An artist-led architecture for urban self-reliance.

Self-reliance and connection to the land are common threads in the history of this place—from pre-settlement societies to European farmers to the early industrial era that harnessed the bounty of the soil and water.

But modern living is erasing so much land-based knowledge and skills, as well as our identity as growers, savers, and rugged survivors. We are now citizens of the corporate-retail-financial complex, more oriented to stadiums than seedbeds. Push too hard on our modern assumptions and they crumble like an interstate bridge. American cities are one major security breach or climate event away from disaster.

Renewing our self-reliance—and our relationships with each other—is increasingly a matter of self-preservation. We are (again) a diverse population of people struggling to make a home together in a challenging place, with many mouths to feed and little more than our collective wits to protect us. What actions will we take to prepare? We believe the Creative City Challenge—with its goals of promoting health, community connection, and vital exchange through art in the city’s center—is the perfect vehicle to address this question.

Artists, as usual, can show the way. Minneapolis makers, growers, architects, technologists, and other creative toilers have long been out front preserving knowledge and skills—and forging new ones—outside the mainstream cultural conversation. From urban farming and sustainable architecture to alternative transportation and homemade textiles, our artists know how to make it for themselves.

This summer in the center of the city, we want to amplify their voices and transmit their knowledge. We call it “Self-Made Mpls”: an iconic complex, part garden, part workshop, part classroom, part prototype, where citizens and visitors rediscover together what we’re capable of.

Will it happen? We’ve proposed sillier things. Never count MakeSh!t out …

safeWHY AM I WORRIED? Forboding creeps on me even (especially) when my world is okay on paper. Maybe I’m on the Internet too much or, more likely, I’m bored. At the slightest slackening of my workload, my mind fills with dire scenarios of poverty, loss and (worst of all) irrelevance. You’d think a light schedule on a nice afternoon would be welcome.

Eff that ish. I’ve initiated a bunch of distractions from doominess: tutoring neighborhood kids, more maps about John Brown, a comic book about Des Moines in the early ’90s (this one’s embarrassingly self-involved, even for me, but I’m focused on “universal themes”—not just teens drinking vodka-Mt. Dews under bridges… though it has that, too). Sarah and I are contemplating an artisanal mustard business to pair with the local crazes for artisanal beers and sausage. Her 5th cousin in Germany thinks we have a future importing fine European senf. What if he sees something we don’t?

Doubt is seasonal. Maybe partying will help.

tumblr_nmcpwgTSiR1qzk2apo1_500WE’RE HITTING A RHYTHM these swampy, swamped summer weeks.

Sarah is aggressively organizing neighbors against the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, which lobbied to tear down the perfectly functional public housing project in our backyard (one of the country’s oldest) and sell it to private developers. Her alliance of tenants and homeowners is winning for the moment. Though now MPHA is like, “Okay, YOU find a solution for long-term maintenance” and none of us know what that looks like. Sarah is two-for-two in preventing local government from demolishing community assets (glad she’s on my team). Meanwhile, I’m flogging grain-free bread, debt-free business financing and stereotype-free teacher training. It’s the kind of variety and volume I thrive on (leaving me too busy to wonder what the hell it all means). I’m dotting i’s and crossing t’s right up ’til 5pm today, when we drop everything and head for Iceland, Holland and Germany for 21 days.

Having signed my own Will this week, I feel ready for anything.


Love & Mercy (a story of two lovable, troubled Brian Wilsons)

Page One: Inside the New York Times (featuring David Carr, “that most human of humans”)

What Happened, Miss Simone? (come for the music, stay for her dancing)

Dinkytown Uprising (Not yet released, but Lucas got a copy from the filmmaker — about the 1969 local protest movement to prevent a corporate burger chain from opening on 4th Street. It was shot mostly by the documentary filmmaker himself, now in his 90s; we enjoyed it at double speed, Chipmunks-style.)

Mad Max: Fury Road (At Jenney’s urging, I caught this in a suburban theater in a recliner with a cocktail; the best-most-boneheaded thing I never knew I needed)


Ta-Nehisi Coates — The Case for Reparations (Atlantic)

Paul Ford — What Is Code? (Bloomberg News)


The Raincoats — No One’s Little Girl

Beach Boys – I’m Waiting for the Day

Pavement – Give It A Day

Camper Van Beethoven — Jack Ruby

Dusty Springfield – Warten and Hoffen

Wir sehen uns im nächsten Monat!

NIGHTGYMSOMETIMES YOU WANT TO GO WHERE NOBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME. To flex before a wall of mirrors unjudged and unjudging. You will not be checked in or asked out or told to Spot me, Bro. It’s just you and CSI reruns on silent mode, your ears filled with grunts and longing. Each triumph or shame is private. In fluorescent isolation, selfness evaporates. All is material, mechanical… A rank duffle. A lone free weight. You are wet meat strung taut over last year’s machines.

Download NIGHT GYM (Mp3).

*** * * * *** * * * *** * * * *** * * *
* * * *** * * * *** * * * *** * * * ***

01 Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Ain’t No Sunshine
02 Shannon & The Clams – Gremlins Crawl
03 Ex Hex – Don’t Want to Lose
04 The Raincoats – Running Away
05 Donny Hathaway – Jealous Guy (Live)
06 Them – My Little Baby
07 Foxygen – Mattress Warehouse
08 Young Fathers – Rain or Shine
09 Jonwayne – Time Trial
10 Son Lux – Let Go
11 The Raveonettes – Sisters
12 Teddy Robin & The Playboys – Fever
13 The Soft Boys – Only the Stone Remain
14 The Red Crayola – Hurricane Fighter Plane
15 The Slits – So Tough
16 Shabazz Palaces – Gunbeat Falls
17 Lizzo – Bus Passes and Happy Meals
18 Kate Tempest – The Truth
19 Frank Black – You Ain’t Me
20 The Dave Clark Five – Good Love Is Hard to Find
21 Fugazi – Life and Limb
22 Parkay Quarts – Pretty Machines
23 Trans Am – Night Shift


Read this now or hate yourself later
If I told you what this was you’d never click it
Early signs of your death

My little man never rising to the occasion
Is it too late to save your memories?

Perfect for all activities and seasons
Unload groceries in one or two trips
Protect and beautify your garage floor
You will not believe why his dad shot him

Eat this
magic is one click away
get erect, get correct, get respect
Where do we send your bottle of Brain Storm?

Glasses destroy your vision
Potatoes will kill you
This made hitler cry

You look terrible Jake
Don’t ignore this

Translated directly from the junk email filter of Jake Nassif


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