Friday, August 22, 2014

Introduction to Two Nonprofits

This week I had the pleasure to learn more about two nonprofits in the Twin Cities that are helping women who have struggled against unsurmountable odds.

Let me introduce Sarah's…an Oasis for Women in Saint Paul, MN. Sarah's welcomes women in need of resources or support who often survive significant trauma. They provide safe and reliable housing, on-site support, through search services, health and insurance services, legal services, permanent housing and education and training opportunites. They have helped over 600 women since 1996. The women come from 67 nations and are survivors of violence, abuse, torture, war and other difficult circumstances.

On Wednesday, Sarah's director Cheryl Steeves conducted a tour in which I got to see the facility that houses 30 women. Cheryl is proud of the work Sarah's, but like many nonprofits it suffered from need, especially their community kitchen. The cupboards, workstation and commercial range all need updating. In a folder of information, I was provided a Wish List brochure in which I'll follow up and hope you do also. This is an easy way to support this wonderful organization.

On Thursday I met Lisa Her, the regional navigator from Breaking Free located in Minneapolis, MN.  Through Safe Harbor/No Wrong Door, Breaking Free is providing services to those under 18 who is being sexually exploited and help to rebuild the lives of girls who have experienced sex trafficking and exploitation.

Previously to the safe harbor law trafficking victims were arrested, treated as criminals, and charged for prostitution. Minnesota's safe harbor law, one of a dozen laws across the country, gives children under 16 a chance to recover from their trauma where they are not charged but have access to services.

The FBI identified Minnesota as one of 13 cities with a large concentration of child sex trafficking.

Because of Minnesota's new safe harbor law, Breaking Free has been designated to provide services in Metro East. Lisa's area covers the following counties: Anoka, Chisago, Dakota, Isanti, Ramsey, and Washington. Throughout the state there are other organizations proving services for the Safe Harbor/No Wrong Door initiative.

CNN did a wonderful piece on Breaking Free May 14, 2014. Here is a link:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Laws Adopted 8/1/2014

Cut From the Same Cloth
It has been well known that guns were the most common murder weapons in Domestic Violence cases. To back up my statement, I found the following information as reported verbatim from the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women’s 2013 Femicide Report.

“Kara Ann Monson Age 26 Granite Falls September 2, 2013
In the days prior to her murder, Kara Monson and other family members had received threatening messages from her ex-boyfriend Andrew Dikken. He had also been stalking Monson. Andrew Dikken has been indicted on six counts of first degree murder, in connection with the shooting deaths of Kara Monson, and her boyfriend Chris Panitzke. When police arrived at the scene, Chris Panitzke told officers that Andrew Dikken had snuck into Kara Monson's home at 3:00 a.m., flipped on the bedroom lights and opened fire. Kara Monson, age 26, died instantly while Chris Panitzke lived several more days before dying from multiple gunshot wounds.

Access to Firearms: In 2013, 17 of the 38 (45%) domestic violence homicides were committed with firearms. While the percentage of domestic violence homicides using firearms fluctuates some year to year, murder with firearms is the most frequent weapon of choice and is the weapon used in about 50% of the documented domestic violence homicides (Of women killed - 52% in 2011, 50% in 2012, and 42% in 2013) supporting the studies showing that possession of firearms can increase the risk of lethality. In light of current debates regarding guns and gun control legislation, it is helpful to consider these statistics. When there is a history of domestic violence, we should be looking at the question of access to firearms.”

Our legislature made significant strides to protect women and children caught in the web of family violence. The following is reported verbatim from the Minnesota House of Representatives Press Release

New Minnesota Laws
Effective Aug. 1, 2014


Modifications made to court-ordered parenting time factors
One of the most contentious issues to resolve during divorce is parenting time. A new law makes changes to factors that could be considered in court-ordered plans.
A significant change will allow for modification of court-ordered parenting time plans over time, based on the child’s best interest and their developmental needs.
Other provisions in the law sponsored by Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Chris Eaton (DFL-Brooklyn Park) include:
• no presumption for or against joint physical custody, except when domestic abuse, as defined in the order for protection statute, has occurred between the parents;
• a provision that when the court is considering awarding either joint legal or joint physical custody, it may not use one of the four factors considered to the exclusion of all the other factors;
that a disagreement over sole or joint custody is not to be considered an inability of parents to cooperate when considering the factors in awarding joint legal or physical custody; and
• a requirement that the court make detailed factual findings whenever the parties disagree about an award of either sole or joint physical or legal custody.


Crime of violence definition expands
Three crimes will be added to the state’s crime of violence statute while others will be removed.
Sponsored by Rep. Michael Paymar (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna), a new law adds felony fifth-degree assault, felony domestic assault and felony domestic assault by strangulation. If convicted of a crime of violence, a person is prohibited for life from legally possessing firearms in the state.
Coming off the list would be theft of a motor vehicle and theft involving property from a burning, abandoned or vacant building or from an area of destruction caused by a civil disaster, riot, bombing or the proximity of battle.

Domestic abusers, stalkers prohibited from having a firearm
Someone who commits domestic violence or stalks another person will lose access to a firearm.
A new law prohibits a person subject to an order for protection in a child or domestic abuse case from possessing weapons for the length of the order under certain circumstances and requires them to surrender their firearms as would someone convicted of a domestic assault or stalking offense if being prohibited from possessing firearms is part of their punishment.
Rep. Dan Schoen (DFL-St. Paul Park) and Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) sponsor the legislation.

The new law does not allow the government to take guns without due process or a court conviction nor does it allow illegal searches and seizures.

An abusing party will need to transfer possession of their firearms to a law enforcement agency, a federally licensed firearms dealer or a third party within three business days. A person who accepts a transferred firearm from an abusing party or offender will be guilty of a gross misdemeanor if the offender obtains possession of the transferred firearm while prohibited from possessing firearms.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"PTSD - Fear"
I entered my piece titled "PTSD - FEAR" to the 2014 Minnesota State Fair - Fine Arts Exhibition for class 7 Textiles/Fibers. It was accepted to move on to Phase 2 of the jury process for the 2014 Fine Arts Exhibition!
Phase 2 of the entry process is an in-person jury review to determine the works to be accepted for the 2014 Fine Arts Exhibition at the Minnesota State Fair.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

First Strike

Why I Create

As an artist, I create because I need to, because I’d die inside if I didn’t do it. I wake up everyday and do my work, and will continue to do so no matter what happens. Through the power of artistic expression, many of society’s deepest assumptions can be challenged. Visual Art has the unique ability to show the underbelly of society in different ways. Individual creativity can cut through complacency and apathy, inspire political actions, facilitate dialogues, empower individuals and communities, and stimulate social change.

I create pieces through mixed media, fabric, hand dying, casting, applique, embroidery, sewing and other traditional women’s crafts focusing on domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault. Pulitzer prize recipient, Nicholas D. Kristof wrote: “Women aged fifteen through forty-four are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined.” My hope is to expose the horrific issues that affect women and girls and use this new knowledge to create change.