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Young Men Commit to Change: EMERGE Celebrates the North 4 Banquet

Thu, 2015-02-26 12:56
Madeline Graham TC Daily Planet

On Friday, February 6th, EMERGE celebrated the achievements of the most recent group to complete the North 4 program.  North 4 is a work readiness program for African American young men in four high crime neighborhoods in North Minneapolis. Young men ages 16 – 21 participate in a 16 week program that includes a week of orientation, weekly group sessions, regular one-on-one meetings with program staff, and a 240 hour paid internship. To complete the program and to be recognized at the February 6th banquet, participants needed to meet an 80% rate of participation, throughout. The 65 people who attended the banquet created a standing-room-only crowd that included family members, partners, internship supervisors, and EMERGE staff.

Several of the young men addressed the group themselves, sharing their experiences. According to one participant, Soldon, North 4 is the perfect program, “for someone who has been through a lot.” He recalled that he was forced to be a father figure at a young age for three young brothers. He said that North 4 allowed him to do many of the things that he never had a chance to do as a child.

Through his internship with Venture North Bike Shop, he learned not only to build a bike from scratch but about marketing and advertising. Soldon also mentioned empowerment training that EMERGE offers through the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), which is an integral component of the program. “Through that, I feel that I can do anything I need to do. You made me feel lovable, valuable, and important.”

At the celebration, a new recognition was awarded to one young man. Called the ‘Show Up and Show Out Award’, the recipient, Marcus, distinguished himself by being present for absolutely every meeting, event, outing, and work day over the 16 weeks. His attitude, according to Sterling Adams, North 4 Coordinator, was consistently “I’ll do what you need me to do.” 

Marcus was joined by family and one of his teachers at the celebration. As he received the award he thanked them and others in the room. “To everyone connected with EMERGE who took the time to create this program, I thank you.

EMERGE has already kicked off the next cohort of 10 young men joining the North 4 program and will be celebrating their accomplishments in June.

A special thank you to Houlihan Lokey for sponsoring and assisting in the planning of this recognition event for EMERGE youth.

On Friday, February 6th, EMERGE celebrated the achievements of the most recent group to complete the North 4 program.  North 4 is a work readiness program for African American young men in four high crime neighborhoods in North Minneapolis. Young men ages 16 – 21 participate in a 16 week program that includes a week of orientation, weekly group sessions, regular one-on-one meetings with program staff, and a 240 hour paid internship. To complete the program and to be recognized at the February 6th banquet, participants needed to meet an 80% rate of participation, throughout. The 65 people who attended the banquet created a standing-room-only crowd that included family members, partners, internship supervisors, and EMERGE staff.

Several of the young men addressed the group themselves, sharing their experiences. According to one participant, Soldon, North 4 is the perfect program, “for someone who has been through a lot.” He recalled that he was forced to be a father figure at a young age for three young brothers. He said that North 4 allowed him to do many of the things that he never had a chance to do as a child.

Through his internship with Venture North Bike Shop, he learned not only to build a bike from scratch but about marketing and advertising. Soldon also mentioned empowerment training that EMERGE offers through the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), which is an integral component of the program. “Through that, I feel that I can do anything I need to do. You made me feel lovable, valuable, and important.”

At the celebration, a new recognition was awarded to one young man. Called the ‘Show Up and Show Out Award’, the recipient, Marcus, distinguished himself by being present for absolutely every meeting, event, outing, and work day over the 16 weeks. His attitude, according to Sterling Adams, North 4 Coordinator, was consistently “I’ll do what you need me to do.” 

Marcus was joined by family and one of his teachers at the celebration. As he received the award he thanked them and others in the room. “To everyone connected with EMERGE who took the time to create this program, I thank you.

EMERGE has already kicked off the next cohort of 10 young men joining the North 4 program and will be celebrating their accomplishments in June.

A special thank you to Houlihan Lokey for sponsoring and assisting in the planning of this recognition event for EMERGE youth.

© 2015 EMERGE Community Development

    Local pharmacist buys Schneider Drug

    Tue, 2015-02-24 11:27
    Kristal Leebrick Park Bugle

    Jim Stage said he was just getting his “feet wet” as the new owner of Lloyd’s Pharmacy on Snelling Avenue in the Hamline Midway neighborhood when Tom Sengupta contacted him and told him he was selling Schneider Drug, 3400 University Ave., in Prospect Park.

    Lloyd’s longtime owner, Ron Johnson, sold the business to Stage in November. On Jan. 27, Stage became the new owner of Schneider Drug. Both Johnson and Sengupta owned their businesses for more than 40 years.

    Stage had worked for several years at Lloyd’s with Johnson, who he credits with teaching him a lot about the pharmacy business. Stage grew up in the Midway area of St. Paul, attending Central Lutheran School on Lexington Avenue and graduating from Concordia Academy in Roseville. He attended pharmacy school at North Dakota State University in Fargo, then returned to the Twin Cities where he worked for a couple of independent pharmacies Jim Stage, new owner of Schneider Drug Photo by Kristal Leebrick and CVS, before joining the staff at Lloyd’s.

    “I was really trying to learn to ride a bike over at Lloyd’s,” when Sengupta told him that Schneider would be on the market, he said. “Tom wanted to keep [Schneider] independent, and he was adamant he didn’t want it to become a Walgreens or CVS.”

    Stage, who lives in St. Paul with his wife and five children, said the two stores have their own unique qualities, and he intends to keep them that way.

    Schneider customers will see some changes, however. One of the biggest: more phones. Sengupta operated with one phone line for many years, but Stage is planning to add more lines and wants to develop some mobile apps and a website that will allow people to order prescription refills online.

    He also plans to enhance the store’s delivery service by making it available six days a week during daytime hours. Other items on his to-do list include offering blister packaging for customers managing multiple prescriptions to help them take the right medication at the right time and working with the University of Minnesota’s pharmacy school to help students learn about the business.

    Rich Mann, who had been at Lloyd’s, will be the managing pharmacist at Schneider Drug.

    Stage acknowledges that he’s stepping into a business where the decades-long proprietor was muchloved and a big part of many people’s lives.

    “Tom knew people’s voices when he answered the phone,” Stage said. “I have to ask their names and birthdates. I appreciate their patience.”

    Jim Stage said he was just getting his “feet wet” as the new owner of Lloyd’s Pharmacy on Snelling Avenue in the Hamline Midway neighborhood when Tom Sengupta contacted him and told him he was selling Schneider Drug, 3400 University Ave., in Prospect Park.

    Lloyd’s longtime owner, Ron Johnson, sold the business to Stage in November. On Jan. 27, Stage became the new owner of Schneider Drug. Both Johnson and Sengupta owned their businesses for more than 40 years.

    Stage had worked for several years at Lloyd’s with Johnson, who he credits with teaching him a lot about the pharmacy business. Stage grew up in the Midway area of St. Paul, attending Central Lutheran School on Lexington Avenue and graduating from Concordia Academy in Roseville. He attended pharmacy school at North Dakota State University in Fargo, then returned to the Twin Cities where he worked for a couple of independent pharmacies Jim Stage, new owner of Schneider Drug Photo by Kristal Leebrick and CVS, before joining the staff at Lloyd’s.

    “I was really trying to learn to ride a bike over at Lloyd’s,” when Sengupta told him that Schneider would be on the market, he said. “Tom wanted to keep [Schneider] independent, and he was adamant he didn’t want it to become a Walgreens or CVS.”

    Stage, who lives in St. Paul with his wife and five children, said the two stores have their own unique qualities, and he intends to keep them that way.

    Schneider customers will see some changes, however. One of the biggest: more phones. Sengupta operated with one phone line for many years, but Stage is planning to add more lines and wants to develop some mobile apps and a website that will allow people to order prescription refills online.

    He also plans to enhance the store’s delivery service by making it available six days a week during daytime hours. Other items on his to-do list include offering blister packaging for customers managing multiple prescriptions to help them take the right medication at the right time and working with the University of Minnesota’s pharmacy school to help students learn about the business.

    Rich Mann, who had been at Lloyd’s, will be the managing pharmacist at Schneider Drug.

    Stage acknowledges that he’s stepping into a business where the decades-long proprietor was muchloved and a big part of many people’s lives.

    “Tom knew people’s voices when he answered the phone,” Stage said. “I have to ask their names and birthdates. I appreciate their patience.”

    Introducing the Minneapolis Numerological Twilight Zone

    Thu, 2015-02-19 11:16
    Bill Lindeke MinnPost

    There’s a Twin Cites perception that Minneapolis’ street grid makes perfect sense, while St. Paul’s streets are a confusing mishmash, designed, as Jesse Ventura so famously blustered, “by drunken Irishmen.” With all its methodologically numbered and alphabetized streets extending out from the downtown with certitude, Minneapolis seems to offer a near-perfect legibility, house and numbers carefully correlated and the city sectioned off like rectangular compass. But within the obsessive-compulsive grid lies a zone that can be devilishly misleading, where the aura of legibility belies a trap. I call it the Numerological Twilight Zone (NTZ).

    Minding bizarro addresses

    According to my rough calculations, the NTZ is loosely defined as the area where the numbers of streets and avenues come close to each other, probably within 10 or 15 ordinal numerals. For example, the corner of 10th Avenue and 53rd Street (Nokomis Heights Lutheran Church) is pretty easy to figure out, but finding 31st Avenue and 43rd Street (Northrop Elementary) can be confusing, especially if you’re bad at math. If you plot the area out, beginning roughly at Elliot Park, where the north-south street grid begins, you get a large swath of south Minneapolis with confusingly tricky numbers, places where it might take you a few tries to find what you’re looking for. 

    The approximate Minneapolis Numerological Twilight Zone

    The aura of confusion makes living in the NTZ an occasional challenge. When Daniel and Natalie Brauer bought their house in 2012, just off the corner of 35th Street and 33rd Avenue, they were vaguely aware that they were moving to a confusing location. But last year they had a surprising wake-up call, where due to a miscommunication with a delivery company, they spent a day trying to track down a package of important medicine.

    “It was medicine that had to be delivered within a certain time frame,” Brauer told me. “When we called Fed-Ex to track it down, they insisted that they had delivered the package. We thought, well that doesn’t make sense. Then it struck us that maybe they had delivered the medicine to the other 35th and 33rd. So we walked the few blocks over to where our address would have been at the other intersection. And there it was, sitting on the back porch of the house.”

    Brauer’s story is what David Swan, who also owns a home in the NTZ (46th and 30th), calls the “bizarro address” phenomenon. It’s almost like geographical physics: For every address in the zone, there is an equal and opposite address attracting potential visitors.

    Urban legibility

    In his famous 1961 book, "The Image of the City," urban designer Kevin Lynch described the “apparent clarity or ‘legibility’ of the cityscape.” According to Lynch, when people walk or drive through cities, they navigate by “reading” the streets using what he calls landmarks, paths and nodes. In other words, good cities combine some order and organization with visual cues that allow you to explore, without getting completely lost. 

    The NTZ likely lost a lot of its legibility when the solid tracks of the streetcar system disappeared. But even then, the area was confusing, with lines zig-zagging southeast from downtown along 34th, 36th, 42nd or 46th Avenues (depending on where you were). And even today, the buses that follow the old lines through the NTZ are difficult to figure out.

    “My favorite has always been explaining which bus stop to stand next to at the intersection of 46th Ave S and E 46th St,” Jared Fette, who works at the Metro Transit telephone hotline, explained to me. "To catch the 23H, make sure you're on 46th Ave, the side street with less traffic. It will pick you up on 46th Ave going south, and then turn left on 46th Street and head into St. Paul.”

    Landmarks in a sea of numbers

    Within the NTZ, the mass of endless numbers erases easy legibility, and paths within the city can disappear for outsiders who can’t decode them. Finding landmarks like the Birchwood Cafe (25th and 33rd) or the Chatterbox Pub (35th and 22nd) can offer lessons in humility. Many folks end up asking themselves: Which 37th and 38th has the Fire Roast Café again?

    For the brave and adventurous, the trick to navigating the NTZ is to rely on landmarks like the Riverview Theater (38th and 42nd). Joshua Post Lee, an urban studies student at the University of Minnesota, fixes on the cluster of businesses at 28th Avenue South. It’s a tactic that Lynch would surely have recommended.

    “It took me some time to get used to it,” Lee told me. “Just remember one major one, like 28th Ave, where Baker's Wife is, and count from there. The numbers are in order just like everywhere else in the city. Use them to figure your way around.”

    Crooked streets like Minnehaha Avenue exacerbate the NTZ effect. As Brie Monahan, who lives within the NTZ, described to me this week, giving directions can quickly turn into a geographic tongue twister:

    “Coming up Minnehaha, we can pass 26th Street followed by 23rd Ave.,” Monahan told me. “That’s followed by 25th Street and 24th Street, then veer right onto 21st Ave., turn right onto 22nd Street, and another right onto 22nd Ave., and we're at my house. I don't send people this way though.”

    Some people I talk to insist that navigating the NTZ is easy, that all you have to do is maintain the Street-then-Avenue naming convention, and anyone can figure it out. As in many cities, once you develop the memory map that provides you with Lynchian “imageability,” knowing your way around becomes intuitive. But I cling to my belief that the NTZ remains a navigational challenge, even in an era of ubiquitous smartphone directions. 

    Theoretically, there are ways that Minneapolis might make navigating this part of the city a bit easier. The city might give non-numeric names to a few of the key commercial streets (like Lake Street and Franklin Avenue, which are where 30th and 20th Streets ought to be). This would have the added benefit of providing ways for political and neighborhood leaders to honor famous notables. If 28th Avenue South were re-named John Berryman Avenue, wouldn’t it be easier to find Chris and Rob's hot dogs (42nd and 31st)?

    But next time you hear a smug Minneapolitan brag about their orderly streets, remind them about the Numerological Twilight Zone. For insiders, they can rest easy knowing that they are safe from unwanted outsiders. For the rest of us, a vague cloud of certainty hangs over this part of the city. And if your package doesn't get delivered on the first try, you can always go check out your “bizzaro address.” There’s a good chance that the box will be waiting for you on the porch.

    There’s a Twin Cites perception that Minneapolis’ street grid makes perfect sense, while St. Paul’s streets are a confusing mishmash, designed, as Jesse Ventura so famously blustered, “by drunken Irishmen.” With all its methodologically numbered and alphabetized streets extending out from the downtown with certitude, Minneapolis seems to offer a near-perfect legibility, house and numbers carefully correlated and the city sectioned off like rectangular compass. But within the obsessive-compulsive grid lies a zone that can be devilishly misleading, where the aura of legibility belies a trap. I call it the Numerological Twilight Zone (NTZ).

    Minding bizarro addresses

    According to my rough calculations, the NTZ is loosely defined as the area where the numbers of streets and avenues come close to each other, probably within 10 or 15 ordinal numerals. For example, the corner of 10th Avenue and 53rd Street (Nokomis Heights Lutheran Church) is pretty easy to figure out, but finding 31st Avenue and 43rd Street (Northrop Elementary) can be confusing, especially if you’re bad at math. If you plot the area out, beginning roughly at Elliot Park, where the north-south street grid begins, you get a large swath of south Minneapolis with confusingly tricky numbers, places where it might take you a few tries to find what you’re looking for. 

    The approximate Minneapolis Numerological Twilight Zone

    The aura of confusion makes living in the NTZ an occasional challenge. When Daniel and Natalie Brauer bought their house in 2012, just off the corner of 35th Street and 33rd Avenue, they were vaguely aware that they were moving to a confusing location. But last year they had a surprising wake-up call, where due to a miscommunication with a delivery company, they spent a day trying to track down a package of important medicine.

    “It was medicine that had to be delivered within a certain time frame,” Brauer told me. “When we called Fed-Ex to track it down, they insisted that they had delivered the package. We thought, well that doesn’t make sense. Then it struck us that maybe they had delivered the medicine to the other 35th and 33rd. So we walked the few blocks over to where our address would have been at the other intersection. And there it was, sitting on the back porch of the house.”

    Brauer’s story is what David Swan, who also owns a home in the NTZ (46th and 30th), calls the “bizarro address” phenomenon. It’s almost like geographical physics: For every address in the zone, there is an equal and opposite address attracting potential visitors.

    Urban legibility

    In his famous 1961 book, "The Image of the City," urban designer Kevin Lynch described the “apparent clarity or ‘legibility’ of the cityscape.” According to Lynch, when people walk or drive through cities, they navigate by “reading” the streets using what he calls landmarks, paths and nodes. In other words, good cities combine some order and organization with visual cues that allow you to explore, without getting completely lost. 

    The NTZ likely lost a lot of its legibility when the solid tracks of the streetcar system disappeared. But even then, the area was confusing, with lines zig-zagging southeast from downtown along 34th, 36th, 42nd or 46th Avenues (depending on where you were). And even today, the buses that follow the old lines through the NTZ are difficult to figure out.

    “My favorite has always been explaining which bus stop to stand next to at the intersection of 46th Ave S and E 46th St,” Jared Fette, who works at the Metro Transit telephone hotline, explained to me. "To catch the 23H, make sure you're on 46th Ave, the side street with less traffic. It will pick you up on 46th Ave going south, and then turn left on 46th Street and head into St. Paul.”

    Landmarks in a sea of numbers

    Within the NTZ, the mass of endless numbers erases easy legibility, and paths within the city can disappear for outsiders who can’t decode them. Finding landmarks like the Birchwood Cafe (25th and 33rd) or the Chatterbox Pub (35th and 22nd) can offer lessons in humility. Many folks end up asking themselves: Which 37th and 38th has the Fire Roast Café again?

    For the brave and adventurous, the trick to navigating the NTZ is to rely on landmarks like the Riverview Theater (38th and 42nd). Joshua Post Lee, an urban studies student at the University of Minnesota, fixes on the cluster of businesses at 28th Avenue South. It’s a tactic that Lynch would surely have recommended.

    “It took me some time to get used to it,” Lee told me. “Just remember one major one, like 28th Ave, where Baker's Wife is, and count from there. The numbers are in order just like everywhere else in the city. Use them to figure your way around.”

    Crooked streets like Minnehaha Avenue exacerbate the NTZ effect. As Brie Monahan, who lives within the NTZ, described to me this week, giving directions can quickly turn into a geographic tongue twister:

    “Coming up Minnehaha, we can pass 26th Street followed by 23rd Ave.,” Monahan told me. “That’s followed by 25th Street and 24th Street, then veer right onto 21st Ave., turn right onto 22nd Street, and another right onto 22nd Ave., and we're at my house. I don't send people this way though.”

    Some people I talk to insist that navigating the NTZ is easy, that all you have to do is maintain the Street-then-Avenue naming convention, and anyone can figure it out. As in many cities, once you develop the memory map that provides you with Lynchian “imageability,” knowing your way around becomes intuitive. But I cling to my belief that the NTZ remains a navigational challenge, even in an era of ubiquitous smartphone directions. 

    Theoretically, there are ways that Minneapolis might make navigating this part of the city a bit easier. The city might give non-numeric names to a few of the key commercial streets (like Lake Street and Franklin Avenue, which are where 30th and 20th Streets ought to be). This would have the added benefit of providing ways for political and neighborhood leaders to honor famous notables. If 28th Avenue South were re-named John Berryman Avenue, wouldn’t it be easier to find Chris and Rob's hot dogs (42nd and 31st)?

    But next time you hear a smug Minneapolitan brag about their orderly streets, remind them about the Numerological Twilight Zone. For insiders, they can rest easy knowing that they are safe from unwanted outsiders. For the rest of us, a vague cloud of certainty hangs over this part of the city. And if your package doesn't get delivered on the first try, you can always go check out your “bizzaro address.” There’s a good chance that the box will be waiting for you on the porch.

    Attend a workshop, build a Festival

    Sun, 2015-02-08 11:33
    Alan Wilfahrt

    I attended the first workshop held for an upcoming inaugural event. The Mpls Lantern Fest on February 21, 2015 from 5—8 p.m. in Downtown Minneapolis (Mpls). The gathering will be held at Marquette Plaza (Cancer Survivors Park) between S Washington and S 3rd St, on Nicollet Mall. Artists from In the Heart Of the Beast puppet and mask Theatre (HOBT.org) will be constructing large lantern puppets for leading processions of the lantern line. Their theme will be along the lines of the constellations that have been historically attributed to the stars of our skies. Chances are mythology of multiple cultures will enhance the party theme.

    You may help light up our city streets with color and joy, by attending a free public workshop during the next few weeks, at various locations around Mpls (Minneapolis). The materials are suppled for forming a lantern. You assemble and you adorn. All the lanterns will be displayed at the Mpls Lantern Fest. After the evenings festivities, you may take your lantern and memories with you, to brighten your domicile or work space. It may be you will carry your lantern in a line of Lanterns. You will have helped make the city of Minneapolis one of the great reasons for living here.

    The Minneapolis Downtown Council is suppling the funding for the material and lead artist's time, and other logistics. You, your friends, and family will provide the brightness. All ages, all abilities are welcome. On Feb 21 food and breverages will be avalable for purchase, but there is no fee for the workshops or the Mpls Lantern Fest.

    Information may be obtained from both the Downtown Council's and HOBT's web sites. http://www.downtownmpls.com/mplslanternfest
    http://hobt.org/events/mpls-lantern-fest/

    Scheduled at this writing;

    • Saturday, Feb. 7 (1-3 PM), Saturday, Feb. 14 (10 AM-12 PM) | Hosted by Intermedia Arts Gallery (2822 Lyndale Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55408)
    • Tuesday, Feb. 12 (5-8 PM) | Hosted by Juxtaposition Arts (1108 Broadway Avenue W, Minneapolis, MN 55411)
    • Saturday, Feb. 14 (2-5 PM) and Sunday, Feb. 15 (12-3 PM) | Hosted by ArtShare (Grace Center, 1500 6th Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413)
    • Powderhorn: Tuesday, Feb. 17, Thursday, Feb. 19 and Friday, Feb.20 (6-9 PM) | Hosted by In the Heart of the Beast (1500 Lake Street E, Minneapolis, MN 55407)
    • Uptown: Wednesday, Feb. 18 (6-8 PM) | Hosted by First Universalist Church, Chalice Room (3400 Dupont Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55408)

    an Artist's sketch of possible large Lantern Puppet 

     Learn, teach, be with your neighbors, build a festival together.

     

     

     

    Add your original to the original Mpls Lantern Fest — be the first on your block to make your Lantern light up the night

    Nicollet Mall between Washington Avenue S. Marquette Plaza (Cancer Survivors Park) Minneapolis, MN The Public Recluse

      GLOBAL GROCERIES | One of the few true butcher shops still left in Minneapolis has a lot of fans

      Mon, 2015-02-02 09:02
      Stephanie Fox Global Groceries

      The Finer Meat Company, the tiny butcher shop near the corner of Nicollet and 38th, has been providing the best in meat to South Minneapolis since the depth of the Great Depression. First opened in 1932 at 36th and Bryant (now Gigi’s,) the shop moved to its current location and was then sold to Aaron Knopik in 1963. It hasn’t changed very much since then.

      Many customers have been coming to Finer Meats for years, even before a very young Brian Knopik stood on a milk crate helping stock the shelves for the family business. “My grandfather bought it on Saturday and opened it again on Monday,” said Knopik, who now runs the place. Knopik works with his fiancé, Stacy Tollefson who met Knopik five years ago and signed on as a rookie butcher the same night.

      The shop’s customer demographic is mostly the same as it was 50 years ago – African-American soul food cooks from the local neighborhood. They still come to buy fixings and exchange recipes. But recently, a new customer base is discovering Finer Meats.

      Last year, the store received its first upgrade in years. There’s a new logo on the door and an up-to-the-minute look to the outside. The curb appeal helps to attract the hip cats from Five Watt coffee next door and the trendy restaurants sharing the same block. (Restaurant Nighthawks will soon open where the fondly remembered Shorty & Wags Original Chicken Wings used to be.)

      Walk in, though and you’ll find the place decidedly old school. The floor is linoleum and the fluorescent lights are industrial. The tape machine for wrapping the meat in white butcher paper is from 1932, from the old location. But, that just speaks to the store’s authenticity. This is a non-apologetic butcher shop.

      Unlike most supermarket butcher shops, you can order meat cut the way you want. Choose the thickness of your steak, ask one of the butchers to cut up a duck for duck etoufee, or bring in your own fish for a stint in the smoker. “Most places get their meat pre-cut, in boxes. They don’t have to equipment to cut meat. We can cut to order,” Knopik said, as he put turkey through the store’s the large electric saw.

      Knopik recently invested in an all-digital scale and the smokehouse in the back got an upgrade four years ago, after a fire. “It happened on my birthday and we were home celebrating,” said Tollefson. “By the time we got back here, the fire fighters had it mostly out, but the back room had already collapsed. We spent $50,000 on a new smoke house. It’s all computerized. You can control it from your cell phone.”

      Some things have changed. “When we opened in 1963, you didn’t have to lock your doors,” Knopik said. “Then in the ‘90s, you’d hear gunshots.”

      “The hipsters are buying houses in the neighborhood and coming in to shop. They buy some of the same things as our mainstay customers, but they go on the Internet and find new recipes. They’re looking for hickory smoked pork belly or they’re part of the new bacon scene. They’re looking for things that most grocery stores don’t carry. They come here and buy our beef sticks to eat as they drink coffee at Five Watt next door. ” And, he said, the old customers are still faithful.

      Curtis Lee, who lives in Southwest Minneapolis, is one of those old customers. He came to buy some of the smoked chicken, smoked pork and some of the store’s cut-to-order oxtails. “I boil the oxtails with onions until they’re fall off the bone,” he said.

      Knopik make a lot of what he sells from scratch, many recipes handed down from his grandfather. He makes breakfast sausages, your choice of pork or beef and Finer Meat’s own recipe hot dogs, Polish and in the summer, brats. They sell a variety of jerky flavors and fresh meat and poultry as well. “I’ve added hot jerky,” said Knopik. “My grandfather didn’t like hot.”

      In-house smoked meats include turkey wings, legs and tails, pork tails, feet, hocks and chops and beef ribs, all great for cooking beans and greens.

      They make their own hams and six kinds of bacon; regular, skin-on, butt bacon, peppered butt bacon, beef bacon and the best lamb bacon in the Twin Cities. That’s right – fatty, smoky lamb bacon.

      The lamb bacon was inspired by Sami Wadi, chef at Saffron, who told Brian’s father, “You have to come up with a lamb bacon. If you can’t do it, no one can.”

      You can get fish – catfish, buffalo, perch, tilapia and walleye. There’s lamb at a reasonable price and thick cut lamb steaks. And they’ve just begun to carry organic cheese for their hipster customers.

      The store is doing well, selling up to 3,500 lb. of meat, poultry and fish every week. Every Tuesday, the staff puts together an order for cold cuts, enough for 500 sandwiches for the Basilica of St. Mary’s sandwich program, free to all who are hungry.

      The Finer Meat Company is located at 3747 Nicollet Ave. S. in Minneapolis. They’re open until 6:00 pm and are closed Sunday and Monday.

      The Finer Meat Company, the tiny butcher shop near the corner of Nicollet and 38th, has been providing the best in meat to South Minneapolis since the depth of the Great Depression. First opened in 1932 at 36th and Bryant (now Gigi’s,) the shop moved to its current location and was then sold to Aaron Knopik in 1963. It hasn’t changed very much since then.

      Many customers have been coming to Finer Meats for years, even before a very young Brian Knopik stood on a milk crate helping stock the shelves for the family business. “My grandfather bought it on Saturday and opened it again on Monday,” said Knopik, who now runs the place. Knopik works with his fiancé, Stacy Tollefson who met Knopik five years ago and signed on as a rookie butcher the same night.

      The shop’s customer demographic is mostly the same as it was 50 years ago – African-American soul food cooks from the local neighborhood. They still come to buy fixings and exchange recipes. But recently, a new customer base is discovering Finer Meats.

      Last year, the store received its first upgrade in years. There’s a new logo on the door and an up-to-the-minute look to the outside. The curb appeal helps to attract the hip cats from Five Watt coffee next door and the trendy restaurants sharing the same block. (Restaurant Nighthawks will soon open where the fondly remembered Shorty & Wags Original Chicken Wings used to be.)

      Walk in, though and you’ll find the place decidedly old school. The floor is linoleum and the fluorescent lights are industrial. The tape machine for wrapping the meat in white butcher paper is from 1932, from the old location. But, that just speaks to the store’s authenticity. This is a non-apologetic butcher shop.

      Unlike most supermarket butcher shops, you can order meat cut the way you want. Choose the thickness of your steak, ask one of the butchers to cut up a duck for duck etoufee, or bring in your own fish for a stint in the smoker. “Most places get their meat pre-cut, in boxes. They don’t have to equipment to cut meat. We can cut to order,” Knopik said, as he put turkey through the store’s the large electric saw.

      Knopik recently invested in an all-digital scale and the smokehouse in the back got an upgrade four years ago, after a fire. “It happened on my birthday and we were home celebrating,” said Tollefson. “By the time we got back here, the fire fighters had it mostly out, but the back room had already collapsed. We spent $50,000 on a new smoke house. It’s all computerized. You can control it from your cell phone.”

      Some things have changed. “When we opened in 1963, you didn’t have to lock your doors,” Knopik said. “Then in the ‘90s, you’d hear gunshots.”

      “The hipsters are buying houses in the neighborhood and coming in to shop. They buy some of the same things as our mainstay customers, but they go on the Internet and find new recipes. They’re looking for hickory smoked pork belly or they’re part of the new bacon scene. They’re looking for things that most grocery stores don’t carry. They come here and buy our beef sticks to eat as they drink coffee at Five Watt next door. ” And, he said, the old customers are still faithful.

      Curtis Lee, who lives in Southwest Minneapolis, is one of those old customers. He came to buy some of the smoked chicken, smoked pork and some of the store’s cut-to-order oxtails. “I boil the oxtails with onions until they’re fall off the bone,” he said.

      Knopik make a lot of what he sells from scratch, many recipes handed down from his grandfather. He makes breakfast sausages, your choice of pork or beef and Finer Meat’s own recipe hot dogs, Polish and in the summer, brats. They sell a variety of jerky flavors and fresh meat and poultry as well. “I’ve added hot jerky,” said Knopik. “My grandfather didn’t like hot.”

      In-house smoked meats include turkey wings, legs and tails, pork tails, feet, hocks and chops and beef ribs, all great for cooking beans and greens.

      They make their own hams and six kinds of bacon; regular, skin-on, butt bacon, peppered butt bacon, beef bacon and the best lamb bacon in the Twin Cities. That’s right – fatty, smoky lamb bacon.

      The lamb bacon was inspired by Sami Wadi, chef at Saffron, who told Brian’s father, “You have to come up with a lamb bacon. If you can’t do it, no one can.”

      You can get fish – catfish, buffalo, perch, tilapia and walleye. There’s lamb at a reasonable price and thick cut lamb steaks. And they’ve just begun to carry organic cheese for their hipster customers.

      The store is doing well, selling up to 3,500 lb. of meat, poultry and fish every week. Every Tuesday, the staff puts together an order for cold cuts, enough for 500 sandwiches for the Basilica of St. Mary’s sandwich program, free to all who are hungry.

      The Finer Meat Company is located at 3747 Nicollet Ave. S. in Minneapolis. They’re open until 6:00 pm and are closed Sunday and Monday.

      2015 City of Lakes Loppet Snow Sculpture Contest, finish line happenstance

      Sun, 2015-02-01 17:21
      Alan Wilfahrt

      Nuts! 

      Not enough snow, and the City of Lakes Loppet needed to confine all the Ski Runs to Wirth Park.

      The Snow Blocks for the SW Journal Snow Sculpture Contest were already in position at what would have been the Loppet Finish Line for many of the races. So the Snow Sculpture Contest transpired in a quiet little corner of the Twin Cities, apart from the skiers finishing their runs. The Northwest shore of Lake Calhoun, in what would have been the Loppet Village but for lack of snow on the chain of lakes and throughout, bubbled with jubilance and frivolity of more concentrated scoop. A four foot by four foot by eight feet tall block of snow confronted the creators with snow, where they did not want snow. So they set about to sculpt their visions out of the blocks.


      It was unfortunate to not see the skiers gliding by on to a finish, but the show must go on. Carry on, and carried on they did


      White Dimension

      Remember finally tunneling out?

      Remember playing in snow?


      Thanks to all who made such a nice crazy event happen on a winter's day.

      The Public Recluse

      The Sheltering Arms House Rehab is Complete

      Wed, 2015-01-21 09:32
      Jeff Skrenes The Sheltering Arms House, at 2648 Emerson Ave N, had a pre-open house on Saturday.  For those looking to read up on the recent history of this house, most of that was covered first on Johnny Northside, and later on this blog - each hyperlink will take you to that blog's "Sheltering Arms" search results.   In short, however, the home was built in 1891 as an orphanage for the Sheltering Arms Orphanage.  It is believed to be the first or among the first orphanages away from the main campus on the Mississippi riverfront.  The orphanage was the precursor to what is now the Sheltering Arms Foundation.   It's worth repeating that the Sheltering Arms was run by a group of twenty-five Episcopalian nuns, dedicated to serving needy children "without regard to race, color, or creed."  A women-run organization with that mission in eighteen ninety-one is a part of this city's history that most definitely needed to be preserved.   In a smaller sense, this house had its own place in north Minneapolis history as well.  That's because...  

      ...it was the first time (among this generation of preservationists, at least) that people took a stand against what was then an escalating number of city- and county-driven home demolitions.

        2648 Emerson was bought by the city with the intention of tearing it down and holding the land until new development came along.  This house marked the first time that I started to question the number, pace, planning, and long-term impacts of all those tear-downs.  I started to openly speak out against that, and others joined the chorus.  (Many who had been preservationists far longer than I was, and who did a fair amount of educating me.  By no means should anyone think I'm taking credit for a whole movement.)  It's fair to say that The Sheltering Arms House was a flashpoint, or a watershed moment of sorts for housing preservation in north Minneapolis.   Another organization that deserves credit for helping to save this house is my former employer, the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council.  After learning of the structure's history, they took a position that they would not support demolition at least until a historic designation study had been completed.  We looked and looked for developers who could take on a project of this scope.  After each potential suitor turned her down, the city would come to us asking, "Can we demolish it now?"  To which the community responded, "Did you do the study yet?  Then there's your answer."  The Sheltering Arms House would be nothing more than dust in the wind if it weren't for that stand.   Before we get to that suitor, there are two other community tidbits that should be made known.  First, across the street is a house at 2637 Emerson Avenue North.  That house was another one the city acquired for demolition.  The backhoe was parked outside, ready to tear it down, when Nicole Curtis posted a photo of that on her Twitter feed, calling on her readers and fans to contact city hall and demand the house be saved.  After a nearly unprecedented deluge of such calls and emails, the backhoe went away.  But there hasn't been much movement on the house since then.  Well, I may have an interested party, and if so, I expect the house to be redone in 2015.  Any prospective buyers of The Sheltering Arms House need not worry that there will be a long-term vacant structure across the way.   Second, neighbors from across the alley came to the open house, gushing about how they had been worried foryears that the city would tear down this property and leave a gash of a vacant lot that would attract all sorts of trouble from people cutting through, illegally parking, doing deals, or dumping trash.  That's a dynamic that I frankly never hear discussed by city staffers or demolition proponents--that vacant lots bring their own host of problems for neighbors to deal with.     So we finally paired this house with a developer - Charlie Browning is is name, and he's about as genuine of a person as you'll ever meet.  His company, Charlie's Angles (yes, that's spelled "angles") has done excellent work primarily in south Minneapolis.  A few housing activists have been trying to get him to take a project on over north for the longest time.  We finally did, and the results are nothing short of astounding.  Local architect Alissa Luepke Pier did some design work to help turn the fourplex into a duplex--as an orphanage, the bedrooms were all on the interior and had no windows at all.  Without further ado, the photos:   A few shots of the house before and during construction; click to enlarge each photo.  

       

         

      A view from the upstairs front porch
       

      This could be your friends gathered around the dining room table.  The box is full of Cookie Cart goodies, it's worth noting.The kitchen/dining area - that's Councilmember Yang talking with the house's listing agent, Constance Vork.A photo from the same spot, this time showcasing the spacious living room.
      I didn't even get around to taking photos of the upstairs rooms, but a link to the listing or other photo tours will be posted soon.  And remember, this is a duplex, so all this amazing work is literally twice as good as what you're seeing here.   The premiere of this beautiful rehab drew not only residents from nearby, but a veritable who's who of north Minneapolitans and preservationists far and wide.  Council President Barb Johnson stopped by, as did County Commissioner Linda Higgins.  At least seven realtors were there, all northsiders.  And we even drew visitors from as far away as St. Cloud.  Cookie Cart provided refreshments, and there were cookies baking in the oven.     They were baking cookies in the Sheltering Arms House!  Is there anything that makes a stronger affirmation that this will be a wonderful home?  When one thinks of what could have been, that this house could have been a vacant lot, is there anything that celebrates its restoration more completely and succinctly and joyfully than cookies baking in the oven?    The Sheltering Arms House hits the market soon.  A huge thank you goes out to everyone who helped make this happen.   Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

      North by Northside North by Northside

      10th Annual Curry Dinner Builds Community in Loring Park

      Tue, 2015-01-20 10:09

      Every year before the holidays for the past ten years, the World Mission Prayer League, located in a mansion and office building in the Loring Park Neighborhood, puts on a Curry Dinner for the neighborhood. The dinner also raises money for Citizens for a Loring Park Community, the neighborhood organization. And it also gives neighbors a chance to talk and meet and build community. Here is a look at this year's curry dinner.

      Every year before the holidays for the past ten years, the World Mission Prayer League, located in a mansion and office building in the Loring Park Neighborhood, puts on a Curry Dinner for the neighborhood. The dinner also raises money for Citizens for a Loring Park Community, the neighborhood organization. And it also gives neighbors a chance to talk and meet and build community. Here is a look at this year's curry dinner.

      Lao leadership we can look up to

      Mon, 2015-01-19 17:45
      Sunny Chanthanouvong

      Sabaidee, everyone, and happy new year.

      It's been a long time since I last posted and there are so many exciting things I want to share with all of you.

      This year is the 40th year since the end of the war in Laos, and for many of us it was the beginning of a long journey. Some of us have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, they have become civically engaged and part of the American democracy. Some of us have become great teachers, great artists, great leaders in their community. Others still need a hand, and we can't turn our backs on them.

      This week we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and one of the things our staff regularly read is his Drum Major Instinct speech. What many of us like is the part where he says "everybody can be great, because everybody can serve." For several years now the Lao Assistance Center has been conducting the Lao Leadership Institute, trying to get many of our community members to see the importance of participating and that it is ok for us to take leadership positions in our community. We are looking forward to the next cohort we can train in this program and applying the new ideas we have learned along the way.

      The important thing to me in building good leadership in our community is building a model for Lao American leadership that can be a good role model not only for the next generation but for other communities too. I want us to build high standards and expectations for ourselves that are effective in both the mainstream culture and appropriate to our own community. How do we build our community in a way that we all remain committed to giving each other another chance and to see that building a community on our core values is something worth working towards?

      There are several ideas I found over the years that may be helpful for my fellow Minnesotans and others across the country. There are always many more ideas for good leadership and I hope you will share them with me and others in our community.

      But to be a healthy leader means that we have to understand our own boundaries and our own values and how they match those of others who are in our commuity. It is important to understand that values change and we can evolve. We have to ask what we need to do be effective and humane when we stand up for what we believe in, or what we need to do when we need to leave gracefully. In all cases, we want to seek a win-win for everyone whenever possible. This is something that would be of benefit not only for Lao communities but any community.

      There are times as a leader we need to know when it's ok to just shut up and listen. Experimenting and taking risks, even experiencing failure is an important part of the human experience. It's also important to take vacations and let others be the leaders. This can be scary to some, but I think it's a good test of your leadership to see how much you are missed or needed. Good leadership also involves developing a sense of humor, not to mock yourself or others, but to grow a sense of perspective and where everything fits in the big picture.

      As leaders we have to tech others that it's ok to ask questions and to challenge decisions, and to expect healthy conflict and disagreement along the way. Be we need to look in the mirror, listen to what we're saying and understand what our behavior is doing in our communities at all times. It can be scary to change your ways but it can be even scarier to stay the same. Seek the approaches that are genuinely healthy, and assume good intentions in each other. Sometimes we can't go along with every good idea, but we have to keep our doors open and be there for each other if we want a community worth having.

      Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve

      Sunny's Side of Life Sunny's Side of Life

      Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 2015

      Sun, 2015-01-18 11:31
      Alan Wilfahrt

      January 17, 2015 on the frozen surface of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis Minnesota USA, people flew kites and mingled in glee. Weather conditions were pleasant but a bit more wind would have boosted kites with enhanced ease. Kites did become airborne, the fish of the lake probably eluded the young ice fishers, and two large draft horses pulled delight from their cartage.

       

      This year had some food vendor trucks, and a large tent available for warming duties and assemblage of kites. 

      A few biked in with their kites. Numbers hiked in from the surrounding area. 

      The horse drawn wagon headed south along the west parkway and automobiles were allowed to follow at the horse's pace, so the parkway remained open to vehicles. The horse pulled their passengers back along the foot / bike path on the return.

      Each year small adjustments lend to an uplifting event.

      Masterly Skills

       

      Brought to you by;

      The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB)

      KiteFest sponsors include East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association (EHFNA),  Linden HIlls Neighborhood Council (LHINC)Minnesota Kite Society and Tips Outdoors.

      Free horse drawn rides The Hitching Company;  Food and hot drinks from Bread and Pickle and I Luv Coffee Minnesoota! available for purchase.  

      Local businesses and organizations providing sponsorhips to help make this event happen include Car2GoLakewood CemeteryNicollet Ace HardwareKinderberry HillLake Harriet VeterinaryNicollet-East Harriet Business Association (NEHBA) and Walker Methodist.

      and many people who came and played on a bright winter's day

      the public recluse The Public Recluse Lake Harriet Bandshell

      Lyndale Year in Review

      Fri, 2015-01-16 10:47
      Mark Hinds

      There was a lot going on in the neighborhood this past year.  Some highlights included having LNA leading the charge on Nicollet Votes, the continued growth of the ESL Program, graduating two cohorts from the Women’s Leadership Program, and the beginning of some interesting work on renters’ issues. 

      A highlightfor the year was LNA’s continued work in the Building the Field Initiative, which is a partnership of six organizations in the Twin Cities who are working to develop a framework for and to elevate community engagement on a national level.  Being a part of this work has given LNA a chance to talk about the importance of neighborhoods and place making on a much larger stage and has been helping us grow as an organization. 

      Program Highlights
      A major highlight included LNA taking the lead on Nicollet Votes, which was an effort by four neighborhoods along the Nicollet corridor to increase voter turnout during last year’s election.  In a very tough year for turnout the project was still able to have over 700 conversations with community members who contributed over 350 hours of volunteer time to the project. This work was a major step forward for the neighborhoods to engage their community members in the electoral process.

      The ESL Program continued its growth going from 8,402 student contact hours in 2013 to 11,006 student contact hours in 2014.  The growth included implementing a three-class schedule, holding Ready to Work: A Jobseekers Workshop, and starting to add more field trips and outside speakers.

      Something that came to the forefront and became a focus of LNA’s work this year were issues that renters are having with their landlords.  The main problems involve Spanish speaking renters who are having issues with their landlords who are adding extra fees and charges to their leases without clearly communicating the details of the changes in Spanish.  This is causing a lot of confusion and consternation for some long-term community members whose apartment buildings have changed hands in the past few years and is starting to force some people to find new housing outside of Lyndale.

      To work on these issues LNA has been convening renters every other week to learn about their rights, meet with landlords, work with other neighborhoods, and develop strategies to help people overcome these issues and find stable housing.  This whole issue is being exacerbated by the tight rental market in Minneapolis, which is squeezing people who don’t have a lot of options.

      Community Events
      This past year LNA’s full plate of community events grew significantly with the addition of Nicollet Open Streets.  On a beautiful sunny day in September Nicollet Open Streets brought over 9,500 people to hang out, eat, walk, listen to music, and have fun along a two-mile stretch of Nicollet Avenue. In many ways the event was the culmination of years of work by the Lyndale and Kingfield Neighborhoods to revitalize Nicollet Avenue South of Lake Street.

      Another highlight was being able to pull together the first indoor/outdoor Fish Fest at the Lyndale Community Center.  With major storm clouds gathering and heavy rain in the forecast the only option for the event was to move everything indoors.  To our surprise people came and had a great time eating delicious fish tacos and watching the World Cup on the big screen in the conference room.

      Other events included the Open House and Dia Del Nino in the spring, a great garden tour in July, the Fall Fundraiser in September, and La Posada this past December.

      Organizational Development
      A lot of time and energy this past year was spent on improving LNA’s internal systems and raising money.  It was a good year for raising funds from foundations with grants coming from McKnight, Nexus Community Partners, the Minneapolis Foundation, MRAC, and the Beim, Marbrook, and Carolyn Foundation.  This also included expanding our efforts to raise money from community members and local businesses, which is critical for LNA to continue to maintain our capacity over the long-term.

      The internal systems work is being driven by the growth in the ESL program, which is increasing the size of LNA’s staff and an effort to better engage people around issues.  As the staff and work expands its meant thinking differently about how we communicate and work with each other; while not very exciting these efforts are really important to ensuring the organization continues to operate at a high-level.

      Looking back its clear that LNA was able to accomplish a lot of what we set out to do at the beginning of the year.

      Lyndale Neighborhood Association

        New Phillips literary magazine to be unveiled January 29

        Wed, 2015-01-14 09:51
        The Alley

        “The Phoenix of Phillips”, a new literary magazine sponsored by the Semilla Community Arts program of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church will make its debut at the Midtown Global Market on Thursday, January 29, with a program at 6 pm. The annual youth photography show of St. Paul’s “We Are Midtown Phillips” will also have its opening that evening.

        For the past eight years, St. Paul’s Semilla program has taught mosaics, mural arts, photography, puppetry and creative writing to over 1900 people and installed 21 murals and over 50 other artistic place holders throughout the neighborhood of Phillips. Semilla means “seed” in Spanish, and it is our passion to plant seeds of hope, justice and beauty in our community.

        “The Phoenix of Phillips” includes the winners of the youth poetry contest, and writing by children, teens and adults, some of whom are established writers, some of whom are publishing their first work. Writers will read from their work at the January 29 event.

        This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Special thanks to Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Assn. Inc.

        For more information, contact: Pr. Patrick Cabello Hansel at St. Paul’s Lutheran, 2742 15th

        Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55407. 612-724-2862, or e-mail: stpaulscreate [at] gmail [dot] com.

        “The Phoenix of Phillips”, a new literary magazine sponsored by the Semilla Community Arts program of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church will make its debut at the Midtown Global Market on Thursday, January 29, with a program at 6 pm. The annual youth photography show of St. Paul’s “We Are Midtown Phillips” will also have its opening that evening.

        For the past eight years, St. Paul’s Semilla program has taught mosaics, mural arts, photography, puppetry and creative writing to over 1900 people and installed 21 murals and over 50 other artistic place holders throughout the neighborhood of Phillips. Semilla means “seed” in Spanish, and it is our passion to plant seeds of hope, justice and beauty in our community.

        “The Phoenix of Phillips” includes the winners of the youth poetry contest, and writing by children, teens and adults, some of whom are established writers, some of whom are publishing their first work. Writers will read from their work at the January 29 event.

        This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Special thanks to Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Assn. Inc.

        For more information, contact: Pr. Patrick Cabello Hansel at St. Paul’s Lutheran, 2742 15th

        Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55407. 612-724-2862, or e-mail: stpaulscreate [at] gmail [dot] com.

        Aldermanic Privilege, When it Works and When It Doesn't

        Tue, 2015-01-13 11:40
        Jeff Skrenes

        The term "aldermanic privilege" has its origins in Chicago, but the principle is often applied here in Minneapolis as well.  The phrase refers to circumstances where the council as a whole defers to the wishes of the council member whose ward is most impacted by a particular issue or vote.  This privilege has its benefits - and not just to the individual council member, but also to his or her constituents.  And then there's the drawbacks, especially in a "weak mayor/strong council" city like Minneapolis, where a liberal application of aldermanic privilege bestows too much power on each council member.

        First up, when and where it works:

        As a constituent, when an issue is important enough to me that I feel the need to contact my council member and lobby for a specific vote, I really only have the time and energy to reach out to one, perhaps two CM's.  I certainly can't track down all thirteen, or even a majority of seven.  Richer people or companies who hire consultants can afford to do reach out to multiple CM's, but most ordinary residents don't have that capability.  Even when we do, the outreach to CM's in far-flung wards is often little more than a mass email or a single phone call.

        While it's true that moneyed interests can influence an individual council member instead of impacting the council as a whole, I like my odds better when I can convince my representative of an issue and then hope that the rest of the body agrees with him.  In that sense, aldermanic privilege acts to make constituents more powerful than they otherwise might be.

        The dynamic also helps to keep the council from mundane or petty infighting.  On votes that are relatively uncontested or for basic "taking care of business" items, a prevailing practice of such deference allows the council to treat each other civilly and get down to the business of actually governing.

        But there are a number of times when aldermanic privilege breaks down.  Most notably, when an individual council member is just plain wrong.  One of the reasons I was so grateful to former CM Gary Schiff, for instance, was that he broke rank with aldermanic privilege and stuck up for housing preservation in what was at the time the third ward of Minneapolis.  The Sheltering Arms House did not have the support of then-CM Hofstede, who wanted to see it torn down.  (The rehab is just about done and I'm told it will be ready to list soon.  So anyone who thought it should have been demolished, you can see for yourself how it's been beautifully restored.)

        The point of this post is not to be overly critical of past or current council members, but instead to analyze when aldermanic privilege works and when it doesn't.  Still, the bottom line is that Hofstede was wrong on this issue, and deference to her would not have served either that house or her ward.  And as much as I enjoyed working with CM Samuels, he did not have the same kind of understanding of housing preservation as other CM's.  So northside constituents had to reach out to others on the council in hopes that they would break rank on this.

        In that case, enough did.  On the current council though, almost the exact opposite occurred recently with the Orth House.  Long story short on the Orth House:  a property designated as historic, which was a rooming house for very poor men a step away from homelessness, was allowed to be demolished to build high-density, upscale apartments/condos. 

        Spoiler alert, but I favored preservation, although on more procedural grounds than anything else.  The house WAS designated as historic, reasonable alternatives to demolition existed, and the profit of the owner (who stood to make far more off of its destruction than preservation in the current state) was NOT a factor that could be taken into account.  Before we even get into the argument over density or housing or preservation pros and cons, we had a pretty clear process laid out and it wasn't followed.  Why?  I believe deference to the council member who supported the new development was a factor, and that's been mentioned by more than one of our new crop of CM's.

        And say what you will about the Orth house, but in a quasi-judicial role that our council plays, it doesn't benefit anyone on either side of an issue to simply roll with whatever one member's opinion is.  Each person on the council must ultimately make, and own, their votes. 

        Aldermanic privilege also breaks down when a council member is corrupt, or is simply ignoring their constituency.  Outright corruption is thankfully quite rare in Minneapolis, and on a contentious issue it's hard to make a case that a ward as a whole is being ignored. 

        So where does this leave us?  First, let's admit that aldermanic privilege is a dynamic that influences city council decisions, that it has it's benefits, and that there are times it shouldn't be so blindly used.  During those times, people on all sides of an issue are going to have to do a little more legwork to get their voices heard by more on the council.  But if we limit its use at times, the city as a whole will be better off.

        Photo by Eric__I_E, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

        North by Northside North by Northside

          Mr. and Mrs. Phanthavong: Life in the Lao community of North Minneapolis

          Tue, 2015-01-13 11:21
          Chanida Phaengd...

          In the cozy dim-lit townhome of Mr. Phouxay and Mrs. Keo Phathavong, it’s surrounded by mismatched colors of decorative pieces from the 1980s and green house plants hovering over the windows for spurts of sunshine. “The ‘lucky’ plant, is what they’re called”, said Keo. The couple are regulars at the nearby Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota office, where they huddle for chit chat with elders during the day and look for help when they need translation for their bulk mail.

          2011 was the year that changed everything for the Phanthavongs. Their son, Anousone Phanthavong, would make national headline news. Not because of the life he had lived, but from a hit-and-run incident that led to his death by the wife of a famous Vikings football player. This past year, they honored the son they had tragically lost, at the third anniversary of his death. Buddhist monks gave their blessings to the family. Hundreds of Lao elders gathered in the intimate Lao community of Harrison neighborhood in North Minneapolis to pay their respects. Small children released white balloons; to free spirits in the sky.

          Tell me about your journey to America.

          We made the journey in 1980. It was California first and then Minnesota. My husband crossed the Mekong from Thakhek, Laos to Thailand. I followed with my three children. Our family was briefly arrested before we left for Napho. My father adored Anousone Phanthavong the most and he stayed behind to help his grandfather live his last days there. He later came at the age of 17.

          How has it been living in Minneapolis?

          It was hard at first. There was barely enough to eat. We don’t speak English well, and now that our children are all grown up, they went to school and help us when they can, so it’s a bit easier. We’re in Harrison Neighborhood now, where all the elders and their kids who are still here take care of each other.

          My husband and I don’t make more than $1,000 a month. We depended on Anousone to take care of us, because he didn’t have a family yet, like the rest of the children. But now that he’s been gone for three years, we’ve been trying to take care of ourselves on our own.

          Describe the day you found out about the news of Anousone’s death.

          My husband and I were moving that day. We wanted to move closer to where all the Lao elders lived in huan luang (subsidized public housing in Harrison neighborhood). Our things were all in boxes. I remember getting off the phone with Anousone because he was coming to help us the next day, but he said he needed to stop by the restaurant he worked at.

          The night came. Then a police officer knocked on our door to tell us what happened. Next thing I did was a blur. I kept running up and down the stairs, till I ran out of breath. I didn’t know what to think, what to do.

          We heard that people were gossiping and even her (Amy Senser) lawyer tried to use Anousone’s past to keep her free. That’s not fair to do to someone who is already dead. You know what had hurt me the most as a mother? Not that she hit my son, but that she had left my son there. The act of leaving my son to die was what made me cry every day during that time.

          What did you do after the case was closed?

          After the trial was over, we went back to Laos to visit. In Laos, we wanted to see how it was to live comfortably, but then we couldn’t seem to be happy. We would miss our children in the states. That’s how you are as a mother. Your children are your first thoughts.

          Since the trial, Amy’s best friend used to stop by with food and to see how we’re doing. At first, my children wouldn’t allow it; because they were furious. But I had to remind them, “It’s okay if they want to help. It won’t hurt us”.

          How has life been since then?

          We’re still living. We didn’t read or watch the news then or today about it. Our children told us not to.

          We lost a son who we depended on a lot. Some of our children lost their jobs, because they had to help support us, interpret for us and help us get to the courthouse. Since the day of the funeral, one of my grandsons couldn’t stop having nightmares about his Uncle Anousone. The dreams took over his life. He would say he kept hearing voices. He had to be hospitalized. He’s still hospitalized to this day.

          Reflecting on then and now, is America what you thought it would be?  

          Here in America, we’re not together as much as a family. Sometimes I just want to go back to Laos, because Lao people live together and they live together as a community. They help and care for each other, unconditionally. But then I’ll be reminded that all my children are here.

          America is our home. We miss Laos on most days, but this is home for us. When we stay in Laos, we think about our children. When we come here, we think about Laos and how much more simple life could be. But we left everything back then. We have no home, no life in Laos to go back to. This is our life now as an elderly couple in Minneapolis.


          Offerings on the shrine of Anousone Phanthavong


          Buddhist prayers begin


          Family members wear white and release white baloons to honor the lives of loved ones they lost


          Family members prepare the baci, a traditional Buddhist ceremony

          Little Laos on the Prairie Little Laos on the Prairie

            Phillips Aquatic Center set to become reality

            Tue, 2015-01-13 09:23
            The Alley

            It has been another whirlwind month of looking for money everywhere we can to deliver on our promise to bring EQUITY, ACCESS & the OPPORTUNITIES that swimming can bring to all in Minneapolis! Of course, our answer to this seemingly befuddling political riddle is not new committees, or task forces, but rather, to update and enhance the first PUBLIC, indoor pool right here, in the heart of the Phillips Community! The Phillips Aquatics Center is a reality! Swimming lessons in Minneapolis will no longer only be for the more affluent, we are leveling the playing field! Our focus will be on saving our children first, but we will have adult classes as well. Equity.

            As you learned last month, our good friends at the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) kicked off the new phase of this Capital Campaign by giving us a $250,000 matching grant. We’ve had some generous individual donors, right from this Community, start to donate to match against that, and then Wells Fargo for $25,000 & EPIC for $50,000.

            Since then, more good news!

            • The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation donated $50,000.
            • The Rogue Foundation pledged $50,000 (through Minneapolis Foundation).
            • Midtown Phillips Association will contribute $50,000, pending final January vote.
            • Ventura Village Housing & Land Use Committee voted to give $50,000 (NPP/NCR), which goes to membership for a vote in January.

            We have much more in the works. I even have had a meeting with a family foundation referred to us by the St. Paul Foundation!

            As a high enough dollar amount is reached and we estimate that we have realistically maximized the potential of capital campaign gifts; we simultaneously have to answer the question of which Optional Plan to recommend to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

            In the most recent historical proposal from Minneapolis Swims (late 2013), three designs were put forth, “Option A” at a cost of $2.8M, “Option B” at cost of $5.8M, and “Option C” at a cost of $8.2M.

            Option A is essentially restoring what is there now: a 6-lane pool with a shallow and a deep end, and no bleachers. Option B would change the 6-lane pool into an 8-lane pool, restore the old bleachers, (eliminating upstairs offices, but replacing them downstairs), add a 4-lane warm water, shallow 25-yard lap pool, and add classrooms for meetings and instruction. Option C adds more space, and adds a 2 story diving well.

            Coming up with the Minneapolis Swims Board recommendation for a proposed plan was not done lightly. To get another, un-biased opinion, I brought in Mortensen Construction, which was kind enough to donate its time to assist us. With them, we started from the assumption that if we only raise $X, $Y or $Z, given the pool that is there and the needs of the community, what is the best facility we could get?

            As you look at revenue generation models for pools, the money is either coming from core constituents or from outside sources. This was another huge factor for us. It is our dream for this to truly be a public pool, meaning little or no access fee for people to use the facility. So the revenue, then, must necessarily come from sources like “lane rentals,” as an example. Hence, there will be certain hours of the day when lanes in the pool will be used by our boys and girls on the swim teams at South, Roosevelt and Washburn high schools, for which Minneapolis Public Schools will be paying $150,000 annually toward the pool’s operating costs.

            With Option A, the 6-lane pool, this presents challenges, because even with our proposed 18-hour day, community access time starts getting chopped- possibly to an unacceptable level. Option C would have been a dream! But the numbers were just too far out of reach given our short fundraising window.

            In the end, we re-worked Option B, keeping all of the green, highly energy-efficient & environmentally friendly components that are expensive on the front end, but will save the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the pool. We trimmed out any “fluff” or inefficiencies, accounted for inflation in terms of construction cost, and came up with an estimated cost of $5,712,450. This number includes everything: site work to be done by MPRB, contingencies, etc.

            This will give us an 8-lane competition pool with spectator seating, plus a 4-lane, warm water shallow pool that will be wheelchair accessible and Medicare compliant for therapy. With a total of 12 swimmable lanes, and a facility open 18 hours per day, this is the recommended design of Minneapolis Swims. Financially, this gives the MPRB a model that will generate enough revenue to sustain itself, and not be a burden on the taxpayers. Practically, this gives Minneapolis a community pool that will always have lots of time for lap swimming, family time, swim lessons, water aerobics, water therapy, etc. for all ages!

            We are 59% of the way there! Of the $5,712,450, we have $3,342,950 pledged or accounted for, and $2,369,500 to go. At this point, the MPRB has given us until the end of February to raise as much money as we can, and, at that point, their plan is to build the best pool possible with the funds in hand. Given some exciting larger grants that we are pursuing, we will likely be asking the MPRB for an extension of that deadline. Either way, time is of the essence!

            Our role is simply to raise the money, and turn it over to the Park Board. It is their facility, and in the end, their decision to make. Look for a community meeting seeking input to be organized by them sometime in January!

            Once the Capital Campaign for the Phillips Aquatics Center comes to a close, Minneapolis Swims will continue to raise money for swimming scholarships. Already, we have started the “Sha-kym Adams Learn-to-Swim Scholarship Fund,” which will help make sure that the cost of swimming lessons is not a barrier to our children learning how to swim. We have also secured pledges for funding to support swimmers who desire assistance with the cost of participating on a competitive swim team. And someday, we hope to help send swimmers to college.

            Watch our Facebook page for the latest updates, and please contact me if you know of any individuals, foundations, or corporations that might have an interest in helping with this project

            Thanks!

            Denny Bennett is President of Minneapolis Swims Board of Directors. He may be contacted at

            612-804-0488

            denny [at] dennybennett [dot] com

            facebook.com/mplsswims

            www.minneapolisswims.org

            “Sha-kym Adams ‘Learn-to-Swim’ Scholarship Fund”

            Phillips Community residents Kimberly Adams and Sharrod Rowe, parents of Sha-kym Adams, Mpls. South HS sophomore football player who drowned August 6th in Lake Nokomis, have started this scholarship fund to increase opportunities for youth swimming instruction in the Community. Contributions are encouraged and welcomed to the Fund in care of
            Mpls. Swims 2323 11th Ave. So., Mpls. MN 55404.

            It has been another whirlwind month of looking for money everywhere we can to deliver on our promise to bring EQUITY, ACCESS & the OPPORTUNITIES that swimming can bring to all in Minneapolis! Of course, our answer to this seemingly befuddling political riddle is not new committees, or task forces, but rather, to update and enhance the first PUBLIC, indoor pool right here, in the heart of the Phillips Community! The Phillips Aquatics Center is a reality! Swimming lessons in Minneapolis will no longer only be for the more affluent, we are leveling the playing field! Our focus will be on saving our children first, but we will have adult classes as well. Equity.

            As you learned last month, our good friends at the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) kicked off the new phase of this Capital Campaign by giving us a $250,000 matching grant. We’ve had some generous individual donors, right from this Community, start to donate to match against that, and then Wells Fargo for $25,000 & EPIC for $50,000.

            Since then, more good news!

            • The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation donated $50,000.
            • The Rogue Foundation pledged $50,000 (through Minneapolis Foundation).
            • Midtown Phillips Association will contribute $50,000, pending final January vote.
            • Ventura Village Housing & Land Use Committee voted to give $50,000 (NPP/NCR), which goes to membership for a vote in January.

            We have much more in the works. I even have had a meeting with a family foundation referred to us by the St. Paul Foundation!

            As a high enough dollar amount is reached and we estimate that we have realistically maximized the potential of capital campaign gifts; we simultaneously have to answer the question of which Optional Plan to recommend to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

            In the most recent historical proposal from Minneapolis Swims (late 2013), three designs were put forth, “Option A” at a cost of $2.8M, “Option B” at cost of $5.8M, and “Option C” at a cost of $8.2M.

            Option A is essentially restoring what is there now: a 6-lane pool with a shallow and a deep end, and no bleachers. Option B would change the 6-lane pool into an 8-lane pool, restore the old bleachers, (eliminating upstairs offices, but replacing them downstairs), add a 4-lane warm water, shallow 25-yard lap pool, and add classrooms for meetings and instruction. Option C adds more space, and adds a 2 story diving well.

            Coming up with the Minneapolis Swims Board recommendation for a proposed plan was not done lightly. To get another, un-biased opinion, I brought in Mortensen Construction, which was kind enough to donate its time to assist us. With them, we started from the assumption that if we only raise $X, $Y or $Z, given the pool that is there and the needs of the community, what is the best facility we could get?

            As you look at revenue generation models for pools, the money is either coming from core constituents or from outside sources. This was another huge factor for us. It is our dream for this to truly be a public pool, meaning little or no access fee for people to use the facility. So the revenue, then, must necessarily come from sources like “lane rentals,” as an example. Hence, there will be certain hours of the day when lanes in the pool will be used by our boys and girls on the swim teams at South, Roosevelt and Washburn high schools, for which Minneapolis Public Schools will be paying $150,000 annually toward the pool’s operating costs.

            With Option A, the 6-lane pool, this presents challenges, because even with our proposed 18-hour day, community access time starts getting chopped- possibly to an unacceptable level. Option C would have been a dream! But the numbers were just too far out of reach given our short fundraising window.

            In the end, we re-worked Option B, keeping all of the green, highly energy-efficient & environmentally friendly components that are expensive on the front end, but will save the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the pool. We trimmed out any “fluff” or inefficiencies, accounted for inflation in terms of construction cost, and came up with an estimated cost of $5,712,450. This number includes everything: site work to be done by MPRB, contingencies, etc.

            This will give us an 8-lane competition pool with spectator seating, plus a 4-lane, warm water shallow pool that will be wheelchair accessible and Medicare compliant for therapy. With a total of 12 swimmable lanes, and a facility open 18 hours per day, this is the recommended design of Minneapolis Swims. Financially, this gives the MPRB a model that will generate enough revenue to sustain itself, and not be a burden on the taxpayers. Practically, this gives Minneapolis a community pool that will always have lots of time for lap swimming, family time, swim lessons, water aerobics, water therapy, etc. for all ages!

            We are 59% of the way there! Of the $5,712,450, we have $3,342,950 pledged or accounted for, and $2,369,500 to go. At this point, the MPRB has given us until the end of February to raise as much money as we can, and, at that point, their plan is to build the best pool possible with the funds in hand. Given some exciting larger grants that we are pursuing, we will likely be asking the MPRB for an extension of that deadline. Either way, time is of the essence!

            Our role is simply to raise the money, and turn it over to the Park Board. It is their facility, and in the end, their decision to make. Look for a community meeting seeking input to be organized by them sometime in January!

            Once the Capital Campaign for the Phillips Aquatics Center comes to a close, Minneapolis Swims will continue to raise money for swimming scholarships. Already, we have started the “Sha-kym Adams Learn-to-Swim Scholarship Fund,” which will help make sure that the cost of swimming lessons is not a barrier to our children learning how to swim. We have also secured pledges for funding to support swimmers who desire assistance with the cost of participating on a competitive swim team. And someday, we hope to help send swimmers to college.

            Watch our Facebook page for the latest updates, and please contact me if you know of any individuals, foundations, or corporations that might have an interest in helping with this project

            Thanks!

            Denny Bennett is President of Minneapolis Swims Board of Directors. He may be contacted at

            612-804-0488

            denny [at] dennybennett [dot] com

            facebook.com/mplsswims

            www.minneapolisswims.org

            “Sha-kym Adams ‘Learn-to-Swim’ Scholarship Fund”

            Phillips Community residents Kimberly Adams and Sharrod Rowe, parents of Sha-kym Adams, Mpls. South HS sophomore football player who drowned August 6th in Lake Nokomis, have started this scholarship fund to increase opportunities for youth swimming instruction in the Community. Contributions are encouraged and welcomed to the Fund in care of
            Mpls. Swims 2323 11th Ave. So., Mpls. MN 55404.

            STREETS.MN | West Broadway LRT

            Mon, 2015-01-12 11:20
            Joe Polacek

            Here’s an idea for how to get light-rail transit onto West Broadway while connecting the Northside with its river front.

            West Broadway is one of Minneapolis’ most important streets but it’s physically divided from downtown and the rest of the city. Highways and railroad tracks make travel between downtown and North Minneapolis unattractive. Additionally, North Minneapolis has very weak connections to its riverfront.

            The very railroad tracks that are contributing to this division could be the solution.

            The Railroad tracks that run along what would be North 1st Street between Plymouth and Broadway are an under-appreciated link between Downtown and the Northside. In combination with N. 10th Street, this route merges the Green line with West Broadway, while activating the underdeveloped river front (see map above).

            Metro Transit Headquarters is where the proposed route begins (see Image 1). After connecting with the Blue and Green lines, this proposed line curves around Heywood Garage to North 10th Street. On 10th, the trolley should make multiple stops to increase development on this far end of the North Loop. One block past Washington, across 2nd Street, the proposed tracks incline onto private property. Here, the tracks merge with Canadian Pacific rail lines.

            For the stretch between Plymouth Ave and West Broadway (see Image 2), the trolley would help generate a dense, diverse community. Not only would this be a place of industry, but home to residential and commercials spaces as well. Running a trolley nearer the river, instead of on Washington Ave. creates a place in itself, instead of simply a thru-way. The increased density will create a demand for parks, and the Above the Falls Plan.

            At Broadway, the tracks are elevated above the street. This is an important aspect. Both sets of tracks have to curve apart as West Broadway comes up to join them. This is good for biking down Broadway – the curving tracks don’t have to be crossed, hence less possibility of catching tires in tracks. The sidewalk might be elevated with the tracks rather than at the street.

            Along West Broadway, the tracks should run on the side, between the sidewalks and bike lanes (see image 3). Essentially, the trolley takes the parking lane while the other lanes are narrowed and reallocated. Driving space will consist of a single, narrow lane for through traffic and turn lanes when necessary. There also must be a wide, dedicated bike lane in each direction. Ultimately, the sidewalks need to take highest priority. For a truly sustainable city, walking is key. There should be frequent, heated transit shelters and water fountains.

            The line should slowly curve up West Broadway, connecting Penn and terminating at Theo Wirth Pkwy. From Target Field to here is a mere 4 miles. This short route will cause development at the city’s core and Northside while connecting neighborhoods that have previously been divided. Suburban communities that wish to connect to the line can pay the City of Minneapolis.

            The images above show a red line on the route I’m referring to. The map indicates the location of each perspective view with a circle. You can click on the images for greater detail.

            Streets.MN Streets.MN

              Minneapolis may soon get a commemorative Oromo street

              Sat, 2015-01-10 12:55
              OPride

              The Minneapolis City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Jan. 12 to decide on Council Member Abdi Warsame’s application for commemorative street names along the city’s Cedar riverside area. Warsame’s proposal calls for 4th Street South between Cedar Avenue and 15th Avenue South to be named “Oromo Street,” and for the stretch between 6th Street and Cedar Avenue to 15th avenue South to be called “Somali Street.”

              The hearing is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m in Room 317 City Hall, 350 S 5th street in Minneapolis, Minn. The proposal is backed by the city’s Department of Public Works and the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, according to the Commission’s website. The Commission’s decisions are final unless appealed.

              For a city that boasts the largest population of both Oromo and Somali immigrants, such recognition would be a welcome development. The Cedar Riverside neighborhood is jokingly called little Mogadishu because of its large Somali residents while Minnesota is widely known as “Little Oromia” among Oromos. Home to the largest Somali population in the U.S., Minnesota has an estimated 40,000 Oromos. The Oromo are the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, constituting nearly half of the country’s 94 million population.

              Warsame, who represents the city’s Ward 6, was elected in November 2013 after a spirited and bruising campaign that pitted him against longtime council member, Robert Lilligren.  

              “To the Oromo who has for so long remained invisible in its adopted home after home, a well-deserved recognition, and a breath of warm air in the thick of Minnesota's bitter winter,” said Hassan Hussein, the executive director of the Oromo Community of Minnesota.

              The public hearing announcement notes that the renaming would only be commemorative, meaning, “existing addresses won’t change.” Still, barring a legal challenge and other complications, Minneapolis may soon become the first city in the world, including Ethiopia, to have a street named “Oromo.”

              About Warsame:

              Abdi Warsame was born in Somalia and grew up in the United Kingdom of Great Britain where he studied and obtained a B.Sc. in Business and a Masters Degree in International Business. He moved to Minneapolis in 2006, shortly landing a job in the financial sector.

              Warsame was the founder and spokesperson for the Citizen’s Committee for Fair Redistricting, which took part in the redistricting process that aimed to create a more equitable and representative political map of Minneapolis, with the intent to create better opportunities for all residents of the City. The Citizen’s Committee lobbying was a historic success and today’s current map of the City including Wards 6 and 9 are a testament to their hard work.

              When he was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in November 2013, Warsame became the first Somali-American elected to the council and the first in the nation to win a municipal election. He’s also the former Board Chair of the Cedar Riverside-Neighborhood Revitalization Program as well as the Executive Director of the Riverside Plaza Tenants Association.

              Warsame is a practicing Muslim and lives in the Seward neighborhood of South Minneapolis.

              The Minneapolis City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Jan. 12 to decide on Council Member Abdi Warsame’s application for commemorative street names along the city’s Cedar riverside area. Warsame’s proposal calls for 4th Street South between Cedar Avenue and 15th Avenue South to be named “Oromo Street,” and for the stretch between 6th Street and Cedar Avenue to 15th avenue South to be called “Somali Street.”

              The hearing is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m in Room 317 City Hall, 350 S 5th street in Minneapolis, Minn. The proposal is backed by the city’s Department of Public Works and the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, according to the Commission’s website. The Commission’s decisions are final unless appealed.

              For a city that boasts the largest population of both Oromo and Somali immigrants, such recognition would be a welcome development. The Cedar Riverside neighborhood is jokingly called little Mogadishu because of its large Somali residents while Minnesota is widely known as “Little Oromia” among Oromos. Home to the largest Somali population in the U.S., Minnesota has an estimated 40,000 Oromos. The Oromo are the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, constituting nearly half of the country’s 94 million population.

              Warsame, who represents the city’s Ward 6, was elected in November 2013 after a spirited and bruising campaign that pitted him against longtime council member, Robert Lilligren.  

              “To the Oromo who has for so long remained invisible in its adopted home after home, a well-deserved recognition, and a breath of warm air in the thick of Minnesota's bitter winter,” said Hassan Hussein, the executive director of the Oromo Community of Minnesota.

              The public hearing announcement notes that the renaming would only be commemorative, meaning, “existing addresses won’t change.” Still, barring a legal challenge and other complications, Minneapolis may soon become the first city in the world, including Ethiopia, to have a street named “Oromo.”

              About Warsame:

              Abdi Warsame was born in Somalia and grew up in the United Kingdom of Great Britain where he studied and obtained a B.Sc. in Business and a Masters Degree in International Business. He moved to Minneapolis in 2006, shortly landing a job in the financial sector.

              Warsame was the founder and spokesperson for the Citizen’s Committee for Fair Redistricting, which took part in the redistricting process that aimed to create a more equitable and representative political map of Minneapolis, with the intent to create better opportunities for all residents of the City. The Citizen’s Committee lobbying was a historic success and today’s current map of the City including Wards 6 and 9 are a testament to their hard work.

              When he was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in November 2013, Warsame became the first Somali-American elected to the council and the first in the nation to win a municipal election. He’s also the former Board Chair of the Cedar Riverside-Neighborhood Revitalization Program as well as the Executive Director of the Riverside Plaza Tenants Association.

              Warsame is a practicing Muslim and lives in the Seward neighborhood of South Minneapolis.

                Lasalle Avenue: Downtown Minneapolis’ Worst Street

                Thu, 2015-01-08 09:23
                Adam Miller

                When the weather is nice (i.e., not this week), I normally walk to work on Nicollet Mall. While I’m largely a creature of habit, sometimes I like to get a little crazy and mix things up. One pleasant autumn morning that freewheeling spirit of adventure led me to stroll down Lasalle Avenue instead. This was a mistake.

                It got me thinking, though, about how many different ways it’s possible to screw up an urban street, and if there was any place in the Twin Cities that displayed as many of them as the five or so blocks of Lasalle between the Greenway and 8th Street.

                Things don’t actually start out looking all that bad, thanks to what I’d guess are the two oldest buildings on the stretch:


                12th & Lasalle

                On the left we have the old McPhail Center, which sadly still sits empty. Not to stray too far off topic, but the McPhail Center was responsible for this suburban kid’s first unsupervised (well, aside from friend, classmate and fellow streets.mn contributor Justin Foell) trips into downtown as teenager. I wish I had a better recollection of what this area was like back then, but sadly I don’t, aside from knowing there is a whole lot more to the St. Thomas Minneapolis campus now than there was then.

                On the right is the old Continental Hotel, built in 1910 and a pretty cool example of preservation and re-use of a classic old building as transitional housing for the formerly homeless. I guess maybe my n0t-exactly-sure-what-urbanist-means heart might half-jokingly long for it to be mixed use, but hey, it’s built right up to the sidewalk and looks pretty nice, so I’m not complaining. Especially considering what lies ahead.

                But before we get there, let’s turn and take a look the other direction, looking south on Lasalle:


                Lasalle looking south from 12th

                Condos, a wide desolate road, and, eventually a tunnel. My wife won’t walk with me down this stretch, as she finds the tunnel under the Loring Greenway unpleasant. I can’t say she’s wrong, but given how great I think the Greenway is, maybe it’s worth the cost. Regardless, what we see here is the people who live in these buildings sequestered away from the street. That’s probably nice for them, but it’s not so nice for activity along this block.

                Turning our attention back to the old McPhail Center:


                The old McPhail Center

                I wish I had some time to do some research on this building’s history, but alas, we’ll have to make do. The facade interests me, though, in that there appear to have originally (or at least at some time in the past) been multiple entrances along Lasalle. Does that mean there was pre-McPhail retail? Could there be some in the future? My less creative side thinks this building (with quite a bit of loving restoration) would make a great home for a firm of 75 or so lawyers, but maybe that’s because it vaguely reminds of the old London office of Slaughter & May (no that’s not a reference you should get and no the resemblance isn’t that strong).

                This photo also gives us a peek at yet another of Lasalle’s urban treasures: a surface parking lot. What wonders lay ahead?


                St. Thomas Minneapolis Campus, part 1

                Up next is the first Lasalle-facing stretch of St. Thomas’ Minneapolis campus, covering the entire block between 11th and 10th. I think this stretch is the business school. And my, isn’t that a nice looking building, with lasting classic stone architecture and a distinct style? Perfect, right?

                Um, no. Notice how the only door on this stretch is all the way down there on the corner? The other side of this building faces a pleasant little courtyard with a statue and, I think no less than three ways to get in and out of the buildings. On this side, facing the city, there are none. Just a long wall with plantings to keep anyone on foot from getting too close. But hey, at least there are windows (which I think are mostly obscured).

                Maybe things are better on the other side of the street?


                The back of Target Corp.

                Nope. My photography could maybe be better here, but I don’t think there is a single in-use entrance for people on this entire block either. The cars and delivery trucks can sure get in and out, but if you’re on foot, sorry, please go around the block. The “street” is really just an alley for the cars that can’t drive down Nicollet to use.


                This is car territory

                Speaking of which, as we move to the next block, we’ve got more blank walls, another garage access, and for all you elevated walkway lovers out there, a skyway. I think there is something more than appropriate about the lingering exhaust I caught on a cold winter’s day.

                But I need to be a bit more fair to whoever designed the main building in the foreground. Again, my photography shows its limits, but that sure looks like the intent was for some sort of retail to occupy the corner on the right. There are similar empty “storefronts” running up the 10th Street side of that building as well. Given how pleasant it is to walk along here, it’s strange that these aren’t filled with small retailers.

                Looking a bit further up the block, I guess someone thought some red awnings would really liven up the blank wall of the Target store’s loading dock?


                Car storage!

                Things are getting a little long here, but no catalog of bad urban street features would be complete without a stand alone parking structure. Thankfully, Lasalle does not disappoint. This is a particularly unpleasant one, in my view, because it really is nothing but stacked car storage. Also, my memory says there was a stabbing here not that long ago too. Fun.


                The end.

                Finally, we can finish at the only logical place. On the list of things you want for an urban street, isn’t ending in a blank wall pretty high up?

                I don’t know if Lasalle Avenue is the worst street in downtown Minneapolis, but it sure is a bad one.

                 

                This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Streets.MN. Check out the links below for other recent Streets.MN stories:

                Streets.MN Streets.MN