MPRB approves Skate Park Activity Plan

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

Activity Plan serves as 20-year roadmap for the local skate community

On Jan. 3, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Commissioners approved the Minneapolis Skate Park Activity Plan. This plan is a 20-year roadmap for providing quality support to the local skate park community and encouraging skating among new generations of park users.

“This is a thorough, thoughtful plan that provides a solid framework for improving skate park facilities in Minneapolis parks,” said Michael Schroeder, MPRB Assistant Superintendent for Planning. “We’d like to thank the local skate park community, including our project partner City of Skate, for serving as a well-organized, dedicated ally in the pursuit of better skateboarding opportunities in Minneapolis.”

The Minneapolis Skate Park Activity Plan has three goals:
• Increase the number, variety and distribution of skate parks in Minneapolis
• Address policy barriers to high-quality skate park experiences
• Improve the overall skate park experience through design, operations, partnerships and safety measures

It also provides context and analysis to help inform future decision-making regarding skate park opportunities within Minneapolis and the Minneapolis park system. This includes:
• Snapshots of each of the six existing skate parks in Minneapolis, including park-specific suggestions for improvement
• Overview of possible and in-progress skate parks in Minneapolis
• General skate park trends, opportunities, and challenges
• Precedents and examples set by other cities across the world
• Summary of public feedback received since 2013

“City of Skate is excited that the MPRB has adopted this citywide plan for 18+ skate parks and is ready to invest in a world-class skate park infrastructure,” said Paul Forsline, City of Skate President. “This plan will offer a great opportunity for youth and citizens to discover and share the creativity of skateboarding at unique custom skateparks throughout Minneapolis.”

The Minneapolis Skate Park Activity Plan was created after nearly five years of community engagement, research, and evaluation. The MPRB would like to thank its Steering Committee and project partner City of Skate for the outreach, expertise and time spent helping create the plan.

You can read the entire plan at

Comments Off on MPRB approves Skate Park Activity Plan

St. Albert’s Lenten fish dinners to feature sustainable tilapia

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

The parish of St. Albert the Great Catholic Church will once again throw its doors open wide during the six Fridays of Lent. Beginning Fri., Feb. 6, parishioners, guests, and neighbors are welcome to enjoy the baked and fried fish dinners featuring tilapia from Regal Springs, a company with the distinction of being the #1 producer of natural tilapia in the world.

Brian Arvold, a long-standing St. Albert’s parishioner, has been running the kitchen side of the Lenten fish dinners for the last five years. A chiropractor who owns his own business, he said, “I’m a frugal man, and I work hard at getting the best possible prices for the products we use for this event.”

This year, he plans to order 2,500 lbs. of tilapia from Regal Springs, which he hopes will be more than enough to feed the 1,500 or 1,600 people that will fill the church dining hall every Friday during Lent. According to Arvold, “This event, now in its 22nd year, has really taken on a life of its own. It’s our biggest fundraiser, and it has all the elements of a three-ring circus—with tartar sauce.”

Why does Arvold choose tilapia over cod, the traditional mainstay of fish dinners? ”It’s a moister, lighter fish that blends well with whatever it’s cooked with.” He added, “We use lemon juice, oregano, and Zatarain’s Spices from New Orleans to give our dinners their distinctive flavor.”

From a health standpoint, tilapia is an excellent choice for any kitchen because it’s a fish that has a mostly vegetarian diet. It also tends to be short-lived, which means that mercury doesn’t build up in its tissues. The Regal Springs tilapia are raised from hatch to harvest in large, floating pens in clean lakes. For optimal health and development, their tilapia are fed a nutritious, grain-based diet. Fish that are raised this way don’t eat the algae, mud, or shallow pond waste that wild or irresponsibly farmed tilapia might be exposed to.

Arvold and his team are looking forward to this year’s Lenten dinners. He said, ”We literally had to write a manual about how to produce this event. At least 120 people volunteer every Friday night; last year we served 7,100 meals. I just placed an order for sixteen cases of tartar sauce, which would be enough to fill a bathtub to overflowing. For a small church, the scale of this event is amazing.

St. Albert the Great Catholic Church is located at 2836 33rd Ave. S. Cost for attending this year’s dinner will be $12 for adults (no senior discount), $6 for ages 6-12, and free for 5 and under.

Comments Off on St. Albert’s Lenten fish dinners to feature sustainable tilapia

NENA News: Lake Nokomis Shoreline Enhancements

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is continuing their community meetings on the Lake Nokomis Shoreline Project, which is part of an effort to increase the amount of natural landscape within the park and reduce impacts from invasive vegetation.

The next public meeting for the project is scheduled Tues., Feb. 13, 7-9pm at Pearl Recreation Center, 414 E. Diamond Lake Rd. This meeting will provide a recap of the first meeting, potential stabilization measures, and discuss options and opportunities for how shoreline improvements may eventually look.

Visit the Lake Nokomis Shoreline Enhancements project page on the MPRB website to stay informed.

NENA Board elections
At our Annual Meeting on Apr. 26, NENA will hold elections for Board of Directors positions. NENA has nine Board seats up for election—two seats from each of the four neighborhoods (Keewaydin, Minnehaha, Morris Park, and Wenonah) and one additional replacement seat for Wenonah. Applications are due on Apr. 12, and can be found on the NENA website at

Board candidate information session
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 of service, and other information will be discussed at the upcoming Board Information Session on Apr. 5, 6pm, at the NENA Office.

Project update
The Green Initiatives Committee has focused on further engaging the Nokomis East community in environmentally sustainable practices by launching the Nokomis Green Fair, completing a project with Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church through the Hennepin County Green Partners program, finishing the first growing season of the Giving Garden, and beginning the Monarch Mile pollinator pathway.

The Nokomis Green Fair will host over 12 environmental organizations and businesses in a family-friendly format on Jan. 27 from 12-3pm, to reduce knowledge barriers to green living.

The Green Partners project introduced a robust recycling, composting, and waste reduction program at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church, with exemplary participation by church members. The project will complete in late February 2018.

The Giving Garden donated over 450 lbs of produce to area food shelves in 2017, and 17 pollinator patches along E. 50th St. were the first of the Monarch Mile gardens.

The Green Initiatives Committee looks forward to hosting more education events, being active on Earth Day, and expanding the pollinator pathways throughout the neighborhood in early 2018. Join the effort by attending the February committee meeting on Thur., Feb. 15 at the NENA office.

Project update
The Housing, Commercial, and Streetscape (HCS) Committee had a productive 2017, focusing on the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan, new grants for businesses, and 34th Ave. reconstruction meetings. They engaged 150-180 people with the Comprehensive Plan Input Session and the online survey, and all comments were presented to city planning staff.

The Nokomis East Marketing Matching Grant and the Nokomis East Business Partnership Grant were launched in November 2017 to encourage further innovation and collaboration among area businesses.

Three community meetings were also held in 2017 to inform residents and businesses of the 34th Ave. reconstruction plans and to gather feedback. The HCS Committee looks forward to starting a utility box wrap project and is looking into refreshing neighborhood signs this spring.

Attend the February committee meeting on Feb. 7, 6:30pm, in the NENA office, and make a difference in our neighborhood.

Low- and no-interest loans
NENA is now offering two home improvement loan programs. Homes in the Keewaydin, Minnehaha, Morris Park and Wenonah neighborhoods are eligible. 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 at the sale of the property or the transfer of title.

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

Sign up for NENA News
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.

Comments Off on NENA News: Lake Nokomis Shoreline Enhancements

KALY 101.7 reaches underserved East African population

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

South Minneapolis radio station focuses on bridging the gap between immigrants and their community

KALY 101.7-FM is more than a radio station, according to Executive Director Mahamed Cali. It provides the East African community with a voice, and it’s saving lives.

“The work we do makes a difference,” stated Cali.

The two-year-old radio station located at 301 E. Lake St. does that by providing important information to the underserved East African community, including updates on severe weather, the benefits of vaccines, and security tips.

A program of the Somali American Community (SAC), KALY-FM is the only radio station in the United States that educates and informs Somali and East African immigrants 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Photo left: The two-year-old radio station located at 301 E. Lake St. is making a difference every day by providing important information to the underserved East African community, according to KALY 101.7-FM Executive Director Mahamed Cali. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The Somalis and East Africans immigrants in the Twin Cities face many challenges, according to Cali. Parents often don’t know how the school system works, and their kids are failing their classes. They may not know how to get along well with their landlords. They are susceptible to various scams. KALY Radio brings in experts such as teachers, doctors, elected officials, and lawyers to address questions immigrants have about life in Minnesota.

Before launching the station, the Somali American Community surveyed 3,000 people and asked what they wanted out of a radio station. The number one response was that listeners wanted to learn about education and schools, pointed out Cali. Next were employment and immigration issues. Third was enjoyable music.

Factoring those results in, KALY structured its programming to feature educational and motivational speakers in the morning while parents and kids are on their way to school and work. Applicable topics include how school is necessary for success in life, and why jobs are important.

In the afternoon, the station airs music and news.

In January, staff from the Governor’s office talked about the significance of Martin Luther King Jr., and provided information on activities honoring his life, to bridge the knowledge gap of listeners. Another program focused on the upcoming Super Bowl in Minneapolis and provided information on safety, security and transportation changes.

Other segments focus on bridging the gap between Minneapolis Somali-Americans and their homeland by airing news updates about their country.

Many listeners have a favorite show they won’t miss, pointed out Cali. Some people are sure to catch Kowsar Abdulai from 3-5pm on weekdays to hear about family and financial issues. Others make time from 6-10pm for Osman Aweys who discusses what is new each week. Amira Adawe’s show on beauty each Saturday from 2-3pm is another favorite. Somali culture is the focus of a show that airs every Tuesday.

The station has partnered with several local neighborhood groups, including Midtown, East Phillips, Ventura, Central, and Whittier, and hopes to expand their reach. They’ve discovered that by broadcasting community announcements and events, attendance has increased and the East African community has begun participating more in their neighborhoods, observed Cali.

Local radio
KALY 101.7 is one of the stations made possible by the Local Community Radio Act, which President Barack Obama signed in 2011, providing the first chance in more than a decade for a low-power FM radio station license. The Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project had lobbied for years for the bill in Washington, D.C., and actively worked to recruit independent community broadcasters across the nation. The Prometheus Radio Project helped build the KALY studio, install the broadcast equipment, and train volunteers.

KALY 101.7-FM aired its first broadcast on the Eid al-Adha holiday on Sept. 24, 2015.
Thanks to a grant from the Waite Foundation, six new people are currently being trained in broadcasting to join the crew at KALY.

Expansion plans
KALY staff members recognize that not everyone has a radio. For those without, KALY gives away small radios. People can also listen to 101.7 FM by going online to the website, listening through the app available on either Android or Google devices, or by calling the station at 717-623-4287. Through all these various options, KALY can reach 9 out of 10 East Africans in the Minneapolis area. Plus, they’ve pulled in listeners from Alaska, Seattle, Virginia, and Washington.

KALY 101.7 hopes to expand to a new location at the Midtown Global Market with a taller and larger antennae to reach farther. Right now the station has a 7-10 mile radius with an estimated reach of 200,000 people, and Cali hopes to bump that up to 15-20 miles.

He’d also like to see the station’s operating budget increase so that they can pay full-time workers.
The station is asking people for one-time and monthly donations to help support its work and seeking additional partners in the community. Checks can be mailed to Somali American Radio, 2323 11th Ave., Minneapolis MN 55404.

Comments Off on KALY 101.7 reaches underserved East African population

Trylon Cinema to present rare 35mm print Kung Fu classics

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

The Shaw Brothers’ Kung Fu style, when correctly used, is almost invincible. Shaolin, Wu-Tang, pole-fighting, and Mad Monkey—all became famous in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to Run Run and Runme Shaw. The Trylon Cinema, 2820 E. 33rd St., is proud to present four very rare 35mm prints of these classics, courtesy of film collector Dan Halsted.

“The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” (image right provided) starts the series on Sun., Feb. 4, 3pm, and will be reshown Mon.-Tue., Feb. 5-6, at both 7pm and 9:15pm. “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” (1978, 35mm, 115m, Mandarin with English subtitles) was directed by Chia-Liang Liu w/Gordon Liu, Lieh Lo, and Chia Yung Liu. After escaping a brutal attack by government forces, San Te (Liu) seeks refuge at a Shaolin temple, learning the art of kung fu so he can take revenge. One of the best martial arts films ever made, it’s also a must for any movie lover.

The next week, Sun., Feb. 11, 3pm, “The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter” (1984, 35mm, 98m, Mandarin with English subtitles) will take the screen. This film was directed by Chia-Liang Liu w/Gordon Liu, Sheng Fu, and Kara Hui. After his father and brothers are betrayed and murdered, Yang Wu-Lang (Liu) devotes himself to the art of pole-fighting. When his sister (Hui) is taken a hostage, he must break his Buddhist vows to exact revenge. The movie will rescreen Mon.-Tue., Feb. 12-13, at both 7pm and 9pm.

Starting Sun., Feb. 18, 3pm, “The Kid With The Golden Arm” (image left provided) fills the screen with repeats on Mon.-Tue., Feb. 19-20, at 7pm and 9pm. “The Kid With The Golden Arm” was directed by Cheh Chang w/Chien Sun, Meng Lo, and Feng Lu. Yang Hu Yun (Chien) is assigned to bring gold to a famine-stricken province, but the Deadly Venoms have other plans! The film boasts some of the genre’s finest action scenes.

The final film in the series, “Bastard Swordsman” (1983, 35mm, 89m, Mandarin with English subtitles) was directed by Chin-Ku Lu w/Norman Chu, Tony Liu, and Jung Wang. Screenings are Sun., Feb. 25 at 3pm, and Mon.-Tue., Feb. 26-27 at 7pm and 9pm. Yun Fei Yang (Chu) must uncover his past and master the Silkworm style to defeat the Invincible Clan in this mind-bending martial arts crowd-pleaser.

Trylon is a 501(c)3 nonprofit specializing in repertory showings of classic, cutting-edge, foreign, and art-house films. They screen six nights a week at the Trylon Cinema, with regular special engagements at the Heights and Riverview theaters. You can learn more about them at, or call the showtime hotline at 612-424-5468.

Comments Off on Trylon Cinema to present rare 35mm print Kung Fu classics

Transition Longfellow Pancake Breakfast and February Activities

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

Transition Longfellow is an all-volunteer group of Longfellow/South Minneapolis neighbors who create opportunities for neighbors to get to know one another while also learning how they can reduce their energy use and waste, grow more of their food, and prepare for the extreme weather ahead. Visit to learn more.

Pancake breakfast and silent auction
Transition Longfellow hosts one fundraiser a year to support all of its activities—a pancake breakfast with silent auction. This year the event will the held Sat., Jan. 27, 9-11am at Minnehaha Community Lutheran Church, 4101 37th Ave. S.
The menu includes hot pancakes (vegan and regular), real maple syrup, an array of toppings, and a gluten-free option. Cost for breakfast is $6.

This year’s auction includes gift certificates and energy and water-efficient house items from Castle Building and Remodeling, tickets to Trylon Microcinema, art calendars and preparedness food supplies from Northern Sun, an assortment of DIY books from Moon Palace Books, a gift certificate from Seward Coop, tickets to the Hook and Ladder, and an assortment of usable and handmade items from individual supporters. Checks or cash for auction; must be present to pick up items.

‘Get Prepared’ email challenge
In 2017, Transition Longfellow brought experts to the community to talk about current and expected real-life effects of a changing climate. This year the group is offering an email “mini-challenge” with step-by-step actions people can take to increase their preparedness.

January’s challenges (available on the website) covered vehicle preparedness—getting ready for a breakdown, for medical needs, and for being stranded.

February’s email challenge will be protecting your home if the heat goes and creating an emergency communications plan for your family. Sign up at the website,

Book group
Transition Longfellow Book Group meets the second Thursday of each month (Feb. 8), 6:30pm, from January through April at Moon Palace Books.

This month’s selection is “The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World” by Christina Crook. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking a sense of peace in the cacophony of our digital world. You may not be able to throw away your cell phone, but you can discover ways to achieve balance and discipline when it comes to the technology of our everyday lives. February’s reading is Section 2.

Movie night
Movie night is planned for Fri., Feb. 16, with a potluck at 6:30pm, and a movie at 7:15am, at Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church, 4101 37th Ave. S. Meet new friends and neighbors and share a meal together.

Drawing on work from the Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy, this month’s movie is “Enough is Enough.” This movie lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth. The film suggests specific strategies to fix the financial system, reduce inequality, create jobs, and build an economy where the goal is enough, not more. Enough Is Enough is the primer for achieving genuine prosperity and a hopeful future for all.

East Indian cooking class
Cheryllyne Vaz, the “cooking realtor,” will be offering another East Indian cooking class through Transition. Learn how spices can help you heat up a cold winter night, adding color and flavor to your favorite vegetables or meat. You’ll get to taste the results. The class is limited to 25. There is a small fee. Watch the group’s website or Facebook page (Longfellow Transition) for details on date and location. Registration required.



Comments Off on Transition Longfellow Pancake Breakfast and February Activities

Fresh coffee, fresh new look, is the order of the day at Dunn

Posted on 18 December 2017 by calvin

Article and all photos by JAN WILLMS
There is a fresh new look to Dunn Brothers Coffee at 4648 E. Lake St. Following a transition in ownership last April, Cassie German has taken over as manager of this location.

“The changes have taken place in the last couple months,” German said. “It was looking tired, and we spruced it up with a new remodel.”

“We did some painting, put in some new carpet and light fixtures,” added District Manager Angie Peterson. “And all the art that is posted is from our origin trips.”

“We go on origin trips, traveling to different countries in South America, like Nicaragua and El Salvador,” explained Greg Rosenberg, senior franchise business consultant. “The photos on the walls are from the actual farms we buy our beans from.”

“We also added a mural,” Peterson said. “It was great while we were doing it. All the customers got to see it and were excited about it.”

Photo right: (l to r) Greg Rosenberg, Cassie German, Angie Peterson.

According to German, the coffee shop was only closed for a couple of days during the transition in ownership. They kept it open during the remodeling. “We did everything we could to keep going during remodeling,” she said. “We did the painting after hours.”
She said the remodeled shop now has a booth area, which opens up the space a little bit. “It feels good to be here in an environment that is fresh and clean,” she noted.

Peterson said the outdoor sign has been updated and an awning that had made the coffee shop a bit darker has been removed. And new patio furniture is ready to be set outside when winter is over.

Dunn Brothers had its beginnings 30 years ago, based in Minneapolis. “The original franchisee then bought the company, and there are currently 85 locations in seven different states,” said Rosenberg. Dunn Brothers has been at its Lake St. location since 2005. “Dunn Brothers Coffee now owns this location.” Rosenberg continued.

As manager, German said she has been in the coffee world for about 17 years. She lives in the Longfellow neighborhood and said she was excited to manage this location.

“It has been fun to watch it all come together,” she said. “It went fast after the painting was done, and I see familiar faces every day. There are a lot of college students and bikers who come by, and we become basically like a family.”

German said she thinks what sets Dunn Brothers aside from other coffee shops is its authenticity. “It’s a combination of the people we hire and roasting our beans in the store that makes us stand out,” she said. “We are really good at knowing the whole process, and if we were not authentic, we wouldn’t be here.”

“Hiring the right people is crucial,” she stated. She said a couple of the past employees stayed on, but many returned to school or traveled.

German said having parking space available is very beneficial for customers. “Some need just to get in and get out,” she said.

“We also just launched online ordering,” Peterson commented. “Anybody living in the neighborhood or living upstairs can place their order, then come and get their coffee.”

“Sometimes people wander in wearing their pajamas, from the apartments upstairs,” German said. “They just order their coffee and come and get it.”

Dunn Brothers bakes its own pastries except for anything requiring a deep fryer. It has two ovens in the location. A limited number of sandwiches are also brought in. “We have fresh breakfast sandwiches and burritos,” Rosenberg said. Soups are also served.

“Our hours are 6am to 6pm seven days a week,” said German. “We will expand our hours over the warmer months.” She said the current staff is under 10 employees.

German said she found the biggest challenge so far to be getting everybody trained and on the same page. “That has been the biggest puzzle piece for me,” she said. “There are always things like equipment problems or the Internet going down, but that is normal stuff that happens with running a business.”

She said the most rewarding part has been the customer support.
“Dunn Brothers is a part of their community, and they had to transition with us. The regulars are back and bringing in those that haven’t been in for a while.”

She related a story about a customer who brought in a friend, and the friend commented that he did not think the shop looked that much different. “Are you kidding me? It looks totally different,” the customer responded.

“I love it,” German said about being the manager. “It feels good to see people from all walks of life coming through our doors. We hope everyone will come and check us out.”

Comments Off on Fresh coffee, fresh new look, is the order of the day at Dunn

Urban Forage taproom fulfills dream owner didn’t think would be realized

Posted on 18 December 2017 by calvin

Locally foraged fruits and other items provide unique, chemical-free wines and ciders not found anywhere else

Just as he forages for the ingredients to make cider and wine, so Jeff Zeitler foraged for building materials to set apart the recently opened Urban Forage Winery and Cider House taproom (3016 E. Lake St.).

Above the bar hangs a collection of salvaged doors, while a decorative screen that graced the space in years past is on a wall. A long list of building materials came from the nearby Habitat for Humanity ReUse Store.

Photo right: Drop by the recently opened Urban Forage Winery and Cider House to try one of four beverages on tap. The taproom is open Thursdays and Fridays from 4-10pm, and Saturdays from noon to 10pm. It is the city’s first winery since Prohibition. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Jeff was particularly delighted to open up a wall and find an old shelf made out of a packing crate, evidence from the past of another making something new out of what they had.

“We have a good product we believe in,” said Jeff’s wife, Gita Zeitler. “It’s local. We have no plans to be big, but we want to stay small and local and chemical free. We want to stay as unique as we are now.”

Unexpected surprises
Jeff made his first batch of hard cider while he was a college student at the University of Minnesota over 20 years ago. “I started out making wine when I was 19 to make alcohol, but I stayed with it because I like wine without sulfites,” Jeff remarked.

He had long dreamed of opening his own cider house, but it didn’t feel real until they purchased a foreclosed building along E. Lake St. five years ago. By renting out the main level, Jeff and Gita could help offset costs and make wine and cider in the basement. Soon after buying the building, Jeff was laid off from his job as a landscape architect for the first time, which left more time to devote to his dream job.

When he arrived at the building one day in January 2016 and discovered his tenants had abruptly moved out, and he was recently laid off again, Jeff realized it was time to go for it. He began the massive undertaking of remodeling the building to transform it into a taproom.

“I was basically unemployed and working at a non-profit for two years,” he said, adding that nothing would have been possible without his wife keeping them afloat financially.

While Jeff hired out the electrical, plumbing, heating and the elevator work, he did the rest himself, beginning with the demolition. Jeff adjusted the entire front of the building, adding large windows and a door for the elevator and removing the awning to make the building “pop.”

Photo left: The fermenting and bottling operation takes up the basement of Urban Forage’s 100-year-old building at 3016 E. Lake St. Owner Jeff Zeitler makes wine throughout the year, although the harvesting is done spring through fall. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“Before, there was nothing that really stood out on our block,” remarked Jeff. “You notice us now.”

When they first purchased the building, Jeff and Gita spend days tearing up the linoleum to reveal the maple hardwood underneath. In one spot was a large grease stain from when the space was used as a machine shop. Jeff sanded and sanded the messy area, and today he considers it the best spot on the floor.

“That’s what makes renovation fun to me—the unexpected surprises like that,” Jeff stated.

He does advise other new business owners to be patient and fearless. “Everything takes longer than you think it will take,” he observed. And it costs more, too. At one time, the Zeitlers found themselves unable to pay their workers on time as they waited for financing to kick in. “It’s very stressful,” said Jeff, “but now that it’s up and running it feels worth it.”

Would he want to do it again? “No way!” he answered.

They had been stymied for a time, thinking they needed a law change to operate an urban winery. But after hiring an attorney, they discovered there was still an old law from 1934 on the books that they could operate under.

When they opened the taproom in November, they became the city’s first winery since Prohibition.

They’re also the only cider house that makes real cider versus apple juice that has been mixed with a malt beverage.

Sophisticated tastes
In the transitional time between starting Urban Forage and opening the taproom, Jeff focused on figuring out what beverages people like best. When offered some gin botanicals (the spices that give gin its distinctive flavor) from Lawless Distillery, he created Gin Botanical on a lark, not sure whether it would be good or not. “That became a best seller,” remarked Jeff. “People love the Gin Botanical.”

The botanicals include juniper berries, coriander, black pepper and lavender along with other herbs. The unique beverage mixes gin and apple flavors to make something different, a spin on the classic gin and tonic.

Photo right: In November, Minneapolis Mayor-elect Jacob Frey (far right) helped cut the ribbon during the grand opening celebration at Urban Forage. Also pictured, owners Gita and Jeff Zeitler with children Jaya and Akhil. (Photo submitted)

Given the nature of foraged fruit and natural yeasts, Jeff is never quite sure what flavors will come out of his stainless steel fermenters. One might be sour, while another is dull, and the third high in tannins. To achieve a good and consistent flavor, Jeff blends different batches.

“People say Minnesotans all want sweet wine. I don’t think that’s true—at least not in the Longfellow neighborhood,” observed Jeff.

“You have people with sophisticated tastes in Minneapolis.”
Jeff experiments with the foraged items he’s offered, including lilacs, dandelions, apricots, hops, mulberries, cherries, pears, apples and more—which allows him to create flavors you can’t find anywhere else.

For the first time this year, the Zeitlers didn’t have to go out and pick all the fruit they used, but instead, people brought them apples.

“We take the excess of the city and turn it into wine and cider,” Jeff stated.

Being sustainable is important to the Zeitlers. “I don’t want to leave the world worse than I found it,” explained Jeff. “We all have a responsibility to leave a light footprint.” Rather than purchase carbon offsets or ride a bicycle everywhere, Jeff focuses on something he can easily do.

“There a lot of fruit just going to waste on the ground. I want to use what’s all around us that no one is paying attention to,” he said.

Wild yeasts give distinct flavors
Jeff begins each batch by letting the wild yeasts ferment and start the process, which gives it the distinct flavor English and French ciders are known for. Then he adds a robust commercial yeast as needed to finish it off. He pasteurizes products to make them shelf-stable instead of dosing them with chemical additives. He avoids adding anything unless he needs to, using the Integrated Pest Management strategy of only adding sulfite if needed. He never uses potassium sorbate because he finds the taste disgusting.

Urban Forage can’t realistically obtain an organic designation because of the many places they get fruit from, but 98 percent of what they use hasn’t been fertilized, Jeff said. They’re just neighborhood trees that owners have been ignoring benignly.

That said, if he were given access to organic apples, he’d be happy to make a small batch of cider from just those apples and get an organic label for it.

Grateful for neighborhood
Jeff is grateful for the neighborhood’s support and noted that many of their customers come from Longfellow. “Thank you for supporting your local businesses,” said Jeff.

“We hope you come out and drink and make us improve all the time.”

He and a few other distillery owners are brainstorming ways to promote themselves and bring in more people to the neighborhood businesses, especially considering that they’re not located far from the light rail line.

The taproom is open on Thursdays and Fridays 4-10pm, and Saturdays noon to 10pm. Food trucks are frequently parked outside on the weekends. Dry cider and semisweet will always be on tap, and two other varieties will rotate in and out.

On the third Thursday of the month, drop by for Writer’s Open Mic night. On Mondays, Sara Milner holds Yoga classes; show up and pay $10 at the door for the one-hour class.

Up until March is the art show, “Fire and the Flame: Honoring 35 Years of Zorongo Flamenco,” by local artist and The League of Longfellow Artists (LoLa) founder Anita White.

Urban Forage products are also for sale at over 40 liquor stores in the Twin Cities area.

“This is the realization of a dream I didn’t think I’d ever actually realize,” said Jeff.

Comments Off on Urban Forage taproom fulfills dream owner didn’t think would be realized

F.E.M.A. focuses on physical and mental martial arts training

Posted on 18 December 2017 by calvin

Non-profit builds community by empowering the helpless and at-risk, while offering classes for everyone

The Five Elements Martial Arts (F.E.M.A.) and Healing Center is like no other martial arts school that Longfellow resident Kristy Papenfuss has been involved in.

It isn’t about competition or testing-based. The school incorporates both Chinese and Japanese elements. The focus is on mind, body, and spirit, she pointed out. Students learn martial arts moves, while also learning about the cultural and historical philosophies of martial arts. Plus, they learn meditation skills.

“I think it’s valuable for everyone to learn how to calm themselves and to be present,” Papenfuss observed. “It is important for children to learn that from a young age, too.”

Her daughter, Sage, has been involved in the F.E.M.A. Little Elements class on Wednesday nights since she was three and one-half. Papenfuss appreciates how her five-year-old has learned better coordination, in addition to physical body awareness and strength. Plus, she’s learning how to take care of and protect herself. Those physical skills are balanced with how to be kind.

Martial arts without ego
F.E.M.A. Executive Director and Head Instructor Koré Grate has been a part of F.E.M.A. since its start 28 years ago.
“I think the biggest challenge is to try to put into words what F.E.M.A. does to help this planet be a better place one person at a time,” remarked Grate. “I keep creating new ways to get students to come in and see who and what we are. Outreach only goes so far… it’s when a person comes in and watches a class do they see what goes on and get excited to join.”

Photo left: Standish-Ericsson resident Aric Stewart (left) started training under Shifu Kore’ Grate in 1988, learning the Japanese sword technique of Iaido. He now helps Grate instruct the Iaido program at Five Elements Martial Arts. (Photo submitted)

As the website states, “Essentially, martial arts are about learning how to face conflict and work with others.”

“Our dojo is a wonderful place to learn and experience, not only the martial arts, but creative ways to deepen, strengthen and expand body, mind, and spirit,” said Grate. “Our system of martial arts is set up to train people to help others by teaching once they have knowledge and experience.

“We train both externally and internally, learning to listen to our bodies, minds, and spirits, using compassion as our guide.”
F.E.M.A. focuses on the Wu Chien Pai limitless style founded by Dr. Alex Feng. This eclectic style includes Taiji and Qigong, Gong Fu (Kung Fu), Judo and Jujitsu, healing arts and meditation, and Iaido (Japanese Sword).

Self-defense, empowerment, and wellness programs are also offered. The next Five Fingers of Self-Defense and

Photo right: F.E.M.A. head instructor Kore’ Grate (left) practices swordplay with student Su Sandon during an Iaido class. “There is a wonderful dichotomy in Iaido,” observed Iaido co-instructor Aric Stewart. “Beginners tell me they love it because, being solitary forms, they are not pressured by anyone else to have to react or perform in a particular way.” (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Empowerment for women and girls 13 and older is set for Mon., Mar. 19, 6-8pm. The class is also available as a customized self-defense course for groups and businesses.

“I often tell people that F.E.M.A. is martial arts without ego—martial arts without bravado or macho attitudes,” remarked Standish-Ericsson resident Aric Stewart, who has been training at F.E.M.A. since 1998. “Sensei Kore is an extremely talented martial artist who teaches everyone from four-year-old children to 60-plus-year-old black belts with exactly the kind, supportive pressure they need to keep motivated.”

He points out that F.E.M.A. is a 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission to help spread the benefit of martial arts training to all that can benefit from it, specifically targeting at-risk communities.

“We have highly discounted classes for these communities, never turn people away for financial reasons and do regular outreach into the community itself to help bring the safety and self-confidence martial arts training can bring to those who may need it most,” said Stewart, who serves on the F.E.M.A. Board of Directors.

‘I can do that too’
When Grate was nine, she saw a young girl around her age at the Vallejo State Fair doing a Karate demo. “She was so strong and powerful, and the only girl in the large group of boys and men,” recalled Grate. “I thought, ‘I can do that too!’

Five years later, she found a school in her hometown and started training. That was 46 years ago.

In 1988, she moved to Minneapolis to be with the “love of her life,” Jan, to whom she is now married.

“I was a brown belt at the time in Wu Chien Pai under Dr. Alex Feng,” said Grate. “It was truly difficult to leave my teacher, my family, and friends, but I knew it was something I needed to do, and I was in love.”

She got to Minneapolis in January, could barely walk on the icy sidewalks, and could not find a school that emulated the same principles of her school in the Bay Area. She did a shout out for “anyone know anyone in Minneapolis that does Martial Arts?” at a national women’s martial arts camp, and someone told her about another woman who had just moved to Minneapolis and was looking for a good school. The two got together in October of 1989 and brainstormed a way to gather women and train.

Their first class was Nov. 15, 1989, at Matthews Community Center. Thirteen women showed up, but only two had experience. As the most experienced person, Grate found herself as head instructor—a role she had not planned on.
The non-profit school was first called the Feminist Eclectic Martial Arts and promoted the goal of empowering women through martial arts.

“Originally we started as a women-only program, which was greatly needed at that time,” explained Grate. “In those years all the leadership/teachers were advanced women students—empowering by example.”

As time went on, they realized the vision needed to be expanded to include all genders, and the school was renamed Five Element Martial Arts and Healing Center. The school is run democratically, and all students are encouraged to be a part of every process.

One comment Grate heard from a student stands out above all the rest. “If it weren’t for F.E.M.A., I would have committed suicide,” said a young girl at the end of a self-defense class. “My heart broke wide open, and I knew I had to keep teaching, keep the school going,” stated Grate.

After holding classes at the Matthews Community Center cafeteria, F.E.M.A. moved to The Peoples Center, the Podany Building, and then Patrick’s Cabaret before finally landing at its facility at 3743 Cedar Ave. S.

F.E.M.A. added its girl’s program in the 1990s, and then Iaido and Taiji that included all genders. Last year, Grate realized they had classes for women, girls 6-18 and family class: adults, boys and girls 8 and up, but none for younger kids so she created the Little Elements Class for ages 4-7. “It’s a Taoist principle to ‘go with the flow,’ so I try to pay attention to the ‘requests from the universe’ to keep F.E.M.A. growing,” said Grate.

Empowering community through classes
Stewart first got involved in martial arts while he was studying abroad in Japan as a way to connect with people and understand another layer of the culture. When he returned home, he began taking Japanese sword classes or Iaido at F.E.M.A. Stewart is now a second-degree black belt in Nishyoryu Iaido and co-instructs F.E.M.A.’s Iaido program.

Photo left: Once a year, F.E.M.A. offers a Chinese calligraphy class to coincide with the Chinese New Year. They also offer weekly classes for women, girls 6-18 and family class: adults, boys and girls 8 and up, and children ages 4-7. (Photo submitted)

“I have gained so much from my training that it is very hard to pick what I appreciate most,” remarked Stewart. “Thinking of winter, I am often extremely grateful for the sense of center and balance and body control that training has taught me. I don’t slip on ice nearly as much as I did, and when I do, I am in control.

“But I think it is the sense of calm and direction I can feel even in the midst of chaos that I appreciate most. During an emergency, external or self-induced, I find my martial arts training allows me to focus, remain calm and make clear decisions in the midst of the stressful moment where such decisions can be critically important.”

Stewart serves on the F.E.M.A. board because he believes in the value it provides to the neighborhood and its students—from offering self-defense classes to at-risk communities to helping empower those who may be feeling powerless. “By helping the safety and self-confidence of community members, we empower the community as a whole,” he stated.

He encourages people to check out F.E.M.A.’s diverse classes. “There is something that is bound to appeal, and that you would find benefit from,” said Stewart. “I personally feel like even casual martial arts training can benefit anybody! It is never about learning how to fight. It is about improving one’s self so that a fight never has to happen.”
Find more online at or call 612-729-7233.

Comments Off on F.E.M.A. focuses on physical and mental martial arts training

NENA NEWS: Annual State of the Neighborhood Meeting 2018

Posted on 18 December 2017 by calvin

The Third Annual Nokomis East Neighborhood Association State of our Neighborhood community gathering will be held Wed. Jan. 17, 6-8pm at the Morris Park Recreation Center, 5531 39th Ave. S.

In 2018, NENA, along with many others, have plans to make our neighborhood even better. Come to the State of our Neighborhood meeting to learn more.

On the Agenda:
– State Representative Jean Wagenius
– Council Member Jeremy Schroeder (Ward 11)
– Council Member Andrew Johnson (Ward 12)
– Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission Member Isaac Russell
– LaShawn Ray, Principal, LNCS Keewaydin School
– Heather Wambach, Patron Experience Supervisor, Hennepin County Library Nokomis and Roosevelt
– Suzanne Stephenson, Librarian, Hennepin County Library
– Nokomis East Neighborhood Association
– Nokomis East Business Association

Nokomis East Green Fair
You may know that sustainable, energy-efficient practices at home and work help retain the natural beauty of our community, reduces waste, and can even save you some money. However, sometimes the wealth of information available can seem daunting. Join us in January for a one stop shop and get individualized attention and advice.

The inaugural Nokomis East Green Fair will be Sat., Jan. 27, 12-3pm at the Nokomis Community Center, 2401 E. Minnehaha Pkwy.

The event will feature information booths and demonstrations to assist you with creating a more green lifestyle. Learn how to make your yard more climate change resilient, lower your car’s carbon footprint while improving gas mileage, and other useful tips. A child play area with activities will be provided for families attending the fair. The first 100 visitors to the Green Fair will receive a FREE kitchen compost pail!

Does your organization or business have a sustainability focus? Exhibitor booths are free for this event! Contact Program and Communication Manager Lauren Hazenson to receive out an application.

Fix-It Clinic coming
Got broken stuff at home? Learn valuable repair skills at an upcoming Fix-It Clinic. Residents bring in small household appliances, clothing, electronics, mobile devices and more, and receive free guided assistance from volunteers with repair skills to disassemble, troubleshoot, and fix their items.

Hennepin County will be holding a Fix-It Clinic Sat., Feb. 10 from 12-4pm at Crosstown Covenant Church, 5540 30th Ave. S. Fix-It Clinics teach valuable troubleshooting and basic repair skills, build community connections and reduce the number of repairable objects that are thrown in the trash.

For more information, visit or contact program coordinator Nancy Lo at or 612-348-9195.

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.

Comments Off on NENA NEWS: Annual State of the Neighborhood Meeting 2018

Habitat for Humanity

Chanhassen Camp Opportunities