Public Spirit, May 2013

Readers, Corps compadres, and site visitors, this Public Spirit greets you with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the beautiful summer weather has arrived. Everyone seems to be a bit sunnier, even on the many rainy days we have had. In “Life Hacker,” PS offers some suggestions for inexpensive summer fun in Minnesota (including things to do outside of the Twin Cities). On the other, the service year is wrapping up and everyone seems a bit more frazzled—people are finishing projects, worrying about next year, and preparing to say goodbye to friends made this year. In “End-of-the-Year Feels,” PS takes a look at Corps members’ main feelings about his year ending. But this year is not without at least one remaining Corps-wide event: take a look at the upcoming Career Fair! Read on to enrich your public spirit!

Upcoming Events

Looking Forward, Moving Forward:

AmeriCorps Career and Education Fair

Wednesday June 12th

1:00pm to 5:00pm

The International Institute of Minnesota

Sign up here!

The Social and Networking Committee has put together a fabulous list of organizations and schools for this career fair. This is a great opportunity to network with places that you may want to work with in the future. On the list of attendees so far we have: YMCA; St. Paul Public Schools; World Endeavors; William Mitchell School; Office of Mark Dayton; Neighborhood House; MN Department of Human Services; Minnesota Council for Nonprofits; Clean Water Action; American Refugee Committee; and ACR Homes, Inc. A confirmed list of all organizations at the fair will go out to those who sign up so they can prepare in advance.

Important notes:

  • Dress to impress. Wear professional attire, such as what you would wear to an interview, or what you might consider slightly above “business casual.”
  • Bring copies of your resume, in whatever state it’s in. Yes, ideally you would have it updated and polished. But it is most important just to have it with you.
  • Come prepared with questions you might like to ask the organizations and institutions. (This will be easier to do once you have the complete list of all who will be present). 
  • There will be coffee, water, and cookies at the fair. So if you are feeling shy, you have the option of snacking the whole time and acting like you are just really busy eating. 

CoCo cannot stress how awesome this opportunity is. Many Corps members are undoubtedly still looking for what’s next after this year—perhaps this fair might give all of you some leads. Again, sign up here!


Life Hacker

Summer Fun That’s (Almost) Free

Minnesota is blessed with beautiful, inexpensive beach treasures.

Minnesota is blessed with beautiful, inexpensive beach treasures.

After a winter reminiscent of Game of Thrones, summer is finally here! For recent college grads, the season has traditionally been synonymous with vacation, but travel can be daunting on an AmeriCorps budget. For a low-cost get away, try a camping trip to a state park. If you’re more interested in urban relaxation, never underestimate the power of the “staycation.” Read on to learn about low-cost summer fun that can help you play tourist right here in Minnesota.

The Walker is sure to be delightful, and it’s free on Thursdays!

The Walker is sure to be delightful, and it’s free on Thursdays!

  • Parks:Your local Parks and Recreation website is a good starting point for all kinds of activities. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul offer free outdoor movie screenings and concerts in local parks. Look here for information about parks inMinneapolisSt. PaulDuluth, and St. Cloud.
  • Beaches:The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends their favorite beaches, while others are listed on county Parks and Recreation websites. Some beaches are included in city park listings, too.  Most beaches are free, though state parks require you to purchase a vehicle permit. A day pass for one vehicle is $5.00.
  • Tubing: Another popular summertime activity is river tubing. While prices vary, most providers charge about $10.00 per tube. Don’t forget to look for providers in Wisconsin, too!
  • Como Zoo is free with a suggested donation. The new Gorilla Forest exhibit opens June 6th. Click here to learn more.
  • Baseball fans can get Twins tickets for as little as $14.00. St. Paul Saintsgames are low-key fun, and cost as little as $5.00. If you’re in greater Minnesota, check out the Northwoods League  to find a team near you.
  • Movies: Many areas have at least one “cheap theater” where you can score discounted movie tickets. Good bets include Riverview Theater in Minneapolis and Mann Theaters’ Hopkins Cinema 6 location. Drive-in movies are tons of fun, as well as inexpensive.
  • Downtown St. Paul doesn’t get much credit, but nothing says “staycation” quite like a tour of the Minnesota State Capitol (free with suggested $5.00 donation) or the Saint Paul Cathedral (free). The Minnesota History Center is free on Tuesday evenings.
  • Art fans might enjoy the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the regular exhibits are free of charge.Walker Art Center is free on Thursday evenings and the first Saturday of the month, and theMinneapolis Sculpture Garden (across the street) is always free.
  • Libraries: Check out your local library branchfor a wide selection of free books, CDs, and DVDs – not to mention free Wi-Fi and computer access in air conditioned comfort.
  • Tour a brewery! SummitSurly, and Flat Earthall offer free tours. Flat Earth requests that visitors bring a donation for the local food shelf.
  • On the town: Thrifty Hipster can help you plan a night out without overspending.
  • Farmers’ Markets are great for buying affordable produce, plus they’re fun to explore. Find a farmers’ market in St. PaulMinneapolis, or throughout the state.
  • Be a kid again: Try a round of bowling, laser tag, or mini golf. A dollar store can provide you with sidewalk chalk, water balloons, and other staples of summers past.
  • Festivals: While everyone knows Minnesota has the best State Fair around, it’s far from the only party in town. Explore Minnesota offers a calendar of festivals throughout the state.

The ICC hopes these tips will help every AmeriCorps member have an inexpensive blast this summer.  

End-of-the-Year Feels

Well, Public Spirit readers, the year is coming to a close. Of course, this generates a wide array of feelings among Corps members. Many members are turning a new leaf—beginning a new leg of their professional lives. Others may continue with another year of service in their current capacity. Service with AmeriCorps offers a unique experience: it is an experiment with a particular occupational capacity and a particular sector of service; it is a short-term (one year is, relatively speaking, considered short-term) opportunity to learn about diverse populations and community needs that members may have heretofore never known or understood. And most truly, it is period in which individuals see themselves change as they work to change the community around them. They develop new skill sets and confidence in old ones, and gain perspective on where to go next. The results of this year of experimentation and growth may not reveal themselves yet, but this is nevertheless a watershed year for most, and certainly a year to feel proud of and grow from. 

Now, let’s switch gears from the loquacious, commencement speech tone above to a breezier discussion, shall we? CoCo was curious about members’ feelings regarding the closing of this service year. In the April email update, we sent out an end-of-the-year feelings survey. We compiled the responses, and the results are below. 


The polls show that, overwhelmingly, Corps members feel like they have made a lasting impact at their sites. A combined total of 64% of respondents feel proud of their work and believe it will continue next year. In a similarly positive light, a combined total of 84% of members have made professional plans for next year or feel well-equipped to do so. It is important to note that no one responded that they felt worried they wouldn’t get hired (not shown in graphs because 0% does not have a clear visual representation on a pie chart). Way to go AmeriCorps members! Look out, world, because here comes a cohort of proud, prepared, and highly capable community members!