Saturday, March 10, 2018

Cow Tipping Press Day 4

Cow Tipping Press Day 4

Today we talked about and worked on Journalism. We talked about people who engage in journalism are people who write for podcasts, newspapers, blogs and that they try to be unbiased. We listened to an excerpt from the podcast "How to Become Batman"  which was a fascinating piece about how some people who are blind can learn echo location and can help activate visual areas of the brain. It also talked about how sometimes people can be prevented from learning echolocation by well meaning people who are "overprotective."

The writing prompt was to 1) write about a time someone overprotected you or "robbed you of a learning moment".

One of our participants wrote about how he wished he could have more choice in controlling his finances and wanting to learn about it to not have to be so protected. Another talked about how tricky having money could be because sometimes you are tempted to buy things you don't really need like dvd's. One of our members talked about how people who wanted to stand in her way didn't need to be part of her life. One participant came up with a story about the superhero Batman and how he could catch you if you would try to steal from a store, leading us to talk about how sometimes it is good to be protective.  Another member wrote about a time when he thought he was ready to do something but it turned out he did need protection.

We next read about 27 Historic Firsts That Changed the World Forever. Our group liked that this article reminded us of news and history and enjoyed learning about these women. Others liked having list of people who changed life and why. The writing prompt was to 1) make a list of important people and why or 2) write about one person and several reasons why they rock. One person wrote about how how important her brother has been in her life. A second person wrote about how much Buffy the Vampire, Wonder Woman , and Jennifer Lawrence are to her. A third person wrote about his admiration for Robin Williams.

Our third reading was Everyone is Going Through Something by Kevin Love. Our group felt that this article gave a glimpse into another life. They also felt that it was sad he hadn't had time to grieve his grandmother but they were glad that he was sharing about what he was going through.  The writing prompt was to write about if you could tell the whole world a truth what would you tell them. One member imagined he would write the true story of what it is like to be a NBA player. Another wrote about autism and how he feels it is a misability-a misunderstood ability. He wrote about how people with autism are able to work on challenges. Another member wrote about how she had some mental health struggles, hearing voices, but that she was able to work with family and doctors to make her way through.

At the end of our session we had a couple of our members read poems from last class about different body parts (this was the homework assignment).

We also talked about how on 3/22 I could tell anyone who can come about MN Writes MN Reads. See you for our last class on 3/15.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Cow Tipping Press Day 3

Today Shelagh was sick so she couldn't join us, although she was planning on trying to do writing prompts from home. We had Mary, Danny, Mike, and Nathan join us today.

Today's Creative Writing Genre was Poetry. The group discussed how poetry is a way of expressing your thoughts and that it can use language in unusual ways. They also said that poetry can be used to tell things that are from your soul and that sometimes it rhymes and sometimes it doesn't.  Poetry uses imagery, word association. Poetry doesn't have to have correct grammar or full sentences. 

The first poem we read was Prayer for Dropouts by John Colburn. Our group said they liked the imagery in this poem, the pictures it made in their minds, the possibilities it opened up. Nathan liked the magic, the birds, flowers, the beautiful pictures the poem made in his head. Our teacher talked with us about how there are no good or bad poems, maybe that there is just the right poem for the right person. 

The group had a choice of two writing prompts: 1) Underline 10 unusual words and write a poem using these words, 2) Write a poem starting each line like Colburn does "may the..." "may you"..

Mary wrote a poem reminiscent of a spoken word poem about gibbons and their love for fruit, Nathan wrote about a golden magical garden trying to capture some of the same beautiful imagery he admired in the Colburn poem. Danny wrote a very hopeful poem called "May You". Mike wrote a very gentle poem about his fiance with soft imagery of rain and snow. 

We then read "No Hell" by Cloud Cult. Our group remarked how they felt the poem was about learning from pain and finding beauty through hard times. They noticed the importance of beauty and nature in the poem. One of our participants commented on the imagery of the soul without the skin attached, making the readers see what the poet has been through. We discussed what our souls would look like. Some said a beam of light, a star, What would our soul look like when we are feeling different emotions, would it look like a thunderstorm if we were mad or sad, if we were happy like a rainbow. We also talked about line breaks in poems and how they are used to create meaning. In prose, full sentences are used. 

The writing prompt was 1) to write about how your soul would look without the skin attached or 2) to write about the best things you've learned and where you learned them from.

Mary wrote a poem in the form of a prayer. Nathan wrote a love poem to a cat in a garden. Dan wrote about the soul and the many ways you can see it depending on how you feel, the many sides we all have. 

I shared a poem called Hours Days Years Unmoor Their Orbits by Rachel Zucker . The group commented that they liked that the poem was loving and vulnerable. I commented that the poem spoke to me as a parent because it talked about the changing relationship between a son and mom as the son is growing and trying to become independent and that it is also about remembering people when they are younger and seeing who they become. It is also about the journeys that our loved ones take us on.

Our writing prompts were 1) to write about a memory from childhood, 2) to write about remembering a family member.

Nathan wrote about imagining an adventure with his cat. Mike wrote about a memory of melted chocolate that was mistaken for a bathroom accident. Mary wrote about walking in shadows and hiding and Dan wrote about memories of his dad and him, their favorite times.

Last we listened to Sarah Kay recite "Hands" and the writing prompt was to 1) think about different things you've done many times or 2) to write about a body part. The group will share their works next time. Next week's genre will be revealed this Thursday.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cow Tipping Press Writing Workshop Day 2

Cow Tipping Press, Day 2

Impending snow kept a few members away but we had a small but mighty group-Nathan, Mike, Danny, Mary, Shelagh and our teacher, Amy.

This week's writing genre was Fiction and we also talked about Imagination.

We started off by reading a passage from BFG. The groups' impressions of the passage were that it was an exciting adventure to be a friend of a giant and catch dreams, one understood why the nightmare was so angry being stuck in a jar, another felt scared of some of the giants, and yet another commented that he enjoyed the funny language, the names the BFG came up with for various items.

The 1st writing prompt was to imagine that you could make friends with a mythological (made up creature-a mermaid, giant, werewolf, etc.) and describe one of your adventures. The other choice was to tell about a dream as if it were a real event.

Danny read about a superhero dream he has had, where he is Super Dan. Shelagh recounted an adventure with a unicorn. Nathan shared a dream of meeting aliens and Mike, a horror fiction lover/writer, told a gruesome tale of being friends with a witch.

Next I shared a passage from the book From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The group thought the idea of running away to a museum was cool, another member remarked that it reminded him of the movie "Night at the Museum". This prompted a discussion on Settings in writing and also realistic versus fantastic fiction. From the Mixed up Files is more realistic fiction while Night at the Museum is more fantastic fiction.

Our 2nd writing prompt was to write about where/when (what time period-current, historical, or future) and with whom would you run away.

Nathan read to us about going to meet a mummy in a museum in Egypt with deadly consequences. Mary was feeling stuck in her writing thinking that she didn't have anywhere to run away to, but she used this to create a beautiful poem called "Running Away to Nowhere". Shelagh read to us about running away to a secret garden in Disneyland with a friend, Mike veered away from horror and wrote about a romantic adventure and perfect getaway with his fiance, and Danny wrote some historical fiction, setting his story on the Oregon Trail.

Our last passage of the evening was from Because of Win Dixie. The groups' thoughts about the passage were that one member could tell the Winn Dixie store manager hated being licked by a dog, another liked how the dog was described as messy and looking like a carpet,  another felt sad about the dog not having an owner, but happy that the dog was so amazing and fell in love with Opal. Many agreed that it seemed like it was love at first site for Opal and Winn Dixie.

Our 3rd and last writing prompt was to either imagine finding something in a place it doesn't belong like how a dog is found in a supermarket in Because of Winn Dixie. The other choice was to imagine that someone needed rescuing like Winn Dixie, the dog, needed rescuing from Winn Dixie, the supermarket.

I apologize, but I was out of the room making copies of the participants' writings so I missed some of the last readings. I know that Danny wrote a fishing story about catching a bird who swam instead of flying and I believe Nathan wrote a poem about his cat. Unfortunately I didn't get to hear the others.

Next week we'll be working on Poetry.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Cow Tipping Press Writing Workshops, Day 1

Thanks to the Dakota/Ramsey County ASD Innovations Grant, SPPL has funds for a Cow Tipping Press 5 week writing workshop for adults with developmental disabilities to help enable them to have their own voice and do their own writing. CTP has instructions for Transcribers who help people who can't write on their own or benefit from assistance in writing to make sure that the participants' authentic voice is being heard.  We reached out to TAP to share with their members as well as with others and we have a great group of writers.

 Day 1 we focused on Creative Non-Fiction writing. Amy is our teacher and she started off the group with an Ice Breaker-tell us your name, why you wanted to be in the writing workshop, and your spirit animal. Next the group read a passage from the Diary of Anne Frank and talked about how it made them feel. We have a great group of self advocates and they all felt sad that Anne didn't have friends of her own age and that she, and other people who were Jewish, were restricted in what they could do and when they could do it. The writing prompt was "Write as if you were writing in a journal or about a time when you felt your freedom was being restricted." We listened to some very chill classical music and the group had 10 minutes to write. Hearing the group read was wonderful-some great descriptions of why they like to write, what they hope to gain from the class, as well as some inspiring stories of going through times when people felt they were on their own, facing challenges,  and how they worked through it and turned or are turning things around.

The next passage was from the House on Mango Street and Amy talked to the group about imagery-painting a picture with words. The group wrote about places/spaces they had been and how these places/spaces made them feel.

The final passage was Joyas Voladoras by Brian Doyle which considers the capacity of the heart in animals and humans. Our writers were tasked with writing for 5 minutes about their spirit or favorite animal or anything related to the heart. Some wonderful writings emerged about the heart and feelings as well as participants'connections to animals.

I am excited to see what people share with us next week when we focus on Fiction. I've been invited to share a passage with the group so I'm eager to give this a try. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 04, 2017

The New Foundation Directory Online Interface

Foundation Directory Online has a new interface designed to achieve more relevant results using natural language. The separate “silos” of the previous version  - grants, grantmakers, companies, 990s- are brought together in a single search.

Now if you type “public libraries in Minnesota” in the main search box, you should see grantmakers, past grants, recipients and 990 tax forms relating to grants for public libraries in Minnesota. It is no longer necessary to specify “National” and “International” as well, as that is included in the Minnesota search.

Grantmakers are now sorted by “Grant count" by default to show you the most active grantmakers. It can be changed to "Amount funded" to see how much they give in your area.

If you hover over Grantmaker names with the mouse, you can check a snapshot of the grantmaker to see if they will be a good match.

Note: the basic search will not allow you to do complex Boolean searches. Searching “public libraries and stem education in Minnesota will just give you results for public libraries in Minnesota, not stem.

For more complex searches, click on “Advanced searches and filters”. You can then click on “Additional filters” to add a keyword to your search. Just remember, even though there are over 4 million records in FDO, it is still a small pool compared to Google, so don’t narrow your search too far. If you find yourself with too few results, go back up to “Showing results for” and click on the “x” next to the limiter you want to remove.

In advanced search, click in the boxes and start typing and it will give you suggested terms. “Population Served” is a new option - you can limit to certain groups such as youth seniors, veterans, etc. You can also search by metro area now, e.g. “Twin Cities Metro Area”.

Grantmaker records have a handy sidebar to jump to each section. Other new elements include:

  • Other Funders to Consider: Funders with similar giving patterns.
  • Who’s Who now includes links to staff’s LinkedIn accounts.  - can see if you know any people in common.
  • Linked to related organizations- 3M Foundation’s record has links to 3M Company Contributions Program and 3M the company.

The landing page includes two other options -Pathways and Resources. Pathways lets you type in your organization’s name to see who else your funders give money to and who else gives to these other recipients. You can also type in the name of an organization similar to your own. This is another way to find organizations who might be interested in funding you.

Resources includes training, nonprofit news and research, and the Foundation Center’s blogs. The Eye on FDO blog has a lot of good information on using Foundation Directory online.

Here is the recording of the New FDO webinar.

Here is a Quick Guide.

Here is a glossary of terms.

--Andrea @GLCL

Friday, May 26, 2017


Spring 2017 Legal Education Program


How do you know where to look for legal information?

Have to think which branch of government would deal with the question - also if it is federal, state, or local.

Legislative branch:
  • Statutory law
  • Laws
  • Statutes
  • Ordinances

Executive branch:   
  • Administrative law, i.e., regulations - things related to science and technology tend to go here.
  • Licenses
  • Utilities
Judicial branch:       
  • Cases
  • Decisions
  • Opinions
  • Briefs
  • Criminal pleadings
  • Court filings


  • Brief - when each lawyer makes an argument
  • Filings - documents given to the court - if patron says they want to file in court, go to court forms

Law libraries in the metro area: - Ashlie Kennedy

The Minnesota Judicial Branch has Self Help Centers and a plethora of resources on their web site to assist self-represented litigants or SRLs (SRL is used instead of  “pro se” to be clearer to laypeople). Self Help Centers focus mostly on civil law and do not offer legal advice or tell patrons what to do. They can walk them through the process and give them options. Every courthouse has a workstation with a computer, printer, Internet, and phone with access to staff - Only Ramsey and Hennepin have walk-in centers (Ramsey is Family Law only). Workstations have co-browsing, in which staff take over computer and get patrons where they need to go. It is not income-based, anyone can use it.

Juvenile and Family Justice Center
25 West 7th Street
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 266-5125

The Ramsey County Family Court Self-Help Service Center is located on the first floor of the Juvenile and Family Justice Center. Office hours are Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Staff can also be emailed forms and will give feedback as to what goes where - not advice. Contact form asks for name, email, county, subject (required), phone (not required). Reply time is within 3-4 business days

Any contact ends with and offer to give referrals for legal advice. Free legal help requires a low income and varies by agency - usually 300% of poverty level, but best to call first.
MN Legal Advice offers free online legal advice for those who make less than $24,120.00 annually. If the patron doesn’t fit the guidelines, then they refer them to state and county bar associations - no specific names. If patron does not want to pay for full legal representation, some lawyers will offer limited-scope or unbundled services, but lawyers don't always like to do it, because then they don't know everything that's going on.

Each has a consistent format with tabs, including forms and resources when applicable. Some have videos from the Minnesota Judicial Branch YouTube channel. The tabs can be tricky to navigate on mobile. Look under the name of the language for world language resources.

Before looking for a form, it's best to start at Help Topics so you know what form you need - otherwise, you just have a list of forms. Over 500 forms are available.

Fillable "smart" forms with fields that you can fill out online are in the works. They hope to have three pilot Guide and File forms by 6/1/2017 from the vendor Tyler Technologies. It will make things easier by filling in your name in all the locations on the form and asking guiding questions like TurboTax and other e-filing resources. The old I Can Divorce interactive form has been discontinued.

Currently, forms are only in .pdf & Word formats- Word can be edited, but it is not ideal.

Have to get to the Help Topics Homepage first - click on blue square under "contact the Self-help center" - a user ID & password pops up, they give it to staff so they can connect - should work on any computer - is an executable file, so may not work at the library

Minnesota Judicial Branch Self Help Centers do not help with:

  • Criminal cases, except for criminal expungement, which is actually civil. Criminal plaintiffs will have a public defender.
  • Forfeiture - when plaintiff’s property is seized in a criminal case - usually drug- or alcohol-related.
  • Court of Appeal cases- refer to State Law Library.
  • Out of state cases.
  • Payment of tickets or citations -refer to Court Payment Center.
  • Help with or issues with public assistance.

Probate & Estate Planning, Legal Referrals - Liz Reppe

Probate is the process after a person’s death of settling their estate.

Estate planning - pre-death
Probate - post death

Patrons want to know how to avoid the trouble of probate - having a will alone is not sufficient.

Ways to avoid probate:

  • Joint accounts - assets go to the other person on the account - they have all rights to account.
  • Transfer on death account - money goes straight to person.
  • Joint ownership of property - assets go to the other owner on death.
  • Putting assets into a trust.
  • Transfer on death deeds - property goes to the other person on death - make sure they want it - what if there's a mortgage?
  • Life estates - you own it until you die, then someone else owns it.

Related topics:
  • Power of attorney - someone else can access bank accounts, sign contracts, etc. before you die. Ends when you die.
  • Health care directive - others can make healthcare decisions when you can't.

Who to give Health Care Directive/Power of Attorney to - doctor, bank, person who you are giving authority, safe deposit box. It is recommended to get a Revocation of Power of Attorney form in case you change your mind

Resources for Probate and Estate Planning:

LawHelpMN -Seniors
Minnesota State Law Library - Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning
LawHelpMN has interactive forms for Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive.
Commerce Department Uniform Conveyancing Forms - Power of Attorney, Trusts, Deeds (e.g. Quit Claim Deed). - Commerce web site is terrible, so search “uniform conveyancing forms mn” in Google.
Minnesota Attorney General - Probate and Planning

If you want to own property with another person using a Quit Claim Deed, you have to convey to yourself in addition to someone else.

Joint tenants - one owns after other dies.
Tenants in common - each owns half and half goes to heirs upon death.

Legal Aid doesn't do estate planning, but there are other places to go for assistance:

Volunteers of America has reduced fees on estate planning
Wills for Heroes -free wills for 1st responders
MN Legal Advice Online can also give advice on estate planning - can take a few weeks.

Wills are county-specific - using a form from another county not ideal, but better than making one from scratch. Nolo legal self-help books are better for federal issues like bankruptcy and starting a new business.

It is strongly recommended that a lawyer always review quit claim deeds. Make sure your will covers Minnesota requirements - can have an attorney look at it later.

Legal referrals by county- links are updated at least once a year.

Finding a Will:

Wills should be deposited in county where the deceased lived. If you can't find a will, check the court to see if they deposited it. You need a form to get access to safety deposit box if you think the will is there. If deceased left less than $5,000 and no real estate you can fill out affidavit for collection of personal property. Affidavit of Identity & Survivorship is a form to get deceased spouse off joint car title, mortgage, etc.

If you do a serious formal probate, won't find all the forms online for free. County & state law libraries have a book with forms on a disc. Miller-Davis also sells forms. The LegalZoom site for legal help is not recommended for wills.

Basics of Landlord/Tenant Law - Laura Busian - Volunteer Lawyers Network

Minnesota Rules suggest Pro Bono hours (not mandatory) - Volunteer Lawyers network helps lawyers do them. They have community clinics for landlord/tenant issues in Minneapolis.

The landlord/tenant relationship is dictated by lease agreement, but agreement has to follow laws. You can't waive right to habitable place in a lease, e.g., “landlord will make no repairs”. It is fine to ask for things like snow removal to be done by tenant - must be prominent in lease- must get something in return, e.g., rent reduction.

MN Statutes offer Tenant Remedies Action for group of tenants with the same landlord. Individuals can file a Rent Escrow Action to get repairs done. A rent abatement action - return of rent for having to live in uninhabitable place- usually tied into eviction or lawsuit for unpaid action - can be filed in Conciliation or District Court. Tenants may have to file a complaint with housing, health, energy or fire inspector if relevant laws are not being followed. Licensing of landlords is done on the city level. Some tenants fear repercussions, e.g. being reported to ICE if undocumented. . Some clients can't get a new place without the security deposit.

The security deposit has to be returned in 21 days by landlord - either whole deposit or itemized explanation as to why withheld - many landlords fail to do so. The tenant can make claim for return of deposit in Conciliation Court. Money matters are dealt with in Conciliation Court, other things in Housing Court (repairs, evictions).

Evictions go on the tenant's record as soon as filed, before it is decided - it has to be expunged later. The landlord has to file an eviction action - lockout without eviction is not legal. Average rents in MN are more than $1000/month, with less than 2.5% occupancy rates. This means that landlords have a lot of power if they decide to go bad

The most common reason for eviction is nonpayment of rent. Other reasons are pets, noise and refusal to leave after notice to vacate. Minnesota is a "Pay & Stay" state - tenant can pay unpaid rent and stay after eviction, landlord must accept if no other issues

Only law enforcement can physically evict - technically within 24 hours, but emergencies come first. Although it is illegal to evict tenants for defending their rights, some landlords will still file an action, forcing tenants to go to court and assert their claim of uninhabitability. If roommate or significant other is the problem, tenant can ask the landlord could evict both, then do a new lease with tenant. Landlords can give tenants a notice to vacate if the less is month-to-month - must give tenants 30 days’ notice.

Tenants who don't have money to file forms can get fees waived if eligible.

Homeowners have a right to eject a family member without going through a formal eviction process.

Criminal Expungement - Shawn Betts

Criminal expungement is sealing records, not destroying records. Betts advises clients they can legally say they have not been convicted in a job interview if it has been expunged. They remain accessible to law enforcement. Actual pardons are very rare -have to be filed with Governor's office.

Expungement likely if:

1) Client found not guilty
2) Client went to diversion program - community service, fine, probation
3) There was a stay of adjudication - client pled guilty, but judge dismisses after probation - still on background checks.

Must file a petition in court: $322 or so filing fee if it was decided against them. Sometimes this can be done administratively by Prosecutor's office - doesn't hurt to file a request.

Some felonies are eligible - Mostly property or drugs.

Expungement not allowed for:
  • Sex offenses
  • High-end drugs
  • Aggravated robbery

Benefit for person has to outweigh damage to state: if they have gone on to improve themselves, expungements are usually granted. Arrest records can be returned without expungement.

Have to send to all state agencies with records of arrest, or it will still turn up in background checks - Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Health & Human Services, etc. Gun rights and voting rights are not necessarily restored by expungement - different forms and departments. Some organizations have reduced rates for expungement. Patrons usually need legal help with the Affidavit for Service so that they cover every agency.


Non-government companies like are not affected by expungement, but you can send them proof of expungement and they are supposed to take it down.

Time Limits:

Misdemeanor:          Probation period plus 2 years
Gross Misdemeanor:   Probation period plus 4 years
Felony:                     Probation period plus 5 years
 (Mostly property felonies)
DUI’s, assaults, sex offenses, etc.:  Have a period of ten years during which an enhanced charge can be filed if the offender reoffends.  Highly unlikely that expungement will be allowed during that time period.
The person who wishes to have something expunged must file their petition, wait at least 60 days, the petition is heard.  If the petition is granted, the prosecutors, BCA, etc., have at least 60 days to file an appeal.
For the petition to be granted, the benefit to the person must outweigh the burden to the state.
There are 12 factors which are considered:  

  1. the nature and severity of the underlying crime, the record of which would be sealed
  2. the risk, if any, the petitioner poses to individuals or society
  3. the length of time since the crime occurred
  4. the steps taken by the petitioner toward rehabilitation following the crime
  5. aggravating or mitigating factors relating to the underlying crime, including the petitioner's level of participation and context and circumstances of the underlying crime
  6. the reasons for the expungement, including the petitioner's attempts to obtain employment, housing, or other necessities
  7. the petitioner's criminal record;
  8. the petitioner's record of employment and community involvement;
  9. the recommendations of interested law enforcement, prosecutorial, and corrections officials
  10. the recommendations of victims or whether victims of the underlying crime were minors;
  11. the amount, if any, of restitution outstanding, past efforts made by the petitioner toward payment, and the measures in place to help ensure completion of restitution payment after expungement of the record if granted
  12. other factors deemed relevant by the court.
If you are arrested without charge, you can get your records back with just a letter to the appropriate agency.

Forms for everyone!

Legal forms are available online, but scattered among many sites. To remember the top four places to check for forms and legal resources, think CALL - Courts, Attorney General, LawHelpMN, Law libraries.

Some examples:

Minnesota Bar Association - rental agreement
State Law Library - service animals
Volunteer Lawyers Network - Spanish language resources
Minnesota Courts - court cases (some details may be omitted for privacy).

 --Susan H. and Andrea H., GLCL