Universe on University Ave


We live in an urban universe Between street lights, stars, moons and stop signs, from distant planets unrecognized before we met within stories of broken barriers spoken by elder OGs of these histories...

Fred H. Bigler Potato Chip Company


Did you know that in early 1934 there was a small potato chip manufacturing plant in Saint Paul? My family owned and ran it. I was about four or five years old at the time. We lived at 1276 North Snelling Avenue, across from the main gate of the fairgrounds.



Cops know that hands can kill us always, watch the hands hands comfort, carry, bring safety they hold, caress, and lift us...

Night Class

By Nicholas Voss ● 2013

It was an after school program for kids. I was ready like a manatee is ready for ping pong. Just a little clumsy after being tucked away in a collegiate cave while this city extols Saints just down the street. . . . I’ve still got a lot to learn. Like how those science quizzes didn’t apply in the van ride. . . . Where passing is keeping everyone buckled for just 3 more blocks.

A Day in the Life of Kimberly Smith

By Lillie Jordan ● 2013

Kimberly woke up this day and sat on the side of her bed, thinking. She opened her window. Just like the day before, it was wet and dark and raining. There were no birds in sight, no singing. The sun was hiding.

My Rites of Passage


Da’ Kwamsta’ was my Rites of Passage. From the moment we first met. Da’ Kwamsta’ always told me, “Kemet, you don’t have the type of atmosphere to work for anyone but yourself!” He would explain to me over and over about the loopholes, the codes, to survive as a young Black man. He would express to me in parables that this road that I chose was a very, very lonely road. Self-love was critical to further my faith and trust in the Creator, and to my personal growth and development.

City Dumps: When “Away” Was Near


To me, the rusty fifty-gallon steel barrel near the alley in the northeastern corner of our back yard had been there forever. It was where the wrapped-in-newspaper food scraps and other assorted discards were deposited. When I got tall enough to reach over the top, I was allowed to carry the matches and light the scary fire that daily burned the ragtag contents. Once the barrel got about half-full of ashes, Dad took it to the dump to empty it, and I got to go with him...

Episodes from Someone Else’s Previous Marriage: 472 South Bellows Street #3


Your goal is to make it home while he still sleeps. That way when he comes up from the basement, there will be coffee. The chicken soup flecked with cilantro and green pepper will be covered and waiting. Maybe you’ll be sautéing the rice. Maybe you’ve added the boiling water and salt. Maybe, if you’re very lucky, if the children are still watching TV and haven’t gotten loud, the rice will be almost done, the water almost all absorbed. He pats your hip three times, lifts the cover on the soup, tags the rice with a wooden spoon. Nice, he says, before walking to the living room to displace the children.



Newly ordained, I stand in front of a brightly decorated Christmas tree. Next to me is Nhia (Jonah) Xou Yang, former CIA collaborator turned minister. We are in the shared sanctuary of our respective Hmong and American congregations in a church on Saint Paul’s North End. It is Advent 1982. Soon the peacefulness is shattered. A rock band composed of Hmong teenagers arrives, rehearsing as they do each weekday afternoon. The noise drives us from our contemplation...

A Strange Man Named Hicks


There once was a strange man named Hicks Who yearned to create limericks...

This Week in Saint Paul: Monday, December 31, 2013–Sunday, January 5, 2014


One holiday is over, but the kids are still out of school. Maybe you were able to take in “History Center Holidays” at the Minnesota History Center. If not, the festivities continue through the last day of the year. Whether you already checked that one off your list, or if your family is moving at a slightly different speed, there are several other ways to ring in the new year.

This Week in Saint Paul: Monday, December 23–Sunday, December 30, 2013


Chances are, your neighborhood is now filled with young people who are starting an extended winter break from school. It is a hard time for grown-ups and near grown-ups to find a real break in this season, whether we have to go to a job or not, but maybe some of you are still lucky enough to be able to grab a little bit of a break. “Break” might not be the correct term, but we are here to suggest a few things that might “break” the stress of your holiday week.