Problems Into Action: Editor’s Letter and TOC

Part of storytelling is paying attention to what is wrong, and listening for the voices who have ideas about how to start to make things right.

Publisher Mikki Morrissette

In May, I heard testimony in Minneapolis given to visiting United Nations delegates from young people who had been in the foster care system and from those who had been incarcerated about trauma they experience. These are often the same people.

I also attended a forum in Brooklyn Park on juvenile justice reform. Law enforcement spoke about how young people engaged in risky criminal behavior tend to be a small identifiable group. I quoted forum moderator Sasha Cotton in the Changemakers Alliance newsletter. After she was the victim of a violent crime years ago, she said, the perpetrator was given a long sentence. “It did not make me feel safe. What I learned about their histories was multiple child juvenile cases and traumas in their life.”

That was the inspiration behind the story development for this month’s issue.

Reducing incarceration rates is not the only concern. We also have reported, as part of our “Re-Imagining Public Safety” series, that many Minnesotans are growing up with substance use issues; the increased numbers of people dying of drug overdoses and alcoholism in 2023 are alarming.

The good news is that more youth are speaking out about what they want to see changed, and more adults are listening.

Adults who understand trauma are advocating with youth at the legislative level and co-creating community services to help more children grow up feeling whole and heard.

In this issue, Nikki Beasley and Lola Adebara write about how their foster-led organizations are working to reduce traumas of the child welfare system. There is an action step in our Holiday Guide story to offer support.

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty talks about the reform she is trying to enact. As a former public defender, she would like to see greater collaborative efforts and funding for solutions that don’t send youth to prison.

We also learn from 16-year-old Ruby Mathiason about gender fluidity throughout human history. We excerpt a new book for young adults written by and about adoptees.

The challenges we face today — as a state, country, and world — are powerful. People are struggling with conflict, anger, fear, economic inequities, and health care disparities.

While the concerns raised in this month’s magazine issue are strong, so are the people in it.

Table of Contents