Meet the Minnesota Republican who is helping immigrants and refugees become independent

Representing more than 70 countries, the students learn English as well as how to read the bus schedule, apply for jobs and help their children become successful in school.

David Gaither might be the only prominent Republican leader in Minnesota who’s advocating for legal immigration and helping new immigrants and refugees find their feet.

For a decade now, the former state senator and Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s chief of staff has been leading the Minneapolis-based International Education Center (IEC), which provides adult newcomers in the Twin Cities with language classes and skills necessary for the workforce.

Representing more than 70 countries, the students learn English as well as how to read the bus schedule, apply for jobs and help their children become successful in school. They’re classes, as Gaither notes, tailored to help participants become “independent and productive members” of society.

As some of his Republican counterparts propose cutting the number of legal immigrants, banning refugees from certain countries and increasing border security efforts, Gaither spends most of his days trying to secure funding or expanding opportunities for the nearly 1,000 immigrant students IEC serves each year.

“Regardless of the political affiliations,” he said, “Minnesotans have two basic challenges with immigration: They don’t want to press 1 for English and they don’t want to have people on government assistance programs. My school and the organization I work with address both issues strongly.”

IEC was established in 1991 — when Minnesota saw large influxes of immigrants and refugees escaping violence and economic turmoil in Africa, Southeast Asia and Mexico — as a nonprofit organization aimed at providing foreign-born residents with English classes.

A few years later, IEC saw an unexpected increase in the numbers of the student population, prompting the nonprofit to become one of several adult basic education programs the state funds through its K-12 budget.

The main reason the school was formed, Gaither said, was because the public schools in the Twin Cities were “ill-equipped and ill-prepared” to handle the influx of adult immigrants and refugees. “So our school was formed to address a demand that’s been unmet,” he added. “And also I think there’s a moral responsibility to help people that are new arrivals in your country.”

Today, IEC offers career-specific language courses as well as GED prep, citizenship, computer classes and math classes. The school also deploys instructors to local companies to teach English to immigrant workers there.

IEC has a diverse student population, with nearly 50 percent being black, 30 percent Latino, 10 percent Asian and 10 percent white. And while most of the students are between 25 and 44 years old, the school has students ranging in age from 18 to 80.

‘We teach people to be selfish’

There are dozens of nonprofit organizations that offer general services to new immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. Many of them, for example, provide their clients with health, legal and housing services.

IEC, however, is focused on helping its students become independent in the first few months or years in Minnesota — by giving them the skills and tools necessary to lead independent and productive lives.

David Gaither

“We teach people to be selfish,” Gaither noted. “We let them know that they have to take care of themselves first before they can take care of others. We talk about it and we teach that it’s OK to … focus on your goals and your ambitions and do the things that you wish to do.”

He added that opening up the door to immigrants — and helping them become self-sufficient — is good for the state and for the labor force, which in recent years has been shrinking as the baby boomer generation continues to retire.

“We have a job market in the Twin Cities area that does not have enough trained and skilled workers,” Gaither said. “We can’t [find those workers] organically; we have to do it through immigration. It’s very consistent with my values as a free market economy.”

Conversely, other Republican leaders in the state have been using anti-immigration rhetoric that’s much like that of President Donald Trump. Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson, for instance, proposed last year a temporary halt on refugees “until sufficient and accurate answers are given on how many refugees are being settled here … and what the actual cost is to taxpayers.”

In any case, Faisal Deri, a Somalia-born Republican who unsuccessfully ran for a school board seat in Edina, has been taking note of Gaither’s work and saw the fruit his efforts have borne.

For example, Deri said, he met with a couple of students at IEC who didn’t speak a word of English when they first arrived in Minnesota. In a few months, however, they had jobs and were taking courses at local colleges.

“David is a sample of a new phenomenon that’s emerging,” Deri added. “That phenomenon is: How do we empower immigrants? How do we make sure they’re not a burden to the state, county or the federal government? How can they be contributing members our society?”

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Edina, MN Real Estate: Open Houses

So you want to look at some open houses for sale in Edina this weekend? Good idea. An open house planned by the right realtor can help you in any number of ways. Open houses provide you information on how to list and show your own house and they can give you an idea of the quality of homes in an area before you waste too much time going house to house.

The best open house of all? The open house that you end up owning. Take a look at the open houses in and near Edina listed by our partners at realtor.com.

So you want to look at some open houses for sale in Edina this weekend? Good idea. An open house planned by the right realtor can help you in any number of ways. Open houses provide you information on how to list and show your own house and they can give you an idea of the quality of homes in an area before you waste too much time going house to house.

The best open house of all? The open house that you end up owning. Take a look at the open houses in and near Edina listed by our partners at realtor.com.

So you want to look at some open houses for sale in Edina this weekend? Good idea. An open house planned by the right realtor can help you in any number of ways. Open houses provide you information on how to list and show your own house and they can give you an idea of the quality of homes in an area before you waste too much time going house to house.

The best open house of all? The open house that you end up owning. Take a look at the open houses in and near Edina listed by our partners at realtor.com.

So you want to look at some open houses for sale in Edina this weekend? Good idea. An open house planned by the right realtor can help you in any number of ways. Open houses provide you information on how to list and show your own house and they can give you an idea of the quality of homes in an area before you waste too much time going house to house.

The best open house of all? The open house that you end up owning. Take a look at the open houses in and near Edina listed by our partners at realtor.com.

So you want to look at some open houses for sale in Edina this weekend? Good idea. An open house planned by the right realtor can help you in any number of ways. Open houses provide you information on how to list and show your own house and they can give you an idea of the quality of homes in an area before you waste too much time going house to house.

The best open house of all? The open house that you end up owning. Take a look at the open houses in and near Edina listed by our partners at realtor.com.

So you want to look at some open houses for sale in Edina this weekend? Good idea. An open house planned by the right realtor can help you in any number of ways. Open houses provide you information on how to list and show your own house and they can give you an idea of the quality of homes in an area before you waste too much time going house to house.

The best open house of all? The open house that you end up owning. Take a look at the open houses in and near Edina listed by our partners at realtor.com.

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Scientists have found out why voices like Bob Ross’ is so soothing

The sound of Bob Ross’ baritone voice and his paintbrush made him an accidental pioneer of ASMR.

Her voice never registers above a whisper.

She stares at you with soft eyes.

Then slowly, she turns the pages of a book, tapping her fingers softly against the paper. The sound of her voice and fingers tapping is amplified by a microphone. “Want to count the stars?” she purrs, pointing to a page showing a luminous galaxy.

Meet “Maria,” perhaps the most famous ASMR artist on YouTube. More than a million people subscribe to her “Gentle Whispering ASMR” videos (youtube.com/GentleWhispering) created to help people relax with calming sounds and images believed to induce a tingling sensation in the brain.

Known as autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, this pseudoscientific term describes a physical and mental sensation that many claim to experience. Some with ASMR feel shivers up their spine or brain “goose bumps.” Others become drowsy and dazed.

Sounds such as whisper tones, tapping fingers and crinkling paper are the most common triggers. But other people get the tingles from watching someone do a repetitive task that becomes meditative. (This may explain why videos of barbers cutting hair or of someone ironing a shirt are popular among ASMR enthusiasts.)

Recently, this mysterious sensory experience has become trendy, producing a cottage industry of ASMR artists creating their own videos with audiences tuning in to relieve stress and sleeplessness.

Science has yet to explain why some people experience ASMR and others don’t. But there is growing interest from scientists in studying ASMR as a possible therapy for stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

While it may be hard to believe that anyone would want to watch a video of someone folding a stack of towels in order to rest better, sleep doctors say they’ve heard of stranger tactics.

“It’s odd, but odd things work for some people,” said Dr. Michael Howell, associate professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota and medical director of Fairview Sleep Services in Edina. “Would it be plausible that people who have this ASMR response could respond differently to these therapies for insomnia? Absolutely, yes, that’s plausible.”

Until there’s hard evidence, though, he said he wouldn’t recommend it for patients as a sleep aid.

Among those pushing for more research on ASMR is Craig Richard, who runs a website, ASMR University, that posts news articles about ASMR and interviews with researchers. Richard, a professor in the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at Shenandoah University in Virginia, says he feels the brain tingles with the right triggers.

“My head gets really fuzzy in an enjoyable way,” he said. “My entire body feels super-relaxed, and I’ll want to put my head down and take a nap.”

He has been fascinated with ASMR since he first learned about it through a podcast five years ago. He was skeptical at first, until the podcasters mentioned Bob Ross.

The late host of “The Joy of Painting” TV series had a baritone voice known to invoke maximum chill. Hearing it, Richard’s ears perked up. That voice, along with the tap-tap-tap sound of Ross’s paintbrush against the canvas creating his “happy little trees,” sent Richard straight to his own happy little place.

“I remembered coming home from school as a kid, flipping channels and stopping on Bob Ross because his voice was so magical,” he said. “I’d set up a big floor pillow and fall asleep halfway through. I don’t think I ever watched him finish a painting.”

Brain tingles are associated with relaxation, and Richard suggests that brain chemicals such as endorphins, oxytocin (the love hormone) and serotonin may be involved in the reaction to ASMR triggers.

Many ASMR videos posted online strive to create intimacy between the viewer and the ASMR artist. It’s that feeling of comfort, connectedness and being cared for that draws so many people in, Richard argued.

“The reason people are tuning into these videos is because they find them relaxing, which is helpful to their stress,” he said.

The “Joy of Painting” series is re-aired on TV periodically. Episodes also are avaible at the Bob Ross YouTube channel (bit.ly/1BxU8UA).

For even more intimacy, a pair of New York artists have turned the ASMR experience into an immersive theater show. They call it ASMRtistry,

Melinda Lauw and Andrew Hoepfner offer what is believed to be the only in-person ASMR event, selling tickets to their interactive show. The 90-minute performance takes place in rented houses and apartments. Attendees are blindfolded and escorted into the homes, where the artists create sounds to stimulate the ASMR reaction in their guests.

It starts with a group presentation. Later the artists remove the blindfolds and escort each patron into a different room for a one-on-one experience. One scene, for example, involves a performer who will brush the patron’s hair while she tells them a story, speaking in a soft voice as a mother would to her child.

The show closes with blindfolds again. Performers lead the audience out of the home and release them into the world.

“The whole experience is very meditative and quiet,” Lauw said. “People come out of this experience feeling really peaceful.”

She has experienced ASMR since she was a child.

“I always knew I had it,” she said, remembering a particular childhood moment when she saw something that instantly relaxed her. “There was this little girl coloring on paper, and I remember loving that scene so much,” she said.

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McHale, McDonald Part of Inaugural MN High School Basketball Hall of Fame Class

Hibbing native Kevin McHale and former Chisholm, Barnum and McGregor basketball coach Bob McDonald are part of the 14-inductee class.

The Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame, in conjunction with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx, will have a display in the skyway of the recently renovated Target Center to honor the recipients.

The goal of the Hall of Fame is to celebrate the rich history of high school basketball from around the state by recognizing the most successful players, teams, coaches and other contributors.

The inductees will be honored Monday, March 26th with a reception at The Courts at Mayo Clinic Center at the second floor Experience Center from 4-6 p.m.

The class includes: Randy Breuer of Lake City; Khalid El-Amin of Minneapolis North; Ron Johnson of New Prague; Janet Karvonen-Montgomery of New York Mills; Kevin McHale of Hibbing; Jim McIntyre of Minneapolis Patrick Henry; Mark Olberding of Melrose; Lindsay Whalen of Hutchinson; Chisholm coach Bob McDonald; Rochester Lourdes coach Myron Glass; Minneapolis North and DeLaSalle coach Faith Johnson Patterson; Dorothy McIntyre of Edina; the Edgerton boys’ basketball team of 1960, and the Grand Meadow girls’ basketball teams from 1929-39.

The Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame committee was established in 2011. There are currently 11 members on the committee. Anyone can nominate a player, coach, contributor or team to the Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame committee. Nominations can be made on the Hall of Fame website at www.mnhsbasketballhall.com.

(Contributions from Ron Haggstrom of the Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame Committee.)

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Argos Risk announces strategic partnership with Member Driven Technologies

Argos Risk partner assessment solution will help CUSO credit union clients boost efficiency, confidence in vendor relationships

MDT provides credit unions with a private cloud alternative for core banking and IT needs. The CUSO hosts dozens of seamlessly integrated solutions to run the entire institution, including digital banking, payments, lending, security, continuity and regulatory services, and will now also be offering Argos Risk’s AR Surveillance solution to credit union clients. The automated solution proactively monitors the well-being and potential risk of any related third-party vendors. AR Surveillance helps strengthen compliance and mitigate risk as auditors continue to ask more detailed questions about how credit unions manage their third-party relationships. In addition to offering AR Surveillance to clients, MDT will also leverage the tool to evaluate its technology partners.

Larry Nichols, president and chief executive officer of MDT, commented, “Credit unions need to leverage a variety of vendor relationships to best compete in today’s digitally progressive environment. Our CUSO integrates with hundreds of vendors, providing clients with virtually unlimited choices for their technology plans. Argos Risk’s AR Surveillance solution will empower MDT and our credit unions with real-time insights into critical vendor financials and associated data, saving them the time and resources required to manage these relationships. This partnership with Argos Risk reflects our ongoing dedication to provide our clients with the tools they need to efficiently and successfully run their operations.”

Argos Risk’s AR Surveillance solution leverages more than 10,000 data points to assign risk scores to an organization’s business partners. It automatically generates and sends proactive alerts about significant updates from those partners’ operations, such as key executive changes, lawsuits, liens, mergers, acquisitions and any other large news. The service educes the time and manual processes typically required for proper vendor due diligence and management.

“An organization can only be as strong as its partners, and this is especially true in the complex financial services industry,” said Lori Frank, president and chief executive officer of Argos Risk. “By leveraging our automated solution, MDT and its clients will be able to more efficiently and time-effectively monitor the health of their key vendor relationships. We’re excited to partner with this forward-thinking CUSO as it provides superior solutions, like AR Surveillance, to its credit union clients.”

About Argos Risk

Argos Risk’s web-based technology services assess the credit risk and B2B health of clients, vendors, partners, and competitors. Powered by their proprietary algorithms, known as Argonomics™, their services deliver data via a real-time dashboard and daily alerts. Argos Risk monitors thousands of companies for clients in a broad array of industries including financial institutions, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and businesses of all types which enable companies of all sizes to proactively manage and monitor credit risk. For additional information, visit http://www.argosrisk.com.

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