Archive | AGING WELL

How are seniors adjusting to COVID-19 pandemic?

Posted on 28 August 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Local organizations offer various resources

Tanya Welch of Hiawatha Suites Senior Living

Seniors at Hiawatha Suites Senior Living, 4140 Dight Ave. S., watched as Irish dancers performed in the parking lot. The seniors enjoyed the dancing from a safe distance in the dining room or outside on the patio. Hiawatha Suites Executive Director Tanya Welch mentioned that this had become the “new normal” for seniors. Families, other visitors, or performers all need to keep their distance.
Hiawatha Suites Senior Living is a care facility that houses seniors in order to provide their care. However, their aim is still to make seniors feel independent and dignified. They focus on community life and memory care for seniors, and also offer 24-hour care. These ways of helping seniors have all been challenged due to COVID-19.
Many seniors have underlying health conditions, which adds to the complications of living through COVID-19. Seniors’ health is often already fragile but contracting COVID-19 would create many new challenges. Welch believes that a senior without a community supporting them would make even the simplest of tasks difficult – especially, if they did not have access to electronics or know how to utilize apps like Zoom or Skype.
“Encountering COVID-19 could be a death sentence for the elderly,” Welch said.
Residents at Hiawatha Suites are allowed to go out for essential healthcare visits only. Even though Hiawatha Suites provides Metro Mobility, seniors want to go out and shop, eat or visit friends and family. Hiawatha Suites has tried to encourage video chats and phone calls with family, but they understand that these are not the same.
“We have begun outdoor patio visits. This has brought much joy to residents and families,” Welch said.
These visits must still be outdoors, with all visitors and residents wearing masks and standing six feet apart. These visits are monitored and the families are asked to provide Hiawatha Suites with a 24-hour notice before they visit. Families are also screened and asked to sign an outdoor visit policy in order ensure that guidelines are followed. To call for an appointment, Hiawatha Suites Senior Living’s phone number is 612-351-6060.
For the seniors that don’t get visitors, there is a full-time activities director who spends time with all residents. But, Hiawatha Suites still encourages the community to reach out and help. Sending letters to seniors can be done by using their main address listed above.
“We strive to keep residents safe, secure, happy and entertained on a regular basis. Just having personal connection and conversation is good for anyone’s soul,” Welch said.
Because Hiawatha Suites Senior Living is a care facility that directly houses seniors in order to get their care, their COVID-19 safety plan can be more challenging because of closer living quarters. Hiawatha Suites has a strenuous process of screening all visitors. They encourage hand washing more regularly, sanitize the building daily and staff wear masks and personal protective equipment (PPE). They also test residents and staff often.
“It’s very important to me that seniors are well cared for. My own mother went through the various phases of Dementia and Alzheimer’s,” Welch said. “She lived in a skilled nursing facility for the last three years of her life.”
In preparing for the future, Welch believes that it is important for the community to keep reaching out to seniors they know, not just seniors living in Hiawatha Suites. She encourages people to reach out to seniors for a conversation, to show support or even just to share a smile.
“You would be surprised at what you could learn from seniors. They were once young, too. Some of their life stories would amaze you. I have worked with seniors who were airline pilots, nurses, doctors, teachers, writers, published authors and more,” Welch said.
Welch acknowledged that the pandemic has been hard on everyone and is continuously so. But, seniors are more susceptible to getting COVID-19 and compromised because of their health and age. She encourages people to still visit and check in with one another in a safe manor.
“Everyone loves getting a visit from time to time. It makes us feel remembered and appreciated,” Welch said.



Larvel Bunker

Larvel Bunker, the co-owner of Comfort Keepers Twin Cities, (275 4th St. E., Suite 345 in St. Paul), believes that loneliness is a big struggle for many seniors during the pandemic. Socially isolated seniors have a greater risk of mental and physical decline while socially engaged seniors have higher levels of physical, mental and cognitive functioning according to a study done by Forbes. Social interaction may even slow Alzheimer and Dementia patients’ decline, according to the National Institute of Health.

Comfort Keepers Twin Cities provides in-home, non-medical care for seniors and other adults in need of assistance with daily activities. They have more than 700 offices nationwide, and serve the local communities in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Along with daily assistance, Comfort Keepers Twin Cities provides 24-hour home care, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease care and end-of-life care.

“Feelings of isolation are universal and far reaching, especially during the statewide Stay at Home order. Some seniors found themselves walled-off even from residents within their own buildings, which although necessary for safety, could not have been easy on seniors and may have lasting effects on some,” Bunker said.

Longfellow Seward Healthy Seniors
provides many services to help area seniors live healthy, independent and socially connected lives. They serve 600+ seniors and caregivers annually. Although their office in the U.S. bank building was destroyed during the civil unrest, they are still providing essential services (although they have temporarily suspended in-person classes and events due to social distancing requirements).

Food insecurity is a pressing need for many seniors now. “Our community became a food desert practically overnight when Target, Cub and Aldi’s closed due to significant building damages,” said Executive Director Mary Albrecht. “Our staff and volunteers are doing grocery shopping and delivery for our clients, and are delivering food from local food shelves, as well. We recently received a Hunger Solutions grant for food distribution and delivery to lower-income seniors. Older adults age 60+ who live in the greater Longfellow and Seward neighborhoods are encouraged to contact us to see if they’re income-eligible for free food distribution and delivery.

“We’re always looking for more volunteers to help us in our work. Contact us by calling 612-729-5799 or email us at”

Nokomis Healthy Seniors
is now able to deliver food from the Minnehaha Food Shelf to your home every Tuesday, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you could benefit from this service, call the NHS office at 612-729-5499. Staff is working remotely, and will respond to voicemails as soon as they’re able.

“With the advent of Covid-19 and its impact on our community, we’ve all been very concerned for our friends and family, especially our elders. We also know how difficult it is to be a caregiver during the pandemic, when we are asked to stay at home. One of the ways that we are going to help is by making memory boxes that can help those with dementia to relive favorite memories and stories of their past. Please call the office for more information,” said Executive Director Megan Elliasen.

“Social distancing means that most of us have had to rely on electronic means to stay connected with others, and many of our participants are not comfortable with, or don’t have access to, technology. Similarly, the stress of living during this unprecedented time of a world-wide pandemic and the uncertainty and disruption it brings will likely worsen existing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Even before the pandemic, there was evidence that substance abuse has been rising among the older population, and the fear and panic many feel during this time of Covid-19 may very well result in more men and women struggling with substance abuse.

“On another note, NHS participants have experienced further stress and fear in their neighborhoods this spring and summer due to the rioting, violence, and mayhem in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, putting many of us on edge.”

Nokomis Healthy Seniors (NHS) is not offering in-person programming until further notice, such as in-person events/programs, including bingo, lunch and a movie, support groups, Nurse is in Blood Pressure Clinic, educational presentations, and foot care.

Virtual Program Offerings:
« Exercise with Becky, Nokomis Healthy Seniors’ Exercise Instructor. She is creating several different videos with tips on exercising at home using items you probably have on hand. Visit our Facebook page ( for a link to the video, or leave a message at the office (612-729-5499) and Becky will send you the direct link via email.
« Exercise: Juniper Program – The Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging (MAAA) offers its Juniper program classes online. Call 855-215-2174 or visit
« Friendly Phone Visitors – Volunteers and staff are happy to call seniors who would like to chat with a friendly visitor.
« Rides – NHS is still coordinating rides, provided by volunteers, for essential services such as picking up prescriptions, grocery store runs, and doctors’ appointments.
« Book Club, via Zoom – Call the office for details.


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Church adapts

Posted on 26 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

In touch through video calls, telephone, email, and postal mail


Joy and Randy Nelson keep in touch online with their fellow members at Holy Trinity Church. (Photo by Terry Faust)

Randy Nelson participated in a recent congregation-wide meeting, along with nearly 100 members of his church, Holy Trinity Lutheran (2730 E. 31st St.), but Nelson could only see 30 fellow congregants at a time. Those 30 were on his computer screen in his apartment.
At a time when church buildings in Minnesota are closed and gatherings with more than 10 people are banned,* Holy Trinity and religious groups all over the state are using computer technology to bring their congregations together. By necessity, church members like Nelson, a retired Lutheran pastor, are becoming computer savvy.
“Before the pandemic, I had never heard of Zoom,” he said. “Now I seem to be using it almost every day.”
At Holy Trinity, church meetings are conducted on Zoom, but the Longfellow Lutheran congregation uses a different technology known as Vimeo for video broadcasts of its weekly church service.
“The service is recorded so we can watch it anytime,” Nelson said. “The videos do help to bring the church into our home but they are no substitute for being there in the pews with our fellow congregation members. For me, at least, videos make the services seem like a spectator sport.”
While they can watch the Holy Trinity service anytime during the week, Nelson and his wife Joy have decided to watch it at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning. “That is a traditional worship time for us, so when we watch the service at 11 it does feel like we are part of a larger group, even though there are only two of us in our apartment,” Nelson noted.

Maintaining connection virtually
At St. Albert’s Catholic Church (2836 33rd Ave. S.), the 9:30 a.m. mass on Sunday is livestreamed on Facebook. “We can see there are at least 110 households present for that service,” said Mike Vitt, a longtime member of St. Albert’s parish. “We are together virtually, so that way we can maintain some connections. We can feel each other’s presence even if we are not together physically.”
Greta Gantriis, a member at St. Peder’s Lutheran Church (4600 E. 42nd St.), said she misses being with long-time friends on Sunday morning. “The online service does keep us connected, but it is not the same as being together in person. So many of us are part of a long-standing community of people with a Danish heritage. St. Peder’s has done so much to maintain that sense of community.”
Like Gantriis, Rita Juhl, another St. Peder’s member, wishes she could be together with fellow congregants on Sunday morning. “But that is not possible now. We have to adapt to this new reality,” Juhl said.

Volunteering in the community
At a time when so many people are finding themselves quarantined at home, churches in Longfellow and Nokomis have made a special effort to stay connected with the members of their congregation.
“With the shutdown in place, many of our members have rediscovered the telephone,“ said Holy Trinity’s senior pastor, Ingrid Rasmussen. “When the shutdown occurred, we contacted everyone in the congregation by phone. We continue to keep in touch that way – particularly for the small group of people who don’t have access to reliable computer communications. We also have a newsletter that goes out every week, by email and by postal mail.“
Rasmussen said that Holy Trinity has maintained its connections with people in the neighborhood who may not be church members. “We know that many neighbors are suffering financially as a result of the pandemic. They may have lost their jobs or been furloughed. We have an emergency fund that can help in special situations.”
Even with the shelter in place orders in effect, Holy Trinity members continued their community outreach efforts. “A number of us are involved as volunteers at Longfellow School, the education center for mothers with children and pregnant mothers,” Joy Nelson explained. “Earlier this month, we were able to participate in an event at the school. We brought gifts over for the graduates. They came outside one at a time.
“With proper social distancing, we stood in the school yard with bells and signs congratulating them. We volunteers were able to see each other in person and even talk to each other through our masks.”

Joint church food shelf busy
At Minnehaha Methodist Church (3701 E. 50th St.), a group of four area congregations jointly sponsor the Minnehaha Food Shelf. The four include Minnehaha Methodist, Nokomis Lutheran, St. James Episcopal and Living Table. George Gallagher, the food shelf’s director, said he has seen an upswing in food shelf use as the pandemic has taken hold in Minnesota.
“Our demand surged in April when we served 880 client, a 22% increase over the previous month,” Gallagher said. “Right now, we are able to keep up with the demand. But our biggest concern is whether we will be able to keep doing that as more people are laid off and furloughed. People in the community have been very generous. Our contributions are up. That is a good sign that we will be able to meet the need in the months ahead.”
“Our church buildings may be closed, but that doesn’t mean that our churches are closed,” noted Minnehaha United Methodist Pastor Becky Seachrist. “We continue to fulfill our mission. Now, we have to do it in new ways.”

* 25% of capacity
*Gov. Tim Walz has issued a new executive order enabling places of worship to hold indoor services, starting on May 27, at 25% of their capacity, as long as they follow public health guidelines. Churches and other places of worship must provide six feet of separation between attendees. Indoor and outdoor events are limited to a maximum of 250 participants.

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Dig in, try something new and get inspired

Posted on 26 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen


The Hennepin County Master Gardener’s annual tour may be cancelled this year due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean these gardeners don’t still have tips and tricks to offer. Three local gardeners open up their yards and their hearts. And don’t worry. Their gardens will be open next year instead.

On a roadtrip, she pulls into the nurseries she passes

Sandra Mangel’s cottage-style garden stops walkers in their tracks with its color and beauty. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Sandra Mangel loves color, and she feels color expresses the joy and love she has for life. The interior designer not only fills her home with color, but lets it flow through her gardens.
“My love for gardening and beauty came at an early age,” Mangel said. As a child, her father was in the war and when she was one year old she and her mom moved to California to be with her grandparents. “My grandmother had exquisite taste, and every day she had fresh flowers on the table.” Mangel’s mother was also a gardener who grew annuals, peonies, shrubs, roses and mock orange. Her mother-in-law was born on a farm and taught her about soil.
So with all this gardening background in her life, Mangel started gardening right away when she and her husband bought their home in south Minneapolis 48 years ago.
“I started with a rose garden in the back yard, because it was the only sunny spot we had,” she said. “I didn’t really think of gardening in the front yard, because that wasn’t the style then. I started gardening in the front yard about 30 years ago. The trees in the back yard had grown too tall and too lush for the rose beds.”
Her front bank garden has grown to incorporate the entire front yard sculpted within two small grassy areas. “I utilized my interior design skills to draft the initial plan to scale locating the perennials and shrubs. The annuals are sprinkled in each year for cutting and continuous color,”

Sandra Mangel enjoys beauty indoors and out. She applies her interior design skills to planning for continuous color. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Mangel explained.
She has taken out all the sod in the back yard and put in pavement to create a courtyard.
Mangel said she loves roses, lilies and phlox. “Phlox are blooming in the garden for a long time; they are lovely and lush and come in a whole variety of different colors. They are very hardy, and give a garden that fullness I desire.”

She said roses are the most challenging to grow, particularly with Japanese beetles and black spot attacking them. “I try to find something organic to combat those issues,” she said. “The only thing you can do with the beetles is pick them off.”

Sandra Mangel’s cottage-style garden stops walkers in their tracks with its color and beauty. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Day lilies are the easiest flower to grow, according to Mangel. “They are profuse and multiply like crazy. I have a whole bank of day lilies and hosta and white lamium. I keep dividing them, and last year took took all the lilies out and put in all pastels.”
Mangel said one of her rarest plants is a variegated Japanese pagoda in her backyard, a shrub that flowers lightly in the spring. “It grows very sparse and looks very Japanese. As it grows it has a lot of space in between. This is its third year. I found it in a nursery up north. When I take road trips, if I see a sign for a nursery I am definitely pulling in.”

Mangel said she has wanted to become a master gardener for a number of years and became one last year. “It’s extremely rewarding,” she said. “I help in community gardens and farmer’s markets, educating the public and making sure that people know who we are, and there is help available for problems and questions involving insects and plant diseases. We offer tips on what to plant for a rain garden or prairie garden or bird and butterfly garden.”


Keep your perspective shifting
so you’re surprised around the bend

Steve Miles enjoys his gardens year-round, designing when he isn’t planting or weeding. Since retiring, he’s had time to make major upgrades. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Steve Miles, who lives on Riverside Parkway, started gardening when he was about 30. “There was a spirea hedge that was ugly, and it smelled. So I removed it,” he said. “I asked a landscape guy how to garden. He came over and laid out the first garden with hoses.” Miles said he started laying out more gardens with hoses. “The nice thing about that is that you get the scale right. You lay the hoses down on the ground, and it’s no commitment. You just get to think about it.”
He added, “My first garden was in the sun, with perennials. The next two were in the shade, and I planted ferns and hostas. I learned how to do woodland plants by trial and error.”
Miles has gradually added gardens over the years. He now has a kitchen garden, in which he installed raised beds in 2018. “With the high beds and wide aisles, I can work it as I age,” he said. His front garden is Asian in style, and the kitchen garden in back is western in form, linear and geometric in keeping with its functional purpose. He put in a bioswale rain garden along the boulevard.

Hostas star in Steve Miles’ shade gardens. (Photo submitted)

“Originally I just stole the time to work in the gardens afternoons and evenings,” said Miles, a retired physician. “After I retired I made some more major upgrades. You do it in pieces.” He ordered 16 tons of stone and laid them in place instead of going to the gym.
“I put in a postman’s path, a cool thing from England,” he said. “You create a path so the postman can come straight across from the neighbor’s yard. You can incorporate it into the garden.”
Miles said he “lives out there” in his gardens. “It’s very peaceful; I put in benches for where I want to rest while I’m weeding.”
“The whole garden is designed for pollinators. One of the things that surprised me, the more bees I worked with, I never got stung.”
Miles said he chooses to use no herbicides or pesticides at all. He cut down on roses after a Japanese beetle plague some years ago, but he said there is a soil bacteria called milky spore that you can lay down in the garden, and it kills the larva of the beetles.

Miles added a kitchen garden with raised beds in 2018 so that he can work on it as he ages. (Photo submitted)

“The lawn itself is a garden,” Miles said. “I’ve got creeping charley, dandelions, squill, violets and forget-me-nots. I did not plan it that way, but that is critical for the bees. You have to let your lawn go native. If you spray it, you’re starving or killing the bees, so I don’t do any of that.”
Miles seeks diversity in his garden, which has many little microenvironments. He said that using curve shapes in a garden is so cool because it forces you to take bendy walks. “When you do that, the perspective is always shifting. Some days I take a walk and see an arrangement of plants that I had no idea I had set up, and it’s lovely.”
Miles said he works on gardening all year, designing when he isn’t planting or weeding. As a master gardener, he serves on an arboretum e-line, answering questions about lemon trees or philodendrons or how to clean up property.


A master gardener, not a master mulcher

Views of Melinda Ludwiczak’s gardens highlight her use of color year-round. Learn more about becoming a master gardener at (Photos submitted)

When Melinda Ludwiczak moved to Minneapolis in 1992 and worked as a community coordinator for Robbinsdale Schools, she started attending some classes taught by a master gardener. Twenty years ago, she became a master gardener herself.
“I have been inspired by what we learn,” she said. “A few years ago at one of our conferences, we had Thomas Friedman, a landscape architect, talk about how we need to look at our landscape as a plant community. You look at how things grow in nature, and how they grow in layers. He said we use too much mulch in our gardens in America. We are master gardeners, not master mulchers. Okay, I get that. So I try to understory things with plants, and I don’t use a lot of mulch.”
Ludwiczak said her garden is a work in progress. “You’re never finished. I decided to work with a landscaper to install some paths and stone.” She removed a buckthorn hedge that went all the way around the perimeter of her yard to the front. “I was inspired by one of my neighbors who had a lot of plants around the edge, and I liked that, so I started putting in a lot of plants.”
In the last few years, recognizing the pollinator crisis, especially with bees, Ludwiczak took a special training so that as a master gardener she could talk with the public about how to create more pollinator habitats. “I decided to really dig in to that,” she quipped. “So my garden is more of a pollinator design than a landscape design; it’s a mix of trees, shrubs, flowers, perennials and annuals. We kind of know what the pollinators like and why.” She created a pollinator habitat, with plants blooming from late April until October.

Views of Melinda Ludwiczak’s gardens highlight her use of color year-round. Learn more about becoming a master gardener at (Photos submitted)

“You want different heights, different colors and different petal shapes,” Ludwiczak explained. She said you have to give pollinators an opportunity to get into the flower to get the pollen.
She noted that butterflies are not pollinators, but they are in peril and need to survive. Flies are more abundant pollinators than any insect, but they are not in danger. Bees are. “We have several thousand different bees in the U.S. I think Minnesota has over 400 native bees,” she said.
At the last legislative session, legislators appropriated nearly a million dollars to enhance and create pollinator habitats in Minnesota. “They are offering homeowners reimbursement for pollinator habitat in their landscape,” Ludwiczak said. “There were 6,000 applicants this first go-round.”
She grows low-mow or no-mow grass, which provides a lawn that only needs to be mowed once or twice a season. “The grass doesn’t go to seed; it thickens up and grows taller and lays over,” Ludwiczak said. “My granddaughter calls it Dr. Seuss grass.”
She said more cities are changing ordinances so that people can install that kind of grass. People can learn how to do away with so much turf that doesn’t provide much nutrition to pollinators and other critters. They can plant more shrubs that are beneficial.
“I have seen more and more front yards that are just plants, in the city and suburbs, too.”
Hydrangea is Ludwiczak’s favorite plant. “It comes in so many colors and shapes,” she said. “And I am really proud of my lavender. There are only a couple varieties that survive our winters here, and I have had one for a long time in a sunny spot.”
For Ludwiczak, her biggest gardening struggle is with a rabbit and keeping it from eating everything. “He has eaten all the raspberries I have. I used to have a lot of shrubbery, and the rabbits ate them down to the ground. I gave up on them,” she commented.
“I also find growing plants in the shade challenging,” she continued. “We have shade over our deck, and trying to find plants that aren’t all hostas and have some color has been hard.”

Views of Melinda Ludwiczak’s gardens highlight her use of color year-round. Learn more about becoming a master gardener at (Photos submitted)

Her most unusual plant is a holly she has in the front of her house, one of the first things she got. “I don’t know what kind it is; I bought it when I was really new at this.”
Ludwiczak said she keeps busy as a master gardener, doing a lot of community education and helping plan the annual conference held each year. “The big trend this year is houseplants,” she said. “A lot of younger gardeners see it as internal decorating, if you don’t have a lot of room.”

Views of Melinda Ludwiczak’s gardens highlight her use of color year-round. Learn more about becoming a master gardener at (Photos submitted)

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Hope for the Heartbroken

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

An inspired journey

Angela Woosley of Inspired Journeys

By Angela Woosley,

Over the past month, the Coronavirus pandemic has upended our lives, and many of us are struggling to adjust to the new normal. Unemployment, job insecurity, health scares, and general anxiety are common features of life during this topsy-turvy time. But for many of us, this pandemic comes at the absolute worst time – at a time of grief.
If someone you love has died, whether due to COVID-19 or not, it may feel like the world is spinning out of control. It’s common to feel out of sorts when we are grieving under normal circumstances, but with everything else we are experiencing, death of a loved one right now may feel like too much to handle. I want to offer some words of advice and comfort for those who need it most.

Take a deep breath
It’s okay to slow down and take a moment to gather your thoughts. Death is not an emergency, so if you are having trouble sorting through your jumbled ideas, press pause. Think about your wishes for a service and what you know about the deceased’s wishes for a service. Do you want burial or cremation? What kind of service do you want? Write your wishes down; sort through your thoughts over time. You can honor and remember your loved one the way you want, but it may look a little different. Be flexible with timing; don’t let anyone rush you.

Hang onto these moments
There’s a fair chance you were unable to be with the person who died just before their death. Most facilities aren’t allowing visitors in order to keep patient populations healthy. You are not alone in this heartbreak. Perhaps you can ask staff to take pictures of your loved one – a picture of their face, a picture of staff holding their hand – either before or after death. If you are able to be with the person you love, take pictures together. Times like this can be a blur; pictures can help us freeze these moments to help us remember and work through our grief later.

Be present with your grief
When you hurt with grief, it can hurt so much you may wish you could feel anything else. Grief is a healthy, natural reaction to losing someone we love, and it’s okay to sit with these feelings and experience them. Remember to eat and hydrate, then do what feels right. Light a candle, say a prayer, write a letter to them, draw for them, walk in nature, cry your eyes out, laugh your heart out, remember the best moments you shared. Share your grief with others and let them know what you need. Grief is not the time to be Minnesotan about it – ask people directly. They likely want to help but have no idea what to say or do. You’re doing them a favor to ask for their help.

Adapt your funeral
Due to limitations on gatherings, you may be planning a simple service with only a few people present. Don’t forget to include people remotely! With a Zoom meeting, Tribucast service, FaceBook Live, or other webcast/livestream service, you can include people from far and wide at the funeral. For folks who can’t participate online, let them know when the service will be and ask them to light a candle or say a prayer at that time. Look at your list of wishes and see what you can include in a service now.

Plan for the future
Next, think ahead to the coming months. Eventually, guidelines about social distancing will relax, allowing you to hold a celebration of life that incorporates the elements you can’t include now. To help you focus some of your energy (and possibly your feelings of grief), work on plans for that larger celebration of life now. Gather together their most treasured belongings, enlist friends to make handmade crafts, sort through photos for a video or picture board, make a playlist of songs, and find the perfect readings.

Advice you can ignore
One last note about planning: If your loved one “didn’t want you to make a fuss” about their death and asked you to keep it simple, you are allowed to take that advice with a grain of salt. We come together to honor, remember, and grieve for the person we loved, but more than anything, grief rituals are for US, the living. Rabbi Earl Grollman might have said it best: Grief shared is grief diminished. Find those points of connection and share your grief with rituals that speak to your love and your loss. The person you have lost is worth it.
Angela Woosley is a trained mortician, educator, end-of-life doula and celebrant who recently started Inspired Journeys in the Twin Cities, the first of its kind natural deathcare provider.

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‘There’s science in every thing’ says Bonnie Everets

Posted on 08 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

SELF International founder aims to close achievement gap by organizing hands-on science programs

When Bonnie Everets was only four years old, her family bought a vineyard and fruit farm upstate New York and the family moved from town to the country. For Everets, it changed everything.
“The instant we got there, I became interested in being in nature. It was like my own secret garden,” she said. “I worked in our vineyard with my father, driving a tractor as soon as my foot could reach the clutch, at about seven years old.”
It set her on a lifelong path of discovery, exploring and teaching.

Holistic approach
When she was in fourth grade, she was out exploring when she discovered a hillside with a number of different kinds of mosses, each a different color. She took samples, transplanting them to a terrarium to study. A trip to the library helped her learn more. “Then, I took the mosses to school and taught the other students what I had learned,” she said.
Later, attending Hope College, Everets focused on art, English, German and theater, spending her junior year in Turkey. After earning a master’s degree in archeology at the University of Chicago, she received a Bush grant and moved to the Twin Cities in 1974 to work as a member of the theater ensemble at URBAN Art’s program. She later worked at the Walker. She ended up in real estate to support her creative and artistic projects with a flexible schedule.
Meanwhile, her son, Graham, was attending the Friend’s School, thriving in their holistic approach to teaching. But, in sixth grade, he asked his mother if he could be homeschooled. His mother agreed.
Mother and son became involved in the Jason Project, a non-profit offering hands-on curriculum in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
“My experience with Graham allowed me to recognize an exciting holistic approach,” she said. And, it helped her understand that all kids needed to be exposed to the advantages offered to Graham.
Everets realized that most schools, even the best, couldn’t offer everything kids needed to learn during regular school hours. “We have a major achievement gap in Minnesota. But, I know how smart these kids are. Giving these kids enrichment time after school, on weekends and in the summer will help put them on a more even level,” she said.
“We needed to go into the community where the kids live.”

SELF International born
Everets decided to organize locally. In 2005, she created SELF International (Science Education Literacy Fine Arts,) establishing education programs for underserved students and their families.
“I owe a big debt to State Senator Patricia Torres Ray,” said Everets. Torres-Ray connected her to the Minnesota Science Museum to set up one of their first big events in 2012.
That event was Nano Days, part of a national movement, that lets grade and middle school students study science on a molecular level. “This lets kids see the fun and excitement of science. They won’t think science is irrelevant or that it’s hard,” Everets said.
“It exposes them to opportunities they might not otherwise have, and it gives kids and their families who probably don’t go to museums the chance to have the museums come to them.”
The Science Museum became a chief sponsor, supplying NanoDays Hands-On Activity Kits, along with volunteer scientists and educators, to give students practical experiences in real science letting them see science as part of their world.
State Senator Torres-Ray, continues to be a strong supporter of Everets’ work. “Facilitating a partnership between the Science Museum and SELF, International was an essential step to insure that SELF’s mission to increase and expand community access to science becomes a reality,” she said.

They didn’t know where food came from before
Everets’ STEM program, originally located only at Sabathani Community Center expanded, offering cutting edge STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) at various locations around the Twin Cities, including Urban STEMS: the Science of Food at the Minneapolis Boys & Girls Club.
Three summers ago, in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Club in South Minneapolis, SELF started a garden at the corner of 39th and Columbus, across from the Boys & Girls Club.
“Bonnie is a great person. She’s dedicated and the kids love her. There aren’t a lot of behavior problems because they really respect her,” said Boys & Girls Club in the Twin Cities Area Supervisor Mark Graves.
“The kids grow the vegetables, and we use them for our snack and dinner programs. The kids learn overall knowledge of the importance of growing your own, the skill and patience that it takes to have a successful garden,” he said.
Everets added, “Most of these kids don’t have houses with yards. They don’t know where food comes from or how it grows. The program focuses on the science of food. So, we brought in pros. We brought in soil scientists, and food scientists. We studied bacteria to make yogurt. They learned about insects and food preservation. It shows the kids that there’s science in everything, so we get to create a science identity as early as possible.”
In her spare time, Everets is writing a cookbook based on her urban garden experience. “It’s an A to Z cookbook for children and their parents. It’ll show what to plant and then what you can make with it.” She plans on doing her own illustrations and is currently searching for a publisher.
Other programs offered by SELF International include ‘Building with Biology’ and ‘Let’s Do Chemistry.’

Join SELF International
“Because we move directly into the neighborhoods where students live, we collaborate with local schools and community organizations,” she said.
SELF International just received a mini-grant to start a new program for middle school-aged Latinx students and their families. They are currently scouting locations for the program and looking for interested collaborating organizations.
There are no paid positions at SELF International, so there is always a need for volunteers who want to work with kids. Contact Everets at

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Longfellow climate activist walks the walk every day

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Standing in front of her electric Chevy Bolt, Jean Buckley said, “I use my buying power to make an environmental statement. I believe in making educated, responsible choices.”(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Longtime Longfellow resident Jean Buckley believes each of us can make a difference in the current climate crisis.
She said, “I’ve always been a strong environmentalist. I believe every human being has a responsibility to protect earth’s finite natural resources. Some people choose to be what are called ‘first adopters,’ which means taking on higher costs when technologies or products are new. First adopters are willing to bear those initial costs, with relative certainty that the costs will come down when the technologies or products become more main stream.”
Buckley was a first adopter of residential solar energy, among many other things. Ten years ago, she had solar panels installed on her garage roof. That first set of solar panels produced enough energy to power her house until she bought an electric car last year. She is now adding more solar panels to the roof of her home to produce the extra energy she needs.
Over the next 10 years she will receive rebates from Xcel Energy as part of their Solar Rewards Program, and she won’t ever have to pay for electricity or gasoline again. Visit to learn more about their Solar Rewards Program.
When the Volkswagen Jetta TDI came on the market, it was the greenest car available. Buckley bought one early on, and was able to sell it back to VW after their emissions scandal broke. With the money from the resale, she purchased an electric Chevy Bolt. This car qualified for a $7,500 federal tax credit. She frequently travels to Duluth to visit her grandchildren. Money from the VW settlement is helping build infrastructure for electric vehicles; this includes more charging stations along highly traveled corridors like 35W.
Buckley has made most of her home improvement decisions from the standpoint of what’s best for the environment. She said, “Many of these choices have higher costs up-front, but I believe they are cost-effective over time. The metal roof I chose for my house cost about 20% more than asphalt shingles. It will last at least 100 years though; I’ll never need to replace it. I’ve lived in my house for 25 years and as someone who hopes to age in place, the metal roof made sense both environmentally and economically.”
On Earth Day 2019, Buckley retired from her job with Ramsey County as an Environmental Health Educator. Prior to that job, she worked for the city of Bloomington. Her areas of expertise included renewable energy, building efficiency, water quality, and recycling. She said, “I had a long career as an educator. I’m still finding ways to encourage people to make positive changes for the environment.”
Buckley is involved in her neighborhood as a Block Club Coordinator. Block Clubs are a function of the city of Minneapolis (visit to learn more.) The focus of Block Clubs is often on crime prevention, but can include other things depending on neighborhood interests. On Buckley’s block, she has organized a list of neighbors willing to share tools and skills, or barter for professional services.
She said, “We think our network is even better than Next Door, because it’s neighbor to neighbor on our own block.”
Since retiring last spring, Buckley has literally put on a new hat. She proudly wears a cap that identifies her as a River Educator with the Mississippi Park Connections Program: the nonprofit partner of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (the 72-mile section of the Mississippi River that flows through the Twin Cities). The program gives kids the opportunity to get out on the river, and have a national park experience right here in the Twin Cities.
In addition, she volunteers with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and on various climate issues such as pension divestment from fossil fuels, and investment in clean energy.
When asked what drives her seemingly endless supply of energy for environmental causes, the matter-of-fact Jean Buckley gave a surprisingly sentimental answer. She said, “It’s the Starfish Story.” So here, in closing, is the Starfish Story (author unknown.)
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy throwing something into the ocean. He asked, “What are you doing?” and the boy answered, “I’m throwing starfish into the sea. The tide is going out and if I don’t put them back, they’ll die.” The man said, “Don’t you see that there are miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” The boy picked up another starfish and gently put it back in the water. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “Well, I made a difference for that one.”

From Jean Buckley
Did you know that every 4th grader in the U.S. can obtain a free pass for themselves and their families to visit more than 2,000 federal lands and waterways for a whole year? The hope is that this “Every
Kid in a Park” will help to
build the next generation of passionate and informed
environmental stewards.
Visit to learn more.

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Virtual Passport Programs opens doors for people unable to travel

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Chris Mangold said, “Remember the old View Master, where you could see the world at the push of a button? This program is similar, but uses new technology.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Longfellow resident Christine Mangold is a seasoned traveler. Some of her favorite destinations have been Paris, London, Rome, and Venice. When she worked as the Lifelong Learning Director at the Minneapolis Ebenezer Senior Living Campus, she started thinking about virtual reality travel as an option for people living in that community. A virtual travel club could be a way to give them the joy of travelling to new places easily and at no cost.
Because of successful results from a pilot study at the Minneapolis Campus, Mangold started the Virtual Passport Programs (VPP) in 2019, and now brings her Virtual Travel Club to half a dozen senior living communities in the Twin Cities each month. The one-hour sessions are a chance for people who are unable to travel (for a variety of reasons) to view 360 degree videos from far-away places. Participants are issued a passport, provided with a tour guide, and off they go.
Participants fill out a travel profile when they join VPP. They answer questions about what they would like to see in the U.S., Mexico, South America, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, or Antarctica. Mangold said, “The focus of VPP is educational, but it also brings out memories of past travels – as well as longings to see places that were not fulfilled. In each session we offer five destinations to choose from, and they are destinations the group has expressed interest in seeing.”

Virtual Passport Programs Creator and CEO Chris Mangold (left) helped an Ebenezer resident put travel stamps in her virtual travel passport. Mangold encourages people considering senior living options to look at those with enthusiasm for new technologies, as well as traditional activities. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

She continued, “Remember watching the Seven Wonders of the World on a View Master? When you pushed the lever and the circle of tiny slides advanced? This is similar, but with new, advanced technology. Now people can experience an African safari, the Northern lights in Minnesota, or the Castle of Versailles. By turning in their seats or wheelchairs, they can change the view of what they’re seeing.”
Mangold’s goal is to bring the world to people who are living within four walls because of financial limitations, mobility or cognitive issues.
She said, “My sweet spot is that I’ve worked with seniors, and I’m able to follow the thread of their interests. I choose videos from the internet that won’t cause dizziness, and that are audience appropriate. Some have narration, and some don’t. In the middle of winter, it can be nice just to look at and listen to what’s happening on a Mediterranean beach.”
After viewing the video content through headsets, participants discuss what they’ve seen and compare travel notes. Mangold brings along a stack of maps and books about the pre-chosen destinations. Acting as tour guide, she uses her resources to stimulate conversation and to help people connect.
She said, “I arrived as creator/owner of VPP after walking many paths. Over the years, I’ve been a daughter to a mom who was in a care center for stroke-induced aphasia; a volunteer to children, women, and seniors; an art director for an ad agency focused on health and wellness; and a lifelong learning program director for a senior community. These experiences sparked the idea of using virtual reality technology to enrich seniors’ lives. I believe that anything is possible if you’re open to new paths.”
For more information, visit

“I’ve been fortunate to travel to faraway places. But I am just as awed by the beauty of the BWCA or the Lake Harriet Rose Garden, the simplicity of a Minnesota farm scene or a sunset. These are the sensory experiences of life that we all yearn for and we all deserve. Virtual Passport Programs brings these experiences to people who are unable to see them in person because of accessibility issues. They can be traveling, seeing, or doing anything that they dream of.” ~ Chris Mangold, Virtual Passport Programs owner

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Informal networks promote community building at Becketwood

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Members of the Cat Consortium around 19-year-old Tally the Cat include: (left to right) Linda Kusserow, Bonnie Porte, and owner Clare Fossum, who relied on the other women during a recent time away. (Photo by Terry Faust)

by Iric Nathanson
Earlier this year, when Clare Fossum had to spend time recovering from a medical procedure, she knew she could rely on her neighbors at Becketwood Cooperative to look after her elderly companion while she was away from home recuperating at a local rehab center.
Fossum’s companion happened to be her 19-year-old cat, Tally, who had made friends with two neighbors, Bonnie Porte and Linda Kusserow. Porte lived down the hall and Kusserow was two floors away. They each took turns feeding Tally, bringing her fresh water and spending time with her while Fossum was in rehab.
“It was a great relief for me to know that Linda and Bonnie were there every day looking after Tally,” Fossum said. “She knew them and they knew her. It was not as if some strangers were always coming and going in the apartment. That would only have upset her.”
Fossum, Porte and Kusserow had been part of an informal network of cat owners at Becketwood who looked after each other’s pets when they were away. The neighbors at the “55 plus” senior co-op bonded over their common connections to their feline friends and formed their own friendship circle within the broader Becketwood community.
The network has evolved into a more formally structured Cat Consortium with two teams, one for each wing of the building. Cat owners email their team members when they need a neighbor to care for their pet.
“It is all very well organized,” Porte explained. “We even have a form that people fill out indicating their kitty’s food preferences, their medication needs, and the contact information for their vets.”

Comfort Singers
While their small feline friends brought members of the Cat Consortium together, other neighbors at Becketwood have bonded over their love of singing. They are known as the Becketwood Comfort Singers. They bring their music to people at Becketwood or in a care facility who may be house-bound or seriously ill or facing end-of-life issues. Their leader, Ruth Gaylord, patterned the Comfort Singers after a similar group she had formed at the Basilica of St. Mary.
Gaylord, a former high school choral director, lives with ovarian cancer. She said that she has thought about being surrounded by beautiful choral music when she is dying. “I would like a small ensemble to sing beautiful music to me as I approach the end of this life. So I looked for men and women from Becketwood who had experience as choral singers who would want to be part of a small ensemble to offer that gift to others.”
She added, “We offer our singing to those who request it, and then only when we have checked with them or their families in advance to find out what kind of music they would like to hear. Some people don’t want to be sung to when they’re going through a difficult time. We understand that.”

Member activities

Enjoying an excursion to Urban Growler are, left to right, (starting in the front) Carol Bechtel, Mickey Monsen, Gerhard Johnson, Loren Flicker, David Liddle, Lorene Liddle, and Howard Bergstrom. (Photo by Terry Faust)

The Comfort Singers may be a select group with limited membership, but that is not the case with more than a dozen special interest clusters at Becketwood known as the Member Activities Committees. The individual committees are coordinated by an umbrella organization, the Members Activities Council (MAC).
“They may be called committees, but they are activities for people who may not like to go to committee meetings,” says Bob Kirk, a former MAC chair. ‘We have a craft committee for people who like to paint, knit or quilt, a workshop group for people who like to do woodwork and a pantry committee for folks who want to help run our little convenience store. If you are having fun at Becketwood, you are probably involved in a MAC committee.”
Kirk, himself, has had fun organizing a series of pub crawls sponsored by Becketwood’s Excursion Committee. “When all the brew pubs started opening up, I thought people here might want to see what they were all about. They all liked that first excursion so we started doing more of them,” Kirk said.
“Now, when we do a pub crawl, some of us come for the beer, but others come for the camaraderie even if they are not beer drinkers. If you are sitting next to someone who has just moved into Becketwood, it is a good way for you to get to know the newcomer or the newcomer to get to know you.”
Newcomers also get to know their neighbors in Becketwood’s workshop which hosts a coffee gathering every weekday morning starting at 10 a.m. “Morning coffee used to be all men, but women have started showing up and they always welcome,“ said Joel Mortensen, who co-chairs the Workshop Committee with Todd Gulliver.
Ray Mikkelson, a coffee drinking regular, admits that he comes down to the workshop for some male bonding. Mikkelson remembers taking a tour of Becketwood while he and his wife, Helen, were still on the waiting list.
“I kept wondering where the men were; I didn’t see any on the tour,” said Mikkelson. “Then somebody told me that I should go to the workshop in the basement. When I got there and opened the door, I saw a group of men drinking coffee and having a good time. They took me in right away and I felt at home. This is where I want to live, I told myself, and it made our move to Becketwood much easier for me.”

Community building
Wayne Tellekson, another workshop regular, also serves as a tour guide for people who are thinking about moving to Becketwood. “When I talk to prospective members about our community I tell them about the experience that my wife, Sindy, and I had when we first arrived here. We had moved from Mendota Heights where we didn’t have much contact with the people who lived nearby. On the second day we were here, two of our new Becketwood neighbors came up to us,introduced themselves, told that they were having a picnic in the courtyard, and invited us to join them. I looked at Sindy and said, ‘We are home!’”
Tellekson added, “I tend to think that we have this strong community because the people who are looking for a sense of community are the people who come here. They are not just looking for a place to live. The Twin Cities have lots of options for seniors if that is all you are looking for. They have heard that Becketwood is a welcoming place. And so when they come here, they help to build on that sense of community.”
* Editor’s note: Writer Iric Nathanson is a member of the Becketwood Cooperative.

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Riding across Minnesota at 84

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

While Wayne Tellekson didn’t really enjoy biking 40 miles a day this last year, he did enjoy the people, the scenery, and the experience. And when you ride through the big orange arch at the end it feels like quite an accomplishment, he said. (Photo by Terry Faust)

By Iric Nathanson
Wayne Tellekson had convinced himself that last year would his final ride with Bike MS.
Most years since 2009, Tellekson had joined a group of avid bikers who rode 250 miles over five days raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He was 83 in 2018. It was time for him to hang up his bike for those long distance treks, he told himself.
But Tellekson’s resolve to stop riding crumbled when one of his biking buddies asked him if he was going to do the Bike MS in 2019.
“Right then, I realized that I needed to do it again, even at the age of 84. I changed my mind in an instant,” Tellekson recalled.

Doing more than writing a check
The Longfellow resident first becomes involved with the Multiple Sclerosis Society when his son was diagnosed with MS in 1996.
The next year, Tellekson’s daughter Karin participated in a roller blade event, skating from Duluth to Hinkley to raise funds for the national health organization. Karin moved on from roller blades to bikes when the Multiple Sclerosis Society switched to long distance biking as a fund raiser. The group started TRAM (The Ride Across Minnesota), now called Bike MS, the five-day, 250-mile ride held each summer in July.
Tellekson had always written checks in support of his daughter’s participation, but one day he decided that he could do more than just write checks. If he rode in the TRAM himself, he could raise even more money to combat MS.
When he floated the idea by his wife, Sindy, and his three children, they objected, saying that the old, heavy bike he had ridden around town was not fit for a 250-mile trek.
But they knew his heart was in the right place, so they got together and bought him a new bicycle fit for long distance riding Still, Sindy was uneasy about the prospect of Wayne going off that first year and riding for five straight days.
“Sindy knew I was stubborn and she worried that I would keep riding until I fell over, so Karin agreed to ride behind me to make sure that I stayed vertical.”

Doubts about his decision
During this year’s ride, Tellekson, himself, had some doubts about the wisdom of his quick decision to do the Bike MS. again. He had second thought after another biker, who was also 84, had to drop out after two days because of some heart problems.
“I ended up being the oldest person, out of 450, on the trip,” Tellekson said. “And I was probably the slowest. People were passing me all the time because my legs just wouldn’t move very fast. I knew I wasn’t in good shape for long-distance biking. I only decided to do ride about three weeks before it started so I hadn’t trained for the ride as I had in the past.”
Each day during the five-day event Tellekson was able to take advantage of the sag wagon, a van that picked up riders and drove them along the route for a while, giving them a break from peddling. He used the sag wagon for about 10 miles each day, but that still left about 40 miles that he needed to bike.
“Those last few minutes just before rest stops were the hardest,” he remembers. ”That’s when I said to myself: ‘This is really foolish. Should I really be doing this?’
“But I never thought about stopping. I was never ready to give up as rough as it was to keep going.“
Tellekson said he envied the younger riders who kept passing him by. “Those guys whizzed by me and their legs were just like pistons. They were going 25 miles an hour. I looked at their legs and I said to myself ‘How do they go that fast?’ At the most, I could do 19 miles an hour and that was going downhill.”
“My knees are probably the weakest part of my body when it comes to biking. I just don’t have the strength to push as hard as those younger bikers do. I don’t wear clips that help with the upswing. If I did, I am afraid I would forget that I have the clips on. Then, when I start getting off the bike, I would fall and land in a heap. “

‘A real feeling of accomplishment’
Tellekson confessed that he really didn’t enjoy biking 40 miles a day.
“I enjoyed the people, the scenery and the experience, but biking that far is really not fun, at least not for me.
“That long ride each day is a real strain, but when you ride through the big orange arch at the end of the five days, and people are there cheering you on, there is a real feeling of accomplishment. More important than the cheers is knowing that the money I raised — $4300 – will be put to good use combatting Multiple Sclerosis.
“I realize there are not many people my age who are doing something as foolish as riding 250 miles in five days. But my body can handle it, at least for now. I don’t feel 84 even though I am 84. I really can’t take credit for my condition, maybe it’s genes. I eat healthy but I don’t obsess about what I eat. I walk and bike, but I don’t spend a lot of time exercising just to stay in shape.
“This year, I told everyone it would be my last ride But I made it this year, so if I train maybe I can do it again next year. Maybe I will break my pledge again not to ride. Who knows what next year will bring? I’ll just have to wait and see.”

Saga of the Ride
In 2019, as he has done other years, Wayne Tellekson composed a poem—a saga, he calls it— celebrating the five days he spent on his bike, raising funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Here is the final stanza from this year’s saga:

The Orange Arch of Triumph, we rode through with pride.
Tired, proud and happy, it had been a very good ride.
We’d raised $400,000, we’d peddled 250 miles.
We’d raised funds for MS research, that explains our smiles.
A quick lunch and we hurried off. A hurried goodbye to friends.
Next year will be another ride. Will you? That depends.

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‘Green’ cemetery opens in Twin Cities

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Executive director Joan Gizek stood on top of the plot she has already purchased in the natural burial section of Resurrection Cemetery. She said, “I love the idea of coming into the world, and leaving the world, simply. I look forward to going back to the earth, to being part of creation. More than 100,000 tons of steel and 1,600,000 tons of concrete are used in the U.S. for traditional burials each year. Natural burial is the original recycling.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Catholic Cemeteries begins offering natural burials in three-acre restored prairie
In the Catholic tradition, the body upon death is re-committed to the earth, “for we are dust, and to dust we shall return.”
Some people are taking this belief to heart again, with a desire to have a more organic, less industrial approach to death and burial.
The Catholic Cemeteries consists of five locations that have served the Twin Cities Catholic community since 1856. Their Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights has recently become what is known as a hybrid cemetery. It contains a traditional cemetery, and a newly created natural burial allotment on a nearly three-acre restored prairie.
As the gravesites in the allotment become occupied, native perennial flowers and grasses will cover them. Eventually, the natural burial area will become a peaceful, uninterrupted prairie maintained in perpetuity along with rest of the grounds.

What is a natural burial?
Catholic Cemeteries Executive Director Joan Gezik said, “We’ve been studying the natural burial concept for the last eight years. Our allotment was just blessed and dedicated by St. Paul Arch Bishop Hebda on Memorial Day 2019. Our mission is to bury the dead – not just Catholics. The first of several sections that we’ve opened can hold 40 graves, and we have sold over half of them.”
A natural burial cemetery can use machinery to dig graves, but no chemicals are used to prepare the bodies of the deceased or to maintain the cemetery grounds. In the natural burial process, the bodies of the deceased, and the earth to which they return, are treated with reverence.
In a natural burial, the deceased is placed directly into the ground where it decomposes naturally — without embalming fluid, and without a burial vault. The remains of the deceased are placed directly in the earth, allowing the body to decompose naturally.
If the body of the deceased is clothed, the clothing must be made of natural fibers such as cotton, linen, wool, or silk that will decompose over time. The garments must be free of all plastic and metal such as buttons, zippers, and hooks. Jewelry, belt buckles, and other materials that are not biodegradable cannot be buried along with the deceased.
The body of the deceased may be washed, wrapped in a cloth shroud made of natural fiber, and placed in a grave – which at Resurrection Cemetery is dug to four feet deep. The wrapped body can also be placed in an open or closed container made of biodegradable material like pine, wicker, or bamboo.
Rather than placing individual headstones or markers on grave sites, the names of the deceased, along with their birth and death years, are listed on a permanent community monument in the natural burial area. The cemetery office will also maintain burial records, and a grid map with the approximate location of each burial site.
Costs associated with a natural burial are less than those of a conventional burial. The purchase of a gravesite includes a contribution to the permanent burial site care fund, and the cost of memorializing a name on the common memorial. The internment (grave opening and closing) fee is paid at the time of burial; with natural burial, no outer burial container is required by law.
The natural burial area at Resurrection Cemetery is located at the southwest corner of the Chapel Mausoleum. Access it from the front of the mausoleum by following the sidewalk along the west side of the building. Resurrection Cemetery is located at 2105 Lexington Ave. S. in Mendota Heights.

From then to now
When the body of Jesus was removed from the cross, it was washed, wrapped in a cloth shroud, and placed in a tomb. For many years, most burials took place in a similar manner. These practices changed in the U.S. around the time of the Civil War, when bodies were transported long distances for burial. By treating the body with embalming fluids to prevent decomposition, the body became suitable for transportation and for viewing.

Renewed interest in natural burial is influenced, in part, by people’s desire to honor their loved ones in a manner that is sensitive to the environment. The first “green” cemetery in North America was opened in South Carolina in 1998.

Inspired by Pope Francis
Pope Francis – whose reverence for nature led him to choose his papal name inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, is committed to the sanctity of nature and the need to protect it. The Pope asks Catholics to be mindful of the natural world, and to dedicate themselves to having a gentler impact on the planet.

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