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Unforgettable adventures found locally at youth summer camps

Posted on 20 February 2017 by calvin

Popular local options include Adventures in Cardboard, Minnehaha Academy, and Southeast Minneapolis Soccer

Take an unforgettable adventure to Africa this summer or spend a week at Hogwarts. Focus on ballet, Irish dance or tap. Experience the circus. Go for gold in the Animal Olympics at the zoo or create something great at the Friends School. Try tennis, soccer, or mountain biking. Dabble with clay, book arts or sewing. Step back in time and be a history detective.

That’s just the start of the youth camp options available in the Twin Cities area. Browse below for more information on some of the camps offered locally.


Construct ten castles, get lost in colossal mazes, build suits of armor and more during these five-day, full-day sessions for ages 8-17. Buses available from Powderhorn Park. New this year: Teen Weeks and Advanced AiC.
Cost: $339

A variety of art disciplines and mediums with themes like mirror images, urban forest, theater, art car, or paper and book arts offered for ages 4-18. Five-day, half- and full-day sessions available.
Cost: $124-275

Explore international circus arts at Circus Juventas. Five-day, full-day sessions offered for ages 6-15. Or make your own camp with Circus Sampler Days.
Cost: $85-405

Experience the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Become a history investigator. Or, try out what life as an archeologist is like. Camps range from one day to one week.

A variety of athletic, academic and enrichment programs (photo right submitted) are offered, including woodcarving, viola and cello, combat robots, puddlestompers, fencing, movie making, 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 a weekly off-campus activity.
Cost: $36-500
612-728-7745, ext. 1

ses_profile_tj_pic3SE MINNEAPOLIS SOCCER
Southeast Soccer (photo left submitted) fields a variety of girls and boys teams on the U9 through U19 levels—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. There’s something fun for everyone from preschool through grade nine.
Cost: $80-350


Unleashed summer campers entering grades 3-10 spend a full week immersed in animal learning and fun. NEW this year: Campers will spend their time exclusively in the shelters.
Cost: $120-300

Grab your passports and join ArtStart artists on an unforgettable adventure to Africa through the arts. Preschool children ages 4-5 years register for “A Start with the Arts” offered morning only the week of July 10-14 and 17-21. Youth ages 13 years and older register for “Camp CREATE” offered June 19-22. Youth select classes taught by professional artists from multiple arts disciplines—music, creative movement/dance, and visual arts. As a result of participating in this 5-day immersion experience, youth gain artistic knowledge and skills, learn about the people, geography, and environment of a place and create artworks and performances inspired by the culture.
Cost: $145-$295.

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.
Cost: $200-$220

Blackhawks_slide-04BLACKHAWKS OF ST. PAUL
Blackhawks (photo right submitted) 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.
Cost: $85-195

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.
Cost: $135-155

Camp and canoe while learning leadership and teamwork skills in a 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.
Cost: free

Experience cultural and language immersion; 15 languages to choose from. Resident camp for ages 6-18 and family camps.
Cost: $960-$4,510

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 19-Aug. 4 for ages 4-14. Weekdays, half- and full-day. Extended day care in the mornings and afternoons and need-based financial aid available.
Cost: $105 to $295

Explore prairies, wetlands and woodland trails during full- and half-day, four-day camps offered for students entering 1-8 grades. Shorter sessions are available for ages 3-6.
Cost: $50-200

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. Three four-day sessions offered in July and August.
Cost: $150

Fiddling taught by master Swedish and American fiddlers, whistle making and folk dancing.
Cost: $235-305

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.
Cost: $325-425

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-3 at the Germanic-American Institute.
Cost: $130-150

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. Or enroll in Gibbs Girl or Digging History sessions. Three-day, half-day camps. One-day Pioneer PeeWees camps offered for ages 4-5.
Cost: $19-99

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.
Cost: $400

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.
Cost: $30-110

Yoga infused throughout the day via story, dance, and games for campers age 5-12. Located on the Greenway with daily field adventures.
Cost: $75-335

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 115 classes available over 10 weeks.
Cost: $185-370, scholarships available

Roller ski, mountain bike, canoe and more during adventure camps for ages 9-13 at Theodore Wirth Park (photo left submitted) in Minneapolis. Equipment provided during the full-day, five-day sessions.
Cost: $200

Join the Minnesota Waldorf School for good, old-fashioned summer fun June 12 to Aug. 18. Outdoor games, natural crafts, water play, gardening, caring for the school’s chickens, and much more, all on their beautiful 8-acre campus. 70 East County Road B, St. Paul. For children ages 3.5 to (rising) 6th grade.
Cost: $150- $275
651-487-6700 x202

Play music, get creative, bake bread, and construct books while exploring the rich culture of the Minneapolis riverfront district. Campers aged 9-11 will explore a new experience each day at four arts centers.
Cost: $225-$250

Work with sculpture, tiles, or wheel-thrown pottery in half or full-day sessions for ages 6 and up.
Cost $160-305

Use LEGO bricks, gears and motors to construct and program robots. Opt to learn to code or create your own video game. Math Addvantage offers five-day, half-day camps for grades 2-8.

Summer programs for youth ages 3 to 16 combine science, art, drama, and literature in ways that encourage kids to actively discover and examine concepts for themselves. Programs also offered at the Lee & Rose Warner Nature Center, the state’s oldest outdoor environmental education facility.
Cost: $60-345
651-221-4511, 651-433-2427

Learn about devised theater, music, and other performance art forms during these one- to two-week, half- and full-day sessions for those pre-K to grade 12. Two theater classes offered in collaboration with the Science Museum and Minnesota Zoo.
Cost: $125-475

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. Take a writing workshop entitled: “A Week at Hogwarts.” Debate, play chess, learn about mathematical modeling and forecasting, make movies or delve into creative science options. Eight options at SPA cover a wide range of academic, arts, and enrichment activities for grades 2-12. The Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth offers the ExplorSchool for students in grades 4-6.
Cost: $195-385

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 new “mommy and me” baby class.
Cost: $8.50-20

Located at 30+ sites, 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.

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.
Cost: $87-370

Students ages 8-17 enrolled in the week-long, half-day camps will experience a variety of circus disciplines (including Trampoline, Static Trapeze, Acrobatics, Circus Bike, and of course Flying Trapeze).
Cost: $275

There’s something for everyone at WBSM this summer! Camps: Rock, Pop, Funk, Brass, and Girls Rock–Ensembles: Jazz, Gypsy Jazz, Fiddle, String Quartet, and Irish–Guitar Classes: Blues, Celtic, and Finger-style,  and more.

Painting, drawing, clay, theater, writing, glass and much more for ages 6-14.
Cost: $23-$97

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 Longfellow/Nokomis Messenger guide, please send us detailed information on the camp.

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CAPI offers a wide range of services to new Americans

Posted on 20 February 2017 by calvin

The letters CAPI stretch across the front of a brick building on the corner of 37th Ave. and E. Lake St., but what do they mean?

CAPI is a small social service agency with a big mission: to meet the diverse needs of new refugees and immigrants from around the world. Started in 1982 as the Center for Asian and Pacific Islanders, the organization was created to assist Hmong refugees coming to Minnesota whose lives had been devastated by the Vietnam War. CAPI’s first initiative was to launch an Asian-specific food shelf in South Minneapolis—the only one of its kind at the time.

This immigrant-led, non- profit organization shortened its name to CAPI in 2008. Its services broadened at that time to meet the needs of newly-arrived East Africans in the wake of the Somali and Ethiopian Civil Wars.

CAPI 05Photo left: (L to R) Yaomee Xiong, human services manager, Ekta Prakash, executive director, and Abshir Ahmed, employment counselor are part of CAPI’s culturally and linguistically diverse staff. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

”We serve more than 4,000 clients annually,” said CAPI Executive Director Ekta Prakash. “Our mission is to guide new refugees and immigrants in their journey to self-determination and social equality. We achieve this by focusing on workforce development and job training, as well as access to social services and health care resources.”

CAPI’s 25 person staff is very culturally and linguistically diverse, speaking 15 different languages between them. Prakash noted, “As an immigrant myself, I am proud that we embrace all religions and cultures. Our organization is fully inclusive.”

“There is a lot of fear and chaos in the immigrant and refugee communities right now,” Prakash said. “Many of our clients come from countries affected by the travel ban, and breaking families is not a value that we support at CAPI.”

Employment counselor Abshir Ahmed has deep roots in Minneapolis, which he said, ”has always been a welcoming place for refugees and immigrants.” Born in Somalia, Ahmed and his family fled across the border to Kenya before coming to the United States in 2005. He speaks Somali and Swahili in addition to English and is a graduate of Roosevelt High School.

CAPI 11Photo right: Jorge Gomez of Wells Fargo Bank was on hand to answer questions from tax clinic participants. Becoming financially literate in a new country is one of the hurdles refugees and immigrants need to overcome. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“For many of my clients,” Ahmed explained, “language is a still a barrier. Right now, I’m spending a lot of time reaffirming them that they’re here legally—that they can continue down the path they’re on.”

Health and human services manager Yaomee Xiong added, “At CAPI, we work across the generations to care for families in a holistic way. Our immunization program is reducing health disparities among communities of color, with a focus on Somali, Hmong, Lao, and Karen families.

Through our elder care and caregiver support programs, we help older refugees and immigrants by empowering their caregivers.”

CAPI offers many of the resources of a larger organization, but with one notable difference: frequent one-on-one assistance, especially in the areas of job search and resume writing. Community members are needed to volunteer in these capacities, as well as the computer lab, the food shelf (in Sabathani Community Center (318 E. 38th St.), or welcoming clients at the front desk. Email to learn more about volunteer opportunities.

As a service to their clients and the community, income tax assistance is available in the CAPI offices on Tuesdays from 5-8pm until May 23. Anyone with an annual household income of less than $55,000 is likely eligible for this free service. Make sure to bring a photo ID, social security card, and W-2 statements. No appointment is necessary, and language translation is available on-site.

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Got lots of stuff in your garage? You can now rent it out.

Posted on 20 February 2017 by calvin

After seeing the success of companies like Airbnb and Uber, business partners Jason Wood and Kristian Pflieger have come up with the idea that they think will be the next big thing. Their company, One Garage Over (OGO), will allow neighbors with tools or other items to rent them out to other neighbors who need them, simply by posting them on their OGO internet site.

“It’s an obvious idea, one that we think will take off and expand exponentially. We all have a lot of stuff and in the new sharing economy, why not share our stuff?” Wood said.

OneGOPhotoJasonWood17Photo right: Jason Wood shows off tools he is renting to his neighbors from his small South Minneapolis garage. He is partner in a start-up online business called One Garage Over where people can post the tools they own that they are willing to rent to neighbors by the day or by the week. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

The two are working together despite a nearly 2,000-mile distance between their neighborhoods. Wood lives in the Nokomis neighborhood while Pflieger’s group will be operating out of a start-up incubator in his hometown of Greenville, SC.

“Greenville is one of the top small cities in the country which means that we have the resources of a much larger metropolitan area, while still maintaining a very close-knit community of a small town,” Pflieger said.

Wood said that his Nokomis neighborhood is also the perfect location for a start-up in what some are calling ‘the village economy.’

“South Minneapolis is a very friendly place. A lot of us already share our stuff with our neighbors,” Wood said, “so why not make this an opportunity to make a little money?”

What triggered this idea, Wood said, was seeing displays of screwdrivers for rent at a local hardware store. “They told me it was one of their most popular items.”

“A lot of tools are expensive, and a lot of people use them only once or twice a year. Not everyone needs to own an aluminum ladder. Some people don’t have space or the financial ability to acquire a lot of these tools. But this way, for $5 or $10, you can rent what you need from OGO,” he said.

OGO finished their first phase of beta testing their site right after Thanksgiving, expanding to surrounding neighborhoods while figuring out how to make the site as user-friendly and secure as possible.

“We plan to focus on South Minneapolis, Richfield and Edina for the first few months while we fully develop and perfect the site,” Pflieger said. “From there we will expand quickly to all surrounding areas in the south metro area. At the same time, we are doing a similar launch in the Greenville area.” They are hoping that people all over the Twin Cities will eventually go to the website and register.

Renters register on the site and with a few clicks, can see photos and the rental prices of everything from trailers and ladders to miter saws and pipe wrenches. A click on the ‘rent’ button gives more details. Renters have to agree to reimburse the owner if the item is lost or damaged, but there is an option to buy damage insurance. “Enter a credit card number and arrange up pick up or delivery, and you’re done,” Wood said.

Tool owners who wish to rent their items simply list them, along with a photo. Tool owners set the price, per day or per week. OGO takes a service charge of 10 percent, with a minimum of a dollar from the owner. “You rent a trailer for $25. The owner will get $22.50, and OTO will get $2.50,” Wood said. The site handles the financial transaction.

“Think of all those things that sit on your lawn or in your garage,” he said. “All those things that you have but use only once in a while. Now, you can share them with your neighbors and make a little money.”

Wood thinks that once the site is up and running and more people sign up, the type of items available will expand. There are, however, some limits.

“Of course, it’s limited to legal things, and it’s not for services,” he said. “You won’t be able to rent out a dog to go jogging with you. But, we envision that shortly, people will rent out their kitchen items, their clothing or jewelry. People might want to rent their patio furniture for a party.”

Wood predicts that ‘power owners’—those like himself who have a lot of items to rent—might bring in a few thousand extra dollars a year. Others might make a few hundred.

Wood sees a social advantage to the idea as well. “Rent from a large brick and mortar store and you are on you own,” he said. “But, when you rent from neighbors, it’s friendly and sociable. You rent a grill or a smoker from a neighbor; you end up talk about recipes and what kind of rub to use.”

Wood said that they plan to include small neighborhood rental and hardware stores, leaving the big box stores to rent to commercial companies. “We support local businesses, too.”

The focus right now is on spring, which along with fall, is expected to be a peak season. “And during the summer, we’ll have kayaks and things for sporting activities, for biking to the falls, even for lawn parties.”

“In 2017, we hope to rev up our business. It’s a hobby for me right now, but over the next year, we expect to have 25,000 items with 500 to 1,000 items a month rented. I’m very passionate about this.

We believe that there is a basic need in the market and we want to fulfill that need for homeowners.”

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Minnehaha Ave. restaurant rolling out new dumpling recipes

Posted on 20 February 2017 by calvin

Article and Photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Dumpling 08Dumpling is a start-up restaurant at 4004 Minnehaha Ave., and the dream come true of co-owners Bunbob Chhun (left in photo right) and James Munson (right). The young entrepreneur-chefs met as freshmen at the University of Minnesota, and knew from their first meeting that they would one day run a restaurant together.

“We got our start right after graduation,” Munson said, “making traditional Vietnamese sandwiches called banh mi. We came up with four different recipes, and sold them to coffee shops around town. From there we started working farmer’s markets, bringing our sauté pans and steamers to the stands and cooking things up on the spot. But Dumpling is our first brick and mortar restaurant.”

Chhun reminisced, ”We spent 18 months looking for a good location. Eventually we started asking people whose buildings or businesses weren’t even on the market yet. That’s how we found Perry and Mei Mei Wong, who ran Ming’s Palace in this location for 22 years. The timing was just right.

They still own the building, but were more than ready to retire from the restaurant. Our first conversation with them was last August, and we were in this space September 1st tearing down walls, recreating the kitchen, and painting everything.”

”We couldn’t have done this without the help of pretty much every single person we know, Munson noted. “The last six months have been a crazy hustle.”

Dumpling opened for business on Nov. 17. Knowing that January is the slowest month in the restaurant biz, they took a planned break from Dec.. 31-Jan. 10 to fine tune what they’ve learned—and to catch their breath.

Now Chhun, Munson and their staff of 20 are diving into 2017 with three new dumpling recipes: steamed vegie, seasonal (butternut squash, spinach, and sage), and Szechuan chicken. These recipes are in addition to the grand opening dumpling that they started with—the traditional Japanese pork dumpling called gyozo.

Dumpling 01Photo left: The signature hand-rolled pork dumpling, quick frozen for easier handling, and ready to cook in a few drops of sesame and grapeseed oils. The dipping sauce has stand out flavors that include orange zest, fresh ginger, and just the right amount of garlic.

Every culture has a dumpling, and for good reason. What other food is so round, so tasty, and so satisfying?

Chhun and Munson knew the Twin Cities were ready for dumplings. They describe their new venture as a next-generation Asian restaurant, specializing in Vietnamese, Chinese and Cambodian comfort food. Each dish is crafted by hand and made from fresh, thoughtful ingredients.

“Our beef stroganoff really speaks to how we cook,” Munson said. “It’s a classic dish but we prepare it with seared beef brisket, Chinese egg noodles, Korean mushrooms, and finish it with a glazed sauce and poached egg topper. We like to take a traditional recipe and fuse it with elements of global cuisine.”

Chhun added, “If we have to call ourselves something, I guess we’re ‘Asian-fusion’, but good ideas can come from anywhere.”

Dumpling is open every day of the week but Tuesday. Hours are Mon., Wed., Thur. and Sun. from 4-10pm; Fri. and Sat. from 4-11pm. Happy Hour is weekdays from 4-6pm, with $1 off wine and appetizers, and $5 tap beers. The attractive cocktail menu includes two that pay homage to Ming’s Palace former owners: Mei Mei’s Collins and Perry’s Old Fashioned.

The menu features several gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options. Prices are moderate with entrees ranging from $8-$14. All menu items are available for take-out except for the ramen and the wonton soup. Call 612-724-8795 to place an order.

“We visited a lot of Asian restaurants when we were putting our ideas together for Dumpling,” Munson said, “and wondered why there were always so many items on the menu. We decided we’d rather have fewer items on our menu, and do them really well.”

Chhun added, “We want every dish we serve to have ‘unami,” a word borrowed from the Japanese that means food that has a pleasant, savory taste.

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A church where everyone is invited to the table

Posted on 20 February 2017 by calvin

On the outside of the oldest part of the church building erected in 1929 at 3805 E. 40th St., there is a phrase painted on the wall that reads “God is still speaking.” And according to parishioner Greg Owen, the congregation is still listening.

The building, which added a new addition in 1954, was the home of Minnehaha Congregational Church, which was organized in 1903. When the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination was founded in 1957, the church became a part of the UCC. Four years ago, Minnehaha UCC merged with Spirit of the Lakes, the first mainline, primarily LGBTQ church in the United States. Spirit of the Lakes had also joined the UCC denomination.

20170211_114520Today, the merged churches have formed the Living Table UCC congregation, housed at the location on 40th St.

Photo right: Pastor Rachael Keefe (left) and parishioner Greg Owen stand outside of Living Table United Church of Christ. (Photo by Jan Willms)

“The name change was a very interesting process,” recalled Owen, who had been a long-time member of the Minnehaha church. “There were people who thought we should not change the name; there were those who thought we should merge the names together, so we had Spirit Minnehaha and all other kinds of suggestions. But after discussion, we decided on a new name and came up with Living Table UCC.”

Rachael Keefe is beginning her third year as pastor at Living Table. She had previously been a clinical chaplain for the state hospital in New Hampshire and before that a therapist and associate pastor. “It’s been a varied journey,” she said.

“UCC was the first Christian denomination to embrace LGBTQ,” she added. It is the first historically white denomination to ordain an African-American, the first to ordain a woman, the first to ordain an openly gay man, and the first Christian church to affirm the right of same-gender couples to marry.

letter writingPhoto right: Letter writing. (Photo submitted)

Keefe said that at present, about two-thirds of its members identify as LGBTQ. “The newer folks coming in are more allies,” she stated. Living Table has approximately 130 active members, and a lot of other people who are around and participate in different things.

“We’re in the process of working on a mission of change,” Owen noted. “We are getting to know each other and working on the machinations of the merger. We did not really lay out a mission four years ago, but right now we are engaged in a strategic plan with a mission statement that we will probably vote on in March.”

Owen said that when he uses the word vote, he means more that the congregation will come to a consensus. “That is another unique aspect of this church community,” he explained. “There probably isn’t any other in Minnesota that operates by consensus.” He said the process is more complex, and not everyone will agree or not agree, but consensus is how the congregation makes its decisions. “Ultimately we will have a lot of focus on a social direction,” he said.

RE CameraPhoto right: A group gathers to make cookies at Living Table United Church of Christ. (Photo submitted)

Keefe said the church’s commitment to social action has been a longstanding process with both Minnehaha and Spirit of the Lakes before they merged. More recently the church has taken up the causes of Black Lives Matter and welcoming Muslim immigrants and Muslims in general.

“We spent the season of Epiphany specifically looking at racial justice,” Keefe continued. She said the church is in the middle of planning for a speakers’ series in late spring that will be titled Loving Our Neighbors. “We are inviting people of other cultures and faith traditions to come and share how faith and justice inform cultures in their communities.”

She said church members have been very active with environmental justice, working on organic gardening and composting, as well.

1928298Photo left: (Photo submitted)

“Historically, the Minn­ehaha side hosted a number of families from countries that had refugees,” Owen said. “We had Vietnamese, Bosnian and Sierra Leone families. That element is longstanding.”
He also said that when Spirit of the Lakes stood up as an LGBTQ community when they did, it was a very remarkable thing. People were hesitant to have their names listed in directories back in the 80s when the church first did this.

“Now the communities have matured,” he explained. “As the church community has come together now, there is not any less need for LGBTQ concerns, but there is a focus on other social justice issues as well.”

He said the Living Table has had people participate in the Women’s March and the Love Caravan March that advocated for Muslims. “Perhaps at this time when people feel immigrants are under threat, there is an important sense that we need to stay in solidarity,” he noted.

Keefe said the church is building a relationship with the Syrian-American community in the Twin Cities and has hosted potluck suppers with immigrants. Although the church is not officially a sanctuary church, she said it is in conversation to become a sanctuary-supportive church. “We don’t have the facilities to be a sanctuary,” she explained. “We don’t have showers, for example. But we can support that movement. If immigrants are housed in another sanctuary church, we can send people to be in the building with them or provide supplies.”

Living Table also houses offices in its basement for La Asamblea, a grass-roots Latino civil rights group, and it partners with some mental health and social justice groups.

“We became involved with Sheridan Story, a nonprofit that helps the church provide meals for children who need food on weekends,” Keefe said. “We currently sponsor 22 kids.”

“That mission began when people at the Sheridan School saw kids grabbing food in the lunch line for weekends,” Owen added. He said there is a whole range of risk tolerance in how much a church member might be willing to stand up.

“We have people who are ready to be arrested in defense of refugees,” he said. “And we have people who bring food to a child’s locker at school as a way they feel they can be invested in social justice.”

There are a lot more challenges for progressive Christian churches today, according to Keefe. “We have spoken a lot of words in recent years, but now we really are being called to live our faith out loud, and to go to support marches or protests or rallies, to more publicly embrace what we internally believe.”

She cited challenges that Living Table, like other social justice churches, faces. Need for money to be able to do things is one challenge, to keep the building in repair and the bills paid. And she described the risks for people having to stand up for what they believe. “To live that out publicly can be unnerving for lots of folks who aren’t used to it,” she said.

Owen said, however, that the welcoming aspect of Living Table brings the church to a very exciting point of discernment. “We have never been stronger in terms of having an understanding theologically of what our faith can mean, and so we are hopeful that as people come through our doors and hear the kinds of things we are engaged in, they will also want to be engaged.”

He compared the feeling to one that was a part of the TV show, Cheers.

“It’s like when Norm comes in and someone says ‘Hi, Norm.’ Living Table is a place where everyone knows your name. “

“God is still speaking, as the sign says,” Owen continued. “And we are still listening. We are trying to figure out what we are being called to do.”

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Local student wins Junior Men’s National Cyclocross Championship

Posted on 24 January 2017 by calvin

Nick Carter also won 2016 Mountain Bike Championship; has been asked to race with Team USA when he’s 16

For Nick Carter, becoming a cyclocross racer seemed a natural step. The 14-year-old South High student lives in the Howe neighborhood with his parents, Doug and Katie Carter. And his dad was doing cyclocross racing before Nick was born.

“Cyclocross is a form of bike racing where you’re on a normal road bike with wider, knobbier tires,” Carter said. “The course is a mix of dirt and pavement with obstacles thrown in.”

Nick Carter 0037On Jan. 10, Carter won the USA Cycling Cyclocross Junior Men’s National Championship at the National Championship races in Hartford, CT (photo right). He previously won the Junior Varsity Division II Mountain Bike Championship in 2016. He was selected to attend an Olympic development session at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He has also been asked to race with Team USA in Europe in two summers when he will be 16.

Nick Carter 0035He completed the Hartford course in 31 minutes and 53 seconds, taking the lead after the climb up Bonk Breaker Hill (photo left) and holding it to the end.

“The course in Connecticut is right next to a river, and there’s a dike in case the river overflows,” Carter explained. “You start out at the bottom and go diagonally up it. You figure out which line to take up the dike. The hill is probably like a normal flight of stairs in height.”

Carter said it had snowed the day of the race, and his practice riding in Minnesota had greatly helped him prepare for it. “Lots of the others were falling, and it really helped to be from Minnesota,” he quipped.

Carter said he got his first bike when he was three, and his father helped him get in a race when he was 9. “I watched my dad race, and he got me into cyclocross,” he added.

Although his school does not offer cyclocross as a sport, mountain biking is a new addition to its sports program this year. “I’ve got two of my friends doing the mountain bike team, and we practice with Southwest and Washburn, so there are about 40 kids,” Carter said. He is on Northstar Development, a junior development team that helps riders under the age of 18 develop into better riders.

RUN Nick with his Coach IMG_0044Photo left: Nick Carter (left) and his coach, Charlie Townsend. (Photo submitted)

Carter said he prepares for a race by practicing strength work-ups three to four days during the week. He then rides around three hours, getting ready. “I also get to the race course a few days early and practice on the riding course,” he said.

He said that cyclocross has been around for quite a while and has gotten more popular in recent years. It is mostly based in Europe. “There was a World Cup Race in Iowa City last year, and it was broadcast in Europe,” Carter noted. “More people watched it in Europe than the number who watched the Super Bowl here in the United States.”

Carter said he can see himself riding as a professional. “There are a ton of scholarships through cycling in general for college,” he said. Although the sport is not yet a part of the Olympics, there are many who are working to get cyclocross as a part of the competition.

And when that happens, Nick Carter hopes to be there.

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Teen homelessness can be hard to spot; schools on the front line

Posted on 24 January 2017 by calvin

Photo and article by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
South High Homeless Kids 06Sheri Harris (photo right) has been a social worker at South High School for 22 years. She works with students in 11th and 12th grades and said, “I see the stress level of our students rising. Sometimes its academic stress, or the stress of expectations, but for students struggling with homelessness it’s definitely the stress of unmet basic needs.”

Harris estimated that “over the course of a school year, our staff will recognize 50-60 students as homeless, highly mobile, or precariously housed. There are easily 20-30 more that we don’t know about. Sometimes it can be hard to tell.”

That’s because the students themselves may not realize they have a housing disruption. If the situation is chronic, it just becomes their version of normal. There’s also no one definition of homelessness. It can mean families live in shelters together or youth live in shelters alone. It can mean youth sleep on buses or trains, in metro stations or cars, or couch surf with friends or relatives. The first red flag is usually poor attendance at school.

“Everyone in our building has to work together,” Harris explained. “Teachers are on the front line, as they have the most regular contact with students. If a teacher notices a student appears tired a lot, is unkempt, has a fuller backpack than usual, or is very protective of their belongings—he or she will reach out to that student.”

“If the student is struggling with homelessness or related issues,” Harris said, “the teacher will ask to make a referral to a social worker. Here at South, our four-person social work staff is in the business of ‘resource brokering.’ We find ways for students to get their basic needs met so that they can come to school classroom ready.”

There are several programs in place at South to help all students succeed; these programs especially help to level the playing field for homeless and highly mobile students.

The School Based Clinic provides everything from sports physicals to reproductive health exams, to mental health counseling.

South is one of four schools in Minneapolis that offers fully licensed, on-site childcare and parenting classes for teen parents.

The Kopp Family Foundation has donated generously to South High School for years through their Random Acts of Kindness Program, making it possible for students who couldn’t otherwise attend field trips and special programs, go to prom, buy a yearbook or school supplies.

Similarly, Minneapolis Public Schools provides assistance through their School Success Fund for Students on the Move.

Students experiencing housing insecurity (as well as those receiving free and reduced lunch) are eligible for free MTC transit passes to make getting to school easier.

A valuable on-line resource for students experiencing homelessness is something called the Youth Services Network, which can be accessed at The website lists very current information about daytime and overnight shelters, drop-in centers, outreach workers, food, medical care, crisis counseling, or help with parenting. In the recent deep-freeze, a banner across the top of the website issued a cold weather warning and a list of emergency daytime shelters.

The Minneapolis Public Schools are guided by the Mc­Kinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. This federal law provides homeless and highly mobile students with certain rights, so they will be able to meet the same standards expected of all students in the district. One of those rights is to attend the same school consistently, even if housing in the district ceases to exist.

Ryan Strack is the Minneapolis Public School’s District Liaison for Homeless and Highly Mobile Youth, and it’s his job to make sure the provisions of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act are met. Describing his job, he said, “A third of my time is spent cultivating relationships with outside agencies like shelters, another third is spent strengthening connections with school staff district-wide, and the rest of my time is spent with the logistics of getting homeless and highly mobile youth enrolled in schools.”

Strack continued, saying, “Our youth on the move are pretty industrious. For the 2015-2016 school year, we recorded 961 9th-12th graders as homeless or highly mobile throughout the district. Some have left home on their own accord because of perceived safety issues. We think that 25-40% of the overall number are LGBTQ, and may be homeless because their parents have kicked them out.”

“We need more affordable housing options and shelter spaces for homeless and highly mobile youth, and better jobs,” Strack concluded. “The most challenging part of working with these kids is that so many factors are beyond our control.”

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Life of an urban musher captivates imagination of local resident

Posted on 24 January 2017 by calvin

Longfellow resident Russell Booth had not planned to become an urban musher. “I was going to be a skijorer,” he said. Skijoring is a sport in which an individual is pulled by a dog or by a motorized vehicle on skis.

20161214_192339_007Photo right: Russell Booth, is a modern urban musher. But, Booth has garnered some additional skills in addition to mushing. He makes some of his own clothing, including the heavy mittens he wears. (Photo by Jan Willms)

But when Booth adopted his dog, Parker, a Red Siberian Husky, from the Humane Society, he knew skijoring with him was not going to work.

“I talked to some other people in the dog park within days of getting him. A vet tech I met told me I could get a scooter,” Booth noted. “So now the scooter is the main thing we use, and I also have a kick sled.”

“When I got him, he had no training,” Booth continued. “He did not know his name, he was not housebroken, and he had no bonding. He did not know how to pull.”

20160425_211553RiversideStationHiawathaLRTPhoto right: Russell Booth and his dog Parker at the Riverside Station Hiawatha LRT. (Photo submitted)

Booth said it easy in warmer weather to practice with Parker using his bike, with a 14-inch lead so that he could keep him under control. But when he tried to walk him around the neighborhood, the dog was hard to handle because he was so powerful.

Although he wanted him to pull a scooter or sled, he did not want him pulling all the time when walking him.

“He never stopped pulling, and that caused a lot of damage to my body and a lot of stress, and so I was getting very frustrated with him,” Booth said.

“I used a kill collar, but I could see he was going to kill himself with that, so I took it off,” he related. “I tried two kinds of gentle leaders, and he couldn’t pull as hard, but he still pulled all the time.”

Booth said someone in his neighborhood told him about wrapping a leash around the dog’s body and then over itself. As the dog pulls, the leash tightens around its body. “That kind of worked, except it seemed no amount of pain could get him to stop pulling I could see he might damage his internal organs, so I made a modification so I could loop the leash to itself behind where it connected to his collar, squeezing only on his rib cage so he could not do as much damage to himself, but he still pulled as hard as he could all the time,” Booth said.

“I invented something which I later found was invented in South Africa, so I am not the first inventor,” Booth said. “It’s like a backpack strap in reverse. You put it on him figure 8 so part of it goes around each of his shoulders and that connects to his collar, and it slips through on his back so that as he pulls, the squeezing goes around his body more, and that seemed to work the best.”

However, nothing seemed to stop Parker from pulling when Booth wanted to walk him around the neighborhood. “I was worried I was not going to be able to walk with him, and I had lived with therapy and was healed up again, but I was in chronic pain.” Booth said nothing seemed to prevent his dog from pulling when walking, and he thought he would have to return him to the Humane Society. “They would probably consider him unadoptable and have to put him down,” he added.

“There was one thing I had not tried to do, and that was beating him, which I don’t recommend anyone do. But beating him saved his life because he responded to me. He came around immediately. And it became mandatory for me to cuddle with him an hour every night. One thing I know about huskies, if you can save them, they are pretty emotionally needy. So my dog is pretty emotionally needy.”

20160124_134332HiawathaParkPhoto right: It took some time, and trial and error, for urban musher Booth to get his dog Parker to bond with him. Now, the Red Siberian Husky demands an hour of cuddling every night. Here Parker is taking a breather in Hiawatha Park. (Photo submitted)

Booth said that when you are urban mushing with a scooter and running a draft animal, you have to have enough stopping power that can exceed the pulling power. “There are two places in North America where they manufacture these scooters,” he continued. “One is in Alaska, and the other is here in Minnesota.”

“The scooter is designed with a secondary braking system,” Booth said. “When I set my scooter down, resting on a tripod of three metal points, it is very hard for a dog to drag. That was intentionally designed into the scooter.”

Minnesota is one of the centers of mushing, according to Booth. “It is just as good as Alaska,” he claimed. He and Parker have mushed to 12 other cities. “We have gone from 694, crossed the bridge from Brooklyn Center in Fridley before we started heading back, and we have been as far as downtown St. Paul. We have been out to Hopkins, Eagan, and Bloomington.”

20160612_092825BrackettParkBooth takes a walk with Parker every morning and most nights, even through the summer. “Most mushers take the summer off, but my dog doesn’t have it in him to take the summer off,” Booth said.

He gives him Premium Kibble and feeds him meat two times a day. “He eats more meat than I do,” Booth commented. “Now he is very affectionate,” he added. ‘He doesn’t have the typical husky problem, escaping and running away.”

Parker can mush up to 20 miles per hour, but he and Booth do an average speed over six miles of 4.5 to 5 miles per hour. “We go on sidewalks and alleys. It’s okay to be on the streets, but he prefers sidewalks. And it’s safer,” Booth noted. He said there are lots of trails available, with over 3,000 miles of trails within Minneapolis.

Booth said urban mushers are limited to one dog. “Two dogs are in violation of city ordinance.”

20160905_124822Triptych aPhoto left: Urban Musher Booth also has spent enough time in dog parks that he has started creating rock sculptures. He has built many of them in local park areas. (Photo submitted)

He said his Norwegian kicksled is designed to be operated by a person, but can also be hooked up to a dog. And with his scooter, he doesn’t need snow. But he has learned a lot about staying warm in winter temperatures that he didn’t know.

“I learned how to keep my water from freezing and dressing in layers. I knew from skiing to dress in layers, but with skiing you’re always active and with mushing, you’re just standing there most of the time,” Booth explained. “I wear up to eight thin layers, and every layer is like a click on your thermostat. Mushers say if you’re sweating, you are working too hard and you need to have the dog work harder.”

Booth has garnered some additional skills from mushing. He makes some of his own clothing, including the heavy mittens he wears. He also has spent enough time in dog parks that he has started creating rock sculptures.

This is Booth’s fourth winter of mushing, and the sport has so enthused him that he doesn’t consider skijoring anymore. He said he and Parker take turns navigating. “Parker knows his way around so much he could be a cab driver,” Booth joked.

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Mary Hanson views show as conduit between experts and public

Posted on 24 January 2017 by calvin

Nation’s longest running, independently produced cable show producer calls South Minneapolis home

Standish-Ericsson resident and television producer Mary Hanson has been giving a voice to others for over 36 years.

“The Mary Hanson Show” is the longest running independently produced cable show in the United States. It has also been on public television since 1995.

The award-winning show focusing on health and social issues started on a whim.

At age 35, Hanson, a social work consultant attended training at the University of Minnesota. As the speaker ended and the lights went up, Hanson was dismayed to see that the brilliant speaker had an audience of about only 15 people. “I thought, ‘what a shame,’” recalled Hanson, now 73. “He should have had a packed house.”

Reatha_Mary_Photo_Tr#737443Photo left: Mary Hanson (right) interviews Reatha Clark King in August 2016 for an episode about “Race Relations.” Clark King grew up picking cotton. She earned her PhD and then worked as President of Metro State and V.P. at General Mills. She also was involved in research that was used with the space program, a popular topic right now due to the recently released movie, “Hidden Figures,” about other African American women who were a big part of the space program. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Walsh)

Mulling over the problem on her drive to work, Hanson passed by the KCHK-AM radio station she went past every day. “I didn’t think about it for one minute. I careened into the parking lot,” she remembered, walked in and asked to speak to the station manager.

He listened to her idea and then told her that he’d been looking for a way to connect with the community. She could do it–if she could find a sponsor.

Back at the nursing home where she worked, Hanson asked the administrator if he’d sponsor her radio show. He, too, had been wanting to do something for the community.

And just like that, Hanson had a show. Her next step was to buy a good tape recorder.

She’s always found it serendipitous that both of the men she talked to that day had been looking for a way to build community and give back.

Three good questions
Hanson’s show, first with the radio station and later with the fledgling cable companies, has always provided a forum for thoughtful, in-depth conversation.

She started with a five-minute show, learning that you can ask three good questions in that time frame. Soon her station manager gave her 10 minutes and kept upping it until she had a half hour show. She has found that for most topics, a half hour gives her enough time to go into depth on the issue. For those that need more, she breaks the topic up into a series, such as the 10-show series on understanding depression and suicide. Hanson pointed out that it is rare these days to get a news show that focuses on one topic for a half hour.

As a trained social worker, Hanson already knew how to ask families hard questions, so it came easily during the show. She has explored psychosocial topics such as blended families and anxiety, while branching out to medical concerns such as Alzheimer’s, infertility, and cancer treatments. Plus she features environmental topics and interviews local leaders.

From the start, she wasn’t afraid to call experts, authors, and other well-known people for interviews. They all said yes.

For her pilot cable show in 1980, Hanson scheduled Tom Wright, a marriage and family therapist, and professor, whom she had interviewed previously for her radio show, and picked a comfortable topic. That way Hanson knew that if she got too nervous and dropped the ball, Wright could carry it.

Dudley & M_Photo right: Mary Hanson (right) recently interviewed Dudley Riggs, the Founder of Brave New Workshop and man who helped launch the comedy careers of Al Franken, Jim Belushi and other. His new book, “Flying Funny: My Life Without a Net,” coming out in April will be the topic of a show this spring. (Photo submitted)

As time went on, she started spending more time on the Mary Hanson Show and less as a social worker. However, she still works one day a week as a social worker consultant at Catholic ElderCare, leading support groups and bringing in speakers for families—many of which she’s interviewed for the show.

Making a difference
One of the toughest parts of the job is finding underwriters and soliciting grants. Because she’s not on anyone’s staff, she is responsible for securing funding for her show. In addition to large companies such as Blue Cross and the Hennepin County Mental Health Association, individual donors help keep her show on the air.

“I’d rather be doing something that makes a difference than working a job where I could have a large salary,” stated Hanson.

K.Drummer_prep. for intervPhoto left: Over the years, Mary Hanson (right) has interviewed thousands of leaders and experts, including Kelly Drummer, the President and CEO of Tiwahe Foundation which preserves American Indian culture and supports American Indians with micro-grants. The Foundation office is located in south Minneapolis behind Savers. (Photo submitted)

The various awards and honors she’s received over the years have been a shot in the arm when she’s feeling on her own. One of the most special awards she received was the Hennepin County Mental Health Association’s C.A.R.E. award in 1985 for excellent educational work.

Hanson strives to present a range of topics that appeal to a variety of people, and she’s received comments from viewers that span Paul Wellstone’s public relations staff to the clerk at Super America.

Up next
For Mary, the hard part isn’t finding topics for the show…it’s narrowing them down.

“In Minneapolis and St. Paul, we have this great bunch of people. You could interview someone every day and not run out,” said Hanson.

The leadership interviews stretch her, as she feels that her strength is helping present complicated topics in a way that viewers can understand them. But she believes it is important to record the stories of leaders so they are part of the historical record. Of the 150 she’s interviewed, about 28 have died. “I’m so thankful I had the chance to get them on film,” said Hanson.

She’s working on how to package past shows together by theme to have available in libraries, schools, and history centers.

Work on translating the depression awareness series into Spanish is wrapping up. It will appear on cable and TPT in the United States and possibly Mexico. Hanson would like to do more on this topic, delving into the experience of teens and veterans with depression.

Hanson’s next mini-series will be on sex trafficking, a topic she’s working on with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

Over the years, Hanson has observed some shifts on social and health issues. An interview she conducted with two men dying of AIDS in the 1980s is embedded in her memory. Back then it was a terminal condition. Today, the future is brighter.

But unfortunately, others are the same, such as child abuse and sexual abuse, and need more uncovering. Last fall, she interviewed Josie Johnson, a nationally known civil rights activist who was also the first African American woman on the Board of Regents at the U of M. When it comes to race relations, “she thinks things are actually worse now,” remarked Hanson.

Over the years, Hanson has interviewed thousands of people, including many who live near her 100-year-old South Minneapolis home, such as Lisa Larges, Outreach Coordinator for the Minnesota State Services for the Blind, and Jack Reuler, founder and Artistic Director of the Mixed Blood Theatre. Other South Minneapolis interviewees include: attorney Joanie Moberg; Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin; Kelly Drummer, Tiwahe Foundation; US Congressman Keith Ellison; DFL Minnesota Representative Frank Hornstein; former US Representative Martin Sabo (now deceased); Tina Feigal, author, parent educator; Cam and Paul Rogers, talking about raising a child with disabilities; Camille Hanson on “An American Artist Abroad”; Roosevelt High School students talking about “The Teen Years” with author, Gisela Konopka, PHD; and stay-at-home dads Steve Richards and Josh Moberg.

Purpose in life and work
Hanson is 73, but she doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon. This is the work that gives her purpose.
“For me, the idea of being a conduit to bring the ideas, vision, knowledge and resources from the guests to the broader population has always motivated me,” remarked Hanson.

“There’s also the personal reward of working with people who are brilliant and dedicated to what they’re doing,” she added. It makes for an enriching experience for not just Hanson, but also her crew of volunteers.

With the 20 hours of research and preparation that she puts in, each show feels like taking a mini college course. “It’s an exciting benefit,” said Hanson.

The Mary Hanson show just completed its 20th season on TPT 2.2 and can be viewed on public television 26 to 30 weeks a year. It is on cable year round, appearing on Channel 6, the Metro Cable Network, which interconnects the 14 cable systems in the seven-county area, as well as the St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN), the Minneapolis Television Network (MTN), and the Duluth/Superior cable system (PACT). Each show that she does is broadcast at least four times on public television and 17 times on cable. For schedules, browse

Upcoming shows
On the schedule for Mary Hanson this next year are:
• Betty McCollum, US Congresswoman, 4th district. This environmental advocate is underappreciated in the state, according to Hanson.
• Larry Long, South Minneapolis troubadour, singer, educator who has focused his music on social justice.
• Dudley Riggs, founder of Brave New Workshop, who has written a book about his experience growing up in the circus
• James Jordan, MD, Former Medical Director of the Hamm Psychiatric Clinic
• Alzheimers in the Community, which will run as a sequel to the TPT documentary on Alzheimers
More at

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When illness hit Blue Moon owner, neighborhood offered support

Posted on 24 January 2017 by calvin

Lisa Berg Blue Moon ownerBlue Moon coffee shop (3822 E. Lake St.) owner Lisa Berg (photo right) is almost done paying off her medical bills, thanks to neighborhood residents and friends who donated $20,000 through Go Fund Me.

“That was a godsend,” stated Berg. “It blew me away.”

After insurance, Berg was left with $40,000 in bills from her hospitalization and subsequent rehabilitation. “I’m a pretty low-income person, so it was a jolt,” admitted 58-year-old Berg. She dug into her life savings, but still came up short.

That’s where the Go Fund Me came in.

As she wrote on the fundraising page: “Your help will go directly to pay the bills. It means so much to me because although asking for help feels difficult, I have to.”

She had to relearn everything
Two winters ago, Berg was fighting what she thought was just a cold that hung on and on. “I just thought I had a bug,” recalled Berg, but she was so very tired. One day her sister and niece visited and could tell that things weren’t right. They called an ambulance.

At Regions, Berg was diagnosed with influenza that led to kidney failure. Following her hospital stay, she spent five weeks at Walker Methodist Health Center.

“I had to learn everything again,” said Berg. “How to walk. How to count change. Sitting up in bed. Dressing myself.”

She praises both the staff at Regions and Walker Methodist for their care and hopes to be able to get to Walker Methodist soon to thank staff personally, although she’s waiting until she doesn’t have to maneuver through the snow. “It was kinda hard—they really work you,” remarked Berg. “But the staff there is outstanding.” Her wonderful occupational therapist started crying when she took her first steps.

Berg left the rehabilitation facility in a walker and returned to her second-story apartment in St. Paul. It was six months before she could make it down the stairs. Each day she practiced stepping down one step and then up. Down and up. Then she added another. Then she could make it down five steps. Finally, she made it down all 17 steps and sat on a bench. To celebrate, she posted on Facebook. “I’m outside!” she wrote.

Through her recovery, Facebook has been a solid source of support. Berg has appreciated the encouragement over each small accomplishment. “Sometimes I’d just cry out of gratitude,” recalled Berg.

She hasn’t been able to make it into her coffee shop much, but when she does, it’s been wonderful. “It’s so nice to go in there and see people,” said Berg. “I just like being there.”

She doesn’t drink coffee at home but indulges in her favorite when she’s there: a little espresso in a dark roast topped with brown sugar cubes.

“Having been fortunate enough to be in good health my whole life, I’m working hard to view parts of the past year as a fleeting illness, a recuperation, and a strength-building exercise,” wrote Berg in a Go Fund Me update to supporters. “And, of course, sometimes I feel sad about it and tired of it. But the coolest things for me are the healing and the good care I experienced and the love of all of you.

Whether or not you are supporting me financially, you are all supporting me in your words and good thoughts.”

22 years as Blue Moon
Berg started working in the food industry when she was in graduate school earning a degree in chemical dependency. She began baking bread and croissants at night in the Gelte’s kosher bakery on Hennepin Ave. in 1984, and then transferred to a day position baking pastries and tortes. Eventually, she rose to manager. Her time at Gelte’s was life-changing, and Berg points to owner Dennis Gelte as a role model for how to run a business and manage staff.

“He taught me how to be gracious and kind and also mindful of the business at the same time,” said Berg.

She left in 1992 to help a friend at Cafe Weird and the offshoot, Weird Kitchen Catering, cooking simple but delicious vegetarian dishes.

Then Cindy Kangas approached her about opening a coffee shop off E. Lake St. in a building owned by John Kolstad. Cindy managed the construction while Berg focused on financing. They gutted the space to the exterior wall, tore down the suspended ceiling, and pushed out the back wall to add a bathroom.
The Blue Moon opened on Oct. 23, 1994. “It was quite an adventure,” said Berg. For several years, Kangas and Berg operated a second coffee shop on Franklin, but divided the business when Berg realized she didn’t like splitting her focus.

Berg has always strived to provide a quality coffee beverage that is consistent no matter who is making it. She does this in part to recognize that people pay a lot of money for their beverages. Plus, others spend their whole lives picking coffee beans and getting them to coffee shops like hers. “That’s a big deal,” said Berg. “So I want to be a good caretaker for their work.”

Gina Palandri was one of the first baristas at the Blue Moon. “Lisa has provided jobs for people (like myself), provided a great, safe space for all the community, supported other local businesses, and provided neighbors with coffee and lattes,” she remarked.

Berg has worked hard to create a space where everyone is welcome, including the LGBT community. She’s never wanted to be surrounded by people who agree with her all the time and finds the diversity stimulating.

Her staff has echoed the customer base and is an “eclectic bunch of people.”

They’ve pitched in to keep the place running during her illness. The coffee shop has continued to stay open 365 days a year, just like always. It wasn’t closed for even a day due to her illness because of the staff.
“I’m very fond of all of them,” said Berg. “I hope I convey to them my gratitude every day.”

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