade) Beauty Of Ecuador

In 2009 Janice traveled to Ecuador to volunteer at an orphanage.  We covered her arrival in part one. The wild kids were in the 2nd article. Part three below gathers all the Ecuadorian beauty Janice captured during her weeks there. *** Early on, we went bike riding around Itchimbia Hill in the capital Quito. We could see the Old City…
Read More

Tour And Conversation On A Southern Farm

This was as close as I’d get to a plantation on my Southern tour. (Yes, Southerners, I know you don’t like people using that word. But “plantation” is simply how we Northerners distinguish–and imagine–farm settings around the country. We up here have our Old McDonald, Charlotte’s Web-style farms. The American West has sprawling ranches. And…
Read More

Janice At An Ecuadorian Orphanage Pt. 2: Wild And Sick

In 2009, American 20-something Janice Ruelo departed on a rite-of-passage for her career and life: she volunteered at an orphanage in Ecuador, South America.  In her first post in this series, Janice introduced herself and shared about her arrival to the orphanage. This time, we get to hear all about her interactions with the children.  ***…
Read More

The Sun Will Rise Tomorrow: Try Not To Fret About Today’s Election

“The change you’ve been waiting for your entire lives.”  These words were spoken by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump just two days ago (and just miles from my home) at a campaign stop in Minneapolis. Political persuasions aside, I think we can agree such claims are a bit misleading. Yet the the audience cheered Trump’s words–as…
Read More

Growing Up Poor And Black In The South: Interview With Chattanooga Ruth

They say there are two Americas today. Go back in time and we find more–but not too far back, mind you. Try 1950s Tennessee in the neighborhood Ruth Stewart grew up in. Poverty without food programs, addiction without treatment options, segregated schools: Ruth opens up about these realities just some decades ago. But she also shares…
Read More

Facing The Biggest Problem In America Today

When I was a substitute teacher in Minneapolis a handful of years ago, I was blown away by the behavior of some of the students. I expected some unruliness in the rougher schools, but I didn’t anticipate crying, screaming, and desks strewn about. For the toughest classes, stages of shock and frustration were followed by…
Read More