Climate Change and Art Collide in The Visible Air: Recent Innovations from the Gymnasium

August 10, 2015, 2:58 pm


Aquaminous | ah-KWA-mi-nuhs | adjective

The quality of air just before a rainfall; origin: the Latin aqua, meaning water, and ominous, meaning foreboding.

-Mo Perry

Excerpts from The Language of Air

Excerpts from The Language of Air, on view at The McKnight Foundation

“Aquaminous” is just one of dozens of new words created for The Language of Air, a crowd-sourced dictionary comprising invented terms to describe qualities of air. It is part of the new exhibition The Visible Air: Recent Innovations from the Gymnasium at the Cynthia Binger Boynton Gallery. The dictionary is meant to expand the ways in which we can think about and discuss air, asking participants and readers alike to ponder the question, “If we were more equipped to describe air, would we take better care of it?” Read the rest of this entry »

Elizabeth McGeveran: Fighting Climate Change One Step at a Time

June 18, 2015, 2:00 pm
Completed Community Solar Garden outside of Denver International Airport. (Photo: SunShare)

Completed Community Solar Garden outside of Denver International Airport. (Photo: SunShare)

On Thursday, the Minnesota town of Cologne (population 1,500) signed a deal making it our first local government to go solar. This town will host a SunShare community solar garden, which will save $40,000 a year by fueling city buildings and sending electricity into the grid.

The municipality looked at its assets, identified a partner, and took action. This is the fundamental formula for fighting climate change.

Forty miles to the northeast, The McKnight Foundation is trying to do the same thing through our grantmaking, but also through our $2.1 billion endowment. Like Cologne, we are looking at our assets, identifying partners, and taking action on climate — in both big and small ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Neal Cuthbert: Reimagining Southeast Minnesota

June 9, 2015, 8:45 am

Below is Vice President of Program Neal Cuthbert’s foreword from the McKnight-commissioned Small Towns, Big Ideas: Reimagining Southeast Minnesota, an essay by Jay Walljasper that explores innovative examples of economic resilience in Southeast Minnesota that could serve as models for the entire Midwest.

Jay Walljasper’s Small Towns, Big Ideas: Reimagining Southeast Minnesota was commissioned by The McKnight Foundation as part of our “Food for Thought” series — a collection of independent essays to help inform our understanding of the fields in which we operate and our related program strategies. This is the first in a four-part series examining the opportunities and challenges in Minnesota’s countryside.

Since 1986, The McKnight Foundation has invested over $270 million in the Minnesota Initiative Foundations — six independent regional philanthropic organizations with priorities defined by the people in its own region. They offer grants and loans to support prosperous and diversified local economies, protect natural resources, cultivate strong leadership, and offer innovative social services. Read the rest of this entry »

Arleta Little: Art Counts

May 19, 2015, 9:30 am
Mu Performing Arts performing Little Shop of Horrors (Photo: Michal Daniel)

Mu Performing Arts’ 2011 production of Little Shop of Horrors (Photo: Michal Daniel)

When is the last time you saw a play, an independent film, or live dance?

Listened to live music or a poetry reading?

Held a hand-thrown ceramic mug or bowl?

Admired a painting, piece of sculpture, or public art?

Perhaps, you and your neighbors have come together to make art or your children participate in art in their school or community.

Minnesota is flush with 42,189 artists who live throughout the state and generate many of the arts experiences enjoyed by nearly 19 million attendees (including many repeat patrons) each year.

Many of Minnesota’s artists find resources and audiences for their work via the enviable ecosystem of arts and culture nonprofits that exists in Minnesota as the result of a long legacy of public and private investments. Read the rest of this entry »

Erin Gavin: Helping America’s Dual Language Learners Succeed

April 30, 2015, 8:47 am
Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Public Schools.

Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Public Schools.

Through our Pathway Schools Initiative, McKnight partners with seven schools in the Twin Cities — as well as the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute — to align and improve the quality of literacy instruction from PreK-3rd grade. Dual Language Learners (DLLs) make up nearly two-thirds of the student population in our Pathway Schools — across Minneapolis and St. Paul, DLLs represent approximately one-third of all students and are the fastest growing demographic in Minnesota schools. We view these bilingual students as a key asset for Minnesota – strengthening our cultural diversity and improving our global economic competitiveness.

However, these aspirations will be realized only if DLLs receive effective educational supports. In 2014, only 64 percent of language learners in Minnesota graduated from high school on time — compared to 76 percent of all students. Only 24 percent of DLL third graders in Minnesota read proficiently — a metric that research demonstrates is highly predictive of future academic success. Read the rest of this entry »