Come together in Stevens Square

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May 28, 2007
By: Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas

Anyone familiar with the Cinema and Civics summer film series will recognize “Goonies” as a break with recent tradition.
The 1985 teen adventure flick is a far cry from both the political fare of last summer and the rescued 16-mm films screened in Stevens Square Park two years ago.
Has one of Minneapolis’ most popular outdoor film series abandoned its civic mission in favor of populism?
Event organizer Michelle Crumly would argue it hasn’t.
“We just wanted this year to be more fun, and have people come out and not have to think so hard about how short and dangerous life is,” Crumly said.
And, really, what better way to promote civic engagement in Minneapolis’ most-densely populated neighborhood? If anything could lure the diverse — but mainly young — inhabitants from their stuffy apartments it’s “Ghostbusters,” a touchstone of their ’80s childhoods.
In that spirit, this year’s Cinema and Civics theme is “Come Together!”
“Last year’s series was talking about all the different groups here in Stevens Square,” Crumly said. “This year, we wanted to talk about what makes us all human, and not what makes us different.”
“We have some fun movies, and it kind of stretches the definition of coming together to get things done,” she said.
That definition is broad enough to encompass both the classic 1960 western, “The Magnificent Seven,” and the 2000 cheerleader flick, “Bring It On.” A little something for everybody, you could say.
Crumly made her movie selections in hopes of drawing an audience not just from Stevens Square, but from outside the neighborhood, as well. There was also a conscious effort to pick family-friendly movies this year.
(Cinema and Civics regulars may recall some cringing last year during the showing of “Crumb,” Terry Zwigoff’s 1995 portrait of the underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, his fetishes and his intensely weird family. Not a good night to bring the
As usual, each Wednesday night screening is preceded by music and activities.
July 11 is County Fair Night, with blues from The Brass Kings followed by a pie-eating contest and sac race before “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” screens at dusk. Other Wednesday night activities are similarly themed to match the movie.
The event is free, but donations are encouraged and will be used to fund next summer’s Cinema and Civics. The series is also supported by grants from Medtronic, Plymouth Congregational Church and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.
So, pop up some popcorn, grab a blanket and head on down to Stevens Square Park, because there are few better ways to pass a Wednesday evening in the summer. (Take it from City Pages, which recently named Cinema and Civics to its annual “Best of the Twin Cities” list.)
If “The Milagro Beanfield War” sparks a debate about neighborhood gentrification or “The Magnificent Seven” grows your appreciation of the neighborhood block patrol, all the better.
“I think all the movies — no matter how cheesy some people may think they are — I think they all state very eloquently that it’s about people coming together,” Crumly said.
“Cinema and Civics: Come Together!” is every Wednesday from June 6 to Aug. 1 (except for July 4) in Stevens Square Park,1801 Stevens Ave. Music starts at 7 p.m. and movies start at dusk. For a full schedule of events, visit

Red Hot Art Festival
June 2 at 11 a.m.–7 p.m. and
June 3 at 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Stevens Square Park
18th St. and 2nd Ave.
Free. 879-0200
For the sixth consecutive year, local artists are taking their work off their walls and into the open air. This weekend Stevens Square Community Organization and Stevens Square Center for the Arts will host Red Hot Art, a festival celebrating artistic diversity and urban vibrance. The event will feature dozens of small exhibitions, installation pieces and performances from musicians such as Gay Beast, Painted Saints and Hey There Cowboy.
A sneak peak at some of the art reveals an edgy, modern theme — Thomas Kincaid would stick out like a sore thumb. The festival is geared toward artists who don’t typically show their work at art fairs, meaning less commercial pieces and more original creations.
— Mary O’Regan