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Rebuild Repair Recycle: Junket moving forward sustainably

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Owner Julie Kearns seeks to align business and personal values

Junket owner and creator Julie Kearns asked, “How can we make this the greenest neighborhood in America? Each of us can choose to set a personal carbon consumption budget of 5 tons of CO2 emissions per year, and then use that smaller footprint as the basis to design a simpler, better life.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Julie Kearns is the creator and owner of Junket: Tossed and Found, a funky second hand store that was a fixture on Minnehaha Ave. for years.
In August of 2018, she and her team closed their store.
Kearns said, “We tried a space sharing arrangement with another social enterprise, but it didn’t work. While we hadn’t planned on closing, it turned out to be a positive change in the end. Junket looks different these days, but we’re very much moving forward.”
The Junket team is currently working remotely – coming together for meetings, popping up at events, and keeping their inventory organized and accessible in temporary storage. Visit www.shopjunket.com to learn more about their ethically sourced and sustainably shipped quality goods and creative supplies now available online.
Kearns said, “I knew I’d need to grieve the loss of the physical store. With time came the realization that I’d been operating in a driven state for years: through the frustration of the Minnehaha Ave. construction, and all of the changes that have hit the retail market, generally. While Junket has always been about fostering positive social change through creativity and reuse, retail had merely been the vehicle we’d used to engage with community and with each other.”
Kearns decided to change vehicles – in more ways than one.
As part of her healing process, she started to look at how running the shop had made it difficult for her to live out her own values of a low-carbon lifestyle.
Kearns said, “I felt like a hypocrite driving my two block commute every morning, but I never knew when I might need my car during the day for a pick-up or delivery.”
Once the shop was closed, she sold her car in favor of using a scooter that gets 89 miles per gallon. Between the scooter, her bicycle, two feet, and public transportation, Kearns is getting around just fine.
On the home front, Kearns and her daughter had already transitioned from a three-bedroom house to shared ownership in a cooperative and an 800-square-foot apartment in 2015.
She said, “Last year’s forced do-over came with a powerful upside: I’ve had time to strategically simplify other areas of my life to align with closely held values, and to mold the business around our lives instead of the other way around. After so many years in the public eye, this has been a welcome, more private, time of strategic thinking, pausing, and shifting.”
The Junket team right now is small and mighty.
Kearns said, “For our next chapter, we envision a community space nestled in the Longfellow neighborhood with a focus on creativity, innovation, and resilience through re-use. We envision a healthy, vibrant collaborative that offers many possibilities – imagine intergenerational skill building, consulting and classes in sustainability, making and repair, incubating low-carbon business start-ups, sales and swap events where senior citizens and down-sizers can transfer goods to those who need them, perhaps a commercial kitchen for food growers/preparers, a co-working space, and a CSA pick-up site.”
Kearns continued, “While we wait for the right space and time, we’re building a stronger base of operations online, offering carbon-informed classes and consulting, and making appearances at niche events like the Midtown Farmers Market.
“We’re using our online store to model carbon-informed commerce selling reused goods, all of which are packaged in reused materials and shipped via ground transit (which generates 10 times fewer emissions than air shipping). Having this infrastructure in place will make it easy to scale up quickly, whenever market demand and carbon constraints finally propel data-driven climate measures into mainstream economic decision-making.”
Kearns is also actively involved in the work of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps. A training will be held August 2-4 at the Minneapolis Convention Center (application deadline for the no-cost event is June 19). For more information go to www.climaterealityleadershipcorps.com.

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Faster transit coming to Lake

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Tesha M. Christensen

Deborah Kitzmann lives in Corcoran and works in St. Paul. She favors keeping more stops so that people don’t have to walk as far, but wants to see better services for riders, too. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Travel down Lake St. by bus is slow with stops on the Route 21 every two blocks.
During rush hour, buses slow to average speeds of only eight miles per hour, and it’s considered one of the slowest transit corridors in the metro.
Red lights mean that buses are moving less than half the time.
And over 10,000 rides are taken on this route per day.
For those people, things are about to get faster.
Metro Transit plans to construct the region’s third bus rapid transit line on Lake St./Marshall Ave. in 2022. With things in the planning stage now for the B Line, a series of open houses was held in May, including one at South High School on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 and another at the Oxford Community Center on Saturday, May 4.
“There’s a lot of congestion and a lot of delay,” observed Metro Transit Senior Planner Adam Smith.
“Anything that could improve our transit service is something I’m interested in,” stated Brian Kimnes who lives in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood of St. Paul and works off Lake Street in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. If the bus line was faster, it would make it much more likely that he’d take the bus to work instead of his car, he said.
If he goes to the Lyn-Lake area now, he drives because the bus is “excruciatingly slow,” he stated. “It stops every block and it’s a painful experience. I can drive there in 20 minutes or take the bus for 50.”
HOW IS IT FASTER?
The B Line would make the trip about 20% faster. The savings would come by stopping less often, allowing customers to board faster, and stopping at fewer red lights.
With bus rapid transit, buses make limited stops at stations spaced farther apart, such as every 1/3 to 1/2 mile between stations instead of very other block.
Fares are collected at stations, just like light rail, instead of on the bus. B line buses run in general traffic and stations are built on curb bump-outs to avoid delays caused by merging back into traffic.
BRT lines also use transit signal priority, where buses “ask” traffic signals for early or extended green lights.
There are several options Metro Transit is looking at and gathering input on, such as queue jumps and a dedicated lane for buses, according to project manager Cody Olson. The dedicated lane would be more challenging along Lake St. but easier to do on Marshall, he observed. It could be ‘Buses Only’ during certain times of the day and multi-use at other times.
Bus approach lanes at intersections could speed things up for buses, as well.

Courtesy of Metro Transit

WILL IT BE TOUGH ON FAMILIES TO SPACE OUT STATIONS?
Deborah Kitzmann is a Corcoran resident who works in St. Paul. She rides both the number 53 and the 21 bus regularly and it takes about 45 minutes to get to her stop near the Capitol. She walks six blocks to a bus stop. “I think they need to keep the stops they have right now,” said Kitzmann. “People with kids and families need to have access and not walk a mile to get to the bus stop.”
Overall, though, she wants to see better services for riders.
WILL IT REPLACE ROUTE 21?
The B line could potentially fully replace the Route 21 bus and offer high frequency service all day and on nights and weekends.
Some of the biggest questions, in addition to where to locate stations, are what route the line should take in St. Paul. There are several options planners are looking at, including using University or Selby and going all the way to downtown St. Paul.
At the open houses, attendees were asked to rate which the following in terms of priority: overall travel time, bus arriving at planned time, bus arrives as steady frequency, smooth ride – less starting and stopping, less delay in traffic or stoplights, walking distance to bus stop, and amenities at stop.
Send comments to bline@metrotransit.org.

DID YOU KNOW?

> The B Line is planned to be the fourth of several planned BRT lines that will bring faster, frequent service to the region’s busiest transit corridors.
>> The region’s first arterial BRT line, the A Line, opened in 2016 and has boosted corridor ridership by about one third.
>> Construction on the C Line, serving Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center, is underway. Service is scheduled to begin in 2019.
>> The D Line, serving the Route 5 corridor from Bloomington to Brooklyn Center, is currently in design, targeted for construction to begin in 2020.
>>The E Line, serving the Route 6 corridor on Hennepin Avenue is in the corridor study phase through 2019, with construction targeted for 2023.
>> The West Lake Street Station will be the western terminus of the B Line and will be built in coordination with the Southwest LRT project. The B Line station will be built on the West Lake Street bridge and will have access to the LRT station via stairs and elevator.
>> The I35W and Lake Street Station will provide a connection to the METRO Orange Line and the broader 35W@94:Downtown to Crosstown project includes a redesign of the freeway between I-94 and 42nd Street.
>> An eastbound enhanced bus stop at Lake and Hiawatha was built in conjunction with the construction of the South Minneapolis Regional Service Center in 2017, and will be used by the future B Line. The westbound station location will be implemented in coordination with this project.
>> A completed BRT network would cover 100 miles and include 400 enhanced stations, directly serving about 20 percent of the region’s residents and more than 230,000 jobs.
>>BRT lines have the potential to see an estimated 160,000 average weekday boardings by 2030, representing about a third of total bus ridership.
Learn more at metrotransit.org/abrt.
~ Information from Metro Transit

 

Will Route 21 remain?

Metro Transit is weighing the pros and cons of keeping the underlying Route 21 when the B Line opens.
When the A Line opened in 2016, Metro Transit continued to operate Route 64 in the same corridor as a less frequent local travel option.
A similar approach was taken Route 16, which provides local service alongside the Green Line Lightrail along University Ave.
With the B Line and E Line (Hennepin Avenue corridor), Metro Transit is considering fully replacing the underlying local bus service.
Why? Well, as the A Line and the Green Line have been successful in attracting riders, the local service on Routes 84 and 16 have declined, leading to service reductions.

About Route 21
>> More than 10,000 average weekday rides, second-highest Metro transit route
>> Third most productive local bus route in terms of number of passengers per hour of service
>> One of the routes on which customers most frequently experience crowded buses
>> Carries up to 20% of people in vehicles in some palces while making up less than 2% of vehicles
>> Highest ridership between Hennepin Ave. and Hiawatha Ave.
>> Weekend and midday ridership also make up an important part of Route 21 ridership
>> Ridership has been declining.
~ Information from Metro Transit

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State’s first zero-waste shop opens

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

After meeting at South Minneapolis Green Fair, two women decide to start the zero-waste store they’ve been looking for

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

Tare Market co-owner Amber Haukedahl (left) helps shopper Elise Coroneos who is working to minimize the impact her family has and is glad Tare Market has opened. She brought a number of different containers to fill with products. >> Read story on page 3. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Two women who want to make sustainable living convenient and accessible have opened Minnesota’s first zero waste store.
Tare Market opened on Earth Day at 2717 E 38th St., the first shop in the new 3828 building’s commercial strip along 38th.
“We’re trying to do better,” explained shopper Elise Coroneos who lives in South Minneapolis. “It’s really hard in the regular grocery stores to do that.”
She pointed out that some things for zero waste living are more expensive while others are cheaper, and others have a higher cost at the start but then lower cost in the long run. “It’s a balancing act,” Coroneos said.
LOOKING FOR AN EASIER WAY TO DO ZERO WASTE
Tare Market owners Kate Marnach, age 33, and Amber Haukedahl, age 34, both began their own zero waste journey in 2017.
Haukedahl, who lives near Lake Nokomis with her husband, has a degree in conservation biology and has taught environmental education to urban youth and children with special needs. She started ZeroWasted.net in 2017 as a resource for others who wanted to live more sustainably.
Marnach also has a degree in biology along with one in business. Right now she lives in Maple Grove with her husband and three kids, but plans to move back to Minneapolis. She co-founded Zeroish.org in 2017 with two other local moms who wanted to provide information on the zero waste movement for parents with young children.
The two met at the South Minneapolis Green Fair in February 2018 hosted by the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association. They started talking about the problems they were facing as they tried to go zero waste. Some items were available locally at co-ops and Whole Foods, but others weren’t. Some could be found on Amazon, but they were still coming wrapped in plastic.
They began envisioning a better and easier way to do this.
They decided to open the state’s first zero waste store.
“We wanted to be a one-stop zero waste facility,” observed Marnach.
ONE-STOP ZERO WASTE SHOP
Marnach and Haukedahl picked the Standish-Ericsson neighborhood because the area had been identified as a food desert. They were also drawn to the transit options on 38th, and the close proximity to the lightrail station. Plus, they appreciated the focus on the building owner, The Lander Group, on fostering walkable communities, and wanted to be a part of that.

Tare Market co-owner Kate Marnach stocks toilet paper and soaps that help

Sustainable living products at Tare Market includes items such as: reusable food wraps (to replace plastic wrap), bamboo cutlery to-go kits (to replace single-use plastic cutlery), reusable straws (to replace single-use plastic straws), compostable dental floss (to replace plastic dental floss), and bamboo toothbrushes (to replace plastic toothbrushes). Shampoo bars eliminate plastic bottles while also ensuring you don’t use too much at each shower (or that the kids don’t). Biodegradable hair ties are made of all-natural rubber and 100% cotton instead of plastics that don’t compost.
Fillaree soaps come in jugs that are returned to the store and then refilled. The coffee comes in big buckets that go between Tare Market and the store. While some products come in large plastic bags, there are the kind that are reusable and recyclable, versus the one-time-use individual pouches people usually get at the store, pointed out Marnach. “Any containers we can’t return, we reuse and offer for other people to reuse,” she added.
Through a partnership with Two Bettys Cleaners, Tare Market gets high concentrate cleaning supplies that come in big drums. This reduces carbon emissions from shipping and excess packaging.
If a company doesn’t offer bulk options or package-free items, Marnach and Haukedahl ask them to, and have found that some are accommodating. “Some products we can’t stock because we can’t find,” stated Marnach.
The item they get asked for most frequently that they can’t find is bulk white vinegar.
Tare Market isn’t allowed to carry any produce, meat or dairy, Marnach observed.
It took awhile, but they were able to find bulk ketchup, mustard and BBQ sauce. Other items, such as lotions in one-gallon containers, they’ve started with while they continue looking for better alternatives.
The area with snacks such as granolas, dried fruit, and popcorn, is popular. Their make-up is also a good seller, as buyers get a compact once that is made of bamboo, and then purchase tins of the make-up later that come in seed paper. The tins can be recycled.
BEST SWITCH: FROM TISSUES TO HANKIES
The switch that Marnach made at home that is her favorite was a move to hankies instead of tissues. It happened after one day when all three kids were sick, and they went through an entire box of tissues. Marnach thought, “What a giant waste of money.” She bought 20-25 hankies which can be reused over and over, and discovered an added benefit. They don’t make your nose raw.
Like many of the zero waste strategies out there, the use of hankies isn’t a new one.
“This is just getting away from what we’ve all gotten so used to lately with single-use items,” remarked Marnach.
KIDS ARE LEADING THE WAY
While Tare Market’s Instagram followers are primarily women in their 20s and 30s, they’ve found that people of all ages are shopping at Tare Market. Some come there because they’ve heard about it while others pop in because they are walking past and want to check it out.
“My favorite thing is all of the kids that are basically dragging their parents in here,” said Marnach. “Those age 8-15 are very concerned about sustainability and recognize that they have a long time to live on the earth. It’s easy for them to change and adopt new habits,” Marnach pointed out, in contrast to the adults who might not want to change.
“The kids are leading the way.”
Bridget Letmes of New Brighton has been working to have a zero-ish waste lifestyle with her family of five, driven by environmental concerns. “It’s great to hear my nine-year-old say, ‘I’ve got to have a home lunch today because the tacos come in a bag.’”
The Letmes family is down to one bag of trash a week. Her daughter, who is old enough to drive, brings their compost to the Ramsey County facility.
Letmes has learned that to be zero waste, you need to plan ahead and prepare stuff — such as getting jars and containers ready to bring to the store with you.
ANSWERING QUESTIONS, HOLDING WORKSHOPS
Tare Market owners Marnach and Haukedahl see themselves as more than shop owners, and envision their role as helping educate people on zero living. They offer regular workshops such as DIY salve making, mindful mending, backyard composting, indoor worm composting, and transitioning your home to zero waste. In addition to sharing knowledge, these classes help build community, Marnach pointed out. After a DIY salve class in May, participants hung around another hour because they were enjoying their conversation.
“The fact that this will be the first zero waste store in Minnesota means we’re getting that opportunity and seeing that leadership right here in our community, and is all the more reason to support this concept so that it’s successful and replicated across the entire state,” stated Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson.
“We each have a personal responsibility to be less wasteful and reduce our negative impacts, and Tare Market will help with that.”

 

Did you know?

>> The average American generates over 4 pounds of trash per day?
>> The methane gas released from the rotting trash in landfills warms the planet 86 times more than carbon dioxide in the first two decades it is released, before turning into carbon dioxide itself?
>> The average plastic bag is used for 12 minutes and can then take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill?
>> Only 9% of plastics used actually get recycled?
>> The pumps in shampoo battles can’t be recycled?

“This is a visionary concept that’s long overdue. All that single-use packaging from food and lifestyle products has a huge cost to the environment and society. It’s immensely wasteful to manufacture and transport all that bulky material just to throw it away. When it gets recycled, it still has a carbon footprint, as it takes energy to pick-up and process. What’s worse is that not everyone recycles, so too much of it ends up at the HERC burner downtown and results in pollution that has increased childhood asthma rates and other health problems in our city. And regardless, we end up paying more than we otherwise need to – whether in the form of hundreds of dollars per year that each household spends on their solid waste utility bill, or at the checkout where packaging costs are added to the price of goods.
It’s time we have options for consumers to shop
in a smarter and more sustainable way.”
~ Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson

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Celebrate Longfellow’s successes at ‘Peace of Pie’ in Adams Park

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Apron show, pie baking competition, dancing and more during ‘Peace of Pie’ June 9

by Margie O’Loughlin

Event coordinator Kaye Mills and volunteer Vicky Anderson in the Adams Community Grove Orchard, where the “Peace of Pie” celebration will take place on Sunday, June 9 from 1-4 p.m. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Adams Triangle is a little piece of Minneapolis park land at 41st St. and Minnehaha Ave. where more than three dozen fruit trees are growing. Planted by volunteers of the Adams Grove Community Orchard in 2016, the apple, peach, pear, apricot, plum, cherry, and serviceberry trees have just finished their spring bloom.
In celebration of the greater Longfellow community, and all the good things that happen here, a first-time event called “Peace of Pie” will be held at Adams Triangle Park on Sunday, June 9 from 1-4 p.m.
Several neighborhood non-profits including Exodus Lending, First Nations Kitchen, and Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly will be on hand to share information. The event will highlight non-profit and neighborhood organizations working to keep the greater Longfellow community healthy, sustainable, and resilient. Enjoy a slice of fruit or nut pie (purchased with donations from neighborhood businesses), live music with space for dancing, an apron fashion show, a pie baking competition, and more.
Kaye Mills is the mission coordinator at Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church, located across the street from Adams Triangle. The church has supported the community orchard from the beginning, providing water during the summer and plenty of volunteers.
She said, “Our church is the coordinating entity for ‘Peace of Pie.’ It fits with our spirit of outreach, and of nurturing relationships within the community. It’s a chance to help neighbors connect the dots between our many neighborhood resources.”
There’s still time to enter the pie baking competition.
Baked fruit and nut pies are welcome; no cream-based or savory pies, due to refrigeration limitations. Pies need to be delivered Friday, June 7 or Saturday, June 8 to Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church at 4101 37th Ave. S. Local restaurant owners will judge the competition, and winners will be announced toward the end of the event (there will be prizes in both the youth and adult categories.) Register entries in advance at www.longfellowpop.org.
If a non-profit or neighborhood organization would like to staff a resource table at “Peace of Pie,” visit the website link above to register. There’s no fee, but the coordinator asks that each organization plan a fun way to connect with people on event day.
Mills said, “The concept is about as simple as it gets: feed people pie and coffee using compostable cups and utensils. Learn about resources in the community. Visit with friends and neighbors.”
The music line-up hasn’t been finalized, but the Zac Harris Jazz Trio will be playing a 45 minute set at some point during the afternoon.
The event will be held rain or shine. If it rains, activities will be moved indoors to Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church No matter what the weather forecast is, people are encouraged to come in their funkiest, fun aprons. A non-competitive apron fashion show will kick off at 2 p.m.

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YEAR ROUND BICYCLISTS

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

A group of 6th-8th graders who live in Longfellow rode their bikes to school every day this year – no matter how cold it was. They said that biking through the long 2019 winter was easier than they expected. Undeterred by foggy glasses, frozen face masks, and deep snow, they all agreed they would do it again. The freedom they had on their bikes, and the fun of riding together, made it worthwhile. Parents and staff of their neighborhood school support several groups of bikers by providing hot cocoa on Fridays, learn-to-ride lessons for new bikers, biking field trips, and a DARO ZAP scanning system that tells kids instantly how far they’ve biked to school, how many calories they’ve burned, and how much gas they’ve saved. Pictured left to right are Clara, Tove, Addie, Amelie, Ingrid, and Iris (not pictured is one ride-along dad.) (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

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Messenger, Monitor papers transition to new ownership May 1

Posted on 22 April 2019 by calvin

Current owners Calvin deRuyter and Tim Nelson sell newspapers to writer Tesha M. Christensen

The Longfellow Nokomis Messenger, and its sister publication, the Midway Como Monitor, will be under new ownership beginning May 1, 2019.

Calvin deRuyter and Tim Nelson of deRuyter-Nelson Publications have sold their two well-established neighborhood newspapers to south Minneapolis resident Tesha M. Christensen, who has written for the two newspapers for almost eight years.

Christensen always knew she wanted to be a writer and was drawn to journalism at a young age when she wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Cambridge Star newspaper.

“From that point on I was hooked. I had gotten my first glimpse into the power of the printed word,” recalled Christensen. “I wanted more. I saw how newspapers could be used to generate change in their communities, and how they could inform and engage people.”

Lifelong learner
She earned a degree in English and writing in 1998 from Bethel College, where she wrote for the Clarion, and then entered the community newspaper industry.

Her first job was with the same newspaper that printed her letter to the editor, then renamed The Star newspaper. Christensen worked as the assistant editor and special sections editor of her hometown newspaper for ten years, serving two counties and a circulation of 21,000 with a twice-weekly newspaper.

Photo right: New owner Tesha M. Christensen of TMC Publications CO and her two children, Axel (age 6) and Joselyn (age 10) are excited to become more involved in these two neighborhood newspapers. The kids, of course, are pushing for a new section for kids. Got ideas on what that should include? Email Tesha.christensen@gmail.com. (Photo courtesy of Tesha M. Christensen)

Over the years, Christensen covered a range of topics in Isanti and Chisago counties, from school board levies to new county parks to crime news. “I wrote about what new businesses were coming to town, local musicians, and rodeo shows, and a story about one resident who saved the life of another,” Christensen recalled.

“I love the ever-changing nature of this business, and how I learn something new with each story I write.”

She left the full-time workforce in March 2009 when her first baby was born, but continued writing on a part-time basis for Northstar Media, the Isanti County News, ECM Publishers/Adams Publishing Group, Twin Cities Daily Planet, RedCurrent, and The Alley newspaper in the Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis.

From 2006 to 2012, she worked as an adjunct journalism instructor at Anoka-Ramsey Community College where she taught a variety of journalism classes and was an adviser for the Cambridge Campus newspaper, the Ink Spot. She also taught for one year at Planet Homeschool, a homeschool co-op in St. Anthony, and helped launch a school newspaper written by the middle and high school students.

“I love journalism, and I am passionate about sharing journalism with kids and young adults,” stated Christensen. “They are the future, and it’s so exciting to hear their ideas.”

Christensen has served on a variety of committees and boards over the years and is a co-founder of Team Yarn – Head Huggers (teamyarn.blogspot.com), a small non-profit dedicated to making and donating hats, shawls, and lapghans to those battling cancer and other serious illnesses.

Forum for community discussion
Christensen and longtime staff member Denis Woulfe, along with the writers and photographers who contribute to the paper, are looking forward to what the future holds for the Messenger and Monitor newspapers.

“I think what excites me about this next chapter is working to re-engage the newspapers with the communities that we serve,” observed Woulfe, who started as an intern at the Monitor while he attended Hamline University 40 years ago.

“The world has changed since each of the newspapers was founded, but the basic needs of our readers are largely the same. I think they value the work and the role of the Messenger and the Monitor, and our challenge now is to find out how to heighten that engagement and fulfill that special contract between our readers and the newspapers that enhances and enriches the communities that we serve.”

Over the years, Woulfe has served in many different roles at the neighborhood newspapers, including the editor, typesetter, managing editor, advertising manager, and more. For the past few years, he’s been busy selling ads. and is currently a board member at ALLY People Solutions in the Midway which just merged with Community Involvement Programs (CIP) of Minneapolis. He is also a member of the Alumni Annual Fund Board for Hamline University.

“We dealt with many challenges over the years, but one, in particular, was the discussion over the role of a neighborhood newspaper and the balance between reporting what some readers saw as ‘good’ news and what others saw as ‘bad’ news,” said Woulfe. There also was a constant dialogue about what role the neighborhood newspaper had, and how it differed from the daily newspapers.

“Despite the different neighborhoods we serve with the two newspapers, the value of bringing community stakeholders together and providing a forum for community discussion has remained the constant over the years,” stated Woulfe. “It remains as important now more than ever!”

Think print is dead?
Christensen agrees that it is more important now than ever, and will be recruiting various people from each neighborhood to serve on an advisory board that will share story ideas and ties each story closer into the fabric of the neighborhood.

“At the Messenger and Monitor, we are here to tell the stories of our neighborhoods,” she stated. “We want to be reader-centric and make our content—both ads and articles—engaging and applicable. Print is evolving, and we’re looking ahead in innovative and creative ways. More people are reading than ever before in the history of humankind, and we want to ensure that local residents are reading their community newspaper because it is ‘News for You.’

“Think print is dead? Think again.”

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East Nokomis actress co-directs her first film at age 10

Posted on 22 April 2019 by calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Jocelyn Sanchez attended her first acting class less than a year ago. Since then, she’s signed with five talent agencies and been cast in 16 short films, commercials, and TV pilots.

Photo right: Actress Jocelyn Sanchez said, “I’ve fallen in love with acting. I love being in front of the camera, and the adrenaline that comes with it. I’m naturally good at memorization. I memorize the lines I’m given, and then I talk to my mom about how I think the character is feeling.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Her original script, called “Lost and Found” was recently accepted by the 50 Fifty Reel Challenge, an international short film competition and festival for kids. To jump-start the filming process, Jocelyn ran a successful GoFundMe Campaign and reached her goal of $1,000. She posted her casting notice on TC Cinematics, and 50+ actors submitted their headshots and resumes. She eventually had a cast and crew of more than 60 people who volunteered their time and talent to be part of her film. Jocelyn oversaw a four-day shoot at four different locations. She made shot lists for 21 scenes, assisted with editing, co-directed and starred in the film. She came up with her production company name and designed her logo.

Jocelyn Sanchez is 10 years old.

Talking about her whirlwind year, Sanchez said, “When I told my mom I wanted to give acting a try, she took me seriously. I started as an ‘extra,’ when you’re on film but you don’t have any lines. I didn’t feel very confident in the beginning, to be honest.”

Sanchez has grown in both experience and confidence in a very short time. “I think that my background in karate has helped me,” she said. “I’ve earned a brown belt at Kitsune Karate, which is also in the East Nokomis neighborhood. Karate has taught me a lot of self-discipline—when to use my strength, and when to back off. I’ve been trained to listen carefully to my sensei (teacher) and now, in the same way, I listen to my directors.”

Sanchez has been writing stories since she was old enough to write, and the chance to enter the film festival was a dream come true for her. “You have to choose a genre to enter the film competition,” Sanchez said. “The film I made is in the genre of sadness/friendship. It’s about two sisters who lose their parents in a car crash. They’re sent to live with a relative who decides to separate them, raising one herself and sending the other into foster care.” Sanchez plays the part of the older sister, and her real-life sister Maya plays the part of the younger one. The film will be shown on the big screen at the New Hope Cinema Grill Aug. 8, 2019.

The Sanchez family has lived in East Nokomis since 2006. Jocelyn attends the International Spanish Language Academy, a charter elementary school located in Hopkins, where she is in 5th grade.

“Sometimes I wonder how my life will look in five years if I stay with acting,” Sanchez said. “What will I be like? How will I change? Will I end up living in Los Angeles, or in Atlanta—now the second largest market in the US for commercials, television, and film. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the support of my family, my directors, and my friends. Everyone has been so supportive. I’ve been very lucky.”

 

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A new season of Midtown Farmers Market opens in a new location

Posted on 22 April 2019 by calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The Midtown Farmers Market will open their season in a brand new location on Sat., May 4. Moon Palace Books will host the market for 2019-2020, in an open lot adjacent to their store at 3032 Minnehaha Ave. Market manager Jenna Yeakle said, “We could not be happier with this site. Moon Palace Books co-owners Jamie and Angela Schwesnedl were once Midtown Farmers Market vendors themselves. Their entrepreneurial spirit and community leadership will ensure that the market remains strong during our two year transition period.”

The Tuesday night market will open June 4

The original market site at E. Lake St. and Hiawatha Ave. is under construction. Hennepin County is about to begin Phase II of the Hiawatha/Lake Development, which includes a public plaza that will be the permanent home of the Midtown Farmers Market. By the time it’s completed, it will be almost ten years ago that the Corcoran Neighbor-hood Association began working toward this vision.

In case you’re worried, the market is not in a holding pattern in the meantime. This year it’s welcoming several new vendors including R & R Cultivation (local mushrooms), Jajja Wellness (fresh juices), Northern Coffeeworks (craft coffee), Centro Tyrone Guzman (youth-made salsa), and Bull Thistle Gardens (organic urban produce.)

“Many of our returning vendors are trying exciting new things too,” Yeakle said. “Asa’s Bakery will be adding sandwiches made from their naturally leavened sourdough breads and bagels, home-made cream cheese, spreads, and the market’s amazing seasonal produce.”

Photo right: Midtown Farmers Market manager Jenna Yeakle said, “We’re excited about our two-year interim location at Moon Palace Books. This is an opportunity for us to continue building relationships with our neighbors.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

As in years’ past, there will be live entertainment every Saturday from 9am-1pm. The Brass Messengers will play on opening day, with a full season of other musicians, poets, puppeteers, and storytellers to follow.

Want to perform? Contact Jenna Yeakle at manager@midtownfarmersmarket.org with questions.

Tuesday night special attractions will include free Zumba classes in partnership with the Midtown YWCA (June 4-Aug, 27 at 5:30pm), with Moon Palace continuing to host trivia, movie showings, and book clubs in their store.

On-street parking will be available on Minnehaha and Snelling avenues, as well as in the Arbeiter Brewing parking lot on market days. A bicycle rewards program is in the works with the Hub Bicycle Co-op: fill a six-punch card and enter a monthly drawing to receive $25 of merchandise from the Hub.

Yeakle said, “At our peak in 2015-2016, the market served about 50,000 people per season. Last year, our attendance dropped in response to disruption from construction. We think our new, temporary location will be great—with excellent visibility on Minnehaha Ave.”

The Midtown Farmers Market started 17 years ago and has been a pioneer in the neighborhood farmers’ market movement ever since. “We made the mold for what has become standard practice across the state,” Yeakle explained. “Those wooden tokens called Market Bucks? We invented them. Come to the information table at the market and swipe your credit card in $5 increments. You’ll receive tokens that don’t expire, in case you forgot to bring cash. Our market was also the first in the state to accept EBT and SNAP payments. Innovation and access to healthy food have been core components of the market since the beginning.”

In the spirit of innovation, this year’s market hopes to host 10 new-to-the-market vendors through its Try It! Program. A Try It! Program workshop will be held on May 18 for those interested. Yeakle said, “We’re prioritizing applicants who have historically been marginalized and kept out of entrepreneurial opportunities. The goal of this program is to help emerging entrepreneurs explore whether or not becoming a Farmers Market vendor is a good fit for them. Becoming a farmers market vendor is hard work—requiring permits, licensing, insurance, specialized equipment, and marketing know-how. The Try It! Program helps prospective new vendors navigate all that. We waive application and stall fees for two market days for Try It! Program participants, and provide resources and mentoring as well. Call 612-724-7457 to register.”

To keep in touch with what is happening regularly at the Farmers Market, visit midtownfarmersmarket.org.

 

 

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Changing ‘business as usual’

Posted on 22 April 2019 by calvin

Angela Conley (center) is Hennepin County’s first African American commissioner, and she’s staffed her office with other women of color who are working on racial equity issues. On the left is Policy Director Cacje Henderson and on the right is District Outreach and Scheduler Cheniqua Johnson. (Photo courtesy of Chris Juhn)

Hennepin County’s first African American commissioner Angela Conley is a lifelong Southside resident with innovative ideas on how to bring more diverse voices into government

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series.

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Angela Conley has yearned to be a Hennepin County Commissioner for 20 years so that she had the power to make changes to the system she worked within.

On Jan. 7, 2019, that dream came true.

The lifelong Southside resident was sworn in as a county commissioner for District 4 and became the county’s first Black commissioner in 166 years.

“Being in this level of leadership now has opened my eyes to seeing how the system is set up in a way that perpetuates disparities, that limits people’s abilities to really live their best lives,” said Conley.

She’s working to shift the narrative and move into a holistic approach for county business. Conley now chairs the health and human services committee, drawing from her years of experience working in that field.

“I feel this obligation to change systems to work better for people,” remarked Conley.

That could be anything from real estate services to tax forfeiture to housing and homelessness.

In addition to being the first African American commissioner, Conley is the first Black female commissioner and is one of two new diverse voices on the previously all-white Hennepin County board. Joining her this year is another woman of color, Irene Fernando, a Filipino-American in District 2. With their election, five of the seven-member board are women.

Race, equity, work
Bringing more diverse voices into the county is a priority for Conley, who campaigned to create a Race Equity Advisory Council.

“Before I was elected, the county would come up with ideas on their own on how to reduce disparities. Well, unless you have people of color and those directly affected by those disparities guiding the discussion you’re not going to get anywhere. You’re not going to make any progress,” said Conley.

She envisions that a council would have a place at the table to inform the board on how disparities can be reduced on issues such as lowering the number of people of color being arrested to the overwhelming number of people of color who are part of the child protection system.

Inspired by how she saw the Hennepin County Community Advisory Council on Adult Mental Health operate while she served on it, Conley believes that the needle can be moved on an issue when you have many people with a range of lived experiences giving input on a topic about missing pieces and gaps.

Thus far, Conley has met with the county’s new Disparity Reduction Director to learn what’s being done there, and what form the Race Equity Advisory Council could take.

“Disparity reduction has to start internally first,” she observed. She’s glad to see that the new composition of the county board finally reflects the composition of the communities being served and direct-line county staff. Part of what drove her to run for office is that those at the top didn’t look like her.

“I think we sent a very strong message to the status quo Nov. 6 that folks want to see diversity in leadership,” said Conley. “County leadership can function differently now. We’ve got new voices with various backgrounds and experiences.”

She believes that having those voices on the board can inform how policy changes going forward.

“It’s changed the conversation,” Conley said. “It’s changed the narrative. It’s changed ‘business as usual.’”

Going directly to the source
For Conley, the first quarter of her first term in office has been spent meeting people, being out in the community, touring homeless shelters and the jail, and talking to people directly impacted by issues she’s concerned about. “That’s how you’ll see my leadership continue,” she promised, “going directly to the source.

“We’re pushing back against outdated ideas and really trying to get innovative in how we approach issues.”

Bail reform is one place where Conley thinks changes could be made for lower-level, low-risk offenses. “What would it look like to have a system that didn’t hold you if you couldn’t afford to get out?” asked Conley.

She intends to be mindful of what the ripple effects are of decisions the county makes and recognizes that a 1% increase in property taxes might push a resident out of a home.

Equity through transit
As someone who didn’t have a car until she was 23, Conley is a fan of transit and heard from constituents on both sides of light rail during her campaign. She’s advocating for the Rapid Bus Transit D Line along the Route 5 corridor in the fourth district on Chicago and Emerson/Fremont avenues.

She pointed out that the D Line is a modern mode of bus transport that uses technology to keep lights green so the buses can move people from place to place quicker.

“That will bring transit equity to an area that typically doesn’t have it,” stated Conley. “The 5 is the highest ridership route in the state. It’s always crowded. There are safety concerns. And it runs through four of the seven commissioner districts. It runs through two of the poorest neighborhoods in Minneapolis, too. Bringing Bus Rapid Transit or the D Line would bring access to 200,000 jobs.”

(Read part two in the June edition of the Messenger.)

Conley’s assistants

Southside resident Angela Conley campaigned as a Black woman, and even her logo identified her as someone who would bring a diverse voice to the Hennepin County Board.

She continues to focus on diversity and racial equity in a variety of ways—not the least which is staffing her office with other African American women.

Cacje Henderson, Policy Director
Cacje Henderson was born and raised in South Minneapolis and is the oldest of seven children. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and is an alumna of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. She began her political career in the grassroots movement as an economic justice organizer and has gone on to work for a variety of elected officials including U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN), Gubernatorial Candidate Erin Murphy (DFL-MN) and most recently as the Senior Policy Aide to Minneapolis City Council-member Jeremiah Ellison (DFL-MN). She commits to building power in low-income communities and communities of color through local policy, and is looking forward to continuing this work as Policy Director.

Cheniqua Johnson, District Outreach and Scheduler
Cheniqua Johnson was born and raised in Worthington, MN. She is a first-generation, TRIO college graduate. She received a bachelor’s degree in family social science from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities College of Education and Human Development. She comes to the 4th District of Hennepin County from the Office of Congressman Keith Ellison, where she served as his Legislative Correspondent. In addition, she has spent the last five years in public service having previously served for the Office of Senator Al Franken (DFL-MN), Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL),University of Minnesota’s Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice, and the City of Saint Paul. Now, she is ready to amplify voices and serve the most diverse district in the county as the District Outreach Coordinator & Scheduler.

 

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East Lake Savers is closed, catching everyone by surprise

Posted on 22 April 2019 by calvin

Powderhorn resident Sherrie Beal tried on a suede jacket with 6” fringe and said, “Where else can you find something like this for $4? I’ve been thrifting for as long as I can remember, and this place is a neighborhood institution. I don’t believe in buying clothes new when you can get great stuff without adding to the waste stream.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
According to several employees, the closing of the East Lake Savers in the Hi-Lake Shopping Center took everyone by surprise.
Cashier Julie Johnson said, “This closing was very sudden. Someone from the corporate office walked in here on Wed., Apr. 3, and said, ‘We’re closing the store in nine days.’ Savers has been in this location for 27 years, and there were a few people hired the day before. We’re sorry for the loss to the community.”

Savers LLC is the biggest for-profit thrift store chain in the U.S. According to their website, the company runs more than 300 stores with 22,000 employees under the names Savers and Valu Village in the U.S., Canada, and Australia; or at least they did before the recent spate of closings.

It’s hard to know how many stores there still are. The Valu Village store at Sun Ray Shopping Center in St. Paul also closed Apr. 13.

Photo right: Cashier Julie Johnson said, “The employees are sorry for the loss of this store to the community.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

This isn’t the first time the thrift store chain has been in the news. In 2015, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson sued Savers for misleading the public about their donations to charities. Contrary to what they advertised, Savers gave as little as 1% of clothing sales to charitable nonprofits—and none of its profits from furniture and other home goods. The company later entered into a settlement agreement with the attorney general’s office. They agreed to disclose to donors their status as a for-profit company and to have transparency on their website about actual charitable donations.

The Hi-Lake Shopping Center is managed by Wellington Management. Executive vice-president David Wellington said, “We were disappointed when we learned that Savers would go dark at the end of the month; they have been an excellent tenant there since 1992. We’re actively seeking a replacement tenant, including a thrift store or other use that would be a good mix in this important neighborhood shopping center.”

According to Wellington property manager Vicky Carr, “The lease for Savers was locked in for several years to come. A rent increase had nothing to do with their decision to close.”

According to Bloomberg LP (a global provider of financial news and information), the most likely reason for the closing seems to be a restructuring deal last month that cuts Savers’ debt load by 40% and handed over the reins to a new management and investment group. The lighter debt load and new financing will put Savers in a better position, as will reducing the number of stores they operate.

East Lake Savers manager Chantelle Caldwell said, “I started as a cashier here four years ago, and worked my way up. We’ve been told we could transfer to other stores, but for me, it’s not worth it. I’d have to start over again at entry-level. I was told they don’t have any management openings at the other Twin Cities stores. We have about 100 employees at this store alone. Some are really sad, but I’m excited. It’s time for me to do something new.”

 

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