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'Zentangle Method' offers opportunity for relaxing, fun way to draw
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When it comes to Zentangle, founders Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts say “Anything is possible, one stroke at a time.”

Ruth Murray, of Faribault, developed an interest in the Zentangle Method about 15 years ago. She has since began tangling on 3D objects, as pictured. Murray plans to teach a Zentangle class at the Paradise Center for the Arts Aug. 3-4. (Michelle Vlasak/southernminn.com)

In the early 2000’s the Rhode Island duo developed the Zentangle Method, known as an easy-to-learn, relaxing and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Faribault resident Ruth Murray picked up on the meditative art form several years ago, officially becoming a certified Zentangle teacher in 2017.

Next month, Murray plans to teach two classes at the Paradise Center for the Arts. Though this will mark her first time teaching a class at the Paradise, in previous years, Murray has taught friends and family members alike. She had high hopes to branch out into offering classes to others last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on that.

During the pandemic, Murray was pleased to be able to go to her room and draw some tangles. The Zentangle website states tangles are made with combinations of dots, lines, simple curves, S-curves and orbs. Those patterns are drawn on small pieces of paper called “tiles” and can be assembled into mosaics once complete.

The ceremony of the Zentangle Method has eight steps, with the first being gratitude. Murray explains taking the time to think of something she is grateful for puts her in a positive state of mind, ready to begin tangling.

Zentangle founders state creators will develop a deeper understanding, get more out of their practice, discover fun new ideas and projects and connect with more of the Zentangle community as they learn more about it. Over the years founds say they’ve created a Zentangle history of ideas and inspiration through their blog, newsletters and videos. (Michelle Vlasak/southernminn.com)

Next, tanglers draw dots in the four corners of the tile, then create a border by connecting the four dots. A zigzag, wavy or straight-lined design is then drawn on the tile to separate the different tangle sections. The tangling then begins by following patterns developed/provided by Thomas and Roberts.

Each technique has a different name, though the name doesn’t necessarily describe what the end result will look like.

Murray says the idea behind that was to keep tanglers’ minds open and not focus on making the tile look a certain way. Shading is completed with a pencil and tortillon (a paper tool used to blend in pencil into the paper). Once finished tangling, creators move into the seventh step: initialing and signing. The final step asks them to appreciate their work, and if in a class with others, this step also encourages creators to place their tiles next to one another and appreciate them together.

Murray says this also helps build a sense of community, something she feels can be done best in person. That is just one of many benefits Murray has found in her years of tangling. Some other benefits are increased relaxation, a kickstart to creativity, improved confidence, focus, empowerment, inspiration and increased awareness of patterns seen on a daily basis.

She also enjoys the unplugged aspect of the process, as it only requires a pencil, a tortillon, a tile and Zentangle patterns to follow.

The beauty of Zentangle, Murray says is that there is no right or wrong way and no mistakes can be made.

“It is approachable for someone who has never picked up an art tool. Yet Zentangle is still inspiring enough for an advanced artist,” said Murray.

Previously dabbling in the painting world, Murray enjoys the accessibility with Zentangle, since is doesn’t require a lot of supplies and can fill a lot of spare time while doing things like waiting at a doctors appointment or while getting a hair cut.

She’s explored tangling on different colored tiles like white, brown, gray and black. After mastering the techniques, colored markers are introduced, something Murray particular enjoys drawing flowers with. She’s even incorporated some tangles into 3D objects like on plastic, white figurines, Easter eggs and Christmas ornaments.


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Faribault School Board adjusts job descriptions to support larger pool of students
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The Faribault school district has adjusted the responsibilities of two open positions with the goal of broadening the number of students the new hires will serve.

At Monday’s meeting, the board approved the job positions of student success coordinator and workforce development coordinator. These two positions existed under different titles and with different responsibilities prior to the board’s approval.

The student success coordinator essentially replaces the multilingual and equity coordinator position, a position held by Sam Ouk until his resignation last month. The workforce development coordinator will pick up the job responsibilities of former Faribault Public Schools Career and Equity Coordinator Brian Coleman. The board on June 28 approved the resignation of Ouk, who accepted a position with the Prior Lake school district, and Coleman, who is now employed by Owatonna Public Schools.

The student success coordinator position includes equity in the job description but focuses on supporting all students, not just students of color, Superintendent Todd Sesker explained. This employee will report to the superintendent.

Board member Richard Olson supported the practice of “not dividing anybody into groups” and said that the community has shared with him the perspective that Faribault Public Schools is “dividing its students.”

Sesker responded, “I just want to assure you that we’re not.”

“We look at individual needs for all kids and we try to make sure that our goal … is that we want to make sure that every student experiences success and achieves success in some way, form or whatever,” Sesker said. “Not all people are equal and we have to make some adjustments, and we do whatever we can to take away barriers and make decisions based on what’s best for the kids and do the best we can with those kids, making sure they succeed.”

Olson agreed with Sesker’s goal of supporting every student that walks through the doors of Faribault Public Schools.

Director of Teaching and Learning Tracy Corcoran explained the ways the student success coordinator position differs from the former multilingual and equity coordinator position. She said the new role looks at all students that need additional interventions, building a more comprehensive position. However, this employee would still be the expert in the English learner piece and bring their expertise to the cabinet in the development of curriculum.

Board member Carolyn Treadway had the concerns about the revamped job description.

“I believe Sam [Ouk] experienced a great deal of frustration, and perhaps that was because there was intent to change his position as he held it,” she said. “But I don’t want the next individual to experience the same level of frustration. I believe that someone with this level of skill set should come and have a level of agency in helping determine the programming that will move forward.”

Sesker responded that the district works as “a collaborative team, so no one person does anything individually.” However, he said the cabinet would “certainly weigh in on the expertise of that individual.”

Treadway said she understands the team approach but added, “I do have some difficulty around the very centralization around decision making in our district. I think it has become quite insular to the cabinet. So that’s where I sit.”

Additionally, Treadway asked Corcoran how the district would ensure the individual’s workload isn’t too great, given the functions of being an interventionist, ensuring enhanced learning and working with EL students.

Corcoran explained that she and her team work to delegate responsibilities evenly across job positions, using an equitable approach. This also involved making sure employees share responsibilities so tasks don’t fall on one person. She also explained that “equity” is no longer part of the job title because “equity is everyone’s work.”

The board approved the position of the student success coordinator 6-1 with Treadway voting no. The other position, the workforce development coordinator, was approved unanimously.

Broadening career exploration

Much like the former career and equity coordinator position, the workforce development coordinator will connect the district with business groups in the community, and help with apprenticeship and career exploration programs. The main difference, Sesker explained, is that the workforce development coordinator will assist in pushing the career exploration piece down to sixth and seventh graders. This individual will report to Faribault High School Principal Jamie Bente, as the bulk of the work will take place at FHS.

Unlike the student success coordinator, which requires a master’s degree in education, the workforce development coordinator position requires a bachelor’s degree at the minimum and does not require a background in education.

“I would prefer the education background, but we didn’t want to limit the number of candidates that we have just because of the education piece,” Sesker said. “We want to hire the best candidate we have.”


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Faribault couple dead in apparent murder suicide
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Two people are dead in what Faribault police are calling a murder suicide.

Faribault officers were dispatched to a home in the 700 block of Third Street NW shortly after 8 p.m. Monday after a female caller reported that her boyfriend had been drinking, was throwing things around the residence and that she was unable to leave the residence, according to a release from the Faribault Police Department.

The caller also reported that her boyfriend had two guns in the home and that he might fight or flee when officers arrived.

While collecting information, the dispatcher heard the caller scream and lost contact. Calls back to the woman went unanswered.

When officers arrived, they received no response when they knocked on the door and could see overturned furniture inside the residence. The door was unlocked.

Officers entered the residence and found two people on the floor — one female and one male. Both were unresponsive.

The woman, Amanda Schroeder, 32, appeared to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Life-saving measures were attempted, but she was declared dead at the scene.

The man, Brandon Akermark, 27, appeared to have suffered a single gunshot to the head. He was also declared dead. A handgun was found lying next to Akermark. Officers and detectives worked through the night to process the scene.

Schroeder and Akermark’s bodies have been sent to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy.

According to a 1989-2018 report on intimate partner homicide from Violence Free Minnesota, intimate partner murder-suicides are the most common type of murder-suicide. Of the the 685 homicides recorded over the 30-year period, 258 (37%) were a murder-suicide or murder-attempted suicide with the homicide victims overwhelmingly female and the majority of perpetrators male.

Police had been called to the home previously, according to Faribault Police Capt. Neal Pederson, at least once on a domestic call.

Violence Free Minnesota’s report called intimate partner murder-suicide a “unique crime with distinct characteristics from suicide and homicide alone” and found that it’s more likely to occur when a victim is attempting to leave their abuser. Threats of suicide from the abuser reportedly doubled the risk of murder-suicide. Other precursors include child custody issues, extreme jealousy and control from the abuser, and the issuance of an order for protection.

According to Pederson, no one else was inside the home and the person living in the other half of the duplex was away when the shooting occurred.

The report found that over 12% of the adult women killed in Minnesota from 1989-2018 sought an order for protection against the current or former intimate partner who later killed them, said the report. In its 30 years of data, firearms were used in 76% of the murder-suicide cases. Nationally, the Violence Policy Center reports a firearm was used in 83% of murder-suicide cases.

“Our deepest condolences go to the family members of both Amanda and Brandon as they deal with this unspeakable tragedy,” said Police Chief Andy Bohlen.

“Initial investigation leads us to believe this incident was contained to this residence and there is no ongoing threat to the public. We encourage anyone experiencing domestic violence to reach out for help. There are several resources devoted to addressing this community epidemic. We also encourage anyone that hears neighbors involved in domestic violence to call the police immediately as it could save a life.”

Erica Staab-Absher, director of Rice County’s HOPE Center, which advocates for victims of domestic and sexual violence, underscores the chief’s reminder.

“There is help and (victims) can reach out,” she said. There are people in the community who want to help.”

But Staab-Absher also worries about the “impact on the community as a whole, friends and family, and the 911 dispatcher who was on the call.”

The investigation is active and ongoing. Assisting Faribault Police was the Rice County Sheriff’s Office, Faribault Fire Department and North Ambulance.


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