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¿Nuevos vecinos? Paquetes de bienvenidos disponibles

Thu, 2014-08-21 20:20
Corcoran News

¿Tiene un nuevo vecino de su hogar, o quiere obtener más información acerca de todos los recursos y oportunidades con Organización del Barrio Corcoran (CNO)?

Recibe un actualizado "paquete de bienvenida" de CNO. Llamar Ross Joy en 612-724-7457, email <ross [at] corcoranneighborhood [dot] org> o simplemente pasar por la oficina de CNO en 3451 Cedar Ave S.

¡Vamos a darle unas de las primeras bienvenidas al vecindario!

Contribute, advertise, or learn more about Corcoran News.
Click here for current edition.

¿Tiene un nuevo vecino de su hogar, o quiere obtener más información acerca de todos los recursos y oportunidades con Organización del Barrio Corcoran (CNO)?

Recibe un actualizado "paquete de bienvenida" de CNO. Llamar Ross Joy en 612-724-7457, email <ross [at] corcoranneighborhood [dot] org> o simplemente pasar por la oficina de CNO en 3451 Cedar Ave S.

¡Vamos a darle unas de las primeras bienvenidas al vecindario!

Contribute, advertise, or learn more about Corcoran News.
Click here for current edition.

© 2014 Corcoran News

    New neighbors? Welcome packets available

    Thu, 2014-08-21 20:18
    Corcoran News

    Do you have a new neighbor next door, or do you want to get more info about all the resources and opportunities with Corcoran Neighborhood Organization?

    Receive an updated “welcome packet” from CNO. Call up Ross Joy at 612-724-7457, email <ross [at] corcoranneighborhood [dot] org> or just stop by the CNO office at 3451 Cedar Ave S.

    Let us be one of the first to say welcome to the neighborhood!

    Contribute, advertise, or learn more about Corcoran News.
    Click here for current edition.

    Do you have a new neighbor next door, or do you want to get more info about all the resources and opportunities with Corcoran Neighborhood Organization?

    Receive an updated “welcome packet” from CNO. Call up Ross Joy at 612-724-7457, email <ross [at] corcoranneighborhood [dot] org> or just stop by the CNO office at 3451 Cedar Ave S.

    Let us be one of the first to say welcome to the neighborhood!

    Contribute, advertise, or learn more about Corcoran News.
    Click here for current edition.

    © 2014 Corcoran News

      Tenant organizing update

      Thu, 2014-08-21 20:15
      Corcoran News

      On July 9, tenants from 6 distressed apartment buildings in Corcoran owned by The Apartment Shop met with CNO staff and City Council Member Alondra Cano to discuss unresolved maintenance and safety problems in their buildings ranging from water leaking in from the ceiling and related mold and mildew, to rodent and insect infestations, to building security issues. Council Member Cano gathered concerns and planned to meet with the city’s director of regulatory services to ensure appropriate enforcement and improvements. This follows a meeting between tenant leaders and the regulatory services director last month.

      If you have a concern about your apartment or your landlord please contact Ross Joy at CNO: ross [at] corcoranneighborhood [dot] org or 612-724-7457.

      Contribute, advertise, or learn more about Corcoran News.
      Click here for current edition.

      On July 9, tenants from 6 distressed apartment buildings in Corcoran owned by The Apartment Shop met with CNO staff and City Council Member Alondra Cano to discuss unresolved maintenance and safety problems in their buildings ranging from water leaking in from the ceiling and related mold and mildew, to rodent and insect infestations, to building security issues. Council Member Cano gathered concerns and planned to meet with the city’s director of regulatory services to ensure appropriate enforcement and improvements. This follows a meeting between tenant leaders and the regulatory services director last month.

      If you have a concern about your apartment or your landlord please contact Ross Joy at CNO: ross [at] corcoranneighborhood [dot] org or 612-724-7457.

      Contribute, advertise, or learn more about Corcoran News.
      Click here for current edition.

      © 2014 Corcoran News

        CleanSweep is back! Mark your calendar or volunteer Sept. 20

        Thu, 2014-08-21 20:13
        Corcoran News

        CNO’s CleanSweep event helps residents dispose of non-hazardous junk that cannot be reused, sold, or given away. To volunteer for this day of service to the neighborhood, contact Ross at ross [at] corcoranneighborhood [dot] org or 612-724-7457. Watch for more info in the September edition, but know that CleanSweep WILL collect: scrap pieces of drywall, plaster, shingles, wood with all nails removed; scrap pieces of concrete, asphalt, brick, metal; and tires.

        CleanSweep will NOT collect appliances or furniture; yard waste; Electronics (television, radio, computer, printer – use a Hennepin County drop-off (612-348-3777); or Hazardous items (adhesives, fuels, motor oil, paint, batteries, light bulbs – bring these to a free Hennepin County drop-off event on August 7-9 from 9:00am to 4:00pm at South High, 3131 19th Ave S).

        Contribute, advertise, or learn more about Corcoran News.
        Click here for current edition.

        CNO’s CleanSweep event helps residents dispose of non-hazardous junk that cannot be reused, sold, or given away. To volunteer for this day of service to the neighborhood, contact Ross at ross [at] corcoranneighborhood [dot] org or 612-724-7457. Watch for more info in the September edition, but know that CleanSweep WILL collect: scrap pieces of drywall, plaster, shingles, wood with all nails removed; scrap pieces of concrete, asphalt, brick, metal; and tires.

        CleanSweep will NOT collect appliances or furniture; yard waste; Electronics (television, radio, computer, printer – use a Hennepin County drop-off (612-348-3777); or Hazardous items (adhesives, fuels, motor oil, paint, batteries, light bulbs – bring these to a free Hennepin County drop-off event on August 7-9 from 9:00am to 4:00pm at South High, 3131 19th Ave S).

        Contribute, advertise, or learn more about Corcoran News.
        Click here for current edition.

        © 2014 Corcoran News

          A tale of two bike paths

          Wed, 2014-08-20 15:45
          Jeff Skrenes

          *Comments here are in my individual capacity and not representative of the Jordan Area Community Council*

          Over the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to attend a neighborhood events where bike path options have been brought forward--a presentation by the city of Minneapolis about 26th Avenue North, and a Jordan Area Community Council listening session on the Humboldt/Irving Avenue proposal. While I could go into elaborate detail about each project, that's a topic for another post or two. Instead, what intrigues me as of late is the community perception of each plan.

          Along 26th, for example, there seemed at the Farview Park gathering to be pretty broad consensus that folks want some kind of bike upgrade to the corridor. That feeling may well be impacted by the sorry state of the avenue as it crumbles away more each day. Furthermore, there is currently no parking between Lyndale and Theo Wirth on 26th. Between Lyndale and the River, some accommodations may have to be made, but overall the loss of parking has already taken effect and settled in.

          When 26th is redone over 2014 and 2015, the current configuration of 11-foot car lanes and 5-foot bike lanes in each direction will likely expand. Car lanes are expected to go to thirteen feet, and a 10-foot bike lane will be on one side of the street with a sidewalk for foot traffic on the other side.

          The sentiment at the 26th Avenue meeting was that, if anything, this proposal doesn't go far enough. There is currently no connection from 26th Avenue to the Mississippi River by bike or foot. And although bike lanes kind of zigzag through the industrial area of Hawthorne to the river, there is not a sidewalk that allows pedestrians the same access. Some residents also expressed a desire to see 26th redone all in one year, although a project of that scope is unlikely to get done in less time than the proposed two-year cycle.

          There is also a group within Hawthorne at least, that has been pushing for a full greenway with no vehicular traffic. Given the traffic load of the corridor, the overall expense, and that there are a number of properties that would have limited access, a full greenway is unlikely to come out of a 26th Avenue redesign.

          In fact, due in large part to pressure from that group of Hawthorne members, several "opportunity points" have been added to the 26th Avenue proposal. These include a possible connection to the Ole Olson park from 26th along the Mississippi River, a sprucing up of the highway overpass so it actually feels somewhat green, public art and an expansion of trails along Farview Park, a wider path by Nellie Stone Johnson School, and more bike and pedestrian amenities at 26th and Theo Wirth Parkway.

          When I heard the phrase "opportunity points," I thought it just sounded like really bad spin for why we were getting substandard amenities once again, but since this is the northside we should be glad we're getting anything at all. Instead, I was floored by how amazing these developments appear to be. Finally, some concrete steps to connecting the River and 26th!

          The big question on everyone's mind was cost. The city has a formula for determining who pays what, and it generally will come out to about $25 per month extra in taxes for the next twenty years. Well worth it, in my opinion. If new lighting is part of the bikeway, that could increase assessments significantly. (Ideally, the new lighting would go everywhere except in front of my house, since I already have streetlights close by and I'd like to not pay for more.)

          One concern brought to me after the meeting was a comparison to the Victory Memorial Parkway and how bumpy that is. I have always thought of that stretch as anything but bumpy, but a neighbor pointed out that I've never ridden with a baby in tow. The intersections along Victory Memorial, especially the north/south section, have a significant dip to them, and that causes problems for bikers with a baby on board.

          Contrast 26th with the public reception for the Humboldt/Irving Greenway proposals. Much of the sentiment I have witnessed here has been one of fear of losing what people already have. The Humboldt/Irving proposal is comparatively in its infancy. So neighbors haven't had a chance to get used to its ideas or really understand how various options might affect them. I am, however, seeing real estate listings in Jordan come up advertising themselves as on the Humboldt or Irving Greenway. So clearly some people are seeing the value in the amenity, even if only as a marketing tactic for the time being.

          And speaking of sales, one of the psychological cornerstones of sales is that people generally are first afraid to lose what they have and that's their starting point. So at many neighborhood or online forums, the first question is "What about parking?" Folks understand what they have, and can't see past that for a broader vision of what could be.

          One youth at a Humboldt/Irving meeting brought up an interesting safety concern, that North Commons is an epicenter of young gang activity, and that what amounts to a bike freeway that passes through the area would potentially allow those gangs to spread their territory. I find this a good reason to focus on safety AND bike infrastructure, but not to ignore one for the sake of the other.

          So here is my prediction for Humboldt/Irving. We are quite a ways away from breaking ground on a project of such a massive scope. By the time that occurs, much or perhaps all of 26th will have been done. And when we're ready to go on Humboldt/Irving, some segments will want just a bike boulevard stripe, others will want a full-on greenway, and other parts will want something in between. I think we'll see at least some in-between bike amenities that mirror 26th get built--maybe even a few blocks of Milwaukee Avenue-stlye greenways here and there.

          And when residents can actually see what that looks like, when they can bike or walk along the corridors, and when they see neighbors' front yards extend to what would normally be the middle of a street, more and more people will want that for themselves. If that's the route the north/south greenway takes, we could be waiting a generation for it to come to full fruition.

          Then again, how long did 26th Avenue take to get to where we are today? I rest my case.

          North by Northside North by Northside

            Double Dutch draws St. Paul youth like moths to a flame

            Tue, 2014-08-19 23:58
            Paige Elliott TC Daily Planet

            Like moths to a flame, Double Dutch is the perfect sport for attracting kids and keeping them moving and motivated throughout the summer.

            Parents, friends, community members and double dutch enthusiasts packed into the Jimmy Lee Rec Center for the Third Annual Jump Jam Double Dutch Challenge on Aug. 16. Event-goers enjoyed a family resource fair and watched this year’s lineup of Double Dutch teams square off against each other. The event capped off a ten-week fitness program centered around Double Dutch that is sponsored through a partnership between Saint Paul YWCA, Health Partners and the City of Saint Paul.

            “The program also offers a healthy eating and wellness component, including cooking classes," said School Success Manager at YWCA Saint Paul Tara Munroe. “The participants come from all different backgrounds and many are new to Double Dutch. In this program they learn how to work together as a team and build leadership skills.”

            Participants gathered throughout the summer at three recreational centers in Saint Paul: El Rio Vista, Oxford/Jimmy Lee and Dayton’s Bluff where they learned the history of Double Dutch, the basics of jump rope, and various jumping techniques.

            Sgt. Valerie Namen of the Saint Paul Police Department, Shawntera Hardy, Director of Transportation and the Built Environment at Fresh Energy, and Jonny Reese, Lead Trainer of Pros of the Rope, acted as judges this year and gave the top honors to the Dayton’s Bluff team. The Lady Queens from El Vista Rio took second place, and The Warriors from Oxford/Jimmy Lee took third. Participants win certificates of completion, jump ropes, medals, and other fun prizes.

            Brenda Berkenhoff and Felicia Sherrod, Educational Assistants with Laura Jeffrey Academy (LJA) came out to support the three students from LJA competing in Jump Jam and gave the program high marks. Sherrod was pleased with the progress her students have made in learning how to work together. Berkenhoff echoed the sentiment and added that she was moved by the display of support for the event. “It’s so great to see people in the community coming out to support an event like this! It means a lot to the families and the students,” Berkenhoff said.

            In addition to the family resource fair and competition, other highlights included the "old school team" of young adults who also performed, and the Pros of the Rope crew who electrified the crowd with a mix of athleticism and technique. A fun freestyle jam session closed out the event, with many, including the judges and emcee, attempting to dance between the ropes.

            Attendee Cardrian Massey joined in the freestyle and was inspired by the event. Traveling from New Hope, Massey came out to support the jumpers, network, and get ideas for her own Double Dutch program, cardrianm [at] gmail [dot] com (Jumpin’ 4 Joy.) “I would love for this to spread to other cities!” said Massey of Jump Jam. “I’m a grandmother now and still jumping. Double Dutch is good for the heart, good for your coordination and agility and builds teamwork -- you form friendships and bonds because you have to work together. Go Double Dutch!”

            Below, highlights from this year's Jump Jam competition

             

              

            Like moths to a flame, Double Dutch is the perfect sport for attracting kids and keeping them moving and motivated throughout the summer.

            Parents, friends, community members and double dutch enthusiasts packed into the Jimmy Lee Rec Center for the Third Annual Jump Jam Double Dutch Challenge on Aug. 16. Event-goers enjoyed a family resource fair and watched this year’s lineup of Double Dutch teams square off against each other. The event capped off a ten-week fitness program centered around Double Dutch that is sponsored through a partnership between Saint Paul YWCA, Health Partners and the City of Saint Paul.

            “The program also offers a healthy eating and wellness component, including cooking classes," said School Success Manager at YWCA Saint Paul Tara Munroe. “The participants come from all different backgrounds and many are new to Double Dutch. In this program they learn how to work together as a team and build leadership skills.”

            Participants gathered throughout the summer at three recreational centers in Saint Paul: El Rio Vista, Oxford/Jimmy Lee and Dayton’s Bluff where they learned the history of Double Dutch, the basics of jump rope, and various jumping techniques.

            Sgt. Valerie Namen of the Saint Paul Police Department, Shawntera Hardy, Director of Transportation and the Built Environment at Fresh Energy, and Jonny Reese, Lead Trainer of Pros of the Rope, acted as judges this year and gave the top honors to the Dayton’s Bluff team. The Lady Queens from El Vista Rio took second place, and The Warriors from Oxford/Jimmy Lee took third. Participants win certificates of completion, jump ropes, medals, and other fun prizes.

            Brenda Berkenhoff and Felicia Sherrod, Educational Assistants with Laura Jeffrey Academy (LJA) came out to support the three students from LJA competing in Jump Jam and gave the program high marks. Sherrod was pleased with the progress her students have made in learning how to work together. Berkenhoff echoed the sentiment and added that she was moved by the display of support for the event. “It’s so great to see people in the community coming out to support an event like this! It means a lot to the families and the students,” Berkenhoff said.

            In addition to the family resource fair and competition, other highlights included the "old school team" of young adults who also performed, and the Pros of the Rope crew who electrified the crowd with a mix of athleticism and technique. A fun freestyle jam session closed out the event, with many, including the judges and emcee, attempting to dance between the ropes.

            Attendee Cardrian Massey joined in the freestyle and was inspired by the event. Traveling from New Hope, Massey came out to support the jumpers, network, and get ideas for her own Double Dutch program, cardrianm [at] gmail [dot] com (Jumpin’ 4 Joy.) “I would love for this to spread to other cities!” said Massey of Jump Jam. “I’m a grandmother now and still jumping. Double Dutch is good for the heart, good for your coordination and agility and builds teamwork -- you form friendships and bonds because you have to work together. Go Double Dutch!”

            Below, highlights from this year's Jump Jam competition

             

               © 2014 Paige Elliott

              Minneapolis Public Schools: Let's all get college and career ready (©)

              Tue, 2014-08-19 18:49
              sarahlahm

              A new “leader letter” from Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson’s office landed in my inbox recently. Let’s just say I was intrigued by its contents.

              In the letter, someone from Johnson’s office (I am guessing she doesn’t write these letters herself…) asks those of us who will interact with kids on the first day of school—Monday, August 25—to dress in college or career garb, in order to inspire students to become college and career ready. Or to help them have a good giggle on the first day of school, at the sight of a bunch of adults standing around in their ratty old college sweatshirts, waxing on about career readiness—I’m not sure now.

              Anyway, this got me thinking. What, from the myriad of possibilities, could I wear to represent myself and inspire the schoolkids I will encounter? My own kids are used to seeing me in a t-shirt and an old pair of jeans (which just screams “freelance writer”), and I’m pretty sure it is not what I wear that they find inspirational about me (stop—don’t say it…).

              First, I will be honest. I do not have any apparel from any of the various colleges I went to. I am not sure if the old General College at the University of Minnesota, where I went to reclaim my potential after some disappointing high school grades, ever had its name splashed across t-shirts, but if it did, I never had one.

              I also don’t own anything from the University of Rhode Island, where I ended up after taking a year off of college (I think I wanted to be a marine biologist?). Good old URI was a nice landing place for me, where I fomented some of my rebellious tendencies and made lots of great car trips to New York City and Boston, but no clothing memorabilia from these days survives.

              Oh, wait! My high school-aged student does own a t-shirt that I brought back to my dad from my year as an Irish college student. Maybe I could reclaim it for the first day of school, in order to inspire youngsters to do as I did, and take a yearlong course built around translating Early Irish myths and old Welsh songs. (I know—what? But it was a good cover, as it temporarily justified my time in Dublin).

              Enough about college--I am wondering what kind of career gear will be a welcome inspiration for our Minneapolis Public Schools students.

              Will a McDonald’s uniform suffice? How about a construction worker’s shirt? An overnight home care attendant’s scrubs? Or an unemployment benefits stub? Maybe a list of all the places where a parent has applied for a job, stapled elegantly to the one good work shirt that gets worn to interviews?

              Which self is best represented in career clothing? The immigrant day laborer? Parent? Daycare worker? Busker, farmer, or—dare I say it--teacher? What about the less-polished look of a Legal Aid attorney, who works to combat mortgage fraud?

              Maybe we should all just show up naked on the first day of school, and start this whole thing all over again.

              Eyes on Education Eyes on Education

                Squaring a triangle: Rethinking Franklin/Cedar/Minnehaha in Seward

                Fri, 2014-08-15 14:20
                Adam Froehlig

                For decades, the Franklin/Cedar/Minnehaha area of northwest Seward has been a thorny area, confusing for cars, unsafe for pedestrians, and generally lacking in the urban amenities residents of most Minneapolis neighborhoods desire. Though the area has had an LRT station on the blue line for 10 years now, little has changed where the three streets come together, with only one redevelopment (Seward Common) just now being built. A long-term vision from the Seward neighborhood aims to address this, but largely leaves the the root transportation problems of the Franklin/Cedar/Minnehaha area intact.

                Much of the transportation problem stems from a 1940s decision, completed in 1950, to grade separate Franklin Avenue and Cedar Avenue from both Hiawatha Avenue and the old Milwaukee Road rail tracks (where the Blue Line currently is). This caused Cedar Avenue to be relocated east of its old alignment, resulting in the triangle that exists today between Franklin, Cedar, and Minnehaha and focusing a lot of traffic into a relatively small jumble of intersections.

                An idea posted on UrbanMSP by “Eluko” a couple of years ago suggested a more aggressive approach than that promoted in the Seward neighborhood plan: restoring the old street grid. I used that idea as the baseline for my proposal below:

                (Image from the author) Idea to remake the Franklin/Cedar/Minnehaha area.

                The basic gist of this idea, much like Eluko’s idea on UrbanMSP, is to restore the street grid in the area to eliminate the confusing and unsafe jumble of intersections that currently exists. Cedar Ave is restored mostly along its original, pre-1950 alignment, from just north of Hiawatha Avenue north to I-94. Both 9th Street and 22nd Street are fully restored east of Cedar Avenue, albeit with a turn prohibition from 22nd Street onto southbound Cedar Avenue. Snelling Avenue ties directly into a reimagined 19th Avenue South, while Minnehaha Avenue ties directly into 20th Avenue South to enable another north-south inter-neighborhood link.

                Realigning the Blue Line (Hiawatha LRT) is what makes restoring the original Cedar Avenue possible, but has other benefits of its own. Aligning it in the median of 19th Avenue South enables a better interaction between a Franklin Avenue LRT station and the neighborhood, as well as putting it a block closer to the southern fringes of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood on the north side of I-94. There is adequate distance between Franklin Avenue and 9th Street to build a 3-car or even a 4-car LRT station, should the latter be needed in the future.

                (Image from the author) Theoretical cross-section of 19th Avenue with a Franklin Avenue LRT station.

                Bicycle travel is also enhanced under this idea. The Hiawatha Greenway is kept continuous by constructing it along the east side of the realigned Blue Line, and bike lanes along 20th Avenue South through Cedar-Riverside are extended west along the reconstituted 9th Street to connect to the Greenway. The extra-wide right-of-way along Franklin Avenue in the area enables reconstruction that could retain left turn lanes and on-street parking, replace landscaping, and add bike lanes from 16th Avenue South to 20th Avenue South, as seen below:

                (Image from the author) Theoretical cross-section of Franklin Avenue near Cedar Avenue.

                Restoring the street grid and realigning the LRT line have the potential to create a significant redevelopment zone, improving upon that which the Seward neighborhood already proposes. Approximately 3.5 acres of existing development is required to restore the suggested street grid, but this is balanced by opening up 5 acres of existing public street/space for new development or to tie into redevelopment of adjacent land parcels, for a net gain of 1.5 acres. There are over 13 acres of existing development on seven blocks in the immediate vicinity. Combined with the five acres opened up by restoring the street grid, this results in over 18 acres of potential redevelopment, all within a 1,000 foot (less than one-fifth of a mile) walk of a relocated LRT station.

                The Seward plan noted at the beginning is a pretty good plan to start with, but it doesn’t do enough to address the jumble of intersections where Franklin, Cedar, and Minnehaha Avenues come together. It’s not too late for the neighborhood and the city to develop a more robust, long-term plan that does more to build upon the urban fabric of the area.

                Streets.MN

                  Hennepin County invites community to new Northside service center

                  Fri, 2014-08-15 14:17
                  Insight News

                  Hennepin County celebrated the opening of its third regional human services center, located at 1001 Plymouth Ave., N. in Minneapolis.

                  The previously vacant industrial building that once housed a print shop has been transformed into an attractive space with large windows and features an intricate bicycle rack designed by Juxtaposition Arts. The local artists are currently working on an additional sculpture planned for the site.

                  "It's a beautiful building," said Minneapolis City Councilman Blong Yang (Ward 5), who represents the area. "This is going to provide a wonderful opportunity for people who don't always have access to reliable transportation. This is a good start, and just the first of many steps (we'll be) working on to make the area more beautiful."

                  Hennepin County has entered into a long-term lease on the newly refurbished building with its owner, the Twin Cities-based Ackerberg Group. A community benefits agreement was made last year between the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council, the county, and the building's owner as part of the planning process for the human services offices, which included hiring goals for women and minorities.

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

                  "This is an extraordinary thing to have right here in the neighborhood. It says a lot to the great things about the city and where we're going," said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.

                  After a community engagement process earlier this year, Hennepin County decided on additional weekly service center hours, when residents can apply for a variety of licenses and permits and receive a full range of financial, social and public health services. County staff members have been working at the site since late June, acclimating to a new way of business that officials say allows clients to complete a broader needs assessment, apply for assistance, and get referrals to other services, including local community agencies and faith groups.

                  Left: Bicycle rack designed by the Juxtaposition Arts group; Right: Newly refurbished building

                  "We heard from residents that they would like more services to be offered," said Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins (Dist. 2). "I am so proud of all the people working at Hennepin County who had the vision to bring public service offices to the people, instead of making people come to the office."

                  The new location is only one piece of a larger plan to expand access to human services from a concentration of offices in downtown Minneapolis, to six sites across the county –closer to where residents live, work, and attend school. Hennepin County Human Services has two additional offices already in operation, one in Brooklyn Center and another in Bloomington. A west suburban office in Hopkins is expected to open later this year, and two more locations are currently being planned for northeast and south Minneapolis.

                  "This building is a great representation of the efforts made to decentralize public services and make them more available to people," said Minnesota State Senator Bobby Joe Champion (Dist. 59). "The services provided here will also give people a stepping stone to getting themselves out of poverty."

                  Hennepin County officials said the county will continue to partner with established north Minneapolis nonprofits and community resources to offer residents a full spectrum of services. Officials said rather than taking time from work and school to make the trip downtown, the transit-friendly site allows Hennepin County clients to integrate needed visits with their financial workers and other county staff into their everyday routines.

                  "Government, at the end of the day, is how we figure out how to live together and prosper together," said Rep. Keith Ellison (Dist. 5). "This is how we come together and demonstrate the compassion that we have for one another."

                  Hennepin County celebrated the opening of its third regional human services center, located at 1001 Plymouth Ave., N. in Minneapolis.

                  The previously vacant industrial building that once housed a print shop has been transformed into an attractive space with large windows and features an intricate bicycle rack designed by Juxtaposition Arts. The local artists are currently working on an additional sculpture planned for the site.

                  "It's a beautiful building," said Minneapolis City Councilman Blong Yang (Ward 5), who represents the area. "This is going to provide a wonderful opportunity for people who don't always have access to reliable transportation. This is a good start, and just the first of many steps (we'll be) working on to make the area more beautiful."

                  Hennepin County has entered into a long-term lease on the newly refurbished building with its owner, the Twin Cities-based Ackerberg Group. A community benefits agreement was made last year between the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council, the county, and the building's owner as part of the planning process for the human services offices, which included hiring goals for women and minorities.

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

                  "This is an extraordinary thing to have right here in the neighborhood. It says a lot to the great things about the city and where we're going," said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.

                  After a community engagement process earlier this year, Hennepin County decided on additional weekly service center hours, when residents can apply for a variety of licenses and permits and receive a full range of financial, social and public health services. County staff members have been working at the site since late June, acclimating to a new way of business that officials say allows clients to complete a broader needs assessment, apply for assistance, and get referrals to other services, including local community agencies and faith groups.

                  Left: Bicycle rack designed by the Juxtaposition Arts group; Right: Newly refurbished building

                  "We heard from residents that they would like more services to be offered," said Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins (Dist. 2). "I am so proud of all the people working at Hennepin County who had the vision to bring public service offices to the people, instead of making people come to the office."

                  The new location is only one piece of a larger plan to expand access to human services from a concentration of offices in downtown Minneapolis, to six sites across the county –closer to where residents live, work, and attend school. Hennepin County Human Services has two additional offices already in operation, one in Brooklyn Center and another in Bloomington. A west suburban office in Hopkins is expected to open later this year, and two more locations are currently being planned for northeast and south Minneapolis.

                  "This building is a great representation of the efforts made to decentralize public services and make them more available to people," said Minnesota State Senator Bobby Joe Champion (Dist. 59). "The services provided here will also give people a stepping stone to getting themselves out of poverty."

                  Hennepin County officials said the county will continue to partner with established north Minneapolis nonprofits and community resources to offer residents a full spectrum of services. Officials said rather than taking time from work and school to make the trip downtown, the transit-friendly site allows Hennepin County clients to integrate needed visits with their financial workers and other county staff into their everyday routines.

                  "Government, at the end of the day, is how we figure out how to live together and prosper together," said Rep. Keith Ellison (Dist. 5). "This is how we come together and demonstrate the compassion that we have for one another."

                  © 2014 Insight News

                    New maps affirm old disparities, segregation in Twin Cities

                    Fri, 2014-08-15 13:41
                    Kristoffer Tigue TC Daily Planet

                    Minnesota Compass, funded through the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, released an interactive map this week using the most recent census data for Minneapolis and St. Paul. The data shows distinct boundaries in the sister cities, separating neighborhoods based on age, ethnicity, income, education and poverty levels.

                    Most interestingly, when compared side by side, many of the maps reflect inverse patterns that reinforce well-known disparities for communities of color and immigrant communities, as well as distinct segregated boundaries in the metro area.

                    “The maps reveal some very interesting residential patterns,” said Dr. Craig Helmstetter, Wilder Research senior research manager and project manager of Minnesota Compass in a press release. “For example, did you know that the median household income of Minneapolis’ neighboring North Loop and Near North neighborhoods differ by about $70,000? Or that 30 percent of those living in Saint Paul’s Thomas-Dale neighborhood were born outside of the U.S., compared with only 7 percent right next door in the Como neighborhood?”

                    Each map profile provides for all 87 Minneapolis neighborhoods, 11 Minneapolis communities, and 17 neighborhoods in St. Paul.

                    Percent of color vs. Median household income


                    Percent of color vs. Percent in poverty


                    Percent of color vs. Percent foreign born


                    Adults without a high school diploma vs. Adults with a college degree

                    Minnesota Compass, funded through the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, released an interactive map this week using the most recent census data for Minneapolis and St. Paul. The data shows distinct boundaries in the sister cities, separating neighborhoods based on age, ethnicity, income, education and poverty levels.

                    Most interestingly, when compared side by side, many of the maps reflect inverse patterns that reinforce well-known disparities for communities of color and immigrant communities, as well as distinct segregated boundaries in the metro area.

                    “The maps reveal some very interesting residential patterns,” said Dr. Craig Helmstetter, Wilder Research senior research manager and project manager of Minnesota Compass in a press release. “For example, did you know that the median household income of Minneapolis’ neighboring North Loop and Near North neighborhoods differ by about $70,000? Or that 30 percent of those living in Saint Paul’s Thomas-Dale neighborhood were born outside of the U.S., compared with only 7 percent right next door in the Como neighborhood?”

                    Each map profile provides for all 87 Minneapolis neighborhoods, 11 Minneapolis communities, and 17 neighborhoods in St. Paul.

                    Percent of color vs. Median household income


                    Percent of color vs. Percent in poverty


                    Percent of color vs. Percent foreign born


                    Adults without a high school diploma vs. Adults with a college degree

                    © 2014 Kristoffer Tigue
                    • Super interesting, thanks for sharing. There's a lot that needs to be done. - by Elizabeth Patton on Fri, 08/15/2014 - 5:28pm

                    River Rats serve up Star Wars family fun on the Northside

                    Thu, 2014-08-14 12:22
                    Jeff Skrenes

                    A running item in the Sunday Star Tribune is the "Names & Faces" in the variety section. I normally skip the self-congratulating who's who at various galas, but several weeks ago something caught my eye. Normal people were profiled at the riverfront by West Broadway, attending a show by the Twin Cities River Rats. The kicker? It was a Star Wars-themed performance.

                    A combination of the riverfront, north Minneapolis, and Star Wars, and I missed it. I wasn't sure if I would ever live THAT down. As it turns out however, the Star Wars show is their theme for the whole summer. I saw a post on the "Positively Northside" Facebook page (we tend to have a lot of northside Facebook pages these days) that a show was happening last week, and I ran out the door to attend.

                    Back to the Strib for a moment. It's worth noting that I had gone on a previous rant about how when good things happen in north Minneapolis, those things deserve some coverage too. And more to the point, it seemed like local media would very quickly emphasize the north locale when covering violence, shootings, economic difficulties, etc. Yet on the rare occasions when they would cover the positive things in our community, they would often just as quickly drop the north descriptor from the article.

                    Attributing riverfront events to north Minneapolis (when they happen north of Plymouth and primarily on the west side of the river) is even more important, given that we are in many ways cut off from this amenity. Saying "north Minneapolis" and the Mississippi River together helps to not only raise awareness to outsiders that this is part of our community, but also bridges that gap a little for us.

                    So kudos to the Strib for getting it right.

                    What wasn't right about the Star Wars River Rats, from a super-nerd perspective, is that they had this entire water-themed Star Wars thing going on, and not one character based off of Admiral Ackbar. Come on! The amphibious commander famous for h is "It's a trap!" line is from Mon Calamari, an entire planet of water. Wait, how did his species evolve into something with legs? I'm sorry, I got caught up in Star Wars fandom and started to overthink this event, didn't I?

                    Also, there was not even one Princess Leia bikini outfit. But those probably don't lend themselves too well to waterskiing, and this is a family-friendly event anyway.

                    With a considerable effort, I shut down the nerd part of my brain that wanted to pepper the show's dialogue with obscure Star Wars and other sci-fi inside jokes, and sat back to enjoy the show (R2-ski2, Ski-3PO, Lando Catamaran, come ON, PEOPLE--slap!!!). And really it's quite the ride. The emcee for the evening kept on saying how the River Rats are the best-kept secret for good, wholesome family fun in Minneapolis, and I would have to agree. And it was Star Wars-themed, and on the northside (and no Jar Jar Binks references, thank God). I couldn't be happier.

                    Oh, and they sell these really awesome t-shirts for only $18. Here's their schedule for the rest of the summer. Check them out.

                    North by Northside North by Northside

                      Educating future nurses as a ticket out of poverty

                      Thu, 2014-08-14 11:31
                      Soon-Young Oh Community Voices

                      Sometimes, an airplane ride can change your life. Rachelle Simmons was college visiting in Baltimore with her son, and mentally noted something unique. “Usually in the inner city, on every corner you see a liquor store or a church – every corner. And there (Baltimore), on every corner there was a clinic! Or there was a hospital! Gosh, if I lived here, I would teach CNAs.”

                      Soon after returning home, Simmons, a veteran registered nurse, registered for a class to learn how to teach Certified Nurse Assistants, completed the necessary paperwork from the Minnesota Department of Health, and was ready to open a school to train future CNAs in the Twin Cities. When she saw an advertisement for NDC’s Plan It! Entrepreneur Training Class in the newspaper, she knew: “Oh my…this has got to be the path I’m supposed to go on!”

                      This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.

                      After interviewing and taking the training class with the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) in partnership with the Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON), Simmons received help with branding, marketing, understanding databases, keeping financials in order and finding a location for her dream. Today, Simmons consistently teaches full classes and has had over 375 students graduate from Foundations Health Career Academy, located in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood. Most of her students are women of color, many are mothers, and most are low-income. Simmons has a passion for her business because she knows that becoming a CNA is the key to getting into the nursing field, and that a nursing career is often a ticket out of poverty.

                      She believes helping to train more CNAs who are people of color will diversify the clinics and hospitals they work in, while benefitting the patients they work with. Simmons has experienced and witnessed how CNAs and nurses who share the same cultural background or speak the same language as the patients they care for is invaluable. It is her passion to recruit more, help them get jobs and make a living wage. After graduating from FHCA, 93 percent are placed into jobs with a starting hourly wage between $12-$20.

                      NDC has truly made the difference in Simmons’ experience as an entrepreneur. Isabel Chanslor, Director of NDC’s Business Lab, who works closely with Simmons said, “She’s very engaged, funny, hard working, and her business is just growing and growing and growing. She’s doing an incredible job, and she’s doing it all on her own, which is remarkable.”

                      Simmons’ business has continued to grow despite experiencing a downturn in sales in 2012 due to the light rail construction on University Avenue. However, her business was able to recover in part because of the dollars received from the City of St. Paul’s Ready for Rail Forgivable Loan program. Simmons appreciates the support from NDC. She’s currently working with NDC Business Lab: “I email and call them all the time. They’re like my lifeline.”

                      For more information on FHCA or to learn more about enrollment, check out www.healthcarejobsmn.com

                      Neighborhood Development Center is a nonprofit organization that believes in the power drive and daring of local entrepreneurs to transform lives and revitalize neighborhoods. In its 21-year history, NDC has provided business training to more than 4,500 potential entrepreneurs and nearly 500 loans totaling more than $10 million in financing. For more information: call 651-291-2480 or www.NDC-mn.org.

                      Sometimes, an airplane ride can change your life. Rachelle Simmons was college visiting in Baltimore with her son, and mentally noted something unique. “Usually in the inner city, on every corner you see a liquor store or a church – every corner. And there (Baltimore), on every corner there was a clinic! Or there was a hospital! Gosh, if I lived here, I would teach CNAs.”

                      Soon after returning home, Simmons, a veteran registered nurse, registered for a class to learn how to teach Certified Nurse Assistants, completed the necessary paperwork from the Minnesota Department of Health, and was ready to open a school to train future CNAs in the Twin Cities. When she saw an advertisement for NDC’s Plan It! Entrepreneur Training Class in the newspaper, she knew: “Oh my…this has got to be the path I’m supposed to go on!”

                      This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.

                      After interviewing and taking the training class with the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) in partnership with the Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON), Simmons received help with branding, marketing, understanding databases, keeping financials in order and finding a location for her dream. Today, Simmons consistently teaches full classes and has had over 375 students graduate from Foundations Health Career Academy, located in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood. Most of her students are women of color, many are mothers, and most are low-income. Simmons has a passion for her business because she knows that becoming a CNA is the key to getting into the nursing field, and that a nursing career is often a ticket out of poverty.

                      She believes helping to train more CNAs who are people of color will diversify the clinics and hospitals they work in, while benefitting the patients they work with. Simmons has experienced and witnessed how CNAs and nurses who share the same cultural background or speak the same language as the patients they care for is invaluable. It is her passion to recruit more, help them get jobs and make a living wage. After graduating from FHCA, 93 percent are placed into jobs with a starting hourly wage between $12-$20.

                      NDC has truly made the difference in Simmons’ experience as an entrepreneur. Isabel Chanslor, Director of NDC’s Business Lab, who works closely with Simmons said, “She’s very engaged, funny, hard working, and her business is just growing and growing and growing. She’s doing an incredible job, and she’s doing it all on her own, which is remarkable.”

                      Simmons’ business has continued to grow despite experiencing a downturn in sales in 2012 due to the light rail construction on University Avenue. However, her business was able to recover in part because of the dollars received from the City of St. Paul’s Ready for Rail Forgivable Loan program. Simmons appreciates the support from NDC. She’s currently working with NDC Business Lab: “I email and call them all the time. They’re like my lifeline.”

                      For more information on FHCA or to learn more about enrollment, check out www.healthcarejobsmn.com

                      Neighborhood Development Center is a nonprofit organization that believes in the power drive and daring of local entrepreneurs to transform lives and revitalize neighborhoods. In its 21-year history, NDC has provided business training to more than 4,500 potential entrepreneurs and nearly 500 loans totaling more than $10 million in financing. For more information: call 651-291-2480 or www.NDC-mn.org.

                      © 2014 Neighborhood Development Center

                        Thoughts on Target Field Station

                        Wed, 2014-08-13 15:25
                        Sam Newberg

                        With the emerging debacle of The Yard prominent in the press (Strib and blogosphere), it is natural to overlook the fact that downtown Minneapolis just opened a brand new public space. It is called Target Field Station (formerly The Interchange), and despite Tom Fisher’s review on MinnPost, people actually use it and it is pretty nice. So considering downtown Minneapolis, with its skyway system, failed parks over the years, largely treeless sidewalks, and overall general inability to produce a good downtown park or public space, Target Field Station is a huge victory for the city. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Target Field Station shouldn’t win any awards (although it probably will) but we’ll take it because it does decidedly improve the public realm downtown. But the real litmus test of the success of Target Field Station will be how people use it over the years, so let’s capture an early snapshot.

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

                        Target Field Station is more than a train station. It is part park, part place to pass through, board and disembark from a train, attend a pregame event, or just sit. It achieves these things with varying success. Just northwest of the plaza on the north corner of Target Field is a lawn, large LED screen and of course light rail and commuter rail transit stations. Target Field Stations includes two light rail stations, Platform 1 and 2. This works well for Twins games, as one can clearly be used for the Green Line and the other Blue. This reduces confusion and makes riding the train much easier.

                        Looking across the lawn towards the HERC is a pleasant view. Have you ever seen a nicer setting for a garbage burner?

                        The lawn itself provides zero shade but is great for watching the big screen. Many, if not all, baseball games are shown on the screen, as were several World Cup games. The drawback is when no game is being shown, you have to sit and watch a combination of ads for Target and the Minnesota Twins – not exactly riveting viewing, and frankly a bit distracting on an otherwise pleasant day.

                        On an off day, benches under the trellises provide a natural place to sit. The trellises don’t provide much shade, however, so may not be too popular on hot days.

                        The other seating next to the lawn will be nice when the trees grow a bit more. However, given that they are in planters above a parking deck, I wonder how high these trees can grow. How nice to have a backrest – people seem to really appreciate that!

                        Addressing the elevation difference between Target Field and the train platforms above and 5th Street below is a challenge overcome by a large combination stairway/seating area. On a day I visited, a Kettlebells class was taking advantage of the stairs and circular route around the lawn for their workout. A nice use of public space, and I hope more than a Kettlebells class has discovered this.

                        The curvilinear seating area is interesting, but perhaps a bit hit and miss. Whereas on a day I visited the bench-height seats seemed to get used quite a bit…

                        …at the very same moment the steps were vacant. I guess I thought the steps would also be used for seating, but maybe they aren’t as conducive, aren’t the right height or don’t offer any shade.

                        Those steps and seating face the underpass below the Green Line platform. This area serves many purposes. It is a shared space, and could be a very neat space at that, as it is part pedestrian path, part event area, part outdoor seating for Caribou, but also part car turnaround and part parking area and ramp entrance. I for one like the pedestrian/seating/event uses far more. The more events can that are held in this space, the better, including. On an everyday basis, Caribou should just take it over for shady outdoor seating. Cars be damned.

                        On game days, bollards pop up out of the pavement preventing cars from entering the underground ramp. That ramp has two entrances, so why cars are ever allowed in this space is beyond me. They should just always use the other entrance/exit. The bollards supposedly block traffic ongame days, but after the one Twins game I attended so far this year, the bollards were down, allowing cars to take over the space. Also, why should anyone be able to park their car closer to Caribou than the bicycle parking, much less do it for free? I don’t really get it.

                        From the approach to the 5th Street crossing, the 5th Avenue sidewalk doesn’t line up with the pedestrian path on the other side. Maybe this is a minor quibble, but the drive lane does line up, and this kind of design flaw always drives me nuts, particularly in an area that purports to be so pedestrian friendly. While I’m at it, why is there even a signal here? The street is about 20 feet wide. A four-way stop sign would do, or just extend the shared space concept in to the intersection. A waste of $200,000 if you ask me.

                        Overall, Target Field Station is good. It is a big improvement on what was there before, and it does give the light rail station more breathing room while adding public space. Is it necessary to build a public space at the terminus/transfer point between transit lines? Absolutely not, but it is very important to provide a walkable environment near that kind of location, and Target Field Station does so. It also provides a nice space for before and after games and for residents and workers coming to and from the North Loop. I won’t go out of my way to spend time here, but when I am in the area I certainly appreciate there is a place to sit and have a coffee.

                        Make no mistake, I like this space, as I do Target Plaza on the opposite side of the Stadium. I’m proud of how we’ve woven Target Field in to a tightly knit urban area crazy with infrastructure. Hennepin County and the Minnesota Twins have done a good job. But let’s not get too congratulatory. Target Field Station adds significantly to the public realm of downtown, but that isn’t saying much. We should look at it as the absolute bare minimum in the context of providing public space, pedestrian connections and transit stations in Minneapolis. Target Field Station helps Minneapolis not fall farther behind similar competitive cities but doesn’t help us get ahead. Just look at the Denver Union Station project as one example. That magnificent, sublime downtown park is still out there somewhere.

                        Streets.MN

                          TC Spotlight | Urban agriculture in the Twin Cities

                          Wed, 2014-08-13 15:08
                          Paige Elliott TC Daily Planet

                          For this week’s TC Spotlight, we decided to keep the outdoor summer theme and shine a spotlight on the ever-growing urban agriculture movement in the Twin Cities.

                          Urban agriculture comes in various forms and benefits urban communities in many ways. Urban farms provide fresh local food sources and economic development, and they create a space for social interaction, neighborhood beautification, and engagement. Below we’ve highlight just a few of the many organizations that specialize in urban agriculture and how you can support them. Feel free to use the comment section to chime in on your favorite sources of local produce and all things urban agriculture.

                          Related articles and info:

                          Youth Farm

                          128 West 33rd Street, Suite 2, Minneapolis, MN 55408 | 612-872-4226 

                          Youth Farm specializes in youth development and leadership through the cultivation and selling of food in five communities in the Twin Cities. Youth Farm is a non-profit organization offering year-round programs, meeting participants at their level of development and challenging and growing with them.

                          To gain a better understanding of Youth Farm and the programs it offers the communities, come on out to the annual Neighborhood Harvest Festivals taking place in each of the five neighborhood location this week. The festivals include a free community meal, performances, participant recognition, and more. Additionally, from Aug. 12 to Sept. 2, each time you order a dish from Big Bowl’s Summer Harvest Menu, at one of their Minnesota locations, Big Bowl and FreeBird Chicken will donate $1 to Youth Farm.

                          (Photo by Paige Elliott)


                          Stone’s Throw Urban Farm

                          2216 Elliot Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55404 | (612) 454-0585

                          Stone’s Throw Urban Farm is a small urban agriculture business that transforms vacant city spaces in the Twin Cities into sustainable micro-farms. Through a partnership of six farmers, Stone’s Throw Urban Farm aims to create a self-reliant local economy and provide healthy eating options for urban communities. In addition to its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, Stone’s Throw produce is sold at France 44 Cheese Shop, The St. Paul Cheese Shop, Ngon Vietnamese Bistro, Crema Café, Tilia, Foxy Falafel and The Gray House. You can also find Stone’s Throw produce at the Mill City Market, which runs each Saturday from May to October from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit this link for more ways to support Stone’s Throw Urban Farm.

                          (Photo courtesy of Stone's Throw Urban Farm)


                          Growing Lots Urban Farm

                          1915 22nd St., Minneapolis, MN 55404 | 612-564-8524

                          Growing Lots Urban Farm is a two-acre CSA program and market farm that rests on the formerly vacant urban lots in the Seward community in south Minneapolis. Beyond its CSA, you can find Growing Lots vegetables and bouquets on sale at the Midtown Farmers Market each Tuesday from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., June through October. You can also offer your support through Growing Lots Share-a-Share program, a partnership with the Brian Coyle food shelf that provides weekly food offerings to families in need through donations. Go here to learn about other opportunities to support Growing Lots.

                          (Photo courtesy of Growing Lots Urban Farm)


                          Project Sweetie Pie

                          1418 Oliver Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411 | 763-227-4881

                          Project Sweetie Pie is a nonprofit organization that aims to revitalize North Minneapolis by training and employing young people to plant and grow food in scattered gardens in the city. Through the hands-on cultivation of urban farmland, Project Sweetie Pie participants gain experience assisting in the economic development of their neighborhoods as producers in the local economy.

                          In addition to donations, you can support Project Sweetie Pie at the West Broadway Farmers Market on from Fridays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., June through October. Other upcoming events include container gardening demonstrations, an appearance at Open Streets - Lowry Avenue, and an InterFaith Gardening event, September 6

                          (Photo by Paige Elliott)

                          For this week’s TC Spotlight, we decided to keep the outdoor summer theme and shine a spotlight on the ever-growing urban agriculture movement in the Twin Cities.

                          Urban agriculture comes in various forms and benefits urban communities in many ways. Urban farms provide fresh local food sources and economic development, and they create a space for social interaction, neighborhood beautification, and engagement. Below we’ve highlight just a few of the many organizations that specialize in urban agriculture and how you can support them. Feel free to use the comment section to chime in on your favorite sources of local produce and all things urban agriculture.

                          Related articles and info:

                          Youth Farm

                          128 West 33rd Street, Suite 2, Minneapolis, MN 55408 | 612-872-4226 

                          Youth Farm specializes in youth development and leadership through the cultivation and selling of food in five communities in the Twin Cities. Youth Farm is a non-profit organization offering year-round programs, meeting participants at their level of development and challenging and growing with them.

                          To gain a better understanding of Youth Farm and the programs it offers the communities, come on out to the annual Neighborhood Harvest Festivals taking place in each of the five neighborhood location this week. The festivals include a free community meal, performances, participant recognition, and more. Additionally, from Aug. 12 to Sept. 2, each time you order a dish from Big Bowl’s Summer Harvest Menu, at one of their Minnesota locations, Big Bowl and FreeBird Chicken will donate $1 to Youth Farm.

                          (Photo by Paige Elliott)


                          Stone’s Throw Urban Farm

                          2216 Elliot Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55404 | (612) 454-0585

                          Stone’s Throw Urban Farm is a small urban agriculture business that transforms vacant city spaces in the Twin Cities into sustainable micro-farms. Through a partnership of six farmers, Stone’s Throw Urban Farm aims to create a self-reliant local economy and provide healthy eating options for urban communities. In addition to its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, Stone’s Throw produce is sold at France 44 Cheese Shop, The St. Paul Cheese Shop, Ngon Vietnamese Bistro, Crema Café, Tilia, Foxy Falafel and The Gray House. You can also find Stone’s Throw produce at the Mill City Market, which runs each Saturday from May to October from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit this link for more ways to support Stone’s Throw Urban Farm.

                          (Photo courtesy of Stone's Throw Urban Farm)


                          Growing Lots Urban Farm

                          1915 22nd St., Minneapolis, MN 55404 | 612-564-8524

                          Growing Lots Urban Farm is a two-acre CSA program and market farm that rests on the formerly vacant urban lots in the Seward community in south Minneapolis. Beyond its CSA, you can find Growing Lots vegetables and bouquets on sale at the Midtown Farmers Market each Tuesday from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., June through October. You can also offer your support through Growing Lots Share-a-Share program, a partnership with the Brian Coyle food shelf that provides weekly food offerings to families in need through donations. Go here to learn about other opportunities to support Growing Lots.

                          (Photo courtesy of Growing Lots Urban Farm)


                          Project Sweetie Pie

                          1418 Oliver Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411 | 763-227-4881

                          Project Sweetie Pie is a nonprofit organization that aims to revitalize North Minneapolis by training and employing young people to plant and grow food in scattered gardens in the city. Through the hands-on cultivation of urban farmland, Project Sweetie Pie participants gain experience assisting in the economic development of their neighborhoods as producers in the local economy.

                          In addition to donations, you can support Project Sweetie Pie at the West Broadway Farmers Market on from Fridays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., June through October. Other upcoming events include container gardening demonstrations, an appearance at Open Streets - Lowry Avenue, and an InterFaith Gardening event, September 6

                          (Photo by Paige Elliott)

                          © Paige Elliott

                            Minneapolis councilmember Cano meets with 2909 Bloomington Ave. S. families

                            Tue, 2014-08-12 21:55
                            Jay Clark Community Voices

                            On August 7, councilmember Cano met with over 50 family members living at 2909 Bloomington Ave. S., to hear about safety concerns and work with residents to get problems fixed.

                            This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.

                            Also participating in the meeting was Minneapolis police officer Abubakar Muridi, along with several other MPD officers and staff, and board members from the East Phillips Improvement Coalition.

                            2909 Bloomington soccer players tell councilmember Cano they would like a soccer goal, basketball hoop in backyard

                            Before the meeting, councilmember Cano was given a tour of the backyard by soccer players living at 2909 Bloomington. They talked about problems with cars speeding down the alley, and said they would like a fence put up to separate alley car traffic from the youth playing in the back yard. They also hoped for more green grass, a basketball hoop and a soccer goal, a bigger playground, and speed bumps.

                            2909 Bloomington families hope to replace this backyard dirt and rocks with green grass and a fence

                            The soccer players then escorted councilmember Cano into the front lobby of 2909 Bloomington, where over 50 residents young and old talked with the councilmember about problems plaguing the building and surrounding neighborhood.

                            Minneapolis police officer Muridi and councilmember Cano talk safety with 2909 Bloomington families

                            Most of the complaints focused on safety and security. They said that outsiders would regularly get into the building and break into cars and storage lockers.

                            Students and their parents described how outsiders would sleep overnight in the front lobby, and students would then have to step over people sleeping or passed out to get to their school bus stops. Little children said they were afraid the strangers sleeping in the front lobby would take them as they walked pass to go off to school.

                            Residents said many of the security cameras don’t work, and that the buzzer system also doesn’t work.

                            Residents also talked about access problems, especially for the disabled and elderly. Often the elevator would not work, and then those disabled and in wheelchairs would be trapped on the upper floors. Residents also said that many elderly and disabled did not have access to the washing machines, because the washing machines would only work with cards that had to be purchased from the midtown market.

                            Councilmember Cano suggested a followup meeting with Homeline to help residents understand their rights, and pledged to work with residents to deal with the security issues.

                            After the meeting everybody enjoyed homemade sambusa. EPIC provided chairs and additional refreshments.

                            2909 Bloomington youth voting priorities for backyard improvements

                            Left side: voting on realistic backyard improvements. Right side: Dreaming Big.

                            On August 7, councilmember Cano met with over 50 family members living at 2909 Bloomington Ave. S., to hear about safety concerns and work with residents to get problems fixed.

                            This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.

                            Also participating in the meeting was Minneapolis police officer Abubakar Muridi, along with several other MPD officers and staff, and board members from the East Phillips Improvement Coalition.

                            2909 Bloomington soccer players tell councilmember Cano they would like a soccer goal, basketball hoop in backyard

                            Before the meeting, councilmember Cano was given a tour of the backyard by soccer players living at 2909 Bloomington. They talked about problems with cars speeding down the alley, and said they would like a fence put up to separate alley car traffic from the youth playing in the back yard. They also hoped for more green grass, a basketball hoop and a soccer goal, a bigger playground, and speed bumps.

                            2909 Bloomington families hope to replace this backyard dirt and rocks with green grass and a fence

                            The soccer players then escorted councilmember Cano into the front lobby of 2909 Bloomington, where over 50 residents young and old talked with the councilmember about problems plaguing the building and surrounding neighborhood.

                            Minneapolis police officer Muridi and councilmember Cano talk safety with 2909 Bloomington families

                            Most of the complaints focused on safety and security. They said that outsiders would regularly get into the building and break into cars and storage lockers.

                            Students and their parents described how outsiders would sleep overnight in the front lobby, and students would then have to step over people sleeping or passed out to get to their school bus stops. Little children said they were afraid the strangers sleeping in the front lobby would take them as they walked pass to go off to school.

                            Residents said many of the security cameras don’t work, and that the buzzer system also doesn’t work.

                            Residents also talked about access problems, especially for the disabled and elderly. Often the elevator would not work, and then those disabled and in wheelchairs would be trapped on the upper floors. Residents also said that many elderly and disabled did not have access to the washing machines, because the washing machines would only work with cards that had to be purchased from the midtown market.

                            Councilmember Cano suggested a followup meeting with Homeline to help residents understand their rights, and pledged to work with residents to deal with the security issues.

                            After the meeting everybody enjoyed homemade sambusa. EPIC provided chairs and additional refreshments.

                            2909 Bloomington youth voting priorities for backyard improvements

                            Left side: voting on realistic backyard improvements. Right side: Dreaming Big.

                            © 2014 Jay Clark

                              City data could help you catch a bus and improve your neighborhood

                              Tue, 2014-08-12 17:27
                              Bill Huntzicker TC Daily Planet

                              City-generated data my soon help people track buses from their phones and help monitor problem properties for things like noise violations and landlord abuses. These are just two potential uses that may go public by November under the city’s new open data policy.

                              The Minneapolis City Council approved an open data policy earlier this month, making city data that was previously accessible only through requests easily accessible to anyone. The city hopes the data will spur new technological projects that may help both the city and its constituents and bolster innovation.

                              “The city of Minneapolis runs on 76 trillion characters of information,” Minneapolis chief information officer Otto Doll told a forum at the University of Minnesota recently. “A strong percentage of that data is private but the rest are data that possibly could be open.”

                              Doll said the data from several city departments will be accessible through a single website in a raw form that can be used by the public, imported into spreadsheets, and viewed in smartphones, if software developers create applications to access the data.

                              The use of smartphones to track bus movements and schedules could be done if a developer uses real-time data already generated by Metro Transit, said Bill Bushey, an organizer for Open Data Twin Cities that lobbied for the new Minneapolis rules.

                              The council’s rules require that creation of a single portal making data accessible to the public, the creation of an advisory group from the city’s departments to decide what data should be open, and a compliance report to see how well agencies are complying with the rules.

                              “The city is setting up the infrastructure, and it’s also setting up a culture change,” Bushey said. “It’s a big deal for a city to set up a system of this nature.”

                              Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde, the city’s director of regulatory services, said neighborhoods could use housing license and inspections data to track property ownership and code compliance. The data could also help guide how the city sets their property regulations, she said.

                              For instance, Rivera-Vandermyde said, mapping different types of city data revealed a correlation between complaints in a neighborhood and the types of properties. Wards 4 and 5 in North Minneapolis have a large number of lower-cost housing properties that have been purchased by a small number of large investors, she said, and the same areas also produce large numbers of nuisance calls to the city.

                              So the city may want to look at how to decrease the monopoly of properties by large investors and encourage more home ownership, she said.

                              Reyna Flores of Corcoran Neighborhood Organization said she lived in an apartment for 19 years without ever seeing a maintenance person or an inspector in the deteriorating three-story apartment building. “We need someone to listen to us,” Flores said. “We want a building that’s clean and safe.”

                              Some 82 percent of the residents of apartment buildings in the neighborhood are black and Latino, said Ross Joy, who also works through the neighborhood organization. “Our goal as a neighborhood organization is to reach residents of apartment buildings, who are real important stakeholders in our neighborhood.”

                              Rivera-Vandermyde said the city won’t know about problems if residents and neighbors don’t report them, but the open data portal can help neighborhoods monitor problem properties and landlords if neighbors report problems. Too many people don’t even know they can call 311 to report problems to the city, Rivera-Vandermyde said, adding that the city may have to clarify the inspection process.

                              Data on problem properties could also help protect individuals from landlord retribution for complaints if neighborhood groups monitor them, Rivera-Vandermyde said.

                              “Residents themselves can report problems and then track violations in a building,” she said. “Open data can help a community organization in ways that bring the neighborhood together to build power.”

                              Open data can also better connect government and community, Rivera-Vandermyde said, and dialogue with Corcoran residents has already triggered “a full-license inspection of several of these properties, some in buildings owned by the same owners.”

                              Bushey applauded the city, especially Doll and Council Member Andrew Johnson for backing the open data ordinance, but he said the data must be structured and timely so the public can use it effectively.

                              “If we get information in its most useful format, it will come to us in a form that a computer can process,” he said. “Metro Transit puts out information on the location of buses. Someone can build an application showing where the buses are and when they’re coming.”

                              Both Boston and Chicago have open data sites, Bushey said, so if you’re starting a business in Chicago, the city’s website provides information on rules and zoning to help you decide on appropriate locations for the business. And in Boston, he said, the people can look at details in the city’s budget, including schools.

                              “We have an antiquated system which I’m happy to say we’re well under way in revamping,” Rivera-Vandermyde said. “We will continue to fine tune that on the basis of what the needs of these communities are.”

                              Working with the data helps the city determine needs as well, she said. After discovering a disproportionate number of parking citations during snow emergencies in North Minneapolis, city workers are looking at new ways to reach people, including access to phones, commuters, different languages.

                              Doll said that not all the open data may be posted by the city’s November deadline, but the city already has “a fair amount of information to put into it.”

                              Rivera-Vandermyde listed open data goals as increasing data analysis to determine needs and deploy resources, identifying trends in markets that impact neighborhood stability, focusing on community engagement and partnerships, defining indicators that meet the needs of stakeholders, and increasing the push to put data out externally.

                              City-generated data my soon help people track buses from their phones and help monitor problem properties for things like noise violations and landlord abuses. These are just two potential uses that may go public by November under the city’s new open data policy.

                              The Minneapolis City Council approved an open data policy earlier this month, making city data that was previously accessible only through requests easily accessible to anyone. The city hopes the data will spur new technological projects that may help both the city and its constituents and bolster innovation.

                              “The city of Minneapolis runs on 76 trillion characters of information,” Minneapolis chief information officer Otto Doll told a forum at the University of Minnesota recently. “A strong percentage of that data is private but the rest are data that possibly could be open.”

                              Doll said the data from several city departments will be accessible through a single website in a raw form that can be used by the public, imported into spreadsheets, and viewed in smartphones, if software developers create applications to access the data.

                              The use of smartphones to track bus movements and schedules could be done if a developer uses real-time data already generated by Metro Transit, said Bill Bushey, an organizer for Open Data Twin Cities that lobbied for the new Minneapolis rules.

                              The council’s rules require that creation of a single portal making data accessible to the public, the creation of an advisory group from the city’s departments to decide what data should be open, and a compliance report to see how well agencies are complying with the rules.

                              “The city is setting up the infrastructure, and it’s also setting up a culture change,” Bushey said. “It’s a big deal for a city to set up a system of this nature.”

                              Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde, the city’s director of regulatory services, said neighborhoods could use housing license and inspections data to track property ownership and code compliance. The data could also help guide how the city sets their property regulations, she said.

                              For instance, Rivera-Vandermyde said, mapping different types of city data revealed a correlation between complaints in a neighborhood and the types of properties. Wards 4 and 5 in North Minneapolis have a large number of lower-cost housing properties that have been purchased by a small number of large investors, she said, and the same areas also produce large numbers of nuisance calls to the city.

                              So the city may want to look at how to decrease the monopoly of properties by large investors and encourage more home ownership, she said.

                              Reyna Flores of Corcoran Neighborhood Organization said she lived in an apartment for 19 years without ever seeing a maintenance person or an inspector in the deteriorating three-story apartment building. “We need someone to listen to us,” Flores said. “We want a building that’s clean and safe.”

                              Some 82 percent of the residents of apartment buildings in the neighborhood are black and Latino, said Ross Joy, who also works through the neighborhood organization. “Our goal as a neighborhood organization is to reach residents of apartment buildings, who are real important stakeholders in our neighborhood.”

                              Rivera-Vandermyde said the city won’t know about problems if residents and neighbors don’t report them, but the open data portal can help neighborhoods monitor problem properties and landlords if neighbors report problems. Too many people don’t even know they can call 311 to report problems to the city, Rivera-Vandermyde said, adding that the city may have to clarify the inspection process.

                              Data on problem properties could also help protect individuals from landlord retribution for complaints if neighborhood groups monitor them, Rivera-Vandermyde said.

                              “Residents themselves can report problems and then track violations in a building,” she said. “Open data can help a community organization in ways that bring the neighborhood together to build power.”

                              Open data can also better connect government and community, Rivera-Vandermyde said, and dialogue with Corcoran residents has already triggered “a full-license inspection of several of these properties, some in buildings owned by the same owners.”

                              Bushey applauded the city, especially Doll and Council Member Andrew Johnson for backing the open data ordinance, but he said the data must be structured and timely so the public can use it effectively.

                              “If we get information in its most useful format, it will come to us in a form that a computer can process,” he said. “Metro Transit puts out information on the location of buses. Someone can build an application showing where the buses are and when they’re coming.”

                              Both Boston and Chicago have open data sites, Bushey said, so if you’re starting a business in Chicago, the city’s website provides information on rules and zoning to help you decide on appropriate locations for the business. And in Boston, he said, the people can look at details in the city’s budget, including schools.

                              “We have an antiquated system which I’m happy to say we’re well under way in revamping,” Rivera-Vandermyde said. “We will continue to fine tune that on the basis of what the needs of these communities are.”

                              Working with the data helps the city determine needs as well, she said. After discovering a disproportionate number of parking citations during snow emergencies in North Minneapolis, city workers are looking at new ways to reach people, including access to phones, commuters, different languages.

                              Doll said that not all the open data may be posted by the city’s November deadline, but the city already has “a fair amount of information to put into it.”

                              Rivera-Vandermyde listed open data goals as increasing data analysis to determine needs and deploy resources, identifying trends in markets that impact neighborhood stability, focusing on community engagement and partnerships, defining indicators that meet the needs of stakeholders, and increasing the push to put data out externally.

                              © 2014 Bill Huntzicker

                                Movies on 35th Street: Bringing the community back to video rentals

                                Tue, 2014-08-12 16:15
                                Southside Pride

                                It’s strange to have rows of sleek DVD cases be an object of nostalgia, but for those who haven’t set foot in a video rental store for years, visiting The Movies on 35th Street is almost like returning to a simpler time. It’s exactly like the video store you remember: A muted video plays on the corner TV, movie posters line the front desk, and the owner stands behind the front desk, chatting with customers and methodically polishing DVDs.

                                Situated smack dab in Powderhorn, the store draws in customers from the surrounding neighborhood. On a recent Monday evening, five or so browsers wandered through the aisles, all of them taking their sweet time in choosing a video.

                                Owner Tim Hanson said he didn’t foresee getting to know the neighborhood well when he opened the store in 2003, but it’s become something of a community meeting spot.

                                “People can come in and they see their neighbors, and they see people they haven’t seen for a while,” he said. “It really does happen.”

                                Paul Chamberlain said he’s been coming to the store since it first opened almost 11years ago. When he requested a larger classics selection, Hanson was responsive. Although Chamberlain sometimes gets movies from other sources, for his family’s weekly Friday movie nights he likes taking his kids to the concrete (that is, non-virtual) store so they can browse together.

                                “It kind of became part of our family ritual,” Chamberlain said. “Tim is friendly… he’s nice to our kids and he has good movies.”

                                The video store experience is also part of Laura Rede’s family. While scrutinizing the children’s section with her 6-year-old daughter, Miranda, she explained that they enjoy the process of actually coming into the store.

                                “We could use Netflix or whatever, but it’s just more fun to go to an actual place, and we want to be supporting a local business,” Rede said. “Its just an outing, a nice walk and a nice store.”

                                Hanson opened the store in November 2003. He had decided to start his own business, leaving his demanding job as a graphic designer.

                                “Just dealing with deadlines, or a $50,000 print project where you’re afraid you’ve got one word misspelled and it’s just gonna ruin everything, that kind of stress.” Hanson said.

                                A video store was the natural choice. He’d worked at a Mr. Movies in high school and though he briefly considered opening a food-related business instead, something about the video rental experience had stuck with him.

                                It’s no secret that local movie stores have been shutting their doors left and right—with 17% of movie rental storefronts closing in 2012, according to Business week. And USA Today reported that physical DVD rental spending dropped 9% in 2012.

                                It’s strange to have rows of sleek DVD cases be an object of nostalgia, but for those who haven’t set foot in a video rental store for years, visiting The Movies on 35th Street is almost like returning to a simpler time. It’s exactly like the video store you remember: A muted video plays on the corner TV, movie posters line the front desk, and the owner stands behind the front desk, chatting with customers and methodically polishing DVDs.

                                Situated smack dab in Powderhorn, the store draws in customers from the surrounding neighborhood. On a recent Monday evening, five or so browsers wandered through the aisles, all of them taking their sweet time in choosing a video.

                                Owner Tim Hanson said he didn’t foresee getting to know the neighborhood well when he opened the store in 2003, but it’s become something of a community meeting spot.

                                “People can come in and they see their neighbors, and they see people they haven’t seen for a while,” he said. “It really does happen.”

                                Paul Chamberlain said he’s been coming to the store since it first opened almost 11years ago. When he requested a larger classics selection, Hanson was responsive. Although Chamberlain sometimes gets movies from other sources, for his family’s weekly Friday movie nights he likes taking his kids to the concrete (that is, non-virtual) store so they can browse together.

                                “It kind of became part of our family ritual,” Chamberlain said. “Tim is friendly… he’s nice to our kids and he has good movies.”

                                The video store experience is also part of Laura Rede’s family. While scrutinizing the children’s section with her 6-year-old daughter, Miranda, she explained that they enjoy the process of actually coming into the store.

                                “We could use Netflix or whatever, but it’s just more fun to go to an actual place, and we want to be supporting a local business,” Rede said. “Its just an outing, a nice walk and a nice store.”

                                Hanson opened the store in November 2003. He had decided to start his own business, leaving his demanding job as a graphic designer.

                                “Just dealing with deadlines, or a $50,000 print project where you’re afraid you’ve got one word misspelled and it’s just gonna ruin everything, that kind of stress.” Hanson said.

                                A video store was the natural choice. He’d worked at a Mr. Movies in high school and though he briefly considered opening a food-related business instead, something about the video rental experience had stuck with him.

                                It’s no secret that local movie stores have been shutting their doors left and right—with 17% of movie rental storefronts closing in 2012, according to Business week. And USA Today reported that physical DVD rental spending dropped 9% in 2012.

                                © 2014 Southside Pride

                                  "I'm not opposed to development"

                                  Tue, 2014-08-12 16:11
                                  John Edwards

                                  Last Wednesday I found myself in a nearly empty meeting room, observing the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association (LHENA) at work. This has been an all-too-frequent circumstance for me in recent months, as I work the Wedge-beat for a fake news organization called @WedgeLIVE. I was there to watch the proposed development known as Frank-Lyn inch its way closer to the finish line. Supporters of the development achieved a sort of moral victory in hostile territory, falling just one vote short (4-3) in a bid for LHENA’s largely symbolic approval (on its way to meeting the approval of the City Planning Commission late Monday, as I write this).

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

                                  Now, I don’t mean to overstate LHENA’s relevance to the process–I’m just using them as a stand-in for the typical knee-jerk opposition to new development. But as I listened to statements of disapproval from four board members, I picked up on a familiar talking point (italics mine):

                                  • “I would not support the project in it’s current form. I do support a development there. I’m not opposed to development.” –Sue Bode
                                  • “I do not support it as it is right now, but I do support development.” –Sara Romanishan
                                  • “I do not support it as it is now. I very much support development there.” –Bill Newmann

                                  It’s possible they’re concerned that people have gotten the wrong impression. Luckily, they have a chance to prove the doubters wrong. We’ve got a new project, with a familiar address, coming to the Wedge. 2320 Colfax is slated for months of meetings, special meetings, emergency meetings, reams of anonymous flyers distributed house-to-house, and perhaps a neighborhood vote or two.

                                  Or maybe this time it’s less of a dog-fight. Because there’s a lot to be excited (or at least not apoplectic) about in the project proposed for 2320 Colfax. I’m eager to hear the developer’s full presentation this Wednesday at LHENA, but last month I had a chance to speak with a few of the people working on this project. Some of the possibilities discussed: private, on-site bike-share and car-share; abundant, convenient, and secure bike storage options; bike maintenance facilities; flexible car stalls, ready for conversion to other uses (looking to a future with fewer cars); and transit passes included with rent.

                                  With enough support, this could be a building full of transportation options for its residents. And I think it addresses many of the recurring complaints of those who’ve opposed some recent development proposals. For those with concerns about affordability: a building that heavily incentivizes foregoing car ownership means hundreds of dollars per month in savings for residents. Additionally, rents will be cheaper than any new construction in the area (including Frank-Lyn). If traffic and parking are your issue, consider the upside of welcoming transit-riding, bike-commuting, licensed pedestrians to your block. And it’s a pretty nice looking building; certainly unlike much of what’s been built or proposed for the neighborhood recently.

                                  The possibilities this project presents hinge on an almost always controversial issue: parking. Building homes for cars is something that makes building homes for people significantly more expensive. So the developer plans to use the money saved from reducing the parking requirement ($500,000 is the number I’ve been told), and funnel it back into the building, for things like the transportation amenities listed above.

                                  It’s time we demanded less parking, not more. Let’s have a constructive dialogue about making the 2320 Colfax development better. I hope the basis for this conversation can be: What should be done with the extra money and space that isn’t devoted to parking? I encourage you to come to Wednesday’s LHENA meeting and help answer that question.

                                  What: Presentation of proposed 2320 Colfax development to LHENA.
                                  When: Wednesday, August 13 at 6:30 PM.
                                  Where: VFW, 2916 Lyndale Ave S.

                                  Streets.MN LHENA Zoning and Planning committee meeting: 2320 Colfax development

                                    Sustainable-food initiative Urban Oasis kicks off with August 17 festival

                                    Tue, 2014-08-12 15:58
                                    Dayton's Bluff Forum

                                    Is Dayton’s Bluff about to become the capital of Minnesota’s sustainable- food movement?

                                    That’s a distinct possibility, thanks in large part to Urban Oasis, an initiative of the Lower Phalen Creek Project, overseen by Dayton’s Bluff resident Tracy Sides. The program got its start last summer, when Sides’ idea – to create new markets for locally grown produce – won the St. Paul Foundation’s $1 million Forever Saint Paul Challenge.

                                    Since then, Sides and her team have worked to bring the idea to life: projects are underway to develop new markets and classes around sustainably-produced produce, simultaneously helping local farmers earn a better living while improving local citizens’ access to healthy food. The group’s first big public program will be a free community food festival, celebrating the various foods grown, prepared, and served on St. Paul’s East Side.

                                    The Urban Oasis Food Fest, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm on Sunday, August 17, is expected to attract as many as 2,000 people to the former Hospital Linen site, a vacant property at 740 7th Street East that is expected to become Mississippi Market Natural Foods Cooperative’s newest retail location.

                                    “This is a party to mark the official launch of the Urban Oasis program, and our way of saying thank you to the people who voted for our idea last summer, during the Forever St. Paul Challenge,” Sides said. “Giving people more opportunities to access and enjoy locally grown food not only results in better health, but also creates a more resilient, prosperous community. And at the same time, we’ll have a lot of fun.”

                                    Activities will include a tomato-canning demonstration with chef and cooking instructor Jenny Breen, and taste-testing of what will become Urban Oasis-branded condiments, developed by chef and East Side resident Bridger Merkt. There will also be food samples from several East Side vendors, including Flat Earth Brewery’s root beer and African Delights Foods & Catering.

                                    The food fest is just the beginning of what Sides and her team are planning for the coming year; Urban Oasis leaders are talking about numerous programs that would bring economic activity to Dayton’s Bluff, including a catering operation and cooking classes.

                                    “The East Side is widely recognized for its great foodscape,” Sides said, “Urban Oasis programs will only enhance this neighborhood’s burgeoning reputation as an example of how better food systems can create communities that are healthier, more prosperous, and more equitable.”

                                    Co-sponsors of the coming event include Mississippi Market, Eureka Recycling, the City of St. Paul, and the St. Paul Saints. Numerous local organizations involved in the production and distribution of sustainably produced food will have tables at the event.

                                    In addition, local gardeners who grow their own tomatoes are encouraged to bring up to two pounds each for use in the event’s canning demonstration. Participants will also be entered in a drawing for St. Paul Saints baseball tickets and other prizes.

                                    To register, visit uofoodfest.eventbrite.com.

                                    Is Dayton’s Bluff about to become the capital of Minnesota’s sustainable- food movement?

                                    That’s a distinct possibility, thanks in large part to Urban Oasis, an initiative of the Lower Phalen Creek Project, overseen by Dayton’s Bluff resident Tracy Sides. The program got its start last summer, when Sides’ idea – to create new markets for locally grown produce – won the St. Paul Foundation’s $1 million Forever Saint Paul Challenge.

                                    Since then, Sides and her team have worked to bring the idea to life: projects are underway to develop new markets and classes around sustainably-produced produce, simultaneously helping local farmers earn a better living while improving local citizens’ access to healthy food. The group’s first big public program will be a free community food festival, celebrating the various foods grown, prepared, and served on St. Paul’s East Side.

                                    The Urban Oasis Food Fest, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm on Sunday, August 17, is expected to attract as many as 2,000 people to the former Hospital Linen site, a vacant property at 740 7th Street East that is expected to become Mississippi Market Natural Foods Cooperative’s newest retail location.

                                    “This is a party to mark the official launch of the Urban Oasis program, and our way of saying thank you to the people who voted for our idea last summer, during the Forever St. Paul Challenge,” Sides said. “Giving people more opportunities to access and enjoy locally grown food not only results in better health, but also creates a more resilient, prosperous community. And at the same time, we’ll have a lot of fun.”

                                    Activities will include a tomato-canning demonstration with chef and cooking instructor Jenny Breen, and taste-testing of what will become Urban Oasis-branded condiments, developed by chef and East Side resident Bridger Merkt. There will also be food samples from several East Side vendors, including Flat Earth Brewery’s root beer and African Delights Foods & Catering.

                                    The food fest is just the beginning of what Sides and her team are planning for the coming year; Urban Oasis leaders are talking about numerous programs that would bring economic activity to Dayton’s Bluff, including a catering operation and cooking classes.

                                    “The East Side is widely recognized for its great foodscape,” Sides said, “Urban Oasis programs will only enhance this neighborhood’s burgeoning reputation as an example of how better food systems can create communities that are healthier, more prosperous, and more equitable.”

                                    Co-sponsors of the coming event include Mississippi Market, Eureka Recycling, the City of St. Paul, and the St. Paul Saints. Numerous local organizations involved in the production and distribution of sustainably produced food will have tables at the event.

                                    In addition, local gardeners who grow their own tomatoes are encouraged to bring up to two pounds each for use in the event’s canning demonstration. Participants will also be entered in a drawing for St. Paul Saints baseball tickets and other prizes.

                                    To register, visit uofoodfest.eventbrite.com.

                                    © 2014 Dayton's Bluff Forum Urban Oasis Food Fest

                                      OPINION | View from my porch: Last house standing

                                      Tue, 2014-08-12 15:51
                                      sage holben Dayton's Bluff Forum

                                      Even as I write this, a community member asks me, “What is the status of the ‘adobe house’?” This 393 Bates Avenue structure is also known to some as the “last house standing.” As cranes, bulldozers and trucks work away in the great pit surrounding this solitary island, some see the predicament only as an impediment to the footprint of Metro State University’s parking ramp. One neighbor noticed activity around the house, jumping to the conclusion that demolition was pending. The lot’s perimeter has been shored up, leading to more questions about the future of the house. I notice changes in the landscape every time I walk past. A gap in the earth – is the digging around the property causing the “island” to weaken? When the hanging flower pots disappeared, a neighbor asked if it signified a dire change; but no, the plants just needed some tender care and watering, so owner Jim Smith had temporarily removed them. To those who watch the house, the flowers serve as a visual reminder that water, electricity, and life still flow there.

                                      393 Bates Avenue has been home to Smith’s family since 1988, and his daughter has grown up there. Jim – along with many community members – would like to see his beloved house relocated to a new lot. No one from Metro State is talking, perhaps for legal reasons. Laura King, Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, simply said, “The Board of Trustees did approve the use of eminent domain if negotiations are unsuccessful.”

                                      Metro State presented the Board with an action item, the document dated March 19, 2014, to approve the use of eminent domain in acquiring the property. The document states that “the seller has not responded to subsequent written or personal visits or requests to renegotiate the proposed purchase, leaving the university at an impasse on the acquisition of 393 Bates.” (Whether any communication or negotiations have taken place since March 19, this writer does not know.) This request for action does indicate that the property issue has the interests and involvement of the State House of Representatives Ways and Means and the State Senate Finance Committees.

                                      Eminent domain may be used to acquire real property only for a public use or public purpose. Under Minn. Stat. §136F.60, Subd.2 the Board may acquire real property “…by gift, purchase, or condemnation proceedings. Condemnation proceedings must be under Chapter 117.” Minn. Stat. §117.025, Subd.11 (1) defines public use or public purpose to include “the possession, ownership and enjoyment of the land by the general public or by public agencies.” In this case, the university plans to fund, build, and operate a parking ramp and surface parking on its site to serve its classroom and event activities. Further, the university is required to produce parking necessary under city requirement to support its use. The property at 393 Bates Avenue is part of the overall plan for parking on the site. I don’t know how charging parking fees by and for a state institution works with property gained by eminent domain and for use as campus parking, but that may be a different topic altogether.

                                      The Minnesota Historical Society describes this eye-catching home as a “rare example of a one-story Adobe Revival house…[with a] uniquely formal and symmetrical façade.” Each time I walk to work or walk home and pass the house, I’m not sure if the adobe house will be standing or if I will see a flattened area being readied for “the ramp.” Perhaps the oscillating crane’s pendulum hanging over the house earlier this week was the final omen of doom.

                                      The MnSCU Acquisition of Property document notes: “The university intends to continue negotiating with the seller, but if the eminent domain action proceeds, the system intends to use the 'quick take' process provided under state law. The quick-take approach is commonly used by the state to take early possession of the property, but still requires proceedings in state district court before the state can take title. Even using this process, securing title to the property likely would not be completed until late 2014.”

                                      Even as I write this, a community member asks me, “What is the status of the ‘adobe house’?” This 393 Bates Avenue structure is also known to some as the “last house standing.” As cranes, bulldozers and trucks work away in the great pit surrounding this solitary island, some see the predicament only as an impediment to the footprint of Metro State University’s parking ramp. One neighbor noticed activity around the house, jumping to the conclusion that demolition was pending. The lot’s perimeter has been shored up, leading to more questions about the future of the house. I notice changes in the landscape every time I walk past. A gap in the earth – is the digging around the property causing the “island” to weaken? When the hanging flower pots disappeared, a neighbor asked if it signified a dire change; but no, the plants just needed some tender care and watering, so owner Jim Smith had temporarily removed them. To those who watch the house, the flowers serve as a visual reminder that water, electricity, and life still flow there.

                                      393 Bates Avenue has been home to Smith’s family since 1988, and his daughter has grown up there. Jim – along with many community members – would like to see his beloved house relocated to a new lot. No one from Metro State is talking, perhaps for legal reasons. Laura King, Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, simply said, “The Board of Trustees did approve the use of eminent domain if negotiations are unsuccessful.”

                                      Metro State presented the Board with an action item, the document dated March 19, 2014, to approve the use of eminent domain in acquiring the property. The document states that “the seller has not responded to subsequent written or personal visits or requests to renegotiate the proposed purchase, leaving the university at an impasse on the acquisition of 393 Bates.” (Whether any communication or negotiations have taken place since March 19, this writer does not know.) This request for action does indicate that the property issue has the interests and involvement of the State House of Representatives Ways and Means and the State Senate Finance Committees.

                                      Eminent domain may be used to acquire real property only for a public use or public purpose. Under Minn. Stat. §136F.60, Subd.2 the Board may acquire real property “…by gift, purchase, or condemnation proceedings. Condemnation proceedings must be under Chapter 117.” Minn. Stat. §117.025, Subd.11 (1) defines public use or public purpose to include “the possession, ownership and enjoyment of the land by the general public or by public agencies.” In this case, the university plans to fund, build, and operate a parking ramp and surface parking on its site to serve its classroom and event activities. Further, the university is required to produce parking necessary under city requirement to support its use. The property at 393 Bates Avenue is part of the overall plan for parking on the site. I don’t know how charging parking fees by and for a state institution works with property gained by eminent domain and for use as campus parking, but that may be a different topic altogether.

                                      The Minnesota Historical Society describes this eye-catching home as a “rare example of a one-story Adobe Revival house…[with a] uniquely formal and symmetrical façade.” Each time I walk to work or walk home and pass the house, I’m not sure if the adobe house will be standing or if I will see a flattened area being readied for “the ramp.” Perhaps the oscillating crane’s pendulum hanging over the house earlier this week was the final omen of doom.

                                      The MnSCU Acquisition of Property document notes: “The university intends to continue negotiating with the seller, but if the eminent domain action proceeds, the system intends to use the 'quick take' process provided under state law. The quick-take approach is commonly used by the state to take early possession of the property, but still requires proceedings in state district court before the state can take title. Even using this process, securing title to the property likely would not be completed until late 2014.”

                                      © 2014 Dayton's Bluff Forum

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