I had so many ideas for blog posts starting with M — Messes, Math, Music, Museums…
But I decided to go for something a bit more unique to us — My city Minneapolis, Minnesota and a unique celebration in our neighborhood for May Day.
Despite the drawback of cold, snowy winters, Minneapolis is a beautiful and fun city to live in, and a city with so many great resources for homeschoolers:
- We love the many, many beautiful parks, lakes and trails in the city. Almost every park has a free wading pool! Many of the parks offer reasonably priced sports programs and other activities. Miss M even did pottery classes at our neighborhood park last year!
- So many wonderful museums, historical sites and other attractions in Minneapolis and in the larger Twin Cities (aka Minneapolis, St. Paul plus their suburbs) metro area.
- Our huge downtown library with many neighborhood branches, plus the resources of the entire county library system.
- Enough homeschool groups, co-ops, classes and activities that you can really say there is “something for everyone” somewhere in the Twin Cities metro area. (I guess this can be a drawback in some ways as well — one family can never do everything, so I sometimes feel bummed that we can’t do many of the neat things I hear about! We are in a stage of life where it’s difficult to do too many organized classes and field trips…something that will change I am sure as the kids get older! With so many options even just for choosing a co-op, there’s the potential to spend hours doing research to find which one is “best”).
- Opportunities to be exposed to lots of cultural diversity. I’m sure this isn’t unique to Minneapolis, but I like the fact that my kids are playing at the park right along side kids speaking Spanish and kids from Somali families that may dress differently than we do…but they are all kids, just playing together at the park. If anything, I wish we had more opportunities to not just see a variety of people around us from various countries, cultures and races, but to really interact and get to know them (since in reality, most of the people we spend time with regularly still look a lot like us!).
Within Minneapolis, we live in a neighborhood called Powderhorn Park (named after, yes, the park in our neighborhood!). It’s a fun, quirky and diverse area. We have a really unique neighborhood celebration called May Day. It’s usually on the first Sunday of May. This year, it got rained out and had to be postponed to the next weekend (which was this past Sunday, on Mother’s Day).
The May Day festival brings out tens of thousands of people from the neighborhood, the city, and well beyond. There’s a parade like nothing I’ve ever seen anywhere else, and a festival in the park that includes some of the “normal” stuff like food vendors and music…and also a pageant of sorts that celebrates the arrival of spring in a way that is, well, pretty pagan (with elements of things like bowing down to the sun).
The pageant is a bit much for us, but the pagan element of things in the parade is a bit more subtle. We feel like we can enjoy the beauty of the artwork in the parade, appreciate the diversity of cultures, opinions and world views represented, and use it as a good opportunity to teach our kids how to respect and appreciate all they see around them in our neighborhood while still viewing it through the lens of our Christian worldview.
It’s so far from the typical parade you almost have to see it to “get it.” The only motorized vehicle in the parade is the obligatory police car at the beginning. Everything else is human/bicycle powered! The parade always tells a story in a few “acts.” Usually the story has something to do with protecting the earth, conserving resources, the evils of hyper-consumerism, and sometimes a jab or two at big business. There are always a number of fun musical groups — rag tag “marching bands” of local residents of all ages, a calypso band, and a couple groups of traditional Aztec drummers and dancers. The parade ends with a “free speech” section where anybody or any group can march to promote or protest anything they please. This year we left before much of that section came through. It can get a little crazy!
Our kids love the crazy and beautiful costumes and the fun music. As they are getting older, it spurs all kinds of interesting questions and discussion (both the parade itself and the people gathered to watch it). Miss M asked why a particular group of people was dressed all in black. My flippant response was “oh, because they think it’s cool to do that.” Tony had a more thoughtful response, something along the lines of how people often feel they have to dress a certain way to fit in, and many people who choose to wear all black may do so because they feel like they don’t fit in or have been hurt by the culture around them.
I’m glad he had such a thoughtful response, because I want my kids growing up thinking in a caring way about all the kinds of people they see around them, and how they might be able to show them the love of Jesus.
To see what other bloggers are writing about for the letter M, visit this week’s Blogging through the Alphabet @ Ben and Me!