We lost a dear friend in John Carlson last week. He was the custodian who lost his life in the Minnehaha Academy explosion. He was not only a friend of my family, but he was a friend of so many other people whose lives he touched with his caring, compassion and steadfast faith in the Lord. It has been mentioned countless times how he mentored kids of all ages, but what I learned throughout this entire dreadful, heart-wrenching experience is that John was not only someone the kids loved and adored, but he was an example of how adults should pattern their lives. I would challenge others to “Do What John Did!” Care about others and see the good in them. Reach out to someone who needs a hand. Speak a kind and encouraging word to someone in despair. Give someone a Dilly Bar! The lives you will affect will surely make a difference, as has been the case with those whom John touched with his kindness. Surely, we can all do this!

Cheryl Hunstock, Minneapolis


‘Legacy’ is a missing link in State Arts Board grants

The Aug. 6 story on reduced state support for the arts (“A summer surprise”) omitted an important fact about State Arts Board allocation of Legacy Amendment funds. While large art organizations receive a big piece of the pie, with the remainder divided among many smaller organizations, virtually no board operating grants fund conservation or preservation. Neither the House nor Senate legislative committees that oversee Legacy Amendment appropriations, nor the board, adhere to the letter or spirit of the language in the Legacy Amendment providing that moneys be spent “ … for arts, arts education, and arts access and to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage.”

Minnesota is fortunate to have one of the few nonprofit organizations in the world that is dedicated to the preservation of art and historic artifacts. The Midwest Art Conservation Center works to ensure both access and preservation of our cultural legacy for future generations, yet no longer receives operating funds from the State Arts Board, apparently because it does not create art. This shortsighted thinking ignores the importance of preserving priceless and irreplaceable art and artifacts already held by hundreds of Minnesota public collecting institutions — museums, libraries, colleges and universities, county historical societies, and tribal and governmental organizations. And it fails to recognize that newly created art also will require care. What sense does it make to implement our Legacy Amendment, as adopted by the Minnesota electorate, yet withhold operating funds from the only nonprofit organization in Minnesota dedicated to the preservation of our cultural legacy?

Gregg Larson, Arden Hills


Organization picks a side: That of creating rifts

The Loft Literary Center announced on its Facebook page last Friday that its upcoming Children’s and Young Adult Literature Conference was canceled due to its underrepresentation of writers of color and “voices from marginalized communities.” “The conference lineup was full of incredibly talented writers,” the center wrote. “However, it was not a lineup that fully matched the Loft’s values,” which are to be “inclusive, equitable, challenging and welcoming.”

I’m guessing that this cancellation came after pressure from young-adult (YA) social-justice activists, who, according to an article published this week by Vulture, have created a cannibalizing culture of call-outs in their community, particularly on the internet. Canceling an event that would promote writing (for kids, no less) and foster connections between writers, two tenets of the Loft’s mission statement, is destructive and divisive. When I signed on to be a member of the Loft, albeit humbly (I’m an English teacher and no Daddy Warbucks), I did so because I believed in its mission to promote the literary arts and to open minds to the joy of writing. I did not join hoping that this “haven for writers and readers” would be sacrificed at the altar of intersectionality. Writers excited to learn and improve have been stifled. Teachers eager to pass on their knowledge have been rejected. I’m sure you’re tensing up with anticipation of an MLK reference, so my $5 a month and I will get on our way and go buy a kid a book or something.

Hayley Rosenfield, Faribault, Minn.


Oh, well there’s $15 million well-spent. Not.

Really? I mean, really? The St. Paul Winter Carnival is going to raise $15 million to build an ice castle for the Super Bowl? (StarTribune.com, Aug. 8.) To quote one of Minnesota’s most witty and intelligent minds, Joe Soucheray: “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”

Do we have so few other real issues in Minneapolis and St. Paul to deal with that we might temporarily lose our minds and build a $15 million ice castle for the benefit of the throngs of “warm-weather” tourists who will come to the Super Bowl? My next letter will have a list of 100 better ways to spend $15 million in St. Paul or Minneapolis!

Dave Arundel, Excelsior


One way or another, it has its hooks in taxpayers

Regarding the Aug. 4 counterpoint “Met Council actually serves metro area quite well,” Steven Dornfeld states in response to a previous article that the Metropolitan Council is not levying “billions in taxes.” Rather, just 8 percent of its $1.017 billion budget comes from property taxes and the rest from state and federal funding. Exactly where does Dornfeld think the state and federal funding comes from if not my tax dollars?

Pamela Janisch, Mound


Not grudging tolerance, but mutual respect is our tradition

Shining from within the Rev. G. Travis Norvell’s Aug. 8 commentary about the unacceptable bombing of Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center (“If some can’t feel at ease in worship, none should”) is the finest definition of our constitutionally guaranteed right to free exercise of religion I have ever read. He tells us that the American tradition “is not one of tolerance but of mutual respect.”

Our founding document doesn’t require us to grudgingly tolerate others’ free exercise of religion but to respect their right to be other than us. And, of course, it gives us the right to be other than them. Keep in mind how reciprocal free exercise of religion is and how protective it should be. And because we respect each others’ free-exercise right, we were all injured by the bombing of Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center.

Elaine Frankowski, Minneapolis


Would you have the courage?

Here’s a bravery challenge:

You will learn a foreign language as if your life depends upon it, because it does.

You will leave all that you know and most of what you have.

You will uproot your family and travel by any available path to find safety and sustenance.

You will be rejected by many, hated by some and threatened, perhaps injured, by a few.

You will reinvent yourself as often as necessary because your life and the lives of your family depend upon it.

If you are an immigrant, you pass this challenge daily.

My country needs brave people. Welcome, and may autumn find you abundant in peace, warmth and friendship.

Kathleen Wedl, Edina