November 5, 2011 — Hundreds of Somalis filled the Brian Coyle Center in Minneapolis today to audition for a movie starring Tom Hanks. Casting consultants say Hanks will play Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage in 2009 by Somali pirates. The movie is supposed to be shot next year in New Orleans. The casting auditions included a specific call for boys 7 to 10 years old. Eight year old Sadis Daurd waited for his turn for hours. He passed the time reading books and eating snacks.
October 14, 2011 — A new Minneapolis police department unit that aims to educate ethnic communities about terrorism is a potential victim of city budget cuts. The new Community Engagement Team is two months old. Its officers say they've begun working in several communities. But in his proposed budget for next year, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak has recommended using the Community Engagement team members to replace patrol officers who are retiring and are not being replaced. The Engagement Unit's officer for the Hmong community, Kou Vang, says he can't build trust with people unless his job is long-term.
October 1, 2011 — More than 25-hundred people are expected to attend the 10th annual Hmong Fair today at the Aldrich Arena in Maplewood. Organizers have 2-thousand meals prepared for the event. It began a decade ago as a large family gathering to distribute information about how to connect with resources in Minnesota. The fair has expanded and added more features as the Hmong community grew larger and more settled. This year there's also a large job fair. Fair executive director Kazoua Kong-Thao says the community has been hit hard by the recession.
October 1, 2011 — The annual Hmong resource fair marks its 10th year today. The free fair has grown over the last decade as more Hmong refugees came to the Twin Cities. It's been a key resource for social services, healthcare, education, and employment help. This year the event is at the Aldrich Arena in Maplewood. Fair executive director Kazoua Kong-Thao says the community's needs have changed as its population grew more established in Minnesota.
August 23, 2011 — Governor Mark Dayton announced today that a college professor who lives in Chaska will serve as the state's next poet laureate. Joyce Sutphen is the second person to hold that official position, which the Legislature created in 2007. She replaces Robert Bly, who then-Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed.
August 20, 2011 — The 10th Annual Hmong Arts and Music Festival kicks off this morning with a parade along University Avenue. The festival in St Paul's Western Sculpture Park showcases the work of traditional and modern Hmong artists of all ages and media. There are also activities like singer-songwriter contests. Organizer Katie Ka Vang says the youth tent is a big part of the festival.
July 11, 2011 — The Department of Corrections is operating with 600 fewer employees during the state government shutdown. The 15-percent staff reduction means inmates can't receive visitors or volunteers, including those who perform religious services, because there aren't staff available to process them. Marla Thao, an inmate at the Shakopee women's prison, says she regrets she won't be able to participate in the monthly Hmong ministry program before she's released next month.
May 24, 2011 — The Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis announced today it will no longer charge admission for its mainstage productions. Artistic director Jack Reuler calls the new policy "Radical Hospitality." He says it just makes sense in fulfilling Mixed Blood's mission of providing theater to all.
May 23, 2011 — City inspectors are going house by house and apartment by apartment in Minneapolis to assess damage from sunday's storms. A deadly tornado ripped through the city's north side, killing at least one person and damaging at least 100 homes. The city will distribute food in at least three locations Monday. Gov. Dayton plans to tour the area along with city and state officials. Mayor R.T. Rybak visited people at an emergency shelter sunday night.
May 23, 2011 — At least 16 schools in north Minneapolis and Fridley are closed after yesterday's tornado.