Stories and Journeys

Potential rift and retirement

"Building power through unity: All Elders United for Justice aims to bring power to elders through relationships and discussion." That was the headline in a feature article written by Chloe Peter that appeared in all three TMC Publications CO newspapers back in May of 2022. It included interviews with myself (a member of the All Elders Steering Committee at the time and Greater Longfellow resident),  Vic Rosenthal (primary facilitator of All Elders and St. Paul resident) and Leif Grina, (president of the Minneapolis Regional Retirees Council and Uptown resident).
"Elders from diverse backgrounds are becoming more aware of the importance of working together to build power," said Vic Rosenthal. He went on to say, "For many elders, because of race or lack of resources, there are significant inequities and that everyone must work together to change the status quo."
It's been one year ago March of this year that Vic died from  cancer leaving it up to others to build the organization of All Elders and carry  out his vision. All Elders member Johnathan Rose felt called to fill the void. Today he is executive director. There is now a board of directors. There are the following committees: housing, care, and broadband.
In that same article, Leif Grina is said to be an All Elders member and MRRC leader who mentions that the MRRC has had difficulties including voices from people of color, but wants to heavily pursue that with All Elders. Elsewhere in the article Grina stated, "I think that's what's exciting about All Elders is that other communities are being brought in."
And (not to be left out in the same article), I stated, "Building relationships by telling our stories and using the truth contained in those stories for the purpose of building power to shape public policy whenever and where ever possible will potentially result in a world of All Elders United for Justice."  I went on to say, "And when that happens, we all benefit. We all do better when we all do better."
Given all this I was stunned and surprised when I recently heard Leif Grina state during informal conversation leading up to a Zoom meeting of the Elders Legislative Coalition that he was done investing his time and energy in All Elders given his apparent belief that All Elders was not living up to its promise. This suggests to me that there is a rift between MRRC leadership and All Elders that I will be exploring going forward.
If you have read this far you have taken the plunge with me into the river(flow) of life experiences that is Stories and Journeys.
What began as a where is Melanie conversation between me and my neighbor Gary Lagendorf as we waited for the number 23 bus, usually driven by Melanie Benson, ended up with confirmation that Melanie has retired. Gary heard this from a bus driver. I got confirmation in the form of a Sunday Star Tribune column written by Jennifer Brooks (April 14, 24). The column I read focused on remembering Melanie's life as a Metro Transit bus driver mostly on route 23.
Once while riding with Melanie, I shared with her that if I had my life to do over I would be a college-educated Metro Transit bus driver. In response, she revealed to me her identity as a college-educated Metro Transit bus driver. That established my sense of connection with her. 
Melanie left me a legacy of sorts. She recommended a watch repair shop near 53rd and Chicago as a place where I could get a new battery for my pocket watch. She also drove me to where I needed to go many times. For this, I thank her for her service and wish her well in retirement.
So, dear reader, is there a chance you  have ever rode Metro Transit bus route 23 with Melanie? If you have  stories to share tell yourself, tell others or tell me via  
Meets the last Friday of the month, 10-11a.m., at Turtle Bread, 4205-E. 34th Street. Look for the table with the All Elders sign. Note: there will be no meeting in May.
In gratitude always. 
Donald L. Hammen is a longtime south Minneapolis resident, and serves on the All Elders United for Justice Board of Directors.


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