Archive | LONGFELLOW

Longfellow climate activist walks the walk every day

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Standing in front of her electric Chevy Bolt, Jean Buckley said, “I use my buying power to make an environmental statement. I believe in making educated, responsible choices.”(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Longtime Longfellow resident Jean Buckley believes each of us can make a difference in the current climate crisis.
She said, “I’ve always been a strong environmentalist. I believe every human being has a responsibility to protect earth’s finite natural resources. Some people choose to be what are called ‘first adopters,’ which means taking on higher costs when technologies or products are new. First adopters are willing to bear those initial costs, with relative certainty that the costs will come down when the technologies or products become more main stream.”
Buckley was a first adopter of residential solar energy, among many other things. Ten years ago, she had solar panels installed on her garage roof. That first set of solar panels produced enough energy to power her house until she bought an electric car last year. She is now adding more solar panels to the roof of her home to produce the extra energy she needs.
Over the next 10 years she will receive rebates from Xcel Energy as part of their Solar Rewards Program, and she won’t ever have to pay for electricity or gasoline again. Visit www.xcelenergy.com to learn more about their Solar Rewards Program.
When the Volkswagen Jetta TDI came on the market, it was the greenest car available. Buckley bought one early on, and was able to sell it back to VW after their emissions scandal broke. With the money from the resale, she purchased an electric Chevy Bolt. This car qualified for a $7,500 federal tax credit. She frequently travels to Duluth to visit her grandchildren. Money from the VW settlement is helping build infrastructure for electric vehicles; this includes more charging stations along highly traveled corridors like 35W.
Buckley has made most of her home improvement decisions from the standpoint of what’s best for the environment. She said, “Many of these choices have higher costs up-front, but I believe they are cost-effective over time. The metal roof I chose for my house cost about 20% more than asphalt shingles. It will last at least 100 years though; I’ll never need to replace it. I’ve lived in my house for 25 years and as someone who hopes to age in place, the metal roof made sense both environmentally and economically.”
On Earth Day 2019, Buckley retired from her job with Ramsey County as an Environmental Health Educator. Prior to that job, she worked for the city of Bloomington. Her areas of expertise included renewable energy, building efficiency, water quality, and recycling. She said, “I had a long career as an educator. I’m still finding ways to encourage people to make positive changes for the environment.”
Buckley is involved in her neighborhood as a Block Club Coordinator. Block Clubs are a function of the city of Minneapolis (visit www.minneapolimn.gov to learn more.) The focus of Block Clubs is often on crime prevention, but can include other things depending on neighborhood interests. On Buckley’s block, she has organized a list of neighbors willing to share tools and skills, or barter for professional services.
She said, “We think our network is even better than Next Door, because it’s neighbor to neighbor on our own block.”
Since retiring last spring, Buckley has literally put on a new hat. She proudly wears a cap that identifies her as a River Educator with the Mississippi Park Connections Program: the nonprofit partner of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (the 72-mile section of the Mississippi River that flows through the Twin Cities). The program gives kids the opportunity to get out on the river, and have a national park experience right here in the Twin Cities.
In addition, she volunteers with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and 350.org on various climate issues such as pension divestment from fossil fuels, and investment in clean energy.
When asked what drives her seemingly endless supply of energy for environmental causes, the matter-of-fact Jean Buckley gave a surprisingly sentimental answer. She said, “It’s the Starfish Story.” So here, in closing, is the Starfish Story (author unknown.)
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy throwing something into the ocean. He asked, “What are you doing?” and the boy answered, “I’m throwing starfish into the sea. The tide is going out and if I don’t put them back, they’ll die.” The man said, “Don’t you see that there are miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” The boy picked up another starfish and gently put it back in the water. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “Well, I made a difference for that one.”

From Jean Buckley
Did you know that every 4th grader in the U.S. can obtain a free pass for themselves and their families to visit more than 2,000 federal lands and waterways for a whole year? The hope is that this “Every
Kid in a Park” will help to
build the next generation of passionate and informed
environmental stewards.
Visit www.everykidinapark.gov to learn more.

Comments Off on Longfellow climate activist walks the walk every day

Briefs December 2019

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Majors honored
Longfellow Community Council’s Executive Director Melanie Majors has been honored with an award from the Executive Committee of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) Policy Board. The Exemplary Award was given to recognize 13 years of exemplary service to the Longfellow Community Council and for maintaining the “Gold Standard” for all 81 officially recognized neighborhood organizations.

Lake Street Council
Oer $18,000 was raised at the Lake Street Bash on Nov. 7, 2019 to support the Lake Street business community. “The event was a great success,” stated organizers.

Bread delivery is back
Laune Bread has returned to South Minneapolis. “We missed you so we came back with a few new tricks from Switzerland and Holland!” said founder Chris MacLeod.
Formerly a one-man bread business, MacLeod has doubled up with the addition of Tiff Singh, a local baker who has been in the local baking scene (Alma, Rustica, Sun Street Breads).
“Maybe you remember us from a few years ago, or if you’re new, here’s what we serve up: Laune Bread is subscription-based microbakery that delivers by bike in South Minneapolis and has pick-up locations throughout the city. Our breads are naturally leavened and whole grain focused, sourced primarily from Minnesota. A bit European, a bit West Coast American,” explained the bread makers. “You can find us on your doorstep or one of your favorite local businesses. Check us out and subscribe at launebread.com.” (Past article ran in the October 2016 Messenger.)

Comments Off on Briefs December 2019

Tags:

Longfellow Directory: Use to support local merchants

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

View from the Messenger

Denis Woulfe has been working for the Monitor and Messenger since her was a college intern from Hamline.

By DENIS WOULFE, Denis@LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com

Over the years the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger has had the good fortune to have a great working relationship with the Longfellow Business Association (LBA). Since the early days of the Messenger in the 1980s, the Messenger has relied on the LBA to get information on things going on in the Longfellow community, and also to tap the mindset of business owners in our community. Many of the stories that the Messenger has covered over the years have started with ideas that have come out of the LBA and/or LBA sponsored meetings in our community.
I currently have the pleasure of serving on the Board of the LBA along with other business reps and business owners from Longfellow who are devoted not only to improving the business climate in Longfellow but also the quality of life for residents and businesses alike in the community.
Without a doubt, however, one of the most important byproducts of the relationship between the Messenger and the LBA is the Longfellow Business Directory, which is published every two years as a joint effort between the LBA and the Messenger.
The Longfellow Business Directory has had a history in the Longfellow community going back to the 1990s. It was started with the assistance of City of Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program funds to help foster better communication within the business community. When grant monies dried up, however, the Longfellow Business Association (LBA), recognizing the importance of the Directory, approached the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger about taking on the project despite the absence of an outside funding source.
While prior Directories had contained some advertising, the question posed to the Messenger was whether there would be enough support in the Longfellow business community through advertising to cover the costs of the printing and distribution of the Directory to the Longfellow community.
The first Longfellow Business and Community Directory published in cooperation with the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger was produced in 2004 and the cover was a vibrant mosaic of the Lake Street Bridge in full autumn bloom. The text on the cover of the book described it as “Your guide for everything you need to work and live in the Longfellow area of Minneapolis.” Since then the Longfellow Business Directory has been published every two years, being released with the December issue of the Messenger.
This brings me to today. I’m pleased to announce that Longfellow readers of the Messenger will find a copy of the Longfellow Business Directory delivered along with their December issue of the Messenger this week. It’s a hefty book, chockful of important information. It lists the Longfellow businesses that provide the goods and services that our kind readers use on a weekly basis. I would encourage you to hang on to the Directory and use it as a guide to find local merchants and “Buy Local” when you need to restock your refrigerator, service your automobile, or perhaps find those special gifts for your friends and family during the year. Your local merchants need your support and work hard to earn your respect and patronage.
If you would like additional copies of the Longfellow Business Directory, or perhaps live outside the boundaries of the Longfellow community, additional copies can be found at the Longfellow Community Council at 2727 26th Av. S. You will also find copies of the Directory at many of the Longfellow businesses which already carry copies of the Messenger.
And if you own a business in Longfellow and are not currently a member of the LBA, I would strongly encourage you to check out the LBA and consider becoming a member and getting involved in the organization and in your neighborhood.
If you have questions about the Directory, don’t hesitate to email me at Denis@LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com

 

Click here to view the 2020 Business Directory.

Comments Off on Longfellow Directory: Use to support local merchants

What’s happening in the neighborhood?

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

END OF YEAR DEVELOPMENT UPDATE

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

3801 Hiawatha Ave.
The southeast corner of Hiawatha and 38th may not be empty much longer.
Base Camp Development and DJR Architecture have proposed a four-story, mixed-use multi-family building for the site. It would have 102 units and 2,300 square feet of retail space in the 36,865 square foot structure set on 0.85 acres.
The Longfellow Station residential building next door is five stories tall.
The commercial space will be located at the Hiawatha/38th St. corner with a 52-spot parking garage taking up the bulk of the remaining first floor.
A highlight of the plan is a spacious second-story plaza overlooking Hiawatha Ave. Units available will be a range of studio, alcove, and one-bedroom ranging from 375 to 695 square feet. The c-shaped building will also offer six walk-out units right off Hiawatha.
There will be just over 50 parking stalls compared to 102 units because it’s in a transit oriented development (TOD) district and the building will be accessed using the drive lane currently used by the Longfellow Station apartments off of 38th, pointed out Longfellow Community Council (LCC) Program Manager Justin Gaarder.
A public hearing hasn’t been set yet, but will be shared by the LCC when it is.

Portico at the Falls
The plan for Portico at the Falls, a 37,000-square-foot, four-story building on the former Greg’s Auto Site at Nawadaha and Minnehaha Parkway (4737 Minnehaha), has been approved by the city.
The building project by The Lander Group, Assembly MN and Martha Dayton Design will offer 26 condos with 10 flexible floor plans. Prices will range from low $300s to mid $900s for the one bedroom plus den, two bedroom, and three-bedroom units.
In response to residents’ concerns, Assembly submitted a revised plan that converted the original two-story townhome-style units along Minnehaha Ave. into one-story flats. The first floor will still have a front entry stoop and landscaped approach from Minnehaha.
The individual at-grade parking garages off of the alley were replaced with two condos with at grade patios. All parking will now be below grade and there will not be a drive lane along that side of the building.
The building will still have 26 units and 27 underground parking spaces plus a car lift system that provides the ability to have owners park a second car over their first car. Assembly anticipates a total of approximately 37 cars in the parking garage using this lift system.
The building remains a four-story building, with the fourth floor set back on Minnehaha as previously shown. General building materials and massing are similar to that shown at prior community meetings with modifications as necessary to accommodate the townhomes.
Low limestone walls, concrete walks, and high-quality landscaping (including pollinator-friendly approaches) will provide a setting for the building that complements its aesthetic and creates a connection to the park. Bike parking will also be provided both outdoors and within the building.

Time for stage 3 at Minnehaha Crossing
The third stage of the Minnehaha Crossing project is underway at the former Rainbow site at Minnehaha Ave. and Lake St. Midtown Corner is the next project in Wellington Management’s multi-phase redevelopment there.
The new, six-story Midtown Corner project will include 189 apartments, of which 38 affordable apartments will be available to households earning 60% or less of area median income. Studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units will be available for rent starting early 2020.
The project also includes 8,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space. An additional 3,500-square-foot retail building, located in the southwest corner of the site, will be constructed in 2022.
Building construction began in October. Prior to that, the existing parking lot in front of the Aldi grocery store was improved.

Starbucks at 42nd?
The planning commission said no again to a proposed Starbucks drive-through at 42nd and Hiawatha.
Property owner Nick Boosalis of Wash Me Corporation proposed two buildings at the 0.57-acre site (4159 Hiawatha Ave.) to replace the car wash. One is the Starbucks single-story drive-through at the interior of the lot. The second would house a restaurant and office space that would surround the drive-thru building and would have frontage on E. 42nd St. and Hiawatha Ave. A 17-stall surface parking lot was proposed along the east side of the property. The submitted materials indicated that the buildings would be engineered to accommodate up to nine additional stories in the future for residential expansion.
The applicant received a conditional use permit and site plan review from the city planning commission on June 11, 2018 to construct a new four-story building with a coffee shop drive-thru and 43 dwelling units. The approved building had a very similar footprint as the most recent one. Those approvals expire two years from the date of approval on June 11, 2020. According to the city staff report, the applicant has indicated they prefer to construct the first floor at this time without the upper residential floors which requires a new application to the planning commission.
The city of Minneapolis recently adopted a regulation that prohibits new drive-thru facilities city-wide, but will allow anything that went through prior to Aug. 8, 2019.
Residents have expressed concern about adding traffic at that intersections.
“This intersection is already overloaded during rush hours. If it’s use is even close to the drive through at Cedar and the parkway our neighborhood and it’s habitants will suffer,” said local resident Eric Johannessen in a written statement given to the planning commission.
Fellow neighborhood resident Joanna Olson wrote, “The thought of a drive‐thru on that corner is terrifying to me as a bicyclist and pedestrian using that intersection at least twice daily.”
The proposal was denied by the planning commission on Oct. 21 due to traffic safety concerns. The developer appealed that denial to the Minneapolis Zoning and Planning Committee and it will be back before the committee on Dec. 5.

28th Bridge
The completion of the 28th bridge at Minnehaha Creek has been delayed due to weather and issues with utilities. Public works staff is working out options with the contractor to determine the new timeline.

Look for more updates in the next edition of the Messenger.

Contact the editor at tesha@longfellownokomismessenger.com.

Comments Off on What’s happening in the neighborhood?

Tags:

Virtual Passport Programs opens doors for people unable to travel

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Chris Mangold said, “Remember the old View Master, where you could see the world at the push of a button? This program is similar, but uses new technology.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Longfellow resident Christine Mangold is a seasoned traveler. Some of her favorite destinations have been Paris, London, Rome, and Venice. When she worked as the Lifelong Learning Director at the Minneapolis Ebenezer Senior Living Campus, she started thinking about virtual reality travel as an option for people living in that community. A virtual travel club could be a way to give them the joy of travelling to new places easily and at no cost.
Because of successful results from a pilot study at the Minneapolis Campus, Mangold started the Virtual Passport Programs (VPP) in 2019, and now brings her Virtual Travel Club to half a dozen senior living communities in the Twin Cities each month. The one-hour sessions are a chance for people who are unable to travel (for a variety of reasons) to view 360 degree videos from far-away places. Participants are issued a passport, provided with a tour guide, and off they go.
Participants fill out a travel profile when they join VPP. They answer questions about what they would like to see in the U.S., Mexico, South America, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, or Antarctica. Mangold said, “The focus of VPP is educational, but it also brings out memories of past travels – as well as longings to see places that were not fulfilled. In each session we offer five destinations to choose from, and they are destinations the group has expressed interest in seeing.”

Virtual Passport Programs Creator and CEO Chris Mangold (left) helped an Ebenezer resident put travel stamps in her virtual travel passport. Mangold encourages people considering senior living options to look at those with enthusiasm for new technologies, as well as traditional activities. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

She continued, “Remember watching the Seven Wonders of the World on a View Master? When you pushed the lever and the circle of tiny slides advanced? This is similar, but with new, advanced technology. Now people can experience an African safari, the Northern lights in Minnesota, or the Castle of Versailles. By turning in their seats or wheelchairs, they can change the view of what they’re seeing.”
Mangold’s goal is to bring the world to people who are living within four walls because of financial limitations, mobility or cognitive issues.
She said, “My sweet spot is that I’ve worked with seniors, and I’m able to follow the thread of their interests. I choose videos from the internet that won’t cause dizziness, and that are audience appropriate. Some have narration, and some don’t. In the middle of winter, it can be nice just to look at and listen to what’s happening on a Mediterranean beach.”
After viewing the video content through headsets, participants discuss what they’ve seen and compare travel notes. Mangold brings along a stack of maps and books about the pre-chosen destinations. Acting as tour guide, she uses her resources to stimulate conversation and to help people connect.
She said, “I arrived as creator/owner of VPP after walking many paths. Over the years, I’ve been a daughter to a mom who was in a care center for stroke-induced aphasia; a volunteer to children, women, and seniors; an art director for an ad agency focused on health and wellness; and a lifelong learning program director for a senior community. These experiences sparked the idea of using virtual reality technology to enrich seniors’ lives. I believe that anything is possible if you’re open to new paths.”
For more information, visit www.virtualpassportprograms.com.

“I’ve been fortunate to travel to faraway places. But I am just as awed by the beauty of the BWCA or the Lake Harriet Rose Garden, the simplicity of a Minnesota farm scene or a sunset. These are the sensory experiences of life that we all yearn for and we all deserve. Virtual Passport Programs brings these experiences to people who are unable to see them in person because of accessibility issues. They can be traveling, seeing, or doing anything that they dream of.” ~ Chris Mangold, Virtual Passport Programs owner

Comments Off on Virtual Passport Programs opens doors for people unable to travel

Informal networks promote community building at Becketwood

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Members of the Cat Consortium around 19-year-old Tally the Cat include: (left to right) Linda Kusserow, Bonnie Porte, and owner Clare Fossum, who relied on the other women during a recent time away. (Photo by Terry Faust)

by Iric Nathanson
Earlier this year, when Clare Fossum had to spend time recovering from a medical procedure, she knew she could rely on her neighbors at Becketwood Cooperative to look after her elderly companion while she was away from home recuperating at a local rehab center.
Fossum’s companion happened to be her 19-year-old cat, Tally, who had made friends with two neighbors, Bonnie Porte and Linda Kusserow. Porte lived down the hall and Kusserow was two floors away. They each took turns feeding Tally, bringing her fresh water and spending time with her while Fossum was in rehab.
“It was a great relief for me to know that Linda and Bonnie were there every day looking after Tally,” Fossum said. “She knew them and they knew her. It was not as if some strangers were always coming and going in the apartment. That would only have upset her.”
Fossum, Porte and Kusserow had been part of an informal network of cat owners at Becketwood who looked after each other’s pets when they were away. The neighbors at the “55 plus” senior co-op bonded over their common connections to their feline friends and formed their own friendship circle within the broader Becketwood community.
The network has evolved into a more formally structured Cat Consortium with two teams, one for each wing of the building. Cat owners email their team members when they need a neighbor to care for their pet.
“It is all very well organized,” Porte explained. “We even have a form that people fill out indicating their kitty’s food preferences, their medication needs, and the contact information for their vets.”

Comfort Singers
While their small feline friends brought members of the Cat Consortium together, other neighbors at Becketwood have bonded over their love of singing. They are known as the Becketwood Comfort Singers. They bring their music to people at Becketwood or in a care facility who may be house-bound or seriously ill or facing end-of-life issues. Their leader, Ruth Gaylord, patterned the Comfort Singers after a similar group she had formed at the Basilica of St. Mary.
Gaylord, a former high school choral director, lives with ovarian cancer. She said that she has thought about being surrounded by beautiful choral music when she is dying. “I would like a small ensemble to sing beautiful music to me as I approach the end of this life. So I looked for men and women from Becketwood who had experience as choral singers who would want to be part of a small ensemble to offer that gift to others.”
She added, “We offer our singing to those who request it, and then only when we have checked with them or their families in advance to find out what kind of music they would like to hear. Some people don’t want to be sung to when they’re going through a difficult time. We understand that.”

Member activities

Enjoying an excursion to Urban Growler are, left to right, (starting in the front) Carol Bechtel, Mickey Monsen, Gerhard Johnson, Loren Flicker, David Liddle, Lorene Liddle, and Howard Bergstrom. (Photo by Terry Faust)

The Comfort Singers may be a select group with limited membership, but that is not the case with more than a dozen special interest clusters at Becketwood known as the Member Activities Committees. The individual committees are coordinated by an umbrella organization, the Members Activities Council (MAC).
“They may be called committees, but they are activities for people who may not like to go to committee meetings,” says Bob Kirk, a former MAC chair. ‘We have a craft committee for people who like to paint, knit or quilt, a workshop group for people who like to do woodwork and a pantry committee for folks who want to help run our little convenience store. If you are having fun at Becketwood, you are probably involved in a MAC committee.”
Kirk, himself, has had fun organizing a series of pub crawls sponsored by Becketwood’s Excursion Committee. “When all the brew pubs started opening up, I thought people here might want to see what they were all about. They all liked that first excursion so we started doing more of them,” Kirk said.
“Now, when we do a pub crawl, some of us come for the beer, but others come for the camaraderie even if they are not beer drinkers. If you are sitting next to someone who has just moved into Becketwood, it is a good way for you to get to know the newcomer or the newcomer to get to know you.”
Newcomers also get to know their neighbors in Becketwood’s workshop which hosts a coffee gathering every weekday morning starting at 10 a.m. “Morning coffee used to be all men, but women have started showing up and they always welcome,“ said Joel Mortensen, who co-chairs the Workshop Committee with Todd Gulliver.
Ray Mikkelson, a coffee drinking regular, admits that he comes down to the workshop for some male bonding. Mikkelson remembers taking a tour of Becketwood while he and his wife, Helen, were still on the waiting list.
“I kept wondering where the men were; I didn’t see any on the tour,” said Mikkelson. “Then somebody told me that I should go to the workshop in the basement. When I got there and opened the door, I saw a group of men drinking coffee and having a good time. They took me in right away and I felt at home. This is where I want to live, I told myself, and it made our move to Becketwood much easier for me.”

Community building
Wayne Tellekson, another workshop regular, also serves as a tour guide for people who are thinking about moving to Becketwood. “When I talk to prospective members about our community I tell them about the experience that my wife, Sindy, and I had when we first arrived here. We had moved from Mendota Heights where we didn’t have much contact with the people who lived nearby. On the second day we were here, two of our new Becketwood neighbors came up to us,introduced themselves, told that they were having a picnic in the courtyard, and invited us to join them. I looked at Sindy and said, ‘We are home!’”
Tellekson added, “I tend to think that we have this strong community because the people who are looking for a sense of community are the people who come here. They are not just looking for a place to live. The Twin Cities have lots of options for seniors if that is all you are looking for. They have heard that Becketwood is a welcoming place. And so when they come here, they help to build on that sense of community.”
* Editor’s note: Writer Iric Nathanson is a member of the Becketwood Cooperative.

Comments Off on Informal networks promote community building at Becketwood

Tags: ,

Trail detour will last 2 years

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Beginning the week of Sept. 23, 2019, crews will be working in the Minnehaha Park area to prepare the site for construction and construction staging. Work will include:
• Tree protection and tree removal. MCES has worked closely with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) regarding tree removal and tree protection. MPRB has been compensated for tree removals and tree replanting is at their discretion.
• Security fencing
• Erosion control installation
• Preparing for the aboveground temporary wastewater conveyance system pipes and pumps.
Temporary conveyance pipes and pumps were installed starting in October. Residents, businesses and park-users can anticipate the following:
• A section of the Hiawatha Bicycle Trail between the Minnehaha Creek Trail and Minnehaha Parkway will be closed until fall 2021. Bicycle detour signage will be posted along the trail (see trail detour map above). Parking will not be permitted on E. Minnehaha Parkway during this time.
There will be approximately 2-3 day closures on Minnehaha Ave. just north of the traffic circle and on 50th St. near Hiawatha Ave. when crews bury temporary conveyance pipes beneath the roadway. Traffic warning signs will be posted prior to these closures with as much advance notice as possible.
The National Park Service will monitor water flows to Coldwater Spring Monday-Friday during construction even though no dewatering is expected. The National Park Service will regularly post the results of their monitoring on their website. More at https://metrocouncil.org/sewerconstruction/minnehaha.

Comments Off on Trail detour will last 2 years

Tags:

Neighborhood mail carrier retires after long, satisfying career

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Jay Morgen was inspired by grandfather, who could find all those big silver mailboxes ‘like magic’

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Jay Morgen hung up his mail bag at the Minnehaha Station for the last time on Friday, Aug. 31. After nearly 20 years with the US Postal Service, the veteran mail carrier retired.
During summers spent in South Dakota, Morgan remembered bouncing along dusty back roads in his grandfather’s old jeep. His grandfather was a rural mail carrier, and he liked to bring his grandkids along when he could.
Morgen said, “It seemed like magic that he could find all those big silver mailboxes, and he knew every farmer by name. The memory of those times played into my decision to become a mail carrier years later, but it wasn’t my first career.”
He had to suffer through 18 years at a West Lake Street car dealership first, doing financing and sales in a stuffy, crowded office. In Morgen’s unedited words, “I hated it!”
When he was still at the car dealership, Morgen contacted the US Postal Service. An avid golfer and long distance runner (with several sub-three hours marathons to his credit), he thought a walking mail route would be a good fit for him. He longed for a job that required mental concentration, provided a lot of outdoor exercise, and gave him time alone to think.
Morgen took the US Postal Service battery exam, so named because it contains a battery of different tests used to determine if a candidate is best suited to be a letter carrier, a mail handler, or a clerk. The test was given to thousands of applicants in an auditorium at the U of M.
He was sent to Carrier Academy, assigned a blue uniform, and began working as a trainee in April of 2000.
Since then, the world of mail delivery has changed completely.
Morgen said, “When I first started, on a Monday there would be a dozen or more tubs of mail to deliver for each route. Now three tubs of mail are considered a lot. The volume of mail is about 15% of what it used to be, but the volume of packages has increased at least 10-fold.”

People made route wonderful
Assigned to the Minnehaha Station for the last 16 years, Morgen averaged 12+ miles of walking per day – more when he worked overtime.
He said, “The people on my route made the job wonderful. I’ve written well over 100 thank you notes in the last few weeks. I never could have been a mail carrier in the suburbs, where you drive from mailbox to mailbox and never get to talk to anyone.”
While he will miss his customers, there are a few things Morgen will not miss.
He said, “The last couple of winters have been really hard because of all the ice events. In the course of my career, I’ve fallen dozens of times. As a carrier, you learn to pull your arms in when you fall – to aim for the snow when you’re going down. Of all the surfaces, painted wooden steps are the worst.”
And in every season, of course, there are dogs. Morgen said, “I had 34 incidents where I was bitten, some nips and some multiple bites. I think I’ll always be a little leery of dogs, but I also understand why mail carriers frustrate them. Every day we come onto their property; they bark, and we leave. But then we come back the next day, and the whole thing happens all over again. Who wouldn’t be frustrated by that?”

What’s next: tiny home and golf
For his next chapter of life, Morgen is setting out on an adventure.
He purchased a tiny home from Escape Traveler in Rice Lake, Wis., and is moving to Austin, Texas.
He said, “I don’t know the city at all, but their weather is good. I’m going to treat myself to a lot of golf for the next few years. My first order of business will be to meet a bunch of people, because you need people.”

Things he’s learned as a mail carrier
Morgen’s 20 years of pounding the ground as a mail career have taught him all kinds of valuable things: to dress in layers, to be kind, to bring extra socks and gloves, to carry a first-aid kit complete wet wipes, to write thank you notes, to stick to a schedule, and to know his route backwards and forwards.

Comments Off on Neighborhood mail carrier retires after long, satisfying career

Tags:

Rename Historic Fort Snelling?

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Minnesota Historical Society convenes listening sessions across the state

The Minnesota Historical Society held its fifth public listening session about the possible renaming of Historic Fort Snelling earlier this month. Audience members responded to questions like, “What should the MNHS consider in a name for this site?” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Does the name Historic Fort Snelling accurately reflect the multiple histories of this place?
That was the question asked by the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) when it convened the fifth in a series of six listening sessions across the state on Monday, Oct. 15.
The public meeting was held at Northern Star Scouting Base Camp, 6201 Bloomington Rd. and the purpose of the listening session was to hear public comment about the possible renaming of Historic Fort Snelling.
MNHS deputy director of learning initiatives Kevin Maijala, said, “We want to be clear that the fort itself will not be renamed. However, the fort is just one piece of the 23-acre parcel owned by the historical society.”
The larger Unorganized Territory of Fort Snelling is owned by several different entities including the Minnesota DNR, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, the Veteran’s Administration, Minnesota Department of Transportation, the U.S. Navy, and the Boy Scouts of America.
Fort Snelling sits directly above the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. Archaeological evidence demonstrates that the area has been inhabited by humans for more than 10,000 years.
The reason for considering a new name is that this confluence of rivers is also a confluence of stories, and many believe only one story is being told by the current name.
MNHS is in the process of a major revitalization project at the site, with a $34.5 million budget (a combination of state of Minnesota appropriations and private donations.) Included in the revitalization is the creation of a new visitor center with 4,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Maijala said, “We’ve been trying to tell a more expanded story at this site since 2006. Many voices make up our history here, and it is our job at the Historical Society to make sure those diverse stories are heard.”

Another Minneapolis resident spoke about why the site is important to him, and why, in his opinion, the name should not be changed. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Historic Fort Snelling has been the site of many divergent experiences: some well-known and some not. Soldiers, veterans and their families, enslaved and free African Americans, Japanese Americans, and Native Americans have all lived (and sometimes died) at the fort.
Audience members at the listening session spoke across a broad spectrum of opinion.
Pam Costain, a former Minneapolis School Board member, said, “I walk in Fort Snelling State Park regularly. The confluence of these rivers means a lot to me, both historically and spiritually. This is the place where many Dakota women and children died in the winter of 1862-63. We weren’t told this story in Minnesota for a long time, and now is the time to start. I’m in favor of choosing a name that reflects this story, and also reflects the beauty of the confluence (Bdote in Dakota) because names matter.”
Dr. Curtis Dahlin is a historian with a deep interest in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. He said, “I see Fort Snelling as a military site; that’s what is important to me. I think the MNHS wants to turn it into a Dakota site, and I don’t want to see that happen.”

Participants attending the listening session viewed information panels about Historic Fort Snelling, including its 2006 designation as a “Site of Conscience.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

To ensure a positive listening process, a neutral facilitator set ground rules for respectful communication including refraining from interruption and argument, taking turns, and asking questions for clarity and better understanding.
So far, MNHS has received more than 5,000 responses on a web-based survey about the proposed name change for Historic Fort Snelling. Go to www.mnhs.or/fortsnelling/naming to complete a survey before Nov. 15.

Comments Off on Rename Historic Fort Snelling?

Tags: ,

Longfellow filmmaker tells redemptive stories of covering up racist tattoos

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By JAN WILLMS

Billy White helps a customer cover up a tattoo. (Photo submitted)

When the white supremacist rally took place in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, and a woman was killed, many people were upset. It was a frightening reminder of how hateful symbols and actions were surfacing within this country.
Billy Joe White, owner of the Red Rose Tattoo shop in Zanesville, Ohio, watched the news coverage along with everyone else. But he decided to do something.
He offered his services pro bono to anyone who might want to come in and get a racist tattoo covered up.
His story has now been documented in an Emmy-nominated short film, “Beneath the Ink,” shot and directed by Cy Dodson, a filmmaker who lives in the Longfellow neighborhood.

Redemptive stories
Although the tattoo parlor was in Dodson’s home town in Ohio, he did not know anything about it. “I just saw an article going around on social media about Billy and how he was covering up tattoos. A fellow had driven three and a half hours from Cleveland to get a large head of Hitler on his calf covered up. I found it interesting and redemptive. People had opened up about their past lives.”
So while he was back in his hometown working on another project, Dodson connected with White and talked a bit. He said he had a couple people coming in that weekend. One of them was John, who had a KKK tattoo on his back. He had adopted an African American kid and wanted to cover up the tattoo.
Dodson spent the weekend in the tattoo shop and the next day talked with John at his house. John was willing to cooperate and talk about his past, what led him to get the tattoo, and what had changed in his life.
“I went back to Minnesota, edited the film and realized I needed a few more shots. So a couple months later I returned to Ohio and shot a few more things,” Dodson said.
“It all happened at once,” Dodson said, regarding the strong response to “Beneath the Ink.” It premiered in Cleveland, and then it showed here at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF). It just started going around the country, and it’s done pretty well.
The film has won a dozen awards on the film festival circuit. “The festival route has been successful,” Dodson said. He did not submit it for an Emmy nomination, but the film went online and GQ picked it up for its website. “They thought it was a good fit for the Emmys, and wanted me to release it to them,” Dodson said. “They knew it had the opportunity to be at least nominated.” The film has also qualified for the Academy Awards.

Filmmaker Cy Dodson says “Beneath the Ink” has set a new bar for his filmmaking. (Photo submitted)

Learning how to tell a perfect story
Dodson began his career in Ohio after graduating from college in 1996.
”I took a job working in news in my hometown,” he recalled. “I jumped around for a while and ended up at KSTP in the Twin Cities. I have been freelancing since 2006.”
Dodson said he does a lot of work for corporate and nonprofit organizations, but he likes finding human interest stories in his films. He said he thinks this latest documentary about white supremacy and its rise is about a broad range of people and a current issue.
Dodson has made three documentaries in the past four years, but he said none have resonated like “Beneath the Ink.”
“My other films took a lot longer than this one, weeks and weeks of shooting for a result about the same time,” Dodson said. “For ‘Beneath the Ink,’ I didn’t shoot as much footage and the editing was not as time-consuming. With this film, I wanted to be focused on the story and not try to do a lot of other things and waste my time and everyone else’s.”
His background in working for news stations helped develop his filmmaking process, according to Dodson. “It kind of forces you to do it all in a short amount of time,” he explained. “You do it quickly and efficiently and in a short amount of time. You know how to tell a story, and you keep doing that over and over. You learn how to tell a perfect story.”
His experience led him to want to tell longer stories rather than the two-minute news items. This led him to his documentary work.

Norwegian project next
His next project has already taken him to Norway. He is documenting the story of the Letnes family from northern Norway. Stephen Letnes, a member of the family and a composer for “Beneath the Ink,” joined Dodson on his trip to Norway.
Dotson said that typically, the oldest son in Norwegian families inherits the family farm, and the second son survives on his own. Three of the Letnes sons moved to the Fargo-Moorhead area and started potato farms. The film will be about a family lineage story and Norwegian immigration to northern Minnesota.

A new bar for himself
“Beneath the Ink” has set a bar for his filmmaking, according to Dodson. “When you have something successful, how do you build on that?” He said he shot and edited the film himself, then brought on producers. He said he met his co-producers at a film festival. He brought on Melody Gilbert, a local film producer, to help with international distribution.
“You just build as you go,” Dodson said. He claimed the learning process of making films is what he likes best. But he admitted that the success of this film has brought on a new series of challenges.
“You meet with lawyers, you’re on the phones, you’re in meetings, there’s distribution. I’ve never sold a film before, and it’s trial by fire.”
Dodson, who considers himself an introvert, said he thinks shooting “Beneath the Ink” in his home town was helpful.
“The people opened up to me, and it was a different pace. There were never any questions asked, and everybody trusted each other,” he remarked.
But he said taking his film to festivals across the country has helped him be more assertive and feel more comfortable interviewing people. “It forces you to give your spiel and talk with people,” he stated.
When he attended the Emmy celebration in New York, he connected with people in the industry. He said that while LA is considered the mecca for narrative fiction, New York is the stronghold for documentaries.
He said he would like to extend “Beneath the Ink” from a short 12-minute documentary into a documentary feature.
“There are still a lot more people coming in from across the country wanting cover-ups. I am looking at teaming up with producers and doing a longer story,” Dodson said.
“I think I have aligned myself with good people to take this to the next level.”

Comments Off on Longfellow filmmaker tells redemptive stories of covering up racist tattoos

Nilles-Filler-Combo-Online-ad-10292015