Biographies of Community Editors of 2011 Saint Paul Almanac

Aleli Balagtas has lived in the Twin Cities for seven years. In Montreal, where she used to live, she’d often take walks in winter while fantasizing about one day living somewhere warmer. Oh, well. Her children are aging her out of full-time motherhood, and now she wants to be a writer.

Richard Broderick came here in the mid-seventies to attend the University of Minnesota. He didn’t think he’d stay, but discovered the advantages of living someplace that no one moves to for the weather, and where people believe almost any tall tale, no matter how outrageous, as long as you tell it with a straight face. A writer, teacher, and community activist, he’s lived in Saint Paul since 1989.

Collette DeNet is a twenty-five-year-old travel enthusiast who has a hard time staying in one place. She is intrigued by the world’s global landscape, culture, and diversity, yet she considers herself fortunate to call Saint Paul home. New to Saint Paul’s literary scene, Collette is an aspiring writer amazed by the talent, support, and generosity of others. Pop into the Groveland Tap on Tuesday night and you’ll find her enjoying a Summit with friends.

Andrew Hall is a senior at Highland Park High School, where he spends the days doodling and thinking up stories. This is the second year he’s worked with the Almanac, and he hopes to continue to do so in the future.

Barbara Haselbeck spent her first seven years living near the shores of Lake Phalen. Since then, she has resided in Paris as a young dancer, the northwest woods of Wisconsin with her family, and for the last ten years Saint Paul. When not working as an editor, she enjoys writing, outings with the Saint Paul Hiking Club, and regional and international travel.

Jewel Hill Mayer is a regenerate “rebel,” transplanted from Mississippi in 1952, who has come to love everything about this state. Having written many things, from poetry to novellas, she is most proud of her submission to the 2010 Almanac, and is loving being an editor for the 2011 issue.

Tiffany Lee is sixteen years old and attends Como Park Senior High School. She loves to just lie around in her living room all day, watching iCarly, Hannah Montana, Phineas and Ferb, and other Disney and Nick Jr. shows, while everyone else lives their lives out in the world. She enjoys reading, writing, talking, and being lazy.

Donna Legato, while pretending it’s her real job, is in her third year working as a community editor for the Almanac. She says it’s been an amazing process, and she was honored to have Kimberly invite her to be a part of it.

Angela Mack moved to Saint Paul three years ago with her three beautiful children, because living in Chicago was making her lose faith in people. Saint Paul changed that with its great schools and genuinely nice and friendly people, who eased the transition, making it easy for her to love and trust people again.

Rose McGee is a storyteller, author, and baker. She has demonstrated how to make sweet potato pie on television, at Macy’s, and at the Minnesota State Fair; and was invited by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar to her 2009 Presidential Inauguration reception. Rose is writing a novel, Can’t Nobody Make A Sweet Potato Pie Like My Mama—a delightful, yet educational tribute to the history of the sacred dessert.

Sandra Opokua was born in Ghana, Africa, and came to the United States at the age of fourteen. She loves to read, dance, cook, and travel around the world, and would love to travel to Italy, France, Britain, and Brazil. In the future, she wants to become someone important. Her favorite author is Lurlene McDaniel, and her favorite books are I’ll Be Seeing You, Breathless, and Prey. Sandra also likes The Pact by Jodi Picoult.

Jennifer Ouellette-Schramm lives in Saint Paul and teaches English as a Second Language to adult immigrants and refugees at the Minnesota Literacy Council Arlington Hills Learning Center. This year her class edited Saint Paul Almanac stories as a group and contributed their own submissions, as well.

Uri-Biia Si-Asar is a seventeen-year-old junior at Saint Paul’s Central Senior High School, and loves it, even though every day she gets an asthma attack from climbing the five flights of stairs to get to class. She plans to become an international ambassador when she grows up, in order to create a better future for the global community.

Jeanne Pinette Souldern does crossword puzzles in pen and thinks that books, movies, and music should be a part of one’s minimum daily requirements. At six, she learned about the world outside the four walls of her East Side Saint Paul home when her Dad took her to get a library card—she believes it’s one of the best things a parent can do for their child.

Deborah A. Torraine is an adopted auntie of Saint Paul, which claims her as its own, and gives her the time, space (and sometimes money) to write, teach, and learn about birds, bees, and what makes trees grow their leaves. An award-winning writer and member of the 2010 Givens Griots, she’s a nosy, curious, and meddling community organizer—a healing-warrior for the people.

Libby Tschida is an art lover and avid journaler. She grew up in St. Luke’s parish on Lexington Avenue and loves her Irish Catholic roots—give her a Jameson and ginger ale, some stompin’ fiddle music, and call her happy. A fourth-generation St. Kate’s grad, she spends her time in East Saint Paul working as the program coordinator of a small grassroots arts organization.

Gaoiaong Vang is sixteen years old and a junior at Johnson Senior High School. Although she lives in Forest Lake, her life revolves around Saint Paul. She loves writing poetry, playing tennis, and drinking ice-cold lemonade on a hot summer day. She has dreams of living somewhere beautiful and knows that home is where the heart is—Saint Paul.

Diego Vázquez Jr. writes poems to flowers, birds, rocks, rivers, and salmon, and people too! His forthcoming novels include Growing Through the Ugly and Border Town Sky. Vázquez used to emcee poetry slams and is proud to have one of his poems cemented into the sidewalks of Saint Paul through the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project.

Bee Ver Xiong is a high school student who is currently working doing modeling and acting. His dream is to star in a horror film. His passions are script writing and fashion designing. Bee spends each day discovering more and more of Saint Paul.

Mai Yang Xiong is seventeen years old and attends Johnson Senior High School. She grew up with Power Rangers and plastic-sword fighting. She enjoys reading, composing her own music, and chatting with friends. Mai Yang has the ultimate goal of becoming a professional psychiatrist in the future.

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