Thursday, June 17, 2010

Crossing into Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul

Hello. Much has happened since we last spoke! Where to begin?

I think every state we enter is our new favorite (except Indiana, no offense), and Wisconsin's rolling hills and National Wildlife Refuges were awesome. There were also some unnervingly long cave/tunnels, which were even scarier for Jon as he made his way through alone as Sarah rested her knee.
But Minnesota might be our new favorite. We stayed in Winona at a Catholic Worker House, which is a really incredible place where people who are homeless or in between housing can meet daily in the afternoon for "hospitality" - games, cards, conversation - and do laundry or have a hot meal. Guests can stay overnight for several weeks at a time as they look for jobs and places to stay. We had great conversations with the people staying there, and even got a dry place to sleep in the unoccupied rooms! The House struck a chord with all of us, but especially James; talking to Dan, the live-in volunteer, we learned about the combination of direct service, direct action advocacy work, and sustainable good-stewardship communal living that they practice, working in the backyard garden, providing community for those that have none, and feeding and housing those who need a bit of help.

Turns out, one of volunteers we met at the Catholic Worker House recommended a toy store where we stopped the next day, en route to Red Wing. He had even called ahead to let them know we were coming. They welcomed us with free carousel rides and we took an extended lunch break to watch the llamas (?) and play a round of mini-golf. By the time we left, this had already been posted at the entrance to LARK toy store.

Also, in Red Wing, we found the World's Largest Boot.

We made it into Saint Paul yesterday and are staying with Jon's aunt and uncle. Last night we backtracked to Eau Claire, WI to see NC-based band Megafaun play in their former hometown. Sam Quinn from the Everbodyfields opened with some solo material (!). He looked exhausted and the bar, which was pretty packed at this point, kind of talked over him and his guitar and I think he might have fallen asleep on stage. But when Megafaun got on and struck the first sweet, sweet banjo notes of 'Longest Day', the grungy House of Rock bar was the most still and quiet it's probably ever been. Megafaun is unfortunately often known mainly as 'former bandmates of Bon Iver' but, man, their folk-rock and mountain-man harmonies which soar overtop intricate guitar and banjo work - so often deconstructed into experimental electronic soundscapes, only to slowly gather form as they funnel the sound-fragments into the next song - put us in an hour long trance as we stood stage-side. Afterwards, after talking to the bandmembers, Jon noticed that Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, was hanging out across the room. After a really awkward, "Hi Justin, Ireallylikeyourmusic," they talked for a bit and turns out Justin is one of the nicest, most humble guys you could meet.

So now we have a break from biking and have scheduled interviews at some of the Twin Cities' organizations working with homelessness. We're now headed over to Catholic Ministries to help serve lunch, and then interview some of the service providers on their staff. 3 days, 7 interviews!

In the house like furniture,

1 comment:

  1. Hey there,

    Hurrah for Minnesota! I'm really interested in the Catholic Worker House you visited (and the Catholic Worker Movement in general). The house sounds like a wonderful place, and I'm glad it was a meaningful visit for you. And the toy store adventure is a great story. There's nothing better than mini golf and free carousel rides.

    Stay healthy. (Sarah, I hope your knee is rested & okay.) I'm cheering you on from Tennessee!