The food shelf crisis, one more post about Tom Keith, secret suicide, Tay Zonday on the economy, and the monarchs of Monterey.
The Monday Morning Rouser:
1) THE FOOD SHELF CRISIS
In the Mankato area, the demand on the food shelf is 22 percent higher than a year ago.
In the suburbs of the Twin Cities, the demand is 89 percent higher than 2008, it's 50-percent higher in Apple Valley since last year, according to this excellent photo gallery from Caroline Yang.
In Minnetonka, MPR's Julie Siple reported recently, kids have several concerns: One is their hunger, the other is the possibility other kids will find out about their hunger:
Minnetonka High School Principal David Adney said the school discreetly gives food to students who don't get enough from home, keeping a small room filled with donated oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, and other items.
"[They are] instant lunches that kids can make quickly, and it doesn't stand out," Adney said. The last thing a student wants to hear is, "Oh, my gosh, you can't feed yourself."
Leave it to Aaron J. Brown to cut to the chase in his Hibbing Daily Tribune account of the difficulty faced by the Hibbing Food Shelf, which has too many people who need food, and too few dollars to restock it. The director cut her salary. In the past, money has always come in at the last minute, but not this year.
The real divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans. The divide is between the out-of-touch power structure, including leadership in both parties, and the apolitical, struggling lower and working classes. These are the people working nights at the gas station or nursing home, going home tired to kids that need help with their homework. These are the grandparents raising small children. These are the people watching their pay hold steady or drop while food, gas and insurance prices rise.
Right now these folks are on or near that food shelf database. If things get worse they'll be in the street. I don't mean living on the street. I mean banging on the doors of the kind of people who think our problems can be summed up by political invective and useless sound bites. I can't wait. Maybe when this is settled we can go back to climbing that mountain, together.
This could be the week when the number of neighbors who don't have enough food to eat could be one of the top stories and maybe even a question in the presidential campaign. But probably not.
2) INTERVIEW WITH TOM KEITH
On Saturday night, friends of Tom Keith held a party in his honor at the Fitzgerald Theater. Tom, as you probably know, died two weeks ago. I missed this video when Prairie Home Productions posted it last week, but it's an interview Tom did shortly before his death.
I wish MPR had broadcast Saturday's tribute to Tom, but his long-time radio pal, Dale Connelly, had the perfect seat and is perfectly suited and talented to tell us about it...
The smiles in this photo are an important sign of artistic success. The people who put the show together, Garrison Keillor, Dan Rowles, Kate Gustafson, Sue Scott and a host of other hard working APHC staffers and associated artists, insisted that the Fitzgerald theater be a eulogy-free zone for the night. There not much that words can add when you bring out the bagpipes, as they did for the show's finale. What is it about that instrument that gives people permission to cry? Maybe the intensity of the sound simply drives emotions out of hiding, I don't know.
And if that wasn't enough - Pies Were Thrown. Or at least Pies Were Pushed Into Faces.
3) SECRET SUICIDE
You see the phrase in an increasing number of obituaries, "X died after a courageous battle with X." Rare is the day when an obituary mentions a courageous battle with depression and other mental illness, an unparalleled form of human suffering. Suicide? Obituaries and news stories rarely mention suicide because they insist it will encourage more suicides (a massive denial of what causes people to take their own lives), but more likely because it's still considered a shameful thing.
A week ago, a doctor in Fargo took his own life and the Fargo Forum newspaper reported the cause of death just that way and, apparently, took plenty of heat for doing so. Over the weekend, Matt Von Pinnon, the paper's editor, explained why:
When I came to The Forum more than 17 years ago, we had a practice of not reporting on suicides unless it was done in public. If it was done in public, we couldn't ignore it because people would know.
But society's view on suicide is slowly starting to change. We are beginning to realize how many people are touched by it because it has happened in our families, to our friends, or to those we know.
Over the past week, I've heard from a few people concerned that because we reported it, more people might attempt suicide as a final solution to a temporary problem.
I feel just the opposite. I think, if anything, it has urged people here to reach out to friends or family members they see struggling. Dr. Blehm's death shocked us into awareness and action.
A letter-writer disagreed:
What part of that story was beneficial to the public in any way? What duty did you feel to publish that? It was similar to the ugly stories I read on the newsstands at the supermarket each week, and that is something you should not be proud of. I think it was disrespectful and rude.
It is so hard for a family to absorb such an unexpected death anyway, but to have it in print is even harder.
Yesterday in Saint Paul, a woman climbed to the top of the Robert Street bridge. Authorities say it wasn't for recreation, but wouldn't confirm she intended to take her own life.
Police removed one person on the ground who was telling her to jump. But there's a woman named Sheila involved in the story who should get a little attention.
4) CHOCOLATE ECONOMY
Tay Zonday, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, that Tay Zonday.
5) YOUR BUTTERFLY MAJESTY
The Monarchs have reached their destination -- at least the western U.S. monarchs have: Monterey, Calif.
Bonus: (h/t: Neatorama)
This is the time of year when employers typically hold open enrollment periods for employees to change their medical plans and other benefits. It is also open enrollment time for people covered by Medicare. Today's Question: What factors affect your health-plan choices at open enrollment time?
THE BIG STORY
As the Vikings prepare for another game with the Green Bay Packers Monday night, The Big Story Blog looks at Minnesota-Wisconsin cross-border issues. What makes Minnesota and Wisconsin different? How are we the same? What do we fight about, and why?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Parents, teens, and the culture of sex.
Second hour: The ethics of the Penn State scandal.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Carleton College professor Roy Grow on President Obama's 10-day trip to Asia.
Second hour: John Lithgow in conversation with Garrison Keillor.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: TBA
Second hour: TBA
In the decade since my partner died by suicide, I've read my fair share on suicide prevention and suicide contagion.
Evidence suggests that simply reporting suicide honestly doesn't increase suicide contagion. The problematic reporting is that which suggests or implies that:
* suicide was a courageous act
* suicide had a single, unitary cause
* suicide was a rational choice
* suicide was inevitable
Excruciating circumstances may contribute, but when a person is dies by suicide, circumstances are nearly always compounded by breakdowns in mental health, personal support, and/or availability of health care. Reporting that is mindful of that, and doesn't speculate about simplistic causes, isn't going to trigger suicide by others who are vulnerable or struggling.
Monetary donations are an integral part of keeping those food shelves running.
If it's okay, I'd like to make a plug for Give to the Max Day. In Minnesota, it'll happen on Wednesday November 16th -- the day after tomorrow. Individuals who are moved to make an online donation are likely to see their dollars doubled by matching grants and other efforts.
(And of course, individuals who are moved to donate to MPR or other causes in the state can help them in the same way!)
So who is Sheila? If she is worth mentioning, why won't you give her a "little attention"?
Why not click the link and find out?
After reading #1, I will get a little extra non-perishable goods while grocery shopping tonight and toss them in the food shelf bin on my way out of the store.