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Ceramic studio is open for business and classes in East Nokomis

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

Photos and article by STEPHANIE FOX
People passing by the former Pizza Hut takeout location on the corner of 34th Ave. and 50th St. in East Nokomis are doing double takes. Gone is the garish pizza sign, gone are the takeout counters, gone are the pizza ovens. Instead, there is a bright open space with shelves of hand-thrown pottery, jewelry, and photography for sale or viewing.

And, there are ten potter’s wheels, waiting for ceramic students—kids and adults—who want to learn the art of creating pottery. The shop’s tagline is “Come Play.”

Welcome to The Workshop Mpls, a new addition to the increasingly hip and creative East Nokomis neighborhood.

The impetus behind The Workshop is Jennie Tang (photo right), also known as Jennie the Potter. She’d managed to raise nearly $40 thousand dollars from 538 donors through a Kickstarter campaign. After nearly 17 years, she could finally move out of her basement studio to a large storefront.

Tang had spent years on the art fair circuit, “But,” she said, “I decided that I didn’t want to spend any more of my summers in 10’ by 10’ tents.” And, with two kids she knew it was time for a change.

Tang was first introduced to pottery, something that for her would someday become a calling, when she was 11-years old. As a child, her family moved around a lot, she said, and after moving to Minneapolis as a pre-teen, her grandmother told her that she and her brother needed hobbies to help focus their energies. Tang enrolled in a pottery class (her brother took up cartooning) and she soon found that she had a unique talent.

When she started at the University of Minnesota, she was thinking about attending journalism school. “But, I had a fine arts requirement,” she said. “I took ‘Intro to Wheel Throwing,’ and my professor talked me into majoring in ceramics. My grandmother agreed,” she said.

Photo left: Tang trimming a bowl after throwing.

After graduating, Tang set up a ceramic studio in her basement, selling her wares through the art fair circuit and teaching at the Edina Art Center and at Powderhorn Park. “That’s where I learned how to sell, not just create, pottery,” she said.

She found a large and enthusiastic fan-base by going to sheep and wool festivals, she said, referring to specialty art fairs that focus on farming, food and fiber crafts.

One of the largest of these celebrations and one of her favorites, she said, is the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, which attracts visitors from around the country.

“When you go to these festivals, most of the souvenirs were screen printed and made in China,” she said. “But, I’m a knitter, so I know that people who work with their hands have an appreciation for handmade goods.

“And, my pots have a more modern look. They were different—not country kitsch. I have a whole line for knitters, including some with cute knitting themes,” Tang noted.

Meeting people at fairs helped her gain online celebrity with the fiber community. Many of her knitting fans, along with friends from the neighborhood where she is known as ‘that potter lady,’ helped her raise her Kickstarter funds. The fundraising began in the autumn of 2016, and within a year she began to look for locations.

Photo right: Jennie Tang (center) from The Workshop Mpls with fellow artists and staff members Simon Wolfe and Emma Heemstra.

“I saw the for rent sign on the Pizza Hut. I pulled over and called the phone number,” she said. Negotiations began last August and went on almost five months. “It took that long to convince the landlord that art was a smart business decision. But, I finally gave him a deadline of mid-January. We signed a lease on January 15,” she said.

There were other food-based businesses hoping for the space as well, but Tang said, “There are so many of those in this area already.”

The Workshop now has six employees who create pottery and who, with Tang, teach others how to work with clay on a potter’s wheel. The shop offers weekly beginning adult classes, adult day and evening classes, parent and child wheel classes, and classes just for kids. They also offer ‘pottery pop-ins’—short one hour ‘give it a try’ sessions, to let those who have never worked on a pottery wheel experiment with the technique.

The staff also throws children’s birthday parties and private parties for groups like book clubs, as well as corporate team-building sessions. “We hosted a team building for the Target design group,” Tang said.

The Workshop also holds special events, like a Super Bowl party where partygoers went through 200 lb. of clay, throwing 61 ‘super’ bowls while the big game was on. “I like puns,” she added.

“Now that I have the space, I can bring the public into the studio and help others become creative,” Tang said. “I love to teach in my own space and in my own way. Only five percent of my job is ceramics, and the rest is working with people.” She says that opening up to the creative process can help free people up and open them to new things.

Photo left: Some of Jennie Tang’s ceramic works. The birch tree theme is one of the most popular, she says.

“I had a clear vision for this space,” Tang said. “I wanted a calm a quiet workspace, not a place where every hour was programmed.

And, I get to make pots that people will buy and appreciate.”

“It’s important that my pieces are used,” she insisted. “My coffee mugs are my number-one seller. I like that my mugs get to be the first thing that people pull out of their cupboard in the morning.”

“It’s also something that gives me peace; to go back to the clay,” she said.

Tang encourages visitors to drop in and ask questions, or even to sit on the couch and watch while artists and students create clay art.

“The couch,” Tang said, “is always open.”

You can find The Workshop Mpls at 5004 34th Ave. S., or learn more about classes, events, and hours at, or call 612-729-2401.

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Make their summer unforgettable with camp experiences

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

Give your kids childhood experiences they’ll never forget. This summer, take part in a free Forest School, unplug, step back and let their imaginations take the lead. Participate in an outdoor adventure camp and spark a love for biking, climbing, and canoeing that will give them skills to battle stress as they age. Let them soar through the air while learning circus arts, or focus on their artistic side. Give them cardboard to build with, balls to kick around, and Legoes to construct robots with. Let them pretend to live 100 years ago. Go for the gold in Animal Olympics at the zoo.

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.


Be initiated into an ancient and esteemed House of The Realm, jump into live-action adventure gaming, build your own arms and armor, and more during these five-day, full-day sessions for ages 6-17. Buses available from Powderhorn Park and some camps held at Minnehaha Park.
Cost: $369

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: $155-285

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

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

Experience the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder or the engineers and grenadiers who called Fort Snelling home. Experience outdoor skills and life in the early 1800s. Camps range from one to four days.

Ages 4-8 can participate in a nourishing, creative and relaxing “backyard” summer experience. The morning starts with free play/maker time with loose parts, a mud and wood chip kitchen, supervised use of basic tools, costumes and art projects. Take picnic lunches to nearby Bracket Park or trails along the Mississippi, where there is after-lunch reading time on blankets and in hammocks. Afternoons are spent at Brackett Park, playing ball, climbing trees, or playing at the playground or wading pool. Four weekly sessions offered.
Cost: $180/week

A variety of athletic, academic and enrichment programs 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: $40-500
612-728-7745, ext. 1

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

Explore the variety of Y Summer Programs at over 60 metro-area locations. Programs include flexible three-, four-, and five-day options. 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

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 to a unique Finishing School for Young Ladies day camp.
Cost: $220

Blackhawks offer several exciting half- and full-day soccer camps for players ages 5-18 that encompass a wide variety of activities and skills. Specialty camps focus on specific skills such as ball control, shooting, and goalkeeping.
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 to August for ages 4-14. Weekdays, half- and full-day. Extended daycare 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: $55-325

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

Make butter, ice cream, and bread while learning about science, agriculture, and history at the Bruentrup Heritage Farm in Maplewood. Plus, students will play old-time games like townball and do arts and crafts. Three four-day sessions offered in July and August.
Cost: $150

Fiddle Pal Camp Minnesota is four days to discover, learn and play for children, adults, and families at three locations.
Cost: $395-495

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

Summer camps allow time for more in-depth projects, such as Wild & Wooly, Fairies, Gnomes, Knights, Critters, and Classic Crafts, for kindergarten and up.
Cost: $120-$165

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 = daily field adventures.
Cost: $75-355

Enjoy Summer Tennis in Minneapolis parks for ages 6-17.
Cost: $85-405

Girls and boys ages 6 to 17 can design and build their creative ideas, mixing art, science, and technology during partial-day, weekday camps. There are more than 120 classes available over ten weeks of full and half-day Monday-Friday workshops begin June 11, including:
Engineering, art, design, craft and technology workshops available all summer; Friday-only workshops and Extended Day in mornings and afternoons; Theme weeks: Toys & Games + Sci-Fi & Fantasy, including a Giant Mouse Trap Maze and Enormous Viking Ship!; Marvelous teen workshops: metalworking, art, CAD, puzzle room build, video game design, stilting, woodworking and community design project!
Cost: $185-370, scholarships available

There’s something for everyone—from the youngster just learning to put pen to paper to the seasoned high school senior with a novel already under her belt. Sessions run in week-long blocks July and August, full and half-day options available for ages 6-17.
Cost: $262-525

Roller ski, mountain bike, canoe and more during adventure camps for ages 9-13 at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. Equipment provided during the full-day, five-day sessions.
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, fairy camp, 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 along 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: $165-315

Summer sessions for ages 6-15 are run by the University of Minnesota’s Rec & Wellness Camps, from June 11 to Aug. 10.
Cost: $299

Snapology camps provide a perfect mixture of STEAM learning and fun. With camps happening at the new Discovery Center in Uptown every week of the summer, as well as at various schools and educational partners around the Twin Cities, Snapology has got you covered for kids as young as 3 and as old as 14—Robotics, Coding, Science, Technology, Drones, Pre-K, Engineering, Architecture and more.
Cost: $150

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

Make your own games and design circuits. Paint with pizzazz. Search out connections between visual art and creative writing, and explore the life of a story in journalism. Debate, play chess, learn about mathematical modeling and forecasting, make movies or delve into creative science options. Options at SPA cover a wide range of academic, arts, and enrichment activities for grades 2-12.
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/hr

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

Learn about devised theater, music, and other performance art forms during these one- to two-week, half- and full-day sessions for preK to grade 12. Two theater classes offered in collaboration with the Science Museum and Minnesota Zoo.
Cost: $75-425

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 weeklong, half-day camps will experience a variety of circus disciplines (including Trampoline, Static Trapeze, Acrobatics, Circus Bike, and of course Flying Trapeze).
Cost: $275

Painting, drawing, clay, theatre, 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 guide, please send us detailed information on the camp.

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“And the state of our NENA community is…”

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

Housing, crime, environmental quality, and community engagement, in the more than a dozen issues discussed
Photos and article

Photos and article by JAN WILLMS
Nokomis residents had the opportunity to have a conversation with politicians, community, organization, and educational leaders at the 2nd annual Nokomis East State of the Neighborhood meeting Jan. 17 at the Morris Park Recreation Center, 5531 39th Ave. S. The event was sponsored by the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (NENA).

Photo right: Theer was standing room only at the 2nd annual Nokomis East State of the Neighborhood meeting Jan. 17 at the Morris Park Recreation Center.

Two panels addressed the audience and answered questions on various neighborhood concerns.

Andrew Johnson, Ward 12 Council member, said that housing is a top priority in 2018 for the City Council and the Mayor. “We have an affordable housing crisis going on,” he told audience members. “The majority of people in the city are renters, and in the grand scheme of things we have an opportunity to play a role and make housing more affordable.” Johnson said the Nokomis neighborhood is a hot real estate spot, and there are concerns that low-income residents are getting priced out.

“It is an issue we should all care about,” Johnson noted. “We can continue to be a place where working-class families can live, or be a place where only those with money can afford to stay here.” He distributed a map of land use recommendations that include single-family, family, and 2-3 story multifamily residential land uses.

Photo left: Andrew Johnson (left) and Peter McLaughlin.

Peter McLaughlin, Hennepin County Commissioner (District 4), said that historically, the county has not done much with housing, but has now gotten involved in development near light rail stops near Hiawatha and 46th. “One of the things we need to try to do is find a way to maintain a mix of housing opportunities for first-time home-buyers, middle-class families, and lower-income families who need a place to stay, the homeless—the whole spectrum.”

McLaughlin expressed concern about real estate trusts coming in, buying up apartment buildings that are relatively affordable, putting on a new coat of paint and jacking up the prices 50-60 percent. “We have to figure out strategies to intervene in the marketplace,” he said.

According to Jean Wagenius, state representative for District 63B, the state has two major roles: setting policy and bonding. She said $140 million in bonds has been recommended for affordable housing across the state. The governor put in $130 million in his request, which she said is great. Wagenius also said she has drafted a bill that would allow the state to invest in energy efficiency in buildings in exchange for landlords keeping rents down in those buildings. “I am working on that now,” she said. “It’s a tough one, but I’ve had tough ones before.”

Jeremy Schroeder, a council member for Ward 11, said he also is looking at ways to get more energy efficiency for landlords. “Right now, landlords have all the power,” he claimed. “I could see that change if the housing market changes, and it wasn’t such a tight market.” Schroeder said that asking how to keep things affordable is a tough question.

Photo right: (l to r) Jean Wagenius, Jeremy Schroeder, Michael Sullivan.

For Mike Sullivan, Minneapolis Police Department Inspector, serving the Third Precinct, housing issues center around homelessness. “In my one-and-a-half year experience downtown, I learned that you could not arrest homelessness,” he said. He worked over by the Walker Art Center, where a number of homeless residents can be found, and he said people were not arrested but outreached. “We worked very closely with St. Stephen’s Homeless Shelter and Native American groups,” he said. He advised that if someone is begging, do not give them money because you are only contributing to an addiction. “Contribute to an organization that serves the homeless instead,” he said.

Addressing the issue of improving the environment, Johnson said the Nokomis neighborhood is a leader on pollinators. He said there have been conversations about turning Highway 55 into a pollinator corridor. “We are also looking at pollinator plantings on 34th Avenue around reconstruction,” he said. He noted a lot is going on around Lake Hiawatha and the golf course. Johnson also said he is looking at other priorities, like bioswales. Bioswales are landscape elements designed to concentrate or remove silt and pollution out of surface runoff water.

Photo left: NENA Board Chair Mike Ferrin speaking, with Lauren Hazenson (left), LaShawn Ray (center) and Suzanne Stephenson seated behind him.

McLaughlin cited problems with the ash borer and the need to prevent another blight similar to Dutch Elm disease. He talked about the importance of continuing to invest in buildings and transit. “If we can get a system that will go all the way to Brooklyn Park and up to Eden Prairie, connect to St. Paul and the airport, we will have a transit system that will be the envy of the country,” he said.

“We’re on track to get $47 million for transit,” Wagenius said, “but that money can only be spent on certain things. One of those things is electric buses. We also want to see electric school buses. They can sit still at night and recharge.”

She said there is a problem for residents west of Lake Nokomis suffering from very high groundwater, which results in water coming up in basements and water bubbling up along the street. “We can’t move forward as long as we can’t walk around Lake Nokomis because of water,” she said. She added that she has written a letter to DNR summarizing these issues.

“Groundwater is a big, complex issue,” said Schroeder. “We’re working to get to the bottom of it, but we all need to work together. I’m passionate about the environment, and I want anyone to reach out to my office if they have any questions.” He said he is anxious to move towards sustainability.

Regarding a question about community policing, Sullivan said he hopes to have his officers increase communications with residents by attending community events.

Johnson explained that the ward he represents has a low crime rate. “Yet, we can do more,” he said. He mentioned NENA crime and safety meetings, and he said he would like to increase the number of block clubs. He said there is panhandling around some businesses, but that panhandling cannot be banned as long as people are not being harassed.

“If you see someone who looks like they need help, call St. Stephen’s Homeless Shelter at 612-879-7624. They will send someone out to talk with them.”

McLaughlin said the county has responsibility for juveniles going through the system. “If kids are in foster care, we want to make sure education is a priority,” he stated. “We want to make sure they have access to diagnostic services. We want to get those young people on a positive path.” McLaughlin said that although treatment and detox are available for youth who need them, a better job needs to be done on prevention.

Wagenius said she wants additional training for all police officers in crisis intervention, management, and bias.

Addressing livability issues head-on is what Schroeder hopes to do.

Sullivan said all his officers have been trained in crisis intervention and all have received procedural justice training in the past year. “We want to work with the community and let them know they can trust us,” he said. “We are focusing on curfew enforcement and protecting and working with kids.”’

A second panel visited with NENA residents about their agendas for 2018. LaShawn Ray, the principal of Keewaydin Elementary School, said he is looking forward to a lot of things in 2018: the best possible schools, building quality citizens for the future, instilling values, and helping kids make the best decisions they can. He also emphasized the importance of reaching out to all parents to get them involved.

Suzanne Stephenson, a librarian for Hennepin County Library Nokomis, said she also hopes to reach out to community members. “We’re here. How can we help?” is her message to residents. She emphasized the seed library and said they would also like to highlight local artists.

Heather Wambach, a patron experience supervisor with Hennepin County Library, Nokomis, and Roosevelt, said storytime is very popular. “We could offer it three times every day, and it would be full,” she said. She is hoping to reach out to parents who cannot get to the library for a storytime in the middle of the day.

Isaac Russell, neighborhood and community engagement commissioner for District 3, also stressed outreach. He described a set of recommendations that neighborhood associations will review before being sent to the City Council for approval. “This is very important, and basically what we are doing for the year,” he said.

Jack Dickinson, communication chair for Nokomis East Business Association (NEBA). Said his organization provides an outlet to meet one on one with small businesses. He said NEBA tells stories, such as the owner of McDonald’s Liquor who came back from WWII without the use of his legs and was very active in improving conditions for the disabled in the Twin Cities. “We have summer concerts, the tree lighting, and outdoor block parties,” he said.

As far as how Nokomis East could support these schools and organizations, Ray talked about a lack of mentors for some of his students. “Take a student, or maybe a family, under your wing,” he suggested. “We’re asking for time, if you really want to make a difference.”

Stephenson also called for volunteers. “Not just in the library, but it could be tutors or teaching. Be our eyes and ears,” she said. Wambach added that telling the library’s story is another important need.

”The best way to help is to go to NENA,” said Russell. “Our internal goal is to have recommendations to the City Council by the end of March. Ask yourself what it is you want from your neighborhood associations.”

Dickinson recommended becoming a member of NEBA and supporting small businesses, especially during reconstruction. “Attend our events—they are fun,” he added.

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Minnehaha Academy Summer Programs offer about every class under the sun

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

(Photos provided)
Minnehaha Academy will be offering a huge range of fun and enriching activities at their Lower and Middle School Campus again this summer. Their catalog boasts over 100 different sessions over nine weeks, so there really will be something for every child’s skill and curiosity.

Holly Abramson, Summer Programs director, said, “Our summer programs support families who already send their kids here, and they also serve as a neighborhood outreach program. About half of our summer participants are registered students at Minnehaha Academy. The rest come from all over the Metro area, as well as the immediate neighborhood. Our summer programs are designed to be academically enriching in nature. As you can tell from the schedule, they’re also things that kids really enjoy doing.”

Camp Minnehaha, the day camp program, is the heart and soul of Minnehaha Academy’s Summer Programs. There are half day and full options for this program. Students are grouped by age (pre-K through 8) and can participate in art, music, science, as well as swimming lessons at the Midtown YWCA. The cost of the Red Cross certified swimming lessons is included in the tuition for those who choose the afternoon option, as are Friday field trips.

Photo right: There coed woodworking (grades 1-2, or grades 3-6) as well as a woodworking class designed just for girls (grades 1-8).

Abramson said, “Our mission is to integrate Christian faith in learning for our Summer Programs, but people from all backgrounds are welcome. We have a very flexible approach to scheduling, which we see as a big plus. Students can do a lot of different things here, all in the same safe environment. We’re also quite affordable compared to other private schools that are offering summer camp options, and most of our summer programs are taught by licensed teachers. Our Chess Coach, Igor Rybakov, has the distinction of being named the best chess coach in Minnesota. Our Upper School Vice-principal Mike DiNardo will be returning as the Lego Robotics instructor. We have a great retention rate with students coming back year after year because the quality of our teaching staff is so high.”

Lower School Enrichment Camps will bring all kinds of skill-building classes to students entering grades K-5. There will be Woodworking and Lego Robotics, offered for boys and girls, or for girls separately. Survival Skills: Pioneer Life, where children will experience the life of the pioneers through games and activities inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books.

Photo right: Beginning Guitar is available to Middle School and Upper School students (entering grades 7-12).

Jewelry Making, Beginning Painting, Water Color, Drawing, Hands-On Art, and Nature and Art classes will make art enrichment an option throughout all nine weeks of the Summer Programs. Chess Camp, Movie Making (offered as a two-week option), Adventures with Star Wars (using Legos and other interactive learning tools), Combat Robots, Video Game Creation, and other computer-based design skills will beckon. There will also be an array of opportunities to learn new music skills or to improve on old ones.

Middle School Enrichment Camps will offer some of the same classes listed above, but several also for grades 6-8. Standouts will include Wood Carving, Geocaching, Mixed Media, Minecraft, Design and Build Superstructures, and much more.

Photo right: Fishing is available at Minnehaha for kids entering 5 through 8.

Both Lower School and Middle School offer athletic camps in disciplines across the board including tennis, track, and field, soccer, volleyball, basketball, fencing, fishing, football and destination biking classes. Lower School campers will bike to libraries and museums; Middle School campers will bike to local parks to play Frisbee golf or soccer, or to attend organized games.

Upper School Enrichment Camps will offer ACT Math Prep, Advanced Band, Bridge to AP Calculus, Driver’s Education, Advanced Band, and Beginning Guitar. Students entering 9th grade may also participate in Video Game Design, Video Game Creation, Minecraft, Basketball, and Volleyball.

You can find their entire catalog of summer classes online or register for any of the Summer Programs classes by going to

Photo left: try a week of tennis, grades 1-4 or 5-8.

Call Holly Abramson at 612-728-7745 with questions, or to inquire about summer employment. Summer Programs is looking for dependable staff (age 16 or older by June 11, 2018) with strong leadership skills and a passion for working with children and youth.

Minnehaha Academy is located at 4200 W. River Pkwy.

Here are just a smattering of the dozens of unique options for summer from Minnehaha Academy:

Hands On Art
Entering Grades 1-2
This class is for the student who enjoys working with their hands! Students in this class will engage building very “hands on” art projects. Students will work with clay, mixed media, and more!

Craft, Cook & Eat Around The World
Entering Grades 2-5
This camp is for students interested in learning about other countries. Each day students will play native games, learn customs, make crafts and prepare food from a different country. Sign up and let your imagination travel the glove!

Entering Grades 2-6
Can you design the next Taj Mahal? Come create and build the future using Lego bricks in Snapology’s new and exciting architecture class. It’s never too early to foster your child’s engineering and building skills in this super cool program.

Photo right: There are numerous computer and technology classes available over the summer.

Video Game Designs
Entering Grades 4-9
Create your own video game in the awesome Snapology program. We will teach you how to design your very own online game that can be shared and played at home with family and friends. Skills include: computer skill building, program navigation, special planning, came mechanics, story narrative development, game progression, character choice, conflict development, and solution planning.

Photo left: At Minnehaha Academy soccer sessions are available for grades 1-2, grades 3-5, and grade 6-8.

Entering Grades 2-7
Students will learn the basics of fencing through the Minnesota Sword Club in Minneapolis. Instructors will cover the history of the sport, will teach basic concepts of blade and footwork, and will engage both concentration and awareness. Athletic shoes, a t-shirt, long sweatpants and inexpensive work gloves are required. No short pants or jeans please. All fencing equipment will be provided. Invite your friends!

Photos courtesy of Minnehaha Academy

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From cars to compost — The Green Fair is a smash hit

Posted on 20 February 2018 by calvin

All photos by JAN WILLMS
The NENA Green Fair took place Sat., Jan 27, at the Lake Nokomis Community Center, 2401 E. Minnehaha Pkwy. Among those who sponsored displays were All Energy Solar, Applied Energy Innovations, CAKE- Plus-Size Resale, City Of Minneapolis-Minneapolis Recycles, Habitat For Humanity ReStore, Mama Terra Gardens, Metro Blooms, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Minnesota Food Association, Minnesota Tool Library, Minneapolis Toy Library, Monarch Magic, Nokomis Naturescape, NENA Green Initiatives Committee, The Butterfly Effect Journal, Wild Ones Twin Cities, ZeroWasted, and Zeroish.

Photo right: A young visitor to the fair examines some of the toys on display from the Minneapolis Toy Library (8 W. 60th St.). Molly Stern, director of the organization, says toys for children 0-5 are available for rent.



Photo left: Fairgoer Aryca Myers from the Bryant neighborhood, on the right, learns more about Longfellow-based Mama Terra Gardens from Kayla Nortrup. The landscaping services help with sustainability, design, maintenance and installation of flower beds.


Photo right: Shannon Twiss, volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity, focused her table at the fair on Habitat’s ReStore (2700 Minnehaha Ave.), a home improvement outlet.








Photo left: On right, Amber Haukedahl of Zero Wasted explained changes that can bring about sustainability to Amanda Sletton, who drove over to the fair from Northeast Minneapolis.



Photo right: Members of the MN Plug-in Vehicle Owners Circle had their electric-powered vehicles on display at the NENA Green Fair held at the end of January. From left, Wendell Bell, Kati Simonett, Marcus Baker (in back), Michael Weber, Steve Hong and Kevin McCormick.



Photo left: Anna Johnson, a board member of NENA, provided information on the two butterfly gardens and the Giving Garden. NENA partnered with St. James Episcopal Church on Minnehaha Parkway, which has expanded its onsite garden and invited the community to join in, Last year, the Giving Garden provided 450 pounds of produce for the Minnehaha Food Shelf. More gardening volunteers are welcome next year. 


Photo right: Sarah Pilato, education facilitator for the Urban Agriculture Lab, a part of Spark-y, offered a game showing what can be put in compost that will be eaten by compost worms. Youth Action Labs (4432 Chicago Ave.) is a nonprofit organization empowering Twin Cities youth. 

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‘Two Bettys’ grows from 2 to 120 with its green cleaning service

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

Two Bettys Green Cleaning Service is an eco-friendly company that uses only non-toxic cleaning products: no bleach, no ammonia, and no petroleum-based irritants. Headquartered at 3258 Minnehaha Ave., the company currently employs 120 people, and serves upwards of 1,100 clients in the Twin Cities and first-tier suburbs.

Two Bettys started small a little more than a decade ago. Company co-founders Anna Tsantir (photo right by Margie O’Loughlin) and Sam Meyers (who passed away in 2014) were both artists struggling to find time to practice their art. They were too busy working their day jobs and thought there had to be a better way. They quit their jobs and started cleaning houses. Both Bettys found that the work was peaceful, the income decent, and the scheduling more flexible than the 9-5 routine.

Over time, Tsantir and Meyers hired contractors to help with increasing demand for their services. There were a lot of people looking for jobs for whom flexible scheduling was a priority: artists, activists, students, and single parents. As their business grew, it became clear that their business model needed to change too. Tsantir said, ”We scrapped the idea of hiring cleaners as independent contractors a couple of years ago, and brought them on fully as company employees.”

Tsantir believes this has strengthened the company in many ways. “We’re currently hiring,” Tsantir said, “and our starting wage is $15 per hour. Cleaners’ wages rise to $19 per hour after the first year. We’ve been testifying at Minneapolis City Hall for a livable wage for years, along with other progressive small business owners. We offer a 50% health insurance cost share for employees working at least 30 hours per week. If an employee has been with us for a year or more and is injured, either on or off the job, they’ll receive disability payments for up to three months. We pay for drive time between jobs, and all cleaning supplies and products. We can do much more for our cleaners now that they’re actual employees and not contract staff.”

Two Bettys welcomes new clients, as well as new employees. To schedule a free, in-home or in-office estimate for cleaning services, call 612-720-8768 or visit

“Many of our clients are busy with long hours at work or in care of others,” Tsantir said. “We believe that a cleaning service can open up more time to engage with community, family, and friends. Our services are tailored to meet our clients’ needs. For that first estimate, we’ll send a member of our sales/client service staff to you, to learn which aspects of your home or office frustrate you the most from the standpoint of cleaning.”

One of the company’s 2018 initiatives is developing another Longfellow property at 4010 E. Lake St., just west of the Hi-Lo Diner. Tsantir explained,”We’re building out a refill station where our employees will go to get their cleaning supplies. Almost all of what you buy in a bottle of cleaning product is water, which results in a tremendous amount of packaging waste and inefficiency in transportation/use of fuel. We’ll be purchasing 1,000 lb. barrels of super concentrated cleaning solutions, which our employees will refill into reusable bottles. We look forward to partnering with Climate Generation and local artists to create a ‘Wall of Hope’ mural on the alley side of the property, with a message of the many successes that climate activists have had in recent years. Contrary to what we hear in the news, some good things are definitely happening.”

Two Bettys Green Cleaning Service received a huge accolade last year when they were awarded the 2017 Minnesota Women-Owned Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.


Did you know…?

Tsantir said, “There are virtually no trade regulations about labeling cleaning products. Truly, anyone can put ’green’ on their product line. As a consumer, it can be hard to stay up to date.” An online search confirms that a common cleaning product, Comet Disinfectant Powder, contained 146 different chemicals, including some thought to cause cancer, asthma, and reproductive disorders. The most toxic chemicals identified were formaldehyde, benzene, and chloroform; they were not listed on the label.

Tsantir recommends using an online resource called the Environmental Work Group to check the ratings of more than 2,000 household products. The non-profit research group gives each product a grade from A-F, based on how hazardous it is to health and the environment, and how much ingredient information is on the label.

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Lawless aims for lighthearted cocktails that reflect Minnesota roots

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

Cocktail lounge offers winter Minnesota experience complete with fire, decor, and music

Lawless Distilling (2619 28th Ave. S.) takes a lighthearted approach to cocktails, making spirits that are approachable and not so serious.
Drop by the cocktail room for a Minnesota winter experience, complete with decor and a Minnesota music playlist. Order one of the hot cocktails from last winter’s menu. Or, select from the beverages that were part of the big holiday pop up called Miracle at Lawless.

The menu includes a Hot Buttered Rum (which comes with a marshmallow to roast), a Hot Dog! Toddy or a Sweater Weather. Prefer something cooler? Perhaps you’d like a Sno-ball Old Fashioned #2, a Snow Shoes Glüg, or a Boundary Water. All cocktails feature Lawless Distilling Company spirits and other house-made additions.

The holiday cocktail bar—the only such event in Minnesota—was a pop-up concept in partnership with Cocktail Kingdom, explained Nate Karnitz of Seward, who owns Lawless with his wife Kristen Karnitz, and friend Chris Kulzer who lives near Powderhorn Park.

Photo right: Lawless Distilling bartenders Mark Sather and Nora Curcio mix up one of the lighthearted cocktails Lawless is known for. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“The concept originated in New York City a few years ago and has since grown to include over 50 bars across the country. The response was overwhelming. It will be coming back bigger and better next year,” the Seward resident promised.

Minnesota born
The three-year-old company was born out of an idea Karnitz had while earning an MBA at Carlson School of Management. He wrote the business plan but didn’t decide to pursue it until shortly after his graduation when legislation changed to allow distilleries to operate cocktail rooms. Nate, Kristin, and Chris came together, flushed out the concept, and brought the business plan to life.

The trio first focused on the distilling end. They opened up the distillery in October 2014 and began distributing to liquor stores and bars. They moved on to add the cocktail room a year and a half ago.

Lawless Tippling House Vodka is hand-crafted in an area of Minneapolis once known for its flourishing tippling scene and notoriously labeled the “Hub of Hell.” The beverage is named after the illegal home bars enterprising residents of Minneapolis opened before, during and after Prohibition. More functional than fashionable, the tippling house was the speakeasy’s less cultured counterpart.

Photo left: Lawless Distilling bartender Eli Morris lights up the cinnamon fire pit served alongside a Hot Buttered Rum while Longfellow resident Andrew Matthews looks on.

The Greenway Gin pays homage to the evolving Greenway Trail a few blocks away by blending the past and present to create a traditional dry gin with a touch of modern character. Beginning in 1872 the Milwaukee Road passenger train carried travelers into Minneapolis on a stretch of land running through the south side of the city. Today, a portion of that defunct passenger rail line has been transformed into the Midtown Greenway, a bustling bicycle highway that transports people differently.

Both beverages are distilled from Minnesota red wheat and sugar beets. The wheat is grown on the family farm owned by Chris’ aunt and uncle in Cold Spring.

In addition to the two spirits Lawless distributes, others are available only in the cocktail room, including Juniper Gin, rum, aquavit, and numerous liqueurs.

“Our Greenway Gin is more of a new western style gin, more floral and citrusy, less piney. The Juniper Gin has more of a traditional flavor profile with a very heavy focus on the juniper berry,” observed Karnitz. “We put the juniper through a unique maceration process, which brings out a very green and fresh pine flavor.”

Partnership with Bittercube Bitters
From the start, Lawless has partnered with Bittercube Bitters, which developed its Minnesota-themed cocktail program.

Bittercube Bitters offers two regular classes at Lawless, which fill up quickly. One of the classes focuses on how to make specific drinks from the Lawless menu, including direction on how to make some of the ingredients that go in them. The other class is the Bittercube 7 Pillars class, which focuses on the seven basic drink ratios that can be used to make hundreds of drinks. Information on the classes is available online.

“The classes are small and personal,” said Karnitz, “part education, part entertainment.”

His own favorite drink to make is a classic. “The gin old fashioned is delicious and easy to make at home,” remarked Karnitz.

New spirits coming
Lawless has recently added Sunday hours and is expanding its production capabilities.

“We’re working on bringing some liqueurs to market, some of which will be unique collaborations with Bittercube. First up are Bitter Orange, Fernet, Creme De Flora, and Pink Gin,” said Karnitz.

He added, “Look for a number of new products to hit liquor stores in the coming months.”

More can be found at

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Caliber Works Watch Repair offers unique service to South Minneapolis

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

Like a lot of people, Tyson Niemeyer wasn’t happy working in the corporate world. She’d been at American Express for about seven years, she said, when her mother sent her an article from a local newspaper. Her mom knew she was looking for another professional path and the article, about St. Paul Technical School’s Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program, captured her interest.

“I took the aptitude test. They gave us a watch movement and had us take it apart and put it back together. I’d never taken a watch apart before,” she said. “I didn’t know how to hold tweezers. I know I put some parts in upside down.”

“I always like how watches looked but never opened one up before, and school seemed like a good idea at the time. It sounds flippant, but that’s how I ended up there.”

Image right: Tyson Niemeyer loves the stories behind the watches that she repairs. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

The school thought she had the right stuff and she was accepted into the two-year program, one of three women in a class of 10 students. When she graduated, she got a gig repairing watches for HUB Jewelers and as a watch repair freelancer for 20 small jewelry shops. When HUB closed, she started working from her chilly basement but found that the basement wasn’t good enough.

“I couldn’t stand the basement. It was isolating. I had to talk with people. The two dogs and three cats weren’t enough.” she said.

Last year, she started to search seriously for a space to open her own shop, touring empty storefronts, at first near 43rd and Chicago. “Those stores needed too much work to get them ready,” she said. And then, she found a spot around the corner from Todd Park, at 815 E. 56th St. It was just what she’d been looking for, she said. She moved in and last Aug. 1, and Caliber Works Watch Repair opened for business.

“It’s better than the basement,” she said of the sunny store with powder blue walls, shiny hardwood floors, and bookcases displaying decades of bound yearbooks from Horological Times (see Editor’s Note at the end of article).

Most days, Niemeyer sits at her desk fixing broken watches and clocks. Many customers come in seeking a replacement watchband or battery.

But, others bring in ancient clockworks that need healing.

“I really like it when I can take someone’s favorite watch and make it keep time,” she said. “Plus, I don’t like to see people toss away useful things.”

Although Niemeyer majored in studio arts in college, she claims she’s not an artist.

“I’m a mechanic,” she said. ”Some people can design watches, but my mind doesn’t work that way. I like to look what’s visibly wrong with watches. It’s similar to car repair. It’s diagnostic.”

Niemeyer’s current wife and business partner, Karyn Mickelson, runs the non-diagnostic end of Caliber Works, putting together publicity and advertising and keeping track of the financial end of the establishment. Niemeyer calls her the chief personnel, financial and marketing officer, part-time since, said Niemeyer, “She’s got a real job. She’s a teacher.” The couple also shares the care of their three children, 8th-grade twins, and a 6th-grader.

The shop also sells collectible watches, some from the 1970s, but others going as far back as the 1800s. Her private collection numbers about 1,400 watches. “People give them to me. Clients give me bags of watches that they don’t want to repair and I get some at estate sales.

One of her favorites is from 1876, picked up at an estate sale. “It still runs pretty well for a 142-year-old timepiece,” she said. “There is a keyhole in the back, and you have to put a key there an wind it up.” It’s a high-quality Rockford watch, originally popular with railroad workers and now admired by serious collectors.

“I love the stories behind the watches,” Niemeyer said.

One pocket watch, brought to her by an elderly client, belonged to the man’s immigrant grandfather, who might have come from Scotland. The watch is from England, made sometime in the 1700s.

“It’s got a different kind of movement called a fuse. This chain links around these barrels,” she pointed out as she displayed the piece. “That’s the power source. The chain is broken, so I’ll have to make it.” The chain is too small to see clearly without a strong magnifying glass.

“I’ve never worked on one before,” she said. “But, I have high hopes that I’m going to be able to do this.”
Caliber Works Watch Repair is located at 815 E. 56th St., in the heart of the West Nokomis neighborhood. It’s open Tues.-Fri., 10am-6pm and Sat., 10am-2pm. Call 612-822-8282 for more information.

Editor’s Note: Horology is the art and/or science of measuring time. Clocks, watches, clockwork, sundials, hourglasses, clepsydras, timers, time recorders, marine chronometers and atomic clocks are all examples of instruments used to measure time.

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Lock and Key Escape Rooms busting out on Minnehaha Ave.

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

Behind an unassuming storefront at 4020 Minnehaha Ave., brothers Alex and Tony Ducklow have created an adventure-based business called the Lock and Key Escape Rooms. While the doors to the three themed escape rooms are never actually locked (it’s against the law), the key to freedom lies in solving puzzles and riddles with team members—in 60 minutes or less.

“We first heard about escape rooms 3½ years ago,” Alex said. “We went to one in Uptown, and we loved it. Both of us had a light go off, and we thought, ‘Wow, people will pay to do this!’ As former church youth directors, Tony and I share a love for setting up games for kids, and connecting with people.”

The brothers originally opened their business in the Shasta Building in 2016. “When that building was sold,” Tony said, “we knew we wanted to stay in the Longfellow neighborhood. We were lucky that Alex happened to find our new location when he was just out driving around.”

Image right: Brothers Alex (left) and Tony (right) Ducklow are co-creators and business partners in Lock and Key Escape Rooms.

So, what happens in an escape room? Alex explained, “Our three rooms are immersive, story driven. It’s like you’re in an adventure movie, and the movie comes to life around you. We like to say though, if this really were a movie, it would only be rated PG. There’s nothing scary or claustrophobic about the experience, and it isn’t frustrating either. The skill level for our rooms is medium because we want people to succeed in solving the mysteries.”

“People usually pick rooms by availability,” Tony said. “They’re all really fun. We recommend that customers be 13 years old at a minimum. The puzzles are designed to keep ten adults busy for an hour or so. We book the rooms on a 90-minute schedule, in case a group runs overtime. The groups that come through here most often are 20-30-year-old friends, families with older kids, and corporate groups.”

A lot of work goes into creating the themed rooms. The brothers plan to change one or more of the themes every couple of years, but probably not before. Their father’s skill as a contractor and builder have come in handy, as has Alex’s experience working in theater set design and construction.

The three room themes at present offer something for everyone. In Professor Jones’ Office, a famous archaeologist has recently gone missing after discovering an important artifact. The challenge is to keep that artifact from falling into the wrong hands.
In the Quest for Excalibur, the famed King Arthur has left the kingdom of Camelot along with all his knights. His sword, embedded in solid stone, must be freed.

In Escape the Locker Room, a sports team has made it all the way to the championship game—but the opposing team has trapped them in their locker room by jamming the door. Will they get out in time to play?

The Lock and Key Escape Rooms are open Thursdays, 5:30-9pm, Fridays 12-10pm, Saturdays 10am-10pm, and Sundays 12:30-8:30pm. Cost is $25 per person; groups of 15 or more receive a 20% discount. Reservations are required and can be made by visiting their website at or by calling 612-643-0539.

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LoLa sponsors first-ever fine art exhibit at Squirrel Haus Arts

Posted on 23 January 2018 by calvin

The public is invited to the first-ever fine art exhibition put on by The League of Longfellow Artists (LoLa), planned for mid-February at Squirrel Haus Arts, 3450 Snelling Ave. The opening is planned for Thur., Feb. 15, 6-9pm and will include food and beverages sponsored by businesses that support LoLa. The show can also be seen during gallery hours, Sat. and Sun., Feb. 17-18, noon-5pm.

“The Winter Fine Art Exhibition” will present the work of member artists in a gallery format, with one to three pieces for each participating artist. The show is being organized by LoLa volunteers, and the gallery hours will also be staffed by LoLa artists and volunteers. A wide range of media will be displayed, including painting, photography, printmaking, mosaic, collage, jewelry, and sculpture. Most artists will be at the reception to give the public an opportunity to meet the creators and ask any questions their works provoke in this centralized and intimate location.

This exhibition is a different format from LoLa’s September neighborhood art crawl, which is more of a sales event with each artist presenting a wide range of their work from their home, studio, or at a hosted location in the neighborhood.

“Squirrel Haus owners Michael and Donna Meyer have been great supporters of LoLa since they moved to the neighborhood in 2015. We love the support and energy they are bringing to the arts in our neighborhood,” said LoLa representative Megan Moore Smith.

Photo right: Nadine Mercil Corazon, “Solitario, no.4.” (Photo provided)


Image left: Jewelry by Teresea Chillingworth. (Photo provided)








Image right: “Untitled Red and Brown” by Lisa Anderson. (Photo provided)







Image left: Molly Keenan’s “Dreaming MN Timberwolf.” (Photo provided)









Image right: “Dancing with Raven Spirit” by Gordon Coons. (Photo provided)









Image right: “Still Life with Box Elders” by Megan Moore. (Photo provided)









Image right: “MN Love” by Karen Grimm. (Photo provided)

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A-Tree Services

Habitat for Humanity

Chanhassen Camp Opportunities

St. Paul College


Chanhassen Dinner Theater