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Building community through sailing

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

On a picture perfect summer evening at Lake Nokomis, the water was calm and the west side dock was brimming with activity. A group of five kids and a couple of adults climbed into a sailboat and, after a momentary untangling of the rigging and a gentle push, they were off. Just then the wind picked up.
“It’s magic,” said the man who helped them launch.
Meet Longfellow resident Tim Brandon – sailor, boat caretaker, mentor – or “The Mayor,” as he is known by the regulars of this 50-boat marina.
Brandon is there most summer evenings (Nokomis is on his way home from his job at MSP Airport), offering assistance and encouragement to youth and adults alike.
Minnehaha resident Len Schmid, whose boat Tag You’re It is bouyed here (and who said he might have been responsible for Brandon’s nickname), called Brandon a regular “person about the lake.” Ask anyone who knows him and they’ll tell you what a tremendous resource and great guy he is. Over the course of the five years he’s had a buoy here, Brandon has helped bail, patch, rig and rescue scores of boats, from on shore and out on the water.
“He’s here every day. He helps everyone,” said Schmid. “We’re lucky to have him here.”
Sailor Siri Anderson said Brandon was very supportive when she didn’t have anyone to sail with, and Melanie Benoy said he helped her get her whole boat rigged.
Lending a hand comes naturally to Brandon.
“I’m very familiar with launching [a] boat and getting super frustrated,” he said.
Brandon began sailing as a kid on Clear Lake, California’s largest natural lake, then became a recreation director at Konocti Harbor Resort. He later joined Cal Sailing Club in Berkeley, where he met his wife, Dori. He eventually became a senior skipper in San Francisco.
Lured to Minnesota by a full-time job at Northwest Airlines (now Delta), he settled near Lake Nokomis, bought a boat and named her Doribelle, after the nickname Dori’s mom gave her as a child. Five years ago, he got a buoy on Nokomis, and he’s been a mainstay at the marina ever since. He chuckles at the “mayor” moniker and describes himself as more of an unofficial harbor master.

Youth Sailing Resources offers opportunities for kids
On this glorious summer evening, it was all about getting kids on the water. Brandon serveson the board of Youth Sailing Resources (YSR), which brings volunteer skippers and youth sailors together weekly to sail. YSR cofounders Patrick O’Leary and Jim McKie were here tonight, too.
According to O’Leary, YSR started as a nonprofit to support the Sea Scouts (a co-ed youth sailing group for ages 14-21) and to open up sailing to people who may not otherwise have the opportunity. They don’t offer classes or formal instruction. Rather, they give sailors the experience of being out on the water. All must wear a lifejacket and follow basic safety precautions, and all are shown proper care of the vessel. Sailing tips from experienced sailors, of course, flow freely.
“We wanted to make it a version of a community-based thing,” said O’Leary.

What’s the catch?
For it to work, they rely on volunteer skippers and depend on the generosity of the broader sailing community to lend their boats, as well as donate boats no longer in use. It’s a model Brandon already knew worked, from his experience at Cal Sailing.
On the low cost to participate in YSR people often ask, “What’s the catch”? There isn’t one. But maybe if people use the resources, they’ll buy into it. Maybe volunteer. Maybe one day lend a boat.
McKie cruised away from the dock on one such boat, the Avalon, on loan from a Nokomis sailor.
“If there’s two boats out, it’s a race,” said McKie, grinning. “Whether the other boat knows it or not.” He attempted to catch up to Brandon, who was now sailing with Benoy on a catamaran, but caught them at the wrong angle.
McKie explained how to gauge wind speed by the surface of the water: Silver water is calm; darker water is windier; white again (as in whitecaps), might be a good 10-15 knots. A huge part of sailing is reading signs and getting a feel for how the wind reacts.
“Kids think they can do something. The wind shifts, and they’ve got to adjust,” said McKie. “A good life lesson.”
YSR has served various youth groups over the years, including Young Life, TreeHouse, and Cub Scouts. With Lake Street-based Urban Ventures, they created an annual sailing event, which last year brought 110 kids to Lake Nokomis to sail for an afternoon – up substantially from the 20 or so participants when it first launched six years ago.
The overall goal? To have a good time on the water.
“They need to have some fun,” said McKie. “There’s a lot of boredom. If I can find a way for them to have fun, give them some excitement”– That’s what it’s about. With that, they build some responsibility for the machines they operate, and they build community, which is “so important in this day and age,” McKie said.

Sailing is many things
Sailing means different things to different people. For Brandon it can be very meditative, following the wind.
For Jen Wood, another Nokomis sailor, it’s “an exercise in humility”; early in the season she prefers sailing her boat, Beulah, in gentler winds.
On the previous night, Sea Scouts Gina Sutherland and Ryan Bohara sailed with YSR. Each has risen through the ranks in the Scouts – Sutherland the seniormost, as a boatswain ( bos’n), and Bohara a bos’n’s mate – and it’s clear sailing is part of their lifestyle.
Sutherland likes that Nokomis is “a very active lake,” with places to swim and people fishing.
Bohara loves racing. An active member of Sea Scout Ship Mendota #248, he and his mom, K.D. Bohara, make the trek from their home in Victoria, Minn,, to Nokomis weekly. He’s thrilled Wayzata will be hosting one of the nation’s qualifying regattas in August for next year’s William I. Koch International Sea Scout Cup (which will be held in Galveston, Texas). Two other Mendota 248 Scouts were selected (among 10) to sail for a week with the U.S. Coast Guard aboard the tall ship Barque Eagle.
K.D. Bohara, who chairs the Mendota 248 committee, especially loves being at the lake and seeing everyone’s setup. She shared pictures of a couple of memorable boats launched from trailers at Nokomis, one in the shape of a disk and another fashioned by placing a platform across two canoes and adding umbrellas, chairs and coolers – instant pontoon.
On this night, she brought her nephew Bode LeRoach for his first time sailing. “It was fun,” he said.

‘Calm down, take your time, be thorough’
As this evening drew to a close, Brandon gave a few pointers to Andreas Kocher and Vithue Chumara of St. Paul on storing the sail and closing up the Rebel they had just sailed. “Not a lot of people know how to sail,” said Chumara. “[Learning this] use of the wind, it’s a really good technical skill.”
Kocher said he’s struggled with ADHD, and that sailing has taught him how to “calm down, take your time, be thorough.”
He added, “A lot of kids should learn how to sail. It’s a great time. It’s a great way to spend the summer.”
Lake Nokomis seems to be the perfect place to do it.

‘Switchy twitchy’
The wind can be what Schmid described on the group’s Facebook page as “switchy twitchy.” It’s the same on all three Minneapolis lakes, he said: Bowls surrounded by trees, where the wind pushes downward and in. “You can sail two minutes and have it switch directions,” he observed.
Nokomis can also get what Brandon calls “big air” and – even on this little lake – swiftly become dangerous. It requires people to be on top of their game. Short of a storm, Brandon will go out in the big gusts, suggesting the Doribelle can handle maneuvering to and from the dock better than most boats.
McKie enjoys the challenge and said he and O’Leary will go out even when it’s “blowin’ like snot.” Having sailed in different parts of the world, McKie maintains, “If you can sail on an inland lake in Minnesota, you can sail anywhere in the world.”
More than for the wind and water, though, sailing Lake Nokomis is about the people there.
“It’s an amazing community,” said Siri Anderson, who said Nokomis is very unpretentious. “This community has become more important to me than my church.”

‘Everything I do started on a summer day on this lake’
Brandon, as administrator for the Lake Nokomis Sailing Facebook page, often posts videos of the conditions on the lake. He welcomes new sailors and boats and posts any mishaps. Recently, he alerted the community to a boat that was sinking due to a leak, which he managed to safely maneuver to shore. He said there have been times he’s posted that he could use a hand, only to arrive at the boat launch to have three cars with volunteers waiting. That’s really what its all about for him, being there for each other and creating lasting memories.
“At some point [new sailors] will say, ‘Everything I do started on this summer day on Lake Nokomis.’”
To get involved n Youth Sailing Resources, call Jim McKie or Patrick O’Leary (contacts available on their Google site). The Sea Scouts hold their annual weekend regatta on Lake Phalen Aug. 10 and 11.

(Photo courtesy of Tim Brandon)

Flotation, flotation, flotation


If Tim Brandon has a mantra for sailors, it might be this: “Have you secured your masthead flotation?” He recently posted on the Lake Nokomis Sailing Facebook page a photo of a Hobie catamaran that had capsized due to, in his opinion, the skipper “hot doggin’ it.”

Pictured above is the boat, floating sideways, its mast across the surface of the water. Clearly visible on the end of it is an empty gallon jug, which is all it takes to keep the mast from submerging – and taking the boat with it.

“The masthead flotation made all the difference,” Brandon said.

Brandon said the lake is only 14 feet deep on average, much shallower than the length of most masts, which are 20+ feet on up. That means capsized boats without the flotation run the risk of driving their masts into the mud. YSR youth who want to can practice capsizing and righting the boat with a skilled skipper.


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Your concerns are her concerns

Posted on 01 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Commissioner Angela Conley wants constituents guiding decisions from the 24th floor

A mural at the newly opened Funky Grits at Chicago Ave. and 38th. St. celebrates the contributions made by females in Minneapolis, including Angela Conley, third from left. (Photo submitted)

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series. The first part ran in the May 2019 Messenger.
Addressing unsheltered homelessness is an issue Hennepin County District 4’s new County Commissioner Angela Conley is passionate about, and one that local residents focused on when she was door-knocking during her campaign.
Many years ago, Conley had to leave where she was living for safety reasons and was technically homeless. “That experience taught me ways in which we can do better,” said Conley, who later spent 20 years working in social work at both the county and state level. “I know housing and having a place to sleep at night are basic human rights.”
Conley believes that the answer to fixing this issue is funding, and hopes to see a number of different agencies partnering together with direction from the state. This way, someone from Washington County can stay within their community and not go to a shelter in Hennepin County because that’s the only one that has space.
“This is a lot bigger than just Hennepin County,” said Conley.
Plus the answer requires more than providing a bed and a mat to those who are homeless. It will require that – and on-ramps to supportive housing and permanent housing. “We have to meet people where they are at,” observed Conley.
Right now, Hennepin County operates as a referral-based system which means that someone might get referred to four or five other agencies to meet his or her varying needs. Conley said, “It’s often a full-time job for people to get chemical health services over here and mental health services over here, and then help with finding employment over in this direction. All of that should be under one roof.”
She added, “We should be doing it with people who are involved in our shelter system because housing stability is when you have the support you need to maintain your own housing. ”
That costs money, Conley recognizes, so she’s looking at where money is being spent now, evaluating if the outcomes are good, and questioning if that money should be spent elsewhere.
“We are moving in the right direction, but we’re still not where we should be,” stated Conley. “We’re still busting at the seams.”
According to the Wilder Foundation, Minnesota is seeing the highest numbers of homelessness in the 30 years they’ve been tracking it. She pointed out, “Homelessness has jumped 10% in the last three years.”
Conley is taking a close look at how the county invests in shelters and supportive housing, as well as real estate.
“We’ve got a market out here that not a lot of people can afford anymore. It’s harder to buy a home. Houses go up for sale and they’re snatched up right away. Rent keeps going up, but wages don’t,” she remarked. When people get out of jail, landlords won’t rent to them. And women and children fleeing domestic violence make up a large percentage of the homeless and have specific needs before they can get back on their feet.
There are also members of the community who don’t go to shelters, and some of those people came together last year at the Hiawatha Encampment, the largest encampment Minnesota had ever seen.
As a Southside resident, Conley drove past the Hiawatha Encampment regularly. She recognizes there are many reasons why people opt to not use shelters, such as not being able to bring a loved one or beloved pet. Others don’t think the shelters are safe, and worry that they don’t have a place to lock up their belongings. Addiction is also an issue, and opioid addiction is hitting the fourth district hard, Conley said.
She pointed out that encampment was full of many Native American and African Americans – the two groups experiencing the highest levels of homelessness. “You had a group of folks who found community amongst each other and who chose to live amongst each other,” Conley observed.
“There are also 200 to 300 people who sleep on the trains overnight. So this is an issue that not a lot of people have talked about.”
According to Conley, the county has divested from shelters and invested in affordable housing over the years. Her question there is: “Affordable to who?”
All of the affordable housing is calculated based on median income, and affordable workforce housing is at 60% of the median income. “We have people at 30% of the median income. Where can they go?” she asked.
Also lacking is shelter that is culturally specific, and meets people where they are at even if they aren’t ready for addiction treatment.
Conley co-chairs Heading Home Hennepin, which brings together the county, city of Minneapolis and others to look at the ways people might be able to work together to provide resources to create the infrastructure needed to house more people.
“If we make these investments on the front end then the resources are already there, and we wouldn’t have to go into an encampment and provide services there because we were already on the front end working upstream to stop the build-up at the bottom,” said Conley. “There’s a lot of possibility in taking on this issue head-on. It’s going to require the political will for people to say, ‘Yes, this is an issue.’”
Conley also pushed for unsheltered homelessness to be included in the county’s federal legislative platform this year for the first time.

During her campaign, Conley started with that question because she loves talking about the county.
“I have spent my career in public service, and I wanted everybody to know what commissioners do because it’s a level of government that is sort of invisible,” observed Conley. “A lot of people know who their state reps are, they know who their senator might be, they know the governor, they know their city council, but do you know who your commissioner is? Raise your hand. We’d be in a room of 25 people and one person might raise their hand.”
She’d point out, “The county is involved in pretty much everything you do,” and deals with more than just the big, contentious issues of lightrail and stadiums.
When you take out your garbage, it’s burned at the county energy recovery center downtown. The road you drive on to get to work everyday may be a county road even in the city, and if you’re concerned about safety on it you’ll need to talk to the county. If you are on a fixed income and you need help paying for medical care or you’re experiencing food insecurity, you may apply at a county office.
“This is your largest government entity aside from the state, and it’s operating a $2.4 billion budget. We’re the second largest county in the Midwest — only to Cook County near Chicago. We’re very, very big with a far reach in people’s everyday lives,” stated Conley.
Her office will be intentional about holding community office hours for citizens to share concerns and ideas. The first was held at Sabathani, and others will be held at various places throughout the large fourth district including Longfellow, by the airport, in Cedar-Riverside, Phillips and the Central neighborhood.
“We want folks to know that their commissioner is very interested in having community lead on key decisions,” said Conley.
In March, she was part of a meeting focused on the Cedar/Highway 77/Highway 62/Edgewater area, and was most interested in hearing what those in attendance had to say. “I think community should be leading on what they know is best for their neighborhood,” stated Conley, and her staff took a ton of notes at the meeting. She plans to hold a follow-up meeting to talk about how those ideas can be implemented.
“That’s the kind of leadership you can find out of the District 4 office,” stated Conley. “I don’t want to be in this space making up solutions based on what I think the community needs. I want people in the fourth district to be guiding decisions that happen up here on the 24th floor because these are decisions that ultimately affect your life.”
For a long time, Conley didn’t feel included in decision making and so she’s taking that experience and turning it around.
“This really truly is the district four people’s office,” said Conley. “I want people to know that they have access to their commissioner, and their concerns are my concerns.”

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‘Don’t close Minnehaha Parkway’

Posted on 01 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

South Minneapolis residents say they want to continue to drive the entire length of the parkway in both directions, putting them at odds with a proposal to close a few sections and make others one-ways.

Attendees at a community meeting on June 13 check out proposals for the parkway. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Don’t close the parkway. That’s the message a majority of residents are telling the Minneaplis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB).
The proposal to close the section of Minnehaha Parkway underneath the Nicollet Ave. bridge and put a small playground and parking lot there instead is part of a larger master plan being developed for the five miles of Minnehaha Creek that stretch through the southern part of Minneapolis.
Vehicles would still be able to drive continuously on the route. Eastbound traffic would not go under the Nicollet Bridge but would instead go up and be forced to make a right-hand turn due to a median on Nicollet. Traffic from Nicollet could turn right and head back east down to the creek. Westbound traffic in that area would not change.
The current eastbound lane on the west side of the bridge would remain as a trail. The section of eastbound traffic east of the bridge would be a two-way roadway to access the climbing wall, picnic area, canoe/kayak launch and small parking lot planned for the site instead.

What’s the purpose of parkway?
During a meeting at Nokomis Recreation Center on Thursday, June 13, 2019, MPRB Planner Adam Arvidson explained that they began this process by asking, “What is the purpose of the parkway road? Is it a pleasure drive or a commuter route?”
They discovered that east of the bunny sculpture, Minnehaha Parkway is the southernmost route people use to get across town. West of the bunny, the parkway is functioning more as a pleasure route, and drivers have many options for travel throughout the area.
MPRB staff heard from many people about areas where there are safety concerns between drivers, pedestrians and bikers, including the area of the parkway just west of Portland where some traffic diverts to 50th at an angled intersection.
In order to simply things and create more space for bikers and pedestrians, MPRB is proposing that a few sections of roadway near Portland and Lynnhurst Park, as well as Nicollet, be designated as one ways.
Minnehaha Parkway crosses 50th St. just west of Portland and connect back with it at Lynnhurst about 20 blocks later. “We are talking about a portion that touches the same street twice,” said Arvidson. “There is enough redundancy in the city grid.”
He observed that planners are focused on this question: “How do we think about the park as a whole?”

‘People want to drive entire length of creek’
Several citizens pointed out that Minnehaha Parkway is part of the Ground Rounds system, and talked about how much they enjoy using this route.
Kevin Kvale at 54th and Logan, drives for a living. “You look for sources of calm and the parkway is definitely one of the sources I use,” he said. “I think it’s a mistake to limit the access to it.”
Susan Reinhardt, who lives at 53rd and Girard, remarked, “We use it to show off the city. There’s an aspect of driving down the creek – it’s iconic to living in Minneapolis.”
Barbara Mahoney is 81 and uses the parkway each day to drive from East River Road to her daughter’s house in Hopkins. “I enjoy every minute,” she said, lamenting the loss of viewing the fall foliage if this plan goes through.
“People want to drive the entire length of the creek,” stressed Steve Thompson.
A number of people pointed out that due to their age and health, they are no longer able to bike or walk along the trails, and instead rely on driving.
In contrast, a younger woman said she’s excited about the plan for a park in Nicollet Hollow, and believes it is a good compromise. She pointed out that in her zip code only 11% of residents are over 65, and suggested that younger residents have childcare and other obligations that prevent them from attending an evening meeting to voice their support.
A teenage girl questioned whether it would be wise to restrict the number of cars in the area, and said she wouldn’t feel safe biking or walking in Nicollet Hollow with this plan.
Provide input on the plan at

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Kids want clean air in South Minneapolis

Posted on 01 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

The Minneapolis City Council hasn’t allowed these kids or those in support of a farm at the Roof Depot site to speak, so they gathered together on June 17 to flood city council member offices with phone calls sharing their ideas for what they want in their community. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The desire for healthy food and air brought kids and their adults to the East Phillips Cultural and Community Center on Monday, June 17, 2019 to engage in grassroots action. The group, which spanned multi cultures and ages, pulled out their phones to contact city council members to tell them they don’t want a city water yard to take up 16.5 acres at Hiawatha Ave. between 26th and 28th St.
They’d rather see an urban farm, aquaponics, solar array, affordable houses, bike shop and other small businesses at the Roof Depot site as proposed by the East Phillip Neighborhood Institute, according to organizer Cassandra Holmes of Little Earth. They don’t want 400 diesel trucks adding to the air pollution in the neighborhood and along the Midtown Greenway. “We are tired of them not listening to us and putting all their garbage on us,” she stated.
“Kids need clean air. They deserve clean air. We need to stop the polluting industries,” agreed former state representative Karen Clark. “This is what environmental injustice looks like.” Learn more about the project at

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Yes, Short Line Bridge could extend Greenway into St. Paul

Posted on 01 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Study re-opens conversation about rehabbing bridge for bikes and peds while still carrying trains

Executive director Soren Jensen, at right, said, “In my eight years at the Midtown Greenway Coalition, the question I’m asked more than any other is, ‘Why doesn’t the Greenway extend into St. Paul?’ We hope our bridge study helps start conversations with railroad and government officials about how to move this project forward.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Engineering feasibility studies usually don’t have people sitting on the edge of their chairs but on June 6, 2019, supporters of the Midtown Greenway Coalition did just that.
More than 60 bike enthusiasts gathered at the Hamline Midway Library to hear the results of the Extend the Greenway feasibility report, and to discuss the possibility of extending the Minneapolis bike trail into St. Paul.
The study involved in-depth structural analysis of the 100-year-old Short Line Railroad Bridge over the Mississippi River, east of 27th St. in the Longfellow neighborhood.
Midtown Greenway Coalition executive director Soren Jensen explained, “With the support of our 35+ Extend the Greenway partners, and donations from hundreds of people on both sides of the river, we hired engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates to determine if the bridge could be rehabbed to safely support bikes and pedestrians.  We are pleased to announce that the results are in – and it can!”
This isn’t the first time that the Short Line Bridge has been studied.
Jensen said, “Hennepin County conducted an engineering study in 2006, and concluded that the bridge was just too old to be used as a connector. At that point, the conversation kind of died. For our study, we re-framed the question to be, ‘What would it take to strengthen the bridge to make it structurally sound?’ Kimley-Horn’s report outlined several options for rehabbing the bridge to make it safe for bikers and pedestrians. No matter which one is chosen, structural redundancies will have to be built into the bridge to make it usable.”
Jensen continued, “The idea isn’t to have all the answers right now, but to spark interest in re-examining the idea. The easiest thing would be if the train didn’t run, but ADM says they will continue investing in it as long as the Atkinson Mill on Hiawatha Ave. stays open. Almost all of our options involve sharing the bridge with the train, and could include building a replica bridge or adding a second story above the tracks.”
The existing 5.5-mile-long Greenway Bike Trail was built in three phases and, if everything works out, the expansion across the Mississippi River would be Phase Four.

What would it take to make the Short Line RR Bridge east of 27th St. on West River Parkway structurally sound so that it could continue the Midtown Greenway trail across the Mississippi River from Minneapolis into St. Paul? (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Jensen said, “It’s important to remember that transit projects take time. This one would have a complicated funding structure pooling federal dollars, support from both Hennepin and Ramsey counties, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, business and non-profit sponsors, and individual donors.
“What we hope to do is get the conversation started.”
Looking ahead, if the Greenway were extended as far as Cleveland Ave. in St. Paul, there would be safer bike and pedestrian access to Alliance Field, the State Fair Grounds, the Green Line LRT and more.
The Extend the Greenway Partnership also supports the proposed Min Hi Line in South Minneapolis, which would connect the Midtown Greenway to Minnehaha Falls Park.
All Minneapolis and St. Paul non-profits, neigborhood groups, and businesses who share the vision of extending the Greenway are welcome to join the partnership. For more information, contact Soren Jensen at

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RRR: School’s out but Dowling Elementary is still buzzing

Posted on 01 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Students, community members learn about beekeeping from Pollinate Minnesota

Tracy Young, Dowling Elementary School environmental education teacher, visits the school apiary. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The students at Dowling Elementary School are done for the year, but 60,000 or so honeybees in their school yard apiary are gearing up for a busy summer.
Through a partnership with the non-profit organization Pollinate Minnesota, Dowling received two bee boxes last year – each houses one queen honeybee, enough males to ensure reproduction, and tens of thousands of hard working female worker bees. The bee boxes were placed on school property adjacent to the Dowling Community Gardens: home to 200+ community garden plots, which offer up a smorgasbord of flowering plants for the bees to feed on.
The hives have provided a living, outdoor classroom for students from the K-5 environmental magnet school since their arrival late last summer. Environmental education specialist Tracy Young and ELL teacher Jeff Johnson started thinking about having an apiary at their school a couple of years ago. They reached out to Erin Rupp, founder of Pollinate Minnesota, and were able to bring their idea to fruition.
Pollinate Minnesota is an education and advocacy organization working toward a better co-existence of pollinators and people. They offer safe, immersive experiences with honeybees for learners of all ages. As an educational organization, they teach over 100 programs a year, mostly to K-12 youth, and partner with organizations like Dowling to install and maintain their apiaries.
Tracy Young explained, “Our students have been able to interact with bees in many different ways. With the younger children, we use a combination of stories, puppets, and play activities to help them understand the different jobs that bees do – both in and around the hive. Some of our best experiences have been just sitting and watching the bees go about their business. The K-2 students are invited to approach the fenced-in apiary, but don’t go inside the 6’ tall, chain-link enclosure. Starting in third grade, students get to work with the bees up-close, wearing bee suits and other protective clothing.”
She continued, “Honeybees aren’t aggressive, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t afraid of them. There were a few children who were scared in the beginning, but once they learned about the honeybees and how they worked together – their fear went away.”
One of Young’s most successful teaching tools this year was a series of bee puppets she made with cardboard and donated chop sticks. The younger students took the puppets outside and “collected” pollen from apple trees while they were blooming. They learned about bee anatomy, bee behavior, how flowers are pollinated, and why it matters.
Pollinate Minnesota will be hosting a community bee-keeping class at the Dowling Apiary later this summer. Look for updates at in the next few weeks. For more information on forming a pollinator partnership, contact Erin Rupp at

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Rebuild Repair Recycle: Junket moving forward sustainably

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Owner Julie Kearns seeks to align business and personal values

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

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

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Faster transit coming to Lake

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Tesha M. Christensen

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

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

Courtesy of Metro Transit

Deborah Kitzmann is a Corcoran resident who works in St. Paul. She rides both the number 53 and the 21 bus regularly and it takes about 45 minutes to get to her stop near the Capitol. She walks six blocks to a bus stop. “I think they need to keep the stops they have right now,” said Kitzmann. “People with kids and families need to have access and not walk a mile to get to the bus stop.”
Overall, though, she wants to see better services for riders.
The B line could potentially fully replace the Route 21 bus and offer high frequency service all day and on nights and weekends.
Some of the biggest questions, in addition to where to locate stations, are what route the line should take in St. Paul. There are several options planners are looking at, including using University or Selby and going all the way to downtown St. Paul.
At the open houses, attendees were asked to rate which the following in terms of priority: overall travel time, bus arriving at planned time, bus arrives as steady frequency, smooth ride – less starting and stopping, less delay in traffic or stoplights, walking distance to bus stop, and amenities at stop.
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> The B Line is planned to be the fourth of several planned BRT lines that will bring faster, frequent service to the region’s busiest transit corridors.
>> The region’s first arterial BRT line, the A Line, opened in 2016 and has boosted corridor ridership by about one third.
>> Construction on the C Line, serving Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center, is underway. Service is scheduled to begin in 2019.
>> The D Line, serving the Route 5 corridor from Bloomington to Brooklyn Center, is currently in design, targeted for construction to begin in 2020.
>>The E Line, serving the Route 6 corridor on Hennepin Avenue is in the corridor study phase through 2019, with construction targeted for 2023.
>> The West Lake Street Station will be the western terminus of the B Line and will be built in coordination with the Southwest LRT project. The B Line station will be built on the West Lake Street bridge and will have access to the LRT station via stairs and elevator.
>> The I35W and Lake Street Station will provide a connection to the METRO Orange Line and the broader 35W@94:Downtown to Crosstown project includes a redesign of the freeway between I-94 and 42nd Street.
>> An eastbound enhanced bus stop at Lake and Hiawatha was built in conjunction with the construction of the South Minneapolis Regional Service Center in 2017, and will be used by the future B Line. The westbound station location will be implemented in coordination with this project.
>> A completed BRT network would cover 100 miles and include 400 enhanced stations, directly serving about 20 percent of the region’s residents and more than 230,000 jobs.
>>BRT lines have the potential to see an estimated 160,000 average weekday boardings by 2030, representing about a third of total bus ridership.
Learn more at
~ Information from Metro Transit


Will Route 21 remain?

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

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

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State’s first zero-waste shop opens

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

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


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

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

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

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


Did you know?

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

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

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

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

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

by Margie O’Loughlin

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

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

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