On Tuesday, May 21, the Grand Forks Herald published a story about the search for a new CEO for the Grand Forks United Way. That story quoted Phyllis Johnson, United Way’s interim CEO and current board chair to the effect that someone from either coast or from a city would be a poor choice as the agency’s new leader.
The Johnson quotation the Herald published argued that “people who come from one coast or another, or some distance, its harder for them to kind of settle into the community.” Johnson cited reasons that at once skirt violations of federal civil rights laws, oppose efforts at economic development and community building, and further disparage the predecessor she forced from office last year.
That predecessor, Patricia Berger, my wife, first moved to Grand Forks in 1990, shortly after we were married. Pat and I grew up in the New York City metro area and she joined me here a short while after I began my work in UND’s History Department. Patricia had been executive director of a suburban Chamber of Commerce, and she sold a start-up business to move here. She has worked since—worked hard—as a non-profit community builder, as President of United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Area since 1994.
Phyllis Johnson’s innuendo is that my wife and I are birds of passage, transients without interest or understanding of this community where we have made our home. We know why people like to live in New York and we also know why people like to live in Grand Forks. We live in Grand Forks. And Grand Forks has been our home for much more of the last quarter-century longer than it has been Johnson’s—and Grand Forks remains our home in retirement.
I am a husband defending my wife’s accomplishments, a grateful immigrant who found a home here. But this is about more than the two of us.
The civil rights laws and our hopes to make this lovely, prosperous place more lovely and more prosperous both dictate that we seek out and welcome neighbors to join us. It is common decency—and it is good business.
Albert I. Berger
Professor of HistoryUniversity of North Dakota
March 20th 2021
February 15th 2021
February 11th 2021
May 24th 2020
December 23rd 2019
Reviving Rural Grocery Stores in North DakotaBy Annie PrafckeFargo, ND – On October 7th, Gov. Doug Burgum awarded Milnor Market and the Forman grocery store project Main Street Awards, as part of an initiative led by the Office…
by Sabrina Hornung
by Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.com17 June 2021Edgar Wright -- the subject of his own cult of fandom -- knows a thing or two about obsessive devotion to odds and ends of pop culture. And with “The Sparks Brothers,” the…
by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.com17 June 2021Along with lemonade and hotdogs, words and images marking the pavement are synonymous with summer. The accessibility of sidewalk art is appealing, but there is something to be said for…
by HPR Contributor
by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…
by Sabrina Hornung
By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comSpring is here (mostly), and our area is buzzing with people eager to get back out and about -- many newly vaccinated and feeling a bit safer. Partnering with Jade Events, Fargo Brewing is just…
by Sabrina Hornung
By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com17 June 2021The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) will be providing 60 college students from 44 colleges across America with up to almost $900,000. The 2021 Class of Astronaut Scholars will be…
by Annie Prafckesubmit@hpr1.com17 June 2021On June 19th, from 12pm to 7pm, nonprofit Faith4Hope Scholarship Fund is hosting their first ever Juneteenth Freedom Celebration at Lindenwood Park in Fargo. It is free and open to the…