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Minneapolis-St. Paul activities link theme with historic places

Plan to pack your walking shoes because the local arrangements committee has lined up an array of Minneapolis-St. Paul activities that will link the conference theme with notable historic places in this vibrant urban community. 

Immigrant Stories: A walking tour of Eat Street

In 1997, a one-mile stretch Nicollet Avenue south of downtown Minneapolis became known as “Eat Street” in recognition of its diverse ethnic restaurants and markets. These immigrant-owned businesses served as engines of revitalization in an area of the city that had been plagued by problems stemming from the closing of Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street, declining property values and street crime.

On this walking tour, you will learn about the history of Eat Street through the stories of immigrant business owners who have participated in the Eat Street Oral History Project. Tour stops include a Mexican bakery, a Vietnamese market, the site of a former Middle Eastern café, and German, Greek, Chinese, and Vietnamese restaurants.


Historic St. Paul pub crawl

Seek out new go-to brews and learn about St. Paul’s hoppy past on this three-hour tour with samples, conversations and hidden gems along the way. The tour includes a behind-the-scenes look at the Schmidt Brewery Complex, now Schmidt Artist Lofts, with one of Schmidt’s last brewmasters, Phil Gagne, as well as tours and tastings at Flat Earth Brewing and Summit Brewing.


On the Ave

Explore Franklin Avenue, backbone of Minneapolis’ Native American Cultural Corridor, with several local Natives who will share history, culture and personal narratives on this two-hour amble of “The Ave.” Stops include Powwow Grounds coffee shop, All My Relations art gallery, the Minneapolis American Indian Center, the Franklin Library with its mural “Red Lake” by Robert Desjarlait, Northland Visions gift shop, and the AIM Interpretive Center.

The tour will be led by Colleen Casey and Thomas LaBlanc. Casey (Mdewakanton Dakota descent) will share an overview of the neighborhood and LaBlanc (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota elder) will chronicle some of the neighborhood’s seamier “unholy” aspects. LaBlanc will also describe the birth and growth of the American Indian Movement as it relates to the history of the neighborhood and his own story.


And if you’re a Prince fan…

When you arrive at the conference, look for information in your packets about sites related to the life and work of Prince, the wildly popular musician who died April 21, 2016, of an accidental opioid overdose. He was 57.

You’ll find names of some of Prince’s favorite area performing venues along with websites to guide your visits to the sites. We’ve also included information about Paisley Park, located about 20 miles from downtown Minneapolis in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Task force examines OHA committee structure

By Allison Tracy, OHA Council

It you’ve ever sat in on an Oral History Association Council meeting, you’ll know we do a lot of talking. For a group of folks who have centered their work on listening to others, which we also do at meetings, of course, it can feel unnatural to talk so much, but we do get a lot of it in.

In recent months, conversations returned again and again to committees. The work of committees is essential to the OHA. Committees are places where focused, patient attention can be brought to problems, initiatives and tasks that require ongoing efforts. But as we kept circling back to committees, we realized we could be doing better. Council can interface better with committees, and how the committees function can be improved to make the work more satisfying for members and more impactful for the association.

Before Council’s mid-winter meetings in Phoenix this year, Kristine Navarro-McElhaney, our interim executive director, asked me to work on some of these issues we kept returning to. I realized quickly I would need some help and was exceedingly lucky to recruit Mary Larson, Stephen Sloan and Annie Valk to join me on the newly formed Committee Task Force.

Over the winter, President Doug Boyd sent questions to our current committee chairs and members, asking for feedback. Questions included: “How can we as an organization better utilize our committees?” “How can we better recruit for membership?” and “What can we do to better empower and motivate committees?” At the mid-winter meetings, Council reviewed the very helpful feedback we received, and this spring the task force began its work.

The feedback highlighted four areas in need of improvement: How we recruit members to committees, how we develop committee charges, the communications between committees and the broader association, and promotion of the committees and their work. The task force is  thinking about these areas and what changes can be made. We hope to have some changes and improvements implemented as soon as the annual meeting.

Part of the task force’s work is to consider the current language of our bylaws and constitution as it pertains to committees. If we think any revisions are needed to the language of either document, we certainly will give the membership proper notice and follow all of our relevant procedures.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for the Committee Task Force, we’d love to hear them! Please email me at moc.l1635442318iamg@1635442318nerak1635442318nosil1635442318la1635442318.

Task force prepares membership survey

By Troy Reeves, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This March in Phoenix at the OHA mid-winter meeting, I volunteered to lead a year-long working group we called the Membership Task Force. While I did this certainly to get a chance to be in Phoenix (instead of Madison) for a couple of days in early March, I primarily offered my help for two reasons.

First, I wanted to help the organization collect data that will assist and inform its new executive director and host institution, to be named later this year.

Second, in my many hallway conversations at recent OHA annual meetings, attendees have furnished their opinions about what could make our organization better, so I felt I held enough anecdotal information that a task force’s work would bear fruit. (Why me? I don’t know. Friendly face? Seem to be in the hallway more than I should?)

I also knew I could make time for this effort, because I would not do it alone. I asked several colleagues to join me in this effort: Carlos Lopez, Christian Lopez, Sarah Milligan, Sarah-Jane Poindexter, Stephen Sloan and Janneken Smucker. Graciously, they all agreed, because they, too, feel strongly about OHA and its future. And Allison Tracy has joined us as Council liaison.

Our primary charge and the bulk of our early work has revolved around creating a survey to send to members and former members. We have used Google’s Hangout feature to meet virtually once a month since March, crafting by early June a list of draft questions. We will work more this summer to refine the survey, in hopes of having a draft ready before the annual meeting. Those who come to Minneapolis in October should expect to be asked by me or one or my task force colleagues, “Have you filled out the survey yet?”

Eventually – preferably before the end of the year – we will submit the survey results and our thoughts about them to Council. Also, as a secondary part of our charge, we will communicate with Council our thoughts about how best a membership group – whether it be called a committee or task force or something else – should liaise with OHA’s leadership in the future.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, we’d love to hear them! Please email me at ude.c1635442318siw@s1635442318eveer1635442318.yort1635442318.