Pollen is a media arts nonprofit that harnesses the power of narrative change to build towards a society that is free, just, and loving.

fist-bumpWhen you spread Pollen, things grow. And the same is true for stories.

At Pollen, stories are our secret power. Stories nurture our human potential for deep empathy. Stories pave new paths and new opportunities for communities to connect across lines of difference. Stories inspire us to fight for each other when our flawed and beautiful humanity is threatened.

That’s why Pollen shares stories of individuals who want to change our collective story for the better. Stories that dig into the nitty gritty, the heart-wrenching, the inspiring and funny elements of life in our region, and shed light on the wider world around us. Only by turning to detail and nuance, getting at truths both comfortable and uncomfortable, can we begin to relate the unrelated.

Pollen stories — crafted with both vibrant, colorful art and visceral, intimate writing — drive towards a choice: to take action on what you learned. We work with a talented, diverse network of artists and writers who take words and images beyond literal representations of our world, and into the realm of the emotional — that’s our way of tipping stories into action.

Through narrative experiences, Pollen grows a network of Pollenites who have an unwavering belief in equity, empathy, and our shared humanity. Our success will be found in the sum of all the connections and actions Pollenites make when they are inspired by the platform, the space, and the hive that Pollen creates.

When we move beyond the transactional and access empathy to connect across difference, we can take more meaningful action in our shared journey toward a better world.



email: hello@pollenmidwest.org

address: P. O. Box 18027, Minneapolis, MN 55418-4714

Meet Our Staff
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    Amina Dedefo
    Finance & Operations Manager

    Pronouns: she/her

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    Melanie Walby
    Creative Director

    Pronouns: she/her

Meet Our Board
Calvin Labrie

Calvin Labrie is a designer, long-time Pollen freelancer and former volunteer for the AIGA Minnesota Sustainable Design Committee where he co—led several design conferences with Melanie Walby: Earth Tones, Design Impact Series, Bike-In-Movie, BogoBrush Give Tour and volunteer appreciation parties. Calvin worked at mono for many years before becoming the founder of Labrie, a design practice focusing on sustainability and collaboration with individuals and organizations to produce positive impact.

Maurice Cherry

Maurice Cherry is a designer, strategist and podcaster located in Atlanta, GA. He is the founder and creative director at Lunch, an award-winning multidisciplinary studio that helps creative brands craft messages and tell stories for their targeted audiences, including fostering relationships with underrepresented communities. He is most well-known for Revision Path, an award-winning podcast which is the first podcast to be added to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Other projects of Maurice’s include the Black Weblog Awards, 28 Days of the Web, The Year of Tea, and the design anthology RECOGNIZE.

Maurice is also an educator, and has built curricula and taught courses on web design, web development, email marketing, WordPress, and podcasting for thousands of students over the past ten years. Read more at mauricecherry.com/about.

Lolyann Connor

Lolyann began her career in nonprofit management 14 years ago, working in areas of administration, grants and fundraising, evaluation and impact reporting. She recently accepted a new position as Executive Manager at Hennepin Healthcare. There she will provide leadership to help shape and implement strategies to advance the mission of partnering with the community, patients, and families to ensure access to outstanding care, while improving health and wellness through teaching, patient and community education, and research. Lolyann received her Master's of Public Policy at the Humphrey Institute of the University of MN.

Lisa Middag

Lisa Middag is an urban planner who collaborates with communities to support sustainable, vibrant, and walkable public spaces through creative placemaking and community development. As Director of Nicollet Activation for the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, she is responsible for placemaking along the city’s historic downtown pedestrian/transit street.