Former Commissioner McLaughlin reflects on public service

Posted on 28 January 2019 by calvin

‘Patron Saint of Lost Causes’

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two of a two-part series. The first section ran in the January 2019 edition of the Messenger and can be found online here.

If there’s one thing that defines Peter McLaughlin’s career as a public servant, it may be his attitude towards what others consider to be lost causes.
“I’m sort of the Patron Saint of Lost Causes,” admitted McLaughlin.

There’s something about certain projects that kept him searching for solutions, even over decades, observed McLaughlin, who was elected as District 4 Hennepin County Commissioner first in 1990 and left office in December 2018.

Photo right: In an effort to make it more cost effective to plant trees in the county, former District 4 Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin supported adding a tree nursery specifically focused on replacing trees lost to Emerald Ash Borer. Starting 20 years ago, the county has planted over 5,000 trees during Arbor Day celebrations. In addition to these plantings, a small food forest was planted in Adams Triangle in Longfellow, and 163 trees were planted along Hiawatha Ave in 2015 and 2016. (Photo submitted)

Take the Fort Snelling Upper Post, a group of 27 historic buildings that were falling apart. There wasn’t a fund of money available to pay for fixing the buildings nor anyone interested in using them. But McLaughlin believed they should be saved and so he kept talking about it with others. When the site was listed as one of the top endangered historic sites in the United States, he realized there might be a source of workers he could tap into.

Even better, the county was already paying for the Sentence-To-Service crews so it wouldn’t cost additional money.

When one of the buildings collapsed, others also started shuffling things around, working hard to find funds to pay for building materials to stabilize the buildings.

A group began meeting to talk about the future of the site, and McLaughlin chaired the Fort Snelling Upper Post Task Force. They put together a land use plan and waited for the right opportunity.

It came in 2018 when the Plymouth-based Dominium, no stranger to historical renovation projects, and the Department of Natural Resources struck a deal to redevelop the site into 176 units of affordable housing. Soon veterans and families will be breathing new life into the 47-acre site that’s the last unincorporated area of Hennepin County.

Systematic change for libraries
Things shifted for McLaughlin 12 years ago. His daughter was born, and he battled prostate cancer. “I decided at that point to work on bigger projects,” he said.

McLaughlin added, “You can do individual projects, but you have to turn them into something bigger, into systematic change.”
Around the same time Minneapolis started closing libraries—an option they hadn’t done even during the Great Depression, McLaughlin pointed out. And they planned to close more. Two of the three closed libraries were in McLaughlin’s district, Roosevelt and Southeast.

McLaughlin learned about the issues while attending a spaghetti dinner in the basement of a Lutheran church in his district. He didn’t hesitate about taking this project on. He supports walkable, bikeable cities, and to have that one needs destinations such as libraries. “They are places that anchor neighborhoods,” observed McLaughlin.

Photo left: Roosevelt Library was shuttered by the Minneapolis Public Library board but was then reopened after a Library fund was created to invest in libraries across the county. Former District 4 Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin had supported the merger of the Minneapolis and Hennepin County library systems that made these renovations and expanded hours happen. (Photo submitted)

There had been discussions about merging the Minneapolis Library and the Hennepin County Library systems for years, but it had never progressed. McLaughlin believed the time had come, and he worked to make the merger happen within a few months.

There were issues, such as the suburban libraries worried their money was going into a declining system, and the city libraries worried their referendum money would be used outside Minneapolis. But a deal was struck, and the merger became official on Jan. 1, 2008.

“Libraries are one of the great democratic services we provide,” stated McLaughlin. “It needed to be solid.”

Since the merger, all the closed libraries have been re-opened, nearly every library in the system has been renovated (the last project just began), and hours added. For the first time since the Kennedy administration, Central Library downtown is open seven days a week.

Fight for light rail
Neighbors stopped the freeway from going in during the 1960s, but then nothing happened along the giant swatch of right-of-way along Hiawatha Ave. for years. It took until 1985 to reach a deal about what the road would look like, and until the early 1990s to finish the project. Meanwhile, discussions had gone back and forth for years about light rail lines and which one should be the first.

“I took on the fight for rail transit,” McLaughlin said. He knew one of his biggest battles was to reach an agreement between Hennepin and Ramsey counties and keep that in place until federal and state funding was appropriated and work could begin. It was agreed that because right-of-way was available along Hiawatha, and the Environment Impact Statement already done (because of the road work), that it would be the pilot project.

Governor Carlson signed off on a $40 million appropriation, and then Governor Ventura (who had attended Roosevelt High School) made the line a priority. A bonding bill was passed in 1999 during Ventura’s first year in office that included the last $60 million needed from the state.

“I always told people, we put all our chips on red 26 and spun the wheel,” said McLaughlin.

Once the Blue Line was operating (2004), the Green Line followed in 2014, connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul along University Ave. The Southwest extension of the Green Line is next. When McLaughlin attended the Green Line groundbreaking on Nov. 30, 2018, he brought the same shovel he used at the Blue Line groundbreaking.

Photo right: Former District 4 Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin speaks during the South Minneapolis Hub opening along Lake St. and Hiawatha Ave. The South Minneapolis Hub represents a move to decentralize human services from downtown to make it easier for people to get county social services at a site that’s more accessible. (Photo submitted)

McLaughlin’s focus on “transit ways” has also included bus lines (such as the Orange line that will be going down 35W), and he’s had a whiteboard in his office for decades that shows a transit map of the region.

“Why do I care so much about this? Transit reinforces the center as the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul,” McLaughlin explained. It goes back to the lessons he learned in Trenton, N.J. and from Sears, and the exodus of people from the city that happened across the nation. How do you keep people in the city? If you’re McLaughlin, you give them something to stay for.

“It’s all part of how do we attract people to the city and make a more prosperous life?” McLaughlin said.

Development has come
Some of the light rail supporters, including McLaughlin, promised that there would be development along the lines. Every year for many years, a Star Tribune reporter would call him to ask when development was going to happen.

After a recession and years of planning, in 2015 McLaughlin helped broker a deal for the county to anchor a large development at Hiawatha Ave. and Lake St., and things began to snowball.

In addition to the new development on the southwest side of Lake and Hiawatha, there is a new building on the north side, and another multi-story apartment building a few blocks south. Several buildings are planned around the 38th St. Station, and Longfellow Stations was built there on the southeast side a few years ago. A major development is in the works at 46th St., and five more are in progress.

McLaughlin tries to work within existing plans to make other things happen.

Some have accused him of being too patient. “It takes a long time to work these puzzles out,” he observed.

Hennepin County had already decided to decentralize its services and spread out buildings to be more convenient the communities it serves. It needed a hub somewhere in south Minneapolis, so McLaughlin pitched the idea of putting a service center at Hiawatha and Lake. It became part of a development that will add more than 500 housing units and a permanent space for the Midtown Farmers’ Market. The first housing unit opened on Dec. 1, 2018. Next year, a site that wasn’t generating any tax revenue while owned entirely by Minneapolis Schools will generate $300,000 in property taxes, and that’s just a start.

“You can’t do all the things you want to do with new money,” said McLaughlin. “You’ve got to do it with money you were going to spend anyway. You have to be intentional about it.”

Battling crime and building a Greenway
The Midtown Greenway is an iconic part of south Minneapolis now, but when McLaughlin started his career it was a trench where folks threw their old mattresses and trash. The city had just been dubbed “Murderopolis” by the New York Times, and south Minneapolis was the epicenter of the crime issues facing the city.

“I used to say if you’re going to go down to the Greenway to do an inspection, you need to be sure to get your tetanus shot up to date,” said McLaughlin.

He got involved with the Midtown Community Works Partnership, and they worked to convince first Honeywell and then Wells Fargo when they took over the Honeywell facility at 600 S. 4th St. to support the Greenway project.

Construction on the line began in 2000 and the final phase was done in 2007. Organizers are now considering an extension across a rail bridge to St. Paul.

“We said there would be development along the trench, and people laughed at us 20 years ago,” recalled McLaughlin. “Success will beget more success—and that’s what happened.”

The line has become one of the busiest bikeways in Minnesota and recognized as the best urban bike trail in the nation. Plus, new housing and retail have gone in along the trail.

The trail was one of several prongs of an approach focused on building up the neighborhood and reducing crime.

“You’re not going to solve crime without a comprehensive approach,” observed McLaughlin, or solve racism. For him, one part always includes adding jobs, and so he worked to build up what was already existing in the neighborhood, including Wells Fargo and Abbott hospital through work with the Phillips Partnership. They supported Abbot’s heart hospital expansion, keeping it in the city versus out in the suburbs.

They offered funds to rehabilitate old homes and increase the number of owner-occupied houses, supported by the Project for Pride in Living (PPL) Selvaggio Fund.

The group worked to create the Pathways Program to provided training at the Minneapolis College for jobs at Abbott, as well as jobs within the county itself.

McLaughlin once found himself in the elevator with three women who were part of the Pathways program. As they got out, one told him, “This job changed my life.”

“That’s why I do this work,” remarked McLaughlin.

Entrepreneurial policymaker
McLaughlin has approached policymaking by trying to fix community problems, even when there was no clear role for Hennepin County in the solution, pointed out his principal aide Brian Shekelton.

“Life’s problems aren’t categorized by a series of neat silos, and he believes that silos shouldn’t define the way to fix problems.

“Before Commissioner McLaughlin took office Hennepin County wasn’t helping to build train lines, it wasn’t helping to build permanent homes for farmers markets. It wasn’t leading a partnership to build Greenways (Midtown was a community development project, not just a transportation/recreation project). It wasn’t investing in Minneapolis parks or Minneapolis libraries. It wasn’t creating train stations like Target Field Station, and it didn’t have a tree nursery to replenish the lost Ash trees,” Shekelton

Shekelton summed up, “I’ve always thought that of Peter McLaughlin as an entrepreneurial policymaker, and I think that’s why he has been able to achieve so many goals.”

What’s next?
So, what’s next for the man who left office in December after 28 years?

He’s not sure.

“I’ve devoted my entire adult life to community work,” he said.

He doesn’t think he’s done yet.

“I’m still a believer that government can play a positive role in changing people’s lives,” remarked McLaughlin.

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Glad Creations Fabric Store to close after 43 memorable years

Posted on 27 January 2019 by calvin

Glad Creations Fabric Store has been holding down the NW corner of Bloomington Ave. and 34th St. since 1976. Its current owners, who also happen to be sisters, are ready to retire. With mixed emotions, they are moving on.

Co-owners Nancy Raschka-Reeves and Susan Dyer grew up in South Minneapolis and graduated from Southwest High School. Their unassuming little shop has been a labor of love in their family for three generations, and a haven for quilters from far and wide.

Photo right: Employee Jennie Baltutis (left) has been a quilter for 60 years; employee Wynn Martin (right) has been a quilter for 11 years and commutes to work from Marine on St. Croix. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Much has changed since the shop opened 43 years ago. To understand the history of Glad Creations, you have to know something about the origin of its name. Gladys Raschka, Nancy and Susan’s mother, or “Glad” for short, was involved in many creative ventures as a young woman—and excelled at all of them. Hence, the name Glad Creations.

“Our mom was a WW II bride,” Susan said, “and made almost all of our clothes (there is a third sister as well). She taught us to knit and embroider. She enjoyed cake decorating and even learned to make panoramic Easter eggs out of sugar. She tooled leather and sewed lingerie, which isn’t easy!

Her first business venture was a made-to-order purse business called Glad Creations. My sister Nancy was an avid quilter by the time she graduated from college, and the two of them opened Glad Creations Inc., Quilt Block together. Eventually, Mom, who celebrated her 100th birthday last summer, learned to quilt by sewing appliques. She went on to win numerous awards for her quilts in this style.”

When Gladys married George Raschka in 1943, quilting was utilitarian—something women did to save money. As shirts and dresses wore out, they were cut into pieces and stitched together as quilts rather than thrown away. Quilters would gather together, so it was a social pleasure as well as a useful skill. Nancy said, “These days, quilting has become an art form, but the social aspects still live on.”

Photo left: Longfellow resident Amy Swanson chose quilting fabrics from stacks of neatly arranged cottons grouped by color. Glad Creation has been a quilter’s dream. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

According to shoppers at Glad Creations, the classes and quilting sessions have been as sought after as the fabrics. Longfellow resident Amy

Swanson said, “I took a class here with my neighbor and got hooked on the place. I’ve got three little kids, so I hardly have any time to sew. I can’t stop buying these beautiful fabrics though. There are so many ways that this shop has helped build community over the years: by nurturing long-lasting friendships among people who love to quilt. Maybe you could find a few of these fabrics online, and maybe they’d be a little bit cheaper, but you sure wouldn’t make any new friends shopping that way.”

In addition to offering a full catalog of classes every quarter, Glad Creations has made a name for itself designing and distributing high-quality quilt patterns. They have over 90 patterns to their credit, which are sold in quilt shops across the country. Susan’s daughter, Emily Dyer, will take over their extensive pattern line. Like her grandmother Gladys, she enjoys many artistic ventures including sewing, pottery, graphic design, writing, and publishing.

Nancy said, “We’ve been very open with our customers about our retirement; we didn’t want it to come as a surprise. Several years ago, we came up with a five-year plan. While we’ve loved it, owning a small business like this takes up all your energy—in other words, it takes up your life. The closing is bittersweet for us, but time moves on. So many of our customers have said that while they’re sad to see us go, they wish us well. Susan and I have really appreciated that.”

Discounts are currently at 20% and climbing on fabrics and notions. Call 612-724-1079 to learn more, or visit the shop at 3400 Bloomington Ave. S. while it’s still open. Hours at Glad Creations are Mon.-Sat. from 9:30am–5pm until further notice.

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Transition Longfellow visioning its future

Posted on 27 January 2019 by calvin

After eight years at the helm of Transition Longfellow, co-founders Leslie MacKenzie and Peter Foster—the last members of the initial organizing group—are stepping back from the leadership team and moving out of the area. In preparation for the change, the group has been hosting small-group brainstorming sessions.

On Sat., Feb. 9, starting at 9am, the group will host a community meeting to vision its future. (The meeting is tentatively scheduled for Hiawatha School Park building. Check the website for confirmation.)

Fruit, coffee, and bagels will be served from 9 to 9:30am; then attendees will hear what was shared at the brainstorming sessions before engaging in a facilitated World Café exercise and committing to how the group will operate moving forward.

“I’m not sure people recognize how amazing this all-volunteer group has been,” MacKenzie said. “We’ve done so many different programs and participated in so many events, all with volunteers and very little money. For a small community group, we’ve been able to work with the City of Minneapolis, with the national Transition organization, and even with international organizations.”

Whether and how the group continues to operate will depend upon the community response on Feb. 9. “I certainly hope this group continues,” said MacKenzie. “As we move deeper into climate change, the need for communities to come together in learning and mutual aid is more important than ever! And the opportunities to positively engage with the most critical issues of our time are huge.”

Reflecting on eight years of action
“It has been an amazing 8-plus years of involvement with Transition Towns here in Longfellow,” MacKenzie said. “In that time, we learned a lot about the inter-related challenges our community, our country, and our planet face. Because of that, our household took dramatic action to reduce our carbon footprint and to learn more about resilience and climate preparedness.”

“We became a one-car family—and most of the time that car was parked, and we biked and took mass transit,” Mac­Kenzie added.
She added, “We put solar electric and hot air panels on our home and worked bit by bit to make it more energy efficient. After 25 years of weatherization and efficiency projects, we recently received Energy Fit Home certification through the Center for Energy and Environment.

“We created an edible landscape in our yard,” MacKenzie said, “and participated in every Chard Your Yard garden-build project to help many of our neighbors start growing vegetables, too.

“At the Days of Garden Skillshare events, we learned, along with everyone else, how to save seeds, prune trees, set up a compost bin and a hydroponic system, and more. At the Days of Food Skillshares, we learned to make jam and kombucha and what cilantro is and how to use it.

“There are so many generous and skillful neighbors willing to share what they know: Cherylline Vaz and her Indian cooking, Annette Rondano and her jams and jellies, Quantina Beck Jones and her kombucha and chickens, Theresa Rooney and her master gardening skills. Jason Holtz helped us build Little Free Libraries. Bruce Stahlberg helped us make rocket stoves and solar cookers.

MacKenzie concluded, “We’ve met so many people—probably several hundred in the neighborhood, but also across the country and the world in the time we’ve been involved. That is certainly one of the big benefits of being in a Transition group. We hope we can find, or create, a group in the St. Croix Valley where we’ll be living. And we’ll stay involved with Transition Twin Cities and the Transition Longfellow Facebook community, which is extensive.”

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Latest Hill tandem a final go-around for Minneapolis South

Posted on 27 January 2019 by calvin

Prep Sports Notebook by MATTHEW DAVIS
As soon as the Morgan and Jade Hill tandem concluded for Minneapolis South girls basketball, a new one began.

Jade and her seventh-grade sister, Angel, now play together for the Tigers this winter after Morgan’s graduation last spring. Morgan now plays Division I women’s hoops at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She scored more than 2,000 points at Minneapolis South and helped the Tigers make the Class 4A Section 6 final last year.

“I definitely have to step up and talk more to my teammates and just be a leader,” Jade said.

Their oldest sister, Tayler, left the biggest legacy at Minneapolis South with 3,894 career points and a Class 4A state title in 2009. She led the Tigers to three state title games. Since then, she starred at Ohio State and became a WBNA player. Hill played for the Washington Mystics for five full seasons but got traded to the Dallas Wings during the 2018 season.

“It’s definitely a lot of pressure. A lot of pressure on us just to keep the legacy up and play hard and do good all the time,” Jade said.

Tayler returned to Minneapolis during the offseason and came to many of Jade and Angels’ games. The duo has the Tigers off to an 11-5 start through Jan. 22. The Tigers could make another run in Section 6 though they may get a lower seed.

“We’re still young,” Tigers coach Nate McGuire said. “I think we’re getting better, but it’s still a pretty dramatic change from what we had last year when we went to the section finals against Hopkins.”

Jade, who has played point guard since eighth grade for the Tigers, has become the leading scorer this year. She averages 20.4 points 4.7 assists and 5.7 steals per game. She also has been drawing Division I interest as schools such as Chattanooga and Kansas State.

“Last year, my sister scored most of the points,” Jade said. “Now it’s my turn to step up and score points.”

Angel plays wing for the Tigers and leads the team in rebounds with 6.4 per game. She also posted 6.8 points per game and averaged 3.8 steals per game on defense. She does all of it going up against players who are often sophomores, juniors or seniors.

“Sometimes I’m nervous,” Angel said about the older competition.

Nerves calm across the team though when Jade has the ball.

“That is pretty typical. When there’s so much pressure on the ball, I think that everyone’s heart rate does it,” McGuire said. “Jade just does it so much. I think the whole team has that much confidence in her.”

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NENA News for Feb. 2019

Posted on 27 January 2019 by calvin

Neighborhood Jam Fundraiser scheduled Feb. 9
Invest in your neighborhood through The Neighborhood Jam Fundraiser on Sat., Feb. 9, 2-6pm at Off Leash Art Box, 4200 E. 54th St.
Enjoy three bands, a Nokomis East trivia competition, the Lake Nokomis Blue Wave mocktail, cocoa and coffee with a gourmet topping bar, appetizers and a silent auction full of offerings from your favorite area businesses.

The event lineup begins with singer/songwriter Chris Herr­iges, moves into a 90’s alternative groove with My Cousin Dallas, and finishes with a big jazz band boogie courtesy of Huge If True.

You can try out GROOVE fitness dancing midway through the afternoon, or win prizes in the Nokomis East Trivia Contest.

Proceeds will go to NENA, which will turn your dollars into projects like the Monarch Festival, low-interest home loans, the neighborhood garage sale, community gardens, and our work with renters in the Bossen area.

If you plan on attending our Neighborhood Jam, RSVP or get your tickets early so we can order food accordingly. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for ages 7-18, and kids under 6 get in free. Purchase tickets in advance at

Gateway Garden planning
A Gateway Garden planning meeting will take place Thur., Mar. 21, 6:30-7pm at the NENA Office, 4313 E. 54th St.

Combat the effects of climate change, protect pollinators, and contribute to neighborhood beautification while you connect with other volunteers at the Gateway Garden. Join us to plan the next phase of the Gateway Garden, a native plant oasis near the 50th Street LRT station. Attendees will learn about the garden and discuss plans for future programming, volunteering, and planting. Gardeners of all experience levels are welcome! Toys and coloring activities are available to those with children.

Green Fair
The South Minneapolis Green Fair is scheduled for Sat., Apr. 13, 12-4pm, at Roosevelt High School, 4029 28th Ave S.

Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association and the Longfellow Community Council are partnering with NENA to offer resources for an environmentally sustainable lifestyle to South Minneapolis residents at the South Minneapolis Green Fair. The Green Fair will offer up to 35 different exhibitors covering common topics like sustainable lawn care and gardening, solar energy, waste reduction, and transportation. Attendees looking for a more in-depth overview of environmental topics can sit in on any of the four guest presentations scheduled throughout the afternoon.

Admission to the fair is free. We encourage attendees to walk, ride their bike, or use public transportation, but parking is also available.

Organizations or businesses interested in becoming a Green Fair exhibitor can contact NENA Program and Communication Manager Lauren Hazenson at or 612-724-5652.

Home improvement loans
Are you resolving to spruce up your home in the new year? NENA offers two home improvement loan programs to homes in the Keewaydin, Minnehaha, Morris Park and Wenonah neighborhoods. Loan applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Home improvement loans
Owners of one to four unit residences can apply for up to $15,000 to make improvements to their properties. Owner-occupants and investors may apply. The interest rate is either 3.5% or 4.5% depending on income. No income restriction applies.

Emergency repair loans
A limited amount of funds are available for emergency repairs. Only owner-occupied households are eligible. Income restrictions apply. The maximum loan amount is $7,500. The loan is 0% interest, and there are no monthly payments. The loan is due in total upon the sale of the property or transfer of title.

More info and how to apply
For more information or to request an application, call our project partners the Center for Energy and Environment at 612-335-5884, or visit the CEE website.

Sign up for NENA News
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Demonstrators at Hiawatha and 54th call for end to shutdown

Posted on 27 January 2019 by calvin

EDITOR’S NOTE: The longest federal government shutdown in history ended as the February Messenger was going to press.

“I would like the government shutdown to end so I can go back to work and get a paycheck,” stated Brian Garthwaite while standing along Hiawatha Ave. on Jan. 10.

He was among about 30 people holding signs and demonstrating at Hiawatha Ave. and 54th St. near the Veterans Affairs Health Care complex from noon to 2pm. The event was organized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Sign slogans included, “End the Shutdown,” “Do What’s Right,” and “Let Me Do My Job.”

Photo right: About 30 people holding signs demonstrated at Hiawatha Ave. and 54th St. near the Veterans Affairs Health Care complex on Jan. 10. The event was organized by American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). (Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Labor Review)

The demonstration was held to bring attention to the public, according to Gregg James, National Vice President of AFGE’s 8th district, and was planned for the day before workers missed their first paychecks. The federal government shut down some departments on Dec. 22, 2018, a move that affects 800,000 government workers. While some are working without pay, 350,000 have been furloughed.

One of those is Brain Garthwaite of Bloomington. He’s been a compliance officer for the Food and Drug Administration for the past 16 years and serves as the AFGE Local 3381 President.

“My empathy is with federal employees who for reason not of their own doing, are required to work without timely pay, cannot afford the gas it takes to get them to work that they are doing without timely pay, cannot provide adequately for their family because they are not receiving their pay timely, or are not allowed to do their job,” remarked Garthwaite.

“I would ask the Senate Majority Leader if he thinks it’s fair that he is drawing a government paycheck for not doing his job of advancing for a vote appropriations bills that had universal and unanimous support before the shutdown commenced? Yet he expects federal employees to do their jobs without getting timely pay. Does he think it’s fair that his spouse, the Secretary of Transportation, also is drawing a government paycheck, but many other couples who are federal workers are not both receiving timely government paychecks for work they are doing? And I would ask if he needed to watch Schoolhouse Rock’s ‘I’m Just a Bill’ as a remedial refresher on the regular order process for how a bill becomes a law.”

While Miranda Kiwelu was still working at the VA, she decided to demonstrate to show her support for those who weren’t working. “It’s not fair we’re being used as pawns,” said Kiwelu. “There are a lot of people who are being punished and will be without places to live and food to eat. It’s sad.”

“We want this to end quickly so they can get back to their everyday lives,” agreed Ednika Dabney of AFL-CIO, who was demonstrating in solidarity with those on furlough.

A shutdown “destroys morale, creates hardship and anxiety, and cost taxpayers millions,” pointed out James. As his organization represents a five-state region, they were considering holding a demonstration in Iowa next. Complicating things, however, is that “federal employees are fearful of retaliation for exercising their first amendment rights,” he said.

Like many others, Garthwaite is drawing on his savings while he waits for the shutdown to end.

“Citizens should understand that, even though legislation has been signed to provide back pay to affected federal employees after the shutdown ends, bills and expenses cannot be paid with a promissory note,” remarked Garthwaite. “Citizens should understand that a shutdown and furlough is not a vacation for federal employees. Citizens should understand that with very few exceptions, federal employees want to go to work to be paid for the work they are doing or are prevented from doing.”

He encouraged those who want to help to donate to local food shelves.

“There are many acts of kindness that citizens are taking to help affected employees, and these acts are received with heartfelt gratitude,” Garthwaite said. “There are some instances, however, when federal employees must decline assistance.” These stipulations are laid out at

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INSTRUMENT OF CHANGE: Outgoing County Commissioner McLaughlin reflects on public service

Posted on 18 December 2018 by calvin

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of a two-part series.

When outgoing Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin drives through the district he’s served for 28 years, he’s proud of the work he’s accomplished.

“I feel good looking around at all the things I helped do,” observed McLaughlin, who lives in Standish-Ericsson a few blocks from the train station at 46th and Hiawatha.

“The county is a pretty amazing instrument, and I’ve put energy into making it an instrument of change.”

Photo right: “I feel good looking around at all the things I helped do,” observed Hennepin County District 4 Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, who left that office in December 2018 after 28 years of service. “The county is a pretty amazing instrument, and I’ve put energy into making it an instrument of change.” (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

From the start, he took his charge to be making things better for those who had elected him, and he worked to show up even when the heat was on.

Close to 40% of Minneapolis’ population live in McLaughlin’s district 4, and there is a steady stream of constituent calls and community meetings.

“Commissioner McLaughlin has a track record of getting things accomplished, and that has been the most exciting thing about working for him,” said his principal aide Brian Shekleton, who has worked in McLaughlin’s office for 12 of the last 21 years at three different times.

Shekleton pointed out the visible and structural investments such as LRT lines, the Midtown Greenway, Target Field Station, the Midtown Exchange, and safer street designs, that have improved Minneapolis and the region.

“But Commissioner McLaughlin has fought for the much less visible investments in people through training programs, human service support structures, supportive housing, environmental response funds, library, and youth sports investment funds, amongst many other programs.

“It’s these investments in people that have helped foster a more stable social fabric, something that is much less monumental but it is people who make a city livable, and I have found that working on these projects to be incredibly rewarding,” stated Shekleton.

His life was changed
McLaughlin didn’t grow up thinking he’d get into politics. He lived in a small town in western Pennsylvania, the son of a printer. Over the years, he watched the town wither away as the manufacturing jobs dried up.

McLaughlin earned a scholarship to attend Princeton University where he studied statistics and economics.

It was during the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson was president, New York City was going bankrupt, there was rioting in the streets, and people were fleeing the city in favor of the suburbs.

The summer before his junior year, McLaughlin took an internship working in Spanish Harlem. “The events in Spanish Harlem got me involved in community organizing and changed my life,” recalled McLaughlin. He switched his major to politics.

Then he went to work for the mayor of Trenton, N.J. The office was focused on revitalizing a dying downtown, and one tool was passing a progressive income tax to ease the property tax burden. As a “punk kid” he accompanied the mayor to Washington, D.C., among other places, and got an up-close look at the mayor’s work.

Photo left: The bike lanes on Park and Portland were the first, significant lanes to be put on a Hennepin County road and paved the way to new lanes on Minnehaha Ave, E. 46th St., and Washington Ave. downtown. McLaughlin has fought for visible, structural investments such as LRT lines, the Midtown Greenway, Target Field Station, the Midtown Exchange, and safer street designs during his 28 years as a Hennepin County Commissioner. (Photo submitted)

Force of community
McLaughlin came to Minnesota for the first time in 1975 to attend graduate school at the University’s School of Public Affairs and never left.

What struck him most were the social networks Minnesota had in place to get things done.

“You not only had tangible investments being made, but you also had this group of people that came together as a force within the community,” he observed.

McLaughlin got pulled into serving as board chair for the Powderhorn Residents Group (now PRG), helping with affordable housing developments. PRG was one of the first groups focused on that in the city. Its first project was revamping the Whittier School at 26th and Blaisdale into 45 units of affordable housing.

When he bought his first house near Matt’s Bar, McLaughlin watched how a city program that put people into vacant homes for $1 stabilized his block.

McLaughlin was hired by the Urban Coalition of Minneapolis and began focusing on social justice issues. Everything they did was cutting edge at the time, affordable housing, weatherization for owner- and renter-occupied homes, apprenticeship credits, education, and more.

Then Pastor Brian Peterson of Walker Church approached McLaughlin and asked him if he’d ever thought about running for office.

McLaughlin agreed to try it and was elected to three terms in the Minnesota House beginning in 1985. Minnesota was in a deep recession, and unemployment was high.

McLaughlin helped create the Jobs Now Coalition to offer a wage subsidy program that is still operating today, and helped pass the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) to put more control in the hands of Minneapolis neighborhoods and foster community. He sponsored the first parental leave act in the country that included six weeks for fathers, as well as mothers.

Directly affecting lives as Commissioner
Then, in 1990, he decided to run for Hennepin County Commissioner because he wanted to be more involved in doing things that directly affected people’s lives.

An experience early on shaped the rest of his career. He accompanied then-Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and others to Chicago where they met with Sears representatives to ask that the company be the anchor tenant in the redevelopment of the Sears site on Lake St. (now Midtown Global Market). Sears was focused on how much disposable income residents in the area had, and that’s when McLaughlin realized that to get development he needed to focus on jobs first.

“I’m a believer in the economy and how important it is to have jobs for people,” stated McLaughlin. “That’s what pays the mortgages, the grocery bills. That’s what goes to Sears.”

Photo right: Commissioner Peter McLaughlin led the protection of the Upper Post buildings at Fort Snelling using Sentence-to-Service Crews to stabilize the buildings. The buildings will now be redeveloped by Dominium to create housing. (Photo submitted)

He set off to create a renaissance in South Minneapolis and hopefully staunch the exodus of people leaving the city.

It wasn’t going to happen overnight.

“You have to be paying attention when the opportunity arises to do something,” McLaughlin explained.

That involves doing something before then, however. McLaughlin’s method included serving on committees, talking to people, setting up the framework needed and doing studies so that when the time is right, things are in place.

While leaving Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) one day, McLaughlin came out a different door than usual and noticed an old, vacant brick building across the street. He checked the property tax records, saw it was owned by Allina and asked them what they planned to do with it. Fast forward a few years, and the building has been transformed into housing for youth and working adults through a collaboration between the city of Minneapolis, Central Community Housing Trust (CCHT), Allina, the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, and YouthLink.

“I’m kind of always on the lookout for things like that,” McLaughlin said. “You need a network of people to make that happen.”

Look for part two in this series in the February edition of the Messenger.



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Community Healing Hub one of many resources available at MCLC

Posted on 18 December 2018 by calvin

Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church (MCLC) may appear unchanged on the outside with its historic brick façade and soaring steeple, but inside, some significant changes are taking place. Co-pastors Sally and Dan Ankerfelt, along with lay leadership, believe that God has called their church to be a place of healing, hope, and wholeness for all—and they have responded to that call.

The first phase of their response came in 2015 when the Ankerfelts and two of their children embarked on a three-month sabbatical. They traveled to the Philippines to volunteer at an orphanage, and to witness how children there developed resilience in the face of trauma. They spent the remainder of their sabbatical in Northern Minnesota studying, reading, and praying. Pastor Sally Ankerfelt said, “While we were gone, the congregation also looked into their understanding of trauma. The first thing they learned was that everyone has their wounds, and that trauma exists everywhere.”

When their sabbatical ended, the co-pastors and the congregation realized they had come to many of the same conclusions. Ankerfelt explained, “MCLC had been on a path to becoming what we called a ‘trauma-informed’ church. At the close of the sabbatical, we felt we had grown into this instead: a congregation focused on hope, healing, and wholeness. That language offered concrete expressions and opportunities for us, and felt more active than saying we were just ‘trauma-informed.’”

Photo right: Community Healing Hub coordinator Kaye Mills (left) and Pastor Sally Ankerfelt (right) of Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church. Quiet Hours in the Community Healing Hub are Monday from 4-6pm. The comfortably furnished public space is intended for self-care and regeneration. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The second phase of MCLC’s response began last year when the decision was made to open a Community Healing Hub. Kaye Mills is a graduate student at Luther Seminary working on her MA in Christian Ministry. “I was drawn to MCLC because of their interest in hope, healing, and wholeness,” Mills said. “I spent a semester there, as part of my seminary requirements—and saw how MCLC was growing into their new mission.”

Mills now works part-time as coordinator of the Community Healing Hub, and has offered several workshops on-site in the last year using elements of herbalism, candlelight, and healing sound, and learning to make “green” personal hygiene products. “MCLC is very open to doing different kinds of things, and is helping people find wholeness in ways that work for them,” she said.

The Community Healing Hub can be used by church members and community members alike. It’s located on the main floor of the MCLC education wing (enter through the handicapped-accessible office entrance on the 36th St. side). The space can be reserved twice annually at no cost for a full group meeting, or as a neutral space for a difficult conversation. It comes with a gas fireplace, dimmable overhead lighting, a conference table and chairs, comfortable, upholstered furniture, a coffee pot, electric teapot, microwave, warm blankets, candles, books, and other calming amenities.

Visit to check workshop schedules and to make room reservations. Items from the Sensory Library can also be checked out on a visit to the Community Healing Hub. Items include noise-canceling headphones, compression tights, light filters, glow blankets for kids who are afraid of the dark, and much more.

The Community Healing Hub is open to the community for Quiet Hours on Mondays from 4-6pm (with the holidays coming up, check the calendar). The Healing Hub is technology-free, meaning that cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off. During this time, Mills is in her office if any concerns arise. “The door is open,” she said, “and visitors can use the space as needed for meditation, prayer, aromatherapy, reading, sitting, or resting under one of the weighted blankets by the fire.”

Ankefelt reiterated, “We want neighbors to understand that they don’t have to be a member of this church—or a Christian—to participate in any of our offerings. Our outreach to the community is just this: to provide a space that offers the best possible outcome for healing.”

MCLC is located at 4101 37th Ave. S.

Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church hosts a community gathering on the second Wednesday of each month at 7pm, called “Songs of my Life.” This is a time to share stories, sing mostly secular songs, and have a meal together. All are welcome!




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A wealth of experience in incremental steps leads to new restaurant

Posted on 17 December 2018 by calvin

For Frank Machado, owner and operator of the new Guavas Cuban Café, opening a restaurant is all about passion.

“If I am passionate about the food, I think everything else will work itself out,” he said in a recent interview at his restaurant at 5607 Chicago Ave. S.
Machado, who is Venezuelan and grew up in Miami, said he has had a lot of experience both cooking and eating Cuban American food.

“Some of my first restaurant jobs were in Cuban restaurants,” Machado said. “There is something about the spices in Venezuelan cuisine that is very similar to Cuban, so it is very natural for me to like this food.”

Photo right: Frank Machado is practical and philosophical about his new Guavas Cuban Café restaurant, 5607 Chicago Ave. S. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Machado said he has eaten a lot of good and bad Cuban food, so he feels he has reached a good point of view about this cuisine.

He worked for a food and wine magazine, Chef’s Club, in Aspen, CO, for two seasons at a job that allowed him to work side by side with state-of-the-art chefs.

“We put out articles every year on the best up and coming chefs, and we got to utilize the chefs featured on those pages,” Machado said. He said there were eight chefs featured each year, and he had the opportunity to work with them.

“Each one had a different vision, so you might have a guy that used fine sea salt in his recipes, another would use kosher salt, and another would salt everything beforehand. There were different cuisines and different kinds of ideas. That was good, because I was in my first management position, and it allowed me to learn a lot.”

After two seasons at Aspen, Machado moved to the Twin Cities to become head chef of Barrio Lowertown. He also ran the kitchen at Red Cow in south Minneapolis. He then opened a company called Twin Cities Paella.

“The company started very small, as a farmer’s market stand,” Machado explained. He said that paella is a dish that has been his nemesis in the kitchen. “It was very difficult for me to make, yet it is a simple one-pot dish you can eat with a spoon.”

Photo left: Pedro Flores works on signage for the cafe. Right now they are easing into the restaurant with limited hours. “I am a very small company, growing from a farmer’s market stand to a small restaurant. We are trying to take our time and do it right,” owner Frank Machado said. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Machado soon mastered the dish and started making it at home, inviting friends and colleagues over to share it.

“Man, this is really good,” one friend told him. “You should do something with this.” Machado said a seed was planted, and he started his market stand which after a year and a half developed into a catering business. “We went to people’s homes, and we hit a good market,” he stated. “We have very busy summers. We do it all, from weddings to corporate gigs, to birthdays and legacy birthdays.”

The catering business took up so much time that Machado had to step away from his duties at the Red Cow and focus on Twin Cities Paella. But he had always had it in his mind that he wanted to open a Cuban restaurant.

“I have lots of fine dining experience and have moved into upscale casual. At the end of the day, what I want with this restaurant is a nice neighborhood spot with food, to show people a little of what I grew up with, and my interpretation of that food.”

There isn’t a large number of Cuban American restaurants in the Twin Cities area currently. Victor’s Cuban Café is the big one, according to Machado. “I think they have done a great job introducing this kind of food,” he added. He also mentioned Brasa and a few other restaurants that include Cuban dishes.

“There are none that focus on Cuban food like Victor’s and us,” he said. “What I bring to the table is that I’m a new Cuban restaurant, not better or worse than Victor’s. I’m the new guy in town, coming in with a lot of energy.”

He said he has recently been to Miami and Havana to research Cuban dishes.

“We’re not a fancy, complicated restaurant,” Machado continued. “You can come in here with kids, sit down and be noisy and enjoy good food.”

Guavas Cubana Café opened its doors quietly in late November, serving brunch Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30am to 2:30pm.

“We are still in the process of getting our beer and wine license,” Machado said. “Once we get that, we are planning to open for dinner service. I envision eventually to be open from 9 to 9 during the week, a little later on weekends.”

He said the gradual expansion of the restaurant is good for him. “I am a very small company, growing from a farmer’s market stand to a small restaurant. We are trying to take our time and do it right.”

The restaurant has a seating capacity for 60, with an additional 40 seats in the summer months on an outside patio. He expects his staff will grow with the restaurant to be about 25.

“I always thought that finances were going to be a problem in opening a restaurant, or things like that,” Machado commented. “I think finding the right people who share my passion for food has been the biggest struggle.”

“And actually realizing that it has happened,” Machado said. “I have wanted to open a restaurant for a while, and it has actually happened.”

Machado still has his catering business that uses a kitchen at 2010 E. Hennepin. “Next year we’ll probably start moving things over here,” he noted.

“Having a farmers market stand first and then going to the restaurant is a process that works because it gives you the kind of baby steps needed to introduce yourself as a person to the community,” Machado said. “I am starting with a small base, compared to some of the bigger restaurants, but I am starting with a base nonetheless. It’s not like starting from scratch, like a new neighborhood restaurant opening and nobody knows who this guy is.”

Machado said he has a nice little base of borderline friends, people who have supported him in the last four years through catering and have invited him into their homes to share their good moments.

“I know once I let them know I have a restaurant, I will receive their support because they know my food is tasty, and they know what I put into it.”

Machado is also optimistic about his new restaurant because he admits he already has a failure under his belt that he believes he has learned from.

“I was in the military for four years, and when I got out I wanted to open my own business. A friend and I opened an ice cream and coffee shop. It wasn’t very well thought out,” he recalled.

“The place broke even very quickly and started to show a little profit,” he said. “But I found myself every day scooping ice cream, and I lost my passion. I didn’t want to go and open the doors.”

Machado said that was seven years ago. “I’m a lot more experienced now. I don’t have a partner, so I don’t have to depend on anybody else. I am a very different person today. I’m going to put it out there and see what happens.”

“For me,” Machado said, “I thought about opening a restaurant a lot because I did have that failure. I am going to try and not make the mistakes I made when I was 21.”

He said that he lives in the neighborhood, not far from the restaurant. “I know this neighborhood, and I know this family concept matches what people want here. I have to build consistency and keep it going.”




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A new brewery is hopping into the Minnehaha Ave. business mix

Posted on 17 December 2018 by calvin

The colorful banners adorning the outside of 3036 Minnehaha Ave. do not lie: Arbeiter Brewing is coming to the former Harriet Brewing site. The startup brewery will bring a brand new taproom back to Minnehaha Ave. and Lake St. offering craft beer with, as their website proclaims, “a hefty dose of German influence.”

Alumni from Northern Brewer homebrew supply shop, proprietors Juno Choi, Josh Voeltz, Garth Blomberg and Aaron Herman (lead brewer for five years at Town Hall Brewery) collectively bring expertise in brewing, marketing, distribution, and events.

Plans are to brew traditional German beers (Arbeiter means “worker” in German)—altbiers, hefeweizens, helles lagers, pilsners, maibocks, and Oktoberfests—with plenty of crossover opportunity to brew traditional styles using American ingredients.

Coming from Town Hall Brewery, Herman will no doubt play around with a few bourbon barrel-aged beers. And as a silent nod to their forerunners,

Arbeiter will brew some Belgian beers as well—saisons, quads, tripels (Harriet’s were Belgian-influenced beers).

They plan to have 12 to15 taps total, with four-to-six regular offerings.

“We’ll let our customers decide what our regulars will be,” said Voeltz.

“It’s important for the brewery to have an identity,” Herman added. “People should come to a place because they have a certain selection.”

Photo right: (l to r) Josh Voeltz, Garth Blomberg, Aaron Herman and Juno Choi inside the empty space formerly used by Harriet Brewing, home of their upstart Arbeiter Brewing Company. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

Recognizing that one person’s need for hops is another’s need for “deep, sweet, rich beers,” Arbeiter will brew styles to appeal to a variety of palates. They’ll have room for seasonals and experimental brews, and Herman is eager to get his creative and technical juices flowing. Now brewing at a brewery in Grantsburg, WI that’s open to experimentation, Herman just brewed a hazy-style IPA.

“[Hazy IPAs] have a super low bitterness and a high hop flavor that makes them unique,” Herman said, describing an interaction that creates flavors that don’t happen in other IPAs. The result is achieved by using brewers’ practices that were previously unheard of—using loads of hops and doing the opposite, according to Choi, of what people are taught.

“It’s an example of brewer’s ingenuity,” said Herman.

The taproom itself will be a complete remake. Right now the space is empty. Plans are to move the taproom to the front of the house and add windows to the Minnehaha Ave. side as well as a mezzanine level for more seating. They’re also going to install a huge garage door that will open out to a patio on the south side.

“Harriet didn’t have the luxury to build their taproom ahead of time,” said Choi. The “Surly Bill” that led to the taproom boom in Minneapolis passed after they were up and running. “We want it to be well thought out, just as nice as it can be. More welcoming, a little bit larger.”

They’ll likely steer away from what Herman called a “raw industrial look” in favor of creating a warmer space.

“We’d like to offer our customers a variety,” said Garth Blomberg. Some open space and some areas that are cozy, dimly lit—a place you want to be on a “cold winter night with a friend drinking barrel-aged beers.”

There are no immediate plans for packaging their beer, which means (save for occasional collaborations or releases of 750 ml bottles) the only way to try their beer will be to visit the taproom and taste it there or carry it out in growlers and crowlers.

There are also no plans to serve food. They may invite food trucks, but they also want to work with Geek Love Cafe, Gandhi Mahal and other nearby restaurants to get menus to go.

“There are great options within a block,” said Voeltz. “There’s plenty of good food.”

And while they may host occasional special events, they’ll leave the live performances to the venues down the street: Hook and Ladder, the (soon to be) Mission Room, and Moon Palace Books.

With all brewery mates hailing from other Minneapolis neighborhoods, the location is appealing on many fronts. Blomberg praised the accessibility of all types of transportation: the Blue Line, the Greenway, and Hiawatha Ave. as a major connection to Hwys I-94 and 35W.

“It’s a little apex of all types of transportation,” he said.

They also appreciate the strong sense of community in the area, where businesses all support each other. It took a village to pop up the Longfellow Craft Beverage Garden at Open Streets in July. Hosted outside Moon Palace Books passersby got to try samples from Arbeiter and Venn Brewing, DuNord Craft Spirits, Lawless Distilling, and Urban Forage Winery and Cider House.

“It was a great way to introduce ourselves,” said Choi.

Arbeiter has already collaborated on a beer with Venn Brewing that was on tap at Geek Love Cafe, and, according to Herman, collaborations with other breweries are forthcoming.

Arbeiter would also like to give back to the community, through nonprofits and charitable work.

“My community-based dream for this place, is on a Sunday morning, build a house, come back, have a pancake feed, drink some beers,” said Blomberg.
Above all, they look forward to becoming a lounging spot, a place for the community to gather.

“We very much want to be the neighborhood taproom and get to know the regulars,” said Voeltz. “I’m excited to see the transformation.”

Thirsty yet? “We’re just as anxious and eager to be open as our community,” said Blomberg.

They are hoping for a late summer opening. Those who want in early can buy a membership in the Arbeiter Union that will give them discounted beer for a good long while. Details are on their website.




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Little Brothers

U of M Brain Study