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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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If you can sew, you can help

Posted on 24 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Michelle Hoaglund, owner of St. Paul’s Treadle Yard Goods, handed out the first of 50 free fabric kits last weekend. Her store made the kits available for people to sew facemasks for health care workers. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

One critical need that has emerged over the past several days is the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gowns, in hospitals and other health care settings. In recent days, doctors and nurses have warned that they are running out of equipment to stay safe as they diagnose and treat patients.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Allina Health, along with several community partners, have launched a statewide volunteer effort, calling for people to sew and donate facemasks for doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.
Michelle Hoaglund is the owner of Treadle Yard Goods, a well-established, much loved fabric store on Hamline and Grand avenues in St. Paul. Partnering with the non-profit Sew Good Goods, Hoaglund and her dedicated staff were able to put together 50 free kits with enough cotton fabric and elastic to make 28 CDC approved face masks.
Distribution of the kits began at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. By 1:05 p.m., according to Hoaglund, all of the kits were gone. The line of people, which had started to form at noon, stretched all the way to the end of the block and around the corner. People maintained a safe distance between one another, and many came to the store to buy their own material once the free kits had been given away.
“It was,” Hoaglund said, “beyond what any of us could have imagined.” She estimated there were between 80-100 people waiting in line and mused, “People who sew are just not the kind to sit around on the couch in a time of crisis.”
Treadle Yard Goods will likely continue to make more kits available and, at least at the time of printing, the store remains open for shopping. Check for updates.
If you would like to use fabrics you currently have in your own stock pile, note the following guidelines: be sure to use fabric that is 100% cotton: tightly woven for the front, flannel or other soft 100% cotton for the back. If you have any doubts about the content of your fabric, don’t use it. Prewash all fabric on hot and dry on high heat to ensure pre-shrinkage. Area hospitals or other providers will sanitize the masks.
Instructions involve the use of elastic. If that is not available, you can make fabric ties (self-made ties or twill tape), one in each of the four corners. Each tie should have a finished length of 18 inches. To make your own ties, cut fabric strips 1 ¼” wide, fold in half and press, then sew both outer edges in to the middle with a single seam. Knot the ends to keep from fraying.
It is advisable to use contrasting fabrics, so there is an obvious front and back side.
In this extraordinarily difficult time for small business owners, Hoaglund said, “I made my peace with all of the uncertainty a few days ago. I thought, we can’t control any of what is happening right now – but it’s how you love your neighbor that counts.”
Instructions and drop-off points for the CDC-approved design, approved by Allina Health, are available at
This link contains additional useful information:
Many organizations in addition to hospitals have a need for masks including homeless shelters and funeral homes.


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Schools revised?

Posted on 24 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Minneapolis schools propose major overhaul

Minneapolis Public Schools has proposed some sweeping changes that would affect where 63% of its students attend school beginning in fall 2021. Parents brought their questions about high school changes to a meeting at Roosevelt High on Feb. 24, 2020. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Here’s what you need to know about how the Minneapolis Public School Comprehensive District Design would affect high schools.
• High school transition would begin with 2021-22 incoming ninth graders.
• 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students would remain in current high schools until graduation.
• This proposal aligns high school boundaries with middle school attendance areas to keep middle school cohorts together.
• It builds enrollment on the north side. Right now, North High is at 17.5% capacity with only 326 students.
Career and Tech Ed
The district is seeking to centralize its Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs by consolidating classes at three sites.
1) North Tech Center at North High: engineering, computer science-information technology, robotics, and web and digital communications
2) Northeast Tech Center at Edison High: business, law and public safety, and agriculture
3) South Tech Center at Roosevelt High: auto, construction, machine tool, welding, and healthcare
• Schools that lose their CTE programming could opt to have afterschool programs and clubs, or use school budgets for elective courses.
• Currently, across MPS, CTE is up to 82.2% underenrolled

Vote planned in April
In December 2017, the district began comprehensive design with system-wide assessment, and the school board authorized the superintendent to create recommendations for changes in the district at its Oct. 19, 2019 meeting. The district released its high school plans to the public in late February 2020. The board plans to vote on the design in April despite community requests to take more time.


High School Boundaries
Above: Current

Below: Proposed revision

Under the proposed plans, K-5 and 6-8 magnet schools would be moved so that they are more centrally located, markedly changing school options in South Minneapolis. The district would stop offering K-8 options, which are heavily used by immigrant groups. Several magnet programs would go away, including Folwell, Dowling, Bancroft, Windom and Armatage Montessori. Note colored dots.

Which elementary schools feed into which middle schools is modified under the proposal in an attempt to reduce transportation costs and create stronger community schools.

All graphics but top table courtesy of Minneapolis Public Schools.
Find detailed presentations on the district’s web site.

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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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Quilt Shop Co-op opening at former Glad Creations location

Posted on 24 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Quilt Shop Co-op board members (left to right) Steve Budas, Jennie Baltutis, and Amy Swanson. The empty shelves will soon be stocked when the first ever, consumer-owned fabric store opens in South Minneapolis this year. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The storefront at 3400 Bloomington Ave. S. housed a beloved fabric store called Glad Creations for 43 years. When the owners retired last year, dedicated employees and customers weren’t willing to give up on their lively, well-established fabric arts community in the heart of the city.
After months of preparation, they have plans for launching the first ever, cooperatively owned and managed fabric store in the U.S. The Quilt Shop Co-op is already 300 members strong, and is reaching out to sewing enthusiasts near and far to become founding members.
Board member Amy Swanson said, “Our membership demographics show zip codes from throughout the Twin Cities and out-state Minnesota. People are passionate about supporting the co-operative small business model, and about supporting fabric arts.”

Become a member
A consumer-owned business relies on many community members investing in a business they care about. A one-time membership share at the Quilt Shop Co-op costs $120. To become a member, mail a check to 3400 Bloomington Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55407, or join online at
Every member makes the same financial commitment, and receives the same benefits from the co-op’s success. Benefits include special member-only events, being asked to influence inventory selection and class topics through periodic member surveys, quarterly member discounts and annual patronage refunds once the shop is profitable, access to the community meeting space, and the satisfaction of supporting a small business in the local community.
Former Glad Creations employee and co-op board member Jennie Baltutis attended a class sponsored by the city of Minneapolis for business owners interested in the co-op model (see side bar). With the help of program consultants, she wrote a business plan for the Quilt Shop Co-op and learned about financing options.
Baltutis said, “I learned that many small businesses are closing because their owners are retiring. We’ve seen a lot of that in the Twin Cities. According to U.S. Small Business Administration data, only 20% of small businesses listed for sale actually sell. Adopting the co-operative business model can keep a business alive well into the future. The fact that a successful fabric store existed in this site for more than 40 years speaks to our customer base. It means that the feasibility study has already been done.”

More than a store
A consumer-owned co-op is much more than a store. An elected board ensures the health of the co-op and represents its members. It seems particularly appropriate for a fabric store because sewing and quilting have deep roots in community.
Board member Amy Swanson said, “Having a co-operative structure allows us to dream big. We’ll have a beautiful store that people can shop in, but maybe one day we’ll also have a mobile sewing lab? People need to learn how to sew and to fix things. The ethos of a co-op says, ‘What is best for your neighborhood, your community?’ With this model, co-op members will have a real voice in asking for what they want and need.”
In order for the Quilt Shop Co-op to secure financing through their lender, Shared Capital Co-operative, they need to have a steady increase in membership.
Board chairman Steve Budas said, “It’s essential that we double our membership in the coming months. In the short term, we are also looking for help with getting the word out to people that a beloved fabric store will live on in South Minneapolis. We have a strong six-person board and our financing application is in the final stages of review.
“In these months before we open, we need to establish social media accounts so that we can reach as many prospective members as possible. Ideally, we’re hoping to find a couple of volunteers willing to work 2-3 hours per week on this.” Email, if interested.

Co-op training available
The city of Minneapolis offers a Co-operative Technical Assistance Program (C-TAP) at no cost for participants. The feasibility training is available to new co-operatives, and existing businesses interested in converting to a co-operative model. The program also provides one-on-one technical assistance.

The city believes the co-op model benefits community by:
• Acting as an economic development tool to reduce poverty and promote social cohesion.
• Increasing racial and ethnic diversity in business ownership.
• Supporting innovation, community building, and local investment by encouraging a more collaborative business model.

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Five vie at 63B forum

Posted on 08 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen


By Jill Boogren
With longtime Rep. Jean Wagenius’s announcement last November that she would not be seeking reelection in 2020 to her seat in the Minnesota State Legislature, several candidates are now vying to represent the portions of south Minneapolis and Richfield that make up House District 63B.
In late January, five DFL candidates got a chance to introduce themselves and present their views to several dozen residents at a DFL candidate forum held at the Richfield Community Center.
The two-hour forum, moderated by the DFL’s Amy Livingston and Thomas Anderson, was structured around five prepared questions, with none taken from the audience.
In this historically left-voting district, all five candidates promoted progressive platforms. But while there were areas in which there was broad agreement – the need to address disparities between white residents and people of color in education, housing and health care, providing mental health services, addressing climate change – candidates did differentiate themselves in terms of priority and approach.
The result? An information-packed evening that left people with plenty to ponder.
Here are brief excerpts from candidates’ introductions and what they stated as their priorities to kick off the forum.

Emma Greenman
Having experienced “both comfort and poverty,” Emma Greenman said she would never forget the feeling of getting off a waiting list for subsidized housing and moving into the Towers at Cedar-Riverside, for the safety and security it provided as her mom struggled with mental illness.
A former Wellstone organizer and voting rights attorney, Greenman called 2020 “a make or break moment for our democracy,” which she said is under attack by voter suppression and money in politics. She wants to focus on fixing the system first.
“Before we can tackle the issues, we have to start by repairing and reimagining our democracy,” she said. “…When you look at common sense gun violence legislation, when you look at issues of criminal justice reform, when you look at issues of clean energy… what is holding us back is a concentrated attack on our democracy.”
Her first priority would be to restore the right to vote. She called for automatic voter registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year olds, and for ensuring every dollar spent on ads is disclosed.
Tyler Moroles
For Tyler Moroles, formerly with the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and currently a manager of the Community Development Block Grant Development program in Hennepin County, addressing inequities in home ownership is a top priority.
“We have some of the worst inequalities in home ownership [between] people of color and white folks,” he said. He wants to see a renters bill of rights that ensures landlords give advance notice of vacating property and are not vacating for no reason, that gives tenants legal protections and establishes a tenant defense fund.
“Usually landlords have lawyers, tenants do not,” said Moroles.
He would also double the amount of funding for the Housing Finance Agency, which he said is twice as likely as private market lenders to give a direct home buyer assistance loan to a household of color. Moroles would also work to reduce property tax, so people, especially seniors trying to “age in place,” don’t get pushed out of their homes.
He also called for immigrants’ rights, expressing support for Driver’s Licenses for All, a bill passed by the House in 2019 that has not yet been taken up by the Senate. Born and raised in the district, Moroles describes his father as a Mexican-American Chicano migrant worker who lived “as a second class citizen his whole life.” He became addicted to opioids and died when Moroles was two years old. He was raised by his mother, who worked at a nursing home to provide for him. She was in the audience at the forum.

Husniya Dent Bradley
Husniya Dent Bradley, a chemist, campaign organizer, lawyer and program administrator/counselor for career and professional development at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, said her first priority would be to work with the Metropolitan Council and the Transportation Planning Commission on solutions for the I-494 underpass and for Crosstown Highway 62. She said the proposed MnPASS lane on I-494 could also be done on Crosstown Highway 62 and suggested widening the freeways by getting easements on some of the homes. In addition to the METRO Orange Line (I-35W Bus Rapid Transitway), she suggested adding a faster train over Portand Ave.
“That would definitely ease some of the congestion and some of the transportation issues,” she said.
Dent Bradley moved with her parents from Cincinnati to Chicago, where they were involved in voting rights and marches. In his job at the postal service, her dad helped union workers fight for union rights, which is where Dent Bradley learned about speaking up and the importance of people making their voices heard. Ultimately her family moved to 43rd and Chicago Ave. in Minneapolis, where they dealt with public assistance as well as having to vacate their home due to basement flooding.

Eric Ferguson
With a campaign slogan, “What’s the Big Idea?”, Eric Ferguson, website developer, actor and three-term former DFL chair of Senate District 63, is banking on his “big ideas.” Namely, three.
The first is to use pumped hydro to create an energy storage system that would use excess power (produced from solar and wind) to push water up to a reservoir, which could then be released over hydro turbines to recreate the electricity when it’s needed again.
“If we’re going to allow renewable energy to replace fossil fuels, we have to deal with the problem of renewables not providing baseload power,” he said. “We’ll probably have battery power eventually, but global warming isn’t waiting for eventually.”
His next idea is to cover the freeways, which tore out many homes and entire neighborhoods when they were built, to create space to build more housing.
Third, he would offer a free college plan he calls “Commit to Minnesota,” which would make any post-secondary education free if students commit to living in Minnesota for five years after they leave school.
Ferguson knows it would take time to build support for these ideas, so in order to get something passed quickly, his immediate priority would be to address “a local problem that is very solvable”: expanding noise mitigation – better windows and air conditioning – to the parts of Richfield that are under the airport flyways.
Jerome T. Evans
Jerome T. Evans grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, went to Georgia Tech, then law school. After practicing law for a few years, he moved to Minnesota.
Evans, who now chairs the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, is co-chair of the Minneapolis Public Health Advisory Committee and serves as president of his condo association, said he and his partner, Aaron, are considering growing their family of two. In putting on his “Dad hat,” he found the data to be disturbing.
“If we have a child that looks like me [a person of color] and we put them through our public education system, they will receive a lower quality education than if they look like Aaron [who is white],” said Evans. “And that does not align with our values.”
Evans emphasized the need to take a data-driven approach when talking to Republicans in the Senate.
“You can talk racial justice with them until you’re blue in the face, and you will not get anything done,” he said. “Let’s start talking data, let’s keep it real, leave the rhetoric behind.”
His first priority would be to create the “Minnesota Hope Scholarship,” which would provide a pathway for low-income students of any ethnicity to get into college in Minnesota without having to pay for tuition.

‘Five good candidates’
After the first round, candidates responded to questions about improving public safety, addressing health care needs and crisis services, addressing homelessness and affordable housing, and strengthening Minnesota’s schools, with a final round asking candidates to talk about anything that was missing (see the Q & A guide on the previous page for a snapshot of these responses).
Following closing remarks, residents and candidates mingled for a few minutes. Asked to comment, Judy Moe, of Richfield Disability Advocacy Partnership, shared her impression.
“The biggest thing I noticed is lack of mention of the disability community,” she said, despite candidates discussing other demographics and the fact that transportation, housing and health care all apply. She did acknowledge that Greenman specifically mentioned accessible housing.
DFL Senate District 63 Secretary Larry Nelson offered his take. “I think we have five good candidates. All of them have good strengths and experiences they’ll bring to the Capitol.”
This forum is viewable by searching the SD63 DFL Open Discussion Forum on Facebook. The next DFL candidate forum for House Seat 63B will take place Saturday, March 28, 1-3 p.m., at Washburn Library, 5244 Lyndale Ave. S. DFL precinct caucuses were held Feb. 25, and the Senate District 63 DFL endorsing convention will take place Sunday, April 19, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Sanford Middle School (3524 42nd Ave. S.).

GOP candidate
Frank Pafko is running for GOP endorsement as the candidate for MN House of Representatives in District 63B. He ran in 2016 and 2018 against Rep. Jean Wagenius, who won her reelection by wide margins.


VOTE in the presidential primary March 3
In 2016, legislation was passed creating a presidential nomination primary, Minnesota’s first since 1992. The 2020 primary will be held Tuesday, March 3.

To vote, you must choose which party’s ballot you want. Two major parties are participating in the presidential primary, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party and the Republican Party.
Use the Voter Registration Lookup to see if you’re already registered.
Find your polling place.
Provide proof of residence.
Dial 311 Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., for election and other city information.


All genders invited to League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization open to all genders that:

• Encourages informed and active participation in government

• Works to increase understanding of major public policy issues

• Influences public policy through education and advocacy

The Civic Buzz meets the first Tuesday of each month, with new topics and speaker, followed by discussion. 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Black Forest Inn, Minneapolis. There will be no March Civic Buzz meeting as people are encouraged to vote in the Presidential primary election.

Get involved. Call the League office at 612-333-6319 or drop by 310 E. 38th St. Suite 205 at the Sabathani Center 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday – Friday.

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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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‘There’s science in every thing’ says Bonnie Everets

Posted on 08 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

SELF International founder aims to close achievement gap by organizing hands-on science programs

When Bonnie Everets was only four years old, her family bought a vineyard and fruit farm upstate New York and the family moved from town to the country. For Everets, it changed everything.
“The instant we got there, I became interested in being in nature. It was like my own secret garden,” she said. “I worked in our vineyard with my father, driving a tractor as soon as my foot could reach the clutch, at about seven years old.”
It set her on a lifelong path of discovery, exploring and teaching.

Holistic approach
When she was in fourth grade, she was out exploring when she discovered a hillside with a number of different kinds of mosses, each a different color. She took samples, transplanting them to a terrarium to study. A trip to the library helped her learn more. “Then, I took the mosses to school and taught the other students what I had learned,” she said.
Later, attending Hope College, Everets focused on art, English, German and theater, spending her junior year in Turkey. After earning a master’s degree in archeology at the University of Chicago, she received a Bush grant and moved to the Twin Cities in 1974 to work as a member of the theater ensemble at URBAN Art’s program. She later worked at the Walker. She ended up in real estate to support her creative and artistic projects with a flexible schedule.
Meanwhile, her son, Graham, was attending the Friend’s School, thriving in their holistic approach to teaching. But, in sixth grade, he asked his mother if he could be homeschooled. His mother agreed.
Mother and son became involved in the Jason Project, a non-profit offering hands-on curriculum in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
“My experience with Graham allowed me to recognize an exciting holistic approach,” she said. And, it helped her understand that all kids needed to be exposed to the advantages offered to Graham.
Everets realized that most schools, even the best, couldn’t offer everything kids needed to learn during regular school hours. “We have a major achievement gap in Minnesota. But, I know how smart these kids are. Giving these kids enrichment time after school, on weekends and in the summer will help put them on a more even level,” she said.
“We needed to go into the community where the kids live.”

SELF International born
Everets decided to organize locally. In 2005, she created SELF International (Science Education Literacy Fine Arts,) establishing education programs for underserved students and their families.
“I owe a big debt to State Senator Patricia Torres Ray,” said Everets. Torres-Ray connected her to the Minnesota Science Museum to set up one of their first big events in 2012.
That event was Nano Days, part of a national movement, that lets grade and middle school students study science on a molecular level. “This lets kids see the fun and excitement of science. They won’t think science is irrelevant or that it’s hard,” Everets said.
“It exposes them to opportunities they might not otherwise have, and it gives kids and their families who probably don’t go to museums the chance to have the museums come to them.”
The Science Museum became a chief sponsor, supplying NanoDays Hands-On Activity Kits, along with volunteer scientists and educators, to give students practical experiences in real science letting them see science as part of their world.
State Senator Torres-Ray, continues to be a strong supporter of Everets’ work. “Facilitating a partnership between the Science Museum and SELF, International was an essential step to insure that SELF’s mission to increase and expand community access to science becomes a reality,” she said.

They didn’t know where food came from before
Everets’ STEM program, originally located only at Sabathani Community Center expanded, offering cutting edge STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) at various locations around the Twin Cities, including Urban STEMS: the Science of Food at the Minneapolis Boys & Girls Club.
Three summers ago, in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Club in South Minneapolis, SELF started a garden at the corner of 39th and Columbus, across from the Boys & Girls Club.
“Bonnie is a great person. She’s dedicated and the kids love her. There aren’t a lot of behavior problems because they really respect her,” said Boys & Girls Club in the Twin Cities Area Supervisor Mark Graves.
“The kids grow the vegetables, and we use them for our snack and dinner programs. The kids learn overall knowledge of the importance of growing your own, the skill and patience that it takes to have a successful garden,” he said.
Everets added, “Most of these kids don’t have houses with yards. They don’t know where food comes from or how it grows. The program focuses on the science of food. So, we brought in pros. We brought in soil scientists, and food scientists. We studied bacteria to make yogurt. They learned about insects and food preservation. It shows the kids that there’s science in everything, so we get to create a science identity as early as possible.”
In her spare time, Everets is writing a cookbook based on her urban garden experience. “It’s an A to Z cookbook for children and their parents. It’ll show what to plant and then what you can make with it.” She plans on doing her own illustrations and is currently searching for a publisher.
Other programs offered by SELF International include ‘Building with Biology’ and ‘Let’s Do Chemistry.’

Join SELF International
“Because we move directly into the neighborhoods where students live, we collaborate with local schools and community organizations,” she said.
SELF International just received a mini-grant to start a new program for middle school-aged Latinx students and their families. They are currently scouting locations for the program and looking for interested collaborating organizations.
There are no paid positions at SELF International, so there is always a need for volunteers who want to work with kids. Contact Everets at

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Rethinking waste in 2020

Posted on 08 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Learn to be more pro-active about the waste you produce

Wonder where your waste ends up?
A standing room crowd gathered at the Matthews Park Rec Center on Feb. 3, 2020 to hear about the changing world of waste creation and waste management from Kellie Kish, Recycling Coordinator for the city of Minneapolis; Kate Marnach, co-founder of the zero waste store Tare Market; and Nancy Ford, owner of the Repair Lair.
According to Kish, the contents of the black carts (58% of garbage collected) goes to the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center in downtown Minneapolis, and is incinerated. That’s your trash.

Don’t bag your recyclables
The blue carts are emptied, and the mixed recyclables are brought to Eureka Recycling in northeast Minneapolis where they are sorted and processed for sale to new markets. Recyclables account for about 20% of the waste collected.
While recycling is not mandatory in Minneapolis, 97% of residents choose to have a recycling cart. The contamination rate for recyclables last year was 8.5%.
The biggest contaminants were plastic bags, product wraps (like what goes around a six pack of pop), and plastic film. Kish admonished the crowd, “If you remember nothing else from this presentation, remember not to bag your recyclables and to keep plastic bags out of your recycling cart!”

Organics recycling matters
The newest alley addition, the green carts, contain food scraps and other compostable products like paper towels, tissues, pet waste, and 100% compostable cutlery and dishes. Along with yard waste, the contents of these bins are taken to a transfer station in southeast Minneapolis, reloaded onto semi-trucks, and driven to a compost site in Rosemont.
Even though organics recycling is a new program in Minneapolis, the opt-in was extremely high this year for residents. With almost 52,000 Minneapolis households participating, the green carts account for about 18% of the total waste collected.
Kish said, “In a country where 40% of the food produced goes to waste, organics recycling matters.” One of her goals for 2020 is to hit the 50% mark for all Minneapolis households participating.
Note that all compostables must be placed in a paper bag, a compostable bag, or wrapped in newspaper before being put in the organics recycling bins.
If any readers are compost enthusiasts, Kish is looking for volunteers to help with the spring compost audit – a process by which compost is evaluated for contamination. Last year, the contamination rate was less than 1%. She recommends a fairly strong stomach, as there can be surprises.
Kish is also organizing a field trip to the compost site in Rosemont by bus in early summer, so people can see how the process works first-hand. To get on the waiting list for either opportunity, email

Set attainable goals
Tare Market co-owner Kate Marnach explained how she got to the point of opening a package-free, re-fill store last year. She said, “My parents raised me to understand the value of recycling, but somehow the other ‘Rs’ went right by me. In our business, we see the solution as an inverted triangle that starts at the top with Refuse, and goes through Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, and finally, Rot (compost) at the bottom.”
Marnach debunked the myth of zero waste being successful only if you can fit a year’s worth of trash in a mason jar. She said, “It’s more important to set goals that are attainable. Start with simple things like keeping re-usable shopping bags in your car, purse, or backpack.
“When shopping, choose items sold in glass or paper instead of plastic.
“Learn how to store food properly to minimize food waste. Don’t put potatoes and onions in the same drawer – the potatoes will sprout. When your celery gets limp, cut off the ends and stick it in a cup of water. Swaddle your greens in a damp cloth in the refrigerator, and skip the plastic bag. Why does everything we eat and drink have to come in contact with plastic?
“Simplify your life with fewer clothes, and fewer toys for kids and grown-ups. Consider giving experience gifts instead of material gifts.”

Buy less stuff
Repair Lair owner Nancy Ford said, “My main message is, buy less stuff. You’ll never hear that as a major ad campaign though, because it means nobody is making any money. By the way, the bigger and more conspicuous an ad campaign is – the smaller the likelihood that you’ll ever need the product being advertised.”
Ford founded Repair Lair five years ago. It’s one of two stores in the U.S. that offers consignment and repair of outdoor equipment and clothing under the same roof. She advocates buying second hand, and says that customers should expect to pay about 30% of what an item would cost new.
Ford is also a founding member of ReUSE Minnesota, a member based non-profit focused on bringing visibility to the reuse, rental and repair sector.
The three presenters offered three different vantage points on rethinking waste but, at some point, all circled round to the same thought. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day observance, now, more than ever, less is more.
Rethinking Waste 2020 was jointly sponsored by the Longfellow Community Council and the Seward Neighborhood Group. Tare Market is located at 2717 East 38th Street. Repair Lair is located at 3304 East Lake Street.

Attend Green Fair April 18
Mark your calendars for the South Minneapolis Green Fair on Saturday, April 18 from 12-4 p.m. at Roosevelt High School. The Messenger is a media sponsor of the event. Learn more ways to be proactive about the waste you produce, and have fun doing it.

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