Henry Aoki (he/him/his)

Class of 2019
Political Science
Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP)

For my project, I decided to partner with the Asian American Organizing Project, a non-partisan non-profit that focuses on civically engaging Asian Americans in democracy. AAOP regularly hires a cohort of part-time summer ‘Organizing Fellows’ to support their civic engagement work, so I joined AAOP as their full-time Lead Organizing Fellow. My work over the summer consisted of three, intertwining parts: organizational logistics, direct civic engagement, and issue-oriented movement building.

AAOP is centered on community organizing. The overarching goal of my work this summer was to engage Asian-American communities in a politically active conversation around healthcare. More specifically, my work was not to advise healthcare providers on how to make their services more accessible or to deliver information about healthcare services to Asian-American communities; instead, I worked to facilitate conversations around healthcare where communities identify and overcome their own healthcare disparities.   

My partnered organizer and I developed a strategy for this campaign built around first engaging healthcare-focused micro-communities and then working with those micro-communities to engage the larger community. To pilot this, we established a partnership with The Arc Minnesota, an organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which is attempting to develop a support group for Hmong families. The support group will launch in January, and will, among other things, provide a space for Hmong families to have a politically focused conversation around healthcare. We’re currently seeking out other such micro-communities in which to have these conversations.

Margaret Breen (she/her/hers)

Class of 2020
Restorative Justice Community Action (RJCA)

Through this fellowship, I partnered with Restorative Justice Community Action (RJCA), a community based non-profit that offers a diversion program for people cited with misdemeanors or minor felonies. RJCA facilitates conversations between individuals who have been cited for crimes and those impacted by the crime to discuss the incident and determine how to make amends. Those who complete the program have their conviction charge dismissed, avoid fines, and minimize contact with the court and traditional justice system.

My summer project focused mainly on doing data analysis: working with the executive director on the year end report, and analyzing data collected from surveys that RJCA had administered to participants over the past year. In this work, I was able to apply a lot of things that I had learned from my sociology methods course the previous semester. It was really fun to get to see how this kind of survey analysis could be done outside the classroom with actual data and used by a community organization.

Throughout the summer, I also facilitated several of the restorative conversations between people cited with crimes and those impacted. I found this work  very challenging because the circumstances in which the participants were cited for the crime were often unjust and I didn’t always see the value in discussing individual actions and responsibility when, in some cases, the citation seemed to be caused by larger systemic issues. For example, I encountered a case in which a man who was homeless was in the program because he’d been cited for fare evasion on the Green Line.

Overall, I learned a lot this summer about the criminal justice system, restorative justice, and working with community based non-profits in general. I had no experience in this field and partnered with RJCA in an attempt to challenge myself to branch out and try something new. I’m really grateful that the Chuck Green Fellowship provided me with the opportunity to do something new and different and gave me support when things didn’t always go the way I thought they would.

Flora Fouladi (she/her/hers)

Class of 2020
Political Science

RECLAIM provides mental health services for queer and trans youth, but the specific project I worked on was for their new peer education program on personal violence for queer and trans youth. Queer and trans young people are at a higher risk of experiencing personal violence, even though there is little to no existing curriculums addressing their specific circumstances.

I created a curriculum to be used for upcoming peer educator training sessions. To create this curriculum, I pulled from various existing curriculum, as well as the advocacy training I received from the Sexual Violence Center. My goal was to build a victim-centered and anti-oppression framing that truly spoke to the unique and unaddressed experiences of queer and trans victims of personal violence.

I also began work on a facilitator’s handbook to be given alongside the curriculum that spoke to further information and values of the curriculum. The final piece of work I left RECLAIM with was a short social media guide. After giving out surveys at Pride, we found that youth were most likely to seek support from friends, family, and social media/online communities. For that reason, I felt it would be useful to give my perspective as a young person on the various online communities and social media platforms youth may be seeking support on.

My time at RECLAIM was an invaluable experience. As a college student, you are rarely granted the agency to make choices that really matter. During my summer, I was able to fully involve myself in work I was passionate about and be in a space dedicated to the community I care for. I wish RECLAIM the best as it continues work on the peer education program, and its mission to reduce personal violence in the community!

Karinna Gerhardt (she/her/hers)

Class of 2020
Political Science
TakeAction MN and Jewish Community Action

To keep our democracy strong, young people need to participate. This was my Chuck Green mission: to find ways of increasing young people’s access to political knowledge and opportunity, and help provide the tools they need to be lifelong voters.

I partnered with two excellent organizations: TakeAction MN and Jewish Community Action. Each organization is deeply committed to justice work, and was enthusiastic about building a strong base of youth participants. Working alongside these partners, I recruited, trained, and mobilized a force of young volunteers who felt fed up with politics as usual and were looking for ways to make a change. I canvassed frequently, registering young people to vote and having conversations about our place in the political world. Additionally, I planned and executed trainings – voter registration trainings for our volunteers, and a separate training to motivate young people to get their friends involved in this election.

The biggest part of my job this summer was making connections. I built connections on the streets with the people we canvassed, with my volunteers, with my co-workers, and with representatives from many Twin Cities organizations committed to voter engagement. In partnership with the Secretary of State’s office, I helped plan a summit of leaders in the voter outreach community, including representatives from the League of Women Voters, the ACLU, Minnesota Voices, the Minnesota Youth Collective, and more. The outcome of this summit was a strong professional network of voter outreach leaders, and a plan for collaborating on a registration event this September.

This summer, I learned a lot about the value of listening. Since my job was primarily based on building and maintaining relationships, I developed the skills to be fully present in my professional and personal interactions. I’m very grateful to Jewish Community Action, TakeAction MN, and the Chuck Green Fellowship for this unique opportunity.

Jonah Giese (he/him/his)

Class of 2019
Political Science & Economics
The Minnesota Budget Project

In the public sphere, Minnesota is often exalted for its purportedly progressive tax system. Recent scholarship, though, has deconstructed this myth, demonstrating the myriad ways in which our tax regime incapacitates low-income communities and exacerbates wealth inequality. While Minnesota is relatively more progressive than other states, the vestiges of an inequitable system remain. This summer, in partnership with the Minnesota Budget Project, I worked to identify and address these structural problems.

The Minnesota Budget Project is a non-partisan research and advocacy organization that fights for policies that ensure economic security, justice, and opportunity for all Minnesotans. In the past decade, the organization has demonstrated its commitment to these values time and time again, championing legislation at the Capitol that has made Minnesota’s economy more equitable and prosperous. MBP is led by a Macalester Alumni, Executive Director Nan Madden. I was extremely fortunate to find such an organization that shared my values, commitments, and academic genealogy. 

At the beginning of the program, I had two primary roles: as a researcher I conducted an exhaustive review of existing tax policies, and as a facilitator I convened policy wonks, community members, and stakeholders to identify problems and propose solutions. As an admittedly grass-tops organization, we worked intentionally to center the lived experiences of those negatively affected by the tax code. We had upwards of 20 conversations with various folks within the community. These discussions illuminated the strengths and weaknesses of our existing tax regime.

These conversations, and the proposals that emanated from them, served as the basis for the latter half of my project, in which I formulated an advocacy agenda aimed at addressing these concerns. In consultation with other tax advocates, we developed preliminary proposals that will be brought to the Capitol this coming session. These proposals include an expansion of the Working Family Credit to excluded workers, the development of a state Child Tax Credit, and improving funding for integrated tax preparation and financial capability sites.

Finally, I developed a toolkit of advocacy materials that will be shared with allies to galvanize support for our initiatives.  With any luck, the work I’ve done this summer will adequately inform upcoming policy debates, and ensure that Minnesota’s tax system is as equitable as possible.

Ellie Hohulin (she/her/hers)

Class of 2019
Forecast Public Art

Art, urban spaces, and community engagement are major interests of mine. I see my study of art history as a way to use my passion for these subjects to make creative work more accessible to the public and as a way to share stories and build community. In the fall of 2017, I took Urban Geography, and completed my final project on public art. I knew this was a passion I wanted to explore further after great frustration in the ways the mainstream art world is often highly elitist and inaccessible. I wanted to find a sect of art that was more focused on the community. Forecast Public Art is a non-profit in St. Paul working to make public art happen in the state of Minnesota and throughout the country, by way of grants, consulting, workshops, and publishing a public art magazine. It was a perfect fit.  

Throughout the summer, I assisted with a wide variety of projects within the consulting branch, from working with the Mall of America on a new commission and assisting with workshops for artists to conducting research on how various communities are confronting problematic or controversial monuments.

My main project focused on performance art in public spaces. Performance art is not often considered when thinking about public art, instead, ‘the three Ms’, as Forecast puts it, (monuments, murals, and memorials) come to mind. But as artists attempt to move away from the commodification of their own objects, site-specific performance pieces allow an opportunity for sharing stories in urban spaces that are temporary and made for the public. The resource list I created this summer consists of artists, projects, book titles, online resources, historical topics, and big questions to consider when thinking about performance art in the public. I hope this resource will be useful for Forecast and artists as this form and the field of public art continues to grow. I am excited to continue to think about public art and re-conceptualize my art history major and the path down which it will take me, and am so thankful to Forecast.

Troy Ikeda (he/him/his)

Class of 2019
Political Science
Union Park District Council (UPDC)

Every day of my summer as a Chuck Green Fellow with the Union Park District Council (UPDC), I sat down and asked myself the question: how can we make our city better? As Saint Paul and Union Park (the neighborhood just north of Mac-Groveland, stretching from the Mississippi River to Lexington Avenue and Summit Avenue to University) grow and change, residents of the city meet head on at the district council level with differing answers to that question. Some prefer to see the change arrested, preserving “neighborhood character” and historical homes. Others would prefer to see development embraced head-on, increasing housing stock and density. The problem I tasked myself with solving was how to make sure that Saint Paul continues to hold viable housing stock for low-income residents. In short, I wanted to ensure that more affordable housing is produced.

When I was brought on as a Chuck Green Fellow at UPDC in March, the Executive Director (who would leave before the summer started) suggested to me that I spend my Chuck Green summer researching inclusionary zoning, a policy that mandates that developers set aside a certain amount of units as affordable when constructing new market-rate developments. This meant that I spent my days up to my eyes in policy, giving me a chance to explore my then-unrealized desire to descend into full policy wonkery. It meant that all of my casual conversations somehow ended up being about zoning codes, and that I had a favorite type of zoning (Traditional Neighborhood, because it allows for higher housing density as well as business mixed-use developments, which ultimately results in a more compact and walkable city), and that I couldn’t differentiate between Noah the name and NOAH the Naturally-Occurring-Affordable-Housing. This was exhausting but ultimately satisfying, and it culminated in a lengthy written report distributed to the UPDC board as well as a half hour presentation to the UPDC Committee on Land Use and Economic Development (CLUED). I’ll also be working with UPDC as an off-campus student employee in the upcoming academic year; the new Executive Director and I have talked about taking that presentation on the road to other district councils.

At the end of the day, I used my platform as a Chuck Green Fellow to start a conversation around affordable housing. I wanted to problematize some of the accepted rhetoric around neighborhood conversations. Who are new developments being built for? What are the racial implications of “neighborhood character?” Why do homeowner interests get more attention than renter interests? (At the time of writing, the Saint Paul City Council is entirely composed of homeowners. Mitra Nelson, who is running in the Ward 4 special election, would be the only renter on the City Council. The committee members at the CLUED meeting I presented at were entirely homeowners.) I’m excited to use my continued presence at UPDC to further those conversations and build some momentum at the district council level for equitable development for all.

Suzanna Jack (she/her/hers)

Class of 2019
American Studies
Urban Boatbuilders

This summer I partnered with Urban Boatbuilders, a youth empowerment organization located in Southwest St. Paul. Urban Boatbuilder’s mission is to empower youth through woodworking and experiential learning, and the partnership proved to be an engaging and action filled experience. Urban Boatbuilders pinpointed their Women, Trans, Femme open shop volunteer night as an area where engagement was needed, and I spent the summer working to solidify a more solid volunteer base for the program.

My main project consisted of work in communications and outreach, with the end goal being new engagement from volunteers and similar local non profits. This involved the organization and development of resources, including contact lists and collateral materials, cultivation of a social media presence for the night, and working to establish relationships with similar-mission nonprofits and local businesses in the Twin Cities. I also spent an extensive amount of time interviewing and talking to staff members of Urban Boatbuilders in order to understand how they envisioned WTF fitting in with their overall mission. My 10 weeks accumulated in an event I helped organized called “Bagels and Bandsaws, a WTF Power Tools Training and Orientation” which served as a jumping off point for people to get involved with volunteer opportunities at Urban Boatbuilders.

Chuck Green has been a unique opportunity to put theory into action, and experience all the highs and lows that come as a result. Working with my wonderful cohort over 7 months to experience change on a local level, and grappling with all the complexities this holds, has been one of the highlights of my Macalester experience. Urban Boatbuilders challenged me to work ambitiously and unapologetically towards establishing an equitable space for all. Moving forwards I hold a new understanding of the impact locally based civic engagement has, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in the future. Plus, learning how to use power tools and basic woodworking skills was a pretty great added bonus to my partnership!

Jadie Minhas (she/her/hers)

Class of 2020
Political Science and International Studies
House of Charity (HOC)

This past summer, I partnered with House of Charity, a nonprofit homeless shelter in downtown Minneapolis. House of Charity has a variety of programs for housing, chemical or mental health treatment, health and case management, and a Food Center that provide free meals to the public for every day of the year. The main goal of House of Charity is to empower vulnerable people in need who are experiencing homelessness. The main components of my fellowship were to research the history and policies of homelessness in Minnesota and organize and promote an advocacy group.that creates ways for residents and volunteers to get more involved on a fiscal level in Minneapolis and with House of Charity.

The policy advocacy group or Advocacy Response Team (A.R.T.) is a group comprised of residents of House of Charity or volunteers from the Food Center. The A.R.T. main areas of focus are: housing, mental health, hunger, and homelessness. The group meets for an hour every month and I’ve orchestrated two meetings throughout my fellowship. The first meeting focused just on advocacy and ways to advocate, while the second meeting had a mental health emphasis and was primarily discussion based. Both meetings were successful and had guest speakers to help facilitate discussions; now that my fellowship has ended my supervisor is due to take over the group.

Over the fellowship, my thoughts of seeing the A.R.T. being fully fleshed out had changed to me just getting the group started since in hindsight ten weeks went by very fast. I’m happy that up until the last day people interested in joining the A.R.T. were still emailing me and I managed to garner a few steadfast members. Additionally, I left an outline of events for the A.R.T. to focus on over the next few months. Consequently, I learned a lot with House of Charity about nonprofits organizations, homeless shelters, and the housing crisis in Minnesota and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to start the A.R.T. for them.

Susanna Morales (she/her/hers)

Class of 2020
Sociology and Latin American Studies
Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES)

During the summer, I partnered with CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio) and worked with their youth program (YA! – Youth in Action). CLUES is a Latinx non-profit organization located in East St. Paul. CLUES works to provide educational services for adults and youth, health care programs, citizenship trainings, referral service, and elder housing. My project consisted of planning a girls’ retreat for Latina high schoolers involved with the YA! program. I worked mostly in the office coming up with schedules for meetings, schedules for the retreat, and how to teach the student leaders to facilitate activities. When I was not in the office, I was meeting with students, usually at a coffee shop. Working with the students was the most exciting part of my summer! I worked with 5 student leaders who brainstormed, planned, and facilitated all of the activities for the retreat. They were all incredible, funny, hardworking, and inspiring students. The students did most of the work to plan activities and the schedule for the retreat; while I was there to support, facilitate the planning discussions, and help them think about how each conversation and activity planned should tie to the retreat theme, culture and identity. Because I was meeting with students twice a week, my work schedule revolved around their availability. Some days I would end work at 4:00 pm, other nights I would end work at 8:00 pm.

40 girls in total attended the weekend retreat in August. It was a lot of fun to spend time with a variety of Latina youth and dive in deeper to our identities. Being around such motivational and empowering Latina youth made me feel excited to see how Latina women will work to create change!!

Eleanor Noble (she/her/hers)

Class of 2019
The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA)

This summer I had the opportunity to work with CURA (the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs) for my Chuck Green civic engagement fellowship. CURA’s goal is to collaborate with communities in Minneapolis to produce high-quality research on critical urban issues. CURA acts as a central connection between state, local government, neighborhoods, non-profits, and community organizers. My project  focused on property. I attempted to address several questions: Who owned Minneapolis land and properties from 2007-2017? How has that structure changed throughout time and space? I utilized GIS, spatial statistics, and quantitative research methodology to answer these questions. Alongside CURA staff, I had the opportunity to engage with community members looking for GIS support on a multitude of issues. CURA continues to be a reliable source for community-initiated urban research on issues ranging from increasing voter turnout to quantifying displacement. One of the most important skills I’ve gained this summer has been the ability to take initiative on ideas and projects. Chuck Green taught me that you are taking the initiative to get along with people who are really excited and invested in your work. I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to continue my work at CURA throughout the rest of the summer. I will continue the land ownership research while assisting an evictions research project led by Macalester Professor Brittany Lewis – look out for it!

Yuren “Rock” Pang (he/him/his)

Class of 2020
Political Science
US-China Peoples Friendship Association – MN Chapter (USCPFA-MN)

This summer I partnered with the US-China Peoples Friendship Association – MN Chapter (USCPFA-MN) for my Chuck Green Civic Engagement Fellowship. Founded  in 1974, five years prior to the establishment of the US-China diplomatic relations, it served as a funnel between the peoples of two different states in its heyday during the 1980s and 1990s. However, due to stronger ties as China opened its door, people now have more ways to communicate, and the USCPFA-MN’s old mission needs re-evaluation.

For my project, I helped the MN Chapter with this issue. First, I refined its outdated website with wordpress tools (some HTML, CSS and PHP) and opened an online payment gateway for its membership. I classified the organizations’ events in the past ten years and drafted most contents on the website. In addition to helping the organization project itself in front of its audience, I reached out to six organizations whose missions are related to the USCPFA-MN’s. They include the U of M China Center, Confucius Institute, Hospitality Center for Chinese, and Chinese Heritage Foundation, History Theatre, and Minnesota Historical Society. I promoted a future information sharing platform in which interested organizations can keep updated of recent events in the Twin Cities community.  

This summer, not only did I practice my web design technical skills, but I met a lot of cool people. I became aware of this volunteer-based organization’s approaches to engaging the booming Chinese community. This summer was full of brainstorming, interviews, friends, and personal growth. The picture is me with my supervisor in a Dragon Boat Race I helped organize this summer.