From community journalist to Council member

The February 2000 issue of the Southeast Angle, with byline by Paul Zerby

Most of my memories really relate to my time as a citizen journalist for The Bridge’s immediate predecessor, the Southeast Angle, during the time between my retirement from the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office at the end of 1998 and my run for Minneapolis City Council in 2001.

I have saved copies of several of those issues, and the headlines on stories I wrote bring back many personal memories for me, including: “Many avenues open for residents to influence revitalization;” “Pratt could be elementary school again;” “Light rail trains could chug down University;” “Realtors, others discuss impact of parent-owned student houses;” and “Groups helping seniors find common cause in Southeast.”

The range of those stories, digging into the issues that I did to report them, and my growing concerns about some of those issues, in fact had a great deal to do with my decision to run for City Council shortly after writing the last of them. Of course, some of the issues — Pratt and its future, light rail and its impacts, parent-owned student houses, services to seniors — remain live and vital today.

Sadly for me, I don’t have a copy of what I believe was my best writing for the Southeast Angle, and maybe my best writing period: a lengthy interview of street musician and local legend Jerry Rau. That story really wrote itself because of Jerry’s remarkable courage in sharing himself with the rest of us. But the connection formed in that story remains with me today. Jerry is one of a group of Vietnam veterans who have been enormously supportive of my Korean War novel, The Grass, the story that I finished only after leaving the council and returning to writing again.

— Paul Zerby, Prospect Park resident, Southeast Publications board member, former City Council member and one-time Southeast Angle reporter

last revised: June 10, 2009