TruthToTell for Week of May 28 - Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remember – call and join the conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post onTruthToTell’s Facebook page.


This week we combine two burning issues, both of which dovetail in the daily onslaught of media – the reckless drive for shock value among wildly competing messages and personalities and the insensitive pursuit of profit at the expense of the civic peace.

First, several years ago – 1998, DJ Tom Bernard took aim at a 13-year-old Hmong mother charged with suffocating her newborn. Bernard apologized, but not before mass demonstrations, front-page stories and advertising pullouts embarrassed KQRS.

Earlier that year, jokes over KQ in the wake of the fatal shooting of a Somali taxicab driver led to protests and 50 taxis descending on the station. August, 2006: Bernard’s show rips a hip-hop celebration, ridiculing artists' names and predicting that there will be at least nine shootings at the event (Star Tribune). September 2007 – Bernard’s second banana “suggests that genetics and incest ‘up there’ may have led to high suicide rates in Beltrami County. Bernard quickly challenges her, but American Indian leaders demand -- and receive -- an apology.” (ST)

More such crap from Bernard came in 2001 St. Paul mayoral candidate Jay Benanav, 2002 when he blasted Gov. Jesse Ventura, again in 2002 when, during a Norm Coleman interview, he hoped – on the air - that Paul Wellstone would “drop dead” (Wellstone and family members died in a plane crash two weeks later). 

But, KQRS is hardly alone in its “slips” on the air – statements that betray a deeper racism in media circles here and everywhere. The notoriety around WCCO’s so-called duck-dog story – again involving Asian Pacific Islanders – or KDWB’s parody on Hmong folks, and the relentless coverage of communities of color that places them among the criminal classes in larger proportions to the white community when law enforcement statistics defy those percentages, even among African-Americans – those most egregiously misportrayed as running afoul of the law.

Those of us in the business have heard such remarks on- and off-mike for decades. And many of us have spotted the billboards that play games with words in such a way as to display rank insensitivity to one group or another – playing off stereotypes without a shred of humor to redeem them.

Billboards themselves, are a direct blight on the urban landscape – or cityscape – as well as the countryside where scenic views are interrupted by hulking bulletins certain to jar you out of any appreciation you might have for the visions around you.

And, if those damned boards aren’t bad enough for the plastering of ads up against your neighborhoods, parks, playgrounds, schools and our streets and byways, now comes brightly lit, ever-changing and flashing messages you cannot avoid even as you’re navigating around urban and suburban freeways.

All sorts of attempts have been made to ban billboards, or regulate them, or confine them, and force their removals from specific sections of our cities – like residential neighborhoods. Giant billboard companies – like Clear Channel Communications – yes, the very same Clear Channel that owns six or seven Twin Cities radio stations, not to mention other media outlets – simply run screaming to the courts and Legislature claiming violation of free speech by cities attempting to limit or ban their use. And, despite all manner of legal precedents that say commercial speech is NOT protected by the First Amendment, courts and legislators of both parties cave to their demands. Why? Not too hard to figure out. The old adage that you don’t take on corporations that buy their ink by the railroad car full. The same can be said of those who build bigger, uglier, and more permanent structures in front of the trees we so carefully planted. 

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI query advocates from all the above-mentioned arenas of media justice – first, a group known as CAAR – or Community Action Against Racism – formed by Asian Pacific Islanders a few years ago to combat racist local media companies conveying images and stereotypes – mostly commercial media here – and the other known as Blightfighters – self-explanatory.


“Racism in the Media: A Community Conversation” – June 2 event hosted by CAAR & Mainstreet Project


OSSIAN OR – Director, Blightfighters Project and Videographer - "Chronicle of the Billboard Wars"

 NIKKI LALIBERTE – Victim of lighted billboard(s) in West St. Paul

 MARGIE ANDREASON – Co-Chair, Community Action Against Racism (CAAR)

REBECCA SONG – Education Lead, CAAR; Lead, CAAR Internalized Racial Oppression Campaign


TruthToTell, May 21: HOMEGROWN HEALTH: Community Gardens and Food Justice -AUDIO PODCAST HERE NOW


Episode TruthToTell, May 21: HOMEGROWN HEALTH: Community Gardens and Food Justice -AUDIO PODCAST HERE NOW has been updated.
On-air date: 

 Mon, 05/21/2012

Listen to or download this episode here: 

NOTE: KFAI may have been off the air for 50 of our 60 minutes, but the entire program right here in podcast form!



Not everything on the food horizon is an upper – especially the statistics on obesity rates in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. And, unfortunately, race rears its head in the availability and accessibility of healthy food. Will Allen, the iconic healthy food grower (Growing Power) and advocate based in Milwaukee has said it out loud:

“A food system consists of the processes in place that bring food to your table each day. It is the people, fields, machines and organizations involved in creating the grain bar in your pocket or the beverage you drink for breakfast. A food system is the sum of the guiding forces and values that inform the production, harvest, processing, transporting and marketing of the food we consume at each meal.

“The food system, as it functions today, is an undeniable part of our nation’s march towards economic and political power. It is a part and parcel of the historical pattern of denying certain people land, resources and power based on their ethnic group and/or skin color. Models of cultivation, harvest, processing and delivery exploited the labor of people of color who, through their underpaid or slave labor, helped to sustain an abundance of low cost of food. These patterns persist. The U.S. food supply and it’s relative abundance and low-cost today is largely dependent on labor inputs from migrant farm workers, who often do not have citizen status, who are underpaid for seasonal work and live with the threat of deportation…”

But one thing is clear, at least in the Twin Cities: community and urban gardens are IN! And folks of color as well as the majority community are marching in lock-step toward a better and healthier population throughout our diverse communities.

In fact, in many large cities across the country which have found their cores eaten away by poverty and abandonment, rotting and fallen houses are being replaced with very real farms.

Here in the Twin Cities, however, the trend is toward finding people who need, but haven’t been able to access locally grown, fresh foods and more stable and healthy diets as a result – and getting them into the business of seeking and even growing their own fresher foods.

Now, the task may be to fight the powerful fast food and corporate farming industry who advertise the fat foods with little attention to fresh vegetables everyone needs.

Of course, this isn’t the first year this has happened. We’ve covered some of this gardening activity over the last four or five seasons on TruthToTell. But the scale seems to have grown exponentially in 2012.

Community gardens of significant substance are cropping up (forgive the pun) all over the core cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. And these are gardens in neighborhoods all over the place.

So, how can you become connected to this important source of beauty and nutrition? What are the possibilities? The “rules of the growing game?” And tricks of the trade? Who are the people in your neighborhood wanting you to be part of the plotting for a healthier community and ready to encourage your participation in your better health – and that of your children?

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI bring together just four of the hundreds of your neighbors learning and teaching the simplicity of growing good things in backyard or public plots set aside by the cities for just this purpose, and our guests have become the experts at this business.



Gardening Matters: Coalition building, information, advocacy and more on community gardening:

Minnesota Extension Service Yard and Garden NewsGreat newsletter for gardeners, paid for with your tax dollars!

Yards to Gardens: A Twin Cities website that connects people who are looking for gardening space with people who have space available.

Permaculture Research InstituteResearch, education, demonstration, and community-building for urban gardeners in “northern temperate climates”. Sponsors of Backyard Harvest,  which helps urban farmers work in others’ backyards.

Twin Cities Urban Ag ConnectionA networking tool with info about urban agricultural activities in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

Urban FarmingA Michigan non-profit with operations in the Twin Cities; school and community gardens in which harvests are free. They sponsor a community garden in Frogtown, at 533 N. Dale Street.

Growing Power: Wisconsin based urban gardening initiative and land trust.

On-air guests: 

PATRICIA OHMANS – Director, Frogtown Farm, St. Paul 

CYNDY CRIST – Ramsey County Master Gardener and Garden Designer/Teacher

MUSTAFA SUNDIATA - Co-Chair for Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council; Former Coordinator for NorthPoint’s Food Shelf; Former Coordinator for Northside Fresh!

KIRSTEN SAYLOR – Executive Director, Gardening Matters, Minneapolis/St. Paul