Compiling Personal Stories Of The Minneapolis Tornado

Among the many nonprofits and community initiatives that rubbed elbows at the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (U-ROC) Tuesday — the one-year anniversary of the devastating North Minneapolis tornado — was the Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater company, which has been based in the Twin Cities for the past 12 years.

The dance & theater company has undertaken a community connections program called “Temporary Shelters: Tales from the Minneapolis Tornado” — an initiative to work with, and tell the stories of people who survived the North Minneapolis tornado, not only those whose homes were affected but those who were part of the recovery effort. Those stories will appear in a book that will be presented at the Capri Theater next January.

A “first person” record

“A lot of our work incorporates personal experience, explained Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater company’s Kathleen Mukwashi. “The goal of the project is to have a first-person, personal record of an event that happened in our city: to raise awareness that this wasn’t a singular event that happened on one day but it affected lives to a much greater degree.”

“The questions that we ask are: what did you hear, what did you say and what did you feel at the time the tornado hit? A lot of people describe the tornado as being like a train; another person mentioned that they heard chainsaws after the tornado; another person described to us the smell of pine when she left her house, and that was because of all the pine trees in her neighborhood had been broken and split from the tornado.”

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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