Green Bee Juicery ready for summer with their organic juices

Posted on 28 May 2018 by calvin

Above: The Green Bee Juicery offers an impressive line of raw, cold-pressed, organic juices. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The Green Bee Juicery is a tidy little storefront and production facility near the intersection of E. 46th St. and Bloomington Ave. Jointly owned by sisters Michaela Smith, Mallory and Melanie Madden, the Green Bee Juicery is on a mission to help people heal their minds and bodies—with juice.

According to the owners, “All of our recipes are crafted with a particular health focus in mind. Every single ingredient has a purpose. We are unabashed research nerds; if the science doesn’t support it, we don’t put an ingredient in our juice.”

Photo right: Employee (and cousin) Emily Myers said, “I’m lucky to be able to work in a place where everyone who walks through the door is interested in living a happier, healthier life.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“Mallory, Melanie, and I ventured into buying Green Bee because we believe, we know, that food is medicine,” Smith said. “We’ve all experienced this firsthand. I felt it most acutely after I delivered my second child. Lying in bed after an unplanned c-section, I needed healing in a big way. Mallory came to visit with Green Bee juices in tow (the business was owned by someone else back then). I could feel the raw, live nutrients bringing much-needed life and energy back into my body. Fast forward two years, and we’re the proud, new owners of the Green Bee Juicery.”

Green Bee juices are made with a cold-pressed process that retains the highest levels of vital minerals and nutrients. One of the owners’ core beliefs is that juice should be made from the freshest, healthiest ingredients available. They purchase as much locally grown, organic produce as possible, supporting small farmers and their own sustainable business model.

The storefront display case contains several rows of rainbow-colored juices: 16-ounce ($10), 8-ounce ($6) and 2-ounce power-shots ($3). The most popular juice is called Turmeric Glow, described as “sunshine in a bottle.” It contains pineapple, carrot, orange, lemon, ginger, and turmeric. It’s loaded with vitamins A, C, and E, and the minerals magnesium, potassium, and zinc. These ingredients are known to be anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and heart healthy.

Employee Emily Myers, said, “The cost is not high once you understand the value of the product. In our green juices, 3-5 pounds of greens go into making one 16-ounce bottle. That’s a lot of organic vegetables. We only keep our bottles on the shelf for five days, because nothing has been pasteurized or heat treated in any way. All of our bottles (except the 2-ounce size) can be returned for re-use, which is better for the environment than recycling.”

Another Green Bee favorite is the Power Greens juice. It’s made with kale, collard, and cucumber and is bursting with calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium, as well as vitamins A, K, and C. This anti-oxidant powerhouse detoxifies the body and promotes cell regeneration. It has the properties of a good multi-vitamin and is so much more fun.

Not to be overlooked are the nut milks. “These high protein drinks are made by soaking cashews in water for softening,” Myers explained, “and then blending to the consistency of cream. We have vanilla with cinnamon and a wonderfully filling chocolate.”

For customers wanting to jump-start their health regimen, Green Bee offers two different whole body cleanses. The three-day holistic cleanse includes five 16 ounce juices (two of which are green), one nut milk and a power shot for each day. The bone broth cleanse is similar in length and numbers of bottles of broth provided.

The Green Bee Juicery, 1526 E. 46th St., is open Tues.-Fri. from 7am until 6pm, and Sat. from 8am until 2pm. Questions can be directed to

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Feeding birds in winter—seeds of wisdom from local experts

Posted on 23 December 2015 by calvin

Birds in Winter 03

Photo above: The outstanding website of the Cornell Lab of ornithology ( said, “The male Northern Cardinal is responsible for getting more people to open a bird guide for the first time than any other bird.” (Photo by Nina Koch)


Lee Pfannmuller and Dave Zumeta have been neighbors, colleagues, friends and fellow birdwatchers for more than 30 years. Both live along the Mississippi River Gorge, a wilderness area in the heart of South Minneapolis.

Birds in Winter 04Photo right: A Black Capped Chickadee is one of the easiest birds to attract to a home feeder, due to its innate curiosity and need to eat constantly during the winter months to stay warm. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Zumeta has kept a bird list for Friends of the Mississippi River since 1988 and has counted 173 different species in the River Gorge between 27th St. and the Ford Bridge Lock and Dam.

That’s a lot of birds in a relatively small area. The reason for the high number is that the Mississippi River provides a major flyway for migrating birds. In addition to year-round residents like the cardinal, blue jay, and chickadee, there are also surprise sightings of birds as diverse as the saw-whet owl, ruffed grouse, and Louisiana Water Thrush.

“The River Gorge, “ Pfannmuller and Zumeta agreed, “is just a fantastic place to see birds.”

Birds in Winter 02Photo left: Dave Zumeta and one of his two backyard thistle feeders. These inexpensive feeders cost about $12. When filled with black thistle or Niger seed they’ll attract small, seed eating birds such as Goldfinches, Pine Siskins and Common Red Polls. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

One of the best ways to start recognizing birds is to establish a feeding station in your back yard. Pfannmuller, retired director of Ecological Resources for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said, “I’ve been off and on with my bird feeding over the years, but right now I’m on.” She sets out suet for woodpeckers and thistle for seed eaters in winter, and offers up a smörgåsbord of peanuts and sunflower mix all year long.

Currently under contract with Minnesota Audubon and chairing the Bell Museum Advisory Council, Pfannmuller is always listening for birds. A classically trained musician, she explained that she birds by ear as much as she does by sight. She’s been a member of the Lakes Consort, a Minneapolis Baroque ensemble, for 35+ years, making beautiful trilling sounds herself on the krumhorn and recorder.

The Winter Wren is Pfannmuller’s favorite bird by sound. This tiny, inconspicuous bird is smaller than a warbler, but its call can be heard from half a mile away. A native of the northern boreal forest, the Winter Wren provides more music per pound than any other North American songbird.

Birds in Winter 01Her advice to new birders is to unplug from electronic devices. “Take the ear buds out,” she said, “put away the cell phones (unless you’re cross-referencing bird songs) and train yourself to really listen.”

Photo right: Lee Pfannmuller held out a handful of safflower seed, a perennial favorite with backyard birds. Unlike sunflower seeds, squirrels tend to leave this seed alone. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Zumeta, retired executive director of the Minnesota Forest Resources Council, has been a dedicated birder since childhood. He became interested in birding simultaneously with his mother 57 years ago and has since birded in 46 states and 11 countries. “What other hobby can you do from age three to 100,” he added, “anywhere, anytime and for free?”

Of the early training he received from his mother, Zumeta said, “Women taught me how to bird. I went on endless trips with my mother and her birding friends. Along the way, I learned birding etiquette and essential information about plants and trees that provide the habitat birds need. I went on to study and work in bird habitat ecology, specializing in how birds adapt to significant disturbances like wildfires, blow downs, insect and disease epidemics.”

Zumeta explained, “Attracting birds to your back yard is partially about what you put in your feeder, but also about the surrounding habitat. My wife and I bought our house because of a huge, arching burr oak on the property, a city park one block away and the nearby river gorge. Between these places, I’ve counted 140 species of birds. What we live in here is Longfellow is a Riparian Zone, a biological term that defines forest land along a river or stream.”

A self-described purist, Zumeta admitted he only likes certain kinds of feed. He prefers to buy slabs of suet (beef fat) at the grocery store, and said, “The woodpeckers love suet: Downy, Hairy, and even an occasional Pileated Woodpecker will seek it out. For my seed feeders, I prefer to shop at Wild Birds Unlimited in Highland Park. Their selection is great, and their staff are very knowledgeable.“

Zumeta considers himself something of a recovered “lister,” a person who compulsively lists birds and approaches birding as a competitive sport. With a U.S. Life List of 570 species (out of a possible 800), he’s more interested in teaching people about birds these days than competing with other birders to raise his numbers.

Birds in Winter 05Photo left: A White Breasted Nuthatch on a simple suet feeder. (Photo by Nina Koch)

For new or experienced birders who want to learn more, consider joining a Minneapolis or St. Paul Audubon bird walk. They have many scheduled throughout the year, and walks are offered for various skill levels. The Longfellow Community Council’s River Gorge Committee sponsored a spring and late summer bird walk in the river gorge this year, led by Pfannmuller and Zumeta. These walks will likely happen again in 2016.

The two will pair up to speak on “Birds of the River Corridor” at LCC’s upcoming River Gorge Committee community presentation. This annual event will be held at 7pm on Mon., Jan. 25 at St. Peder’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 4600 E. 42nd St. It is free as a bird and open to the public.

Providing water for birds in winter
Like all animals, birds need to drink water every day. They also need water to freshen their feathers and to remove parasites.

Most commercial bird baths are too deep and are really nothing more than a lawn ornament. Choose a shallow bird bath, and place it in a sunny location for the winter and a shady location for the summer.

An immersion-style water heater is needed to keep the water from freezing. These are available at almost any store that sells bird feed. The heater must be put on a ground fault interrupted circuit to prevent the risk of shock. An immersion-style water heater costs only pennies a day to operate.

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Dowling Elementary finishes phase 2 of accessible playground

Posted on 26 November 2015 by calvin


Photo right: Dowling Elementary Prinicpal Joe Rossow (pictured) explained how phase 2 of their accessible playground development focused on the big play area—tunnel, water wall were created, and a spongy surface laid down that is easy for wheelchairs to go across. (Photo by Jan Willms)

There are other special needs playgrounds at other schools and parks in the area, but it is unlikely any has as much space as the Dowling Elementary, a K-5 urban environmental magnet school located at 3900 W. River Pkwy.

“We have almost one acre of special needs accessibility,” said school principal Joe Rossow as he conducted a tour of the renovated playground. The school was built in 1924, and the original special needs playground in 1977. The playground is now redesigned for the 21st century.

“Many years of planning have gone into the playground update,” Rossow explained. “We made sure to design this where wheelchair kids who have trouble moving around can access and play with their peers.”

He said the playground features parallel play as well as areas where children of different physical abilities can intermingle. For example, there are two zip lines where kids can get in a seat and zip down from one spot to another. “There’s one for kids who need a special chair, and they can swing next to their buddy going down together on two separate zip lines,” Rossow said.
Dowling has a special needs population of 15 percent, according to Rossow, with a wide range of disabilities, including developmental and physical.

The school has partnered with Flagship Recreation, a Minnesota-based company that strives to design, construct, and maintain spaces and structures that are available for all to use and enjoy.

“Charley, the designer, is really good at designing playgrounds for special needs kids,” Rossow claimed.

The actual work on the playground was divided into three phases. Phase 1 is complete. It included Harmony Park, where outdoor instruments are available for the kids to perform on. It also provided swings and rear course pavement.

“The triple swing, which seats three kids at a time, is very popular,” Rossow said.

Phase 2 focused on the big play area. A tunnel and a water wall were created, and a spongy surface laid down that is easy for wheelchairs to go across. A special product is mixed and laid out, left to sit and harden and then is colored on top. If children fall on this surface, they are not going to get hurt as they would on a concrete base.

During phase 2, interactive panels were also built. These feature information on the Monarch butterfly and show how rainbows are made and explore climate control. “With the water wall, the kids can change the pattern of the water,” Rossow noted. Phase 2 was completed in late October.

Phase 3, the final phase of the project, is scheduled to be finished in the summer of 2016. “This phase will finish up the asphalt, get the new railings painted, finish the stage and regrading of the grassy area, and complete the new door,” Rossow said.

Rossow explained that the project has been a result of private donations and community support. The school district has funded the maintenance.

“The playground is custom made and pretty ambitious,” he said. “It’s not something you can purchase out of a book. The community has really brought this project to life, and it is designed as a peaceful area for the children.”

“We had to work in phases with the playground,” Rossow said, “using the money as it became available. It should be ready for use this month.”

The playground is designed for use year-round, with different parts of it being used with the different seasons. Rossow said that Dowling offers archery, biking, and a snowshoe and ski course. In warmer weather, a lot of the kids can be spread out, with soccer being played in one area and tag games in another. The kids can explore the tunnels, sit on the grass and read a book, play music or swing.

IMG_3050Photo left: The new accessible playground at Dowling Elementary also has a musical component. (Photo by Jan Willms)

“The parents have also put together recess kits, with certain games designed for each grade level,” Rossow said.

The playground will have power outside and access to bathrooms so that it can be used for community events and by other schools.

“We have other schools come here for field trips and experience the zip lines, amphitheater and snowshoeing,” Rossow added.

Designed for children of all ability levels to play, explore, learn and socialize, the special needs playground at Dowling reflects the input of children, parents, and school staff.

“It will be exciting to see how the kids interact with it once we have it fully open,” Dowling said.

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Becketwood Buddies forging bonds between elders and youngsters

Posted on 26 November 2015 by calvin


Jack Neal wasn’t sure what to expect when he came to Becketwood for the first time in September.

Ruth and Jack Becketwood Buddies“It looked really big–like a castle,” Jack remembers.

Photo left: Ruth Halvorson is helping her Becketwood Buddy, Jack Neal, improve his reading skills. (Photo by Iric Nathanson)

Now, the Dowling fifth grader looks forward to his twice weekly visits to the castle to meet with his Becketwood Buddy, Ruth Halvorson. Jack and several of his classmates are participating in a unique project that links Dowling Elementary students who need a little help in boosting their reading skills with volunteer tutors from the Becketwood Cooperative.

The tutoring project was initiated by Wayne Tellekson, a member of the W. River Rd. cooperative.

“I had just finished reading Atul Gawande’s ‘Being Mortal’ and I was impressed with his views on aging,” Tellekson recalled. “Gawande talked about how older people need to find significance in their lives. That struck a chord with me. I knew that many of my neighbors at Becketwood had done important things during their working years, but now they weren’t as engaged with the world as they once were. I realized that we needed to help people here bring more significance into their lives.”

Tellekson decided that a tutoring project for school-age young people might be a way to re-engage his neighbors by helping them create the kind of bonds that link grandparents with their grandchildren. “Dowling School was just a few blocks away from our campus, so I decided to float the idea by Joe Rossow, Dowling’s principal. It turned out that Joe and I were on the same wavelength. He had been thinking about ways to draw on the resources here at our co-op, so that is how Becketwood Buddies was born.

Tellekson and Rossow agreed to test the idea with a pilot project that would bring Dowling fifth graders to Becketwood for help with reading. “Initially, we needed to resolve some logistical problems,” Tellekson said. “We had to get the Dowling students here to our campus and then get them back to school so they could ride the bus home. It was a little too far for the students to walk here on their own, so one of the school staff had to drive them here and then pick them up and bring them back to Dowling. That placed some limitations on the size of the program.”

Rossow and his teachers decided to select a group of fifth graders for the pilot project who could benefit from some personalized attention to improve their reading comprehension.

“They are not the children with the most serious reading deficiencies, Rossow explained. “Those children are working with our professional reading specialists. Instead, we are targeting the students who need a little extra help to move ahead with their reading skills–help they could get from a well-motivated volunteer.

“So far, we are very pleased with the program,” Rossow added. “It is giving our students a chance to develop relationships with a new set of adults who have a broad range of experiences. Over time, we hope to get some hard data from the program, but for now the relationships are important for all of us.”

Jack Neal is part of the first group of Becketwood Buddies. “I really like coming to Becketwood, and I think my reading is getting better now that I get to work with Ruth,” he said. “I only we had a longer time to read once we get here. A half an hour doesn’t seem long enough.”

Now, two months into the program, the Buddies have created quite a buzz among fifth graders, according to Paul Sarver, who teaches physical education at Dowling. “One of our Buddies kept being asked by her friends why her reading was getting better,“ Sarver reported. ‘The word is Becketwood,’ she told them. Now, a lot of the kids want to go there.”

Sarver said the tutoring project is being expanded to include two additional students, but he doesn’t expect to see further expansion at Becketwood. “We are at our capacity there, so now we will be looking at ways to bring Becketwood volunteers down to Dowling. It may not have the same feel for our students if the tutors come here, but we will be able to serve a larger group of young people on our own campus.”

“My student has gotten more enthusiastic about reading since she has started coming here,” noted Priscilla Young, one of the Becketwood volunteers “For me, that is very gratifying.”
“I don’t have children of my own, so I can’t be a grandmother,“ added another volunteer, Dee Schaefer. “ But now I know what it is like to be a grandparent. Each time, my student learns a new word, it is very thrilling. I want to tell all my friends about it,“ Schaefer said.

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Local resident envisions food forest at Hiawatha Golf Course

Posted on 26 November 2015 by calvin

IMG_7171RyanSeiboldSmRyan Seibold stands next to Minnehaha Creek near where it currently empties into Lake Hiawatha. Given the water issues at the Hiawatha Golf Course, which at some points lies about 4 feet lower than the lake, he is proposing that a food forest be put there instead. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Orchards, gardens, and even rice could be part of his new vision for city parks


What’s a good use of the land at the Hiawatha Golf Course?

Standish-Ericsson resident Ryan Seibold questions whether it is a golf course due to the troubling water issues there.

Instead, he is proposing that the land be transformed into a food forest, full of fruit trees, berries, vegetables, and grains.

“I think now is the time for the city to look at new visions for how best to use our abundant parklands,” stated Seibold, 38, who earned his master’s degree from the University of Minnesota Landscape Architecture program in 2010.

Seibold explained that a food forest is an intentionally designed edible ecosystem that hosts mutually beneficial plants and animals for food production purposes. And, he maintains a food forest could co-exist with the golf course if the decision is made to keep it there once studies are complete.

“I see recreational opportunities and habitat creation for wildlife as possibilities that can go together,” said Seibold. “I envision a dynamic environment for humans, plants, animals, and insects to play in.”

Jeff Zeitler of the soon-to-be-opened Urban Forage Winery (3016 E. Lake St.) thinks this idea could catch fire.

“Our kids are bussed out to Minnetrista to see an apple orchard for a field trip in the fall,” Zeitler observed. “Wouldn’t it be cool if they could go to Minneapolis instead so that they don’t have to think that growing food has to take place ‘somewhere else’?”

In addition to showing kids (and grown-ups) where food comes from, Zeitler pointed out that this could potentially make fresh food available for free or at a low cost to anyone willing to pick it.

“As the chair of the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council I understand the importance of growing healthy food for the community to access,” said Russ Henry of Giving Tree Gardens, at 4549 41st Ave. S. “As the owner of a local landscaping company, I can see the obvious potential for food grown in public spaces.

“Whether we’re talking about urban food forests, urban farming, or community gardening, the land around us needs to be productively utilized in the city,” said Henry. Public health improvement is one result of having economically accessible fruits and vegetables, he added.

“Sustainability results when we grow our food close to home because it takes far less gasoline to ship a tomato from across town than it takes to ship it across the country,” said Henry. “Mostly, though, Minneapolis needs a city full of fruits and vegetables growing all around us so that the children that are raised in the city can connect with nature, health, and community by learning how to grow, harvest, and eat healthy food.”

Giving Tree Gardens has pledged 50 trees to the project, and Urban Forage Winery has offered 100 fruit trees.

Community as stewards
The food forest fills in a niche between community gardening and urban agriculture, pointed out Seibold.

The key to making this work, he observed, is by educating and coordinating group efforts around different harvests.

“The people who show up most to understand the various plants and what fruits are in-season will also become teachers and stewards of the land,” Seibold said. “Networking with local organizations that donate food and make meals for the community will be important also. Connecting with local schools and restaurants will help bring the community together.”

Zeitler is one community member whose winery and cider making business links into community agriculture.

“Mature apple trees usually produce more fruit than people can eat, and a lot of the fruit is small or misshapen, but it makes excellent cider,” he pointed out. “I’d like to be able to take the seconds from the apple orchard and juice the apples.”

He is fascinated by the idea of greening the city and has been slowly integrating the principles of permaculture in his own yard.

“I think we’re seeing a movement toward urban agriculture because young people want to live in the city for better access to jobs and cultural opportunities, but also want to be connected to agriculture in some way,” said Zeitler. “We’re living in a not very dense urban area, built on some of the most fertile soil on earth, so I think Minneapolis and St. Paul are obvious places to practice urban agriculture. It makes me proud to see our cities becoming leaders in this!”

Seed planted
The seed for Seibold’s proposal began last summer when he attended a meeting held by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) about budget shortfalls for projected park improvements for his local parks, Sibley and Hiawatha. “After hearing about the funding gaps involved for even the basic improvements such as fixing paths and replacing old equipment, I started to think about how we could see our parks as more productive spaces by using nature as a guide,” explained Seibold.

When he attended the September community meeting that revealed groundwater was being pumped from the Hiawatha Golf Course to make it playable in excess of what was allowable by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources permit, he became convinced that an alternative land-use solution should be considered.

“My proposal is really interested in the intersection of land types—where upland, riparian, wetland, and shoreline and lake meet—because this is where there will be the most species diversity,” said Seibold. “This type of garden tends toward self-maintenance if good design and management practices are established.”

Inspired by the history of Lake Hiawatha, Seibold is interested in seeing wild rice grown again in the water body that was once called Rice Lake.

Henry agrees. “When this golf course was made we intentionally drained and destroyed a native food source called Rice Lake,” Henry said. “To grow equity, justice, and health I’d like to see us rebuild Rice Lake under the guidance of local native elders and fill the area around the lake with a community orchard for all to access.”

Seibold is happy to see MPRB collaborating with Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) and the city of Minneapolis on this effort to determine what’s suitable for this land.

A recent meandering of Minnehaha Creek in St. Louis Park has demonstrated how a little meander changes the whole feeling of the landscape, and shows that making the lake and creek better is a realistic goal.

“I believe the land has been informing us all along,” commented Seibold. “It’s unfortunate that major flooding events need to remind us of who’s in charge.”

The back nine at the Hiawatha Golf Course has been closed since the 2014 flooding, and will remain so until MPRB determines the extent of the water issues at the site.

“Golf offers an amenity for folks and an opportunity to relax and recreate. Unfortunately, the entry cost for golfing equipment and the fact that golf is a European sport played almost entirely by middle-class and wealthy white men means that the space occupied by the golf course is only for the recreation of relatively few city residents,” stated Henry.

“This golf course, in particular, is actually an ongoing environmental catastrophe due to the 275 million gallons of ground water that are being pumped out of the ground on an annual basis to maintain this golf course in what is a natural wetland area.”

Zeitler pointed out the environmental benefits of turning a golf course into a food forest. “Golf courses are notoriously chemically dependent,” he pointed out. “They use more water, fertilizer and pesticides than any other land use, due to the need to have very dense, green grass the entire season. It’s unsustainable, and I think it would be a good demonstration project for the city of Minneapolis to dedicate a portion of the resources that normally go to a golf course, and instead spend them on a food forest.”

MPBR not focusing on alternate uses
MPRB is currently focused on the water issues at the golf course and is not exploring other uses, according to Commissioner Steffanie Musich. “As we are still researching the groundwater situation at Hiawatha, and what impact existing conditions will have on the course and its use for playing golf, exploring alternate uses for the parkland the course occupies is not underway at the park board,” she said.

She did point out that MPRB has been talking about ways to incorporate agriculture throughout the city, and the new Urban Agriculture Activity Plan (and related South Service Area Master Plan) can be viewed online or at a number of open houses being held in December (see story elsewhere). Within the plans is a pro­po­sal to located a community orchard at Adams Triangle in Longfellow.

Nurturing the idea
Seibold is currently collaborating with a hydrologist professor at the University of Minnesota, whose spring 2016 class “Environmental Problem-solving” hope to look at the technical/ecological opportunities and constraints of implementing a food forest.

His son’s school, Northrop Elementary, an urban environmental learning center, is just a few blocks away from Lake Hiawatha. “I would love to see a growing connection between our kids’ learning environments, urban forests, and how we can start seeing abundance in our own backyards, whether it is a local park, your kid’s school grounds, or our backyards,” said Seibold.
In the next few months, Seibold intends to organize a Participatory Design Workshop and invite community members. The tentative date for the workshop is Sat., Feb. 27.

“My hope is to get people really excited about the project, have a little ownership of the idea, and to encourage folks to start thinking about their parkland differently—not as something that needs constant upgrade, but as a place that has unlimited growing potential,” said Seibold.
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Parks plan bringing changes to neighborhoods

Posted on 26 November 2015 by calvin

Planners seek to individualize neighborhood parks and offer diverse activities within entire service area


In the coming years, you’ll see fewer tennis courts and baseball diamonds in Minneapolis parks, and more multi-sports courts and multi-use fields.

There will be fewer wading pools and more hybrid aquatic facilities.

There won’t be as many manufactured playgrounds, but there will be more natural play areas and interactive water features.

It’s part of a movement to diversify parks to fit the desires of neighborhood residents.
When the parks in Minneapolis were first developed, the same components were included in each park: playground, wading pool, ballfields, and recreation centers.

Today’s 20-year vision for the parks is one where each park is individualized, according to Minneapolis Parks and Recreation (MPRB) Director of Strategic Planning Adam Arvidson.

MPRB_SSA_Proposed Changes Icon Map-Concept A.aiMPRB_SSA_Proposed Changes Icon Map-Concept A.aiThe focus is on local need and not area-wide equity. In fashioning the South Service Area Master Plan, MPRB recognizes that every amenity cannot be in every park, and it is looking to the local community as the basis for park designs.

The South Service area is south of downtown and east of I-35. It includes 33 park properties.
The project guiding principals include the protection and enhancement of the natural environment, connections between parks, and designs that streamline operations and maintenance pointed out Arvidson.

In fashioning the South Service Area plan, they began by asking: What are the current uses and where do these occur? They also sought to figure out which areas are used heavily and which are underutilized.

“Our development of these concepts didn’t happen in a vacuum,” stated Arvidson.
MPRB planners interviewed recreation center staff, analyzed ActiveNet data, and talked to community members.

A Community Advisory Committee (CAC) was appointed and held its seventh meeting on Nov. 19 to review two sets of options.

Community input wanted
CAC member and Longfellow resident Jane Tigan stated, “I think it looks like a well thought-out master plan, but it will have to pass muster with the community.”

Four community open houses are planned:
—Upper: Mon., Nov. 30, East Phillips Recreation Center, 6-8pm
—Central: Thur., Dec. 3, Powderhorn Recreation Center, 6-8pm
—Lower: Tue., Dec. 8, Pearl Recreation Center, 6-8pm
—East: Tue., Dec. 15, Longfellow Recreation Center, 6-8pm

Arvidson pointed out that while each open house has a focus area, the plans for all the parks in the South Service area will be available for comments at each meeting.
“Ultimately this will only be as good as the community engagement that is done,” remarked Tigan.

After these open houses, the parks department plans to spend January reviewing comments. A preferred concept will be presented to the Community Advisory Committee in January or February. Then it will have a 45-day public comment period before it goes before the Park Board of Commissioners for approval.

New concepts have not been proposed for Bossen Field or the Nokomis and Hiawatha Regional Park as they have recently developed master plans that will be incorporated into the South Service Area plan.

Concepts have not been developed for Currie Park or Cedar Avenue Field as MPRB doesn’t think it has garnered enough community input in these neighborhoods.

What’s changing?
The plan replaces 20 baseball diamonds with multi-use fields where residents can play soccer, football, lacrosse, and more. The existing arrangement with four baseball diamonds places them so close together that four games can’t be played at the same time. Instead, the proposal is to have two baseball diamonds and two multi-use fields in the same space the former four baseball fields occupied, such as at Morris Park.

Some tennis courts are being replaced with multi-sports courts that have striping for tennis, pickleball, volleyball, kato and bicycle polo. This is being proposed at Hiawatha Park.
Basketball courts are being added at places like Longfellow and Morris parks.
A sports dome with year-round use is proposed for East Phillips Park.

An aquatic center is also in the works for the Phillips neighborhood, and will be the only indoor pool in the South Service area due to the high cost of implementation and operation. Beaches will remain at Lake Nokomis.

MPRB seeks to transition from a wading pool-dominated system to a mix of wading pools, splash pads, and hybrid facilities to cater to a broader age range. The only park with a possible pool removal is Keewaydin.

Currently, the city offers traditionally manufactured play structures, but the goal is to diversify this to include adventure and natural play. Of note is the plan to include both adventure play and natural play at Keewaydin, and natural play at the Seven Oaks Oval. The initial plan is to decrease the playground space at Longfellow and add a natural play area there. Natural play areas use natural materials and trees while an adventure play area might have climbing walls, small-scale ziplines, and large climbing walls.

A playground will be added at Shoreview and 54th St. E.

Adult fitness areas that may include outdoor fitness equipment and climbing structures is proposed for Longfellow.

Within the plan is the goal of adding a walking loop with seating in most parks, increasing the total number from 5 to 10 or 12.

There is an effort to increase winter recreation, particularly in the northern portion of the service area. A year-round skating rink is being proposed for Corcoran Park.

A skate park is proposed for Todd Park, a pizza oven for Phelps, and additional fishing piers for Diamond Lake and Powderhorn Lake. There is currently space for archery at Solomon Park, but the goal is to add an archery walk. Disc golf is also slated for Solomon.

Urban agriculture sites will also be created, and food-bearing vegetation included in most parks. This includes the renewal of Adams Triangle as an urban agriculture site with a group shelter, rather than as a boulevard as it is now.

“It will be great to see that particular space cultivated a little more than currently,” said Tigan.
Urban agriculture is also being proposed at Hiawatha Park, which is adjacent to Hiawatha School.

This is being done in conjunction with MPRB’s Urban Agriculture Activity Plan that was adopted in August 2014.

Learn more online at

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Managing our urban forest

Posted on 26 November 2015 by calvin

City of Minneapolis foresters vs oak wilt and emerald ash borer

Managing our Urban Forests 12Article and photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

About a dozen red and white oak trees disappeared from the Longfellow River Gorge last month. The diseased trees had to be removed from the West River Parkway median between 36th and 38th streets, and the natural area called the Prairie Oak Savannah.

According to Ralph Sievert, Director of Forestry for the City of Minneapolis, oak wilt is spread in two different ways. Most commonly, the roots of an infected tree find the roots of a healthy tree underground. The roots graft, or join, and fungal spores pass to the healthy tree.

There’s only one way to stop this underground transmission, and it’s no small undertaking. Hire an arborist to trench around the drip line of diseased trees with a five-foot vibrating blade, severing any underground connection.

Oak wilt is also spread by an insect called the Picnic Beetle, which deposits fungal spores on open wound sites. For this reason, oaks should only be pruned during dormancy (Dec. 1 – Mar. 1.) If an open wound is created outside of these months through storm damage or accident, Sievert advised spray painting the wound to seal it shut.

Some homeowners choose to have their oaks preventively inoculated. A fungicide is injected into the root flare at the base of the trunk. As with trenching, this procedure should only be done by a certified arborist or tree service.

Managing our Urban Forests 09When an oak is infected, the fungal spores clog its vascular system—meaning that water and nutrients can’t move up or down the trunk.  Leaves begin to turn unseasonably bronze at the edges. Once this occurs, an oak can wilt completely in less than six weeks.

Regarding boulevard trees, Sievert was quick to say, “don’t panic!” While it is significant to lose a beloved tree on personal property, widespread oak wilt on Minneapolis boulevards is unlikely.

Sadly, the risk of tree loss to oak wilt is much higher in parks and natural areas, where they grow close together. With a staff of 76 full-time employees and a budget of 9.6 million dollars, the Forestry Department is doing its best to stay ahead of this problem—and many others.

When dealing with tree diseases, some battles are won, and some are lost. Minnesota has the highest concentration of ash trees in the country, and they’re also under attack. Sievert estimated there were 30,000 ash trees on boulevards and 10,000 in parks before the Emerald Ash Borer arrived here.

This beguilingly beautiful insect is bright metallic green and measures ½” in length. The City has elected not to treat for Emerald Ash Borer but instead is acting on an “Ash Canopy Replacement Plan,” whereby 5,000 ash trees will be removed and replaced every year for eight years.

Replacement species include Kentucky Coffee, River Birch, Dawn Redwood, Bald Cypress, Prairie Gem Pear, Swamp White and Bi-Color Oak. Disease-resistant elms are also being introduced back onto Minneapolis boulevards with varietal names like Accolade, Triumph and New Horizon.

Managing our Urban Forests 05Maples have been suspended as a choice for boulevard planting. Sievert said. “About 25% of our boulevard trees are currently maple and, if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last several years, it’s to avoid a dominant planting. We want diversity.”

Photo left: Ralph Sievert, Forestry Department Director, standing in front of a Burr Oak.

“Some blocks in Minneapolis have nothing but ash trees,” Sievert noted. “In those cases, we’ll remove a handful each year, replacing as we go. That way the loss isn’t so devastating and some of the trees will have gotten a good start when the last of the ash trees have to go.”

Currently, the City is marking ash trees in three different ways. “The green plastic ribbons are part of an awareness campaign,” Sievert said. “We want people to understand which trees are ash, and which are not.”

If an ash tree is painted with a green ring, that means the tree is already infested with the Emerald Ash Borer. If a green “X” has been painted on a tree, it’s slated for removal.

The Emerald Ash Borer is yet another in a long list of invasive species changing our landscape. It’s thought to have entered the US in Detroit MI, arriving from China on shipping palettes made from infested wood.

Homeowners may elect to treat ash trees on their property at their own expense. According to Sievert, the cost is about $10 for every diameter inch of trunk. That means that for a 20” diameter tree, the cost (every 2-3 years) to inoculate would be about $200. Check the U of M Extension website for tips on how to choose a certified arborist at

Even with the waves of tree diseases that have hit South Minneapolis over the years, Dutch Elm Disease and Emerald Ash Borer being among the worst, we still have an abundance of trees in our urban forest. Sievert estimated that our tree-lined city boulevards extend for 1,100 miles—stretching the equivalent of from here to New York City.

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Woodworking co-op, We Actually Make Stuff, opens in Longfellow

Posted on 26 November 2015 by calvin


The large building at 3307 Snelling Ave. S. does not yet have a sign outside. Its surroundings are quiet. But step inside and you will find carpentry tools, woodworking equipment, lumber and unfinished logs.  For just six weeks, this has been the home of We Actually Make Stuff, a woodworking cooperative.

Jason Holtz, Laurie McKichan, and Richard Helgeson build customized furniture in this space. Tom Caspar, who teaches woodworking classes, is also part of the cooperative. Amy Hubbard, who has another job but is a hobbyist woodworker, rents a small space in the building. And Sam Devine, a general contractor, has an office here.

IMG_3060Holtz said he comes by this career naturally since his dad is a carpenter and his grandfather was a carpenter. “While I don’t build houses, I do some things my dad doesn’t do, and vice versa,” Holtz said, “but there is some overlap.”

Photo right: Jason Holtz standing by 14-foot table he is creating from slab. (Photo by Jan Willms)

He started by studying pre-architecture at the University of Minnesota. “I ended up in a woodshop in a design class, and here I am, over 20 years later.”

IMG_3055Photo right: Laurie McKichan making plans for furniture pieces. (Photo by Jan Willms)

McKichan was a theater major. “I was bored, looking for things to do. I had always liked crafts, and I took an intro to woodworking class. I built a coat rack, and I was hooked,” she said. She and Holtz both apprenticed for the same furniture maker in Chicago, but at different times.  They connected when they returned to Minnesota, and then McKichan met Helgeson through some friends. She said they all got connected “through this crazy web we weave.”

Caspar has been in the picture all along. “My career goes back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth,” he joked. After graduating from college, he and some friends opened the Malt Shop in south Minneapolis.

IMG_3065Photo left: Tom Caspar working with a plane from the Civil War era. (Photo by Jan Willms)

“None of us knew anything about restaurants, and I didn’t know how to use a hammer,” he recalled. “But I got put in charge of fixing the rickety furniture in the restaurant, and I found out I like it.  After burning out on the restaurant business, I got really lucky and found an apprenticeship with an old-time furniture shop, Eric’s Interiors. I worked there, and then for ten years on my own. I did custom-made furniture for a long time and found out how difficult it is to make a living on your own.”

He then was offered a position as editor for American Woodworker Magazine, where he remained for 15 years until the magazine folded last year and he again found himself on his own.

“While I was an editor, I hired Laurie, Jason and Richard at different times to write stories,” Caspar explained.

“I’m teaching classes because that’s what I like to do best,” he said. He offers individual and group instruction in woodworking at Woodcraft Supply in Bloomington. He also teaches at a school in Maine.

“I had previously been with another woodworking co-op like this, but with a few more members, called the Fourth Street Guild. That group has now moved to northeast Minneapolis.

“There are very few operations like this in the entire country,” Caspar noted.

“It works if you get along,” Holtz added. “First and foremost, a commercial space like this is expensive, as is the equipment. As an individual, it’s hard to justify this amount of space.”

But for a co-op, it is less costly and more effective. The woodworkers don’t have a showroom to display their wares because they are doing mostly custom work. “We don’t have a lot to show,” Holtz explained, “because everything we build is sold before we make it.”

Each furniture maker has his or her own website showing work samples.

“We don’t build kitchen cabinets over and over again; it’s one-of-a-kind,” Holtz said. “We found it a lot better to band together and try and struggle together.”

“This co-op gives you community and gets you out of the house,” McKichan said. “For us, it works because we’re older. We have established ourselves. And we have been together long enough that we know each other’s idiosyncrasies.”

Caspar said the co-op moved to the Longfellow area from a location in St. Paul. “We were gentrified out of our area in St. Paul,” he said. “It used to be low rent, but with the light rail the rent went up, and we had to move. Also, this is local for Richard and Jason and me. Jason lives just a couple blocks from here.”

Helgeson builds a lot of church furniture; McKichan does arts and crafts, and Holtz calls himself the slab guy. He is currently working on a 14-foot long table that he is creating from a slab of wood.

“I do a lot of built-in work,” he said. “I’m not opposed to doing small jobs others don’t want to do. I get a lot of work from my own neighborhood, like a replacement entryway in Longfellow.”

McKichan said she has a client who bought a sofa and is having her take it apart and make it into two different chairs. Another client had an old sofa and wanted it made longer.

Caspar said he likes to teach woodworking by using early tools. He has a plane that he demonstrates that is from the civil war era.

The group agreed that their first challenge will be to figure out what winter brings.  “Our heat used to be included in the rent,” Holtz said. “Now we will be paying that separately.”
“And we’ll have to shovel sidewalks,” Caspar added.

Although the co-op does not have specific hours, someone is usually there during the day if anyone wants to drop by and see their operation in progress. Some of their customers will stop by to see them work or ask questions.

“We are more expensive than Ikea,” McKichan said. “But it’s custom furniture. We want to make the expectations clear of what the client is getting, so everyone is happy.”

Websites for the woodworkers are as follows:
— and

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Mental Health Connect

Posted on 26 November 2015 by calvin

Helping people find their way to better mental health


The approaching stretch of holidays and the shorter, winter days can be a real challenge for people struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental health challenges. And while Minneapolis has a wealth of community resources, knowing where to begin can be overwhelming.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults in America will struggle with a form of mental illness in any given year. That’s approximately 61.5 million people. One in 17, or about 13.5 million people, live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. Mental illness has a presence in every community and many families. It doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, income or education.

Mental Health Connect 06Photo right: Kristina Swanberg, mental health navigator with Mental Health Connect, in conversation at Peace Coffee in the Longfellow neighborhood. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Recognizing how widespread this problem is, Bethlehem Lutheran Church (41st St. and Lyndale Ave.) launched a new ministry last January to address the barriers people face when trying to access mental health services. Called Mental Health Connect, its goal is to connect people in the community to a full spectrum of mental health services, education, resources, and support.

One of the many ironies of mental illness is that, on average, the time lapse between onset of symptoms and treatment is 8-10 years. If you or a family member are struggling with what you suspect is mental illness, one of Mental Health Connect’s two staff people may be able to connect you to vital resources.

Kristina Swanberg is a mental health navigator with the program. A graduate of St. Mary’s University with a dual degree in political science and sociology, she has two years of experience as an outreach specialist at Vail Place, a program focused on recovery issues. Swanberg said, “I’ve learned to listen carefully, and to direct people to the services they need.”

Swanberg and her co-worker Liz Timm, a certified peer specialist, can meet clients at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, at clients’ homes, or out in the community. The Mental Health Connect model is unique in its mobility. Its services are offered free of charge; no income verification is required, and no one is ever turned away.

“Every session starts the same way,” Swanberg explained. “We meet wherever the client feels most comfortable, and I ask, ‘What is it that you’d like to work on in your life?’”

She has received a wide range of answers to this question over the last ten months. “I got fired from my job, and I’m too depressed to figure out how to get a new one.” Or, “I lost custody of my children. I really want to get my life together, but I don’t know where to start.” Or, “I just don’t know what’s going with me right now.”

Here are some of the signs of deteriorating mental health:
—feel very sad or withdrawn for a period of more than two weeks;
—trying to harm oneself, or others, or thinking about doing so; —uncharacteristic risk-taking behavior;
—sudden, unexplained bouts of anxiety;
—significant, unexplained weight loss or gain;
—serious mood changes that affect relationships;
—repeated use of drugs and/or alcohol; and
—noticeable difficulty concentrating and/or staying on task.

“People can get pushed around in the mental health care system,” Swanberg said, “and that creates distrust. When you call Mental Health Connect, you’ll be talking to a real, live human being and because there are only two of us, we won’t shuttle you from department to department. Either Liz or I will help you identify what resources you’re looking for, and two weeks later we’ll call to follow-up.”

As the first point of contact, Swanberg can be reached at, by phone at 612-312-3377, or through the Mental Health Connect website at
Mental Health Connect is likely to receive extended funding after its first 18 months expire in June 2016. While the program is a ministry of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, it is non-denominational and is available to concerned family members as well as to individuals suffering the effects of mental illness.

As Swanberg said, “Our model is very community-based.”

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Annual Chili Cook-Off 2015

Posted on 26 November 2015 by calvin

LCC Chili Cook-Off 05Article and photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Photo right: The event spotlighted a vital local business and brought community members together.

LCC Chili Cook-Off 04The Longfellow Community Council (LCC) held their annual Chili Cook-Off Fundraiser on Sun., Nov. 15, at Gandhi Mahal Restaurant. Twelve cooks squared off to vie for the coveted Chili Cook-Off Cup, a trophy that travels from winner to winner each year. All proceeds from the event go to fund LCC’s programs and initiatives in the neighborhood.

Photo left: Ruhel Islam, owner of Gandhi Mahal Restaurant, event host and Cook-Off competitor. His secret ingredients were chilies grown in Gandhi Mahal’s basement aquaponics garden, and turmeric.

LCC Chili Cook-Off 02As Longfellow resident and cook-off competitor Jan Pearson said, “Making chili is fairly simple, but it’s hard to get it just right.”

Photo right: Officer Amber Degitio-Wick and Lieutenant Kim Lund from the Third Precinct in the line-up of competitors. Attendees could vote for their three favorite chilies.

Each competitor claimed to have a secret ingredient. For the Minneapolis Police Department Third Precinct, it was nutmeg. Other undercover ingredients in their recipe were kale and butternut squash.

LCC Chili Cook-Off 03Reigning 2014 champs Trevor and Kelly Russell boasted four kinds of chili peppers in their chili. Trevor, a member of both the LCC board and the Longfellow Brew Club, hoped that a splash of Jalapeno Brown Ale would help them garner a second win—and ultimately it did.

Photo left: Trevor and Kelly Russell were voted the 2015 champions, successfully defending their culinary victory last year.

Melanie Majors, LCC executive director, was very happy with Sunday night’s turnout. “We learned long ago that people will come out for two things,” she said, “‘issues of concern’ and just having fun. The Chili Cook-Off falls into the second category.”

LCC Chili Cook-Off 01Majors continued, “It’s hard not to be proud of Longfellow and the work we’re able to do here. The neighborhood residents are engaged, and the business community is strong. From our end at LCC, we want to promote everybody. The money we raise at an event like this helps us to do just that.”

Photo right: Melanie Majors (left), executive director of the Longfellow Community Council, with a friend. Majors, wearing full disco attire, said, “Just because we do serious work doesn’t mean we can’t have fun doing it.”

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