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LoLa opens second annual Winter Fine Art Exhibition

Posted on 28 January 2019 by calvin

Sue Romain’s “Allergy Time” (Photo provided)

Come to see the art, stay to make a fun little item to take home during drop-in artist activities for all ages, at the second LoLa Winter Fine Art Exhibition at Squirrel Haus Arts, 3450 Snelling Ave. S. Admission is free and open to the public; a small donation is optional for make-and-take activities.

Photo right: Adam Iverson’s “Lake Of The Isles Canoe” (Photo provided)

The League of Longfellow Artists (LoLa) is pleased to announce their second annual Winter Fine Art Exhibition, featuring works by local artists who are members of LoLa. Art will be for sale at the discretion of the artists, and the full purchase price will go to the artists.

An opening reception on Sat., Feb. 16, 5-7pm, and includes wine, beer, and other beverages plus a variety of snacks; a chance to mingle with other art lovers and many of the artists; and music provided by DJ Phil Borreson of Solid State Vinyl.


Photo left: Rachel Cain’s “Tree on House” (Photo provided)

New this year will be more opportunities to visit, and more reasons to drop in and see what’s happening. Open for two weekends instead of one, with the opening reception at the close of the first day. For art lovers with small budgets, some of the artists will also have small items for sale during their volunteer gallery shift, such as note cards featuring their artwork. This will be continuously changing.

Photo right: Pottery by Carol Pratt (Photo provided)

Artist educators will lead informal make-and-take activities for children and adults (very small children will need an adult helper), for a small optional donation of up to $5 to cover the cost of materials. These will occur at various times during gallery hours, with a schedule available on LoLa’s website, and announced on the event’s Facebook page. See a few examples below.

Photo left: Art by Jean Shannon (Photo provided)

Here are a few activities scheduled so far:
• Sat., Feb. 16, noon-2pm: make a cardboard mask with Pete Talbot, and play a cardboard pinball machine.
• Sat., Feb. 16, 2–4pm: make your own zine from a single sheet of paper with Olli Johnson.
• Sat., Feb. 16, noon-5pm: Jean Shannon will demonstrate wood block carving
• Sun., Feb. 17, noon–2pm: make a mini alphabet book to write and sketch in, with Meg Erke.
• Sun., Feb. 24, 2–4pm: make a mini polymer clay pig (for Year of the Pig!) with Laura Burlis.


Photo right: Carley Swenson’s “Pisces by Birth (Photo provided)

For more information visit or the Facebook page at




Photo below: Parker Sharon’s “White Admiral” (Photo provided)

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Food Shelf fundraiser dinner raises double over last year

Posted on 28 January 2019 by calvin

The annual Food Shelf Fundraiser Pasta Dinner raises funds to feed food insecure individuals and families in East Nokomis and other nearby neighborhoods. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Many people living in southeast Minneapolis rely on local food shelves for necessities. Two of those food shelves operate out of the Minnehaha United Methodist Church, which partners with two other East Nokomis churches, Lake Nokomis Lutheran and St. James Episcopal.

Photo right: 30 volunteers worked to serve up rigatoni, donated by Fat Lorenzo’s. ‘Fat Lorenzo’s is so fabulous,” said volunteer Katie Carter, far right. Other food donors included Panera and Turtle Bread. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Each year, the food shelves hold a fundraiser—a popular pasta dinner—now in its eighth year.

This year, the dinner was held at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church on Jan. 9 and brought in what organizers called ‘a substantial amount,’ twice as much as last year. The money raised from the more than 320 who attended will go to help fund MinneHarvest, a once a month food give away open to anyone in need and to the Nokomis Food Shelf, a federal government supported program, that distributes food once a week to those eligible.

Photo left: The cafeteria at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church filled up quickly. The annual Food Shelf Fundraiser Pasta Dinner raises funds for the Minnehaha Food Shelf and Minneharvest, both organized through the nearby Minnehaha United Methodist Church. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

“Food shelf clients include more than 600 people, including 165 children and 107 seniors,” said George Gallagher, the Food Shelf’s Director. Last November, the Food Shelf distributed nearly 13 tons of food to those who might have otherwise gone hungry. MinneHarvest’s client base varies, but also includes a number of seniors and children.

Photo right: The popular Accordion Fun Club polka band has entertained at the food shelf fundraiser for the last seven years. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Local restaurant Fat Lorenzo’s donated tubs of rigatoni with a choice of red or white sauce. Other contributions came from Panera and Turtle Bread.

None of the money raised for food shelves went for door prizes, as some local businesses provided merchandise for the drawing.

The 30 volunteers included two members of Northstar Boy Scout Troop #1 and members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary Western Rivers Division, Flotilla #8, who helped out during the two-hour event.

The Accordion Fun Club polka band provided entertainment for the seventh year.

Photo below: The Accordion Fun Club, made up of veteran musicians, found a fan in Natalie Petras. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)


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Owner of IronFlow Gym capitalizes on professional dance career

Posted on 28 January 2019 by calvin

Dan Partridge, owner of IronFlow Gym, is a certified Russian kettle ball trainer. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Dan Partridge celebrated the New Year by opening his first business venture bright and early on Jan. 1. Iron FlowGym, 3020 E. 28th St., is in the heart of the residential Longfellow neighborhood. Partridge launched an eight week training challenge for members that day: to become stronger and more flexible than they’ve ever been before. That tall order has several elements of mastery: the deadlift, the squat, the kettle ball swing, and the pull-up. Strangely, it appears that gym members are having fun in the process.

Partridge is a native of Devon, England, and has been working as an athletic trainer in the Twin Cities for the past three years. His classes are intentionally fairly small, and his approach to training is personable.

Photo right: IronFlow Gym co-owner Dan Partridge said, “Building body awareness is not only fun, but it’s also necessary for health and longevity.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The training schedule at IronFlow is rigorous, and it’s no wonder that Partridge appears to have the strength of Superman. He leads classes Mon.-Fri. at 6:15, 7:05, 7:55, and 8:45am, as well as 12, 12:50, 3:30, 4:20, 5:10, and 6pm. On Sat., classes are at 8, 9 and 10am. On Sunday they are closed.

Capitalizing on his longtime career as a professional dancer with the Royal Ballet of London, England, Partridge has an innate sense of body awareness.

Partridge began dancing as a child and maintains a dancer’s sense of grace in his posture and carriage. “My goal is to help each person build their own strength and flexibility,” he said. “The M-W-F classes are more geared toward strength, and the T-Th-S classes are more geared toward flexibility.

The philosophy at IronFlow is to work from a platform of integrated training methods. The clubs (see photo of Partridge below) strengthen grip muscles of the hands and holding muscles in the shoulders. Hanging rings gets the core abdominal muscles in shape. And the kettle balls improve just about everything from jumping higher, to running faster, to kicking harder, and having better posture.

Photo left: Co-workers from Spye Experience (located next door) work out together regularly. Pictured are Jason Dirks (left), Paul Krumrich (center), and Margot Fleming (right). (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Partridge, a certified Russian kettle ball trainer, believes that we’re seeing a lot of compromise in posture these days. “Just look around; people are on their cell phones all the time, curling or slumping forward. That’s very hard on the vertebrae of the neck and upper back, as well as the surrounding muscles. What we want to do here is to reverse the aging process.”

To learn more, call 763-600-2040 or email—or just stop by and take a complimentary first class.

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Fight against graffiti leads to community artwork on utility boxes

Posted on 28 January 2019 by calvin

A combination of community efforts has provided artwork to otherwise drab utility boxes and prevented unwanted graffiti in the neighborhoods of Hale-Page-Diamond Lake (HPDL).

Margaret Craig, who was a long-term board member of the HPDL Neighborhood Association and has since been a part of the Safety Engagement Committee, said that graffiti on the utility boxes has been a problem. The HPDL Neighborhood Association, working with the 3rd Precinct in the area, decided to be pro-active.

“I have worked with community crime issues since 2004, and after my board term was up I stayed with the Safety Engagement Committee, serving as a liaison between the neighborhood and the 3rd Precinct,” Craig said. “We talked about the utility boxes and pre-empting the graffiti on them.”

The decision was made to put a wrap of artwork around the utility boxes. If any boxes were still vandalized by graffiti, it could easily be removed from the wraps.

“The HPDL Association contacted us to create artwork for the utility boxes,” said Katy Tharaldson, K-4 art teacher at Hale School, 5330 13th Ave. S. ‘I went to a meeting where the project was discussed.”

Photo right: A picture by Mark Stonich of a mother owl and baby graces a local utility box. (Photo by Jan Willms)

According to Tharaldson, the HPDL Neighborhood Association received a grant to purchase art supplies for the students. “The first year, the 4th graders made murals about the seasons,” she said. “This was about three years ago.” Then all grades created pictures of bunnies that were placed by the sculpture of the rabbit in Nokomis Park. Later, the students made artwork with insects and bugs as their theme.

Craig photographed all the students’ artwork and sent the photos off to Sign Mind, the company that made and installed the wrappers.

“I measured the boxes and found the artwork,” Craig said. “Sign Mind takes the photos of the artwork and wraps the boxes.”

Craig said she was able to get beautiful art from the school kids. But there are a lot of utility boxes in the HPDL neighborhood that needed wrapping, so the Association reached out to the community searching for photos.

Photo right: Stephanie Fox contributed a photograph of a rabbit sculpture. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Stephanie Fox, who is a freelance writer and photographer, said she saw a posting on the Nextdoor social media site.

“I was out on my deck one day, and my bulldog Quigley gave me a cute face. I grabbed my camera and shot his photo. Then I went along the Parkway and took a picture of the rabbit, a neighborhood icon.” These two photos now cover utility boxes at Minnehaha Pkwy. and Cedar and at Edgewater and Cedar.

Mark Stonich lives in the area, and his wife is a part of the HPDL Neighborhood Association. So, he learned about the project and submitted some photos.

Stonich, who calls himself a bicyclist with a camera, has his photos of an egret and of a mother and baby owl covering utility boxes at East Nokomis Pkwy. and Cedar and at West Lake Nokomis Pkwy. and Cedar.

Stonich marveled at all the opportunities there are to shoot urban wildlife in the Twin Cities. He cited a family of owls in a tree near Lake Harriet, so popular with photographers the city put up barricades around the tree. He has also come across eagles, wood ducks, and possums and shot one of his favorite photos, a turtle on a log. He was also able to shoot an eagle grabbing a fish in its mouth.

Photo right: Mark Stonich also provided this image of an egret. (Photo by Jan Willms)

“In the city, the critters have figured out that people with guns just shoot each other, and not the animals,” he mused. So it is fairly easy to get near wildlife with a camera.

“My wife spots them, and I shoot their pictures,” he said. “Although she has started shooting her own photos now.”

Stonich, who retired 19 years ago, has a business providing antique bicycle parts and making alternative sizes of bicycle cranks, which brings him customers from all over the world.

The combination of a community organization, local photographers and young art students has proven an effective way of beautifying the neighborhood and preventing vandalism.

According to art teacher Tharaldson, the project has brought children’s voices out into the community. She praised the HPDL Neighborhood Association for its efforts.

“It is important to give children an opportunity to share their art with community members. And it has been a lot of fun,” she said.

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Nokomis Coworking welcomes new members to its ranks

Posted on 28 January 2019 by calvin

Engineer Josh Adams is used to working from home. “Many people are working non-traditionally these days—at home or in coffee shops—and both present challenges,” he said. “Over the last several years, I’ve been envisioning a coworking space that I would want to work in: small, but with the potential for a vibrant group of professionals around me.”

He recently purchased a building at 4937 28th Ave. S. to do just that. The 750 square foot main floor will house Nokomis Coworking and, according to Adams, there are several things that make his concept unique. He said, “While most coworking spaces advertise many membership options, we chose to have one primary model for our small community of full-time members. We have five desks and room for five-to-seven folks, with the possibility for two members at each of the two larger desks. In other words, your desk will be your desk: a safe, secure workspace where you can leave your things and know that they won’t be bothered.”

Photo left: Abbie Finger (left) and Josh Adams (right) bought the building at 4937 28th Ave. S. together. They envision Nokomis Coworking as a quiet, friendly place to work: ideal for writers, designers, graphic designers, web developers, photographers, architects, and engineers. Because of the intentionally small size, members will be able to form the positive social relationships that many freelancers say they miss. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

A full-time membership costs between $350-$500/month, depending on desk size. Included in the membership are several amenities:
• spacious, private conference room for meetings with clients and guests
• 24-7 keyed access for members
• kitchenette with refrigerator, coffee maker, tea pot, microwave, and sink
• reasonable use of the common printer at no additional charge
• a permanent business mailing address
• the pleasure of congenial colleagues.

The location has free, on-street parking, easy access to neighborhood shops (including Nokomis Beach Coffee, Nokomis Yoga, Nokomis Hair Design) and, of course, Lake Nokomis. Add-on options for a small fee include renting off-street parking or extra storage space.

Photo left: The newly renovated conference room has a butcher block table with seating for 12, dry erase board, over-sized monitor, abundant natural window light, and funky fixtures. Members can reserve the conference room for five hours each week. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Adams has experience he can lean on when it comes to designing intentional communities, and he’s learned some things along the way. He and his wife bought a fourplex in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood four years ago. He said, “We had all kinds of ideas about programming and ways we could share responsibilities with our renters before they even moved in. We learned pretty quickly that letting relationships unfold naturally was really the way to go. The first members at Nokomis Coworking will help us establish whatever the culture will become here.”

Visit the website at to learn more. Schedule a walk-through on the website, or by emailing Josh Adams directly at

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Upper Post transformation: vacant buildings to affordable housing

Posted on 18 December 2018 by calvin

(Concept illustration provided)

Located on 47 acres, developers believe it will feel more like a neighborhood than an apartment complex

Nearly 160 years after their construction, the brick buildings at the Upper Fort Snelling Post will once again house military families.

Vacant and abandoned for decades, 26 buildings are being renovated through a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and a private development firm, Dominium.

“We’re excited to be focusing on housing low-income veterans at this site by having a veteran’s preference,” pointed out Mark C. Lambing of Dominium.

“By having a high count of three- and four-bedroom units, we believe that the redevelopment is going to attract families with children. Because the site is located on 47 acres and contains a large amount of green space, it will be a great place to raise a family. Upper Post Flats will feel more like a neighborhood than an apartment complex.”

Photo right: The Upper Post was once the military capital of the Dakotas, and George Armstrong Custer’s superior officer commanded there for a time. It served the armed forces from the Spanish American War until after the dropping of the atomic bomb. It was also home to the Japanese Language School for the entire U.S. military during World War II. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

In all, about 176 units of affordable housing will be created in the historic buildings at the Fort Snelling Upper Post, near the Fort Snelling Golf Course and Historic Fort Snelling. The development is tucked into a corner of the last unincorporated part of Hennepin County bordered by Hwys 62 and 5 and the airport.

Fills affordable housing need
“This is an outstanding example of a public-private partnership with important benefits for Minnesotans,” said Gov. Mark Dayton in a release issued by his office. “It comes at a time when there is a great need for affordable housing.”

A report by the Governor’s Task Force on Housing, published in August, called for the creation of 300,000 new affordable housing units by 2030.

Rents will be restricted to residents who make 60% of the area median income and below. Currently, those rents range from around $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment to around $1,500 a month for a four-bedroom duplex.

Photo left: In all, about 176 units of affordable housing will be created in the historic buildings at the Fort Snelling Upper Post, near the Fort Snelling Golf Course and Historic Fort Snelling. The development is tucked into a corner of the last unincorporated part of Hennepin County bordered by Hwys 62 and 5 and the airport. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“There’s a great need for affordable housing throughout the metro area in general,” stated Lambing. “The Met Council found that only 1 in 7 units of housing created in the region during 2016 were affordable for those that make 60% of the area median income. The site’s proximity to the Fort Snelling Light Rail Station provides access to large employment hubs such as downtown Minneapolis, MSP Airport, and The Mall of America. The easy highway access also offers convenience to those that commute by car.”

To open in 2021
Upper Post Flats is expected to open to its first residents in 2021, and units will be available for rent on a rolling basis as the buildings are complete, pointed out Lambing.

The project will be segmented into multiple zones that will be worked on concurrently by the various trades.

The $100 million project is being financed through a combination of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal and State Historic Tax Credits, tax-exempt bonds through Hennepin County, and other sources.

About half of the project bill will go towards historic preservation.

Photo right: Vacant and abandoned for decades, 26 buildings are being renovated through a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and a private development firm, Dominium. Veterans will receive priority in these affordable housing units. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The first step is to assess all 26 buildings to identify elements of historical significance. At the same time, Dominium is evaluating the current state and structural integrity of the buildings so that its construction scope is accurate.

“Next is figuring out how to fit apartments into buildings that were built for other purposes, which can be tricky and time-consuming,” explained Lambing. “Then you have to abate the asbestos and lead-based paint throughout the site to make sure that there is nothing is hazardous to future residents.”

Lambing added, “After this, it’s a matter of implementing the new design through the construction process while dealing with all the unforeseen issues that might arise—which is typical for a project of this nature.”

Next steps will include finalizing the design and seeking approval from the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office. Dominium expects to close on financing by late summer or early fall 2019.

Under the agreement, the state of Minnesota retains ownership of the site, but all management and operation of the buildings and site amenities will be Dominium’s responsibility per a 99-year lease.

An important part of history
“The buildings are an important part of Minnesota’s and the U.S. Military’s history,” remarked Lambing. “The history of the site, in addition to the craftsmanship used to construct these buildings, make it irreplaceable and deserving to be saved.”

Photo left: The infantry quarters of Fort Snelling Upper Post, 1908. (Photo provided)

Beyond the visible history, the archaeology on site is also an important element to consider, observed Lambing. “Because of the age of the site, the ground has kept a record of all the activity that has taken place. We have to be much more aware of what we’re doing to the ground than a typical new construction project.” Dominium will work with archaeologists to document what is hidden in the soil and better understand potential impacts that construction might have on the site.

In 2006, the Upper Post was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Most Endangered Places list.

The Upper Post was once the military capital of the Dakotas, and George Armstrong Custer’s superior officer commanded there for a time. It served the armed forces from the Spanish American War until after the dropping of the atomic bomb. It was also home to the Japanese Language School for the entire U.S. military during World War II.

The land was transferred from the military to the VA and then to the DNR in the 1970s.

Vacant and boarded up for decades
The buildings were in rough shape, and one fell down ten years ago. Hennepin County Commissioner District 4 Peter McLaughlin, chair of the Fort Snelling Upper Post Task Force, recalled bringing Sentence-To-Service crews out to stabilize the structures by boarding up windows, fixing roofs, and repairing downspouts.

Patrick Connoy, retired manager of development for Hennepin County, pointed out that many people and organizations came together over the years to provide stopgap measures to prevent additional decay while waiting for someone to rehabilitate the buildings for a new use. Among those were the Friends of Fort Snelling, the Minnesota Historical Society, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, National Park Service, DNR, and more, with Hennepin County taking the lead to pull resources and people together.

“Everybody helped as much as they could,” observed Connoy. “‘They’ in this case was a lot of people committed to doing something and working together.”

In 2011, the county also began working with others to create a plan for redevelopment, Light Rail Transit, and Upper Post master plan.

While the condition of the buildings is a challenge for development, with structures ranging from pretty good to collapsed, Dominium has a top team of architects and construction professionals. “We’re confident in our ability to breathe life back into the site,” said Lambing.

Past Dominium projects have included Schmidt Brewery on W. Seventh St. in St. Paul, the Pillsbury A-Mill in Minneapolis, Millworks Lofts at 4041 Hiawatha Ave. in Longfellow, and other historic landmarks.

‘Can hardly wait’
“The DNR is pleased to be working with Dominium on this redevelopment project, and we can hardly wait to see these beautiful old buildings occupied again after standing empty for so long,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

“We’d like to thank the DNR for their help in getting this project one step closer to fruition,” said Lambing. “Without this close public-private partnership this project would not be possible.”

Anyone interested in living at the Upper Post can visit to join the insider’s list.






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A group of retirees gathers monthly to tell their ‘elder stories’

Posted on 18 December 2018 by calvin

Members of the monthly discussion group Elder Voices gathered on the last Friday of November at Turtle Bread in Longfellow. Their next meeting date is Jan. 25, and they welcome newcomers to come and share their “elder story.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

A group of retirees gathers at Turtle Bread in the Longfellow neighborhood on the last Friday of every month from 10-11:30am to ask the question, “What has been your elder story?” That question can bring up as many different responses as there are people gathered around the table, but there does tend to be a common thread.

A newcomer to the November gathering put it best: “If I were to give out one piece of advice, it would be that you really need to have a plan for retirement. Not just a financial plan, but also a plan for how to use your time wisely.” She continued, “I had a great career as an elementary school teacher, but decided to take fairly early retirement. My adult children didn’t live nearby, and most of my friendships were connected with my job. It was kind of a rough transition into retirement. I’ve landed on my feet by being involved in the community. I’m a tutor at Hiawatha Elementary, where my granddaughter goes. I participate in a knitting group and a book club at the Nokomis Library. One of the best things I ever did was to join OLLI (the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning) at the U of M. OLLI offers hundreds of courses each year in history, art, and architecture, science, business, economics, world cultures, and more. Enrollment costs $240/year, and you can take an unlimited number of classes.”

This informal exchange of ideas and resources is what fuels Elder Voices, and it can help people whose retirement plan is still in progress. The group is fairly small: Don Hammen, Marcea Mariani, and DeWayne Townsend are the core members. The three had been meeting monthly for breakfast for years and found themselves gravitating toward issues of retirement and aging.

Hammen got the idea to make their breakfast group public after participating in a project last summer called Multicultural Elder Dialogues. He was one of 300+ diverse elders across the state who gathered to answer questions about physical and mental health, access to health care, housing, safety, economic security, family relationships, transportation and mobility, and the importance of community. “That experience made me wonder why don’t we have a forum to discuss these kinds of questions in our own neighborhood,” Hammen said.

Mariani, who is a past board treasurer and president for the Longfellow Community Council, added, “While some people fall into a natural rhythm with retirement, many do not. If there is a void, as we call it, a group like Elder Voices can be a comfortable place to ask questions or offer help to others.”

Elder Voices will continue to meet monthly in 2019, with the next meeting Jan. 25, and newcomers are welcome. They hope to eventually share some of their stories and concerns with the City of Minneapolis Advisory Committee on Aging.
Turtle Bread is located at 4205 E. 34th St.



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Longfellow School celebrates its 100th anniversary

Posted on 18 December 2018 by calvin

Article and photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
On Dec. 6 former and present staff, students, and neighbors gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Longfellow High School at 3017 E. 31st St. When the building was constructed in 1918, World War I had just ended; the word teenager hadn’t been invented yet; zippers were a shining innovation; and, a loaf of bread cost seven cents.

To begin the anniversary celebration, visitors were invited to peruse memory books and photo albums that marked decades from the past. Classrooms were open for viewing, and tables in the hallway were staffed by several of the programs that currently make Longfellow a successful school: Teen Parent Services, High 5, Early Childhood Education, Holy Trinity Church, Project Success, AchieveMPLS, and Check & Connect.

Since 2008, Longfellow has been a community school for pregnant and parenting students and their children. For the first 83 years of is existence, it served as one of the neighborhood elementary schools. As Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent Ed Graff said, “A community is reflected in its schools.” That sentiment was reiterated through the stories of every speaker who followed.

Former student Aswar Rahman (now a small business owner, digital director, and recent mayoral candidate) arrived at Longfellow Elementary School when he was just six years old. “From the first moment I entered the school, I was welcomed here – as was my sister,” he said. “We were immigrants from Bangladesh, India. My mom was fleeing an abusive relationship, and this school was our first sanctuary.”

Rahman went on to explain that his mom had been a school principal in their home country, but her credentials weren’t recognized when they came to America. She had to start her education over again. Rahman said, “It makes me so happy to see Dr. Udapa as the principal of this school because she looks just like my mom.”

Dr. Udapa has been in her position for the past six years.

Longfellow High School wishes to thank the following local businesses for their support of the anniversary celebration: Jakeeno’s, McDonald’s, Saint’s Food Service, Walgreens, the Longfellow Market, Parkway Pizza, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, and Big Bell Ice Cream.

Photo left: Lauren Tolbert, staff member and event organizer, thumbed through one of the albums of memories and photographs.





Photo right: Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent Ed Graff asked for a show of hands from the audience in response to his question, “How many of you worked here at one time over the years?” About 1/3 of the audience raised a hand.

Photo left: Geneva Dorsey, dean of students, commented on the supportive and encouraging atmosphere of the school. On her t-shirt is the school mascot: a kangaroo with a baby in her pouch.







Photo right: Former student Aswar Rahman looked out over the audience during his comments and said, “I wonder if by any chance my first-grade teacher is here? Her name was Miss Emy.” Emy Mariano, now a teacher at Sheridan Elementary School in North Minneapolis, was seated in the third row.




Photo left: Former music teacher Amy Furman sang the old Longfellow Elementary School song.

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Firehouse Performing Arts to open Mission Room alongside Hook & Ladder

Posted on 18 December 2018 by calvin

Logo for FPAC, Mission Room and The Hook and Ladder Theater & Lounge. (Image provided)

As early as March, a new venue space will open inside the old Firehouse 21 building at Lake St. and Minnehaha Ave. Called The Mission Room, it will be a performance and gallery space to serve local visual, literary, spoken-word, singer-songwriter and multi-media performance artists, as well as host community meetings, fundraisers and events.

Firehouse Performing Arts Center (FPAC) Executive Director Chris Mozena, sees this as filling a gap in the performing arts community.

“It certainly wasn’t part of the original plan to be pursuing an expansion within two years of opening,” said Mozena. But since their opening in 2016, several other venues closed—Bedlam Theatre, Triple Rock Social Club, Intermedia Arts—and The Hook and Ladder kept on booking. In just two years, they have presented more than 4,000 local, regional and national performing artists and helped numerous nonprofits raise funds for their organizations.

“Due to circumstances we had to pick up the slack,” said Mozena. “Here we are, two years later, and we’re still saying ‘no’ more than we’re saying ‘yes’ to performers.”

Photo right: Chris Mozena, Executive Director of Firehouse Performing Arts Center, outside the red brick building that will soon house the Mission Room next to The Hook and Ladder Theater & Lounge. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

This speaks to a demand for more artist and community space, but it also speaks to a demand for a “different” space. The Hook’s capacity is just shy of 300, which is a lot more than is needed for some events. With a 100-guest capacity, the Mission Room will be a better fit for some artists and performers. Some book readings, spoken word or singer-songwriter performances, and community meetings may benefit from a more intimate setting. It also gives the FPAC room to support startup and experimental works.

“The smaller space will lend itself to these kinds of activities,” said Mozena. “It’s a way to meet our commitment to community and to our mission.”

The Mission Room will be in the space formerly used by Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre, who is moving to a new nearby location. It’s the red brick section with an entrance from the south side parking lot. The venue will require a basic interior remodel to make the space accessible, both physically and regarding proximity of artists to their audience. The raised dance floor used by Zorongo and the tin ceiling will be removed. A small stage will be built, acoustic, lighting and aesthetic improvements made, and new seating added.

The concept is for it to be a hybrid gallery and performance space. They plan to utilize eight to a dozen six-foot wide, two-and-a half-foot deep plexiglass casters to showcase non-performing arts.

“Some artists work in 2D or 3D pieces of art,” said Mozena. “Each one would be available to monetize their work.”

Mozena would also like to house a box office there so that patrons can avoid processing credit cards online, with tickets for any FPAC venue shows available.

“What we’re hoping is to look for a synergy of performances, crossover from one theater to another,” he said. “Three stops [including the small MPLS stage within The Hook], one venue.”

FPAC has held numerous fundraisers for community groups, like the benefits for the Roosevelt Theater program, Water Mission, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and Standing Rock, and the Mission Room will open up more opportunities.

“We’ve been the nonprofit helping other nonprofits,” said Mozena. “We just want them to engage artists in some way.”

FPAC relies heavily on sales of tickets and beer, individual donations as well as volunteer hours to put on the shows they have. At the time of this writing, they’d received about 60% of their fundraising goal for the Mission Room. Donations are still welcome and being accepted on their giveMN page under Firehouse Performing Arts Center.

The first week of January, The Hook will be dark as they make improvements to the bar that will allow them to get a spirits license. A few highlights after that are: Jan. 10, Bedroom Floor Body Positive Fashion Show and Cabaret; Jan. 24, Growler Gala to benefit Roosevelt Theater; Jan. 25 ouTposT performance by MN Orchestra musicians. Check their calendar for more.





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Roosevelt HS to grow indigenous garden and cooking program

Posted on 18 December 2018 by calvin

Teachers at Roosevelt High School are teaming up to create a farm-to-table system that celebrates indigenous food. A new Three Sisters garden, along with a perennial community garden and a ramped up culinary arts program promise to serve students and the community alike. The program will showcase the farm and food systems.

“I think it will very much be almost a complete closed local community food system,” said ESL and Food Educator Ben Rengstorf. “It will be an example of how food can travel through the food system and back.”

Photo right: Teachers Ben Rengstorf and Shannon Nordby outside the Roosevelt Urban Farm greenhouse. (Photo courtesy of Roosevelt HS)

From farm …
The Roosevelt Urban Farm (RUF) squad, which began about five years ago as an after-school program and is now a science elective, has been cultivating a number of gardens, each with its unique features. In front of the school’s main entrance on 28th Ave. is an old piano that has been turned into a planter.

Along the same front face of the building is a turtle garden, whose benches and eventually the whole thing will be covered by Minnesota river grapes. Next to that is a greenhouse signposted with the letters RUF, where strawberries are currently grown.

There’s also a fully-planted rain garden on the northwest side, another area where they’ve added plants and food trees, including cranberries, blueberries, and serviceberries. Indoors they have aquaponics labs, wherein tilapia and koi fish provide natural fertilizer for the beans and spinach grown in the garden. And they’re getting specs to add a hydroponics (without fish) lab.

“Everything we grow we sell to the lunchroom,” said Shannon Nordby, an indigenous teacher at Roosevelt specializing in urban farming science. This is done through a partnership with Spark-Y, who handles the transaction between RUF and the lunchroom.

All of it provides a hands-on farming experience that is available because it is on the school campus.

“It’s really hard to get kids to go off site sometimes,” said Nordby. Being here is a “much better place to be able to participate.”

Photo left: Members of the Roosevelt High School Beacons cooking club. (Photo courtesy of Roosevelt HS)

The new Three Sisters garden, which will be on the east side of the school building, will add yet another dimension. An indigenous planting method, the Three Sisters—maize (corn), beans and squash—are planted to benefit one another. According to Nordby, pole beans climb up the corn and also put nitrogen back into the soil. Squash protects the garden from raccoons and other pests because of the sharp parts on their vines, and it also provides shade.

The Three Sisters garden is what most excites Nordby, who is Native American, and tries to weave in as many indigenous methods as possible. This year, in teaching other ways to look at Thanksgiving, she talked about the many early indigenous foods that were passed along.

“So I made them wild rice, and they tasted it,” she said. They continue to try different foods and buy indigenous seeds.

… To table
An alumnus from St. Paul Culinary Arts Program, Rengstorf already has a hand in teaching cooking at the school. But what has been offered as part of a Beacons after school club will now move into the school day—next semester as an elective for students in Rengstorf’s ESL program, and next year, as a general elective for all students.

Rengstorf’s interests lie in teaching food traditions and culturally relevant food, examining the indigenous food system of each place, be it East Africa, Latin America or South America. An emphasis on Native American food traditions from this region will fit right in.

“We’ll be doing lots of crossover between what they’re doing and what we’re cooking, having students interact across the classes,” said Rengstorf.

Photo right: Members of the Roosevelt Urban Farm squad in front of the turtle garden. (Photo courtesy of Roosevelt HS)

The plan is to get food grown in the garden. Nordby’s classes will care for the garden. They can all harvest together. The cooking classes will produce food that they can then eat together. They’ll then recover food scraps and return them to the garden to nourish the soil. They’ll decide what they’ll eat right away versus preserve, for example by drying beans or canning and freezing corn. They’ll use foods seasonally in ways that represent a more traditional food system in contrast to today’s global system that ships bananas and other non-native produce across vast distances.

But Rengstorf plans to take the instruction even further and incorporate a broad range of experiences by bringing in chefs from around Minneapolis-St. Paul and the surrounding area to share their expertise.

The class will be set up to share food histories and a recipe from local chefs including Diné Chef Brian Yazzie of Yazzie The Chef, Doug Flicker of Bull’s Horn, Ruhel Islam of Gandhi Mahal, among others, who will also help students cook the food. Students will then take that inspiration to talk about their own food histories and foods they want to explore.

“We’ll always reflect their experience and expertise back to students,” said Rengstorf.

This type of shared experience was evident in a recent cooking class, in which tacos were on the menu. They prepared everything, from cooking the meat, chopping up vegetables for the pico de gallo, to making tortillas. “[The students] knew things they had learned from their families about how soft the dough is supposed to be, how to flip it,” Rengstorf said.

The indigenous garden and kitchen program is the result of a collaboration with the Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association (SENA), Ryan Seibold (Hiawatha Food Forest) and other community partners with interest in new permaculture gardens featuring native plants and food species.

As a community garden and kitchen that will be open to the community, it will take a lot of hands. SENA will remain a partner in designing and caring for the project.

Those interested in supporting Roosevelt’s Three Sisters garden and culinary arts program by volunteering or donating expertise, equipment or funds can contact Ben Rengstorf at Roosevelt High School.

A farm and food summit is planned for April 23 at the school that will bring students and community organizations together for panels, workshops and a meal activity under the theme “food justice.”






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