City debuts TV show to inform immigrants

Access Minneapolis, a new television show on cable channel 14, was launched on March 16 to inform the city's immigrant communities of available government services and how to use them.

The 30-minute show is broadcast at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The first half is presented in Somali by host Deka Yusuf. The second half is in Spanish, hosted by Vicenta Valero. Producer C. John Harrison, manager of media services for Minneapolis, said the show is in the process of hiring a Hmong translator to give that immigrant group access to the same information in their native tongue.

The segments include information about street sweeping, interpreting services, tax help, looking for a job, garbage collection times and dates. The show will air for three months before another is taped.

"We have altruistic purposes in mind," said Gail Plewacki, Minneapolis communications director. "We are trying to help the immigrant communities overcome the culture shock and become better citizens. In order for a city to work, we need lots of cooperation from the people who live here."

Harrison said now that the word is out, city departments are contacting him. Somali- and Spanish-speaking Minneapolis staff will talk about afterschool programs in June.

"There is no limit to this," Harrison said. "We could do how to get a plumbing permit, what to expect from street sweeping in the spring and understanding how snow emergency works in the winter."