Towering over Hennepin Avenue, the black-and-white photograph of a journalist with fist raised stops people in their tracks.
The artist behind this complex, arresting image? Reggie Agyen-Boateng ’21.
Agyen-Boateng majored in sociology at Augsburg and now works professionally under the name Kusi Photography. He is one of seven artists featured in “It’s the People,” a public art installation in downtown Minneapolis coordinated by the Hennepin Theatre Trust. His portrait of independent journalist King Demetrius Pendleton was chosen to anchor the project with a multi-story billboard on 900 Hennepin Avenue for the next year.
“My participation in “It’s the People” is my way of honoring the countless victims who have lost their lives to police violence,” said Agyen-Boateng in his artist statement. “It also allows me to give back to my community in a meaningful way after the suffering that Minnesota has endured over the years.
“Working with King Demetrius Pendleton to capture his lived history in a single portrait challenged me to think about the complex layers and intersectionality of Black identities and lived experiences. This way of examining identity moved my work as an artist forward into new territory. It also became a way to document and truth-tell through images.”
Now in its fourth year, the 2022 project also features large-scale photos oftheatre artists, arts leaders creating programming with youth experiencing homelessness, concert venue staff, Indigenous restauranteurs, student artists, and queer leaders. Learn more about “It’s the People” from Hennepin Theatre Trust.
María Belén Power ’07 was recently featured in a WBUR story that also aired on All Things Considered from National Public Radio. Belén Power is associate executive director at GreenRoots in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The environmental justice organization is collaborating with the city and Boston University to pilot a host of cooling strategies on a densely populated Chelsea block, from planting trees to replacing asphalt with lighter-colored material.
In addition to improving local residents’ well-being, the Cool Block project serves as a template for other cities as climate change brings longer, hotter summers, increasing health risks in urban heat islands.
“Some days we feel like—what?—are we really having an impact? Like, is this really going to prevent the climate crisis?” Belén Power told WBUR’s Martha Bebinger. “And then I think, ‘It’s no longer about preventing it. It’s about protecting the most vulnerable communities.’”
This fall, Augsburg College hosted alumni, faculty, staff, and community members for an international travel experience that took participants to the Czech Republic and Germany, which is in the midst of a tourism boom accompanying the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The travelers visited Wittenberg, the long-time home of Reformation catalyst Martin Luther, and ventured to historic sites to learn about the origins of the Lutheran faith from Augsburg College Religion Department faculty members Hans Wiersma and Lori Brandt Hale.
Star Tribune reporter Jean Hopfensperger and photographer Jerry Holt accompanied the group to chronicle how Minnesotans are observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in the “Land of Luther” in addition to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” given that religious, arts, and cultural organizations across Minnesota are planning special events and exhibits to mark the occasion.
As Hopfensperger wrote, “Luther’s legacy is particularly deep in Minnesota, and not just because of his followers’ enduring embrace of hymn fests — often followed by Jell-O and hot dish. One in four residents trace their namesake faith to the monk from Wittenberg.”
In a Star Tribune story, Augsburg alumnae Carol Pfleiderer ’64 and Kathleen Johnson ’72 described their excitement with the trip itinerary and the ways it reflects and builds upon their understanding of their faith.
The Rev. Mark Hanson ’68, the College’s Executive Director of the Christensen Center for Vocation, was among other alumni quoted in the article. He described some of the ways the Lutheran church is using the Reformation anniversary to foster Lutheran-Catholic dialogue and to make the church accessible to all people.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press recently published an article about real estate leader Ted Bigos ’74 and the current climate of urban living in downtown St. Paul. Bigos owns five buildings in the area and many others across the state.
“I put a lot of my back into those buildings,” Bigos said. With the help of his father, Bigos began purchasing, renovating, and reselling apartment buildings at age 19 while he was a student at Augsburg College. Eventually, he retained some of the renewed properties and began renting them to tenants himself.
About the current state of the downtown area, which has seen many development projects in recent years, he said, “In all the years I’ve been in St. Paul, it’s never felt as good as it feels today.”
Legendary Minnesota athlete and coach Stan Nelson ’43 will add another honor to his career, having earned the Bud Grant Distinguished Minnesotan Award from the National Football Foundation. The award, named after the former Minnesota Vikings coach, will be given at the ninth Minnesota Football Honors event April 17.
Nelson had a successful athletic career at Augsburg College, having earned letters in football, golf, baseball, and basketball. In 1942, he served as the football team captain and was named all-MIAC. After graduating from Augsburg, he earned a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and began a career as a coach. He held coaching positions in Zumbrota, Farmington, and Anoka, where he coached for 26 years.
Read Award in honor of Bud Grant to go to Anoka legendary coach on the ABC Newspapers site.
Lillie News recently reported that Koua Yang ’99, a human geography and Asian American studies teacher at Harding Senior High School in St. Paul, is one of 114 candidates for Education Minnesota’s 2016 Teacher of the Year Award. The award is one of the most prestigious given to educators in Minnesota and will be awarded May 15.
“I am very, very much humbled by the candidacy,” said Yang. “There are so many great teachers.”
The full list of nominees was published by the Star Tribune. Fellow Auggies Julie Swanson ’85 and Aaron Olson ’11 also have been nominated for the award.
Read Two East Side teachers are candidates for Teacher of the Year on the Lillie News site.
The life and accomplishments of physician, long-distance runner, and Augsburg College alumnus David Eitrheim ’79, who passed away on January 1, were the subject of a recent article published by the Leader-Telegram newspaper in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. After receiving a degree from Augsburg in biology and chemistry, Eitrheim attended the University of Minnesota Medical school.
A gifted athlete, the article states that Eitrheim had run over 40,000 miles since 1980 and competed in over 100 long-distance races, including 91 marathons and 14 100-mile ultra-marathons. To honor Eitrheim, two groups of friends and loved ones split a pair of his running shoes and delivered them, by walking and running, to the cemetery where he was to be buried.
Bob Lockwood ’56 was a star athlete during his time at Augsburg College; he lettered 11 times and was inducted into the Augsburg Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994, but his history with athletic greatness did not end with the conclusion of his career as a player. A recent article by Arizona newspaper Your West Valley tells of the many friendships and interactions Lockwood has had with famous professional athletes.
In the article, Lockwood, a former coach in the Golden Valley and Hopkins school districts, tells of meeting legendary baseball player Rod Carew through one of his players. “My player used to cut Rod Carew’s grass when Rod lived in Golden Valley,” he said. “So I went over to the house and introduced myself. Pretty soon, Rod would come out to our practices and give the kids tips.”
The article also includes the stories of Lockwood’s run-ins with Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway and baseball great Sammy Sosa.
Fox Sports North interviewed former Augsburg College basketball player Devean George prior to a recent game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers. George played his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Lakers and was asked about his experience with Kobe Bryant, who is retiring after this season.
In the segment, he is introduced as having drawn “national attention at Augsburg.” When asked about Bryant’s impact on his career, George states, “It was huge. I learned from him everyday.”