Raise the Roof! And Open the Doors!

Freedom LibraryMy friends Peter Rachleff, a retired professor of history at Macalester College, and Beth Cleary, currently a professor of theater at Macalester College, are in the midst of a fund drive for a new project they’re undertaking: the East Side Freedom Library, which will be located in the former, beautiful Arlington Hills Public Library building on the east side of St. Paul. Because they have a matching grant that expires on July 1, they need your donation now!

The goal of the new library is for the working class who make up the population of the east side to be able to better “understand their own and their neighbors’ experiences, and the skills to express and share their stories with each other,” with a special interest in providing a place where the different cultures can connect with one another.

One project they will be working on that I think is especially worthwhile is providing tools and training for people in the neighborhood to create oral histories, which for a lot of communities is still the best way for their histories to be passed on. I see too many students at North Hennepin who have assimilated into American mainstream culture and no longer know much about their own families’ histories nor how they fit into the larger mosaic of American and world history. I think exposure to oral history projects would energize those same young people to engage with and be interested in the stories and traditions that mainstream culture currently pressures them to discard.

Peter and Beth are committed and inspiring people, and I’m sure the East Side Freedom Library will be an asset not only to their community but to the larger communities of the Twin Cities and Minnesota. Help make it a reality by donating here at giveMN.org.

NOTE:  Even though the matching grant has ended, the East Side Freedom Library is still accepting donations at giveMN.org.

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