Lars Christiansen discusses Friendly Streets Initiative

Lars ChristiansenAssociate Professor Lars Christiansen teaches courses in Augsburg’s Department of Sociology and Urban Studies Program. Christiansen puts his scholarship into practice as director of the Friendly Streets Initiative, a St. Paul-based organization that facilitates community organizing through creative public engagement events. The group aims to help communities envision positive change to public spaces, collect and analyze data, and assist neighbors in navigating city planning processes.

Christiansen described the successes of the Friendly Streets Initiative to author Jay Walljasper for a chapter of the new book, “America’s Walking Renaissance: How cities, suburbs, and towns are getting back on their feet.” Walljasper serves as a senior fellow in Augsburg’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, and his writing explores how new ideas in urban planning, tourism, community development, sustainability, politics and culture can improve citizens’ lives.

An excerpt from “America’s Walking Renaissance” was published by MinnPost and included a photo of Darius Gray ’15, a community organizer with FSI.

Read, “Friendly Streets: Bottom-up St. Paul project changes the way people look at their city” on the MinnPost site.

 

Bill Green lends historical perspective to Black Lives Matter media coverage

Summer 2016 Pinterest6

What does it mean to matter?  What does it look like to matter?

With the Black Lives Matter movement, questions of racial equity have ignited important—and difficult—conversations in communities and courtrooms, on political campaign trails, and at college campuses.

Augsburg College Professor William “Bill” Green studies and writes about Minnesota history and law. He teaches U.S. Civil Rights subject matter, and he recently has been called upon to share his expertise on these topics to assist media outlets covering Black Lives Matter news in the Twin Cities.

Green was quoted in a Minnesota Public Radio article that examined the roles non-black activists play in furthering the Black Lives Matter movement’s agenda.

In the article, “Allies on the front lines: Black Lives Matter’s non-black activists,” Green used the history of the Civil Rights movement to analyze current demonstrations and protests. He also discussed the ways “protest fatigue” could impact the movement’s progression.

On August 5, Green also appeared on Twin Cities Public Television’s “Almanac” program where he provided a comparison between contemporary protests or demonstrations and those occurring decades — perhaps even centuries — earlier. Green explained that the tactic of making a public display can be useful when a group is seeking to meet a particular goal.

“The trick with the demonstrations, of course, is somehow helping society turn the corner so that … a community doesn’t feel the need to resort to desperate measures,” he said.

The interview with cohosts Cathy Wurzer and Eric Eskola is available on the TPT website and begins at the 31:55 minute mark.

Green’s comprehensive knowledge of Minnesota history has been cultivated over decades, and his latest book, “Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865-1912” chronicles conditions for African-Americans in Minnesota in the half-century following the Civil War. The publication picks up where his previous book, “A Peculiar Imbalance: The Fall and Rise of Racial Equality in Minnesota, 1837-1869,” left off. Green spoke with MinnPost about the publication, describing his interest in state history.

“The history [of Minnesota] is amazing, particularly when you look at who was here before statehood and how they interacted with each other,” he said. “I found that we were lacking a good accounting of the black people who were part of that history. Most of them didn’t leave a written record, which looks like they had nothing to say, but of course they did. They were part of this experience.”

The Minnesota Book Awards honored Green and “Degrees of Freedom” with the 2016 Hognander Minnesota History Award.

Michael Lansing writes for MinnPost

Michael Lansing, associate professor and History Department chair, recently penned an article comparing the United States’ contemporary political landscape with periods in the late 1960s and late 1970s.

Lansing is a historian of the modern United States, and his research focuses on political history, environmental history, and other topics. In his Community Voices commentary, Lansing argued that the state of American democracy and milestones occurring in 1979 are similar to current events.

Read, “To understand this summer, look not to 1968 but to ’79” on the MinnPost site.

 

Andy Aoki discusses influence of vice presidential picks

Andy Aoki
Andy Aoki

WCCO TV recently sought counsel from Andy Aoki, professor and department chair of political science at Augsburg College, to answer a question about how much a presidential candidate’s vice president selection influences voters.

“How Much Does The Vice President Pick Matter?” was the focus of the recent Good Question segment.

Aoki provided a straightforward answer.

“It doesn’t usually matter a lot,” he said. “The vice presidents tend to get a lot less attention, so it’s not that easy for people to make their pick based on them because you don’t know much about them.

Read and watch the Good Question segment on the WCCO site.

Stadium expert Kristin Anderson speaks with
Star Tribune

Kristin Anderson gives tours and presentations at Target Field focusing on architecture, sustainability issues, and art at the ballpark.

At Augsburg College, Kristin Anderson teaches courses on the history of art and architecture, and she’s prepared to talk about works ranging from the Mona Lisa to the Metrodome.

Anderson’s current writing and research are focused on sports architecture, and she is co-authoring a book on the history of athletic facilities in the Twin Cities.

Minneapolis’ new U.S. Bank Stadium is scheduled to open its doors to the public following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 22, and Anderson offered an explanation in the Star Tribune as to why the facility’s design needed to be bold.

“Every sports broadcast will open with a view of the stadium, the skyline shot, the establishing view of the city,” she said. “If it weren’t distinctive or if it were ugly like the Metrodome, that’s not the statement you want to make.”

Read, “As stadium opens, Vikings and city sail into new era” on the Star Tribune website.

Andy Aoki discusses international politics with WCCO-TV

AokiAndy Aoki, professor and department chair of political science at Augsburg College, recently spoke with WCCO-TV about the implications of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, a move now referred to as “Brexit.”

Aoki noted that visitors to the United Kingdom may benefit from the devaluation of the pound, but Britain’s unexpected political move also had far-reaching negative effects on financial markets around the globe.

“If you’re going this summer, you’ve kind of hit the lottery because the pound doesn’t look to recover much in the near future,” Aoki told reporter Rachel Slavik.

Economic and immigration issues were in the spotlight as the British debated whether or not to pull out of the European Union, and Aoki also provided Slavik with background on how these issues are influencing the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.

Watch, “UK’s ‘Brexit’ Decision Could Have Worldwide Impact” on the WCCO website.

Kristin Anderson discusses new football stadium, history of athletic facilities in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Kristin Anderson — a sports architecture expert, Augsburg College archivist, and art history professor — recently spoke with Minnesota Public Radio host Cathy Wurzer about the Twin Cities’ athletic stadium history.

The Vikings football franchises’ new U.S. Bank Stadium will celebrate its grand opening in approximately one month, and Anderson provided context on how the facility continues some local legacies while innovating in other regards.

Listen to, “U.S. Bank Stadium marks a new chapter in stadium history” on the MPR website to learn more.

Augsburg creative writing mentor Neal Karlen describes connection to Prince in Star Tribune column

Minneapolis Star Tribune - logoNeal Karlen, a mentor in Augsburg College’s Master of Arts in Creative Writing program, described the unlikely friendship he developed with music icon Prince in a recent Star Tribune column. Karlen is among an elite group of writers granted in-depth interviews with Prince in the mid-1980s. Over time, discussions between the print writer and the songwriter developed into something akin to friendship, according Karlen.

“I always told Prince I knew he really didn’t consider me a friend, but as one of the few people in Minneapolis who was probably awake, like he always was, in the middle of the night, and was ‘Willing and Able,’ as my favorite song of his is titled, to talk about loneliness and death,” Karlen wrote.

“I even rubbed it in, in the opening of my second Rolling Stone cover story on Prince, published in 1990.

‘The phone rings at 4:48 in the morning,'”

Read: Letters from Prince: A Minneapolis writer remembers his relationship with a lost star on the Minneapolis Star Tribune site.

Kristin Anderson helps explain Norwegian church history

Tri-State Neighbor - logoThe Tri-State Neighbor newspaper recently sought expert input from Kristin Anderson, archivist and professor of art history at Augsburg College, for an article about the history of Singsaas Lutheran Church, a historic Norwegian church in Brookings, South Dakota. The article points out many of the church’s historical connections, including its 1884 altar painting.

Occupying the central panel of the Gothic altar, the image was painted by artist Sarah Kirkeberg Raugland, who’s work Anderson has studied. Among the few women who were creating altar paintings during the period, “Raugland really stood out for both quantity and quality of her work,” Anderson said. The altar was one of the few furnishings retained when the church was rebuilt in 1921.

Read Norwegian church has place in history books on the Tri-State Neighbor site.

Scott Washburn discusses public figures’ privacy with MinnPost

Scott Washburn, assistant director of Augsburg College’s StepUP® program, was one the experts interviewed by MinnPost for an article examining public figures’ right to privacy as well as the rights of the public figures’ significant others. The article examined an overarching theme that probed, “How much of a candidate’s own personal life should be made available for public debate?”

In responding to a question on whether it is appropriate for the mental health or addiction history of a political spouse or other family member to be made public, Washburn argued that sort of political playmaking goes over the line.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate at all,” Washburn said. “The candidate is running, not the family member. The electorate is voting for the candidate, not the family member. The family of a presidential candidate is going to be dragged into the public eye, but I think it’s important to respect some boundaries here. It’s an issue of respect and privacy. The candidate would be fair game from my perspective, but I don’t think family members should be. It just reflects how low things have gone in this political race.

All that being said, if the family member chooses to publically disclose his or her personal history, then that is a different conversation.”

Read additional responses from Washburn in “When is a public figure’s mental health or addiction status off limits?” on the MinnPost site.