Jamie Schumacher talks West Bank with new book, “Butterflies and Tall Bikes” – The Minnesota Daily
Schumacher chatted with A&E to talk about great bikes, ghost stories and the writing process.
Jamie Schumacher, former executive director of the West Bank Business Association and university alumnus, spent the last year writing “Butterflies and Tall Bikes,” a love letter to the West Bank, with stories from residents of West Bank, business owners and creatives themselves. His book comes out on May 18, so A&E spoke with Schumacher about his writing process, the West Bank, and the impetus behind “Butterflies and Tall Bikes”.
What was the writing process like for “Butterflies and Tall Bikes?”
When you write something you are inherently focused on your experience, but with this one I really wanted to be more intentional and actually just interview people and have their voices and their stories in there. I shared all the interviews with people and let them make changes to make sure I was getting what they said correctly. What I wanted to do with this book is really enhance, especially for the residents, what they want. Cedar-Riverside can sometimes be overlooked in the positive news or even just in city politics, it can be overlooked. And so a lot of my job, my passion, and my story has just been standing up for what the neighborhood wants, and this book has been an opportunity to make some of those voices heard.
Your book features stories from everyone in the West Bank / Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, from residents to business owners. How did you choose which stories would be highlighted in the book?
One way to express it would be diversity from all angles. We have residents, we have businesses, we have people who currently live in the neighborhood, we have people who lived in the neighborhood. It’s just a mix of people who when we created this timestamp and wrote this love letter to the neighborhood, it was really like a 360 ° view.
One of the things I noticed while reading was that I feel like your book really provides this portrait of a neighborhood, even when we can’t necessarily spend that much time in that neighborhood in cause of COVID-19 and closures and everything. Through your stories and conversations, the reader meets these people and almost has this exchange that you would have if you met these people in person in the West Bank, and that is something that I really liked.
It makes me really happy because in writing it I wanted to make sure it was sensory. When you go to a new place, your senses overwhelm you and that’s part of the beauty of the trip – and even of explicitly discovering a neighborhood.
Our senses are always muted – literally and figuratively – because we’re online and then when we’re on the go we wear masks, so I really tried to be deliberate to have a creative piece that captures. sensory experience. .
Speaking of meaning, I didn’t know until I read that the Southern Theater was haunted. When I read “Ghosts and Muses” I didn’t know there were haunted buildings in the West Bank.
Oh, there are a lot. When I started chatting with other people from other theater companies that I had never met before, they were like, “Oh my God, the South is totally haunted.” I was there once doing the lighting rigging and there are children laughing upstairs; and I’ve talked to other people who don’t know each other, who’ve been down South for separate things, and that’s what they say every time.
What would you like readers to take away from “Butterflies and Tall Bikes?”
I know Merrie [Benasutti] talks about it a bit in her interview where she will work with students who sometimes have a perception of Cedar-Riverside as if the West Bank is dangerous, but that’s fundamentally wrong. The West Bank is such a safe area. And there are great restaurants, great people, and amazing art. I think if people can read this book and feel a bit like a regular and come to the West Bank and support business and break down that barrier a little bit, that’s great.