Mendota's 2040 Plan seeks more development downtown

August 29, 2018

This was one of the toughest stories I've ever written. I originally proposed it to my publisher after reading the local news and learning about possible redevelopment plans in Mendota, a city close to where I live. The nuance: what does it mean to build Native-American land? Mendota is a sacred place for the Dakota community as it is situated at the intersection of the Mississippi River and the Minnesota River, a historically important place for the community. With this lens in mind, I pitched the story and wrote a draft that included information from the city council meeting, the city clerk and mayor, a professor of genocide studies at the University of Minnesota, and a potential contractor who was interested in building on the land. The Native-American lens did not please my publisher as he believed the angle was a "stretch." I edited the story down, but I still feel that it is missing valuable information about a community directly affected by possible development decisions. I felt frustrated once it finally reached print, but I understood that I needed to follow the assignment, not my own desires. This was my first experience outside of student journalism of needed to significantly alter a story I had written, which made me realize how lucky I have been to work on a publication that values the writer's ideas for the story as well as the editor's. The story isn't great and I considered not including it. But, behind it, there are hours of interviews, research and phone calls behind that make it factually accurate and informative which I am proud of. 

Marching all the way to Washington

June 20, 2018

I live close to Henry Sibley High School and I heard via friendly neighborhood conversation that their marching band was picked by Senator Amy Klobuchar to perform with 49 other bands at the Independence Day parade in Washington D.C. Impressed and interested in the feat, I pitched this story to my publisher, and it became the first story I wrote for The Villager. Excited about the opportunity, I interviewed the band director and student band members to share their excitement and work ethic, and to talk a bit about the lack of funding, which the students eventually overcame. Coming from a school without a marching band, I was interested in the world of it all and I enjoyed listening to students who had a true passion for their music and performance.