COVID-19 Posts

Living History on Empty Streets

“Duluth is a bit off-center, both literally and figuratively—something most Duluthians don’t seem to mind at all. After all, this is the city whose skyway system runs partially underground, where the West End is located in the city’s geographic center, and whose annual Christmas City of the North parade is held a week before Thanksgiving. Duluth may be a little bit off-center, but part of what makes Duluth Duluth is that here, true north isn’t always where you’d expect it to be.”

— Tony Dierckins, Duluth: An Urban Biography

Sheltering in place gives a devotee to a city even more time to learn it intimately. I read Tony Dierckins’ new biography of Duluth, which fits the bill of a pre-founding-to-present history that I pined for on my blog some while back. The biography really only left me hungry for more: it clocks in at just under 170 pages and could easily have been double that length if it were to thoroughly explore structural forces and the lives of prominent figures beyond a series of mayors and those who crossed their paths. Still, it was a welcome step beyond Tony’s previous fun vignettes and collections, most of which peter out somewhere in the middle of the 20th century. Granted, Duluth’s history becomes somewhat less romantic in that stretch; the great turn-of-the-century wealth faded, the growth stalled, and the architecture wandered away from an eclectic opulence to something much more mundane. Still, the book is a reminder that this city’s history has always been one of awkward lurches, of rises and falls, and a quest for some sort of stability in the aftermath.

Together

A short video by Justin Peck, starring Jody Kujawa, Jason Scorich and Peck.

Nurses and COVID-19

“The world breaks everyone and afterward
many are strong at the broken places.”

~ Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms

Donna Heil is a registered nurse working in Duluth during the Covid-19 pandemic. Every morning or night, depending on the shift, she wakes up and goes to work. Earlier in her career she took care of children in an intensive care unit, and would fly in helicopters when needed to help pediatric patients. Now she works in radiology, helping people who are sometimes very sick.

She became a nurse after living through a horrific automobile crash in which her husband died. That is why I turned to Hemingway and his words, “many are strong at the broken places.” He wrote those words in his novel about the first world war and the time he spent in Italy recovering from a wound he suffered as an ambulance driver and the nurse who took care of him while he was convalescing. Donna is a tremendously strong, loving, caring woman which is why she is a great nurse filled with compassion and empathy.

Documents from the Northeastern Minnesota COVID-19 Community Archive Project at UMD are now live

History is being written today.

Documents from the Northeastern Minnesota COVID-19 Community Archive Project at the University of Minnesota Duluth are now live. More information about the project can be found at lib.d.umn.edu. If you would like to learn more, including information on how to submit, please check out the research guide.

This is a great resource, including art by UMD colleagues and friends.

A Trip to the Dentist

I went to the dentist today, the first day (I think) that Park Dental has been open at its Downtown Duluth location in the Medical Arts Building. There is a Park Dental location near my workplace, but I have an affection for running errands downtown, normally.

Duluth musician shares her experience during pandemic

New regulations during the COVID-19 crisis have forced musicians throughout the United States to cancel live performances, recording sessions and traditional practices. Local Duluth musician Lyla Abukhodair shares the experiences of her band, NorShore Summit, during this unprecedented time.

This video was produced as an assignment for a Digital Storytelling class in the journalism program at UMD. Through an interview conducted via Zoom and footage of previous performances, this video gives viewers a glimpse into NorShore Summit and Lyla’s new way of life.

There is no checkered flag …

On Tuesday, my friend and colleague Devaleena Das and I appeared on the KUMD program Neighbors with Lisa Johnson. It was a great experience, with a great interviewer, talking about a very difficult subject. You can listen on kumd.org.

The Slice: Making Masks to Fight COVID-19

Fond du Lac Reservation elder Sharon Shuck makes masks to donate to the doctors and nurses of Fond du Lac Health and Human Services Division.

In its series The Slice, WDSE-TV presents short “slices of life” that capture the events and experiences that bring people together and speak to what it means to live up north.

Selective Focus: Carolyn Olson

Carolyn Olson (featured previously in Selective Focus) has been redirecting her work a bit. Still focused on everyday scenes, she has been making drawings in a series she’s calling Essential Workers. These scenes are in grocery stores, public transit, street scenes and in medical facilities. This week, Carolyn talks about honoring these people who keep things going in unprecedented circumstances.

CO: Having recently retired from teaching school this year began differently anyway. I began last summer creating projects – challenges I called them – for myself, such as creating a series of images that tell a story, in hopes of illustrating books. When the “Stay at Home” order came I was accustomed to staying home and working in the studio regularly. Talking with our adult kids in the Cities brought home the realities facing the essential workers.

Guide to Duluth-area Craft Alcohol During the Pandemic

Ursa Minor Brewing has offered curbside beer and pizza pickup via a drive-by canopy since April 8.

Small businesses have been struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 outbreak. Local craft beer, cider and spirits purveyors are finding ways to persist by distributing products through a variety of takeout, curbside pickup and delivery options.

Paper Tiger

I’ve been trying to write this fucking essay for three weeks, but my brain won’t stay allegiant to my body. I feel like the inside of my head is a giant scribble, like Charles Schultz’ confusion thought bubbles or Rowling’s Obscuris.

I keep rolling the word around in my head, like that will somehow make it dissolve: pandemic. We’re in the midst of a pandemic. We’re having a pandemic.

The problem, I think, is that I have no frame of reference. It’s like trying to imagine a new color. And sitting down to write, the world is so loud that it’s hard to hear my own thoughts. I feel this ball of energy gathering — this terrible welling of grief and fear, tragedy and panic. I know this is crazy, or fantastically pessimistic, but it feels like we’ve been careening toward this for years. Maybe it’s an artifact of all of the government preparation for the inevitable disaster we received. As a Generation X kid, I spent so much time preparing myself for Soviet invasion or nuclear war that it’s bound to have permeated my subconscious in some insidious way.

Carolyn Olson on Essential Workers

Carolyn Olson on Essential Workers

Duluth artist Carolyn Olson has completed two works in a series on “Essential Workers.” Visit her site at carolynolson.net.

Northeastern Minnesota COVID-19 Community Archive Project

Hello, PDD Community!

Imagine that 100 years from now you are researching the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic in Northeastern Minnesota. It’s easy to find dry statistics and numbers, but you want more. What were people thinking and feeling during this time? What informational materials and public art did they create? How were they helping each other? What did the day-to-day experience of this time look like in Duluth?

What if there were an archive of those experiences for you to explore?

Pak’s Green Corner closing March 29

Pak Williams - Photo by Lissa MakiPak’s Green Corner, a Thai-fusion restaurant in Superior, has announced it will close on March 29. The restaurant’s lease ends at the end of May, but COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders in Wisconsin and Minnesota pushed forward plans to shut down.

“What will we do next?” a letter to customers from the Pak’s team asked. “We will keep you posted by our Facebook page.”

The restaurant opened June 1, 2018 at 1901 Tower Ave. in Superior, the former location of Kenny Wong’s Oriental Express. Pak’s previously operated for two years in West Duluth, where it found instant acclaim. It was voted Perfect Duluth Day’s best new restaurant in 2013 and was featured on the national television show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives in 2014.

Muddy Trails and COVID-19: Duluth Hiking in Spring 2020

Duluth’s Parks and Recreation division has released guidelines advising citizens how to use city parks and trails in a manner that will reduce the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. March and April are also the months when snow is melting and natural-surface trails can be easily damaged.

So, where is it OK to hike and how is it done safely?