Releasing North Minneapolis Tornado Anxiety and Pain Through Balloons

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Click on Photo to Hear Perspectives on Tornado Healing in North Minneapolis

Click on Photo to Hear Perspectives on Tornado Healing in North Minneapolis

Students and staff at Lucy Craft Laney Elementary School in North Minneapolis found an innovative and beautiful way to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornado. They released 200 blue balloons into the air, thereby symbolically freeing themselves of the anxiety and pain that the community has carried since the May 22, 2011, storm that devastated what was already the Twin Cities’ most hard luck neighborhood.

“It impacted many students and families including my own,” said David Branch, Principal of Lucy Craft Laney. “Our students returned, that was one of our biggest concerns. Because of the number of homes impacted and damaged, and we have a lot of rental properties in North Minneapolis, we weren’t sure we were going to get folks to return. But our attendance is stronger than ever, and our student learning is stronger than ever, and we thought we had to commemorate this event, acknowledge it happened, and also make sure that we are showing our resilience.”

Following the release of the balloons, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and several City Council members joined the students in a peace circle. Shortly thereafter, Rybak and several students hopped on bikes and pedaled to the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center for speeches on the state of North Minneapolis one year after 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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