An artist gathered immigrants' photos and stories then hung them for the city to see.

When you think of American diversity, you might think of big melting-pot cities like New York or Los Angeles. The truth is, people of all nationalities are woven into the fabric of American life across the entire country; from small towns to midwest metros and everywhere in between.

To celebrate its own immigrant roots, the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, recently commissioned a public art project called "Speaking of Home," featuring photos from many of the diverse citizens that help make the city what it is today.


Artist and photographer Nancy Coyne sought out dozens of first-generation immigrants who call St. Paul home.

Those who participated in the project loaned their own photos and prized possessions from their home countries to the exhibit. Through interviews with Coyne, they shared what brought them to America and to St. Paul. Their photos and stories are now on proud display around the city.

Coyne shows off the project. Photo by David Turner, used with permission

"I became interested in what 'home' means to people," Coyne says, of the interviews. Some told her they came for a better education. Some for economic opportunity. Others to find long lost family. Others still came to escape persecution in their home countries.

There were as many reasons for immigrating as there were nationalities, with St. Paul having a surprisingly diverse ethnic makeup; including over 13,000 Ethiopian and 26,000 Vietnamese residents in the Twin Cities,  along with one of the largest Hmong populations in the country.

58 photos in total, and the stories behind them, now line a portion of St. Paul's famous skyways.

St. Paul features miles of enclosed skyways. Photo by David Turner used with permission.

These elevated, enclosed bridges cover miles of the city and allow commuters to escape the cold. Thousands of people traverse the skyway each and every day.

Thanks to the 10-feet wide, partially translucent photos, anyone who enters the skyway can't help but to literally see St. Paul through the eyes of its immigrants.

At night the photos are even more prominent. Photo by Peter Von De Linde used with permission.

The photos cover four bridges in total. Photo by Peter Von De Linde, used with permission.

The project couldn't have launched at a more important time.

In recent months, we've seen travel bans, ruthless immigration raids, and a rise in a hateful brand of nationalism. It's almost as if we've forgotten America was quite literally built by immigrants.

"The situation we find ourselves in now goes against everything this country is and was supposed to be about," Coyne says.

The project has been a big hit so far. Photo by Peter Von De Linde used with permission.

"Speaking of Home," has been well-received by the thousands who walk St. Paul's skyways each and every day.

Passersby often stop to consider the photos and read the accompanying stories. Each photo is paired with a bright orange sign that juts from the wall: It says "home," in the subject's native language.

"Home." Photo by Peter Von De Linde, used with permission

"People want to know if it will stay up forever," Coyne says. It won't. The project is only scheduled to last about six months.

But the people at its core aren't going anywhere. They will continue to fill the city, to drive its economy, to shape its culture.

St. Paul will continue to be their home.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less