The Saint Paul Almanac continues its year-round literary celebration of Minnesota’s capital city with the acclaimed Lowertown Reading Jams. On Monday, June 13, the Jam will be hosted and curated by urban farmer and peace activist, Melvin Giles. Centered around themes of gardening, feeding the hungry, peace and social justice, the evening, entitled “Sowing the Seeds of Peace,” will feature readings and spoken word performances by several community members from throughout the Twin Cities.

This Reading Jam is dedicated to the memory of the Almanac‘s Director of Community Engagement, Deborah Torraine, who passed away on the night of June 10th.

This penultimate Reading Jam of the 2010-2011 season takes place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Black Dog Café, 308 Prince Street, located across the street from the Saint Paul Farmer’s Market. The evening includes solo presentations by a cast of gifted and talented multi-cultural artists including (but not limited to):

Melvin Giles

MELVIN GILES – Melvin Giles is a Peacemaker. He describes himself as a compassionate, cheerful, anti-racist, peaceful love warrior. He serves as a regional Peace Representative for the World Peace Prayer Society and sits on the board of World Citizen, Inc. Giles’ passions include promoting the International Peace Pole, and working and playing in gardens and urban farms. He is a member of AfroEco and is on the leadership team of Minnesota Food & Justice Alliance. He is featured in the book The Compassionate Rebel. Giles walks the path of reconciliation, liberation, and human transformation. He is also known as the Peace Bubble Man.

ANDY DRISCOLL – A broadcast media journalist, content producer, writer/commentator and political and communications consultant, Driscoll produces and co-hosts TruthToTell, a weekly public affairs discussion program on KFAI Radio, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and periodically on local television and online video journalism sites. He appears, too, as co-host/engineer for KFAI’s American Indian public affairs program, First Person Radio.

NINA RASMUNSEN – Nina Rasmunsen has been writing and performing spoken word for two years. Her work focuses on issues of social justice, politics and self-reflection. Greatly indebted to the many mentors who have taken the time to challenge her and help foster her development, she is also forever thankful to her mother who has taught her what true love, passion and wisdom look like in the fight for racial and gender equality.

MUSTAFA AHMEDU SUNDIATA – A chef and baker for 25 years, Mustafa Ahmedu Sundiata, is also a food justice activist. For six years he has managed NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center’s Community Food Shelf, in the heart of North Minneapolis’ food desert. As the coordinator of the North Side Healthy Eating Project – a North side community collaborative of 25-30 partners he advises with Homegrown Minneapolis as they try to establish Minneapolis’s first Food Policy council. He believes that there is enough of everything for everybody and has a great passion for food and an even greater passion for getting food to those who do not have access to it.

Additional artists are in the works for “Sowing the Seeds of Peace” – please visit the Saint Paul Almanac’s website at for updates and more information as the event date approaches.

The Almanac has been hosting the monthly Lowertown Reading Jams since October 2009 to excited audiences who spread the word about their powerful, shared experiences. The Jams provide an opportunity to explore and bridge the cultural and social breadth of the city of Saint Paul throughout the year. Each Jam is produced and hosted by a well-known writer or spoken word artist. Saint Paul “performance drawing” artist Lara Hanson interprets the readings using Japanese ink brushes. All Reading Jams are American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted.

The entire 2010-2011 season of Lowertown Reading Jams has been presented at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, a popular Saint Paul venue for spoken word artists, and a co-sponsor of the series. The Jams are curated by the following creative writers and agents for social change:

Oct. 11, 2010 – Deborah Torraine
Nov. 8, 2010 – Tish Jones
Dec. 13, 2010 – Matthew Rucker
Jan. 10, 2011 – May Lee-Yang
Feb. 14, 2011 – Tou SaiKo Lee
Mar. 14, 2011 – Carol Connolly
Apr. 11, 2011 – Marcie Rendon
May 9, 2011 – Desdamona
June 13, 2011 – Melvin Giles
July 11, 2011 – Diego Vázquez, Jr. SEASON FINALE!

About the Saint Paul Almanac

Now in its fifth edition, the Saint Paul Almanac features essays, poems, photos, maps, and listings of events, bars, restaurant, theaters, and other cultural venues within a datebook format. The 2011 Almanac features 129 works by 118 writers. These writers include literary giants, everyday residents, students, journalists, new Americans, and lovers of Saint Paul who live in other corners of the world. Writers interested in having their work considered for the 2012 Almanac have until March 1, 2011 to make a submission. Information on upcoming events, how to make a submission, and other Saint Paul Almanac news is available at

The 2011 Saint Paul Almanac sells for $11.95 online at, and is available in independent and mainstream bookstores everywhere, as well as at libraries and coffee houses throughout the City.

Saint Paul Almanac activities are made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council from an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature. Sponsors and partner organizations include the Black Dog Café and Wine Bar, the City of Saint Paul and Saint Paul STAR Program, Clouds in Water Zen Center, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, KFAI Radio, The Lowertown Future Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), Travelers Arts & Diversity Grant, and Twin Cities Daily Planet.

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