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Jennifer Brooks

Columnist | Local
Phone: 612-673-4008

Jennifer Brooks is a local columnist for the Star Tribune. She travels across Minnesota, writing thoughtful and surprising stories about residents and issues.

Previously as a Star Tribune reporter, Brooks covered the State Capitol and the Minnesota congressional delegation in Washington.
Recent content from Jennifer Brooks
Lutunji Abram, center, and her team.

Brooks: Serving up cobbler and community in downtown Mpls.

Come for the cobbler, stay for community at Lutunji's Palate.
Downtown Minneapolis skyline.

Brooks: Downtown Minneapolis isn't what it was — but that's OK

Planner and dreamers say "tremendous opportunities" could emerge after the latest pandemic.
You try telling them that the clocks changed.

Brooks: When the clocks sprang forward, the weary cows laid back down

Cows have just as much of a mental clock as we do, a dairy farmer said, so a time change "really messes with them."
Rose Yarns, 73, second from right, participated in a group bike ride at the Twin Cities Juneteenth festival at North Mississippi Regional Park in Minn

Brooks: It was a nice ride while it lasted for Twin Cities ridesharing bikes

Nice Ride rolling away, but the memories linger
Adib Khorram’s “Darius the Great Is Not Okay” is one of the books the St. Paul libraries have chosen to start a community discussion about menta

Brooks: St. Paul libraries, home of the brave readers

There, a community gathers to read about things that can be hard to talk about — like mental health.
Hundreds of Endless Summer’s “Pop Star” hydrangeas are lined up in Minnesota greenhouses, ready for the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, from M

Brooks: In the midst of winter, Minnesotans dream and plan for spring

This is garden show season.
Ramsey County Deputy Kamaludin Ali

Brooks shares Deputy Ali's American dream: Building trust by showing up for people

Raised in a community with little trust for law enforcement, a new Ramsey County deputy works to earn that trust.
Libraries are a treasure. Not everyone treasures them.

Brooks: Sizing up Minnesota's place on the unbanned book list

Libraries are a treasure. Not everyone treasures them.
Brooks: These Minnesotans get shelter at a price too steep

Brooks: These Minnesotans get shelter at a price too steep

This is life on $121 a month.
South Dakota lawmakers have proposed a ban drag shows and other activities “where a performer exhibits a gender identity that is different from a pe

Brooks: The Dakotas are a drag

Lawmakers in both Dakotas are working hard to turn their states into that dreary town from the movie "Footloose."
Snow falls on the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023 at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis. This photo was made wit

Brooks: Winter brings out the best in Minnesota because it brings out the best Minnesotans

Things to remember when a winter wonderland feels more like a "wonder why we live here" land.
The band shell at Lake Harriet used to be blue, until a beige makeover in 2004. New renovations offer a chance to bring back the blue — if neighbors

Brooks: Lake Harriet Band Shell's new color pits the blue vs. the gray

Neighbors watch closely as Minneapolis Park and Rec works to restore a local landmark.
Alicia Gibson shoveled a sidewalk in the Wedge neighborhood of Minneapolis in 2018.

Brooks: The long road to clear sidewalks in Minneapolis

Minneapolis residents have been asking for 80 years why their city plows the streets, but leaves sidewalk snow removal to property owners.
At a rally at the Minnesota Legislature this week, defeated gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen doubles down on the vaccine fearmongering that failed

Brooks: Antivaxxers try out some new losing election slogans at State Capitol

Extremists rally against vaccines and/or the prospect of ever winning another statewide election.
Minneapolis Animal Care and Control staff and volunteers worked hard to turn a high-kill shelter into a no-kill shelter. Just in time to save hard cas

Brooks: Minneapolis shelter went the extra mile to give this Grinch a home

The city animal shelter went from high-kill to no-kill, just in time to save its angriest, fluffiest kitten.
The congregation of Greater Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church is collecting Black dolls — baby dolls, princess dolls, doctor dolls — this Chr

Brooks: Minneapolis congregation mobilizes to give kids of color dolls that look like them

Diverse dolls, collected by a north Minneapolis church, will help make the season bright.
Aisha Wadud smiled during her 10-month course in the Community Entrepreneurship Program at the University of St. Thomas. The program supports entrepre

Brooks: Big help for entrepreneurs' big dreams

St. Thomas business students offer their consulting services to community entrepreneurs.
Lee Engele, lead skate guard at U.S. Bank Stadium, cheers on the hardy souls who trudged through the snow for the opening night of Winter Warm-Up. On

Brooks: Want to run or roll around the Vikings stadium? It'll cost you

Higher prices, high snowdrifts won't keep fans from a Winter Warm-Up ritual.
Midtown Global Market’s Dar Medina is just one of many Lake Street businesses hoping to see more foot traffic as holiday shopping ramps up.

Brooks: Lake Street mall businesses held on for us. They're hoping we show up for them this season

Stores were gleaming on Black Friday, owners hoping to attract shoppers to their wares.
Bernard FitzPatrick

Brooks: After the Bataan Death March, a life of gratitude

A mother's letter to a son who survived overflows with thanksgiving, as does the memoir he later wrote.
If Twitter collapses, Star Tribune columnist Jennifer Brooks is going to have to sew and mail individual felt ornaments to all subscribers, which soun

Brooks: Twitter, Twitter burning bright

Live-tweeting the last days of Twitter. Or just another weird day on Twitter. With Twitter, it's hard to tell.
Election judge Carol Johnson tied a balloon to a chair before the polls opened in 2019 at Arlington Hills Community Center in St. Paul.

Brooks: A love note to the election workers

Running an election has never been harder — or more important.
Minneapolis Planning Commissioner Chloe McGuire

Brooks: Affordable housing in Marcy-Holmes? Not in our backyards, neighbors say

Fraternity Row worries that affordable housing next door will bring down the neighborhood.
At Heal Mpls, they prefer the term plant-based to “vegan” – a word that conjures up processed soy patties masquerading as ground beef.

Brooks: Heal Mpls eatery nourishing the North Side

One of the newest restaurants in north Minneapolis is all about herbs, eats and love.
Last year, in response to Eastern Carver County Schools reinstating a mask policy in response to rising COVID cases, Greg Petrie wrote, in part: “Yo

Brooks: Last year he yelled at the district. Now he wants to join its board.

The wannabe public servant called the district's leaders, including its Black superintendent, "Power-Monkeys"
At the Interfaith Outreach Food Shelf in Plymouth, a volunteer restocked the fresh produce.

Brooks: As prices rise, hunger reaches deep into affluent suburbs

The rising cost of everything is driving more families to food shelves than the COVID-19 pandemic ever did.
At the Survivors of Sexual Violence Memorial on Boom Island, the mosaic face of a Black woman was smashed to pieces by a vandal this week. It was the

Brooks: Picking up the pieces at the Survivors of Sexual Violence Memorial

For the second time, a vandal has attacked a space set aside for grief and healing
Judeah Reynolds, 11, was a witness to the murder of George Floyd two years ago. She’s the hero of a new children’s book about healing and the powe

Brooks: A birthday story for George Floyd

The little girl who witnessed George Floyd's murder shares a story of healing and resilience
This Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, a rapidly growing wildfire rises in the background in northeastern Minnesota.

Brooks: Fire crews stand ready in parched Minnesota

DNR issues a red flag warning for drought-stricken stretches of the state as fire season looms.
Jack Jablonski in 2021.

Brooks: Jack Jablonski gives Minnesota another gift

When someone comes out to you, say "thank you," says a school equity coordinator.
After 45 years as a youth support specialist for Catholic Charities, Andy Martin is retiring.

Brooks: He made his corner of the world just a bit better

For 45 years, Andy Martin devoted his life to improving the lives of children in the Twin Cities.
August 8, 1962 Clayton Holmes may have to go home to Macon, Ga., soon if things don't break better for him, but he doesn't want to. "I sure don't," he

History repeating: A cruel hoax Minnesota has seen before

The immigrants tricked into traveling to Martha's Vineyard echo the cruel "Reverse Freedom Ride" hoax of 1962 that lured Black families from the segregated South to Minnesota with false promises of jobs, housing and Christmas dinner with Hubert Humphrey
Adam and Abby Duininck at their July wedding.

Brooks: A bipartisan love story in a divided America

A reminder that there are more things that bring Americans together than tear them apart
For two years, federal funds have covered the cost of in-school meals for all students. Now that the COVID funding has ended, schools prepare to deal

For some families, going back to school means going back to lunchroom debt

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid surveyed school lunchroom policies now that the state has banned lunch shaming for students who owe money for their meals.
Sam Ward and Ryan Wooldridge exchanged vows under the Great Big Wheel on the first Friday of the Minnesota State Fair.

Brooks: Love is in the air at the Minnesota State Fair

An Arizona couple joined a long list of couples whose marriages got their start at summer's end.
After years of death and loss, uprising and lockdowns, after political rhetoric turned half the state against the other half, Minnesotans returned to

Brooks: The Great Minnesota Get-Together gets great again

On the happy, sunny, crowded State Fairgrounds, Minnesotans remember what they like about this place
Rather than reproduce the hateful pamphlets that racists have been hurling around the metro in baggies weighed down with corn or rice, here is a nice

Brooks: Hate has crept out of shadows, but communities are pushing back

Racists have been stuffing hate mail into baggies weighted down with corn and hurling them at houses across the metro, like the world's worst game of cornhole.
In 2009, 15 adventure-seeking couples rode on the Pepsi Orange Streak roller coaster after they exchanged wedding vows on the roller coaster at the Ma

Brooks: Adieu to 'I do' at the Mall of America

After 28 years and 8,000 marriages, the megamall's wedding chapel is closing its doors.
Mickey’s Diner will reopen, possibly by the end of summer, surely by the end of the year.

Brooks: Beloved Twin Cities businesses are making a comeback, thanks to you

Fans have donated to save a St. Paul diner and an independent Minneapolis bookstore.
Young golfers competed in the Junior Bronze tournament at the Hiawatha Golf Course in south Minneapolis on Thursday, July 28, 2022.

Brooks: Going the distance at Hiawatha Golf Course in Minneapolis

At the Junior Bronze tournament, generations reflect on the historic public golf course's history, and its uncertain future.
Arabella Foss-Yarbrough, second from left, interrupted a July 16 gathering outside the Minneapolis apartment where police fatally shot Andrew Tekle Su

Brooks: Competing fundraisers offer snapshot of a Mpls. tragedy

In the traumatic aftermath of yet another Minneapolis police shooting, two online fundraisers became an online scorecard.
Marlo Brown assisted customers who lined up out the door to purchase newly-legal THC edibles at Nothing But Hemp on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue on Frida

Brooks: Minnesota businesses chew over new edibles law

This was going be a big summer for Minnesota medical marijuana. This was going to be the summer the state finally let them sell edibles.
FILE - This June 25, 2019, file photo shows a sign outside a Walgreens Pharmacy in Pittsburgh. “Our company policy allows team members to step away

Brooks: The battle for reproductive rights moves to the front register

A Wisconsin Walgreens clerk doesn't want to sell you sinners a condom.
Authorities and officials from the Animal Humane Society removed 47 cats from a hot vehicle at a rest area near Harris, Minn., in mid-June.

Brooks: 47 cats rescued from hot car will find new homes; maybe their human will too someday

The felines were rescued in mid-June from an overheated SUV where they had been living with their owner at a Chisago County rest stop.
Brooks: Brandons are ready to go reclaim their name

Brooks: Brandons are ready to go reclaim their name

NASCAR racer Brandon Brown — of "Let's Go Brandon" fame — is ready to reclaim his good name, with the help of a 9-year-old Brandon from Minnesota.
The one-act play “Watermelon Hill” tells the story of pregnant teens sent away to the Catholic Infant Home in St. Paul in 1965.  From left to rig

Brooks: As Roe ruling loomed, Woodbury school shied away from play about pregnancy

School officials nix a play about pregnant teens for fear of "the current political climate."
Maureen Onyelobi is the first law student accepted into an accredited American law school while incarcerated. She starts remote classes at Mitchell Ha

Brooks: In pipeline from prison to law, she marks a first in the nation

Mitchell Hamline Law School is the first in the country to enroll a student who is still imprisoned
Afternoon tea service at the Lynhall.

Brooks: A restaurant, an angry customer and a reminder about being kind to the ones who showed up

Community rallies around the Lynhall after reports of a customer's threat to "destroy" it on social media.
Anti-abortion marchers and abortion-rights supporters at the U.S. Supreme Court on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in January 2005.

Brooks: South Dakota versus the abortion ban

South Dakota found out that total abortion bans aren't what the majority of voters want.
Brandon Brundidge, age 9, sometimes felt anxious about new experiences because of his autism. Then one day he spotted a “Let’s Go Brandon” sign

Brooks: In a twist, 'Let's Go Brandon' helps a Minnesota boy let go of his fears

A sign meant to make someone feel bad accidentally made one little boy feel pretty good.
The Survivors Memorial in Minneapolis, honoring survivors of sexual violence, was dedicated in 2020.

Brooks: Vandals don't silence Survivors Memorial at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis

With thousands of dollars donated to repair the damage, the memorial is proving as resilient as the survivors it was created to celebrate and console.
Lutunji Abram opened her new bakery, Lutunji’s Palate, in downtown Minneapolis last week. Robbers broke in the first night, but she remains upbeat a

Brooks: A downtown Minneapolis bakery's first week has the bitter and the sweet

A grand opening, a break-in and a small Minneapolis bakery's first week in business.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections is setting up a pilot program to operate tattoo parlors within prisons. The aim is to reduce the spread of hep

Department of Corrections to open tattoo parlor at Stillwater prison

Minnesota prisons are getting into the tattoo businesses
Joan Mondale's urn was created by her pottery mentor Warren MacKenzie.    Joan Mondale's memorial service was held   Saturday, February 8, 2014 at Wes

Brooks: Walter Mondale's urn rich in family and history

Made by Stillwater potter Warren MacKenzie, the urn once held the ashes of Mondale's wife, Joan
Brooks: A young author checks herself into the library

Brooks: A young author checks herself into the library

Delighted librarians have turned Forest Lake fourth-grader's debut novel into de facto e-book.
The Minnesota state flag is seen as displayed in the State Capitol building rotunda on Thursday.

Jennifer Brooks: Oh say can you see a better flag for Minnesota

Legislature gets serious about finding a state flag with less nudity and racism.
Minnesota-born artist Wayne Brezinka’s exhibit, “Facing War: An Invitation to Reflection on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine,” opens this weekend

Brooks: The art of protesting the Russian Embassy

A Minnesota-born artist put his support for Ukraine into his art, then put his art where Russia's diplomats can't miss it
Gov. Tim Walz laughed as he joked with a bipartisan group of fishing partners at the 2019 Governor’s Fishing Opener on Fountain Lake in Albert Lea,

Brooks: A scaled-back Minnesota fishing opener tries to preserve the traditions that matter

Has Minnesota become the sort of place where political divisions mean we can't even fish together?
Volunteers across the Twin Cities are packing care packages for the for the United Way’s Flavors of Our Community food drive. Each package is a care

Brooks: Minneapolis, St. Paul volunteers give the gift of comfort food

United Way drive collects culturally-specific pantry staples
Business owner Anissa Keyes tackled another round of trash removal. She purchased the historic Camden Park State Bank building in north Minneapolis, h

Brooks: Spring cleaning in the Camden neighborhood of Minneapolis

A north Minneapolis entrepreneur working toward the future takes out the trash.
Debra Pedro is retiring and closing the Maplewood Perkins, marking the end of an era for a community gathering place.

Brooks: Closing time at Deb's Place means the end to a longtime gathering spot

In the last days of the Maplewood Perkins, regulars returned to share a few meals and memories.
Twin Cities teachers including MFT, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59, and ESP, Education Support Professionals, rallied at the Minnesota St

Brooks: For these Minnesotans, some jobs are worth striking for

While some quit in search of better jobs, others stay to try to improve conditions at the jobs they have.
Minneapolis residents, firefighters and descendants of John Cheatham cheered as Cheatham Avenue replaces Dight Avenue. The street, once named after th

Brooks: Cheatham Avenue leads Minneapolis into its future

A street once named after the founder of the Minnesota Eugenics Society now honors Minneapolis' first Black fire captain
Schoolteacher Ruth Karnowski, a Minnesota native, was forced to flee Ukraine ahead of the invading Russian troops. From a refuge in Slovakia, Karnowks

Brooks: Minnesota teacher who fled Kyiv bears witness for Ukraine

Class continues for Ruth Karnowski of Little Falls, who is working now from Slovakia for the sake of some of the war's littlest refugees.
Family, politicians and ALS advocates applauded DFL state Sen. David Tomassoni during a news conference earlier this month highlighting proposals to e

Brooks: Sen. David Tomassoni won't battle ALS alone

Lawmakers, scientists and celebrities unite to fight a disease that has taken some of Minnesota's favorite Minnesotans
Pro golfer Tom Lehman, left, and Darwin Dean, president of the Upper Midwest Bronze Amateur Memorial Golf Tournament, are working to preserve the Hiaw

Brooks: Park Board takes another swing at Hiawatha golf course

Preservationists and pro golfers rally around the Hiawatha golf course
North High School students visited their rooftop solar garden that will soon provide power to the school and the north Minneapolis neighborhood.

Brooks: Solar garden powering and empowering north Minneapolis

For neighbors in north Minneapolis, a solar garden represents more than just a chance for cheaper electric bills
If you visit the 4-H building at the Minnesota State Fair, you’ll see a sign above the door: 4-H Welcomes You.

Brooks: 4-H welcomes LGBTQ+ youth

Minnesota 4-H stands up for, and with, LGBTQ+ youth
Jasmine Robles hangs two more hearts on the COVID-19 memorial at Edina City Hall. There are 113 golden hearts in the window. One for every resident lo

Brooks: The COVID pandemic and Edina's broken hearts

At a time when many are eager to move on from COVID, Edina remembers.
Rep. Esther Agbaje, DFL-Minneapolis, said the shooting by police in her apartment building left residents shaken.

Brooks: For lawmaker, a shooting by police hits home

Rep. Esther Agbaje was home when SWAT team opened fire in her apartment building
Two years ago, at the start of the pandemic lockdown, traffic in the theater district was light as the marquee message above Brave New Workshop on Hen

Brooks: Downtown boosters work on 'Reanimating Minneapolis'

Downtown Minneapolis shifts from trying to get through COVID to learning to live with it
Substitute teacher Craig Nilles led a physical education class at Eagan’s Woodland Elementary in October 2021.

Brooks: Minnesota's irreplaceable replacement teachers

Substitute teachers hold Minnesota schools together as the pandemic tears everything apart.
Storyteller Abby Johnson reads to children during Ojibwe Story Time at the Duluth Depot. The weekly event not only introduces children to Ojibwe tradi

Brooks: Once upon an Ojibwe story time in Duluth

The St. Louis County Historical Society and Ojibwe authors open a new storytelling chapter.
Kim Griffin, took a sample from Gianna Cassidy, age 1 1/2, during a COVID test with five members of her family in the parking lot of Masjid An-Nur Mos

Brooks: North Minneapolis community finds a way to get COVID tests, residents living again

When there weren't enough COVID tests to go around in north Minneapolis, a community rallied.
U.S. Navy veteran John Ferman at a Memorial Day ceremony at Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery in Minneapolis in 2019.

Brooks: A fitting final resting place among pioneers and soldiers in Minneapolis

Longtime volunteer Jack Ferman's last wish was to be buried at Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery.