Public Spirit, March 2017

March Public Spirit

Mayor and County Recognition Day for National Service By: Ashley Strusz

Mayors and county officials hold a unique role in our country's government. Focusing on their citizens’ local needs matches closely with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) mission to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement. Increasingly, mayors’ and county officials are turning to national service as a cost-effective and capacity building strategy to meet local challenges. On April 4, 2017, mayors, county officials, and tribal leaders will join in the fifth-annual Mayor and County Recognition Day for National Service. By holding public events and local media our leaders will highlight the value of national service. In 2016, 3,539 elected officials across 50 states recognized the work of AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers.

Learn more about how your local elected official could get involved! 

Check out the elected officials who have already signed on to participate in 2017!

If you are a St. Paul, AmeriCorps or Senior Corps volunteer, check this out!

If Your Free Time Seems a Bit Dull, by Raquel MacSwain

At some point in your AmeriCorps term of service, money has probably come up, either in a positive or negative way. It can be hard, regardless if it’s your first term of service, or the second, or even as an alumni. I decided to ask a few alumni and current College Possible AmeriCorps members how they handle these two questions:

When declining friends that invite you to do pricey things, what do you say?

  • Tell them I make like no money.

  • Pass, next time

  • Tell them I can’t afford it, but if you’d like to pay for me I’m totally in!

  • Suggest cheaper or FREE options, or only participate in one of the suggestions.

What sort of free/cheap options have you found to be useful during your term of service?

  • Potlucks or cooking with friends

  • Volunteer

  • Thrifting

  • Movie nights

  • Free food / beer tastings at fairs or breweries

            •, YPN, MCN, all offer free or drastically reduced prices for social justice events

            • USE YOUR SCHOOL ID for student discounts

            • ALWAYS ask if EBT is accepted

            • Free outdoor activities like hiking or biking along trails

            • Look up discount movie theatres; there are free movie showings offered

            • Some places offer live music with no cover charges, like The Academia, 331 Club, or call them to find out!

            • Thrifty Hipster website shows off all the Happy Hour specials of local places in the Twin Cities based on location you set.

            • Check out local college campuses! Events are often open to the public.

Earth Day at Bushaway Road

Sat, April 22

8:30 am - 12:30 pm

Bushaway Road - Wayzata

Volunteers Needed: 15 (more are welcome!)

Difficulty level: Easy to moderate

Come out to this Earth Day Community Event to plant 1,100 perennials and 700 trees as part of the Bushaway Road/Highway 101 reconstruction. This exciting event will engage 200 volunteers of all ages in landscaping a two-mile stretch of this historic scenic roadway, Wayzata’s eastern gateway to the Lake Minnetonka experience. More information to come on how to sign up!

Other volunteer opportunities:

Tree Trust Tree Planting Events (Volunteer Sign-up)

  • Sat, April 22, 9am-12pm. Shakopee, Location TBD

  • Sat, April 29, 9am-12pm. St. Paul, Location TBD

Friends of the Mississippi River - Minnesota River Gorge Cleanup

  • Sat, April 22, 9:30am-12:00pm. E 36th Street & W River Parkway or E 44th Street & W River Parkway

DIY Earth Day Craft By: Anna Wagner

Do you love the outdoors, trees, and this beautiful planet we live on? Do you also love animals? More specifically, do you love cats and watch A LOT of cat videos? Me too. In honor of Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, here is a fun and cheap way to reuse a plastic bottle and pot a plant by making a cat planter! We all know how great this earth is, so let’s show it some love and reduce, reuse, and recycle. Here’s to you, Mother Earth!

How to make a cat planter:

What you need:

  1. Plastic Bottle

  2. Scissors

  3. Acrylic Paint- white

  4. Paint Brush

  5. Permanent Markers (black and pink)

  6. Gravel

  7. Potting Soil

  8. Plant or Seeds

Step 1: Use your permanent marker to draw a line all the way around the bottle to mark how deep you want the planter and don’t forget to draw in those cat ears! (I recommend 5-6 inches deep).

Make sure to recycle the top half of the bottle you are not using!

Step 2: Grab your scissors and cut along the line you just marked, cutting the top half of the plastic bottle off.

Step 3: Break out the paint! Completely cover the outside of the bottle bottom (I used white but feel free to get creative and use a different color).

Step 4: Use the black permanent marker to draw on the cat’s eyes, whiskers, and mouth. Then break out the pink marker and fill in the cat’s ears and nose. So cute!

Step 5: Add gravel to the bottom of the planter to allow for the plant to drain, and then soil on top.

Step 6: Plant your seeds or buds, water, and watch it grow!

Step 7: (Optional) use a hole punch and some string to make it a hanging planter, flying cats are fun too.

Get creative with your planter and make a whole family of animal planters! Happy Earth Day!

AmeriCorps Member Highlight- Riley Lindberg By: Rachel LaForge

There is a lot that goes into running an AmeriCorps program, and as members we don’t always see that side of things. Operational support staff work behind the scenes to help members succeed in their own goals and the program’s goals. Here’s the story of one AmeriCorps member turned support staff (and ICC alumnus!).

Riley Lindberg chose to do a year of service after meeting with an AmeriCorps recruiter in college. He served two years as a Minnesota Reading Corps member, the first at Glyndon-Felton Elementary in Glyndon, MN, and the second at Riverside Central Elementary in Rochester, MN. He was also a part of the InterCorps Council (ICC) during his service and would like to give a shout out to the Communications Committee. His ICC service allowed him to learn and be more connected to all the different branches of AmeriCorps service.

After his years of service ended, Riley looked for more ways to give back. “I had a great experience serving as a member in Reading Corps and I knew that I wanted to stay involved with Reading Corps in some capacity after my service was over. I decided that working for the organization that administers the Reading Corps program would be a great way for me to stay involved in the program, and help other members have a great experience like I did.“

He is now a Program Specialist for Reading & Math, Inc., the nonprofit organization that runs Reading Corps, Math Corps, and Opportunity Corps in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Florida. The program goals are that all students are proficient in reading by grade 3 and algebra by grade 8. Success comes from the students who exit Math Corps and Reading Corps (483 and counting in the Rochester Public School district in this school year alone) and the over 1000 members statewide who successfully complete their terms of service.

As your year of service passes the halfway mark, don’t forget to give your program support staff a thank you.’

Meditation Station By: Rachel LaForge

Have you ever noticed during a week-long project that the worst day is often Thursday? You’re past the halfway point, but not quite in the home stretch, and the weekend is calling. For many of us, we are in the “Thursday” portion of our service - past halfway, but there’s still a long way to go. This is the point where people can get cranky or start procrastinating, leading to an even worse crunch at the end.

One way that you can combat a case of the Thursdays is by engaging in self care such as meditation or mindfulness. Meditation doesn’t need to be in a group or classroom setting, but can come from being fully present in your day-to-day activities. Dr. Amit Sood at the Mayo Clinic calls this Meditation 2.0, and this type of mindfulness comes throughout the day. For deeper relaxation, try guided meditations. The Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA offers audio and text meditations through their website. No matter how you choose to meditate or gain mindfulness, you are lowering your stress level and may be making yourself healthier.

Remember, just like in pre-flight safety talks, in the event of masks coming from the ceiling, put yours on first before helping others. Don’t run out of service to others by running out of service to yourself.


Hannah VanSant-Ouellette