Tag Archives: blog 4

Why Video Games are Beneficial to All Kinds of People

There are many negative stigmas and preexisting opinions people have in regards to video games. Some think they are a waste of time, others believe no good can come from them. I would like to provide some facts that support the idea of video games having positive benefits to all sorts of people.

According to this article, https://www.geico.com/living/home/technology/9-reasons-to-give-video-games-a-try/, video games can have many positive impacts on children and adults. Some of the benefits include:

  • Improved problem-solving skills
  • Stress relief
  • Healthy brain stimulation
  • Improved social skills
  • Mental health benefits

One of the biggest benefits to video games I have found personally is the improvement on my mental health. Video games have always been one of my favorite hobbies since I was a kid and a big reason for that is they provide an escape from the real world. No matter what problems you may have going on in your life, you can sit down and become immersed in a virtual world of a video game for however long you please. Whether it’s for a few minutes or a few hours, having that time where to yourself where you can just relax and enjoy a great game, not worrying about your real world problems, can greatly impact your mental health. https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/nov/16/video-gaming-can-benefit-mental-health-find-oxford-academics

Video games have also allowed me to connect with people all across the country and globe. If not for video games, I would’ve never come across these people in my lifetime. Thanks to playing video games, I’ve made strong friendships with individuals that I can carry with me for years to come.

Video games have many positive impacts on people that sometimes don’t get talked about enough. I believe the benefits far outweigh the negatives and I’m grateful to have gotten to experience said benefits myself.

Cannabis Legislation is About More Than Having a Good Time

It has been nearly a year since the beginning of the pandemic, making it past time to discuss a proposed bill that could benefit both the government and its citizens. That bill is HF600, and it would legalize recreational cannabis use for adults. Beyond the fact that we have been stuck inside for longer than we probably initially imagined, our homes full of sourdough starter and unfinished DIY projects and may be looking to try something new for ourselves, legalizing cannabis could also add an entirely new industry full of jobs and economic stimulus.

Cannabis sales spiked in 2020, and by not passing this bill last year, Minnesota lost out on a potential source of revenue that could have really helped the state while it was struggling. Democrats recently cleared the bill in its second house committee, and though I am hopeful we can keep this momentum, the reality is that the republican majority in the senate is likely going to block it again. I think this is a huge mistake for Republicans, who often focus on the economy as one of their main running platforms. The potential revenue to be made from this bill would have huge impacts all around our state.

This bill has also built the framework to create and entirely new field of jobs, and made sure that those jobs would be focused in the local communities who need them, not overrun by large corporations. The creation of jobs, stimulation of the economy, and decriminalization of cannabis in such a large bill would have affects that go even farther than one might think. This bill has implications for schools and housing if you just think far enough ahead.

Legalizing cannabis feels inevitable at this point, with seventeen other states already passing similar legislation. I think its high time we follow suit and use it as an opportunity to stimulate an economy that’s been hit repeatedly this year, create much-needed new jobs, and allow adults to legally engage in the practice if they choose. If you’re interested in seeing this bill passed, contacting your representatives and letting them know why you support the bill as well can do wonders for pushing it through the process.

People with Disabilities Should be Paid (at least) Minimum Wage

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed to prohibit discrimination based on disability. However, there are loopholes that some taken advantage of. I want to specifically mention the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA provided employers with the opportunity to fill out the 14 (c) certificate which allows them to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides for the employment of certain individuals at wage rates below the minimum wage. These individuals include student-learners (vocational education students), as well as full-time students employed by retail or service establishments, agriculture, or institutions of higher education. Also included are individuals whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those related to age or injury, for the work to be performed.

I do not believe in paying anyone less than minimum wage. It is not unusual to request equal pay for doing the same job. For example, 18.0 percent of people with a disability were employed in the service industry in 2020 compared with 15.4 percent of people without a disability. They may have been more likely; however, the service industry is where many people find employment. You probably either work or have worked in the service industry or someone you know has.

A few points to consider are, people with disabilities often have more day-to-day expenses than people without disabilities. Additionally, costs of healthcare are typically more expensive. Of course, all costs are dependent on the persons needs. Yet, on average, a household with an adult with a disability spends $17,690 more each year than a household without to achieve the same standard of living.

There are policies and legislation in place to try and mitigate the costs, however, according to research conducted by the National Disability Institute, “Whatever the measure of poverty that is used, individuals with disabilities are more likely to be poor than their nondisabled peers.” This implies that current policies and legislation are not effective. The first inch towards the first step is paying people with disabilities a livable wage.

Finally, people with disabilities deserve the opportunity for a dignified and productive life. They are less likely to be employed, yet, still they’re more likely to be working when they’re 65 or older. Everyone should have access to the tools they need to live comfortably. This has just been an entry level discussion of this issue. I highly encourage all of us to continue learning about this issue and support policy makers that prioritize people with disabilities.

You can use go to this link HERE to see which businesses applied for the 14 (c) certificate. If you see a business that you support on that list, consider reaching out and requesting they do not apply in the future or finding an alternative that pays all their employees a fair wage. I recognize that sometimes that will not be possible because of proximity or other barriers. However, I still urge you to check and then just think about other possible ways we can help people achieve equity.

Learning the Lessons of Love and Loss, Hope and Sacrifice

By Leslie MacKenzie, MDST 485, Blog 4

Sometime around 1890, in Perth, Scotland, my great-great-grandparents made the difficult, possibly desperate, definitely courageous decision to send half of their children to America. Away would go three adult sons – a blacksmith, a tailor, and a soon-to-be farmer – and two sisters. The youngest immigrant was Helen, my great-grandmother, just 16 years old.

They traveled by ship across the Atlantic and through the St. Lawrence Seaway until they arrived in Duluth, Minnesota. New life took hold in this new place and news was shared via letters, taking a month or more to travel back and forth between America and Scotland. I have some of those letters

So why am I thinking of my great-grandmother, Helen Elder, at this time?

The Carbon Footprint of Travel

It’s vacation time and I’m hearing from a lot of folks who are planning to fly to visit family members who live in other states or other countries.

Unfortunately, flying is one of the more climate-destructive things that middle and upper-class Americans and Europeans do. I’ve flown numerous times in the past. Most people I know have flown somewhere. So I’m not speaking as a purist here, but going forward, I’m going to try to do better.

Because regardless of the reasons – or excuses – we give for why we fly, it doesn’t change the fact that flying is bad for the atmosphere and the climate, and no amount of carbon offsetting will undo the damage. We more than doubled our air travel between 2000 and 2015 and that’s the wrong direction.

Continue reading Learning the Lessons of Love and Loss, Hope and Sacrifice

Homelessness in Minnesota

What is the prevalence of homelessness in Minnesota? What are the circumstances that led to those experiencing homelessness? Is there anything we can do?

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Downtown, St. Paul.

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Wilder Research conducted a study in October of 2018 which included 4,279 face-to-face interviews and a head count of people experiencing homelessness. On one single night (October 25, 2018), Wilder Research counted 10,233 people experiencing homelessness. Back in 2015, the head count in a single night was at an estimated 9,312, and has continued to rise at an alarming rate of 10%. Homelessness by age group is also alarming: 43% are between the ages of 25 and 54, 10% are adults over the age of 55, 15% are unaccompanied youth ages 24 and younger, and 32% are children ages 17 and younger with parents. While these numbers remain steady, children and youth are the most dis-proportionally affected by homelessness.


The face-to-face interviews conducted by Wilder Research helps us understand the contributing factors that have led so many people to these living conditions. The most prevalent reason is the availability of affordable housing, so limited resources for affordable housing is the foundation of the change we need to see. Another prevalent reason is the fact that the majority of the homeless population has a chronic mental or physical health condition. This is a direct correlation, because those who lack the capacity to sustain employment ultimately have little to no income. These are only a couple of factors listed, but you can read the rest along with additional statistics at Homelessness in Minnesota.

What can we do?

When it comes to this public issue, there are many things that we can do as individuals to help those who face difficult odds. From giving donations, to handing out food, to volunteering, there are a multitude of ways we can have a positive impact. Simply Google how you can help in an area near you and support those who could use your help.

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Food drive for the homeless in Minneapolis, MN.

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Trash on trash on trash

The Issue

The world is turning into a giant garbage can, no doubt, and it’s getting worse. Scientists surveyed the islands of Cocos (in the Australian territory) and estimated there’s about 414 million pieces of plastic which could weigh up to 262 tons. Among the garbage was almost one million shoes and hundreds of thousands of toothbrushes. Straws and plastic bags made up a quarter of the total. Another study noted that there were more pieces of plastic in the ocean than stars in the Milky Way.

The scale of the problem is getting so bad that it seems almost impossible to clean up the beaches. It’s time consuming, costly, and thousands of new pieces of plastic wash up even after you’ve just cleaned it. The solution now is to reduce the distribution and consumption of plastic so that it doesn’t enter our oceans in the first place. I applaud the cities in Minnesota that are banning Styrofoam containers and eliminating plastic straws. We need people to be aware that we can’t stop pollution from happening, but we can certainly slow it down.

In the lower left quadrant of the photo, you can see a piece of trash on the edge of the water
Just like you wouldn’t litter in a place like Rocky Mountain National Park, let’s have that same mentality closer to home


Effects on animals

Another issue in itself is how all this garbage affects wildlife. A pregnant sperm whale washed up, dead, on an Italian beach. When scientists and veterinarians cut her open, they found a dead baby whale along with 50 pounds of plastic in her stomach. The plastic filled up more than two thirds of her stomach and potentially died because the nutrients from the food never made it past the blocked intestines.


Deepest point of the ocean

If for some reason that information didn’t spark something inside you, take this in. Victor Vescovo set a record on becoming the first American to descend deeper into the ocean than any person before him. He and his dive team were more than 35,850 feet below the surface of the Mariana Trench—the deepest point in the Earth’s oceans. That’s nearly 7 miles! That’s a similar distance between Metro State and Hidden Falls Regional Park “as the crow flies” (straight shot, not based on driving directions). Vescovo spent four hours at the bottom mapping new routes for future researchers and among the bottom? Trash. While a single piece of plastic isn’t going to single-handedly kill the ocean species, it’s a reminder on the impact human’s have and how far it reaches.


I call it like I see it, and I only see a lake named Bde Maka Ska.

A couple years ago there was a petition to change the name of Lake Calhoun back to its original Dakota name Mde Maka Ska, which in modern Dakota is spelled Bde Maka Ska (BeDAY -Mah-KAH-Ska). It was named that until the 16th century or so, and it meant Lake White Earth. But after the petition was passed and they changed the name back to its indigenous name, there was a huge uproar about how we can’t change history, and the lake is named Lake Calhoun.

The name change was originally brought on because people thought it was inappropriate to have a lake named after a man who was a slave owner, and pro-slavery. Recently it was decided that they would change the name back to Lake Calhoun, which started new debates on the name change.


Many people in the greater Minneapolis area are split two ways:

  1. They believe that we shouldn’t honor slave owners and colonialism, and instead we should honor the Indigenous people who were pushed from their land.
  2. Its hard to say Bde Maka Ska, and they like how Lake Calhoun sounds, and its all they’ve known it as, so why question it?

As an indigenous woman(I may not be Dakota, but I am Ojibwe from the north) I have seen what colonialism has done to my people, and many non-natives would like for us to move on from the past. But its not like white people showed up in Minnesota and asked for the land, and we surely didn’t suggest that they take it from us and force us to live on reservations, all to have our lakes named after racist white men.

Another hilarious aspect that non-natives express is how its hard to say the name Bde Maka Ska, but they sure as heck can say Anoka, Minnetonka, Wayzata, and Shakopee… all names in the Dakota language, Why is it so hard for them to google how to say this name?

Like, soooo… you can say Hermoine Granger, but you cant say BeDAY MahKAH Ska? Okay, cool cool cool cool cool.

All I am saying is its not like you have to apologize to Indigenous people right now for something that your racist ancestors did, but you could at least be on the right side of history and stand with the people who your great, great, great grandparents stole land from. A really easy way to do this is to not protest when there’s a request to change a name of a lake back to what it once was.