How much traffic can 46th St. and Hiawatha handle?

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

Residents question Reuter Walter representatives during a community meeting on Oct. 9. Reuter Walter has proposed razing the former Bridgeman’s near Minnehaha Park at 4757 Hiawatha Ave., and constructing a six-story, 85-unit structure. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Residents discuss traffic, parking, and air quality issues sparked by proposed developments near Minnehaha Park

Can the 46th St. and Hiawatha Ave. area handle all the traffic caused by development there?

Residents aren’t sure, and they have been voicing their concerns at local meetings, including one on Oct. 9 at Brackett Park.

There were two developments that night on the agenda, Reuter Walter’s proposal for the former Bridgeman’s property and Hayes Harlow Development’s proposal for Minnehaha and 46th (see related article on page 1), but overall five projects are currently being reviewed for the area. Plus, just north is the upcoming Snelling Yards development and Amber Apartments building, and to the east will be the redevelopment of the Ford plant.

“That’s a gigantic increase in car traffic,” said one resident.

Another stated, “It’s going to be a traffic nightmare.”

Citizens are asking for a traffic study. Others also asked for air pollution and air quality studies to be done in the area.

Council member Andrew Johnson clarified that a traffic study couldn’t be used to deny a project. “It can be used to mitigate traffic impacts,” he explained and stated that he will push for one to be done.

Johnson said that it is important to him that traffic flow well in this area, but that includes vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, and buses.

“It’s not easy as there’s a lot of competing interests here,” he said. “How do you make 46th St. adequate for not just now but 10, 20 years down the road?”

Parking concerns
Residents have also been expressing concerns about parking at these buildings, which are sometimes providing less than one parking spot per unit.

The 4757 Hiawatha Ave. project proposes 59 stalls for 85 units; the Oppidan phase 2 high-density option next door proposes 96 stalls for 96 units; the Minnehaha 46 building proposes 27 stalls for 54 units, and the Lander Group proposal for the Greg’s Auto site has 37 stalls for 37 units.

“Where are everyone’s friends going to park?” questioned one resident. Another pointed out that most couples have two vehicles.

Six-story, 85-unit building
Reuter Walter has proposed razing the former Bridgeman’s near Minnehaha Park at 4757 Hiawatha Ave., and constructing a six-story, 85-unit structure.

Reuter Walton decided not to include commercial space in this development because it will be located on the same block as the new Cub Foods development, explained Brasser. “Speculative retail space in apartment buildings is difficult to fill,” he stated.

A citizen argued that the location is a “gold mine,” especially on the weekends. “You’ve got to see the lines at Sea Salt,” he said.

Others pointed out that visitors wouldn’t be able to see the first floor of this building from Minnehaha Park to know if a restaurant or coffee shop was there. There’s also an issue with parking, which could prevent a business from moving in as it did for so many years on the lower level of the building at the 46th St. light rail station. Venn Brewing finally moved in after years of negotiation with neighbors regarding parking on the streets nearby.

Some residents expressed concern about the proposed height at 4757 Hiawatha Ave., which will be about the same as the five-story Lowa46 building just to the north that will house Cub.

“I kind of feel like you are the 6.5-foot person standing at the front of the concert,” a resident stated.

The next meeting on this project will be on Nov. 8 at the Neighborhood Transportation and Development Committee.

Photo below: There are five developments being proposed or in progress around Minnehaha and 46th. Being proposed are the Hayes Harlow Development’s project at Minnehaha and 46th, the Lander Group project at Greg’s Auto location at 4737 Minnehaha, the Oppidan phase two project, and Reuter Walter’s project at the former Bridgeman’s property. Under construction is the first phase of the Oppidan project that includes 148 market-rate apartments and penthouses, a 45,000-square-foot Cub Foods grocery store, 3,000 square feet of small-shop retail, and a large public plaza. (Graphic by Tesha M. Christensen)

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Fungi, a new urban agriculture opportunity for South Minneapolis

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

Ryan Franke (left) and Torin Dougherty, co-founders of the new urban agriculture business Backyard Fungi. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Backyard Fungi is the brainchild of two young Minneapolis entrepreneurs: Ryan Franke and Torin Dougherty. Franke is a dedicated mycologist (someone who studies fungi), and Dougherty represents the business arm of the newly formed business. Their Backyard Partner Program strives to bring more urban gardeners into the booming Twin Cities agriculture community, and they are seeking applications from South Minneapolis residents.

“We want to promote interest in growing fungi,” Franke explained. “Our goal is to have clusters of backyard partners in different South Minneapolis neighborhoods, to provide a source for restaurants and food catering businesses in search of locally grown, organic mushrooms.”

Dougherty added, “Our 2019 backyard partners will be growing wine cap mushrooms on wood chips and shiitake mushrooms on logs. These are the types of mushrooms we’ve had the most success with.”

The requirements for acceptance as a Backyard Partner will be, at a minimum:
• Able to commit 16 hours of time for the 2019 season, primarily in the spring and fall.
• An interest in growing organic food.
• A desire to be part of a community-based model of urban agriculture.
• 75 square feet of available yard space (fenced if there is a dog).
• A willingness to communicate clearly and reliably.

Franke and Dougherty are lowering the barriers to participation so that more gardeners can be involved. They are asking participants to pay $100 toward the start-up of their backyard mushroom beds, although the actual cost is closer to $400. The Backyard Fungi business model allows them to absorb many of the upfront costs in exchange for a portion of future mushroom yields.

Fungi are not difficult to grow; they’re just different. “We’ll bring our ‘fungal knowledge’ to your backyard when we schedule your site visit, teach fungal stewardship, and provide support as needed throughout the growing season,” Franke said.

Their decentralized business model has generated a lot of interest so far. Once all of the 2019 partners are on board, installation dates will be scheduled for the spring. Partners must agree to participate in the installation of their own mushroom beds, whether they are layering wine caps into piles of wood chips or inoculating logs with shiitake spores. Mushrooms require surprisingly little watering during the growing season, maybe only four or five times. Partners are responsible for watering, and for harvesting in the spring and fall: cutting, cleaning, and refrigerating the mushrooms they’ve grown until they can be picked up for distribution.

The model for reimbursing backyard partners is called a Harvest Barter. It’s a 50/50 split between the partner who grows the mushrooms and Backyard Fungi. A person could also choose to pay the $400 installation cost in full, keep the total yield for themselves—but they would lose all the benefits of being a partner.

Franke got hooked on fungi as a kid and re-hooked when he was camping on the North Shore with his wife two years ago. Following heavy rain, mushrooms started appearing—almost out of nowhere. He said, “After that trip, I just couldn’t ignore the lure of fungi anymore. I got an ID book and started figuring out every species I could find. From there I turned to the work of Paul Stamets, one of the world’s most respected mycologists who is both an author and YouTube presenter. When I bumped into Torin, a business major I’d known when we were both students at Gustavus Adolphus College, my first question was, ‘Do you want to start a mushroom business together?’”

According to Dougherty, fungi operate as part of a resource-sharing network. They are connected to bacteria, plants, animals, and other fungi. They distribute nutrients, water, and minerals to their partners. Franke and Dougherty envision their business running in much the same way: as a resource sharing network with mutual benefits.

For more information on becoming a backyard partner with them in 2019, contact

Minnesota conifers (cone bearing trees) support more than 50 different types of mushrooms including chanterelles, morels, and porcini—to name just a few culinary delights. A mushroom hunter should be very careful when harvesting, making sure that their identification is 100% accurate.

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Aldi will open in former Rainbow Foods site later this year

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

Charter school building complete; focus shifts to grocery store and retail as part two of redevelopment phase

Aldi will open in the former Rainbow Foods space at 2912 28th Ave. S. in November or December.

The grocery store is part of a second phase for redeveloping the site.

During the first phase of Minnehaha Commons, Universal Academy Charter School used a section of the former grocery store during the 2017-18 school year while a 19,600-square-foot second-story addition for classroom space was built on the back side of the building. To accommodate the addition, a single-family home on the property was torn down. The addition was completed over the summer and Universal Academy moved into the new addition at the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Wellington has now shifted focus to the front of the building near the parking lot.

“We are excited to renovate a tired building and bring new life and energy to this block,” stated Wellington Management Director of Acquisitions and Development David Wellington. “After sitting vacant for several years, the project will once again be an amenity to the neighborhood by bringing jobs, a successful school, and neighborhood-serving retail to the Longfellow community.”

Renovation underway
Built in 1984, Rainbow Foods closed in 2014 after the store was purchased by Jerry’s Enterprises as part of a 27-store deal that reshaped the Twin Cities grocery scene. The building and 6-acre lot were purchased by Wellington Management Company two years later for $5.35 million, according to Hennepin County records. This is Wellington’s first foray into developing property on the east side of Hiawatha. The Minnehaha Commons project continues the efforts of Wellington that began more than a decade ago with projects such as Hi-Lake Shopping Center, the Greenway Office Building, Corridor Flats, Lake Street Station, and the Blue Line Flats.

Photo left: Work is now underway renovating the west side of the former Rainbow Foods building for Aldi and the adjacent retail. The entire west facade will be replaced. Various pedestrian improvements will be made adjacent to the new retail entrances including new sidewalks, a raised pedestrian crossing connecting Aldi to the parking lot, plantings and bike racks. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The total project cost, including acquisition, phase one (Universal Academy expansion) and phase two (Aldi/retail renovation) is approximately $18 million. This does not include additional tenant improvements being made by Aldi and future retail tenants.

Wellington does not own Schooner Tavern, just north of the Rainbow building at 2901 27th Ave. S. and it is not part of this project.

Work is now underway renovating the west side of the Rainbow building for Aldi and the adjacent retail. The entire west facade will be replaced. Various pedestrian improvements will be made adjacent to the new retail entrances including new sidewalks, a raised pedestrian crossing connecting Aldi to the parking lot, plantings and bike racks.

Taken together, the Rainbow site, Cub land, and Target property represent the second largest piece of continuous asphalt in the city of Minneapolis, pointed out Wellington. The city’s plans for the area call for greater density due to the light rail line, which Wellington Management has focused on providing as it redevelops the area.

Phase 3: affordable housing
Stage three includes the construction of a mixed-use building on the northwest corner of the parking lot. It will have 90 units of affordable housing for seniors, and 15,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level. This portion of the project is behind schedule as Wellington Management works to put the financial pieces together to make it affordable.

“We are working diligently to secure public financing sources needed to build the affordable housing project,” said Wellington. “We are hopeful that Phase 3 construction can begin in late 2019, but it’s more likely to start in early 2020.”

Photo right: Universal Academy Charter School moved into a 19,600-square-foot second-story addition built on the back side of the building in time for classes to begin for the 2018-19 school year. (Photo submitted)

Wellington Management tried to purchase the Auto Zone property at the corner of E. Lake and Minnehaha, but the property owners were not interested in selling. So they signed a long-term agreement with Wendy’s to remain there for 20 years, and the building was given a facelift.

Wellington also plans to construct a single-story 3,500-square-foot retail building in the existing parking lot area not being used by Wendy’s along Minnehaha.

Will Aldi close existing store?
Aldi has not confirmed whether it will move out of the existing store at 2100 E. Lake St. or whether it will keep it open, according to Wellington.

With more than 1,800 stores across the country, Aldi is in the midst of an accelerated growth plan, investing more than $5 billion to remodel and expand its store count to 2,500 by the end of 2022. Aldi is more than halfway through its remodel investment. The new Aldi store layout features additional refrigeration space to accommodate more fresh, healthy and convenient products.

“The continued success of our store expansion and remodel initiatives has given us the opportunity to carefully select and introduce new products that satisfy our customers’ increasing preferences for fresh items, including organic meats, salad bowls, sliced fruits, and gourmet cheeses,” said Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi U.S. “We know people lead busy lives, so we’re making it even easier for them to purchase everything on their shopping list at Aldi, while still saving money.”

As part of the expansion, Aldi is increasing its fresh food selection by 40 percent with new items, including:
• More ready-to-cook and organic fresh meats to make meal preparation more convenient, including organic chicken breasts and marinated cilantro lime chicken breasts.
• Expanded produce selection, including veggie noodles and ready-to-eat sliced fruits, such as mango, pineapple, and watermelon spears, and more organics.
• Expanding its Earth Grown line with new vegan and vegetarian options, such as kale and quinoa crunch burgers, and chickenless patties and tenders.

More than 40 million customers each month use the simple, streamlined approach Aldi brings to retailing. Aldi sells frequently purchased grocery and household items, primarily under its exclusive brands.

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Longfellow neighbor helps others at Franklin Hiawatha Encampment

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

Jase Roe and his partner recently bought a house near Minnehaha Falls. In between packing and unpacking, and studying to become an addiction counselor at MCTC, Roe is spending many hours each week at The Wall of Forgotten Natives (also known as the Franklin Hiawatha Encampment). A former heroin and methamphetamine addict, Roe understands the complexities of addiction from both sides.

“There’s a stigma attached to being Native American that can break you,” Roe said. “I’m a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana. I was adopted by one of my aunts as a baby and raised in Eagan. Growing up in a white suburban community, I was bullied a lot. I turned to drugs early and lost 25 years of my life to addiction. I’m 42 now, and sober for almost six years. My struggle with addiction helps me to understand what some of the people in the encampment are dealing with.”

Photo right: Jase Roe (pictured right) and friends at a blanket and clothing drive event. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Roe spends his time at The Wall learning names and faces, and directing campers to available services. Last week, he logged two days signing people up for medical insurance and flu shots.

The Franklin Hiawatha Encampment held as many as 300 campers at its peak this summer. Roe estimates that number is closer to 200 now, about 80% of whom are Native. He noted, “The population has grown more challenging. There are hardly any kids around anymore, which is good. Most of the families have been taken in by local churches or have found temporary shelter with help from the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID). There is still a sense of community in the encampment, but the number of drug users has grown considerably. In my opinion, many people there are in survival mode.”

The City of Minneapolis and its agency partners had hoped to transition residents of the encampment to temporary housing by Sept. 30, but that date has come and gone. After three emotional city council meetings, a decision was made to develop properties owned by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians on the 2100 block of Cedar Ave. S. and the 1800 block of 22nd St. E. This is a short-term option, but all parties agreed it was the best of the possible, imperfect solutions.

Buildings on the sites have to be demolished, and some environmental remediation done before FEMA style trailers, water, and sanitary sewer can be brought in. Roe said, “I’m apprehensive about how long all that will take, and about who will actually be housed. There are many more people in the encampment than there are anticipated beds.”

For those outside the Native American community, it can be hard to understand how this situation has gotten so bad. A statement issued by the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors offered a thoughtful explanation: “Minneapolis is built on Dakota land, and has long been home to a significant number of Native Americans. Generations of genocide and forced assimilation have made the 21st century very challenging for Native people, who make up a disproportionate number of the homeless in Minneapolis. Causes of homelessness are related to addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, joblessness, economics, and many other causes.

Minnesota’s opioid addiction crisis continues to hit the Native American population especially hard.”

In a situation packed with unknowns, one thing is certain—winter is coming. A very successful blanket and clothing drive has just ended. Anyone wishing to make a monetary donation toward meals can send a check to the Native American Community Development Institute (attention Two Spirit Society: encampment meals). Their mailing address is 1414 E. Franklin Ave., Suite #1, Minneapolis 55404.

As Roe settles into his new home, he is well aware that this is the second time he has lived in this neighborhood. The first was several years ago when his home was a mattress in the basement of a drug house near Lake Nokomis. “My life was a total mess then,” he said. “I realized I was either going to die soon, or go to prison. I had lost everything. Even my teeth had fallen out because of my meth addiction. If I smiled, I always covered my mouth with my hand. I have a new life now, thanks to the Minnesota Two Spirit Society, Out and Sober Minnesota, and my own motivation. I can leave a legacy of hope for my nieces and nephews now because I was given another chance.”

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Business owners concerned about 33rd St. reconstruction

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

Will trucks be able to maneuver on a skinnier street with boulevards and curb cutouts?

Business owners are concerned that the city’s plan to reconstruct a two-block section of 33rd St. E. between Hiawatha and Minnehaha doesn’t factor in the street’s heavy industrial traffic.

The plans presented for the project at the Neighborhood Development and Transportation Committee (NDTC) meeting on Oct. 2, would narrow the street significantly, which business owners believe would make it hard for trucks to maneuver.

Photo right: Transportation Planner Forrest Hardy chats with business owners regarding proposed changes to 33rd St. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The street is currently 44 feet across with parking on both sides. One option narrows the street to 38 feet and install five-foot boulevards on both sides. The second option would narrow the street to 32 feet with eight-foot boulevards and allow parking on only one side.

Transportation Planner Forrest Hardy explained that boulevards between the street and the sidewalk provide a better pedestrian experience, and create a place to pile up snow.

When asked how much per square foot a boulevard costs versus a paved street, Hardy did not have an answer. While costs vary from project to project, typically a wider street without a boulevard is more expensive than a narrower street with a boulevard due to increased quantity of pavement and sublease materials, according to city staff.

Business owners stated that they see very few pedestrians walking down 33rd. While there is a gas station at the corner with Hiawatha, they pointed out that there is no crossing and pedestrians need to go up to 32nd or down to 35th to get across Hiawatha.

There are several businesses along that stretch of street, including Castle Building, Lovelette Transfer Moving, McIntosh Embossing, United States Bench Corporation, and R&T Cement. Each of those employ about 10 to 15 people.

Photo left: Business owners are concerned that the city’s plan to reconstruct a two-block section of 33rd St. E. between Hiawatha and Minnehaha doesn’t factor in the street’s heavy industrial traffic. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Dave McIntosh questioned the plan to close one of the two egresses onto his property. He pointed out that more trucks than the ones servicing his print company use the double egress to turn around. This allows trucks to turn on private property rather than try to do that in the street near the railroad tracks.

Businesses owners also questioned the bump-outs planned at corners. Because of the angle that Snelling intersects with 33rd, trucks won’t be able to turn if there are bump-outs, they insisted.

Work planned by 2019
According to Hardy, the city is taking a long-term approach to this project as the life cycle of a street is about 40 years.
The reconstruction of both 33rd and 35th will include removal of the existing street, subgrade correction, curb and gutter, driveways, sidewalks, and utility work as needed. The pavement condition on both streets is rated as poor.

The city will also coordinate with the railroad to improve the crossings. There are about 16 rail crossings per day. The crossing is particularly bad along 35th.

“Right now it is practically impossible to cross the railroad tracks on a wheelchair,” said Hardy. “There is no sidewalk there. It’s just holes.”

The existing right-of-way on the streets is 60 feet wide, and existing sidewalks are 6.5 feet wide. Pedestrian ramps are not generally ADA-compliant.

In the plan for 35th between Hiawatha and Dight Ave., the street will be narrowed to 38 feet. There will be a left turn lane, through lane and right turn lane off 35th onto Hiawatha. One drive­way on the north side, currently blocked off, will be closed.

The reconstruction project will take place during the 2019 construction season, and will cost about 2.865 million. The city will maintain access to businesses while the work is done, Hardy assured.

A recommended layout is expected to be brought to the City Council Transportation and Public Works Committee in late fall 2018 for approval.

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‘Lake Street Stories’ is collaborative anthology by 12 authors

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

An incident on a city bus. A brutal storm on Lake Nokomis. A child who runs from her turbulent home life. A group of fumbling organizers who try to create a summer celebration.

These are just a few of the 12 fictional tales that are in “Lake Street Stories,” a collection of works that are sometimes dark, sometimes nostalgic and sometimes humorous. Written by a dozen local authors and edited by one of them, William Burleson, the one thing that each story has in common is a relationship with Lake St.

Burleson, Steve Wilbers and Megan Marsnik who know each other from classes at the Loft, came up with a brainstorm. “Wouldn’t it be great to get together the best group of writers we could and do an anthology?” Burleson recalled. “We had no particular topic chosen at the time, but we thought it was a great idea; we went off and began recruiting.”

“Steve is a many-published author, and Megan just had a book serialized in the Star Tribune,” said Burleson, who is himself a published author. “It wasn’t hard to recruit writers, because we have been around a lot, and we found some really cool people. We got together and started talking about topics, and we got really excited about Lake St.”

The group started meeting together and became enthusiastic about the project. “A lot of us have a lot more connections with Lake St. than others,” Burleson noted. He said he grew up going to school on the 21 bus, living on Lake St. and in present day catching the bus on Lake St. for work. “Lake St. is a major factor of my life,” he said.

Although the book is a work of fiction, all of the authors have captured a flavor of Lake St., citing locations both past and current that have graced the well-known thoroughfare.

“Everybody looked at the theme and what they wanted,” said Steve Parker, another author. “It was neat to see how many different ways people wrote about Lake St.”

“It took a year,” said Burle­son. “We workshopped the stories. We would work together closely, going over two stories every month, tearing them apart. We did that a second time, working closely together through the whole process.”

Wilbers said the group listened to each other talk about their work, offering suggestions. “We took time, instead of writing to a deadline,” he said. On the second round of editing, the authors tore the stories apart and rebuilt them. They reacted to each other’s stories. And I think it went smoothly because of the leadership; there was just enough direction.”

Photo left: Authors of the new anthology “Lake Street Stories,” recently meet for a creative work session. Back row (l to r): William Burleson, Don Browne, Will Kayser, Drew Danielson, Teresa Ortiz. Front row: Stephen Wilbers, Marcela Estibill, Stephen Parker, Edward Sheehy. Authors not pictured are Lucy Rose Fischer, Barry Madore, Megan Marsnik. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Contributor Will Kaiser said one of the things they struggled with was making sure the group was not comprised only of old white men. “We still have some old white men, but we did make our group more diverse,” he added. “I was happy with that; the discussion was richer.”

Joining the group of writers were Marcela Estibill and Teresa Ortiz, who brought the perspective of other cultures to the anthology.

“The group was very welcoming,” said Estibill. “I always felt like the comments were very useful.” She said that sometimes they did contradict each other, but it was easy to see that maybe they should try different things.

Ortiz said she arrived a little bit late to the project, but she agreed that opinions expressed were valuable. “People were very kind with their opinions, but direct, and that is what you should do,” she said. “We were all good readers.”

Author Drew Danielson said that he always felt the group kept the energy going. “I felt like it had a life beyond whether I felt like writing or not. We were all working on the same thing cooperatively, so I needed to be there and do my part. The project had a feeling of responsibility to it.”

A labor of love was how Edward Sheehy described it. “I didn’t feel like it was a pressure situation at all,” he explained. “I felt the core of the other writers, trying to bring our talents together. It was a really important experience, and all the constructive feedback I got was very helpful.”

Kaiser said some stories were darker in tone than others, but all members of the group genuinely liked each other. “It was a very generous group to work with,” he noted.

The book’s editor, Burleson, said it helped to have incredibly talented writers participating. “Some are published, and some are unpublished but should have been published by now,” he said. “We definitely creamed the top off all the Loft classes I have taken, and we see the results now.”

“When you write something, and 12 people are giving you feedback, you sometimes wonder where it is going,” said contributor Don Browne. But he said the process was very helpful.

Wilbers said the authors were also free to ignore the opinions given. But he agreed that candid responses from the participants were helpful. “Sometimes I have to percolate for a while. If I knew something was not quite working, the other writers led me in the right direction.” He said that writers can be very competitive, but were not in this project. “We all wanted everyone to be successful.”

The authors knew they wanted to have the profits from the anthology to benefit a charity, but they were not sure at the beginning which one to choose. “We started discussing it and agreed it should be for one of the current new arrivals on Lake St.” They chose CLUES.

Ortiz works for CLUES, a nonprofit organization that provides services to Latinos in the Twin Cities. CLUES was housed next door to the Roberts’ Shoe Store building that burned on Memorial Day. Initially, nothing was hurt, but when the building collapsed the roof of CLUES fell in.

“CLUES serves the people who have just moved in,” Ortiz said.

“It has everything to do with Lake St.,” Kaiser added.

Reflecting on “Lake Street Stories,” Burleson said he has been around Lake St. for 59 years. “It used to be boarded up storefronts and porn shops. It was horrible, for the most part, a terrible stretch. But now it is so alive, and it really has a nice flavor to it, that it has not had before in my lifetime.”

That liveliness and flavor has been captured in this anthology, which is now available by order at your favorite neighborhood bookstore, or online at a variety of retailers including, or in E-Book.

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#StandOnEveryCorner sets down roots in South Minneapolis

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

When Bryce Tache held the very first ‘Stand On Every Corner’ protest in his Nokomis neighborhood, he didn’t know if anyone would show up. At first, the turnout was small, but soon, more and more of his neighbors started to show up at the daily protest, holding hand-lettered signs and encouraging drivers to honk in support. The messages range from anti-Trump or pro-immigrant to ones saying, simply ‘This is what democracy looks like’ or ‘Make empathy great again.’

As of Oct. 22, there are 257 such corners all over the country, all local and all organized by neighbors. Some are located in tiny towns, like Twisp, WA with a population of 956. But, in big cities like New York City and San Francisco, people are gathering in their own neighborhoods to make their voices heard. You can find ‘corners’ from Key West to Alaska.

In the Twin Cities, there are 16 #StandOnEveryCorner protest groups, three in the Nokomis neighborhood. One, at the corner of Diamond Lake Rd. and Portland Ave. (Tache’s home corner) draws participants every evening during rush hour. Another, at the corner of Minnehaha Pkwy. and Chicago Ave., gathers weeknights. The newest gets together at Cedar Ave. and Minnehaha Pkwy., meeting every Monday and Thursday.

Photo right: Bryce Tache stands with Cecil Farnham and his son holding electric vote letters. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

The protest has grown, Tache said, not just in the number of corners but with the number of people who have shown up, some every night. Tache is not leading the movement. It’s purely grassroots, with neighborhoods joining up on the website, announcing their location and times they’ll be gathering. Anyone can join. At some locations, local corner organizers bring signs for those who show up without any.

“It started June 21, when Trump’s immigration policy came into full effect,” Tache said. “My kids are immigrants. I can’t imagine their terror if they were locked in cages. It was a completely inhuman way to treat people.”

Photo left: Eric Solovjovs protesst at the corner of Diamond Lake Rd. and Portland Ave. as the sun begins to set. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Tache had just returned from a vacation in Spain. “The people there were shocked,” he said. “They asked me why Americans weren’t out protesting every day. I was tired of waiting for someone else. I needed to do something.”

Andrea Childers, who helped organize the Chicago/Nokomis Pkwy. protest, shows up with her husband, Cecil Farnham, her two children and a handful of her neighbors. “I said ‘why not?’ It’s empowering to get out here and take a stand. A lot of other members of the silent majority need to know that they are not alone,” she said.

“It’s also a way to make new friends,” said Ann Meyer, who stood with Childers waving at passing cars and chatting with walkers and joggers passing on the Parkway.

They get a lot of positive reactions from those driving by. There are honks and waves. “We’ve gotten a few middle fingers, too,” she said. Childers said she also got some targeted, personal threats from one stranger. “They rattled me,” she said. But, they didn’t stop her.

Photo right: Join Us sign at the corner of Chicago Ave. and the Parkway. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

At the Pearl Park location, a couple of dozen people show up every night. “People expect us every night,” said Warren Bowles, a neighbor who showed up to stand with his neighbors. “They start honking a block away.”

“It’s not about left versus right or blue versus red,” Tache said. “It’s about right versus wrong. It’s about holding our elected representatives accountable. It’s about being there for each other.”

The original plan was for the corner protests to go through the Nov. 6 general election. Whether the protests can continue after the election, especially in cold climates like Minneapolis, has yet to been seen. “The movement will evolve, depending on how big our wins are in November,” he said. “But, it will continue in some way.”

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New permanent home for Rick’s Place and Every Third Saturday

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

Tom McKenna is a former Marine and member of the Board of Directors for the non-profit called Every Third Saturday. He retired from the military more than ten years ago, but he’s still on the battlefront.

The forces he fights against these days are isolation, loneliness, feelings of worthlessness, and loss of hope. McKenna struggles with these forces himself, saying, “Some days are better than others.” He has made it his life’s work to help other veterans tend what he calls these“soul wounds”—which can sometimes be torturous enough to cause suicide.

Along with his wife Jessi, McKenna has run Every Third Saturday (a monthly goods and services distribution program for vets) and Rick’s Place (a donation based coffee shop) out of three storefronts on E. 54th St. since 2016. When the building went up for sale in August, they made an offer they were sure was good enough to close the deal. It didn’t, and someone else outbid them.

Photo right: Tom McKenna (with his service dog Mack) in front of Every Third Saturday’s future home at 5400 43rd Ave. S. He said, “Everything we do to serve homeless and struggling veterans will be magnified when we move into our new space.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“The owner of South Side Auto had his building for sale for three years,” McKenna said, “and it was literally around the corner at 5400 43rd Ave. S. Jessi and I hadn’t considered it because it was so different from our space. In hindsight, we think we had some tunnel vision going on. When we lost out on the building we were leasing, we started reimagining how we could use the South Side Auto space —and we thought we could do an even better job of serving homeless and struggling veterans there. We bought the property, and we hope to be there for the next 50 years.”

McKenna envisions that there will be three stages of development. Stage I, which he hopes to complete by Dec. 1 of this year, is to make the building safe for habitation. A new concrete floor needs to be poured, and better doors, windows, and insulation need to be installed. He said, “We’ve received some generous offers of in-kind donations for electrical work and sprinkler fitting. We could really use some help in the plumbing department. Completing Stage I will mean that all of our stored goods, clothing, and supplies could be moved to and distributed from the new building.”

Stage II has a target date of spring 2019. The lease on Rick’s Place expires in late February, and McKenna hopes to make the move without having to miss a beat. Rick’s Place is open Mon.-Fri. from 9am-4pm. McKenna said, “We could use a few more committed volunteers to be at Rick’s Place on a regular basis; from 10am-2pm would be ideal. Volunteers don’t need to be veterans. Sometimes it’s more fun if they aren’t because that can lead to broader conversations. As part of Stage II, a new building will be built off the back (on the 54th St. side) to house donations and distribution.”

Photo left: Ronie George (pictured left) is a retired art teacher from Minnehaha Academy and a regular volunteer at Rick’s Place. She teaches a drop-in art class every Monday from 10am-2pm. Veterans are welcome to participate at no cost, as well as interested neighbors. No previous art experience is needed. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Stage III is down the road. McKenna said, “Our hope is to have an on-site enterprise one day that would employ veterans and generate revenue. We don’t know yet what that will look like, but ideas are starting to come.”

McKenna is anticipating an “anthill of activity” once the new building is in full swing. A proposed schedule includes everything from Running Club to Finances 101, and Life Coaching to Car Repair.

“The VA does a fantastic job of treating veterans’ physical ailments, and they’re doing the best they can with the mental aspects of what veterans go through,” McKenna said. “What we do here is different though: at Every Third Saturday and at Rick’s Place, we walk through, and we talk through, what’s in the hearts and souls of veterans and their families. While we’re building great programming here, our deeper interest is in building great community. We think it’s a model that’s absolutely necessary but, to our knowledge, it hasn’t been done anywhere else.”

To inquire about volunteering or donating, contact

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Good food, a good cause at one of Longfellow’s newest eateries

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

As an attorney, Emily Hunt Turner spent six years in New Orleans, working for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, trying to help former prisoners readjust to society. What she found was that those with criminal records had problems finding housing, getting work and being able to again join society as a productive and contributing members. Even those who have paid their debts to society years before—sometimes decades before—were still facing discrimination.

Turner was originally from Wahpeton, ND. In 2002, she moved to New York to begin her studies in architecture at Syracuse University. While there, she started to notice inadequate and rundown housing was adversely affecting the lives of the people who had to live those houses and apartments.

This was a revelation that effected Turner as well, and she decided to get her Master’s degree in public policy. From there, she moved to New Orleans for law school and then, signed on with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, working on prisoner reentry, housing discrimination and housing segregation in post-Katrina New Orleans.

After moving to Minnesota, she hoped to create ways to help Minnesotans who faced the same problems she’d seen in New Orleans, something she said she considered one of the biggest civil rights issues the country is facing.

She came up with a novel idea. Settling into a former vintage store on Minnehaha Ave., she set out to open a non-profit restaurant that would hire only those with criminal records. She set up a 43-day Kickstarter program and discovered that there were a lot of people in the community ready to support her idea. She raised more than $60,000, $10,000 higher than her original goal. She also managed to get several grants from the Minneapolis Foundation, Seward Redesign and other organizations, raising another $70,000.

Photo right: Yeng Thao grills up one of Four Square’s signature cheese sandwiches. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

With all her education, she found that she knew almost nothing about starting a business, how to run a nonprofit or how to run a neighborhood restaurant. But, she had an idea, one that she thought would be a hit. She would open a restaurant that would employ only those with criminal records, giving them a purpose, training and a chance to join society again.

The menu, she decided, would be upscale grilled cheese sandwiches of various types. The restaurant would be called ‘All Square,’ a play on words for both the restaurant’s square sandwiches and the goal of making things all square for those who worked there.

All Square opened in September. The employees work 30-hour weeks and are paid $14 an hour, plus tips, while they learn skills. On Mondays, when the restaurant is closed, Turner brings in experts to teach classes on entrepreneurship, business, online work, and even basic finances. There is also a chance for workers to learn basic criminal law and justice reform.

Turner, who claims she hates to cook, convinced Sarah Masters, a semi-finalist on ABC television’s ‘The Taste,’ to come up with recipes and got together with Heather Bray and Jodi Ayres, owners of Lowbrow, who were happy to advise how to operate a restaurant. And, she lobbied local cheese producer Crystal Farms, who donated a year’s worth of cheese, giving the restaurant a financial head start.

Inside, the 850 square foot restaurant is sunny and bright, with colorful touches, large windows and mirrors to reflect the sunlight. A chalkboard at the entrance lists the sandwich choices, including four vegetarian sandwiches. Cheese is the star, pork is the co-star, but there are choices for any taste, including gluten-free and vegan. The most expensive sandwiches are $8. A kid’s sandwich is $5.

Photo left: Angel Usher takes a lunch order from two customers. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Popular choices are the Jerk Chicken, a combo with rotisserie chicken and Swiss cheese, provolone, guava jam, and Jamaican jerk sauce. The Charcuterie combines brie, onion jam, prosciutto, and almonds. The Pesto sandwich is a mozzarella, provolone sandwich with pesto and fresh basil. All are grilled, so the cheese is melted and gooey.

“They are super responsive to feedback,” says customer Scot Harris, who brought co-worker Ryan Schaefer for lunch at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables. “I came in and made the suggestion for a vegan sandwich and the very next week, it was there.”

“I’m not vegan,” said Schaefer. “They have a good variety of sandwiches, and they are pretty good. We work for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, helping homeless veterans, so we understand and support their mission. And, we like to support small local businesses.”

Those at All Square like to point out that everyone has violated the law at some point, but most have been lucky not to have to face consequences for their actions. But, sometimes, even a minor mistake can follow someone their entire life.

Photo right: Scot Harris and Ryan, Schaefer, Eemployment Specialists from the nearby Assistance Council for Veterans, enjoy their sandwiches on a warm October day. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

The restaurant sells a book, “We Are All Criminals,” which tells of people who committed crimes and were never caught or punished—things like smoking marijuana or public drunkenness.

You can also buy t-shirts saying, “Don’t judge. Just eat.”

At the restaurant, at the beginning of the day, the workers are smiling, learning to work as a team. Some will advance to management and then, when they graduate from the program after 13 months, many could start their own business or move to a commercial restaurant to manage there. Then, a new coalition of new workers will join together at All Square, looking for a way for re-entry, a second chance, and a new, better life.

You can find All Square at 4047 Minnehaha Ave. They are opened Tuesday through Sunday, 11am-9pm., closed each day between 3-4pm.

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The many seasons of a painter’s life

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

Messenger editor and co-owner Calvin deRuyter wins Winsor & Newton Award in national watermedia exhibition

Calvin deRuyter, editor and co-owner of the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger, recently won the Winsor & Newton Award in the NorthStar Watermedia Society’s Fourth National Juried Exhibition.

Watermedia refers to paintings made with any medium that can be dissolved in water, such as watercolor, acrylic, gouache, casein, egg tempera, and water-based ink.

Artists from 20 states and Australia submitted 280 entries, and 16 awards were given in the form of art materials or monetary compensation.

All the winning paintings can be seen online at

deRuyter (photo left by Margie O’Loughlin) has entered the competition each year since it started, but this is the first time that he’s won an award. “There’s never any way of predicting if you’ll get into a juried show, or if you’ll place. You enter, and then you hope,” he said.

His winning submission was a nearly mono-chromatic abstract watermedia painting called Formare Due, which is Italian for “second in a series of paintings based on form, shape, and molding.”

In a sense, he’s entering the second stage of his career as an artist. deRuyter explained, “Over the last 15 years, I’ve been fortunate to win more than two dozen awards for painting, including four other national awards and four other ‘best in show’ awards, but this NorthStar award was especially meaningful. I’ve been working in abstract forms for the last couple of years, and I was pleased that one of those paintings was recognized with a national award.”

Like most artists, deRuyter’s path to success has held its share of surprises. He graduated from Hamline University with a fine art degree in painting and spent a fifth year there as an artist’s apprentice. Accepted into graduate school but lacking the means to go, deRuyter decided to take “a couple of years off.” He had edited the student newspaper while at Hamline and, through a turn of events, ended up purchasing the fledging Midway Como Monitor for $1 in 1975. He and his business partner, Tim Nelson, purchased the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger several years later.

He didn’t pick up a paintbrush again until 1998.

Eventually enticed by a friend into taking a watercolor class at Como Conservatory, deRuyter wasn’t exactly wild with enthusiasm. He said, “I was an oil painter in college, and I thought watercolor was a dirty word.” But, the two friends completed their first class, then took another, and eventually signed up for a five-day watercolor workshop with nationally recognized teacher Skip Lawrence.

deRuyter explained, “More than any other painting medium, watercolor has so many rules. I never liked following them, and it showed in my work. On the second day of that workshop, the teacher was making the rounds and looking at what students had painted so far. He stopped at my table, and asked, ‘You’re not having any fun at all, are you? You should forget all the rules, paint the way you want to for the next three days. Just have fun with the medium.’”

Photo right: Of Calvin deRuyter’s award-winning painting, Judge Rachel Daly said, “To me, this painting is the crackling sound of thunder. Or what static looks like under a microscope. It is a shifting, mysterious image of ice forming in the darkness of a December midnight. “ (Photo provided)

“I really thought about what that meant,” deRuyter continued. “After driving to the workshop the next day, I wondered how I could capture the feeling of that grey, cold morning. I went into the studio, and just started painting directly from the tube—with no palette, and a hard bristle brush. I’ve been doing watercolor that way ever since.”

deRuyter went on to establish a reputation for himself as a landscape painter; what he called, “a Midwest colorist.” Now a ten+ year tenant of the Northrup King Artist Studios in NE Minneapolis, he said, “There never was a color invented that I didn’t like.”

But the landscapes stopped holding his full attention a couple of years ago, and the brilliant colors he had always been drawn to were slowly replaced with blacks, greys, and whites. deRuyter explained, “If someone had told me ten years ago, when I was becoming known as a colorist, that I would be focusing on monochromatic or single color paintings in the future, I would have called them crazy!”

“A viewer knows whether or not they like an abstract painting right away,” deRuyter said. “But, often they just don’t know why. The abstract form is not familiar to most viewers in the same way that a landscape or a still life might be. As a selling artist, I’ve had to start over again from a marketing perspective.”

deRuyter will be offering a four-class series in November called “Loosen up your Painting,” and a two-day workshop in mid-January on the “Abstracted Figure” (both at White Bear Center for the Arts).

He will also be participating in Art Attack, Nov. 2-4, a three-day celebration of art at the Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson St. NE. He invites everyone to stop in and visit him in Studio 321.

To learn more about deRuyter’s work and background go to

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