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Minnehaha Townhomes expected to be occupied within a month

Posted on 25 March 2019 by calvin

Families begin moving into the first new public housing in Minneapolis since 2010

Sixteen new townhomes are housed in the four new buildings. The total cost of the project was approximately $5 million. (Illustration provided)

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) has opened the city’s first new public housing since 2010 to 16 area families experiencing homelessness.

The Minnehaha Town­homes are owned and managed by MPHA and families come as referrals from the Hennepin County shelter system. Families began moving in at the beginning of March and MPHA anticipates full occupancy by the end of the month.

The four buildings revitalize a long-vacant site in the East Nokomis neighborhood, donated by the City of Minneapolis. The townhomes include four two-bedroom and 12 three-bedroom units reserved for families below 30 percent of area median income.

Photo right: The 16 new townhomes represent the first new public housing in eight years opened by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. (Photo provided)

At the cost of approximately $5 million, the Minnehaha Townhomes represent the financial contributions of MPHA, Minnesota Housing, the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Met Council, Federal Home Loan Bank, and Otto Bremer Trust.

“These 16 new units are opening as we embark on our long-term plan to preserve and expand MPHA’s housing across the city,” said MPHA Executive Director Greg Russ. “They also show the level of quality, sustainability, and household amenities we can provide to families when we construct modern public housing.”

Hennepin County’s Coordinated Entry process is designed to ensure that individuals and families with the highest vulnerability, service needs, and length of homelessness receive top priority in housing placement. The townhomes are helping to fill a gap in the process, as 70 percent of families that are eligible for Coordinated Entry are waiting for permanent supportive housing—sometimes spending up to a year in the shelter system.

“This is really a dream project for us as far as needs go,” said Hennepin County Housing Referral Coordinator Sarah Hunt. “For the families that we have been able to refer, it directly correlates with a population that we were unable to send to other housing. The unique nature of these affordable units paired with services is exactly what has been identified as an ongoing need.”

The families who live at the Minnehaha Townhomes receive services from the county and several rapid rehousing providers, offering intensive case management up-front to help families get oriented to the area, assistance with basic housing needs, referrals for ongoing needs, and more.

“The families who have been identified have not had any other options, and for them it’s a big boost,” said Hennepin County Shelter Team Supervisor Pat Hartnagel. “It’s amazing to see the things they’ve worked through and accomplished, purely because of the hope to have this housing.”

The broader impact of this housing is being felt for the Hennepin County team already. “It’s one thing to have 16 units open up and allow stability for families to have a place to call home, but it’s also directly opening up spaces in emergency shelters for other families in crisis,” said Hunt.

The site on Riverview Rd. includes a playground, ample green space, and community patio. The townhomes are located on the Blue Line light rail between two major job centers—Downtown Minneapolis and Bloomington/MOA/MSP. They are walking distance to the VA Medical Center and Minnehaha Regional Park.

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority manages 6,000 units of public housing and 5,000 Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, serving more than 26,000 people in Minneapolis.



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New tattoo shop owner hopes to thrive in East Nokomis

Posted on 25 March 2019 by calvin

The increasingly trendy East Nokomis commercial neighborhood at 34th Ave. and 50th St. is now the home of Nokomis Tattoo, a new higher-end tattoo studio run by Mike Welsh, tattoo name, ‘Metal Mike.’

“In tattooing,” Mike explained, “there is a long and rich history of not using your given name.” But, his given name is on the required paperwork from the Department of Health, his incorporation papers and the purchase agreement for the building now housing the newly established tattoo parlor.

Nokomis Tattoo, 4933 S. 34th Ave., opened Mar. 1, one day after passing the health department inspection. Mike said he was expecting a slow start. “I didn’t think we’d get a walk-in, but in the first hour, a lady who works at a local coffee shop came in for a tattoo.” Other clients soon followed, having seen the sign on the front of the soon-to-be-opened shop.

Photo right: Tattoo artist Allison Pegoraro and tattoo studio owner “Metal Mike” Welsh wait for clients at the entrance of Nokomis Tattoo. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Mike, who now lives in the East Nokomis neighborhood, had grown up in the Twin Cities, leaving in 1998 to start his vocation as a graffiti artist, working as a line cook, and moving from city to city to see the country and practice his craft.

He relocated every year or two, from Louisville to Erie to Columbus, Atlanta to Jacksonville, to mostly economically distressed rust belt and southern cities. His art got him arrested several times. Spray painting property that’s not your own is a felony, and he spent time in jail for it, including 60 days in Detroit. But, after a year, he’d proven himself to the system, and his record was expunged.

Then, when a friend, a tattoo shop owner name Jay Fish offered him a chance for a tattoo apprenticeship in Erie, he took it, seeing it as a way to use his talent and make a good living as well. He stayed at Fish’s tattoo parlor, Ink Assassins, for five years.

In 2010, he ended up back in the Twin Cities. “I didn’t think I would stick around long,” he said. But he found that coming home was a chance to continue to turn his life around.

Getting a tattoo license in Minnesota is not easy. It means jumping through a lot of hoops through the Minnesota Department of Health. These include classes in dealing with bloodborne pathogens like Hep C, HIV, and MERSA, (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and 200 hours of supervised tattooing. Forms for body art establishments include passing a 46-item checklist.

But eight years ago, armed with a Minnesota license, Mike and a business partner, Kyle Skyer, opened up Tiger Rose, a tattoo shop in Northeast Minneapolis, where Mike is still half-owner. Then, last year, he saw an opportunity to open his own shop in East Nokomis where he lives with his schoolteacher wife and two rescue dogs, Oliver, the boxer and Cricket, a pit bull.

A building that had once housed a rather sketchy massage parlor came up for sale, and he took the chance, buying the 1928 building, closing on Jan. 16. He immediately started working on remodeling it. “It needed a lot of work,” he said.

Rather than dank and dark, the new place is clean, bright and airy, with a large front-facing window, elaborate hardwood floors, up-cycled doors and other materials that had been hidden by a previous remodel.

The shop specializes in traditional tattoo styles including lettering, elaborate Japanese and other Asian style art, black and gray designs and, being Minnesota, hockey and sports tattoos. The shop’s artists also do reworks of bad tattoo art.

They welcome walk-ins and Mike expects that half their clientele will come in unannounced. He is booking appointments as well, a month or two ahead.

Other artists are signing on, including Allison Pegoraro and Rachael Rose. “I have a friend coming up from Iowa in the next few months and a friend I like working with who will probably work one day a week,” said Mike.

Pegoraro grew up in a family of artists. Her father, she said, bought both her and her sister tattoo kits. She practiced on friends and then decided to go legit and started looking for an apprenticeship.

Pegoraro already had an art and design background, having studied at the Perpich Center for Arts Education and at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She’d worked at Dean Gallery and created the interactive bison at the Minnesota History Center. She also worked at two other local tattoo studios creating body art.

Pegoraro originally applied to work at Tiger Rose but didn’t get the job. She contacted Mike to see if she could apply at Nokomis Tattoo. “We talked on the phone, and I told her to come and work for two weeks as a try-out. After two days, I knew I’d hire her,” said Mike.

She’d gotten her first tattoo, she admitted, before she was of legal age, stealing her sister’s passport to ‘prove’ that she was 18 years old. It was a doodled a cartoon skull, she said. Five years later she covered it up with an abstract pond and lily pads design. To pay for the repair, she traded cleaning the artist’s house, including an eight-hour freezer defrost. “It had smelt embedded in ice,” she remembered.

Mike’s first tattoo was a pin-up girl. “I thought it was funny,” he said. “But, about half my tattoos have a deep meaning for me, a lot of Japanese art.” He still has some room left for future tattoos, he said, on his back and legs.

If someone comes in with an unusual request, Mike says, like a face tattoo, “I’ll do it after a discussion. I won’t tattoo an 18-year old kid who wants their whole neck done. And, I won’t tattoo genitals.”

“And,” he said, “I won’t do racist tattoos. It’s not worth it. Once you start to cater to that type of clientele, more of them will show up. If you don’t do those kinds of tattoos, that type of people won’t come around.”

Mike said plans to install a sign in his shop, hung alongside framed examples of brightly colored tattoo designs, stating his philosophy about how all people who come in will be treated fairly and with respect. “I’m just waiting to come up with the exact right words.”

Mike is also actively investing in the East Nokomis neighborhood. He is a member of the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association and planning to run for a seat on the Board of Directors this spring. And, he says, he wants to give back to the community in other ways as well.

“I come from a rough upbringing,” he said. “So, we’re giving five percent of our profits to different local charities.” Proceeds from March will go to Bags of Love, a non-profit giving kids in foster home backpacks filled with things they might need, like clothing, toiletries, and toys.

And, on May 29, the shop has invited Memorial Blood Center to park their bloodmobile outside his shop so neighbors and clients can donate. (To donate blood, health rules require a wait of a week after getting a tattoo. Donate first.)

For more information or to make an appointment at Nokomis Tattoo, call 952-999-2181.


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Neighbors review three options for Hiawatha Golf Course

Posted on 25 March 2019 by calvin

About 75 people attended the March 7 meeting to hear about, and offer input, on three possible options for the Hiawatha Golf Course property. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Possible components include a 9-hole golf course, aqua range, golf learning center, BMX/pump track,  aerial adventure course, disc golf, pickleball court, expanded clubhouse, viewing tower, amphitheater and more

The community is considering the pros and cons of three designs for the Hiawatha Golf Course.

Designers expect to take components of the three options that were presented at a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on March 7 and fashion them into a preferred draft by late April/early May.

“Nothing here today is set in stone and cannot be changed moving forward,” Andy Mitton of Berger Partnership told the 75 people present at Powderhorn Park Recreation Center.

Photo left: CAC Chair David Kaplan stands up to ask attendees to hold their comments until the comment period at the end of the meeting after some started yelling because they were unhappy the first option presented did not include at least nine holes of golf. “I’m trying to move us forward. Yelling at me and your neighbors is not very helpful,” stated Kaplan during the March 7 meeting at Powderhorn Park. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

About the three options
Mitton explained that they first looked at the water footprint and elevation of the site, and then fashioned various uses around that information.

Option 1, titled “Expanding Opportunities” (illustration right provided), would remove the existing berm next to Lake Hiawatha and allow the water to equalize. This plan includes many other options but only four practice holes, golf skills development area, and aqua range.

By doing that, designers made space for a BMX/pump track, aerial adventure course, disc golf, and pickleball court, as well as a new trailhead restroom/concession building, trails, discovery nodes, boardwalks, and bridges. There would also be space for hammocks (requested via an online comment) and possible adventure play such as hillside slides.

At the Native American focus group session held in November, designers were encouraged to incorporate native tree species such as cedar, cottonwood, ash, and white pine.

Option 2, titled “Experience Lake Hiawatha” (illustration left provided), includes a nine-hole golf course par 36 that ranges from easy to challenging and offers several beautiful vista points throughout the course. The water and golf footprint intermingle together, explained Mitton, and is done in a way that helps flood waters recede quicker than in the past.

This plan includes a water access area with boat storage and rentals, along with a play area and viewing tower. Option 2 also includes an amphitheater where movies could be shown on an inflatable screen and an ethnobotanical garden.

An expanded clubhouse could include a golf learning center with new technology.

Option 3, titled “Back to Nature” (illustration right provided), also has a nine-hole course and expanded clubhouse, this time with a pro-shop, learning center with new technology and food service. It shifts the putting green around and includes a three-tiered driving range.

An ice climbing wall could be placed on one side of the two-story high clubhouse set into the hill.

In the southeast side of the land would be a parking lot and learning center with catering kitchen, the sort where canning classes could be held, observed Mitton.

The working vision statement for the committee is: “A unique destination providing a welcoming and equitable park experience for both the surrounding community and regional park users that is ecologically-responsible, addresses water management needs, and respectful of the site’s natural and cultural history. Park development will have a long-term focus for year-round passive and active recreation, where golf and other recreation will interface with ecology and art to provide for a flood-resilient design that is accessible, connected, and celebrates the spirit of Minneapolis.”

What’s the same
All three options reduce groundwater pumping at the site by 70%, as directed by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board of Commissioners. They also mitigate trash at the site by diverting the northwest storm sewer pipe. Two of them involve re-meandering Minnehaha Creek.

Mitton stressed that all three options include some type of groundwater pumping to protect area houses.

However, more drainage would be achieved via gravity pipes instead of through pumping.

Photo left: Photo left: Bobby Warfield speaks during the March 7 Hiawatha Golf Course Community Advisory Committee meeting at Powderhorn Park. Three options for the golf course were presented at the meeting, and residents were encouraged to share their input with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Designers hope to use pumped water as a resource by using it to irrigate the course (15-20 million gallons per year), make snow for a cross country ski loop (3.5-5 MGY), and heating and cooling an expanded clubhouse (4-8 MGY cooling, 4-19 MGY heating).

None of the options change the overall floodplain storage at the site, assured designers.

Knowing that the site may flood again simply due to its elevation, designers purposefully placed critical golf features on higher ground above the average water level of Lake Hiawatha so that they aren’t wrecked as they have been in the past.

How much will it cost?
MPRB Project Manager Tyler Pederson explained that the park would be funded as others are, through a combination of state and regional funds. Parks aren’t expected to generate all of their own revenue, although money could be earned at this site through concession sales, facility rentals, boat rentals, and golfing. The estimated revenue that could be generated at an updated golf course range from $700,000 to $1.3 million, depending on what is included in the plan.

The cost of construction ranges from $28.2 to $62 million, or $4-9 a square foot.

The annual maintenance cost is estimated to range from $1.1 to $1.5 million.

What people think
Some committee members, including Teresa Engstrom and Kathryn Kelly, were upset that none of the options included an 18-hole golf course.

Others stated their concern about putting too much in the southeast corner and interfering with the natural area there used by wildlife.

CAC member Tim Clemens supported planting indigenous species in the park that would complement art by indigenous artists.

Understanding how the water flows in the larger area around Lakes Hiawatha and Nokomis and Minnehaha Creek remains a priority for CAC member Joan Soholt, who garnered a round of applause after her call for a detailed study of the entire area. Senator Patricia Torres-Ray informed attendees of her intent to have a Senate hearing on surface water in this area.

“The reality is that we’re here because there are a number of things that are inviting us to look at change,” stated CAC member Roxanne Stuhr. “I think it’s tremendous that we’ve got this point, and I also think there is a lot of work to be done.”

She added, “We need to partner with nature.”

District 5 MPRB Commissioner Steffanie Musich thanked people for attending the meeting. Afterward she commented, “The world we are living in now is not the world our kids will be living in. We as a society need to find a way to adapt our landscapes to the changing reality—or nature will do it for us.”
Additional focus sessions were held on March 18 and 19 to gather input on golf, African American golfers, environmental factors, neighbors, and

Indigenous and Dakota, mirroring a similar set of focus groups in November 2018.

The committee is expected to finalize a design by June, and hold a public hearing in September.

SEE Is Hiawatha Golf Course making, or losing, money?


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Longfellow accessory dwelling unit to be part of Home Tour

Posted on 25 March 2019 by calvin

Christopher Strom Architects, a five-person architectural firm located in St. Louis Park, has built a portfolio of award-winning custom residential homes over the years. Lately, they’ve been getting a lot of attention for their ability to translate big design into small structures—which they call second suites. One of those projects will be part of this year’s Minneapolis-St. Paul Home Tour on Apr. 27-28.

A second suite is a permanent, secondary residence on a city lot with a dedicated kitchen and bathroom. Legally, they are referred to as accessory dwelling units (ADUs). A second suite gives city dwellers a little more room without increasing the mass of their main house. It also allows for multi-generational living while maintaining independence and privacy. Families can share resources, provide caregiving, and enjoy spending time together. While not cheap, an ADU can be a cost-effective alternative to an apartment or even an assisted living facility.

ADUs became legal in Minneapolis on Dec. 5, 2014, when the City Council amended zoning code.

“We love the idea of building new in the city without having to do a tear-down,” Strom said. “With a second suite, homeowners may decide to build-to-blend with the character of their existing home, or add a contemporary counterpoint to what’s already there.”

An ADU in Longfellow is a case in point. Owned by Stephanie Erickson and Ross Pfund, it’s the fourth project of its kind designed by Christopher Strom Architects in Minneapolis.

“There’s an amazing stock of bungalows and other well-proportioned homes in Longfellow,” Strom said. “They’re beautiful in the size and shape that they are, but they’re challenging to add on to. The reality is that people have a different expectation of reasonable space in this generation, but you don’t have to wreck a house to make it bigger.”

Photo right: Stephanie Erickson, Ross Pfund and baby Quinlan in their partially completed accessory dwelling unit. The new structure will have a living room, kitchenette, ¾ bathroom and bedroom over a double garage. A forced air furnace is located under the interior staircase. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Erikson and Pfund had meant to replace their single stall, shed-style garage anyhow. With the arrival of baby Quinlan a year ago, their home suddenly got smaller. Erickson said, “We saw two of Chris’s other projects in the neighborhood and thought maybe we should consider building an ADU. The idea of having a family room and a guest bedroom was really appealing. Both our sets of parents live out of town, so it’ll be great to have a place where they can be comfortable during visits. Our house is 1,100 square feet, and the finished ADU will be about 500 square feet. By law, the ADU can’t be larger or taller than the primary structure, and one or the other must be owner-occupied.”

“ADU design is really a game of inches,” Strom added. “When doing a custom residential design, the temptation is to keep increasing the size of the footprint to accomplish design goals. With an ADU, you don’t have that luxury. This way of working has impacted the way we look at our other projects.”

There are a lot of benefits to building an ADU. It could be used as business space (the City of Minneapolis allows one home-based employee in addition to the business owner). It could be home for an aging parent, or a young adult child returning to the roost. It could be used for rental income, or as an Airbnb. It could be used to enhance current living space, and provide more flexibility.

Strom concluded, “A second suite like the one in Longfellow isn’t a tricked-out garage. It’s a single family home with a garage on the bottom.”

For more ideas or to start a conversation, visit the alternative dwelling unit website of Christopher Strom Architects at

The 2019 Minneapolis and Saint Paul Home Tour will be Sat., Apr. 27, 10am-5pm and Sun., Apr. 28, 1-5pm.

In its 32nd year, the Tour features homes ranging from the very old to the very new. Homeowners will be on hand to share their home improvement experiences. The Tour will be held regardless of weather. Come out to meet homeowners and building professionals in a low-key, no obligation setting.

A list of all homes on the self-guided Tour will be online at in early April.


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People’s Center Dental Clinic offers comprehensive care

Posted on 25 March 2019 by calvin

The People’s Center Dental Clinic, 3152 Minnehaha Ave., provides affordable dental care to individuals and families. The clinic accepts all major insurance plans and has a sliding fee scale for patients without insurance.

Dental office manager Noel Switzer said, “Our 15-person staff includes three dentists and three registered dental hygienists. We have staff fluent in Spanish, Oromo, Amharic, Somalian, and even Italian. We have a diverse patient population, and many of our patients are new to this country. It’s quite possible that a new patient may not have been to the dentist before, but we also have many patients who have lived in the community for years.”

Photo right: Dental office manager Noel Switzer (left) and registered dental hygienist Hassan Moallim (right) of the People’s Center Dental Clinic.. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The People’s Center Dental Clinic is a non-profit organization funded by grants and the federal government.

“We don’t turn patients away due to inability to pay,” Switzer said, “and we always welcome new patients to our clinic. We provide a comprehensive range of services, and draw patients from across the metro area and as far away as St. Cloud.”

Hassan Moallim is one of the clinic’s three registered dental hygienists and its only Italian speaker. He grew up in Florence, Italy, where his Somalian-born parents met. “I visited Minnesota several times with my family. My aunt and uncle lived here, and I eventually studied English at MCTC for two years. Their support was crucial to my success. In Somalian culture, we believe that the community is collective and that family comes first. My uncle is an internist and my mother is a retired pharmacist. I felt drawn to a career in the health sciences, and decided to become a dental hygienist.”

While studying at Nor­man­dale Community College, Moallim developed a clear sense that he wanted to work in a community dental clinic. “I enjoy the wide range of patients we get here: a lot of artists and people from many different ethnic backgrounds,” he said. “Being a dental hygienist means that you have to be skilled with instruments and tools, but you also have to be very good at working up close with people. We encourage preventive dentistry here, and I think the most important part of preventive dentistry is education. If we do a good job at that, patients will have good results.”

A common factor shared by many people coming to the dentist is anxiety. “We don’t want to scare anybody!” Moallim said. “I’m the official DJ on the lower level of the clinic, and I think hearing beautiful music helps patients to relax. In Italy, music was very prevalent and part of everyday life. This is one way that I can share what I love with my patients.”

You can contact the People’s Center Dental Clinic at 612-332-4973. Clinic hours are Monday-Friday, from 8:30am-4:30pm.


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Create, connect, craft at camps over the summer months

Posted on 26 February 2019 by calvin

SE Minneapolis Soccer, Little Folk Summer Camp, Minnehaha Academy, Blackbird Music, free Forest School, and others make summer memories they’ll never forget

Create a cardboard castle, a cigar box guitar, or a Lego robot. Connect with long-time friends and make new ones while learning how to kayak, juggle or sew. Make a puppet, animated cartoon, stationary, or your own song. There are so many summer camp options in the Twin Cities area, your kids will have trouble picking just one!
Browse below for more information on some of the camps offered locally.


(Photo right provided) Be initiated into an ancient and esteemed House of The Realm, jump into live-action adventure gaming, build your own arms and armor, and more during these five-day, full-day sessions for ages 8-17. Buses available from Flair Fountains Building (4501 Hiawatha Ave.) and some camps held at Minnehaha Park.

A variety of art disciplines and mediums with themes like puppetry, world cultures, If I had a Hammer, animation, art car, public art and activism, printmaking and more offered for ages 4-18. Five-day, half- and full-day sessions available.

Write your own songs, start your own band, build cigar guitars from the ground up, and learn electric guitar.

Explore international circus arts at Circus Juventas. Five-day, full-day sessions and one-day sampler camps offered for ages 6-15. New this year is Teen High-Flying Adventure Camp for ages 13-18.

Free Forest School of the Twin Cities is a free group, open to young children and their parents or caregivers. This is a welcoming and non-judgmental group where parents and caregivers can practice giving children space and autonomy to explore and create in nature. Free Forest School meets every day of the week throughout the year at wilderness areas around the metro. Share a snack, take a hike, play in the woods, and have circle time. Parents get a chance to unplug and step back… kids and their imaginations take the lead.
Cost: Free

Experience the outdoors, or the lives of the engineers and grenadiers who called Fort Snelling home. Go back to the past and explore the stories of children who lived in the Fort Snelling at Bdote area. Camps range from one to four days.

(Photo right provided) A variety of athletic, academic and enrichment programs are offered, including baking basics, woodcarving, viola and cello, Ev3 robots, Hispanic Culture Camp, fencing, stop motion, sewing, painting, rocket science, drumming, and more. Half- and full-day, one- to three-week weekday sessions. Camp Minnehaha, a full day camp for pre-k to grade 8, includes daily devotions, games, indoor and outdoor activities, daily swimming lessons, and weekly off-campus activity.
612-728-7745, ext. 1

Southeast Soccer fields a variety of girls and boys teams for ages U9-U18 at beginner, intermediate and advanced competitive levels. Consider the Lil’ Dribblers soccer program for ages 4 -8, or summer traveling teams.

Explore the variety of Y Summer Programs at over 60 metro-area locations. Programs include flexible three-, four-, and five-day options for preschool and up, as well as day camps, overnight camps, Teen Wilderness, family camps and more.



Unleashed summer campers entering grades 3-10 spend a full week immersed in animal learning and fun at one of four AHS locations,

Solve mysteries of the past in this three-day History Detective Camp for ages 10-13. Or, young ladies ages 9-12 can step back in time in a unique Finishing School for Young Ladies day camp.

Blackhawks offer several exciting half- and full-day soccer camps for players ages 5-18 that encompass a wide variety of activities and skills. Specialty camps focus on specific skills such as ball control, shooting, and goalkeeping.

(Photo left provided) Spend some time “Monkeying Around” with your primate pals, go for the gold in “Animal Olympics,” take an “African Adventure” without leaving Como, or try on the hat of a zookeeper or gardener in “Behind-the-Scenes!” Como’s camps focus on developing children’s appreciation for the natural world through play and exploration, behind-the-scenes experiences, interactions with zookeepers and gardeners, and up-close encounters with plant and animal ambassadors. Five-day, half-day or full-day sessions for preschool to grade eight. Extended care is available.

Camp and canoe while learning leadership and teamwork skills in a free, seven-day resident camp for youths age 13-18 who live within the city limits of Minneapolis or St. Paul. Held on the St. Croix River in Rush City and organized by YouthCARE.

Experience cultural and language immersion; 15 languages to choose from. Resident camp for ages 6-18 and family camps.

(Photo right provided) Want to make a film just like the professionals do? Feel like biking 10 (or 20!) miles a day? Have a secret stash of poems you want to share? Feel a need to express yourself through paint and paper-folding? Maybe you’d rather argue for the defense in a real courtroom? Friends School will be the place to do that—and more—from June to August for ages 4-14. Weekdays, half- and full-day. Extended daycare in the mornings and afternoons and need-based financial aid available.

Campers have fun while gaining an appreciation for nature by meeting live animals, building forts, and getting their hands dirty during full- and half-day, four-day camps offered for students entering 1-8 grades. Shorter sessions are available for ages 3-6.

Day camps exploring science, technology, and engineering are offered in partnership with local community education programs. Sessions, length, and price are varied per location and type of camp for ages 4-14.

Make butter, ice cream, and bread while learning about science, agriculture, and history at the Bruentrup Heritage Farm in Maplewood. Plus, students will play old-time games like townball and do arts and crafts during three four-day sessions.

Fiddle Pal Camp Minnesota is four days to discover, learn and play for children, adults, and families at three locations.

From fusing to casting to glass blowing, ages 9-18 are introduced to the mesmerizing medium of glass through immersive half-day, five-day experiences.

Speak, hear, sing, and create in German while exploring subjects ranging from history and art to science and music during five-day, half-, full- and extended-day sessions for grades K-13 at the Germanic American Institute.

Travel back in time and learn about life in the 1800s. Explore seasonal Dakota activities including the maple sugar camp, wild rice village, life in the tipi, hunting games, methods of travel, language, and song. Three-day, half-day camps. One-day Pioneer PeeWees camps offered for ages 4-5.

High school students ages 15-18 can explore the craft, prepare for college, and connect with other young writers in the Twin Cities while working closely with Hamline Creative Writing faculty and published authors.

Summer camps allow time for more in-depth projects, such as Wild & Wooly, Fairies, Critters, and Sea Creatures, for kindergarten and up.

Professional Irish Dance training by director Cormac O’Se, an original member of Riverdance.

Half-day, five-day sessions and single day sessions for beginners through experts ages 8-18 enhance hand-eye coordination, boost concentration, and build self-confidence.

Yoga infused throughout the day via story, dance, and games for campers age 5-12. Located on the Greenway = daily field adventures.

Enjoy Summer Tennis in Minneapolis parks for ages 6-17. Free and reduced programs available.

Girls and boys ages 6 to 17 can design and build their creative ideas, mixing art, science, and technology during partial-day, weekday camps. There are more than 120 classes available over ten weeks, including a Harry Potter Theme Week with giant Hogwarts Castle build.

There’s something for everyone—from the youngster just learning to put pen to paper to the seasoned high school senior with a novel already under her belt. Sessions run in week-long blocks July and August, full and half-day options available for ages 6-17.

Roller ski, mountain bike, canoe and more during adventure camps for ages 9-13 at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. Equipment provided during the full-day, five-day sessions.

Join the Minnesota Waldorf School for good, old-fashioned summer fun with outdoor games, natural crafts, water play, gardening, fairy camp, and much more. For children ages 3.5 to (rising) 6th grade.
651-487-6700 x202

Play music, get creative, bake bread, and construct books while exploring the rich culture along the Minneapolis riverfront district. Campers aged 9-11 will explore a new experience each day at four arts centers.

Work with sculpture, tiles, or wheel-thrown pottery in half or full-day sessions for ages 6 and up.

Summer sessions for ages 6-14 are run by the University of Minnesota’s Rec & Wellness Camps. Camps also offered in partnership with MIA and Richardson Nature Center.

With camps happening at the new Discovery Center in Uptown every week of the summer, as well as at various schools and educational partners around the Twin Cities, Snapology has got you covered for kiddos as young as 3 and as old as 14—Robotics, Coding, Science, Technology, Drones, Pre-K, Engineering, Architecture and more.

Fun, exciting camps that combine physical fitness and education are offered throughout the summer for school-age kids. Register early for discounts.

Make your own games and design circuits. Paint with pizzazz. Search out connections between visual art and creative writing, and explore the life of a story in journalism. Options at SPA cover a wide range of academic, arts, and enrichment activities for grades 2-12.

Summer is a great time to try dance. Programs include workshops and camps for ages 3 and up, weekly drop-in classes for teens and adults, and a “mommy and me” baby class.

Located at 30+ sites, with several locations in the Midway-Como neighborhoods, St. Paul Urban Tennis offers a summer program for all age groups and skill levels. Tennis lessons combine high-quality instruction with life skills learning. Sampler Camps offer a condensed, 4-day version of the lesson program. Scholarships are available.

Learn about devised theater, music, and other performance art forms during these one- to two-week, half- and full-day sessions for those preK to grade 12. Two theater classes offered in collaboration with the Science Museum and Minnesota Zoo.

Learn about track, motors, and controls and how the crew does their jobs at the Minnesota Streetcar Museum in Minneapolis. Each child ages 6-11 will have the chance to climb into the Motorman’s seat and run the car down the line.

Sew, knit, felt, dye and more. Take home completed fiber items from three- and five-day, half-, full- and extended-day sessions for ages 6-16.

Students ages 8-17 enrolled in the weeklong, half-day camps will experience a variety of circus disciplines (including Trampoline, Static Trapeze, Acrobatics, Circus Bike, and of course Flying Trapeze).

Animal encounters, canoeing, hiking, swimming, pond-dipping, mud-mucking, and gardening adventures await for ages 3-13.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of every camp in the Twin Cities. If you would like to be included in next year’s guide, please send us information on your camp.

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Johnson slams new neighborhoods plan, calling it “recipe for failure”

Posted on 25 February 2019 by calvin

At least one Minneapolis City Council Member is sharply critical of a new proposal to tighten up management of the city’s neighborhood groups. The Twelfth Ward’s Andrew Johnson (photo right submitted) is calling the plan, known as Neighborhoods 2020, a “recipe for failure.”

The proposal was drafted by the Minneapolis Neighborhoods and Community Relations Department. If approved by the City Council, Neighborhoods 2020 could require groups like the Longfellow Community Council and the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association to comply with new city standards or risk losing city funding.

Johnson is particularly concerned about Neighborhoods 2020’s diversity provisions that would apply to the composition of each organization’s board of directors. The plan would require the city’s funded neighborhood groups to submit annual reports describing the make-up of their boards. If a board’s diversity differed significantly from the neighborhood’s demographics, the organization would be required to file a “Diversity Action Plan” aimed at encouraging new board members that “reflects the diversity within the neighborhood including race, gender, age, income and homeowners and renter status.” According to Neighborhoods 2020, “organizations that do not complete a plan and meet board diversity standards within 18 months may have their funding reduced or terminated.”

Johnson, a former chair of the Longfellow Community Council (LCC), maintains that the draft plan will require neighborhood groups to meet standards that the city, itself, has been unable to meet. “Despite all our efforts and all our action plans, the City has seen at firsthand how difficult a challenge it has been to diversify our workforce and move the needle on this important issue. So when I see the punitive provisions in Neighborhoods 2020, I think about what would happen if those provisions were imposed on the City of Minneapolis by the State of Minnesota. If the State gave the City just 18 months to meet similar diversity standards, we’d lose our state funding and go bankrupt!”

“This punitive approach is clearly a recipe for failure,” Johnson added. “It will only succeed in damaging the very organizations it is intended to help. I would much prefer to see us use a carrot rather than a stick when it comes to neighborhood development.”

LCC’s Executive Director, Melanie Majors (photo left submitted), shares Johnson’s concerns. “This new proposal, coming on the heels of the 2040 plan, is overburdening neighborhoods groups, particularly those small organizations with more limited capacity,” she notes. “The plan is setting out more directives for groups like ours without providing us with a clear path on how to comply. Neighborhoods 2020 is clearly overreach on the part of City Hall. City Hall hasn’t figured out a way of dealing with its own diversity problems so now it is putting the burden on us.”

“The approach we are being asked to take is almost like tokenism when it comes to renters and people of color,” Major maintains. “It says that because you are a renter or a person of color, you are not able to determine for yourself what is happening in your neighborhood that might affect you. I think that is quite demeaning. That is not the approach we take in Longfellow. We start with the premise that everyone has a stake in the neighborhood. Neighborhoods 2020 presupposes that we don’t reach out to renters and people of color. That’s not right. We do reach out.”

Becky Timm, Nokomis East Neighborhood Association’s Executive Director, notes that diversity and inclusion are important goals for her organization. “NENA’s board understands that we need to reflect the people who live in our neighborhood. We have done a lot of work—a lot of outreach—to make sure that we truly represent the neighborhood. We have spent the last year recruiting renters and people of low wealth to become part of our association and part of our board. We are working on a leadership development pipeline. We are hiring a second community organizer. Our current organizer speaks Spanish, and our new staff person will speak Somali. All of this is hard work. But we know it is something we need to do.”

Steve Gallagher, the policy specialist for the city’s Neighborhoods and Community Relations Department, acknowledges the concerns about the impact of his department’s plan, but he notes that the plan is merely a framework, not the “final package.” If the framework is adopted by the Council, Gallagher says that NCR will prepare follow-up guidelines and go out to the neighborhoods for further review. “Our overall aim is to help all neighborhoods become stronger. We know that one-third of our groups are making great progress in achieving their diversity and inclusion goals. Another third are doing an adequate job, but the final third needs help in getting the job done.”

Gallagher says he expects the Council to act on the framework in mid-April. NCR would then work on guidelines with an additional comment period before the guidelines are finalized. After that happens, the guidelines would be sent to the Council for final action. “We want to make sure that organizations and individuals have full opportunities to provide their input as this process moves forward.”

Editor’s Note: There will be a Neighborhoods 2020 Community Meeting on Tues., Mar. 19, 6:30-8:30pm at Longfellow Park, 3435 36th Ave. S.



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Nokomis home basement workshop has worldwide clientele

Posted on 25 February 2019 by calvin

In the first six weeks of 2019, parts have shipped to Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, England, France

Nokomis resident Mark Stonich is a tinkerer. And his curiosity about how things work and how they can work better has led him to a unique semi-retirement profession. He has two worldwide monopolies. He sends shortened cranks and tools all over the world.

‘’I’m the last source on the planet for a couple of tools for working on vintage bicycles,’’ he said.

Those tools are a crank cotter press, used for installing and removing the tapered pins that were used to mount old steel crank arms, and a tool for removing the crank bearing cup from old English bikes. “And I’m the only person anywhere commercially shortening bicycle cranks,” he added.

Photo right: Mark Stonich at work in his basement workshop. (Photo by Jan Willms)

A crank consists of one or more sprockets attached to the crank arms to which the pedals attach. It is connected to the rider by the pedals, to the bicycle frame by the bottom bracket, and to the rear sprocket, cassette or freewheel via the chain.

People need shortened cranks for a variety of reasons, according to Stonich. ‘’There can be a limited range of motion due to an accident, congenital disabilities, or knee surgery,’’ he said. Other reasons for needing a shorter crank include short limbs in small adults and children, dwarfism, or unequal leg lengths.

From the basement of his home where he has his business, Bike Smith Design, Stonich connects with customers from all over the world, as well as the United States. In just the first six weeks of this year, he has sent parts to Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, England, and France.

One of his customers who has greatly expanded on his cycling is John ‘The Hammer’ Young. ‘’He was the first dwarf triathlete and now is quite a celebrity among the Little People community,’’ Stonich said. Stonich was first contacted by Young about ten years ago. He just wanted a bike that would fit him so he could go riding with his children. He found a 20-inch wheel REI girls MTB, and Stonich made him up some 100 mm cranks. Young said when he was finally able to ride a bike, he almost broke into tears.

‘’Six months later, he called me and asked if I could help him gear the bike higher so he could go faster,’’ Stonich recalled. ‘He said he was pretty fit for a little guy, as he was the swim coach at the school where he also taught math.’’ Six months later Young wrote that he was going to try doing a community triathlon, even though he was sure he would come in dead last. He did not finish last, and eventually a triathlon team noted that he was beating some of their participants in swimming, and they asked him to join their team and help coach swimming. In turn, they helped him with the run, filming him on a treadmill and convincing him to shorten his stride, which saved him 30-40 seconds per mile.

‘’They also helped him modify his bike until nothing original remained but the frame, brakes and my cranks,’’ Stonich said. When Young, who is from Massachusetts, had business in Albert Lea, he rented a car and strapped his homemade extenders onto the gas and brake pedals and drove 85 miles each way to take Stonich and his wife, Jane, out to lunch. This kind of connection with his customers is what makes Stonich’s craft exciting.

Photo left: The crank and crank arm are two of the items that Stonich specializes in. (Photo submitted)

“One morning I woke up to an email that had been sent from Japan, an hour before the Fukushima tsunami,” Stonich said. “A bike shop owner asking about a cotter press. I replied that I hoped he was okay, and I said I would understand if he wouldn’t need it until things settled down.”

“He replied ‘Now I need it more than ever. Tens of thousands of cars were destroyed. People will need to get their old bikes running again’….”

Stonich explained that 98 percent of cranks for adults are between 170 mm and 175 mm long. But adults 5’5″ and under, or 6’4” and taller, are common. “Most bikes for children are sold with cranks that won’t be the right length for the child until he or she has outgrown the bike,” he said. “When your cranks are too long, your glutes and quads are stretched too much to be effective in the top half of the pedal circle. This makes cycling much more tiring than it should be, so they take up a different activity or watch Netflix.”

It takes Stonich just under an hour to shorten most cranks, but he spends an average of 5-6 hours working for every crank sold. “The hard work is gathering enough information about the customers, their bikes and the riding they do, figuring out what length and front sprocket sizes they need and which cranks will work and what, if any, adapters will be needed to the crank of their bikes,” Stonich said.

“The actual shortening of the crank, the welding or glazing and joining tubes, that’s the fun part and only takes ten percent of your time. But when you have that torch in your hand, that’s some sort of nirvana for people like me.”

As a child, Stonich said he would have liked to tinker but never really had the chance. “We were dirt poor, about the poorest family in a pretty lower-middle-class town. I was born in Duluth, but my parents were living in Grand Rapids at the time on a forestry station.”

As a teenager, Stonich had a job and wanted a car, but his dad would not allow him to have one. “Back then, a bike for a teenager was a shameful thing, like riding a toy. So I built up a bike from scrap parts to embarrass my dad into buying me a car, and it worked. He got me a car.”

But Stonich’s bike riding continued, and a few years later he was at a party in Duluth where he met a girl. “She needed a ride home, but she thought we were all too drunk to drive. However, she was desperate to get home, and we went outside, and I pulled out a bike. I folded my serape and put it on the rear rack for her to ride on. As we rode along, I thought this girl was such a good sport. We rode a mile, and she said to make a left and it was straight up a hill. We walked the rest of the way to her home. And now we have a great grandson who is a senior in high school. We have worn out three touring motorcycles and are on our seventh tandem bike. We still ride together a lot.”

The two shoot a lot of photos while on their bike rides. “Photography is a hobby, but biking is my life,” Stonich said.

“The beautiful thing about what I do is that while special needs folks usually need more of my time, they end up with my cheapest cranks. Triathletes and racers will spend anywhere from $219 to over $700. So helping upper-middle-class white folks go even faster, subsidizes helping people who otherwise wouldn’t’ be able to ride at all.”

Two of the most satisfying things in life, according to Stonich, are problem-solving and making a difference in someone’s life. He said one of his rare Minnesota customers loved riding her bike, but was hit by a car and her knee was badly damaged, severely restricting her range of motion. The bike was unharmed but put away for 30 years before someone told the woman about Stonich’s services.

“I installed a set of 100 mm cranks on her bike, and she rode right off. They say you never forget how to ride a bike, and apparently, that’s true. She rode down our street, made a U-turn and returned crying like a baby. She wouldn’t stop hugging us.”
Stonich said the nice thing about being semi-retired is that he can spend a sunny Wednesday outside on his bike and spend time in his workshop on a Sunday night.

“At 72, I’d love to have more time for travel and photography,” Stonich said. “But as long as there is no one else to help those with special needs, I can’t quit.”



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‘Black boys are not broken’

Posted on 25 February 2019 by calvin

A listening tour inspired OBMSA Director Michael Walker to develop a Belief Framework, which formed the foundation for the work of OBMSA. Four key stakeholders—community, parents and families, educators, and Black male students—form the outer ring of the framework. “They all need to believe in each other, which is why the arrows on the illustration are circular, having no beginning and no end. Their beliefs need to change and reinforce each other rather than work at odds as they currently do,” he explained. “Students need to believe in themselves. They also need educators to believe in them. Parents need to believe in educators. As the parents start to come around, as their beliefs change, the community at large will believe the system is working.” (Graphic provided)

OBMSA focuses on changing a broken system while building relationships with Black males

Five years ago, Michael Walker was tasked with solving a problem affecting the largest demographic group in Minneapolis Public Schools.

Today, he’s happy to report that black male students have higher GPAs, are dropping out at lower rates, and are more engaged.
These positive statistics can be directly tied to the district’s Office of Black Male Student Achievement (OBMSA) and the B.L.A.C.K. curriculum that Walker helped develop with University of Minnesota Department of African American & African Studies Dr. Keith Mayes.

The B.L.A.C.K (Building Lives Acquiring Cultural Knowledge) program introduces students to the complexity of the black male experience by exploring the lived reality of black men in the United States. The program is offered at four high schools, including South High, and four middle schools, including Folwell.

Photo left: “Our job is not to change or fix Black boys,” observed Minneapolis Public Schools office of Black Male Student Achievement Director Michael Walker, “because Black boys are not broken. We need to fix the system that Black boys navigate.” (Photo submitted)

While American history courses typically introduce Blacks in 1619 with slavery, B.L.A.C.K. reaches farther back to the thousands of years before slavery interrupted the history of Africa.

If you only start with slavery, that can lead to low self-worth and low self-esteem, Walker pointed out.

Since its inception, about 554 middle and high school students have participated in a B.L.A.C.K. class, and there have been 31 participants in the new elementary school program. Those who take the class for more than one year show the biggest improvements in their academics. The average GPA at the end of the 2014-2015 school year was 2.21 compared to 2.42 at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Non-participants were at 1.99.

Fifty-four percent of participants graduated in 2018, compared to 47 percent of non-participants. Plus, 100 percent are on track to graduate, and none have dropped out of school. Discipline issues have decreased.

“I think if it weren’t for the [B.L.A.C.K.] class, my grades wouldn’t be where they’re at right now. And I wouldn’t be on track,” stated one participant.

Awakening greatness
Established in 2014, OBMSA is the second such office in the nation, following Oakland Unified Schools.

The mission of OBMSA is: to awaken the greatness within Black males in MPS, to have them determined to believe and achieve success, as defined by their own values and dreams.

In the beginning, Walker and team members set out to make sure those impacted were at the forefront of the decision-making process. Knowing that the traditional course of holding meetings in the school would end up with the same results, Walker used his status as a member of the Black community to gather input at local barbershops and hair salons.

Walker pointed out that generational trauma affects how well today’s students do in school, influenced by the experiences their parents had while they were in school. Today’s high numbers of Black students who are referred to Special Education classes or suspended is not brand new.

“This has been going on for generations,” he pointed out, and leads to parents who don’t even want to step foot into school buildings.

The unifying theme that came out of the listening tour was that there was a system of broken beliefs about others, Walker wrote in an article for VUE (Voices in Education) 2018 that he coauthored with OBMSA Equity Coordinator Corey Yeager and MPS Director of Accountability and Evaluation Jennie Zumbusch. “Parents and families did not believe that the teachers were fair and equitable when it came to dealings with their Black males. The community did not believe that the educational system was serving all students. Educators did not believe that they had the tools necessary to support Black males in the classroom, and, in some cases, they didn’t believe that they could be successful. Finally, Black males didn’t see academic success in their future.”

But one thing became clear to Walker and staff. “What is apparent from OBMSA’s work is that there is no such thing as an achievement gap, only a belief gap,” they wrote.

Through his work, Walker seeks to engage authentically with students and to create a family. Staff consider themselves “uncles” to participants, who are their “nephews.”

Participants themselves are called “Kings,” as a positive alternative to the other negative terms that have been used to describe Black males throughout history, and OBMSA staff see themselves in the “King building business.”

“We are intentionally using positive terms that bring value and honor to who they are and can be,” remarked Walker.

Photo right: Kings, B.L.A.C.K. participants, attend one of the monthly extended learning opportunities (ELO) offered at the University of Minnesota. Participants themselves are called “Kings,” as a positive alternative to the other negative terms that have been used to describe Black Males throughout history. “We are intentionally using positive terms that bring value and honor to who they are and can be,” remarked OBMSA Director Michael Walker. (Photo submitted)

Through the state’s Community Expert process, OBMSA brought in Black teachers as studies have shown that Black students matched with a Black teacher have both short- and long-term positive outcomes. The MPS teacher force is only 5 percent Black (and one percent Black male), while Black students make up 38 percent of the student body.

Jordan basketball incident
Walker is intimately acquainted with the Minneapolis School system. He grew up in North Minneapolis and moved to South Minneapolis in high school. He’s a graduate of Roosevelt High School (1994), where he later returned to work as a dean and then as assistant principal (2011-2014). As assistant basketball coach at Roosevelt from 1999-2011, he worked with the same man who coached his own team, Dennis Stockmo. He’s since returned as head varsity coach.

Walker sees basketball as a way to develop young men, who learn life skills on the court that can help them be successful off the court. The Roosevelt basketball team grades 9-12 is composed of about 70% Black players (Somali, Ethiopian, and African American).

In January 2019, an incident involving a Trump re-election flag during an away game in Jordan had players and community members talking about the issues of race.

Together, team members wrote a statement to show their unified intent to not be divisive but to bring people together. The team had stayed in the locker room during the National Anthem because of the Trump flag and did not participate in the pre-game handshaking as they don’t do that in their conference.

“This all comes down to people trying to see one another’s point of view—and we’re coming from a place that recognizes a history of oppression for people of color in the U.S. As young people, it’s our job to bridge the divide and make the world a better place, a safer place, for every person, no matter their color or culture. We mean no harm toward Jordan or its fans, and we hope they will stand with us for change,” wrote players.

“The lines of communication are open,” stated Walker.

Black boys are not broken
“Our job is not to change or fix Black boys,” observed Walker, “because Black boys are not broken. We need to fix the system that Black boys navigate.”

Towards that goal, OBMSA staff provide professional development for educators within the Minneapolis Public School system. Over 1,200 faculty and staff at 14 schools have attended sessions on topics such as unconscious bias, engaging Black males, power and privilege, and involving Black families more in education.

The goal is to help adults self-reflect on the ways they have been approaching Black students.

“I wish all of our MPS teachers had the opportunity to engage with OBMSA,” wrote one participant after a training. “It is clearly one of the best things MPS is doing for our students.”

OBMSA staff will also be presenting on Apr. 10 at the U of M Urban Leadership Academy.

“I am so grateful for the team I work with,” stated Walker. “I love what we have developed and built together.”







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Wonderwoman Construction stands out in male-dominated industry

Posted on 25 February 2019 by calvin

Wonderwoman Construction is a woman-owned, one-stop design and general contracting business in the Longfellow neighborhood. Owner Lori Reese said, “Our team is dedicated to the concept of using building science to improve not only the look and function of your project but also its impact on the environment.”

Sustainability practices are a big deal in the building industry these days. Reese said, “The earth is our home, and we make it a priority to treat it that way. We use tools, materials, and processes that are sustainable and would make Mother Nature proud. We optimize our projects for energy efficiency, which can save both your money and your conscience in the long run.”

Photo right: Wonderwoman Construction owner Lori Reese said, “It’s super important to recognize that women can be successful in the construction business, and that we can provide strong role models.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Reese grew up on a dairy farm in Blooming Prairie, MN. “I learned to work hard on the farm,” she said, “shoveling manure, picking rocks, baling hay, carrying buckets of water. Looking back, it was kind of sexist because my three sisters and I didn’t get to weld or use any of the heavy machinery—and I wanted to do those things. I majored in business in college and did an internship in construction even though I didn’t know much about construction at the time. I liked it so much that I became a Union Carpenter in 1988.”

Using her business acumen, Reese soon opened her own business. In 2002, she started hiring employees. She had a female business partner at the time, and using their combined names for a company name didn’t suit them. “We went to superheroes for inspiration pretty quickly,” Reese said.

Growing up on the farm, Reese had loved watching Wonder Woman on one of the three TV stations that existed back then. The original DC Comics Wonder Woman had some pretty amazing powers: superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, agility, empathy—and an enhanced sense of smell, vision, and hearing. The name fit the business, and Wonderwoman Construction was born.

The company has grown steadily, and Reese now employees 15+ employees. “We got so busy that I hung up my tool belt in 2006, recognizing that I could either be a good carpenter or a good business manager,” she said. “We usually have about ten projects going at a time, each one with a project manager assigned to it. Our workload is roughly 80% residential and 20% commercial projects. We try to work close to home to keep our gas consumption down. We do projects as small as our minimum $200, up to $1,000,000.”

Photo left: Wonderwoman Construction is located at 3715 Minnehaha Ave. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“I’ve always asked questions,” Reese said, “it’s what I’m known for. If I don’t understand something, I’ll ask. I’ve encouraged my carpenters to do the same thing because we want to look at the big picture and give our customers all the options. For instance, if a client wants to do a fancy kitchen remodel but it’s obvious they have ice dams, we’ll encourage them to deal with the structural problems first.”

“The construction industry is still male-dominated,” according to Reese, “although the judgments are a little less than they used to be.” Wonderwoman Construction employs men as well as women, and Reese refers to her team as superheroes in their own right for their commitment to excellence. She said, “Our team is made of people anyone would be comfortable having in their home. Every one of us is conscientious, hard-working, and very friendly toward kids and pets.”

Wonderwoman Construction has a master electrician on staff, a designer, and three master painters (interior and exterior). They install insulation and do custom welding. Reese recently got certified as an electrical contractor herself and, to top it all off, started a snow removal service this year. The flat fee is $75 for a house (corner lot is $95) including sidewalk, steps, and garage apron.

Call 612-210-9220 with questions, or stop in at 3715 Minnehaha Ave. M-F between 8am-5pm. Wonderwoman Construction t-shirts and other merchandise are available for purchase.



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