Community response to a global situation

Posted on 24 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Coronavirus Pandemic

Neighbors got outside and built community near Brackett Park on Sunday, March 22, 2020 for the Corona-Cautious Classic biking extravaganza. Above, Hans, Ann, and Eve Thorkelson cheer on the participants. Below Ellen Sharratt participates. One child at a time, at 10 minute intervals, vied for Fastest Lap or Most Laps in 10 Minutes and competed for costume/spirit awards. Drinks, snacks, signs, bells, bullhorns were encouraged.

“We are continuing to bake bread because we believe in the power of such a basic food,” said Christopher MacLeod of Laune Bread, a microbakery and bread delivery service in South Minneapolis. “To our subscribers it carries a lot of meaning – it is a weekly ritual for many of them, but it is also nutrient dense and life sustaining.”
As restaurants closed to sit-down customers and with it their pick-up sites, MacLeod and his partner, Tiff Singh, asked themselves what they should do. Should they continue baking and delivering bread? Is it safe and smart?
“We are healthy, but that isn’t a guarantee, and it is scary. It gives us a lot of anxiety,” they admitted. “We have both been sitting in front of our computers hours on end every day corresponding with our subscribers and others who ask for bread, watching the news rapidly change, and trying to develop new logistical systems and also health and food safety procedures.”
They decided to discontinue pick-up locations and do delivery only. They dropped the $1 bike delivery fee, moved to car delivery, and narrowed their delivery area. They made some changes to reduce risk, including heavily cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and their hands during the bake, and wearing food safe gloves and face masks at all times after the bread comes out of the oven and during the delivery.
Their business is flexible because it is relatively small and operates without a storefront.
This week they added a second bake to keep up with demand and to offer people a chance to purchase bread at whatever price they could afford. “In 24 hours, 51 loaves of bread have been donated through our subscribers and the community at large,” observed MacLeod.
“We want to keep offering sustenance, but beyond our regular members – last week we donated 20 loaves (we donated 10 and our members paid for 10) through our members to people who needed them: school teachers, elderly neighbors, hair stylists, and families. It’s a language of humanity – the meaning of our bread spreads beyond the bakery to those who buy it, to those who are gifted it.”
Of those donated loaves, five went to a subscriber who shared them with others.
“Your bread fed: me, my partner teacher who is caring for her mother as she recovers from having her gallbladder removed, a friend of our gym teacher who was in need, the teacher I did student teaching with who just had to adopt the younger (half) sibling of one of her kids, and a teacher who is in treatment for breast cancer,” wrote the woman. “Thank you, from all of us.”
MacLeod and Singh recognize the situation is precarious and at some point they may discontinue baking bread, but right now they’re focusing on supporting their community and are being supported in return.
“We are a small business, but the ingredients we bake with make a big difference to many people,” they said.

Annual fish fry attendance drops, church works to
encourage parish family
Each year, hundreds of people line up at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in Longfellow for the Friday night Fish Fry during Lent.
But not this year.
As Governor Walz declared a peacetime emergency on Friday, March 13, church volunteers debated whether to continue with that night’s fish fry. “We did go ahead and do the dinner on March 13 because it’s a little like stopping a locomotive on a dime to try to cancel at the last minute,” observed Erin Sim, the church office and communications manager.
“Gallons of coleslaw were ready, and many pounds of fish thawed. We served about 425 people that night, as opposed to the 1,100-1,350 we might have done on a regular third night. But even Archbishop Hebda came, as he hates to miss our Fish Dinners (which one of the local radio stations called ‘The Vegas of Fish Fries!’).”
The loss of revenue will have a huge impact on the church’s budget, as it is one of two major fundraisers held each year, according to Sim. “We miss the ‘fun raising’ as well, because we have such a good time showing our guests a warm welcome and feeding them well.”
The church is considering doing some variation of the dinners when it is safe to do so, perhaps tying fish ‘n’ chips in with its annual Bingo-Rama nights in July.
“Meanwhile, as with all the faith communities, we have cancelled our masses (daily and weekend) and all other gatherings until it’s safe to offer them again. We are live-streaming our Sunday morning 9:30 a.m. mass using Facebook Live on our St. Albert the Great Facebook page and then archiving the result on our website:, under the Worship with Us tab.
“Our small staff will take turns spending a day in the office, Tuesday through Friday, but otherwise will work from home to keep publishing the Bulletin and trying to keep our parish family informed, encouraged and together in these days when we can’t interact in person.”

Kennedy Transmission offers home pick-up and drop-off
Kennedy Transmission CVT & Auto at 3423 E. Lake St. typically has appointments scheduled one to two weeks out as they are one of only a handful of shops in the U.S. that specialize in repair of CVT (Constant Variable Transmission) and Hybrid Drive systems. Their appointment calendar has dropped off dramatically the week beginning on Monday, March 23.
“I know a number of repair shops that have closed or are expecting to close very soon and this makes me very nervous. I have a small staff of very talented people who very much want to keep working as normal,” said owner Matt Johnson. “At this point we are classified an ‘essential’ sector of the economy to facilitate transportation and as such plan on staying healthy and working through the duration if at all possible.”
He has walled off the customer area from the front desk area with plexiglass, and employees are using the shop service door instead of the customer entrance. They are disinfecting door handles, countertops and hard surfaces throughout the day and doing a thorough bleaching at night. They are wiping down customer’s steering wheels and gear shifters after completing work.
“Although some of these measures slow our workflow a bit, I think we need to do everything practical to mitigate the risk of virus spread,” remarked Johnson.
“I have always said that we have the best customers and this has really been evident the past week,” said Johnson. ”I have received a lot of calls and visits just to check in on us and make sure things are going well. Our hope is that people are able to work and stay safe at the same time; and we can continue to maintain their vehicles. I think it is generally imperative that anyone showing possible symptoms of COVID-19 quarantine themselves to limit potential spread.”
To help those with underlying health issues as well as those who simply want to limit their time in public spaces, Kennedy Transmission has begun picking up customer vehicles and dropping them back off.
“We have also decided we would do whatever we can to provide basic help to our customers at no charge,” said Johnson. “In particular, if someone in the neighborhood needs a tire aired up or a jump-start, I will try and be there in a timely manner and get them back on the road. Although it may be a little thing, I think if everyone helps a little here or there, we will weather this better together.”
He is also making a few supply runs for neighborhood residents who need something from Target or Walgreens, fitting them in between his work responsibilities.
“If Italy, Spain, etc. have any parallel to the U.S. then things will get a lot worse before they get better,” observed Johnson. “Minneapolis is a wonderful community and I think basic best hygiene, social distancing and common sense practices as well as supporting our neighbors will be the key to weathering this crisis.”

Business organizations,
neighbors support each other
Businesses in the neighborhood are facing the challenge of adjusting to the new information and restrictions that are coming out daily, observed Kim Jakus of the Longfellow Business Association. Those without direct contact with the public are taking precautions for their employees and workplaces. Restaurants and retail locations are being hit harder, reducing hours, laying off workers, transitioning to online orders, implementing pick-up or delivery options, and offering gift cards for later redemption. They’re trying to figure out how to manage expenses, pinpoint which can be delayed and which still need to be paid.
“I see a lot of generosity from the community on Next Door encouraging neighbors to still support local businesses,” Jakus said.
Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson has taken the lead on creating a Google spreadsheet listing all local businesses and whether they are still open or not. Find the link on his Facebook page.
The LBA, Lake Street Council and Redesign are partnering together to provide small businesses with information on resources available to them. They list items on their web sites and share them through regular email updates. Highlights include Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available for small businesses and monthly sales taxes have been deferred a month.
“We’re connecting on how we can work together to support businesses in our geographic scope. Probably a lot of that will come on the tail end of this crisis and figuring out what recovery looks like,” observed Jakus.

Trying to manage life
in a pandemic
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Longfellow resident Don Hammen became selective about when he left his house. On March 15, he took a tape measure to church to ensure there was over six feet between him and others.
He decided to skip the Neighborhoods 2020 meeting the next day, although it pained him. But he was still planning to pull together Elder Voices (Telling Our Stories) at Turtle Bread as usual the fourth Friday of the month.
He stocked up on frozen foods and canned goods, and continued to use Meals on Wheels. As the week went on, he discovered that buying groceries through Cub Home Delivery was becoming harder. He could no longer place a delivery in the morning and get it later that day; instead, a Thursday order wouldn’t come until Sunday.
Being dependent on mass transit, Hammen was confident he could continue to use it to get around. Things changed later in the week when Mass Transit announced new guidelines on how many people could be on a bus and restricting non-essential travel. “I can live with this but if they ever did a complete shut down I would have a real problem,” said Hammen.
Complicating things is that his refrigerator appears to be dying.
He’s wondering how “we are in this together” is actually playing out at the neighborhood level. Will social distancing mean social isolation?
“The fact of the matter is I’m still trying to figure out how to manage my life in this COVID-19 situation,” Hammen said.

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Adopt-a-Drain: simple way to make a big difference and protect state waterways

Posted on 24 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Sweep up, rake up, pick up!

(L>R) City Council Member Andrew Johnson with drain adopters Mandy LaBreche and Jillian Kaster are joined by Minneapolis Public Works Engineer Bryan Dodds at the 10,000th drain adopted by Mandy.

Everyone knows that trash is no good for lakes, rivers, and streams. But do you know that natural debris such as leaves, grass clippings, and pet waste also pollute the waterways? When these natural pollutants are swept into the storm water system, they end up in the nearest body of water. Eventually the organic matter will break down, release phosphorous, and stimulate the growth of algae.
The Minneapolis Adopt-a-Drain Program was created in 2016 to help address this problem. Minneapolis joined a metro-wide program when it was launched last year.
The concept is simple, and it’s working. Residents learn about Adopt-a-Drain and volunteer on the program website ( Adopt-a-Drain asks residents to adopt a storm drain in their neighborhood, and keep it clear of leaves, trash, and other debris to reduce water pollution. Volunteers commit to keeping a storm drain unimpeded. Storm drains flow directly into local lakes, rivers, and wetlands, acting as a conduit for trash and organic pollutants.

Minneapolis leads cities
Program Manager Lane Christianson said, “2019 was a year of exceptional growth for the Adopt-a-Drain Program. We’re thrilled to report that Minneapolis is leading all cities in total participants and adopted storm drains. We had 1,561 storm drains adopted with 825 new participants last year. Most participants take care of multiple drains; some do entire intersections. We ask volunteers to sweep/rake/shovel leaves, trash and other debris off the drain surface year round.”
Volunteers can report as often as they like – but are asked to report their observations at least twice yearly, in the spring and fall via an online account. For those who don’t have access to the online system, a reporting postcard is mailed out annually.
Christianson recommends the following tools for making the job easier: broom, rake, gloves, snow shovel or dustpan, pail, and compostable yard waste bag.

(L>R) Mandy LaBreche and Jillian Kaster; drain adopters with the 10; 000th adopted drain.

He said, “Only the surface of the storm drain grate and the area around it should be cleaned. Do not remove the grate or otherwise attempt to clean inside the storm drain. If your drain is plugged, contact the city of Minneapolis at 311.”
As part of the job, waste is separated and placed in the appropriate trash, recycling, or compost carts at the volunteer’s home. Note that sediment or dirt collected in the spring is not compostable, as it likely contains chemical residue from deicers used over the winter and motor oil. Bag it, and put it in the trash.
Once these pollutants get into the storm water system and start to decay, organic matter releases nutrients (phosphorous is the biggest culprit) that feed algae and invasive plants.
When lakes get covered with algae, sunlight can’t reach the bottom and desirable plants start to die off. In the long term, the ecosystem changes so fewer aquatic animals, fish, and native plants can survive.

Make a big difference
Christianson said, “It doesn’t take a lot of time to clean a storm drain, and it makes a big difference collectively. Volunteers like Mandy LaBreche, who recently adopted the 10,000th drain through our program, are eager to do something that makes a positive difference in improving local water quality.”
Minneapolis participants receive a yard sign that helps spread the word about this volunteer program. For more information or to adopt-a-drain of your own, go to

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Area C not deemed emergency

Posted on 24 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Area C (background), as photographed from the opposite bank of the Mississippi River, is just south of the Ford Bridge. The Ford Motor Company dumped unknown quantities of industrial waste, including solvents and paint sludge, on the floodplain of the Mississippi River below the bluff near its St. Paul assembly plant between 1945-1966. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

But community members concerned

Over 150 people turned out to hear the latest findings about Area C from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in a packed meeting room at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church on Feb. 20, 2020.
The topic of discussion, called Area C, is a dump site where the Ford Motor Company dumped unknown quantities of industrial waste, including solvents and paint sludge, on the floodplain of the Mississippi River below the bluff near its St. Paul assembly plant between 1945-1966.
MPCA hydrogeologist Amy Hadiaris has been monitoring ground and surface water in Area C since 2007. She presented the most recent data and summarized the position of MPCA by saying, “Clean-up is needed, but we do not see this as an emergency situation.”
Community members expressed a deep level of concern about the dump site during the meeting, submitting a half-inch-thick stack of index cards with questions for MPCA staff to address.
Friends of the Mississippi River Executive Director Whitney Clark asked the last question of the evening. He asked, “Is it right for the Ford Corporation to leave their waste for future generations to clean up?”
Someone then called for a show of hands for how many people would have Ford remove it all if they could – and nearly everyone in the room raised theirs, including MPCA staff.
In this investigative stage, nine groundwater monitoring wells will be added to the existing 10. Friends of the Mississippi River and the Capitol Region Watershed District requested and support this increase in monitoring activities.
Hadiaris explained, “MPCA has a set process for evaluating the safety of ground water. We are testing for 65 volatile organic compounds, and 80 semi-volatile organic compounds. One of the big concerns is lead, which was added to all paints of that era.”
At the request of MPCA, the Minnesota Department of Health reviewed site data to assess health risks related to Area C. It was determined that only minimal threat exists if trespassers contact contaminants in soil or other physical hazards. There are no other ways for people to come in contact with contaminants, unless they trespass on the site.
To further discourage trespassing, MDH recommends repairing broken fence segments and adding signage between the Hidden Falls Regional Park walking trail and the southern boundary of Area C.

Waiting for two+ floods
Hadiaris said, “This is a contemplative process. We will wait for at least two flood events before making a clean-up decision and presenting it to the Ford Corporation.”
There will be another community information meeting once MPCA completes its feasibility study. To be placed on the email update list for Area C, contact Sophie Downey at

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CenterPoint completing work in Longfellow

Posted on 24 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

CenterPoint Energy is completing work this spring in the Longfellow neighborhood as part of the utility’s pipeline modernization program.
The work on natural gas lines is occurring along selected streets between Dorman Ave. and Lake St. and between 36th and 48th avenues.
Last year crews from Michels Corporation, CenterPoint Energy’s authorized contractor, began the replacement of selected natural gas mains in Longfellow. In March crews returned to finish the remaining gas main installations, connect gas service lines to the new mains and move any inside residential gas meters to the outside of homes.
This work is expected to be finished by early summer. Depending on the coronavirus situation, indoor work to move meters may be delayed. The CenterPoint Energy pipeline work is being coordinated with the city of Minneapolis street resurfacing program.
Customers will experience a short disruption of gas service while their new gas service lines are installed. Crews may also have to dig on customer property in the utility easement to complete this work. Q3 Contracting, CenterPoint Energy’s authorized contractor, will permanently restore the areas affected by this work.
There will not be any major street closures, as crews will work on only one side of the street at a time. However, some lane and parking restrictions can be expected in areas where active construction is occurring to keep both the public and construction personnel safe. Local access will be maintained.
For more information or to sign up for updates, visit CenterPoint Energy’s Construction Zone website at
Questions can also be directed to CenterPoint Energy at the following contacts. Please refer to the Minneapolis – Dorman Avenue Area project or the number 90934619:
• Information Hotline at
• Restoration Questions at

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Original wood windows worthy of restoration

Posted on 08 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Why not work with what you already have?


Joe Hayes was working as an elementary school teacher in 2009, when he bought his first home. A classic South Minneapolis bungalow, the house had one major problem – its windows.
There were no storms on the outside, and all of the original glazing was gone. Metal pins held the window glass panes in place. The previous owner had cut and removed all the sash cords, and filled the side cavities with insulation. None of the windows could be opened.
The restoration project Hayes had to embark on eventually led to a career change. In the course of making many, many repairs, he realized he had a passion for it. Hayes found satisfaction in producing quality craftsmanship, and in working with his hands.
In the last three years, he has built Hayes Window Restoration into a full-service business providing repair and restoration of pre-1940 double-hung wood windows. Hayes said, “We have a clearly defined niche, and we do a good job of staying in it.”

Don’t discard and replace
In a building industry where “Discard and Replace” has become the moniker, Hayes offers homeowners a better option. Why not work with what you already have? His seven-person team brings knowledge, professionalism, and an ability to troubleshoot the nuances of older homes to every window restoration project.
Many of the older homes which dominate South Minneapolis are architectural treasures, whether they are large or small. Hayes explained, “The materials used to construct these homes were high quality, and the craftsmanship was excellent. Traditional joinery methods were brought over from Europe, and these homes, including their windows, were built to last.”
He pointed out, “The people who find us understand this. They have a sense that their old windows are meant to be there. A lot of our clients see themselves as stewards of their homes. With window repair and restoration, we’re not only doing what’s right for the house – we’re also doing what’s right for the environment.”

Old-growth white pine windows irreplaceable
Many of the nearly century-old homes in Longfellow and East Nokomis have windows made from old growth wood. Hayes said, “The old growth white pine from Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin can never be replaced. Those forests are gone.”
What’s the difference between old growth and new growth wood? Old growth wood had time on its side. Because of its age, it developed tight growth rings, dense heartwood, and is high in pitch – which makes it naturally insect and rot resistant.
The new growth wood used in replacement windows has none of those attributes, because it isn’t given time to develop them.

Original windows can be effcient too
Why are people so quick to replace their original windows? Hayes chalked it up to marketing. He said, “We live at the epi-center of three huge window manufacturers. It’s in their best interest to sell new windows, but how long will the replacements last? Look at the life of your manufacturer’s warranty; you can expect maybe 20 years before you need to replace them again.”
Window replacement companies tout energy efficiency and cost savings, but it’s worth reading between the lines. The general thinking is that it takes decades to get a return on investment. With proper care and maintenance (including weather stripping and quality storms) original windows can rival the energy efficiency of replacement windows at significantly lower cost – while keeping original windows out of the landfill or incinerator.
When considering replacement versus restoration, remember to factor in resource extraction and the energy needed to make new windows, too. The carbon foot print is not small.

Window preservation workshops
Hayes Window Restoration is licensed, insured, lead safe certified, and operates all year long. The turn-around time for full window restoration is about six weeks. They will secure your window openings for warmth and comfort while your windows are being worked on in their shop. Sash cord replacement, weather stripping installation, and other mechanical problems are done on-site, as is spot glazing in the warm months.
Hayes said, “We restore and repair windows in every kind of home from a one-bedroom Longfellow bungalow to a Cass Gilbert mansion on Summit Ave. We offer a range of services that make our services do-able for most homeowners.”
Through a partnership with Rethos (formerly the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota), Hayes has been active in teaching others how to maintain and preserve their own windows. In the past six months, he offered three workshops that covered everything from glazing to sash cord repair.
Hayes Window Restoration is also a proud new business member of ReUSE Minnesota, a non-profit organization focused on bringing visibility to the reuse, rental, and repair sector.
In the interest of promoting restoration, Hayes said, “Do it yourself if you can, and if you can’t – call us.” Their company website ( has a bounty of DIY tips, reports from the field, and other interesting and helpful tidbits in the section called Old Window Almanac.
“I have yet to meet an old window that I couldn’t restore,” said Hayes. “I’ve seen hopeless parts, but not hopeless windows.” To arrange for a free consultation, call 612.259.7855 or email

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Dine outside this winter

Posted on 08 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Patrons clink glasses in a toast. (Left to right) Bill and Lyn Hamlin; Dave Hoppenrath and Anna Sower; and Jan and Scott Lysen-Anton. (Photos by Terry Faust)

Garden Igloos proving to be popular addition on patio

Minnesota is known for many opportunities, but dining outside in the middle of winter isn’t one of them.
However, that may change if other restaurants follow the trend set by the Longfellow Grill (2990 West River Parkway). Just before New Year’s, the drinking and dining establishment set up two geodesic domes on its patio. The domes or “Garden Igloos” are heated structures, designed to seat eight customers who can enjoy cocktails and dinner outside on a sparkling winter evening.
“We don’t have them active all the time because of the propane usage,” said manager Andy Blankenship. “We basically set them up for the bookings.” That can vary from one to seven bookings per night.
The domes are reserved by the hour. Patrons must guarantee to spend $100 per hour minimum Sunday through Thursday or $150 minimum Friday and Saturday.
“That’s not on top – you just have to spend that much money on food and beverages,” Blankenship said. Although the domes are designed to hold eight people, he said that 12 can fit, with extra chairs brought in.

The Longfellow Grill is leading Minnesota in a new trend: garden igloos that make patio dining a year-round thing.

“The domes can stay warm when it’s 5 below outside,” Blankenship noted. “We had guests when there was a negative wind chill of 15, and there was no problem.”
He said the restaurant staff did some trouble-shooting the first week they had the domes open. “We’ve gone to buy propane gas heaters to keep the gas flowing nicely. We learned we have to open them up and air them out a little bit, because when condensation freezes, and you start to heat you get a rain forest effect in there. We don’t want anyone dripped on,” Blankenship said. “But we’ve worked out a lot of kinks this year, and overall they have been very successful for us.”

Booked for after-dinner cocktails
An added benefit, according to Blankenship, is late-night bookings. “We have never booked a lot of late-night reservations at the Longfellow Grill, although we are open until 11 p.m. But we have had people booking the domes at 9 or 9:30 p.m. for after-dinner cocktails. We did not expect that, and we’re happy it brought some people in at times that we had not been busy before.”
Blankenship said the idea for setting up the domes came from David, the restaurant owner, who was out in Washington, D.C., last year and saw a number of domes set up outside the Watergate Hotel, lined up along the Potomac River. So they tried them at the Longfellow Grill.
“We were going to have them go up right after we took down the patio, but we had to build bases for them and get them off the ground and didn’t get them going until January,” he said. “But the plan is next year, the minute the patio furniture is removed, the domes will go up. We can have them in that more moderate November, when it’s chillier but we are not dealing with negative temperatures and snow.”
He said this year the hope is to keep the domes up until at least mid-March, depending on the weather.

Pick your own music, lights
Lighting for the domes is part of the make-it-your-own experience that customers can enjoy, according to Blankenship. “We have LED lights that you can download an app to. You can have stagnant lights or blinking lights or a rain effect. If the lights are all red, that’s a signal for your server.”
Although the wait staff provides the restaurant’s standard of service, they also don’t want to be zipping the dome open because they want patrons to enjoy a private experience.
“We also have Blue Tooth in there so customers can have their own music. When you book a private room in a restaurant, you don’t get that all the time,” Blankenship said. A selection of games is also available, and “newfangled” Polaroid cameras for photo opportunities.
Blankenship said he has not seen any other domes on Lake Street or in downtown Minneapolis. But Hudson, Wis., has some along the river.
“They are untapped real estate for us in the winter,” he added. “There was some suspicion by guests, wondering if you could really eat out there. But now that the ball’s rolling, and there are social media posts, it’s snowballed and is steamrolling. We have been booking a lot.”

General Manager, Andy Blankenship, Longfellow Grill

Kids love the domes
The biggest challenge in using the domes is maintaining the temperatures. “We had some really cold nights, and if it wasn’t for one of my assistant managers recommending these propane heat blankets, I wouldn’t have known they existed,” Blankenship explained. He said staffing was another piece to work on, but he has had dedicated servers for every night of the week.”
He said he needs to thank the youngsters in the neighborhood who have noticed the domes on their way home from school and persuaded their parents to bring them for dinner. “We have had birthday parties and a couple proposals. It has definitely got a new car smell right now, but it will be interesting to see if it becomes a trend and if other restaurants put them up next year.”
Blankenship advised anyone with any questions about dining in the domes to call the restaurant for more information.
“We are making outdoor eating a thing here at Longfellow Grill,” said Blankenship.

A customer describes her dome dining experience: Jan Lysen joined her husband and two other couples for a recent visit to the Longfellow Grill to experience eating in one of the domes.

“Although we have gone to the Longfellow Grill, this was our first time in the dome,” she noted. “It was in the high 30s on the Sunday we went, and it was a nice experience.”

She said the staff slipped in and out of the dome quickly, never letting in a big blast of Arctic air.

“We went around 6 p.m., and the lights were on, and we did not change them. There also was music on, and we did not change that. You can control the music, but we just had a nice time talking to each other and paid little attention to the details.”

She said a little blanket was also provided if they needed it, and their server popped in and out a few times, nothing intrusive.

“We could hear each other talk, which isn’t always the case in a noisy restaurant,” Lysen added. She suggested other visitors might like to try the options for lights and music at the beginning of their dinner hour.

The friends who gathered were of Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish nationalities. “It was like a Hygge for our environment. It was a nice and cozy and friendly experience.”



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Longfellow Business Association March 2020

Posted on 08 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Longfellow Businesses:
LBA wants to hear from you
This March the LBA is hosting four focus groups to learn how to support our business community in the Greater Longfellow Area better. If your business falls into one of the following categories, consider joining us. We’re interested in hearing from business owners about the tools, resources, connections we can offer to help your business thrive. We will provide lunch, and all participants will receive a $20 gift card to a local Longfellow business. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Kim at or 612-298-4699.
Industrial Businesses: Wednesday, March 11, 10:30 a.m. – 12 noon, Du Nord Craft Spirits. Has your business been affected by the demographic and infrastructure changes along the Hiawatha corridor? How is your business adapting, and what can LBA do to support you?
Arts & Entertainment Businesses: Wednesday, March 11, 12:30 – 2 p.m., Du Nord Craft Spirits. The Longfellow neighborhood now hosts numerous venues for dance, literary events, live music, craft beer, and spirits. How can LBA build on this momentum and create a vision for Longfellow as an arts & entertainment destination?
Minority & Immigrant-owned Businesses: Wednesday, March 25, 10:30 a.m. – noon, El Norteño. What are the challenges to operating a business in Minneapolis, and more specifically, in Longfellow? How can LBA better support and market your business or service to community members?
Emerging Business Owners: Wednesday, March 25, 12:30 -2 p.m., El Norteño. Are you a first-time business owner in your 30 or 40s? If so, LBA interested in learning about the challenges facing business owners in the age of social media. How can being part of a business association help you to thrive?

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In Our Community March 2020

Posted on 08 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Classes and groups for seniors offered
Longfellow/Seward Healthy Seniors holds several classes for seniors including Tai Chi exercise, art classes, technology assistance and diabetes support groups. Tai Chi classes are held on Tuesdays from 9:30-10:15 a.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran, 2730 E. 31st Street. Our next art class on painting with alcohol inks will be held on March 18 from 1-3 p.m., also at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. A technology “clinic” will be held on March 10 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Trinity Apartments. A diabetes support group meets on March 11 from 1-2:30 p.m. Contact Longfellow/Seward Healthy Seniors at 612 729-5799 for more information.

Gypsy moth in area
Join the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) at an open house on Thursday, Feb. 27, 6-8:30 p.m. at Keewaydin Recreation Center (3030 E 53rd St.) to find out more about gypsy moth and a proposed treatment for the area, which includes parts of the Wenonah and Keewaydin neighborhoods. Gypsy moth is an invasive insect that can attack many trees and shrubs. It has been found in neighborhoods south and east of Lake Nokomis.

Join Elder Voices
Elder Voices (Telling Our Stories) will meet the fourth Friday of February (2/28) and March (3/27) at Turtle Bread Company, 4205-34th St. 10-11:30 a.m. There will be time for people to tell or update their elder stories, the challenges and joys of elderhood. Conversation topics will include, Do neighborhood organizations and neighborhoods still matter to elders and to the city of Minneapolis?

Free Black Dirt-y talk
Join Free Black Dirt, conveners of the MayDay Council, in a Dirt-y Talk Discussion Series around the barriers, challenges, and opportunities of creating a new MayDay proces on Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (1500 E. Lake St.). Explore tokenization, accessibility, appropriation, gender, non-extractive relationships, community celebration and more as we shape a new MayDay Celebration that is truly equitable, accessible, and community-owned.

Study on implicit bias
Lenten Study on Implicit Bias starts March 1, noon with food and conversation at Epworth United Methodist Church. Are you committed to the work of having conversations that matter, honoring cultural differences, and dismantling policies and practices that hinder us all? Learn about implicit bias using print and video resources from the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) as well as other resources. This Lenten Study is one step toward bridging the gap between what people proclaim and the realities of implicit bias that stand in the way. Epworth United Methodist Church is located at 3207 37 Ave S. For more info, email or call 612-721-0232.

Sick Lit workshop
Attend Sick Lit: A Writing Workshop on Saturday, March 21, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Nokomis Library. This is a free, open writing workshop for artists and writers interested in writing and reading around chronic illness. No previous experience needed. The workshops will be lead by writer, editor, and teaching artist Lara Mimosa Montes in the library meeting room. For more information and to RSVP, write: This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Theatre premieres dystopian drama
Uprising Theatre Company is proud to present the regionalpremiere of ‘Doctor Voynich and Her Children,” a new play by Leanna Keyes that strives to illuminate what happens in a country where there is no sex education and abortion has been outlawed. This powerful new drama will be on stage March 6-21 2020 at the Off-Leash Art Box, located at 4200 E. 54th St. Uprising Theatre Company’s 2020 Season features all transgender and nonbinary playwrights, all women and/or transgender directors and all new work.

Suicide prevention class
QPR is a free, one-hour presentation sponsored by NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) that covers the three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide – Question, Persuade and Refer. A QPR classes will be offered on Sunday, March 8, from 9:30-10:30 a.m., at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 Snelling Ave. S. For information, contact NAMI Minnesota at 651-645-2948.

Focus on ‘Clobber Texts’
Discuss the clobber texts in the Old Testament – Clobber passages are those verses in the Bible that are commonly used as a weapon. Any of several passages in the Bible that are routinely used by some people to condemn homosexuality and homosexuals. On Wednesday March 11, Epworth’s Beer & Bible will discuss Genesis 1 & 2, 18:16-19:29, Judges 19:14-29, Leviticus 18 & 20, and Deuteronomy 23 in the context of verses surrounding those passages. Beer and Bible meets at Merlin’s Rest (3601 E Lake St,). Beer is optional. The same passages will be discussed at Epworth’s Bagel and Bible on March 15 at 9:30 am at Epworth 3207 37 Ave. S.

Intergenerational story time at Vet’s Home
Baby/Toddler Intergenerational Story Hour & Play Time at the Minnesota Veterans Home is Tuesday, March 17 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Veterans read books and sing songs (with a ukulele player) for 1/2 an hour followed by 1/2 hour play/ craft time, all led by a recreation therapist. This is free and open to the public, and held monthly. Children of all ages are welcome, just know the songs and books are geared to little ones. The Minnesota Veterans Home is at 5101 Minnehaha Ave S. and the program is in the Building 19 Community Room. The facility is a nursing home within Minnehaha Falls Park. Contact Erin, / 612 548 5751, to RSVP or with any questions.

Discuss ‘Milk’
Epworth Youth Present Dinner, Movie, and Conversation at 5 p.m. Come March 21 to watch and discuss the movie “Milk,” the story of Harvey Milk’s struggles as a gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California’s first openly gay elected official. Epworth aims to spark conversations about topics that impact the community. Epworth UMC is located at 3207 37th Ave. S.

Veggies classes set
The Veggie Basics class offered by Transition Longfellow runs for 4 Saturdays in April: April 4, April 11, April 18 and April 25 from 10 11:30 a.m., in the community room at Gandhi Mahal (3009 27th Ave So.). It is taught by various Hennepin County master gardeners. Cost for the entire series is $10. Beverages will be served. For questions about class content, email reierson.deb@gmailcom. For questions about registration or payment, email
Praying in Color
Take time to reflect on and deepen your relationship with God in the season of Lent on Sunday, April 5 at 11:30 a.m. after coffee hour; Monday, April 6 at 10 a.m.; and/or Tuesday, April 7 at 4 p.m. at Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church. The hour-long sessions will include a short Bible study on the importance of prayer before exploring different ways to pray, featuring a practice called Praying in Color. Praying in Color is an easy and relaxing way to pray using your hands and creativity to reflect and color a connection with God. All ages are welcome to come to one or more classes; no artistic ability needed.
Learning garden tour
One of Minnesota’s most anticipated summer gardening events – the 2020 Hennepin County Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour being held on Saturday, July 11, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This self-guided tour includes nine gardens from Prospect Park to Edina and into Linden Hills. The variety of gardens on this year’s annual tour offer many learning opportunities. They include eight home gardens designed and tended by Master Gardener volunteers, as well as one Community Garden. At each garden you’ll meet Master Gardeners who garden not only for their enjoyment, but to contribute to the health of our local ecosystem. Buy tickets and learn more at

Longfellow Library opens
Minnehaha Senior Living, an assisted living community, located in South Minneapolis, has recently added a new library for its tenants and dedicated it to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was a beloved American Poet, famous for “The Song Of Hiawatha” written about Native American Indians in lyric poetry in 1855. The book is about an Ojibwe warrior named Hiawatha and a Dakota woman named Minnehaha.
Doug Ernst, who is a local historian and reenactment presenter, came to Minnehaha Senior Living to give a presentation and to visit the newly opened Henry Wadsworth Longfellow library in January. Ernst said it is fitting that Minnehaha Senior Living chose to call their library “The Longfellow” library with the rich history of the writer and the name Minnehaha.
Ernst will be reading from the book “The Song Of Hiawatha” during a talk about Longfellow’s life – that is open to the public on March 13 at 2:30 p.m. in the Activity Room. Ernst is the Executive Director at the Richfield Historical Society and is a regular speaker at Minnehaha Senior Living (3733-23rd Ave. S.).

Chard Your Yard Garden registration opens March 15
Have you seen those signs near your neighbors gardens and wondered what Chard Your Yard is all about? Since 2013, Transition Longfellow has partnered with the Longfellow Community Council to offer a fun and exciting event to increase vegetable gardening in the neighborhood, Chard Your Yard. Transition Longfellow is a community led group of neighbors focused on building sustainable communities in order to address climate change.
Chard Your Yard volunteers have built and installed about 160 raised bed vegetable gardens in the greater Longfellow neighborhoods. “We plan to build, deliver, and fill dirt in 24 raised bed vegetable gardens for neighbors in zip code 55406,” say organizers. The garden beds are $70 which includes: a 3’x5’x12” wooden frame installed and delivered to your house, a site visit by a master gardener to find the perfect spot for your bed, a fill of nutrient rich dirt, and a Chard Your Yard sign.
“Through the generous support of Longfellow Community Council, we can offer a limited number of beds for low-income and senior citizen gardeners ($35) and double-high beds for gardeners with disabilities ($70),” say organizers. These beds are only available for people in Longfellow, Cooper, Howe and Hiawatha neighborhoods.
This event is completely volunteer based. Volunteers needed. Build and install the beds Wednesday, April 29 between 5-9 p.m and fill them Saturday, May 2nd from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (attendance for entire shifts not required). Registration to receive a bed opens March 15 and will close in April or when all beds are purchased. Visit for further information.

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Longfellow Businesses: LBA wants to hear from you

Posted on 11 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

This March, the Longfellow Business Association (LBA) is hosting focus group to learn how to better support the business community in the Greater Longfellow Area. “We’re interested in hearing from business owners about the tools, resources, connections we can offer to help your business thrive,” explained Kim Jakus.” If your business falls into one of the following categories, consider joining us: Industrial Business, Minority or Immigrant owned Business, Next Generation / Millennial owned Business, or Arts & Entertainment
Lunch will be provided and all participants will receive a $20 gift card to a local Longfellow business. For more information, as well as dates and times, please contact Kim at or 612-298-4699.

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Isuroon: A portal to better health

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen


Executive Director Fartun Weli said, “There are things I’m not good at, but I am good at is busting down doors. There is power in keeping people dependent on the system. What I’m trying to do with Isuroon is make sure Somali women and girls are not becoming dependent.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Isuroon is a robust word in the Somali language.
According to Isuroon Executive Director Fartun Weli, it can be used as a verb, a noun, or an adjective. It is also the name of the organization she leads.
She said, “Somali words are conceptual. While the short translation of Isuroon is ‘a woman who cares for herself,’ the long translation is ‘a woman who has gotten everything she needs to be strong, healthy, independent, empowered, beautiful, vivacious, and confident.’ The mission of our organization is to be a space where every Somali woman can be all of those things.”
Isuroon was founded in 2010 to address the unmet health care needs of Somali women and girls in this community. Through group meetings, one-on-one counseling, and carefully designed teaching sessions, staff offer education on issues including self-care and social connectedness, healthy eating, pre-natal health, the impact of female genital cutting/mutilation, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, domestic and sexual violence, pregnancy prevention, child abuse, understanding HIV/AIDS, and navigating a complex health care system.
Weli and her 11 employees have a lot on their plates. Their resources are available to any Somali woman who wants to improve her health and wellness, and that of her family – to give her the tools so that she can thrive in Minnesota and beyond. Through education and coaching, women and girls learn to manage their health care preventatively, strengthen their economic self-sufficiency, and develop their innate leadership skills.
Isuroon serves a population that likely came to Minnesota from refugee camps. To be a stable presence rooted in the Somali community, they purchased a building at 1600 East Lake Street last year. Weli explained, “One of the ways we are different as an organization is that we don’t just operate within our 55407 zip code. Our women come from everywhere. Now we are easy to find.”
The barriers to health and wellness for immigrants and refugees are significant. Food insecurity can be a problem for Somali families, especially new arrivals. Weli explained why a disproportionate number of Somali families have female heads-of-household (54% nation-wide.) She said, “After 911, it got much harder for Muslim men to enter the US. While the typical Somali family consists of mom, dad, and children, it’s common for males 18+ to arrive 3-5 years after the rest of their family.”
These separations cause alot of stress. Weli believes the burden is made worse for Muslim women because of cultural stereotypes. She said, “Many Americans (especially white women) think that because we’re covered, we are insecure, oppressed, and in need of rescue. This is not true! We need to diffuse these stereotypes, which are also perpetuated by the media. Who are Muslim women in general, and Somali women in particular? We are intuitive, alert, and sociable; we didn’t grow up feeling inferior to anyone. We are unique.”
To address food insecurity, Isuroon opened a food shelf six years ago. Weli explained, “I didn’t think it was part of our mission, but our elders started asking for one. We went to Governor Dayton’s Office, and they tried to be helpful. They connected us with the big, established food distribution networks in the Twin Cities but, ultimately, it didn’t work. Understand that when you’ve lived in a refugee camp, you are given food handouts all the time. Then, when you finally come to this country and find out how hard it is to be self-sufficient, you are still given strange, unfamiliar food. It can be very demoralizing. We needed a new model for an ethnic food shelf, and we created one. ”
The Seward Co-op is an annual donor to the Isuroon Food Shelf through their SEED Project, where shoppers can round up to the nearest dollar in support of a different local non-profit organization each month. Isuroon typically receives $20,000 + from one month’s donations. Weli said, “The Seward Co-op is great. They don’t pressure us to buy foods that aren’t culturally appropriate. We were able to serve 1,100 families with their donations last year, and the size of an average Somali family is seven.”
Isuroon staff members are trained to interact with clients in a way that reflect the agency’s core values of trust, transparency, and empathy. Weli said, “We work relationally, which means that listening is at the heart of everything. What we are trying to do here is replicate what our moms did back home. In the Somali culture, we have our own definition of what makes someone strong. When I meet a Somali woman who can’t read or write, I worship her. Do you know how hard life is when you can’t read or write? We value women for the strengths that they have, rather than judge them for what they lack.”
As an organization, consider requesting an Isuroon speaker to help your group connect with the experiences of Somali women, or to obtain culturally competent consulting and training for health care providers, policymakers and other leaders. As an individual, consider attending a workshop to learn about the Somali community here in the Twin Cities. Weli said, “Our organization has so much to offer. What can we do for you? We’re here to engage communities. Connect with us!”
For more information, go to

“We’re grateful and excited to announce that Isuroon has received a Community Innovation Grant of more than $200,000 from The Bush Foundation. The grant will empower our work to reduce disparities in reproductive health care for African immigrant women in Minnesota with female genital cutting. The voices and needs of women who have experienced female genital cutting will drive this grassroots effort,” said Fartun Weli, Executive Director. “We express gratitude on their behalf.”

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