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Read about the 2011 Bush Fellows by following the link to a description of his or her fellowship plan:
|Christine Baeumler||Mary Larson|
|Emily Baxter||May M.G. Lee-Yang|
|Eric Bergeson||Briana MacPhee|
|Diane Davies||Neeraj Mehta|
|Brad Delzer||Kathy Mouacheupao|
|Pakou Hang||Patricia Ohmans|
|Lue Her||Teresa Peterson|
|Tarabi Jama||Michelle Vigen|
|Andrea Jenkins||Anne Hornickel Yuska|
The selection of Bush Fellows involves the work of members of the community who serve on preliminary and final selection committees. We thank them for their service.
According to a recently released Minnesota Water Sustainability Framework, “Minnesota is at a crossroads. To do nothing about our current water management would put our health, quality of life, and environmental and economic future at stake.” Diminished water quality harms humans and nonhuman inhabitants alike. Urbanites are often disconnected from the ecological systems in their own neighborhoods and are largely unaware of how individual and collective actions impact storm water, both locally and downstream. During my fellowship, I will focus on building a bridge between hydrological and social solutions to water-quality management through art.
One in five Minnesotans has a criminal record; due to a disparate impact of the criminal justice system, the rate is even higher among Native Americans. Meanwhile, a recent poll suggests that 90 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks on potential applicants, and deny employment if there is a suggestion of unlawful activity—regardless of whether an individual was convicted or if the person has rehabilitated in the years since the offense. I will work with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe to reduce the barriers to second chances faced by former offenders and persons with criminal records on the Leech Lake Reservation. Second chances are necessary to strengthen and empower both the individual and the community.
My community of Fertile, Minnesota, needs the full continuum of care for its elderly residents. At present, we have no assisted living but need 29 units. It is my goal to use the Fertile-Beltrami Area Community Fund as a vehicle to provide our elders with the full continuum of care so they do not need to move away to get the assistance and housing they need.
Breast cancer patients and their families often face unnecessary isolation. During my fellowship I will expand my work on this tough problem and accelerate the creation, for our region, of a “commons” of peer support, both virtual and real. In that commons, breast cancer patients will find new community-based support groups that are led by trained facilitators and peer mentors who are also survivors. These leaders and mentors will also find mutual support, and the families and friends of breast cancer patients will connect in new ways to help each other learn, not only to survive the impact of this chronic illness, but to thrive.
For the New American youth population that has been quickly increasing in the Fargo/Moorhead area, access to and encouragement in personal and cultural expression have not been addressed in many meaningful ways. This absence of opportunity can cause many personal, interpersonal and intercultural tensions, such as a feeling of disconnection and distance that can negatively affect a person’s ability to learn, grow and succeed. This disconnection has already manifested itself in several ways, such as public brawls between different New American communities. Using my skills as a theatrical artist, I hope to support these kids in exploring and expressing their story and the stories of their community, to give them a marked advantage for success as well as to aid Fargo/Moorhead on its challenging journey to becoming a more global city.
While a major contributor to farmers markets in the Twin Cities and other parts of Minnesota, Hmong farmers are virtually absent in the local foods and sustainable agriculture movement. I will use my Bush Fellowship to investigate the challenges Hmong farmers in Minnesota face in participating in the local foods and sustainable agriculture movements as they sweep the country and the state. As someone who has been farming with my family for over 20 years, I believe I am in a unique position and have the social capital to explore and seek solutions to this issue.
The Hmong community throughout the United States has the unique opportunity to become a significant contributor to the work of improving their communities domestically and internationally. The focus of my Bush Fellowship will be on bringing people together to develop the Hmong Community Foundation, which will create and grow philanthropy within the Hmong community. This new philanthropic effort can serve as a catalyst to connect giving opportunities with the needs of the Hmong community and their neighbors.
From 2005 to 2010, several imams (clerics) in Minnesota used the rhetoric sentiment of the word “jihad” against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, the African Union peace keepers and some of the western countries that support the TFG. With that language, more than 20 teenagers, a majority of whom had never lived in Somalia, were influenced to go back and fight with Al-Shabaab—a terrorist group in Somalia. During my fellowship with partners in my community I will work to reduce the influence of radical Islamists on the Somali American community in Minnesota, especially on teenagers.
Transgender people of color face barriers to accessing a multitude of systems including healthcare, housing, employment and education. With my fellowship I will work with community and national partners to develop an arts-based leadership curriculum that enhances self-esteem and develops entrepreneurial spirit and creative problem-solving vocabularies, specifically for transgender young people of color.
Lifestyle health concerns cross economic divisions and affect every age group, all racial groups and both genders. However, individuals who have limited access to health care often have attained lower levels of education, have fewer economic resources, are from ethnic minorities and suffer the consequences of lifestyle health conditions at significantly higher rates than their counterparts. At the same time, the health care system offers care to these individuals that is focused on acute and episodic conditions and does not address the factors that are foundational to good health. My vision is to serve this particular community by engaging partners within primary health care settings to integrate lifestyle medicine into every visit and to work with individuals and organizations in the community to foster healthy choices by creating healthier living environments.
Because Hmong theater is relatively young in the American world—being birthed in the 1990s—very few Hmong individuals and organizations are trained in the unique aspects of its craft, its technical requirements and its administration. Because of this, theater has been an art form that has not been accessible to and for people in my community. My goal is to create a theater company that not only puts Hmong artists and technicians at the forefront of decision-making but also engages "ordinary people" in the consumption and creation of art.
Only four out of 10 Latino students graduate high school. Because of language and other barriers, Latino parents generally are not aware of what terrible odds their students are up against. My fellowship will focus on educating Latino parents about the meaning and benefits of becoming more involved in their children’s education and on supporting them to become leaders in their children’s education and to create a support network that facilitates their efforts.
In my neighborhood of North Minneapolis, new collaborations are emerging, public resources are better focused and many are working on revitalization. I want to contribute to and build on these strengths by understanding how the development of a community’s social networks and social capital can support neighborhoods in realizing better, more sustainable results for its residents. My Bush Fellowship will focus on uncovering and learning from community-building efforts in North Minneapolis (and beyond) where strong social capital and social networks are successfully creating the foundation necessary to effectively address issues like housing, education, public safety and more.
The Hmong culture is endangered because the language is dying, rituals are less practiced and elders are going to the grave with the cultural knowledge. As a result, the community will suffer unless there are intentional steps taken to prevent the complete assimilation of the culture. The artistic expression of the Hmong people is still vital and a source of pride. This partnership will allow me to create and shape artistic programming as a way to strengthen connections within the Hmong community.
Frogtown, the diverse, low-income Saint Paul neighborhood that I have called home for the past 32 years, needs more access to healthy food, more green space and more natural beauty. Working with community partners, I intend to strengthen Frogtown Gardens, the “greenlining” organization I co-founded in 2009. Frogtown Gardens protects greenspaces, promotes gardening for food and pushes for sustainable neighborhood development. Our key project is the creation of Frogtown Farm, a working urban farm within a 13-acre proposed park in the heart of the neighborhood.
Helping our relatives is embedded in our Dakota language and values; being a good relative is being a good Indian. However, there exists an imbalance of wowacinye (i.e., reliability within our tiwahe, tiospaye and oyate), which is key to Dakota kinship and an interdependent and vibrant community. An intergenerational cycle of enabling, learned helplessness, victim-thinking, apathy and a mind-set of poverty exists due to multiple oppressed generations. While a group of passionate and committed leaders are focused on overcoming this cycle, often we are distracted from the work by our own experience of this cycle. During my fellowship I will focus on exploring ways of strengthening the current Dakota revitalization movement by liberating ourselves from the cycle and mobilizing others into actions of freedom that honor our relatives, reclaim balance in roles and responsibilities, renew our life ways and support leadership grounded in wo’Dakota.
Energy is a universal issue, but it is especially affecting us on a community level in terms of local economic resilience and environmental quality. Addressing local energy issues holds the additional opportunity for communities to gain more than energy resiliency or independence. I will work with communities to explore ways to raise awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency that not only save energy and the associated costs, but also provide distinct and tangible leadership-building and learning opportunities for communities. Approaching a problem, such as energy costs and its environmental consequences or other issues, with a community-based social marketing approach can address these problems while increasing the ability for communities to address future challenges.
The careers of the future will concentrate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Unfortunately, our education system does not by itself possess the full resources and expertise needed for students to acquire the passion, knowledge and mentoring necessary to establish these careers. The new Minnesota STEM Network brings together businesses, schools, colleges and universities, nonprofit and professional organizations, government agencies and community groups to leverage their unique investments in STEM education. The challenges that I will focus on during my Bush Fellowship are to continue to expand the Minnesota STEM Network across the state and to assess Minnesota's current investment in STEM education. These efforts will lay a foundation for more effective strategies toward building the larger and more diverse STEM workforce that is vital to Minnesota’s future.