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Washer parts clean up nicely in Sandeen's Art Walk displays
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C all him an artist, woodworker or craftsman: Jack Sandeen is a true Renaissance men.

Sandeen, 80, put his latest creations — a pair of one-of-a-kind printing presses assembled from repurposed antique washing machine parts — in a collaborative show that was one of the more unique displays in this year’s Art Walk in downtown Hastings Oct. 9.

His gathering of artists at his pop-up studio “All-Eclectic” at 709 W. First St. included more than dozen creative minds representing various mediums, with prints and other works of art on sale as part of the strolling art show that spanned numerous storefronts in the downtown area.

An accomplished printmaker, Sandeen assembled the first of his two eclectic presses for his friend, Kris Allphin, a local batik artist interested in learning the process. That it ended up being made from antique washing machine parts was simply signature Sandeen, Allphin said.

“I asked Jack for some printmaking tips and he said, ‘Come on over,’ ” Allphin recalled. “I told him, ‘I need to buy a press,’ and he said, ‘Oh, I can make you one.’ ”

That’s when Sandeen began to toy with the idea of making the press from repurposed washing machine parts. But why?

“Amy (his daughter) says I have a weird mind,” Sandeen said, laughing. “That’s the best answer. There are articles on the internet about people making printing presses out of all kinds of different things, but I haven’t seen one exactly like this. It’s just physics. And it was worth a try.”

That the finished product turned out to be a functional press seemed almost secondary to Allphin, who considers both presses works of art unto themselves. That they are able to crank out works of art is merely a bonus, she said.

“They are phenomenal,” Allphin said. “First, we started looking for wringer washers online. Then I went to an antique store and found five of them. He rushed over and picked one up and said, ‘I think this will work.’ ”

Her machine includes a table base assembled from leftover wood from another Sandeen project that serves as the landing for prints as they come off the press.

“When he brought back that table for me, I said, ‘You have to sign this. It’s a work of art!’” she said. “Then we tried it (the press) and it worked.

“I think he should build a whole bunch of these. Every printer in the Midwest is going to want one.”

Even Sandeen was impressed by how well the project turned out. His second press, a much larger machine, is fashioned from a mangle, a mechanical laundry aid consisting of two rollers in a sturdy frame connected by cogs and powered by a hand crank.

In its day, the machine was used to press or flatten sheets, table cloths, kitchen towels, clothing and other laundry.

“It was so exciting that a $50 wringer, some scrap wood that I had laying around, and a set of donated legs and a couple hours of time made it work,” he said.

Sandeen has been working his wood-crafting magic for nearly 20 years. It is his second calling after retiring from a 20-year career at Thermo King.

In addition to his numerous woodworking projects for clients around town, he has paired up with other artists from various mediums on a number of creative art projects. Formed as a result of having additional free time during the pandemic, Sandeen’s venture, Artists Unanchored, featured artists Allphin — a batik artist — and Chris Hochstetler, watercolor artist and CEO of Stuhr Museum in Grand Island.

The trio’s unique artwork project has drawn national attention in the media and will be featured in a show tentatively scheduled to open at Wayne State College in November.

Hochstetler, who was unable to participate in the Art Walk event because of his commitments at the museum, said he never ceases to be amazed by the creative ingenuity shown by his workworking collaborator.

“Jack has an ability to find things and repurpose them, and not just for use: They look spectacular,” he said. “He’s been able to do that all along.

“Usually when you get to be an octogenarian, many of us are in shutdown mode. Jack seems to be in start-up mode and continues to create and innovate. In that sense, I think it keeps him very young.”

Friends of Sandeen and their friends were among those who joined in Saturday’s gathering at All-Eclectic. Like good art itself, Allphin said, the word-of-mouth event had a truly organic vibe to it.

“We invited some friends and said, ‘Let’s all go and try out these presses and try to do some cool artwork,’ ” she said. “Word spread, and it’s been a busy place today.

“Jack was in the driver’s seat with it. I’m just honored to be able to go along for the ride and do what I can do to help.”

Tensions persist between legacy of Columbus, native people
Monday’s federal holiday dedicated to Christopher Columbus is highlighting the ongoing divide between those who view the explorer as a representative of Italian Americans’ history and those horrified by an annual tribute that ignores the native people whose lives and culture were forever changed by colonialism
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Monday's federal holiday dedicated to Christopher Columbus is highlighting the ongoing divide between those who view the explorer as a representative of Italian American history and others horrified by an annual tribute that ignores native people whose lives and culture were forever changed by colonialism.

Spurred by national calls for racial equity, communities across the U.S. took a deeper look at Columbus' legacy in recent years — pairing or replacing it with Indigenous Peoples Day.

On Friday, President Joe Biden issued the first presidential proclamation of “Indigenous Peoples Day,” the most significant boost yet to efforts to refocus the federal holiday celebrating Columbus.

But activists, including members of Native American tribes, said ending the formal holiday in Columbus' name has been stymied by politicians and organizations focusing on Italian American heritage.

“The opposition has tried to paint Columbus as a benevolent man, similar to how white supremacists have painted Robert E. Lee,” Les Begay, Diné Nation member and co-founder of the Indigenous Peoples Day Coalition of Illinois, said, referring to the Civil War general who led the Confederate Army.

Columbus’ arrival began centuries of exploration and colonization by European nations, bringing violence, disease and other suffering to native people already living in the Western Hemisphere.

“Not honoring Indigenous peoples on this day just continues to erase our history, our contributions and the fact that we were the first inhabitants of this country,” Begay said.

Across the country tension, over the two holidays has been playing out since the early 1990s. Debates over monuments and statues of the Italian explorer tread similar ground, as in Philadelphia where the city placed a box over a Columbus statue last year in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer. Protesters opposing racial injustice and police brutality against people of color rallied for months in summer 2020.

Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto, who has been fighting Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney's administration to uncover the statue, said Saturday many felt efforts to remove it were an attack on Italian-American heritage.

Kenney previously signed an executive order changing the city’s annual Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day. Monday will be the first city holiday under the new name.

“We have a mayor that’s doing everything he can to attack the Italian American community, including canceling its parade, removing statues, changing the Columbus Day holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day by fiat," Bochetto said.

Kenney spokesperson Kevin Lessard said the statue should remain boxed up “in the best interest and public safety of all Philadelphians.”

In 2016, Lincoln, Nebraska, joined other cities adding Indigenous Peoples Day to the calendar on the same date as Columbus Day. Events on Monday will focus on the newer addition, including unveiling a statue honoring the first Native American physician, Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte.

Some feel a split day causes further harm. Activists plan a small protest outside the Robert V. Denney Federal Building, calling for an outright end to the holiday in Columbus’ name at all levels of government.

“It’s patently absurd to honor Indigenous people and the man who tortured and murdered their ancestors,” said Jackson Meredith, an organizer. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re going to keep protesting it until Columbus Day is abolished.”

In New York City, the annual Columbus Day Parade returns after a one-year, in-person absence attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. The parade is touted by some as the world’s largest Columbus Day celebration.

In May, Italian American activists complained after the Board of Education erased Christopher Columbus Day from the New York City school calendar, replacing it with “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Following the outcry, the schools changed the designation to: “Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous Peoples Day.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he supported the compromise.

“We have to honor that day as a day to recognize the contributions of all Italian Americans, so of course the day should not have been changed arbitrarily,” de Blasio said.

Chicago's annual Columbus Day parade also returns Monday after the pandemic forced 2020's cancellation of the event that draws 20,000 people. It's a vivid reminder of the ongoing fight over three statues of Columbus, still warehoused by the city after protesters targeted them in summer 2020.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot in July 2020 ordered the statues removed and said demonstrations were endangering protesters and police.

She later created a committee to review monuments in the city, including the fate of Columbus monuments. No plans have been announced publicly, but the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans that plans the Columbus Day parade this summer sued the city's park district, demanding that one be restored.

Ron Onesti, the organization's president, said the parade usually draws protesters and expects that on Monday too. He sees the holiday, parade and statues as a celebration of Italian Americans' contributions to the U.S., not just Columbus.

“The outcome I'm looking for is (for) our traditions to be respected and conversations to continue,” Onesti said Saturday. “Every plaque that goes along with a statue says it recognizes the Italian community's contributions. So people need to understand that's why it's there, and then let's sit down and figure out where to go from here."

Illinois in 2017 designated the last Monday in September as Indigenous Peoples Day but kept Columbus Day on the second Monday of October. A proposal to replace Columbus Day filed this year hasn't received any action.

Chicago Public Schools in 2020 voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, provoking outrage from several alderman and Italian American groups. The city's holiday calendar still lists Columbus Day.

Begay, the Indigenous Peoples Day advocate, said the organization decided to focus on changing Columbus Day first in Cook County, hoping it would be an easier path than convincing state or Chicago officials. But so far, members of the county's board haven't lined up behind the proposal.

“Why are 500 plus years still forgotten?” Begay said. “Why don't we have this single day to recognize these horrible atrocities committed against native people?”

This story has been updated to correct the punctuation on multiple references to the holiday. It is Indigenous Peoples Day, not Indigenous People’s Day or Indigenous Peoples' Day. __

Associated Press Reporter Lawrence Neumeister in New York contributed to this report.

Facebook unveils new controls for kids using its platforms
Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens using its photo sharing app Instagram to take a break, and nudging them if they repeatedly look at the same content that's not conducive to their well-being
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NEW YORK — Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and “nudging” teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that’s not conducive to their well-being.

The Menlo Park, California-based Facebook is also planning to introduce new controls for adults of teens on an optional basis so that parents or guardians can supervise what their teens are doing online. These initiatives come after Facebook announced late last month that it was pausing work on its Instagram for Kids project. But critics say the plan lacks details and they are skeptical that the new features would be effective.

The new controls were outlined on Sunday by Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs, who made the rounds on various Sunday news shows including CNN’s “State of the Union” and ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” where he was grilled about Facebook’s use of algorithms as well as its role in spreading harmful misinformation ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

“We are constantly iterating in order to improve our products,” Clegg told Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday. “We cannot, with a wave of the wand, make everyone’s life perfect. What we can do is improve our products, so that our products are as safe and as enjoyable to use.”

Clegg said that Facebook has invested $13 billion over the past few years in making sure to keep the platform safe and that the company has 40,000 people working on these issues.

The flurry of interviews came after whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former data scientist with Facebook, went before Congress last week to accuse the social media platform of failing to make changes to Instagram after internal research showed apparent harm to some teens and of being dishonest in its public fight against hate and misinformation. Haugen’s accusations were supported by tens of thousands of pages of internal research documents she secretly copied before leaving her job in the company’s civic integrity unit.

Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay, a watchdog for the children and media marketing industry, said that he doesn’t think introducing controls to help parents supervise teens would be effective since many teens set up secret accounts any way. He was also dubious about how effective nudging teens to take a break or move away from harmful content would be. He noted Facebook needs to show exactly how they would implement it and offer research that shows these tools are effective.

“There is tremendous reason to be skeptical,” he said. He added that regulators need to restrict what Facebook does with its algorithms.

He said he also believes that Facebook should cancel its Instagram project for kids.

When Clegg was grilled by both Bash and Stephanopoulos in separate interviews about the use of algorithms in amplifying misinformation ahead of Jan. 6 riots, he responded that if Facebook removed the algorithms people would see more, not less hate speech, and more, not less, misinformation.

Clegg told both hosts that the algorithms serve as “giant spam filters.”

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, told Bash in a separate interview Sunday that it’s time to update children’s privacy laws and offer more transparency in the use of algorithms.

“I appreciate that he is willing to talk about things, but I believe the time for conversation is done,” said Klobuchar, referring to Clegg’s plan. “The time for action is now.”

Effort seeks to expand Homestead's tallgrass prairie
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BEATRICE — Just as many other fields across Sunland are ready to be harvested this season, last Saturday, Homestead National Historical Park rangers and volunteers helped harvest seeds in the tallgrass prairie. The seeds will end up being used to restore disturbed areas of the prairie and increase species diversity.

“We are always working on the oldest restored tall grass prairie in the National Parks Service, and this particular year we had to do some work along one of our trails, which did disturb the area, so we need to reseed it with our native plants,” Jessica Korgie, a park guide at Homestead, said.

The Beatrice Daily Sun reports that in order to restore the prairie, those in attendance walked through the trails near Homestead’s Education Center and collected flower and grass seeds that were ready to be harvested. They also wore tape around their waists and knees, which Korgie said was an experiment to see how seeds are propagated in the prairie.

“If you think about the animals that are traveling through the tallgrasses, you have tall animals like deer, and you have small animals like the thirteen-lined ground squirrel,” Korgie said. “So we’re going to put tape up high and tape down low to see what kind of seeds we’re collecting at those heights, and let’s determine what kind of animals might be helping to redistribute this seed to other areas.”

Helping with the harvest was Nebraska master naturalist, Lisa Christensen.

Christensen explained that there’s over 500 naturalists in the state and that they receive their certification through a certain number of educational and field hours. She said in order to keep their certification every year, they have to do continuing educational and volunteer hours.

“I’m just interested in seed collection and the process of taking native seeds and redistributing them as a way of prairie management,” Christensen said. “I have an interest in prairie management, and it was a great opportunity where I could help volunteer, but also educate myself too.”

Christensen said the seed collection was her second time experiencing Homestead, and that she plans to continue volunteering there in the future.

Korgie said due to a prescribed burn at Homestead later this fall, taking place near where these seeds will be sown, she’s not sure when exactly they will be planted. She said the plan is to do it over the winter, so roots and sprouts can start forming by the spring.

“I find it very interesting that this parcel of land started as tallgrass prairie, then it was turned into a farm, and the National Parks Service restored it to tallgrass prairie. They did a lot of different methods to try to get this prairie back to the glory it once was. An unbroken prairie. It has over 200 different species of plants, flowers and grasses. Utilizing these plants that we already have and the seed that we already have is just encouraging nature’s process...This is just a wonderful ecosystem that is supposed to be here, and I think it’s fabulous to be a part of helping it survive in this special place that we call Homestead National Historical Park.”