People and Places – August 2015

Commission appointees announced Gov. Mark Dayton has announced the following appointments to several boards and commissions, including the Commission of Deaf, Deaf-Blind […]

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Commission appointees announced

Gov. Mark Dayton has announced the following appointments to several boards and commissions, including the Commission of Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans, Minnesota Assistive Technology Advisory Council, Minnesota Board on Aging, Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Minnesota State Council on Disability. New appointees to the Commission of Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans are Lloyd Ballinger, Rochester, Kay Cameron, Moorhead and Kathryn Rose, Eden Prairie. They replace Susan Gensmer, Lyle Hoxtell and Jason Valentine. Tracy Ivy, Minnetonka; Brenda Ackerson, Warren; Emily Smith Lundberg, Lakeshore and John Wodele, Minneapolis, were reappointed to their current seats. Valentine, who lives in Minneapolis was reappointed as an at-large member, replacing Alan Parsnes. Valentine was previously a regional representative.

Harlan Tardy, Virginia; Jeffrey Hane, Hallock; Neil Johnson, Maplewood; Carolyn Perron, Fridley and Don Samuelson, Brainerd were reappointed to the Minnesota Board on Aging. Sonja Hayden Berg, St. Cloud, replaces Jane Olson. Patrick McFarland, Champlin, replaces Larry Houk. Mor Vue, St. Paul, replaces Stan Ferneyhough. Gregory Wright, Rochester, replaces Chisanne Piepe.

David Andrews, St. Paul; Alison Canty, Woodbury; Sharie Hawkins, St. Paul and Jennifer Mundl, Golden Valley, were all reappointed to the Minnesota Assistive Technology Advisory Council.

On the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, Emilie Breit of Lakeville replaces Wendy Wangen. State Rep. John Hoffman of Champlin replaces Dawn Bly. Kate Onyeneho of Burnsville replaces Dan Reed. Jacqueline Rightler of Chaska replaces Steve Kuntz. Linda Simenstad of Shakopee replaces Kevin Dawnson. David Quilleash, Plymouth, was reappointed.

On the Minnesota State Council on Disability, Timothy Boyer, Bemidji, replaces Barbara Stensland. Nancy Fitzsimons, North Mankato, replaces Stephen Grams. James Thalhuber, Blaine and Kathleen Wingen, St. Cloud were reappointed.



New poetry book wins praise

Steven J. Jacobson has just published his first full-length book of poetry. Spiritual Gait is a collection of free verse writings about daily life and spirituality. Here is a celebration that is decidedly religious in tone. Readers with affection for spiritual sentiments will find it a prerequisite to appreciating works that center upon creation, joy, and life’s little facets.

Jacobson live with a form of schizo-affective disorder, but continues enjoying life and pursuing his interests of all kinds. He is a lifelong Midwest resident, currently living in Hopkins. His work has been published in Access Press, Linnet’s Wings, Burningword Literary Journal, and Calvary Cross. He is a featured poet in metric conversions: poetry of our time (Editura StudIS, 2013) a compilation of poetry described by author and translator Taner Murat as an act of “intercultural exchange.”

In his first book-length publication, Jacobson strives to illuminate the glory of God the creator by examining and rejoicing the many wonders of nature, including our physical surroundings—the sky, the earth, a river—as well as the delight of children and other aspects of being human. His compositions feature both language and concepts that are at once accessible to all and inspirational.

Spiritual Gait has won praise for its simple beauty and clarity. Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review, said, “Most poetry collections are fairly dense and inaccessible, which tend to regulate the entire literary genre to an audience of college educated followers and specialty readers. Not so Spiritual Gait, a collection of simple free verse writings about daily occurrences, relationships with God, soul rebirth, and more. Here is a celebration that is decidedly religious in tone: readers with affection for spiritual sentiments will find it a prerequisite to appreciating works that center upon creation, joy, and life’s little facets.”

Donovan added, “Here is an observation of July 4th celebrations and its effects not only on people, but nature (“…fireworks lace the sky with a deluge of bombardments of bright flashing forms and colored lights…”), there an observation of a child’s closer connections to God (“…the innocence given by God/to a child remains a mystery/to the adult world./the love unconditionally/expressed by a child to another/is unparalleled in this life.”) Whether it’s observations of nature or observations of children, Spiritual Gait is an accessible, simple collection recommended for spiritual readers who seek light, simple, and joyful
observational pieces.”

Spiritual Gait is in paperback and costs $15. It is available on Amazon.



Video game project is young man’s challenge

Lost GlitchFor Nate Allard, a 15-year-old from Chanhassen, obstacles don’t stand a chance at keeping him away from his life’s missions. Those include creating, designing and building a video arcade game from scratch, a feat he accomplished despite some challenges.

When he was three, Allard was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that falls on the autism spectrum. Autism often affects social interaction, the ability to communicate ideas and feelings, imagination, self-regulation, and the ability to establish relationships with others. Autism also can encourage focus or fascinations on specific subjects, creating focus and evolving deep passions for those subjects.

Allard’s area of focus is gaming, with game development as a social and artistic outlet, according to his mother, Shylla Allard. His interest in programming began at age two when he figured out how to change the screen saver on his family’s home computer. “It comes easy,” he said. “It’s like I already know how to do it.”

In first grade, he started learning a game development program called Game Maker, and attended after school classes with fifth graders. “Nate was so interested and could read at a fifth grade level – we knew he could take this class,” his mother Shylla Allard said.

He continued with programming classes throughout elementary school, and he searched the Internet to self-teach and dissect game animation. He was too advanced for one set of classes at the Science Museum of Minnesota. An ID Tech Camp experience this summer allows Allard to take classes in the computer language C++ as well as engineering and programming.

Since 2012, he had a vision of making an arcade machine out of Lost Glitch, a game he developed from countless pencil sketch concepts and then programmed using Game Maker 8 for Windows. He named the game based on what happened when he removed a game cartridge from an old gaming system – the game would “glitch out.”

The time was right in the summer of 2014, the summer before freshman year at Chanhassen High School. The project required ordering parts, painting, carpentry, working with a graphic designer for the artwork, electrical wiring, grounding buttons, installing a monitor, wiring for sound and light, and detailed assembly of the actual arcade machine. His father helped with painting and wiring. “Wiring the buttons was really hard,” Allard said.

By winter 2015, Lost Glitch – Special Arcade Version was complete. The video game’s main character, Neito, has a mission to eliminate enemies and collect points while eating a variety of foods. Neito must make it through 20 increasingly challenging game levels. Showing his respect for the influence of Japanese game designers, Allard chose the name Neito because it translates to Nate in Japanese.

The main character is a young version of its creator, even wearing the green T-shirt, joker hat and blue shorts Allard favored as a child. The game is positive and happy-go-lucky, unlike many violent video games.

When friends visit, they eagerly head for the Allard basement to give Lost Glitch a try. “My friends who have played the game call it ‘Nintendo hard’ because it’s very difficult to solve,” he said. “They’re shocked by the game – they can’t believe I made it.”

Allard continues to build his gaming ideas and has his sights set on a new mission. “I want to be a game director so I can design and direct the creation of games,” he said. “For now though, I’m really satisfied to have finally accomplished one of my major life goals.”

This article is excerpted from Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM).



Intergenerational center is open

Olu’s Center, the first facility of its kind in the Twin Cities north metro area, opened its doors in North Minneapolis in July. The unique, inter-generational center provides daycare to senior citizens, and also to preschool and school-age children, in a clean, natural and environmentally-conscious atmosphere. Olu’s Center provides licensed child care for infants and children age six weeks to three years; preschool care for children from three to six years of age; supervision and educational activities for children six to 12 years old, and senior day care.

Olu’s Center’s strategically-designed activities for children and seniors includes arts and crafts, gardening, healthy eating, exercise, and field trips. Additional offerings for seniors include estate-planning assistance and memoir-writing.

For children, Olu’s Center offers a curriculum that encourages imagination, builds pride, and offers new challenges. It provides opportunities for academic success and promotes additional knowledge in core subject areas, through a variety of experiences.

The center is affiliated with Olu’s Home, a licensed care organization founded in 1999 that provides residential and in-home services to the elderly, and persons with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness. Along with the Center, Olu’s also operates nine, state-licensed group homes in the Minneapolis area. The homes provide residential and in-home services to individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries and mental illness.

Gloria Freeman, founder and CEO of Olu’s Home and Olu’s Center, said the new center is designed to provide “a nourishing environment where seniors and children can build relationships, inspire, give and learn freely.” Freeman also said that the opening of innovative center, located in a former charter school building in North Minneapolis, represents the culmination of a dream.



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