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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in rural Minnesota.
Recent Activity
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Got a beef as a resident of a Greater Minnesota city? Your right to address city council members at meetings may be getting a bit of a boost if news from the Mankato Free Press is accurate. In North Mankato comment policy still controversial after two months, Trey Mewes reports: Only a month remains before the end of the North Mankato City Council's 90-day trial of some recent public comment restrictions, and it's unclear whether the council will continue its newfound approach. At least one council member has publicly opposed the shift in the city's public comment policy, and opposition... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Bluestem Prairie
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In the New Ulm Journal, Clay Schuldt reports in Forum on race generates reflection, sharing: There are few discussions more sensitive and emotionally charged than those regarding race, but often these discussions are necessary. In this spirit New Ulm Middle School hosted the forum titled “It’s Time to Talk.” . . . Several of the small groups discussed the idea of the “ausländer,” which is the German word for foreigner. New Ulm has a deep German heritage and the term is widely used to describe anyone new to the community. One man remembered being called an ausländer upon first moving... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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At the Bismarck Tribune, Amy Dalrymple reports in Tribal leaders call for action after LaFontaine-Greywind's death: The United Tribes of North Dakota are calling on North Dakota’s congressional delegation to take action after the killing of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind. A letter approved during the recent Tribal Leaders Summit in Bismarck seeks justice for the slain Fargo woman’s family and the families of missing and murdered Native American women. “During the gatherings and prayers for Savanna, we heard story after story from families who also have women in their families missing or with unsolved murders,” the letter states. “The murder of Savanna... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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With greater Minnesota's reputation being tarnished by anti-Muslim incidents, it's good to read a headline in the St. Peter Herald, Saint Peter Islamic Center receives city permit. Nancy Madsen reports: The Saint Peter Islamic Center gained city permission to operate on Thursday evening. The center must have a conditional use permit because city code requires all places of worship to have one for public assembly. . . . “They will have classrooms, offices and a meeting and gathering space and a mosque for prayers and religious services,” City Community Development Director Russ Wille said. The Board of Appeals and Adjustments,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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One of the staples of political discourse at the Minnesota state capitol is local officials whining about the cost of cleaning up water pollution generated by people--then keeping the water clean. This stakeholder attitude just might not be shared by citizens, if the picture painted by Karen Tolkkinen's article in the Alexandria Echo Press is any indication. In Sewer district seeks waiver from discharge limits, Tolkkinen reports: How to restore Lake Winona is a challenge that continues to vex, judging by a public hearing Wednesday evening about the sewer district's intention to seek waivers from new, stricter limits on what... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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While much of the United States of American mourns for the victims of September 11 and celebrates its heroes, the Child Protection League of Minnesota is fretting about public schools hijacking children's minds. Oh noes. On August 1, the ultra-conservative group shared an event page for its‎ Hijacking Their Minds Fall Fundraiser with the details: How Safe Schools and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Indoctrinate our Children: Learn to identify the dangers as our expert speakers unmask the radical, child endangering trends in education. Two agendas, the sexualizing of children and the teaching of Islam, have emerged under the pretext of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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In MN Supreme Court says Mark Dayton’s veto of legislative budget was constitutional, Rachel Stassen-Berger reports at the St. Paul Pioneer Press: The Minnesota Supreme Court on Friday decided that Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto of the House and Senate budgets earlier this year was constitutional. “We hold that the governor’s exercise of his line item veto authority … was constitutional,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote. “This conclusion, however, does not end the matter.” The justice wrote that the court does not believe it has the authority to order the Legislature funded, as did a previous district court, while... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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The Minnesota DNR's position that the United States Army Corps of Engineers must obtain a state permit for the flood diversion to protect Fargo-Moorhead (while causing flooding on the Minnesota side of the Red River) gained strength today. At the Fargo Forum, Tu-Uyen Tran reports in Judge orders halt to work on Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project: Work on the flood diversion to protect Fargo-Moorhead must stop immediately pending the outcome of a years-long lawsuit, a federal judge ordered on Thursday, Sept. 7. The $2.2 billion project is opposed by Minnesota, and John R. Tunheim, chief judge in the District of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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It's not beewashing, but beekeeping history. Deanna B. Narveson reports in the Mankato Free Press article, Historic Hofmann Apiaries buzzing to become hive of honey bee education: The Hofmann Apiaries was once one of the largest honey producers in Minnesota with 1,000 bee colonies. Beekeeping practices developed by the Hofmann family left its mark on America. The century-old farm became only the second apiary ever to land on the National Register of Historic places just over a year ago. Now the SMSQ Architects of Northfield are hammering out plans with the Waseca Historical Society to transform the long dormant honey... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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The sky is filled with butterflies--monarchs, painted ladies, and tiger swallowtails--while garden bursts with beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and melons. Posting will be light at Bluestem until Labor Day as we explore our new Maka Akan on the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate where some of the original Minnesotans live. We will have more on this later. We'll post several items tomorrow about Minnesota politics. Photo: Looking toward Minnesota from the Coteau des Prairies. If you appreciate our posts and original analysis, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen, 313 Park Street, Ortonville, MN 56278) or use the paypal button... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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In a post earlier this week, Evil weevil finds rude Welcome as MN Dept of Ag imposes emergency quarantine in Martin County, Bluestem Prairie wondered aloud about legislative support for the fight against Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species that threatens Minnesota's one billion-plus ash trees: We'll have more on other recent developments in the state's EAB discussions as we delve into the statements about EAB from state lawmakers serving Martin County and vicinity. Sadly, Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, who chairs the Minnesota House Legacy Finance Committee, felt no need to increase funding to fight the destructive invasive species and thus... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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In the West Central Tribune, we read positive news for small towns in Tom Cherveny's article, Island Market shows viability of local ownership: Rural grocery stores do not have to go the way of the iconic red barn and disappear one by one from the Main Streets of small towns. The community of Bird Island (pop. 1,042) is 11 months into its venture to show how a rural grocery store can remain viable under a local ownership model, and it has caught attention. The community hosted more than 40 visitors on Tuesday — including small-town grocers from as far as... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Update 8/23: In our comments section, journalist Andy Birkey notes: The entomologist in me is obliged to say it's a member of the jewel beetle group as opposed to the weevils, but the headline writer in me loves EVERYTHING about this headline construction! [end update] One of the worst invasive species threatening Minnesota is the Emerald Ash Borer, although much of the Minnesota Legislature is loath to invest the money necessary to respond to this insect-cased disaster (unlike the state response to Dutch Elm Disease in the 20th century). Just in from the Minnesota Departure of Agriculture under the headline,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem must confess that we were swept away by the flood of vegetables coming out of our garden, spending the day canning with a friend possessed of a better stove, vital to pickling and preserving. Carrots this year are particularly beautiful, thick and sweet. It's a chance to make a batch or two of our favorite pickle: Mexican-Style Pickled Carrots. As Alexis deBoschnek wrote at the Tasting Table: [These] simple, spicy carrots were inspired by the many taco stands scattered across Los Angeles, where West lives. He uses the tangy, crunchy carrots as a complement for tacos, and also as... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Forum Communications newspapers across the state have posted Andrew Hazzard's article, Meth still region's drug of choice, and it's gaining popularity, which underscores the fact that opioids aren't the only drug complicating the lives of Minnesotans. Hazzard reports: As communities struggle to address the rising popularity of heroin and other opioid narcotics, attention has shifted away from another drug with a nationwide grip. But the popularity of methamphetamine does not seem to be waning. . . . Minnesota has experienced a 489 percent increase from 2009 to 2016 in meth seizures, according to the Department of Public Safety. 2009 marked... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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All Minnesotans are equal, but some are more equal than others when it comes to water quality discussions. In Dayton's water-quality meeting draws 200, veteran Mankato Free Press reporter Mark Fischenich reports: Mapleton corn and soybean farmer Steve Trio spoke of his decision to take individual responsibility for how his agricultural production impacted the Cobb River. Working with his son Aaron, Trio has ensured there's protective cover between his farmland and the tributary streams leading to the river, works to be diligent in soil testing to minimize chemical use, and even added a containment system around his fuel tanks long... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Thursday, we posted Don't hate with your food: Willmar anti-Muslim pig foot harassment tale hits Washington Post which examined an incidence at the Willmar Farmers Market in which an angry white man used a pig's foot to verbally and physically assault a young Somali vendor. A letter in the West Central Tribune fills in some details about the incident and offers an invitation to the pork slinger. Ben Larson writes in An invitation to set aside hate: My friends and I started a gardening program for minority youth in Willmar where they learn how to grow fresh food and run... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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UPDATE 8/17: There's more to the story. Check out our new post, Don't hate with your food, part 2: youth garden organizer speaks up on Willmar Farmers Market, after reading the article below. [end update] A bumper crop of vegetables and thistles prompted by heavy rains has put us behind the curve on a distressing story from Willmar, where many residents have worked hard for years to establish their city's reputation as an inclusive place. Joe F. Fernkes, who cursed at, then tossed a pig's foot at a young adult male Somali-American selling vegetables at a stand at Willmar's Farmers... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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On Monday, Minnesota Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson released a statement on the recent events in Charlottesville: Congressman Collin C. Peterson made the following statement today in response to the recent tragedy in Charlottesville, VA. “Hatred and bigotry associated with the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK has no place in our society,” Peterson said. “The tragedy in Charlottesville is another example of the struggles our country faces to unite and confront hate. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” That's concise, clear and specific language that calls out those responsible for the violence--and the destructive... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Pesticide reduces bumblebee colony initiation and increases probability of population extinction, a study published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution sounds a dire warning that a major neonicotinoid found in crops around the world, thiamethoxam, is bad news for bumblebees. At the Toronto Star, Liam Casey reports in Bumblebees at risk of extinction after exposure to pesticide, Ontario study says: A widely used pesticide is placing bumblebee populations at an increased risk of extinction, a new study from an Ontario researcher suggests. Nigel Raine, an environmental science professor at the University of Guelph, discovered that thiamethoxam, a major... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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Amid the hullabaloo about a protest at Second District Congressman Jason Lewis's home in Woodbury--considered Friday in our post, Not so instant karma: Lewis once thought targeting homes of people "in public arena" A-Ok--a reader and local Le Sueur County DFL activist quipped on Bluestem's Facebook page: I would think he might appreciate them saving him the gas money needed to actually drive from his home into the district he (purportedly) represents! This observation prompted Bluestem to wonder why Lewis's non-residence in his district isn't more of an issue. Though perfectly legal under , the behavior might be expected to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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In an exclusive report, Imagine 2050 reports that one of the staple speakers in Minnesota's anti-Muslim speaking circuit is the subject of a restraining order obtained by Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. The Imagine2050 staff reports in EXCLUSIVE — Anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Guandolo assaults Minn. sheriff at NSA conference, per court documents: John Guandolo’s anti-Muslim paranoia and ill temper appear to have landed him in a heap of trouble. Guandolo, a disgraced former FBI agent, travels the country giving anti-Muslim workshops to law enforcement agencies under the guise of counter-terrorism training seminars. His presentations are riddled with anti-Muslim conspiracy theories... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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A reader with a long memory brought an episode from Jason Lewis's career to Bluestem's attention following the Minnesota Second District Congressman's cries that protests in front of his home were a “dangerous ramping up of rhetoric.” The St. Paul Press reports in Minnesota’s Rep. Jason Lewis calls protest at his Woodbury home dangerous: Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis is taking issue with protesters who showed up outside his Woodbury home. The Wednesday morning protest at the first-term Republican congressman’s house was organized by Take Action Minnesota, a liberal advocacy group. Video footage posted on Lewis’ Facebook page shows more than... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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A press release from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture: In conjunction with Governor Mark Dayton’s 25 by ‘25 water town hall meetings around the state, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will be hosting a series of agriculture-focused listening sessions. “We will give a brief overview of a few MDA programs and initiatives, including the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, and low cost loan programs offered by the Rural Finance Authority followed by an open conversation period,” said MDA Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “It’s important for us to hear from farmers about their current challenges and successes, and I encourage them, along... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie
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In an eye-opening examination of the agri-chemical review process and Monsanto's corporate culture, Reuters Media reports in Scant oversight, corporate secrecy preceded weed killer crisis: As the U.S. growing season entered its peak this summer, farmers began posting startling pictures on social media: fields of beans, peach orchards and vegetable gardens withering away. The photographs served as early warnings of a crisis that has damaged millions of acres of farmland. New versions of the herbicide dicamba developed by Monsanto and BASF, according to farmers, have drifted across fields to crops unable to withstand it, a charge authorities are investigating. .... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2017 at Bluestem Prairie