Lake Street Story Circles Project

The artists will be holding Story Circles through out the summer and then creating new work that will be shared via Facebook Live/ Zoom/ Youtube/ or through an outdoor social distancing performance. October 2020 more info to come!


Juma B. Essie- Blackness is Nature

Lake Street in Minneapolis is punctuated by bodies of water: the Mississippi River to the east and Lake of the Isles and Bde Maka Ska to the west.  Between these undeniable natural parenthesis lies paragraphs of urbanity.  Often as a Black man who fishes, hikes, and camps I feel like a walking paradox.  The assumptions of who I am butt up against the reality of what I am doing.  Just being, thinking, quiet.  James Baldwin wrote in Nobody Knows My Name,"Though we do not wholly believe it yet, the interior life is the real life,, and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world".  Blackness in the modern imagination does not (cannot) have an intangible inner life.  It is knowable, deciperable, and capable of judging at a glance.  It does not fit in nature; being, thinking, quiet, deep in the rhapsody of the self.  What is the experience of being Black in nature in the Twin Cities?  How is it shaped and informed by the parenthesis and paragraphs of Lake St? My story circle will be a five of one-on-one conversations with other Black people about their relationship with and in nature.


Juma B. Essie is a writer, performer and drummer exploring the primal power of vibration. Juma was a Many Voices Fellow at the Playwrights Center, a featured performer at the Late Nite Series at Pillsbury Theatre and for Queertopia 2018. He also created a one person show for the Naked Stages Program. Juma's favorite place is on the water fishing with his daughter.

Johanna Keller Flores- Tenemos la responsabilidad to hold one another

How can I be a playwright RIGHT now? How can I, a person who longs for control, lean into messiness? How can I find joy in the MESS of emotions I’m feeling since just this morning? Can I create from a genuine place of joy in the midst of this confusion, grief, guilt, rage? Como se puede hacer amigxs? Cómo podemos mostrar solidaridad verdadera con el arte hoy? Hoy digo, hoy. Quiero que todxs que me conozcan sepan que juntxs tenemos la responsabilidad to hold each other. To center Black and indigenous voices. Pa enfocar en las voces Negras e indígenas. To celebrate one another. To sweat and cry for each other. To SHUT the fuck up sometimes? To scream louder than ever sometimes? How can we create from a place of joy right now? What about hope? Y la esperanza, que? I am spilling my questions left and right, they’re overflowing from my eyes and my fingernails and my pores and I see them in you too friend. I am grateful for you, me siento tan agradecida. This story circle is for my queer Black and brown artist family.  DATE TBD


Johanna Keller Flores is a Peruana American playwright and theatre artist who’s out here trying to tell stories close to her heart for her queer brown familia. She's from St. Paul, Minnesota with a second home in Chimbote, Peru. She has had the sincerest pleasure of creating in her Twin Cities home the last two years; stage managing with Pangea World Theatre, writing and performing with Revolutionary Jetpacks,  performing with Lightning Rod at Pillsbury House Theatre, writing, directing, and performing with 20% Theatre, performing with Good Night at the Southern Theatre, writing and directing with Gadfly Theatre, and directing and conspiring with Alliance for Latinx Minnesota Artists. Te mando muchisimo amor, ya?


Miré -Sites of grief, transformation, resisting immobility, and paving the street with gold.

where were the blk people? where we have always been

where are the blk people? centering in our humanity

where will the blk people be? we will be everywhere


This moment is an interrogation of the worn-out litany "It happened, it's finished – get over it." The breaking and the weeping, the marching and the destruction, the organizing and the advocacy, the anger and the fire tells us that that dismissive litany no longer stands. Oya, the orisa of death and rebirth, of transformation is speaking – she says, "You can't go around me on this one."  Miré's Story Circles will be pulled from community conversations she is presently engaged in already with artists, politicians, community activists and cultural workers who are working the transformations/outcomes of the once and future Lake Street. Those began on Saturday, June 27th and will continue until the end of July. They will be recorded and/or collected via notes by Miré with participants’ permission.

Miré is a Minneapolis-based multidisciplinary community builder and parent. In both her creative projects and food-justice work, she is interested in how we form engaged community and the unique ways we figure out how to take care of each other. She lives and works at the intersection of the BIPOC, queer, political and artistic communities seeking to build a more equitable and embodied world.


Aegor Ray- future/crowns 

Lake Street is the beating heart of Minneapolis, and is now  the epicenter of the global movement to abolish the police. Black liberation and the end of carceral white supremacist capitalism are the roots that will grow a just and joyous future world. As we vision and create change in our community, we participate in sketching the landscape of what Lake Street will be in 25, 50, 150 years from now. In a public & socially distanced installation and food/resource distribution, we will imagine and construct the future of Lake Street. What aspects of Lake Street right now will be recognizable and what will be mutated, resurrected, or no longer viable? What seeds are we pressing into the earth as a community now, and how do we vision the speculative future(s)? What kinds of creative practices, ways of living, social systems, families, gardens, emotions, and technologies could be possible? Date TBD


Aegor Ray is a queer trans writer, performance artist, and fishmonger. His work has been published in Peach Mag and BEST BUDS! Collective, and he was shortlisted for the 2018 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize. He was a 2018-2019 Loft Mentor Series in Poetry. Since 2017, Aegor has performed or featured pieces in queer arts events including Daddy, Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories, Controlled Burn, Lightning Rod, and Queertopia. He is working on a short story collection of trans paranormal romance/speculative fiction.


Rebecca Nichloson- Ode to Lake Street

Ode to Lake Street is a poem by Rebecca Nichloson and a community-building project that consists of a public workshop that includes writing prompts generated by the poem that explore the relationship between narrative, objects and space, and what the physical presence of a place conveys about the people who live (and have) lived there. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the aftermath of George Floyd's murder and protests across the state, Minnesotans have/and are building a different relationship to place, to each other, and to the environment in which we live our lives -- both social, cultural, emotional, and physical. 


Public Story Circle Virtual Workshop & Conversation  (July 30 at 6:30 p.m.- 8:15 p.m.) Rebecca will lead a virtual public workshop in which she will share her poem Ode to Lake Street and discuss the underlying themes of the project (i.e. relationships between objects and place; how objects can hold memory and the correlation between objects and narrative). Participants will be (1) asked to generate creative material based on the images from the poem, (2) identify a meaningful object and create a narrative around it, and (3) share their work. Participants are encouraged to continue developing their pieces after the workshop and to share it on social media tagging Pangea and using the hashtag #2020LakeStreetStoryCircleProject. 


Rebecca Nichloson. Pronouns: She/Her/Hers. Interdisciplinary Artist & Communications Specialist. Creative Writer/Editor, Playwright, Performing Arts. Master of Fine Arts, Columbia University School of the Arts; M.A. English Literature, Mercy College School of Liberal Arts; Publishing Studies Program,The George Washington University (2015-2016). B.A. Liberal Arts/Business Administration. Digital Marketing Bootcamp, General Assembly. Artistic Director/Founder of Nichloson + Company, an emerging interdisciplinary arts lab. Communications Portfolio.


Masanari Kawahara and Molly Van Avery-Make a Sanctuary of Me

Visual artist Masnari Kawahara and writer Molly Van Avery held their story circle in the Powderhorn Park sanctuary. During the summer, hundreds of people experiencing homelessness lived in tents in the park directly following the uprisings that resulted from the death of George Floyd and the historic legacy of police brutality. People were moved into the park after being evicted from a hotel on Lake Street that had been taken over and named a sanctuary. The artists spoke with people living in the park prior to their forced removal. Kawahara drew portraits with sumi-ink while Van Avery wrote them a poem based on their conversations. The video piece they created for the performance, Sitting in not Knowing, is a meditation on the accumulation of unknowns. As we all sit in the present ruins of what has been, it can be overwhelming to not know what will be. May our eyes be wide open to see the impacts of what has been, and may we be resourced and visionary in imagining what is yet to come. 

Molly Van Avery is a poet, rabble rouser, and collaborator who dreams up art projects that create connections or change policy to make more equitable and joy-filled realities for more people. She is a single parent by choice, a life-long queer who descended from gay parents, and a white person working to dismantle white supremacy from the inside-out. She has created multiple performances and public art projects including collaborations, this house is not for sale (pulled off in partnership with Witt Siasoco and seven poetic luminaries) and Return the River (Co-imagined with Mike Hoyt and Dameun Strange) that both received recognition for best public art projects from Americans for the Arts. Van Avery founded Poetry for People and has co-created Poetry and Pie in the Park for seven summers in a row with Miré Regulus. Van Avery is thrilled to be re-uniting with Pangea on Lake Street Story Circles alongside Masa Kawahara a long-time collaborator. As a pair, the two most recently completed a Creative CityMaking fellowship to diversify participation on the Greenway. She is grateful to be making art alongside the incredible talents of these artists and receive inspiration from the rich complexities of Lake Street! 


Masanari Kawahara is a performer, educator, and Butoh practitioner who incorporates puppetry, mask and movement into his work. His most recent work is a solo performance piece Brown Paper, directed by Molly Van Avery and accompanied by Dreamland Faces, premiered at McKnight Theater Artist Fellows present Works in Progress. Other recent theater works include Speechless by The Moving Company as an actor; Immigrant Journey Project with Theater Mu as the lead artist; and The Oldest Boy by Jungle Theater as a puppeteer/actor/designer/builder. Also with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, he collaborated on Make Believe Neighborhood, The Story of Crow Boy and Queen. Other notable work includes the solo show Little Boy commissioned by Pangea World Theater’s Alternate Vision series.  Masanari is currently a resident teaching artist at Pillsbury House + Theatre and teaching artist for Upstream Arts working with toddlers to elders. Also he is a Creative City Making Artist with Minneapolis. He is a member of the Butoh group Nenkin Butoh Dan, which received a 2015 Sage Award for outstanding dance ensemble for Fu.Ku.Shi.Ma. He is a Playwrights’ Center McKnight Theater Artist Fellow (2010-2011, and 2018-2019). 

Sandra Agustin-Corner Conversations

Corner Conversations; The Wish Board will be a weekly (*Thursdays, 1-3 PM)  sit-n-chat on various corners along the Lake Street corridor. Conversations will use the prompt: What do you wish for lake street?  I am deeply saddened and inspired by my childhood stomping grounds from the E. Lake Street library to the former Sears Building, now Midtown Global Market. Memories of roasting cashews, peanuts and mixed nuts sitting alongside lawnmowers and lingerie swirl around the charred and jarring smells and sounds of the recent uprisings triggered by the murder of George Floyd.  The stories will be gathered via recordings, drawings from kids, short videos.  I will set up a small table, 3 chairs, and signs saying, "CORNER CONVERSATIONS: Make YOUR WISH for Lake Street" or something to that effect. I want to understand and share who lives along the corridor, how long they have lived there, what they see, what they want, and to build a sense of curiosity about and give hope to what will rise from the ash. For the purposes of this project, I will focus on the corners of:  Lake at 31st Ave, Lake at 21st Ave, Lake at Cedar Ave, Lake at Bloomington Ave. 

Sandra Agustin- Creative Navigator Facilitator/Artist. Sandy has an extensive history of arts, social and racial justice and leadership. She is a native Minnesotan, the youngest child of a Filipino immigrant and 5th generation Euro-Minnesotan. Since the age of 9, she has professionally performed and taught dance, later moving into arts administration as executive and artistic director at Intermedia Arts where she curated, fundraised, managed, consulted artists and built relationships. She is a former co-artistic core member of Mu Performing Arts where she acted, directed, choreographed over 20 shows and was an early member of the Asian American Renaissance. Sandy has facilitated a cohort of 22 arts and community development leaders in a creative leadership institute alongside Bill Cleveland of the Center for the Study of Art and Community. She has served on non-profit boards including the Minnesota Dance Alliance, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts/MCA and the Stuart Pimlser Dance and Theatre Company. As a teaching artist through the Children’s Theatre Company's Neighborhood Bridges program, in-school critical literacy and theatre program engaging young people to question power, write their own stories and develop community .  She recently co-founded Theatre 55 providing performance opportunities for folks over 55 years of age. Sandy is a part of the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership's artist roster, working in St. Peter, MN. A semi-regular performer and choreographer and contributor with Pangea World Theatre Sandy is committed to facilitating authentic movement, complimenting text and the actor's own body and making people feel good about themselves. 


Sequoia Hauck- Collective Healing: Taking Time to Recharge

What are the ways we can recharge in times like these? How can collective healing and storytelling bring us closer? In what ways do anger, rage, sorrow, and grief all play into self healing? And how does our connection to the land contribute to our collective strength? In this BIPOC only story circle, we will virtually gather together to share stories of resiliency. Sequoia will facilitate a mindfulness activity to strengthen our connection with the land and ourselves. 

Sunday, July 12th 2:00- 3:30p via Zoom 


Sequoia Hauck (Anishinaabe/Hupa) is a multidisciplinary artist in the Twin Cities focused on creating theater, film, and performance art that decolonizes the process of art-making. Sequoia graduated from University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.A. in American Indian Studies. They make art surrounding the narratives of continuation and resiliency for their communities. Sequoia has worked on and offstage with organizations such as The Southern Theater, Exposed Brick Theatre, Turtle Theater Collective, Aniccha Arts, Art Shanty Projects, Poetry and Pie, and Patrick's Cabaret. In 2019 they performed in Aotearoa/New Zealand at the Tātau Whetū Series - Artist Floor Talks. The piece titled “Te Mana o Te Wai” was a poetry and film installation surrounding Sequoia’s travels abroad directly connected to their interactions with the water around them. 


Mollie Lacy-Redefining Power

Redefining Power is a project that seeks to build a community-generated vision of power as we move towards anti-racist, feminist, queer-affirming futures together. This project poses the following questions: In the last month, when is a time you felt powerful, or witnessed power in your friends/neighborhood/community?  How do you define power? How do you want that definition to change in the future? This project contains an in-person event at Powderhorn Park, as well as a virtual event over Zoom (date tbd). Miranda Strong, a dancer, performer, and writer, is the Creative Collaborator alongside Mollie Lacy in this project. 


Mollie Lacy is a butch lesbian poet living and working in the Twin Cities. They are a Staff Member at Pangea World Theater. They are part of the Witch Sirens Poetry Slam Team, and their work has appeared in Paper Darts, Typishly, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, and on Button Poetry. It is a huge honor to be a part of this Lake Street Story Circles Cohort, and to be a part of the amazing community of artists in the Twin Cities fighting for justice. 


Mankwe Ndosi-We Persist! Black and Green Relationships of Nourishment and Resilence

Story Circles July 19 - 25th. Mankwe Ndosi and guests will walk Lake Street between 35W and Minnehaha, sharing stories of black relationships with plants, and each other that have brought nourishment, healing, and resilience.  While talking with her guests, they will look for medicinal and edible plants that persist through the concrete.  Mankwe will photograph these plants, going back later to mark them with signs that share their nourishing and medicinal properties.  These stories and plants will form the groundwork for Persist in Black and Green!  A forthcoming work examining the persistence of black and green life, nourishing and valuing each other rather than accepting the labels that others use to justify our exploitation.

Mankwe Ndosi is a Musician, Composer, and Culture Worker using creative practice to nurture community, ancestors, and the earth. She is a connector, a listener; a synthesizer, and a translator. She is part of a field of artists embedding creative practice into transformative relational work for our generations of relations to come. Her efforts have included regional, national and international performance, arts-rooted community gatherings, serious play in racial equity workshops, and group healing workshops to support personal transformation from the inside out. She believes that we are in a time of rough opportunity to grow into the community and world that we want to be - compassionate and accountable for how we relate to ourselves and each other at all levels: internal; interpersonal, societal, inter-special and global.  There's no going back!

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