Public Input Meeting planned on 28th Ave. Bridge replacement

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

Minneapolis Public Works plans to replace the 28th Ave. Bridge over Minnehaha Creek in 2019. The bridge is between 48th St. E. and Minnehaha Creek Pkwy. within Minnehaha Creek Park. (Illustration right and photo below provided)

This work will require detouring 28th Ave. at the bridge for the duration of construction.

Public Works is seeking public input regarding design objectives and priorities for the replacement bridge and any related issues or concerns.

The meeting is planned for Mon., Mar. 19, 5:30-7pm, at St. James on the Parkway, 3225 E. Minnehaha Pkwy. For more information, please contact Jack Yuzna, Bridge Engineer at 612-673-2415 or

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Minnesota winter curse: ice dams and attic frost illuminated

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

Graphic illustration of the anatomy of an ice dam. (Graphic provided by Steve Kuhl, Ice Dam Company)

Steve Kuhl is the founder and owner of the Ice Dam Company and a nationally sought-after expert on ice dams for more than 20 years. A self-described serial entrepreneur, the Ice Dam Company is one of four businesses he has created, all of which relate to construction and design. Officing out of Hopkins, Kuhl helps home and business owners wage on-going battles against ice dams, attic frost, and other challenges that come with maintaining structures in a northern climate. The Ice Dam Company serves all of the Twin Cities, and their website ( lists their strategies for dealing with some of winter’s worst nemeses.

“There are many things home owners can do to prevent ice dams from forming,” Kuhl said, “which is better than having to pay someone to remove them once they’re there.”

Photo right: A classic ice dam forming on the gutter and eaves. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

1. Have the snow shoveled from your roof, especially if icicles start developing. The cost of doing this a few times each winter isn’t much compared to the cost of dealing with interior water damage. Note that the whole roof surface should be cleared. Removing snow from the bottom couple of feet near the eaves will not keep ice dams from forming and, in some cases, may make ice dams that then form much more severe.

2. Check the attic or rafter spaces for adequate insulation. Proper insulation is one of the best allies in ice dam prevention.

3. Make sure that your roof system has good ventilation. Proper ventilation will allow for the movement of air through the attic and rafter spaces. This reduces the amount of warm air that builds up and reduces the melting snow that causes ice dams.

4. Check that all penetrations through the ceiling are sealed and insulated. Bath fans, plumbing vents, and recessed ceiling cans are some of the biggest culprits that let warm air into the attic. For optimal ice dam prevention, seal and insulate them well.

5. Add heat tape to the lower few feet of roof in areas where ice dams form from year to year. It’s best to address insulation and ventilation first because no amount of heat tape will compensate for the lack of those.

6. Minimize the use of recessed lights in the ceiling below unheated space, such as an attic or a truss cavity. Likewise, avoid turning on recessed lights in exterior soffits. Recessed lights generate a lot of heat, and are seldom insulated or sealed properly. The net result is heat escaping into spaces where it shouldn’t be during the winter.

7. Keep rooms with vaulted ceilings slightly cooler than the rest of the home, especially if these spaces are seldom used.

8. Heat tape, otherwise known as heat cable or roof de-icing cable, is an affordable solution to dealing with ice dams. Be wary of cheap products sold at big box stores. Learn more about quality heat cable products at

Kuhl explained, “This winter hasn’t been that bad for ice dams in Minnesota yet because we just haven’t had that much snow. The classic formula for disaster is heavy snowfall with temperatures fluctuating between zero degrees at night and 20 degrees during the day. That’s what we call the thermal sweet spot. When that happens, I know the phone is going to start ringing off the wall.”

“What we have seen a lot of this year,” Kuhl continued, “is something called attic frost. It’s a lesser known problem, but plenty damaging in its own way. Hot, moist air rises and condenses on the inside of the roof deck, where it freezes on contact. It’s not as catastrophic as ice dams, but the end result is the same. You’ll get cups or quarts of water running down your interior walls when it melts, not the gallons of water you’ll see with ice dams. But it doesn’t take much water to cause a lot of water damage and, sadly, with attic frost, all you can do is let it run its course. It’s also important to know that if you’ve had attic frost, you may have to replace your insulation. Once insulation has gotten wet, it’s compromised and will lose up to 50% of its R-value. When it dries out, it won’t be effective at doing its job anymore.”

Fact or fiction?
Fact: Since winter is far from over, there’s still time to get smart about ice dams and associated problems. While it’s most often the case that heavy snow accumulations create ice dams, they can also occur with relatively little snow on the roof. It’s a question of ice accumulations.

Fiction: Gutters have something to do with ice dams. If your home is prone to ice dams, you’ll get them whether you have gutters or not.

Fact: Gutter systems can be damaged by gutter ice. Fresh water ice weighs about 60 pounds per cubic foot, and gutters are not designed to tolerate that sort of load.

Fiction: When it comes to insulation, the more the better. Over-insulated homes can be just as bad as under-insulated homes when it comes to ice dams; too much insulation can inhibit proper ventilation. If warm air leaks into attic spaces, all the insulation in the world won’t prevent ice dams.

Fact: You can’t always see ice dams from the ground. The sneaky ones above skylights and dormers can be hard to see.

Fiction: Salt socks are a smart way to melt ice dams. People use pantyhose, old socks and store-bought cloth tubes filled with a variety of ice-melting chemicals for removing ice dams. This is not a good idea.

Fact: Ice should be removed by steam; forget the hammers, picks, and hatchets.

Fiction: Ice dams need to be thick to cause problems. A general rule is that the steeper the roof, the thicker the ice dam has to be to cause problems. On lower pitched roofs even a thin ice dam can be problematic.

: The leaking caused by ice dams may not show up right away. By the time you see water inside, it’s usually been there for a while.

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NENA re-launches its popular home loan programs

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

The Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (NENA) continues its popular home loan programs with the assistance of a new partner: the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE). NENA is now offering both an Emergency Repair Loan and a Home Improvement Loan.

Homes in the Keewaydin, Minnehaha, Morris Park and Wenonah neighborhoods are eligible. Loan applications are being processed on a first-come-first-served basis.

Photo left: According to the NENA website, “The housing stock in East Nokomis is relatively good and stable. The majority of single-family houses in the neighborhood were built between 1920 and 1960.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Lauren Hazenson, NENA’s Program and Communications Manager said, ”Our rates are lower by a percentage point or two than what a homeowner would get at a bank. We’ve been partnering with CEE since October 2017. Prior to that, we had a partnership with the Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation since 2015. Plenty of funds are still available. We expect to be disbursing funds for the next couple of years. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of applicants right out of the gate last October.”

“For the Emergency Repair Loans,” Hazenson continued, “projects are typically seasonal, like ice dams or related to basements flooding. They’re the kinds of things that homeowners get caught off guard by, and don’t have money set aside to deal with.”

A limited amount of funds is available for emergency repairs and improvements. Only owner-occupied households are eligible, and income restrictions apply. Applicants need to be current on mortgage and property taxes. The maximum loan amount is $7,500. The loan is 0% interest, and there are no monthly payments. The loan is due in total on the sale of the property or a transfer of the title.

Home Improvement Loans are available for owner-occupied residential structures (1-4 units). Individual condominium, cooperative, and townhouse units are all eligible. Properties under construction or held in trust are not eligible. Loan amounts range from $2,000–$15,000. Applicable criteria are:
• 3.5% (3.514 APR*) or 4.5% (4.514 APR*) fixed interest rate, depending on income;
• no maximum income limit;
• terms up to 10 years;
• this loan is secured by a mortgage on the property; and
• closing costs apply.

Eligible projects include most interior and exterior permanent improvements. Two bids are required from qualified, licensed contractors for projects over $5,000.

For do-it-yourself projects, a materials list (including prices) is required. The cost for labor and equipment purchased or rented may not be included in the loan. Funds are held in a non-interest bearing escrow account at CEE from loan closing until the work is completed and all final documentation is received.

Ashley Roberston, Assistant Marketing Manager with CEE, said, “When it comes to our neighborhood loan partnerships, the goal is to improve the housing stock of the neighborhood. What’s great is that NENA has a revolving low-interest Home Improvement Loan of up to $15,000, and CEE has other statewide financing opportunities that can be paired with the NENA loan to add to that amount. We’ve already had two households close in the East Nokomis neighborhood with those finds since January 2018.”

Robertson continued, “The Emergency Repair Loan addresses something specific like a furnace failing, an ice dam actively damaging the home with water on the inside, or a sewer line backing up. To qualify for the Emergency Repair Loan, you have to have been deemed ineligible for the Home Improvement Loan. CEE defines an emergency as an imminent condition that makes a house uninhabitable, dangerous to the occupants, or is capable of causing severe health problems. Repairs that will remedy such emergency repairs are eligible for consideration for Emergency Repair Loans.”

For more information or to request an application, call the Center for Energy and Environment at 612-335-5884, or visit the CEE website.

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Movies, parents group, gardening classes all coming up

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

The volunteers with Transition Longfellow create opportunities for South Minneapolis neighbors to get to know one another while also learning how to live more sustainably and prepare for changes ahead. Visit for more details on these and other activities.

Prepared Parents
Prepared Parents will meet Sat., Mar. 3, 10am-noon. Transition Longfellow is starting a group for parents of kids ages 10 and under, which meets the first Saturday of the month at Longfellow Park, 3435 36th Ave. S. The focus of the group will initially be on practical preparedness, understanding risks to children’s health and safety, and creating a preparedness toolkit. The group will also provide a supportive place for parents to talk about raising resilient kids and living a sustainable family life in spite of our consumerist culture. Email if you would like to join the group or would like more information.

Step-by-Step Preparedness emails
Each Friday, Transition Longfellow sends out an email with actions you can take that week to become more prepared for extreme weather. March emails will focus on creating an emergency communications plan for your family. Sign up for the series at the website,, where you can also find past emails.

Book Group
“The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World” by Christina Crook is the focus of this month’s book group. They meet at Moon Palace Books, 3032 Minnehaha Ave., on Thurs., Mar. 8, 6:30pm. You may not be able to throw away your cell phone, but you can discover ways to achieve balance when it comes to the technology in your life. March’s reading is Section 3.

Movie Night
Transition Longfellow’s movie night is Fri., Mar. 16, potluck at 6:30, movie at 7:15pm, at Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church, 4101 37th Ave. S.

Share a meal, then watch the documentary “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.”

The New York Times described this movie as tough: tough to watch, tough to consider, tough to ignore.

After visiting six continents, filmmaker Josh Fox (photo left) acknowledges that it may be too late to stop the worst consequences of climate change. Despite that, the world is filled with beauty and connection and love. Fox asks viewers, “What is it within us that no calamity can take away?” That will be the focus of the evening’s conversation. (No children please)

Looking Ahead
• Veggie Basics Class begins Apr. 1. Registration starts Mar. 1 on the website, This is a 4-week class offered Saturdays, 10am to noon at the Gandhi Mahal community room, 3009 27th Ave. S. Taught by Hennepin County Master Gardeners, Veggie Basics provides everything you need to know to start your first vegetable garden. Already growing? You can always pick up a few new tips. Cost is $10, and you must pre-register.

• Volunteers are needed for Chard Your Yard. The neighborhood project brings 3’ x 5’ raised bed gardens to neighborhood yards is scheduled for May 12, but the project needs 15 more volunteers to make it happen. Volunteers share breakfast and lunch and wrap the workday with a party. Two-hour morning or afternoon shifts are available, and a lot of appreciation from those you’ve helped. Sign up on the website.

• Get a Garden Bed. Sign-up begins Apr. 1 to have an opportunity to receive a Chard Your Yard raised bed. Some discounted beds are available for persons with disabilities, low-income, or senior citizens. See the website for more complete information.

• Note a change in normal scheduling. April Movie Night, usually on the 3rd Friday, will take place in April on the 2nd Friday (Apr. 12), and at a different location. Transition Longfellow is partnering with the Tiny Diner to host the movie “GrowthBusters,” with the filmmaker on hand to answer questions.

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NENA News: Community Forum planned Mar. 6

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

What opportunities could NENA support? What partnerships could we strengthen? How can we better involve Nokomis East residents? We want to hear from you!

Projects like the Nokomis Naturescape, Giving Garden, Nokomis Green Fair, Curb Appeal Matching Grants, and many others came from ideas generated by residents like you. Where should we head next? This is your opportunity to give us your perspective.

The Community Forum is a part of the Community Snapshot project and will be used to inform the NENA strategic plan for the next three years. Join your neighbors for a casual, interactive session on Tues., Mar. 6 from 6:30-8pm at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church, 5011 S. 31st Ave.

A free meal will be provided for all attendees, so come hungry! For more information visit the website

Giving Garden planning
Do you like to garden? Do you want to do something about child hunger and food insecurity? Join this friendly group of neighbors and make a difference!

The Giving Garden volunteers are meeting at the NENA Office (4313 E. 54th St.) on Tues., Feb. 27 at 6:30pm to plan for the 2018 growing season and to welcome interested volunteers. All gardening levels are welcome.

The Nokomis East Giving Garden is a volunteer-run, 310 sq. Ft. vegetable garden located on the property of St. James On The Parkway Church at 3225 E. Minnehaha Pkwy. All of the produce raised at the garden is donated to the Minnehaha Foodshelf and Groveland Food Shelf on a weekly basis from May to October. The vegetable garden selection is identified by the preferences of Minnehaha Food Shelf patrons and staff to ensure that the donated produce will meet real needs. In 2017, the first year of the Giving Garden, volunteers raised 427 pounds of vegetables, which were received by approximately 50-70 food shelf patrons. The Giving Garden also donates vegetables to seniors who are experiencing food insecurity.

Board candidate information session
In 2018, NENA has nine Board seats up for election—two seats from each of the four neighborhoods and one replacement seat for Wenonah. Applications are due on Thur., Apr. 12.

Interested individuals are strongly encouraged to attend the Info Session or to schedule a time to meet with Becky Timm, NENA’s Executive Director to learn more about serving on the Board. Eligibility requirements, terms and service, and other information will be discussed at the upcoming Board Information Session on Mon., Apr. 5, at 6pm the NENA Office.

Learn more about serving on the NENA Board at

Nokomis East Business Grants
NENA is offering two new grants for Nokomis Area businesses: the Marketing Matching Grant and the Business Partnerships Grant. The goals of these grant projects are to provide support for Nokomis East business districts, encourage business partnerships, and increase local customer traffic to our businesses.

Marketing Matching Grant
Businesses seeking to update their branding, website, marketing, or looking to attract more customers can apply for up to $2,000 for their project. This grant matches $2 for every $1 spent by the participant.

Business Partnership Grant
Two or more Nokomis East businesses that seek to engage in a short or long-term marketing or public engagement partnership can apply for up to $5,000 in matching funds. This grant matches $2 for every $1 spent by the participant.

Visit for guidelines and grant applications.

Sign up for NENA News
Your guide to news, events, and resources! Get your neighborhood news delivered to your inbox every other Wednesday. Sign up today at Once you sign up, you’ll receive updates on news and happenings in your neighborhood.

Upcoming Meetings and Events:
2/24/18, 5:30pm: Great Nokomis East Crockpot Cookoff, Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church,
5011 S. 31st Ave.
3/6/18, 6:30pm: NENA Community Forum, Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church
3/7/28, 6:30pm: NENA Housing, Commercial, Streetscape Committee, NENA Office, 4313 E. 54th St.
3/14/18, 6:30pm: NENA Green Initiatives Committee, NENA Office
3/22/18, 7pm: NENA Board Meeting, NENA Office
4/5/18, 6pm: NENA Board Candidate Information Session, NENA Office

Web: • Facebook:
Twitter: • Email: • Phone: 612-724-5652

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Nine-year-old girl plays Santa to area older adults

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

Editor’s Note: Yes we know we have passed Valentines Day, but this story came to us last week about a gracious act of love during the past holiday season. It was too great to pass up despite the fact we are moving into March! And besides… my neighbor still has on their holiday yard lights, proving the gifts of the holidays don’t need to be limited to just one time of year!

For participants of the local nonprofit Nokomis Healthy Seniors, Santa came during the 2017 holidays in the form of a young girl with a big heart and the desire to make a difference.

Nine-year-old Madeline (Maddy) Brazelton (photo right provided), who lives in the Diamond Lake neighborhood, raised $1,000 to buy items—including hand lotion, crossword puzzle books and snacks—to fill stockings for 60 older adults who are involved with Nokomis Healthy Seniors, whose mission is to support older adults in the Nokomis area to remain independent. A hand-made card rounded out the thoughtful presents, which were distributed by volunteers.

“We were so excited when Maddy and her mom approached us about this project,” said Megan Elliasen, Executive Director of Nokomis Healthy Seniors. “It was heartwarming to hear about a young person taking the initiative to spread holiday cheer to others.”

Another Nokomis Healthy Seniors staff member commented, “Many of our participants live alone, and Maddy’s gifts really brightened their day.”

Photo left: 60 older adults in the Nokomis area received holiday stockings. (Photo submitted)

In addition to thinking of older adults who might be lonely during the holidays, Maddy shared her holiday spirit with young people, too. She coordinated a gift program for Face to Face, an organization and health clinic that supports homeless youth in St. Paul.

Maddy’s proud mom Desiree said her daughter hopes to expand her requests for financial support and donations next year. “Her dream is to expand throughout the Twin Cities and to Chicago,” she said.

One couple who received the surprise holiday gift expressed their gratitude: “Thank you so much for thinking of the Nokomis Healthy Seniors at Christmas. What a wonderful job you did with the Christmas stocking full of goodies. Your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated.”

And another appreciative recipient shared, “We can’t thank you enough for the stockings and treats. My mom died, and it really cheered me up this holiday. You have made Christmas brighter.”

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(Literally) paint the town at the new 38th Street Station

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

Aiming to help transform the blocks around 38th and Hiawatha into the Twin Cities’ next great neighborhood hub, the developers of 38th Street Station have issued a call to the community.

“We know that the new places we love most build on community input, and reflect the context and character of the neighborhood. We hope the residents will be excited to lend their ideas and their creativity to create a great place,” said Michael Lander of Lander Group Urban Placemaking.

3828, the first phase 38th Street Station’s vision, opened Feb. 1 to new residents. It will also host Lander Group’s offices, moving over from 38th and Nicollet.

Lander Group is hoping the neighborhood will speak up for what they want to see in the 2000 square feet of ground floor commercial space yet to be leased. The spaces are now part of the “In Like a Lion” campaign run on Hoodstarter (go to and search for “38th”), in partnership with the City of Minneapolis. The Hoodstarter website gives people the chance to post ideas and vote on the types of businesses and uses for empty space in their neighborhood.

Feeling creative? The Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association (SENA) is working with GoodSpace Murals to coordinate a community designed- and painted mural alongside one of the new buildings at 38th Street Station. They’ll host Community Design and Paint days over the course of 2018. Sign up to learn more and get involved.

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Area CACs forming for master plans

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) will launch three new park master planning projects:

—Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail Master Plan: Parkland along both sides Minnehaha Creek between Minnehaha Regional Park and the western city limit.

— Mississippi Gorge Regional Park Master Plan: Parkland flanking both the east and west banks of the Mississippi River between Bridge No. 9 and north edge of Minnehaha Regional Park.

— Southwest Service Area Master Plan: All Minneapolis neighborhood parks south of I-394 and west of I-35W, including small triangle park properties. Does not include regional parks such as Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park (including Brownie, Cedar, Isles, Bde Maka Ska, and Harriet) nor regional trails (Kenilworth, Cedar Lake, and Minnehaha) because regional parks and trails are required by the Metropolitan Council to have separate master plans.

These three separate master plan projects will set visions and priorities for future park and trail improvements. The planning for each of these projects will be guided by separate Community Advisory Committees (CACs), which are appointed by various neighborhood organizations and elected officials. Apply by Mar. 7 to advise on any or all of the projects as part of their CAC.

An application for any and all of these committees can be found at


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SKOL Vikings!

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

Above: Greg Kelly, 5235 41st Ave. S., puts finishing touches on his model of the new U.S. Bank Stadium just in time for the playoffs. The model stands 13” high at the marquee and is 3’ wide and 4’ long—and made entirely out of toothpicks. Kelly reports that he used approximately 6400 toothpicks to construct the stadium and that it was displayed in the concourse at the playoff game Jan. 14 (photo below). The Vikings made a plexiglass case for the model to protect it. He and his wife Dana had intended to attend the playoff game, but were sidetracked with a case of the “horrible flu.” “I’ve built a lot of models in my time and after visiting the Stadium last year decided this would be the challenge I need to see if I still have it. Since I never used toothpicks before this would lend itself perfectly,” Kelly said. He reports that he has already begun his next toothpick project, an Indian Teepee with Indian designs. (Photos provided)

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What it looks like when youth become Agents of Change

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

Youth helping youth.

Sounds like a simple premise, but usually grants designed to assist young people are operated by adults.

A Bush Foundation grant awarded to Urban Arts Academy is unusual in its direct involvement of youth in its planning and operation.

“Originally youth organizations in South Side Minneapolis came together to see what was wrong with their communities and try to fix it. They were trying to do this for about a year and realized they couldn’t. They decided to bring in youth from their organizations to come together and try to solve the dilemma they were in,” said Christopher Ortiz (photo right by Jan Willms), a young man who is working directly with the collaborative.

“The youth-serving organizations in South Minneapolis were not reaching all the kids and families with their programs,” explained Sandra Richardson, who serves as a program consultant, focusing on programming, fundraising, and sustainability for the project. “The agencies wondered how they could work more closely together, and they came up with a plan. Part of that plan was to have youth serve as navigators (a name that didn’t stick) and focus on four neighborhoods: Bryant, Central, Bancroft, and Powderhorn.” She said the decision was made to concentrate on those neighborhoods and not spread the program too thin. This was all happening around 2013 or 2014 before the grant was awarded.

“Sandra facilitated gathering all of those agencies for a year,” said Art Serotoff, motivator and project evaluator for the grant. “The result of their plan was the grant they submitted to Bush as an innovation grant. Bush saw the potential, and they liked it.”

Besides Urban Arts Academy, the organizations in the collaborative are Boys and Girls Club at Phelps, courageous heARTS, Full Cycle, Migizi School, Minneapolis Youth Farms, Pillsbury United Communities, WE WIN Institute, Centro, COMPAS, EDIT, Hennepin County A-GRAD, Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, Project Footsteps, SYWEG, YIPA and Neighborhood Associations of Bancroft, Bryant, Central and Powderhorn Park communities.

Up until this point, the people working on the grant were adults employed by the service agencies.

“Then they came up with the idea that they wanted to have the youth themselves work with the program,” Ortiz said. The first step was to change the name from Youth Navigators to Agents of Change (AOC). The youth said they did not like the term navigators—they were not a form of GPS.

“Selecting the name itself for the project was a long process,” Ortiz said. “We eventually called it AOC because we want to bring change to the community. We want to change the dynamic between adults and youth, so we are agents of change.”

Photo left: Christopher Ortiz and Rayo Daniel (Photo submitted)

Ortiz said that initially the organizations enlisted youth who were participating in their programs. He was a high school senior and involved with Pillsbury House, one of the 20 collaborative members.

“One of the program leaders came up to me and told me about this new program for youth navigators. We didn’t receive much information other than that it’s a new youth program that wants to change youth programs. The other cherry on top was that we would get paid,” he continued. “I went, and it was different from what I expected. They were trying to find out what we wanted to do. That was a defining moment on becoming an Agent of Change. The motivator asked us what we saw wrong with our community, and we all responded honestly. At this time we saw what this could be.”

“We knew that if we’re really talking about something that would make a change, the youth would have to have a voice and be involved in it,” Richardson said. “But it was like when you’re having a baby, and you’ve been reading all the baby books for a year. You get your baby, and it doesn’t act like those babies in the books. So that’s what happened. We got the youth organizations and the youth didn’t act like our plan.”

Ortiz agreed. “We looked at the plan and we said nope, we have some other things we want to take care of. That was our real taste of what this program was to be about.”

Serotoff said the adults running these youth programs did step back and changed the direction of what the program was about. “Chris and other youth defined the core values,” he said.

“We came up with core values for each community,” Ortiz said. One value was to have real youth leadership opportunities and not just to have a program where youth are being taught to lead, but actually get an opportunity to lead.

Richardson noted that the youth participants said they were sick of going to programs on youth leadership and seminars, and at the end, there is no place for them to lead. “It wasn’t enough just to get information and education when there’s no place to use it.”

“The next value was ‘Don’t be like them,’” Ortiz said. “In going to middle school and high school, I witnessed a lot of my friends who fell through cracks. Society tries to forget about them and encourages us not to be like them. Everyone in the group agreed this is going on and is not unnoticed by us.” He said the youth do not want to be like them, referring to people who have let youth fall through the cracks. “We want to go to schools and push so that they do something to help those youth in need,” he said. “Every youth has a different story, and there may be actual reasons they are falling through the cracks.“

The third core value, according to Richardson, is that people need to value youth and demonstrate it. “Everyone says that, but if they don’t feel valued, what’s the point?” she asked.

Ortiz said the fourth core value was to tell the truth. “School and youth organizations don’t encompass all of history,” he stated. “There is a saying that history is told by the winners, and that plays a role in our schools. We are not really taught all of history from both sides and reflecting our own cultures.” He cited examples of African Americans learning their ancestors had been slaves, and that was it. “I realized as well, being Hispanic, that we immigrated here, and that was it. Nothing happened before.” He said both schools and youth organizations should be pushed to teach students about their own cultures. “We just hammered on that specifically,” he said.

The project has set up a site visit guide, and Ortiz and one other high school Agent of Change member, Rayo Daniel, take that guide to each organization that is participating as a collaborator. “We interact with staff and youth participants in each organization,” he said. “Does this agency relate to our four core values? Would we recommend this program? We have done two site visit rounds and are planning a third in the upcoming months.”

“They are getting out in the community, like neighborhood consultants,” Serotoff added. “They table at events and ask kids what they are doing and talk about the potential of youth programs. They are referral agents doing outreach in the community. The goal is to develop this relationship with youth and family and organizations.”

He said the project wants an ongoing relationship—refer a youth to a program and then check back a month later and see how that referral is working, and if the program is responding to the core values. “If they are, communities will change. If not, we recommend improvements to the program.”

Ortiz, who is taking a gap year off from his current studies at Normandale Community College, emphasized how important being part of Agents of Change is to him.

“We want to see a different interaction or dynamic between youth and adults,” he said. “We are supposed to be the future hopes and dreams of the next generation, but we really don’t see that through adults’ actions, especially in the past couple years. We want to see that change.”

“Sandra and Art have been so helpful,” he commented. “Art acts as a supervisor, but more than that he is motivating us to do work that is youth-led.”

Richardson said the grant is funded through mid-2019. “The goal is to try and find additional agents and have youth connecting with youth programs in their communities.”

Ortiz sees nothing but growth for the future of Agents of Change. “We can’t let what is happening in the world push us down or let us lose our focus. Now more than ever, we need to push for families to come together, and for everyone to come together as a community not separated by race or economics…we are the Agents of Change.”

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Chanhassen Camp Opportunities

St. Paul College