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The Citizen Solution

January 16, 2011

The Citizen SolutionThe Citizen Solution: How You Can Make a Difference
by Harry Boyte

This Martin Luther King Day, there are calls to honor Dr. King’s legacy by making time for service and volunteering. There are a number of events being held here in Minneapolis-St. Paul where you can show up and help stock food shelves or tutor students. In addition to a one-day feel-good gesture, here’s another route to consider: pick up a copy of The Citizen Solution.

Harry Boyte — a professor, organizer, and civil rights activist who worked closely with Dr. King — calls us to move beyond volunteering and reactivate the idea of “the commons.” He urges citizens to claim their stake in public life and in government by the people; to not view government as something done for or to them. This civic philosophy, “…teaches respect for the talents and intelligence of all men and women. It involves a renewed appreciation for place. All are necessary if we are to build civic agency, that is, the capacity to work with people of different political parties, faiths, races, incomes, ages, and cultures.”

For more on Boyte and his work, check out the Center for Democracy and Citizenship.

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Moonstruck Chocolate

January 12, 2011

One sunny day, when our daughter Anna was still in a high chair, she shielded her eyes and said,

“Mama, I don’t like that sun.”
My reply, “You don’t like the sun…well, do you like the moon?”
“No.  I don’t like that moon.”
“So, what do you like?”
A big smile spread across her cheeks and she said, in three words instead of one:
“Cho-co-late!”

What on earth is better than good chocolate? Very, very few things.  Another find from our Thanksgiving 2010 trip to Portland, Oregon was Moonstruck Chocolate.  We’d seen their packaging before in design annuals — a wonderful mix of whimsy and beautiful type — and came across their chocolate cafe on NW 23rd Avenue.  At $7.50 per bar, it is indeed an indulgence. Yet if you do it Charlie Bucket style (rationing out a square or two at a time) it starts to seem like a bargain.

My favorite was their Dominican Single Origin Dark Chocolate bar with 72% cacao.  Deep, rich and complex? Absolutely. Can I be more specific? Not so much. However, the enthusiastic store clerks and the copy on their website talk of orange rind, red wine and blackberry. All I know is that it’s really, really good stuff.

Moonstruck Chocolate

Polish pottery

January 9, 2011

During a Thanksgiving holiday visit to MM’s brother in Oregon, we stopped by one our favorite shops — the Polish Pottery Place on Hoyt St. in Portland. Our Polish pottery collection started with a bowl MM’s mom brought back from a trip to Poland (we’re both of Polish heritage). The Polish Pottery Place has an amazing array of patterns, of every shape and size, stacked floor to ceiling.  We chose a few small plates to ship home — perfect for tapas.