Minneapolis didn’t get here alone. The actions and decisions of many people created the challenges facing the city. Solving them will require the work of many people, too.

But before anything changes, people need to start listening to each other.

Imagine if Derek Chauvin had listened to George Floyd and let him breathe. A 46-year-old man and father of five would not have died. Minneapolis would not have burned. The city would not have had over $1 billion in damage. And communities would not have had to deal with the fallout of the most expensive civil disorder in U.S. history.

Brothers EMpowered founder and president Charles Caine, third from right, with youth. (Charles Caine)

Charles Caine has a dream. Just like Martin Luther King understood civil rights include economic rights, Caine wants to give all people an opportunity to prosper. That mission starts with his two sons (ages 16 and 13) and the other youth he mentors in North Minneapolis as the president and executive director of Brothers EMpowered.

Caine founded the community mentorship organization in 2014 to help men of color overcome the barriers in their lives and the lives in their communities. His inspiration came from years of struggling as a young Black man in urban America. After overcoming many challenges and…

Cal and Emilia Ortiz, the authors and illustrators of “How the Zookalex Saved the Village.” (Eric Ortiz)

Homeschooling has been a learning experience. Not just for kids, but moms and dads, too. It’s called pandemic parenting, and as pandemic parents, we had to get creative at our house.

Homeschool started on Monday, March 16, 2020. That was the first day our three kids missed in-person school because of COVID-19. That also was the first day our kids, led by my wife, started a “Picture of the Day.” Each day they didn’t go to school because of the pandemic, our kids (ages 12, 8, and 5) drew a picture that we posted on our front door at the…

Brothers EMpowered is a community mentorship organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that was started by Charles Caine, second from left, in 2014. (Brothers EMpowered)

Tough times don’t last. Tough people do. And right now, there are a lot of tough people in Minneapolis. Besides dealing with a pandemic over the last year, just about every neighborhood in the city has had to deal with the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody on Memorial Day.

Since that fateful day in 2020, violence is up, and public morale is down across Minneapolis. The crime problem is primarily in the 3rd and 4th Precincts, but everyone living in Southwest Minneapolis (the 5th Precinct) is being impacted. The saddest part is that many of the people…

Egyptians made the first lemonade in 500 A.D. when lemon juice was mixed with sugar to make a drink called qatarmizat. (Myfanwy Owen/Unsplash)

Well, it's official. We really are living in the "Twilight Zone." Not even Rod Serling could have prepared us for our current state of humanity. What you are about to watch is a nightmare. If Serling had written the script, he would have been laughed out of Hollywood for taking things too far.

As one Bored Panda commenter put it: "2020 history is going to read like a kindergartner’s attempt at fiction. 'Um, so first an entire continent was on fire. But then there was this disease, and everyone forgot about that. So then the whole world had to stay…

Start with yes. That was the advice Cole Goins gave the audience at the Collaborative Journalism Summit during his panel on partnerships at Montclair State University on May 4. Goins is the director of community engagement at The Center for Investigative Reporting, where they know a few things about using collaboration to produce innovative journalism.

But I almost missed Goins’ message — because I almost didn’t go to the two-day conference in New Jersey.

I almost said no.

Here’s what I learned by saying yes.

I run a startup called Evrybit. It’s a mobile reporting app that streamlines collaborative storytelling…

Eric Ortiz

Journalist, editor, storyteller. Author of children’s book “How the Zookalex Saved the Village.”

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