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Hearst Foundation Awards $75,000 to LEAD Fellows Program

Students sit around a table, smiling.
LEAD Fellows participate in a cohort meeting.

The Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship was recently awarded $75,000 by the Hearst Foundation to support the LEAD Fellows program. LEAD (Leaders for Equity, Action, and Democracy) is a Bonner-affiliated program that engages undergraduate students in public work projects and paid internships at community-based organizations. For two to four school years, LEAD Fellows work directly in the community to address social issues such as education, homelessness, racial justice, and poverty while participating in a peer leadership and learning cohort.

It is common for students in higher education to participate in community-based work through service learning or volunteering. However, for students who need to support themselves by working, a course that includes service learning or doing volunteer work is not an option. Because LEAD Fellows’ work in the community is paid, it allows for students to engage in long-term, in-depth community-based work who may not otherwise be able to do so due to financial constraints. LEAD Follows makes it possible for students with the need to work to make money while making a difference and growing as a leader in a supportive learning community. In addition, the cohort-based community at the heart of the LEAD program helps students to make connections with peers and mentors, builds students’ sense of belonging, and provides a setting to practice leadership.

Funding from the Hearst Foundation will support the pay students receive for their community-based internships, and will enhance the activities of the cohort, which includes twice-yearly retreats and bi-monthly gatherings. Thank you to the Hearst Foundation for their support!


Nonviolence – A wellspring of hope in a world in flames, a sermon with Harry Boyte

Harry Boyte, co-director of the Public Work Academy and Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy at the Sabo Center, will deliver a sermon this Sunday titled “Nonviolence – A wellspring of hope in a world in flames.” January worship at Prospect Park United Methodist Church explores the disciplines and possibilities of nonviolence, both from an historic perspective and as they intersect with us individually and collectively. This series is inspired by the insights of Mahatma Gandhi and the nonviolence of the Indian independence movement.

Nonviolence – A wellspring of hope in a world in flames

Prospect Park United Methodist Church

January 12, 2020, 10:00 a.m.


Prospect Park UMC is located at 22 Orlin Ave. SE in Minneapolis, one block south of University Ave. on Malcolm Ave., near the Prospect Park Green Line light rail station. Sunday worship begins each week at 10:00 a.m., with coffee and conversation before and after the service. Parking is available both on-street and at Pratt Community School, immediately adjacent to the church. For more information, call 612-378-2380, visit

Benefit Concert for the Victims of the 630 Cedar Avenue Fire

The Sabo Center is proud to co-sponsor this benefit, please join us.

630 CEDAR AVE FIRE BENEFIT with THUNDER BAND, BRASS MESSENGERS, BECKY KAPELL AND THE FAT 6, JACK KLATT, AND MORE Saturday, January 11 Presented by The Cedar, Augsburg University, and KFAI

The Cedar Cultural Center, Augsburg University, and KFAI present:

630 CEDAR AVE FIRE BENEFIT with Thunder Band, Brass Messengers, Becky Kapell and The Fat 6, Jack Klatt, Amjet Kemet, Tatum and Tessa, Ray Barnard & Clark Adams, and more

Saturday, January 11th, 2020 / Doors 7:00pm / Show 7:30pm

Standing Show

$10, $20, $30, $40, or $50

This is a standing show with an open floor. The Cedar always reserves a section of seats for patrons who require special seating accommodations. To request seating or other access accommodations, please go to their Access page.

Proceeds donated to 630 Cedar Fire Relief Committee. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.

Can’t make it to the concert? You can still make a donation to support the families affected by the fire, here.

Cultivating Community: Augsburg’s Community Garden

Ten people in diverse garb sit on the edges of raised garden beds or at tables. Some are eating food, others are looking ahead with attentive gazes.
Gardeners gather for a meal and storytelling event in the garden.

Gazing out the west-facing upper windows of the Hagfors Center on Augsburg’s campus, you can’t miss benches, paths, and raised beds of Augsburg’s community garden. While the garden on the edge of campus has been cultivated since 2008, when the plans for the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion got underway, there was a distinct opportunity to preserve and re-imagine this unique community garden space. With support from the Medtronic Community Foundation, design guidance from O2 Design, and community-based input, the garden was rebuilt to make the space more accessible, inclusive, and visible. 

Throughout the design process for the new garden space, gardeners and Augsburg staff centered the enduring principles and goals for this vital community connection space: grow food, build relationships, and learn together. Two young people converse while sitting on the edge of a raised bed in the garden.The garden now has wider and defined pathways, clear plot boundaries, and a variety of raised and in-ground beds. 

The re-designed garden just finished its second season of production. With over sixty individual plots and communal growing space cultivated by residents of Cedar-Riverside and Augsburg staff, faculty, and students, the newly rebuilt garden is continuing to offer a place for learning and building community. 

About half of the members of Augsburg’s community garden are neighbors in Cedar-Riverside and Seward (six have a view of the garden from their homes across the street!), and about half are Augsburg staff, faculty, and students. Student groups, such as Hmong Women Together and the Augsburg Indigenous Student Association, tend portions of the communal gardening areas, and about ten students from TRIO Summer Bridge spent time learning in the garden over the 2019 growing season.

Individual gardeners are not the only people to utilize the garden; this fall, several professors teaching classes focused on food and sustainability are also capitalizing on the presence of the garden. From a history of food class, to a course on environmental connections to food, a chemistry AugSem, and a science of food and cooking class: the garden has increasingly become a laboratory for classroom learning on wide-ranging subjects related to growing and consuming food. Other classes utilize the garden in less formal ways, perhaps holding a class outside by The Loveliest of Trees, or sending students out for discussion as they walk the garden paths.

Natalie Jacobson and Allyson Green enjoy conversation in the garden. Another individual is in the foreground wearing a red backpack, their back turned to the camera.
Campus Kitchen Coordinator Natalie Jacobson (left) and Chief Sustainability Officer Allyson Green (right) enjoy conversation at a garden event.

During the summer and fall of 2019, the garden began to utilize the Food Lab space in the Hagfors Center for potlucks and food preparation. Chief Sustainability Officer Allyson Green, who oversees the garden, remarked that the first session of gardeners gathering in the food lab over the summer was the highlight of the season; people got to know one another and shared cooking techniques and conversation as they made sambusas. This season also saw a student-led storytelling event in partnership with Mixed Blood Theater and food activist, LaDonna Redmond. As gardeners and others are living into the new space, opportunities for connecting and learning with and from each other are growing alongside the vegetables. 

One challenge with the garden rebuild was impacted soil in the in-ground beds due to construction equipment. After the garden was initially built, gardeners were having a difficult time cultivating healthy root systems for their plants, requiring that all of the in-ground beds be dug up and the soil turned. Thankfully, dozens of students, several classes, and a few athletic teams answered the call, picking up shovels and making quick work of the beds that required turning.

When asked about how the garden fits into the overall sustainability commitments of Augsburg, Allyson noted that the garden is a visible demonstration of Augsburg’s commitment to caring for the place where Augsburg is located. By tending to our natural environment and building a place for community building, food access, and learning, the garden is an important aspect of Augsburg’s place-based and anchor institution work. 

An aerial view of the Augsburg Community Garden. A table in the foreground has food on it, and people are lining up to serve themselves.Allyson also noted her hopes for the garden. With twenty-five people on the waiting list, she hopes that the garden can continue to be a vital place on-campus for learning and relationship building that contributes to the well-being of the whole community. She dreams that the garden might be a model for cooperation and learning that can spread to other areas of campus, and even to other communities! 

As a space that requires the cooperation of dozens of people who all have different ideas about ways of growing food, habits of organization and storage, and different cultures, personalities, and life stories, the garden is a unique place for experimentation, building community amongst difference, and finding a middle ground. Here’s to a successful growing season and many more to come!

Sophomores: Phillips Scholarship Pre-Application Now Open

The Phillips Scholars Program recognizes and rewards private college students who strive to make life better for those with unmet needs. Applicants are challenged to think creatively and become community-service leaders.

A preliminary application is used to select two finalists from Augsburg University who will then develop a full proposal to be submitted to the Minnesota Private College Council for the scholarship. This will include a 5-7 page project proposal, official transcript, and 3 letters of recommendation. Staff members of the Sabo Center will help finalists complete their applications.

Applicants must be a sophomore during the 2019-2020 school year, and commit to designing & carrying out a large-scale project serving a Minnesota community the summer after the student’s junior year (Summer 2021).

Each year, projects must fit within a theme. This year’s application theme is “Addressing the Achievement/Opportunity Gap in Minnesota.”

Scholarship recipients receive $6,000 during their junior year, a $4,000 stipend while completing a summer project, and $6,000 their senior year upon successful completion of their summer project.

Last year, 3 of the 5 Phillips Scholar recipients were Augsburg students, and many Augsburg students have received the scholarship in the past. Check out the Phillips Scholar website for more information about current and former Phillips Scholars and their projects.

Deadline for Preliminary Application: Friday, January 10, 2020, 11:59 p.m.
Augsburg finalists selected to submit full proposals will be notified by Tuesday, January 14, 2020.
Full applications will be due February 7, 2020.

Phillips Scholarship Preliminary Application

Clementine, the Campus Kitchen van, has served us well. But it is time to say goodbye.

The Campus Kitchen Program has had one main source of transportation for more than 10 years, a minivan named Clementine. Our steadfast and beloved van (which was named by students) has become too worn to carry out our work, so we are in need of a new mode of transportation.

Vehicles are one of the best modes of transportation. Relationships are one of the best vehicles of transformation.

By the Numbers

This is some of what a van allows us to accomplish:

Six = the number of days each week Clementine is used to transport food, students, and staff.

100,000 = the number of meals Clementine has delivered to neighbors in need in the last 10 years.

27,996 = the number of pounds of recovered produce Clementine has hauled in one growing season from local farmers markets so it could be distributed to neighbors in Cedar-Riverside who have little access to fresh food.


Students holding meal packs behind van
Students on a meal delivery in Clementine’s younger days.

Help us Keep on Rolling

We know we’ll have to move on without Clementine, and when a van allows us to get so much done, we know we can’t go for very long without finding a replacement vehicle. Here’s how you can help:

Make an online donation.

Make a donation the old-fashioned way. Send a check to Augsburg University, Campus Kitchen Van Fund, 2211 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, MN  55454 Campus Box 10.



rusty broken down van
(This isn’t really the Campus Kitchen van, but you get the idea.)



Staff Feature: Natalie Jacobson

Natalie Jacobson portrait


In each Staff Feature installment, we ask members of the Sabo Center staff to share what they do, along with some fun facts. 

This post features Natalie Jacobson, Campus Kitchen Coordinator.

What do you do at the Sabo Center?

I coordinate Augsburg’s Campus Kitchen program, which works to make healthy food accessible in Cedar-Riverside and on Augsburg’s campus. We provide opportunities for Augsburg students to build leadership skills and connect with one another and with our surrounding community through food!

What is one social issue that is most important to you right now?

So many–it’s hard to choose! But at this moment, the horrific immigrant detention camps are top of mind.

What’s your favorite place on Augsburg’s campus?

Hands down, the Food Lab (Hagfors 108). If you haven’t cooked something in the Food Lab yet, you’re missing out! 🙂

If you could recommend one book, movie, or podcast, what would it be and why?

I love The Mortified Podcast, a storytelling series where people share embarrassing things they wrote as kids/teens. With so much heavy stuff going on in the world, sometimes I need to consume media that makes me laugh a lot. This podcast does the trick!

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

Lately, I’ve been enjoying getting more involved with the Twin Cities Jewish community and organizations like Jewish Community Action that are doing work for justice through a Jewish lens!

What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

Passionate, goofy, affectionate.

What’s your favorite place in the world?

My great aunt has a house in Quebec, on a big beautiful lake in the middle of the woods. Spending time at that house, surrounded by family, brings me so much inner peace and comfort.

What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?

I’m working with the Campus Kitchen team to explore a partnership with Brightside Produce, an organization working to make fresh produce available at corner stores in food deserts. Campus Kitchen will likely be selling fresh produce at a low cost to help support Brightside’s mission. Keep your eye out for that this fall!

Who would you most want to swap places with for a day?

My amazing (way bigger than me) little brother Alec Jacobson!

Urban Adventure is moving to Augsburg and will become Urban Investors

The Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship is pleased to join with the Strommen Center for Meaningful Work and Learning to welcome to campus a new partner in 2020: Urban Investors. 

Twenty-two years ago Urban Adventure was created by Peter Heegaard to provide educational experiences for emerging leaders in business and financial professions. The program seeks to make urban issues understandable and to catalyze investment and community development that moves families out of poverty, revitalizes neighborhoods, improves schools, and builds employment. Throughout its history, Urban Adventure has engaged more than 400 local leaders from financial institutions in its programming. Participants in the program engage in simulations, problem-based learning, and site visits in order to learn about the positive outcomes of investing in under-resourced communities. Emerging leaders participating in Urban Adventure are exposed to the strategies that have transformed many St. Paul and Minneapolis neighborhoods, learning strategies for connecting financial institutions with the community in order to affect positive change through investment, employment, and economic vitality.

With the move to Augsburg University next year, Urban Adventure will change its name to “Urban Investors” which better reflects the depth and significance of the experiences students have with the program.  

The banks and financial professionals who have taken part in Urban Adventure over the last 22 years have remained committed to the urban core. Augsburg’s commitment to being an anchor institution in the region, and the Sabo Center’s commitment to stewarding the University’s many community-based partnerships, make it a natural home for the program in this new phase. Urban Investors will continue to be influenced by program founder Peter Heegaard, who is also the author of Heroes Among Us and More Bang for Your Buck. Mike Christenson will be the 2020 program director and has held executive positions with Allina, Minneapolis Community Technical College, the City of Minneapolis, and most recently Hennepin County, where he directed workforce programs for the region.

Please join us in welcoming Urban Investors to campus! We are excited to see what community partnerships and opportunities for students may emerge from this new connection.

City Engagement Day 2019: Connecting Students, Education, and Community

Students sit around tables listening as a woman talks.
Students learn about Trinity Lutheran Congregation from Pastor Jane Buckley-Farlee before beginning their City Engagement Day project.

For over twenty-five years, students have started off their Augsburg education with City Engagement Day. City Engagement Day is the first step on a student’s civic engagement and experiential journey at Augsburg. Along with their professor and classmates from their first year seminar (“AugSem”), students go out into the community for the afternoon to complete projects at community organizations. Each AugSem has a disciplinary focus, and each City Engagement Day site is carefully selected to pair with the discipline of the AugSem. The afternoon serves as an introduction to the communities surrounding Augsburg and the city of Minneapolis more broadly, a key learning aspect for Augsburg students in their First Year Experience. For some students, City Engagement Day is a catalyst to seek out volunteer or internship opportunities with the organizations they visited! The City Engagement Day experience is an important step in student learning as they begin to recognize and articulate their role in multiple communities, and to demonstrate agency to create positive, informed, and meaningful change in the world.

The goals of City Engagement Day have stayed consistent over its long history. The aims of the day include:

  • Students will learn more about the communities and organizations around Augsburg, and practice getting around the city.
  • Students will encounter community engagement and experiential learning as core components of an Augsburg education.
  • Students will build relationships with peers and faculty through shared work.
  • Students will connect with an organization or community that relates to the focus of their course or discipline.

With the arrival of Augsburg’s largest ever incoming class this fall, a significant number of local organizations were engaged to partner with Augsburg for City Engagement Day. While some local organizations have partnered with Augsburg for City Engagement Day from the beginning twenty-five years ago–including The Cedar Cultural Center, Mixed Blood Theater, Brian Coyle Community Center, and Seward Montessori School–a variety of new partners were engaged to participate in City Engagement Day 2019, including Hook and Ladder Theater and Lounge, the VOA High School, House of Balls Gallery, Waite House Radio station, the Midtown Greenway Coalition, 826 MSP, and Interfaith Power and Light. 

Organizations who participated as partners in this year’s City Engagement Day reported on the positive impact of the students who came to their organizations. At the Hook and Ladder Theater and Lounge, music students helped clean up gardens, cleaned, painted, filled a dumpster with debris, and helped organize a storeroom. Education students moved thousands of pounds of sand into a new sandbox at Anew Dimension Childcare Center, while another, business-focused AugSem moved the entirety of the West Bank Business Association office to their new location in the Mixed Blood Theater space.

Another aspect of connecting students to the communities surrounding Augsburg was transportation for City Engagement Day. Out of this fall’s thirty-two AugSems, twenty-five were able to walk to the site of their afternoon engagement, while the remainder were able to take public transit, due in no small part to the newly accessible Auggie Pass, an all-you-can ride transit pass for Augsburg students. By walking or taking public transit, first year students began to see close-up what our community looks like and what is available in it.

Each year, Mary Laurel True, Community Engagement Director in the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, organizes City Engagement Day sites. True began City Engagement Day (then City Service Day) early during her 30-year tenure at Augsburg, and each year coordinates the event, carefully pairing AugSem classes with organizations and projects. Noting that the AugSems are paired with sites that are relevant to their disciplinary focus, True emphasized how impactful it has been over the years that students start getting involved right away to see how their potential field of study might be living out its mission in the city in creative and profound ways. 

Student reflections on their City Engagement Day experiences indicated that the day did, in fact, impact their understanding of the connection of an Augsburg education and their current and future change-making in the world. When asked about the most important thing they learned during City Engagement Day, students responded: 

“The way that Augsburg connects with its communities, and how we as students can help our local community.”

“The most important thing I learned was actually how important it is to be a part of your community. This is where I will be living, these are the environments and people I will be surrounded with for the next 4 years. So it’s very important not only to care about but to contribute to your communities…”

“I learned that not only did we help this community center, but I realized that just because we are a University within a community does not mean we are separate from the community. As we continue through the years at this University, we should always recognize and help out the community we are in.”

City Engagement Day may be completed for 2019, but its impact will continue to resonate with students as they enter into the fall semester and beyond. We can’t wait to see how the Class of 2023 will continue to engage with our communities through their time at Augsburg.

Staff Feature: LaToya Taris-James

LaToya Taris-James portrait







In each Staff Feature installment, we ask members of the Sabo Center staff to share about what they do, along with some fun facts. 

This post features LaToya Taris-James, Student Leadership Programs Coordinator.

What do you do at the Sabo Center?

I help coordinate student leadership programs in the Sabo Center. Parts of my work include administrative support for Campus Kitchen, and supporting the programming for LEAD Fellows through co-creating leadership development material, providing resources, and connecting fellows to partners in the community.

What’s one social issue that is most important to you right now?

An issue that I care about deeply and that has been very present in my own experience is the imbalance of power and access to opportunity when it comes to narrative, especially in the nonprofit and education sectors. We have a collective narrative in each of the communities we are part of; however, marginalized people groups, who do not hold the same economic power as others, are rarely given the opportunity to tell their own stories. This often results in an unhealthy culture of giving where wealthy people toss money at problems they don’t understand, for people they do not know, based on stories that were not told correctly. This creates a cycle of need that is not sustainable. Much of the work that I do outside of Augsburg centers around the power of narrative and helping under-represented groups use their voice to change unhealthy narratives. Wait, did you ask me to write an entire essay on this? I will leave it at that.

What’s your favorite place on Augsburg’s campus?

The meeting room in the Religion Department area in Hagfors. Very cool natural lighting with a view of the garden outside! I’ve only been in that room once and I decided it was my favorite.

If you could recommend one book, movie, or podcast, what would it be and why?

Black Boy by Richard Wright. I became familiar with Wright’s work back in high school, and this was the first book of his that I ever read. The book was helpful to me in my formative teenage years, helping me develop thoughts around what I was experiencing as a black kid navigating different spaces. Reading about Wright’s experiences really validated my own, as I had not been introduced to a lot of literature like that at the time. Reading this book inspired me me to dive into the world of black literature and enriched my life and work in deep ways.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

Ride my bike! And read.

What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

Thoughtful. Sensitive. Idealistic.

What’s your favorite place in the world?

Any room where my siblings are gathering. Also North Minneapolis 🙂

What’s the coolest thing you are working on right now?

Right now I am working to further conceptualize a storytelling/social impact initiative that I started a few years ago.

Name one spot in the Twin Cities that you would consider a “must-see”?

The Skydeck at the Guthrie Theater.

Who would you most likely swap places with for a day?

Willy Wonka.

Have any last facts/favorite quotes/advice/etc. that you would like to share?

“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”–African Proverb