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Resiliency is the focus of Lake Nokomis shoreline design project

Posted on 27 March 2018 by calvin

MPRB planning $450,000 project to improve shoreline and increase natural landscape

This project will enhance 4,800 linear feet of shoreline north of the west beach, around the lake and down the point on the east side. (Graphic courtesy of Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board)

Nearly $450,000 will be spent on plantings and other improvements around Lake Nokomis this year to improve the eroding shoreline and water quality. With this, invasive plants will be removed, and habitat developed.

Right now, a natural lakeshore buffer is absent or narrow in many areas. Aquatic vegetation is nonexistent in some areas, and water clarity less than one meter due to excessive nutrients.

The upcoming Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) project includes 4,800 feet of shoreline that extends about 20 feet inland.

During the second community meeting held in February, MPRB project manager Jon Duesman outlined the problem and explained what will be done to fix things.

He stressed that this project will not address groundwater or surface water issues. A separate multi-agency group is working on that problem.

However, some residents question why any work is done before that issue is resolved, and lake levels better understood. Recently, the lake has had substantial variations in water levels. The ordinary high water level is 815.4, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“In the last seven years, we have seen drastic changes including dying trees, flooding, invasion of cattails, eroding beaches and shoreline to the lake,” pointed out Joan Soholt, who is part of a group of local residents seeking to address water issues in the Lower Minnehaha Creek Watershed.

“Shouldn’t we address the cause of this fluctuation before we put money into plantings and enhancements? It seems like putting the ‘cart before the horse’ to plant unless you resolve the lake level problem.”

Duesman pointed out that planners recognize that lake levels have been fluctuating. “We’re designing this to be resilient regardless of what the water levels do,” he stated.

More natural landscape
The Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan approved in 2015 calls for increasing the amount of naturalized landscape around the lake by 10-50%.

“We’re looking to increase the quality and the quantity of these natural habitats,” remarked Doug Mensing of Applied Ecological Services (AES).

Much of the existing shoreline has turf grass and woody vegetation right up to the shoreline.

Current problems include a limit to upland and shoreline buffer habitat due to extensive turf and invasive species. Shoreline erosion is occurring in locations due to shading, wave action, trampling, and shallow-rooted vegetation. Aquatic habitat quantity and quality is limited due to little aquatic vegetation and poor water clarity. Plus, sediment and algae further suppress plant growth by preventing light penetration.

Photo right: During the second community meeting held in February, Doug Mensing of Applied Ecological Services (AES) outlined the problem along the Lake Nokomis shoreline and explained what will be done to fix things. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

There is erosion near the north stormwater pipe, wet areas in the lawn, and concentrated run-off.

This project will enhance 4,800 linear feet of shoreline north of the west beach, around the lake and down the point on the east side. In doing so, the project will improve habitat for fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and aquatic invertebrates while re-establishing the aquatic and shoreline vegetation that is critical to overall lake clarity.

Each shoreline area is divided into three areas to pick the right types of plants: upland buffer, shoreline, and emergent.

The upland buffer begins about two feet from trails to the wetland delineation line and includes mostly short mesic prairie and areas of wet prairie. The shoreline buffer is the space from wetland delineation line to water’s edge. Diverse native shorelines (including many pollinator species) will be planted in the upland and shoreline buffer areas.

Some plants in these areas remain from a planting project in 2005, but all of the emergent plantings from then have died.

A concern was expressed that the new plantings may die as the old ones did. Duesman replied, “We intend to have a very robust planting that is resilient.” He stressed that they do not want to waste money, yet everything they do is being done without knowing whether water levels will go up or down.

“We’ve heard this message loud and clear,” Duesman said.

The emergent wetland is from the water’s edge to depth of approximately two feet. It will include a diversity of shallow emergent species (such as river bulrush, lake sedge, giant bur-reed, and common three-square) near shoreline and transition to only hardstem bulrush out to the two-foot depth.

An online survey of residents showed that the majority preferred shorter, random plantings versus formal or taller plantings. While many of the more colorful plants won’t do well in this area, some bands of color will be included to provide seasonal variety.

Rip-rap toe protection will be used in two or three locations that get a lot of wave action, although MPRB is also evaluating the use of toe-wood, coir log with live stakes, and minor grading and soil lifts.

Eleven of the 18 accesses to the lake with erosion in this area will be removed during this project and filled in with plantings, while others will be modified to last better in the long-term. Durable lake access may include the placement of large, level stones.

Work to begin in September
Funding for this project was provided by the Outdoor Heritage Fund to restore, protect, and enhance Minnesota’s wetlands, prairies, forests, and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife.

The first phase of this project will be more simple, while potential future phases may increase the formality and number of limestone blocks used.

Work is slated to begin in September 2018.

Additional feedback is being collected via an online survey at

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Cub, Oppidan break ground on grocery store, apartment complex

Posted on 27 March 2018 by calvin

The grocery store will be on the first floor of a five-story building that also includes 3,000 square feet of small-shop retail, 148 market-rate apartments, and a large public plaza. The grocery store is expected to open in the spring of 2019, and residents will begin moving into the apartments in the summer of 2019. (Graphic courtesy of Cub)

A Cub store at 46th and Hiawatha, featuring a new urban design, will be the first to anchor a residential complex being developed by Excelsior-based Oppidan Investment Company.

At 46,000-square-feet, the store will be about half the size of a typical Cub store. The existing Cub store on Lake St. that has recently been remodeled will remain.
“We’re going to build a pretty incredible store,” said Cub Foods President of Operations Chad Ferguson during a groundbreaking ceremony on Thur., Mar. 15. “This will be truly unique.”

He pointed out that in addition to stocking groceries for meals made from scratch, the new store will offer inspirational items that require some food prep, as well as full meals that are ready to go.

Photo right: “We’re going to build a pretty incredible store,” said Cub Foods President of Operations Chad Ferguson during a groundbreaking ceremony on Mar. 15. “This will be truly unique.” In addition to a large deli area with Quick and Easy® and made-to-order meals, the new urban store will feature a theater-feel popcorn shop, a farmer’s market layout in the produce section, enhanced floral gift space, and a pharmacy. Delivery services for the neighborhood and apartment complex will be available. Visitors will also be able to enjoy a spacious outdoor seating area, complete with bicycle parking, as well as a walk-up window serving coffees, ice creams, and signature cookie sandwiches year-round from the Refresh! juice bar. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The design of the store features multiple entrances, lots of natural light, and an expansive indoor café-style space that welcomes guests to take a break or plug-in for work.

“We’re evolving our look and feel while showcasing new shopping innovations for a better experience for our customers. We feel this new format Cub is a perfect fit for this neighborhood,” said Anne Dament, Executive Vice President of Retail, Marketing, and Private Brands at SuperValu.

Fostering community
One of Cub’s four pillars is Cub in the community, pointed out Ferguson, and this new store will foster a community atmosphere in ways other Cub stores don’t because of its location within a transit-orientated, mixed-use development near a Blue Line station.

The grocery store will be on the first floor of a five-story building that also includes 3,000 square feet of small-shop retail, 148 market-rate apartments, and a large public plaza. The site was formerly home to the Creative KidStuff corporate office building that was recently demolished.

“We’re very excited to see the culmination of over a year of planning and development,” said Drew Johnson, Vice President of Oppidan Investment Company. “Cub has done a great job responding to and incorporating stakeholder feedback into their store design. The finished project will be a tremendous asset to the neighborhood.”

Photo left: “We’re very excited to see the culmination of over a year of planning and development,” said Drew Johnson, Vice President of Oppidan Investment Company. “Cub has done a great job responding to and incorporating stakeholder feedback into their store design. The finished project will be a tremendous asset to the neighborhood.” (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“You couldn’t pick a better location,” said Andrew Johnson, Minneapolis Ward 12 Council Member. “It’s across the street from the busiest park in the state, on LRT and BRT lines with several prominent bike paths nearby, and a short walk to Minnehaha Creek and the Mississippi River.”

The development serves as the pilot phase of the two-mile “Min Hi Line,” a multi-modal pedestrian path and linear park that will eventually provide connectivity from Minnehaha Park all the way to the Midtown Greenway. This pilot project will be constructed on a section of former railroad right-of-way now owned by the city of Minneapolis.

“It’s an idea whose time has finally come with the Oppidan development because they choose to orientate their development to the line,” remarked Min-Hi Line co-founder Cora Peterson, who grew up in East Nokomis.

Photo right: The development serves as the pilot phase of the two-mile “Min Hi Line,“ a multi-modal pedestrian path and linear park that will eventually provide connectivity from Minnehaha Park all the way to the Midtown Greenway. “It’s an idea whose time has finally come with the Oppidan development because they choose to orientate their development to the line,” remarked Min Hi Line co-founder Cora Peterson, who grew up in East Nokomis. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The line will help green the urban landscape and provide social connectedness, Peterson pointed out. “The development of the Min-Hi Line is the next step to ensure that Minneapolis and the Twin Cities continue to lead in quality of life nationally,” she said.

Innovative features
This new, urban design comes as the Stillwater-based Cub celebrates its 50th anniversary. Cub was established in 1968 as one of the nation’s first discount grocery stores. The organization was purchased in 1980 by SuperValu® and operates 80 grocery stores in Minnesota and Illinois. Nearly all of the large supermarket chains are testing smaller market stores in response to customers who may not want to walk through large stores anymore and are used to shopping online.

Ferguson credited the many Cub staff members who helped give life to the innovative features in this urban design.

In addition to a large deli area with Quick and Easy® and made-to-order meals, the new urban store will feature a theater-feel popcorn shop, a farmer’s market layout in the produce section, enhanced floral gift space, and a pharmacy. Delivery services for the neighborhood and apartment complex will be available.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy a spacious outdoor seating area, complete with bicycle parking, as well as a walk-up window serving coffees, ice creams, and signature cookie sandwiches year-round from the Refresh! juice bar.

“There will be so many cool touches that will make this not only a place to pick up groceries, but a place to gather—and create a social experience which I know is important to the area,” said Ferguson.

Development fulfills local vision from 2002
In the 1960s, a six-lane freeway was planned for Hiawatha Ave., but the neighbors said, “No,” recalled Hennepin County District 4 Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, who lives a few blocks away from the Oppidan development. Through the transformative power of the neighbor’s vision, the area is home to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), light rail (LRT), small businesses, apartments, and more.

In 2002, the county invested a small amount to fashion a plan for the area at 46th and Hiawatha, based on neighborhood input, pointed out McLaughlin. This plan provided the framework for Oppidan’s vision for high-density use at the site.

“This area of Minneapolis has experienced exciting growth with higher-density residential projects, due in part to its proximity to downtown, MSP Airport, the Blue Line light rail, bike trails and Minnehaha Regional Park,” said Oppidan Vice President of Development Drew Johnson. “However, the neighborhood does not have a full-serve grocery store to complement this residential growth. When this project opens, over 10,000 people will be within a 10-minute walk of this store.”

The grocery store is expected to open in the spring of 2019, and residents will begin moving into the apartments in the summer of 2019. The project’s general contractor is Anderson Companies, and the architect is Pope.

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Gun protests at local schools

Posted on 27 March 2018 by calvin

Roosevelt students, teachers, join nationwide protest against gun violence

Article and photos by JILL BOOGREN
Hundreds of students and teachers walked out of Roosevelt High School at 10am on Mar. 14, as similar walkouts took place at thousands of schools throughout Minnesota and across the country.

Holding signs (photo right) that read “Stop killing students,” “Detener la violencia” (Stop the violence), and “Stop shooting & start living,” demonstrators chanted “What do we want? Safer schools! When do we want it? Now!” They called for ending gun violence and shamed the National Rifle Association. Drivers honked as they passed by, drawing cheers from the students.

The walkout lasted 17 minutes, in remembrance of each of the 17 people killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, one month before to the day.

A few neighbors watching the demonstration from across the street (photo left)  applauded as students made their way back into the building. Pastor Brenda Froisland of Bethel Lutheran Church said she “had their backs” and was there to support in any way it was needed.

“I rely on our youth to deliver the message,” said Froisland. “I’m sorry we haven’t made the difference for them.”

Photo right: Students gather outside Roosevelt High School for 17 minutes on Mar. 14 to remember the 17 victims of the school shooting in Florida and protest gun violence.

Kathy Nelson, a second-generation Roosevelt alumnus, looking forward to her 50th class reunion this year, also showed her support.

“I feel like what we couldn’t accomplish, they’re going to,” said Nelson. “I’m so excited for change.”

Photo left: Students holding up signs on the sidewalk in front of Roosevelt High School on Mar. 14.

The protest was initiated by Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, using the hashtag #Enough. Their website showed more than 3,100 schools participating across the country, although many additional schools, including Roosevelt High School, participated without signing up.

The Mar. 14 walkout followed one that took place Feb. 21, in which dozens of students left Roosevelt High School and joined other demonstrators at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park before marching to City Hall. By and large students here, as nationwide, are expressing frustration over gun violence and adults’ failure to enact meaningful gun reform.

“There have also been other shootings, and nothing’s been done,” said Charly Tiempos, a ninth grader who joined the protest in February. “Kids are taking control instead of adults.”

The movement shows no signs of slowing. According to Roosevelt Teacher Sasha Yunginger, eight Roosevelt students were planning to board a bus to Washington D.C. to participate in the March For Our Lives protest on Mar. 24 (after the Messenger deadline).

Another national school walkout is planned for Apr. 20, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.





Photo right: Roosevelt students join students from Washburn and other high schools at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park for a march to City Hall on Feb. 21.





Photo left: Signs posted in the window of The Aliveness Project on Nicollet Ave., where demonstrators were met with applause.




Photo right: A student holds a sign at the Mar. 14 demonstration.






Seventeen teachable moments at Hale School memorial/protest

Although the temperature at 10am hovered just below the freezing point, nearly 150 people showed up at Hale Elementary School in the Nokomis Neighborhood on Mar. 14.

They were protesting gun violence and were there to remember the Parkland High School students, staff, and educators who died in a school mass shooting only one month earlier.

Photo right: A lot of parents showed up to say ‘We stand with students’ at the Mar. 14 protest/remembrance. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Hands Around Hale was one of 2,500 similar gatherings around the country, one of more than 75 that took place around Minnesota. Minneapolis schools officials said that peaceful walkouts would be allowed as long as students stayed on the school property, but Hale is a grade school, so there was no walkout. Instead, parents who wanted their kids to participate in the event signed their kids out of school. For those parents, the protest was a 17-minute teachable moment.

“A few people called and asked about this,” said Assistant Principal Steven Uhler. “Some parents didn’t want to do this because of the kid’s young age, but others wanted their kids to be involved.” (Photo left by Stephanie Fox)

Jana Kooren, the Public Educations and Communications Director of the Minnesota ACLU, said that her organization supported the Hale School policy. “We support free speech and the right to protest. We hope schools allow students to participate in a way to foster civic pride. It’s a great learning moment, and students should be allowed to do this without facing consequences.”

Photo right: Illiana Frissel, with her grandfather Joel Halverson, who said: “It’s time to turn the tide of gun violence.” (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Joel Halverson came to Hale to sign out his granddaughter, Illiana Frissell, and to stand together with other parents, grandparents, and neighbors. “I’m an educator,” said Halverson. “It’s time to turn the tide of gun violence.”

“I came to help save people from guns,” said Illiana, who is in the 3rd grade. “I am here to remember the kids who died of gun violence. There’s a sign on our school that says, ‘No Guns,’ and you should respect that.”

Lauren Venem decided to let her kindergarten-aged daughter stay in class, but brought Maple, her daughter’s service dog instead, saying, “Maple keeps my daughter safe, so I brought her along, instead.”

Social media announcements about the event brought a mixed online reaction. “These kids need to be taught some real history,” said one Facebook post. “We the people need our guns.”

But, many were supportive. “I do see that this event is less protest and more demonstration of love,” said another.

Photo left: Ellen Flory arrived with her two young children to honor the Florida students. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Megan Honigman, an organizer of the event, said she was motivated by her daughter, a student at Hale.

“My daughter is in 2nd grade and has been terrified of the Code Red drills, the active shooter drills,” Honigman said. “I was there last year when they had a drill, and they told the kids that there was a dog in the hall. Then one of the boys said, ‘There’s no dog. It’s in case they are trying to shoot us.”

“I try to tell her she doesn’t have to be worried about being killed while she learns in school. I tell her that parents are here to protect you. Schools should be a place of learning and fun,” Honigman said. “I am hoping this will help.’

During the memorial, as the demonstrators grasped hands to form a human chain around the school while neighbor Jennifer Kennard sounded a chime 17 times, one a minute, a chime for each person who died at Parkland High School.

Among those attending were Rep. Jean Wagenius. “How could I not be here?” she said. “Citizens are speaking out.”

Photo right: Neighbors, parents, and students protest gun violence at ‘Hands Around Hale’ on Mar. 14. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Former City Council Member John Quincy attended as well. “This is a tremendous coming together of people,” he said. “And, it’s a call to action, part of something bigger than just this one event. It’s special, and it’s bringing us together.”

“I thought it was amazing,” said Honigman. “We didn’t know what would happen, but looking at the parents circling the school and seeing the strength of the parents who went there as a way to protect their kids, I know that this was a way to let our children and their educators know that as voters, we demand a change.”

The movement, she said, is getting bigger. “A lot of us didn’t know what to do, but now we’ll be working with the parents of this school and are talking about getting together with parents from other schools. We are just trying to figure out things as we go.”

“A lot of the people I talked to,” she said, “told me that we don’t know exactly what we can do to change things. But, if you have a group of people together, you can say to each other, ‘we can do something.’ You can say, ‘we can make a difference.’ And maybe, there will be a snowball effect.”


Protests also prevalent at South High and Dowling Elementary

Photo below: On the one month anniversary of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, students and teachers at South High School walked out of their classrooms at 10am on Mar. 14. Their silent march around the school building lasted 17 minutes, to honor each of the 17 victims of the recent shooting. At another neighborhood event, parents joined hands in 17 minutes of silence at Dowling Elementary School. Similar events took place across the country to raise awareness about issues of school safety and the impact of gun violence. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

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Minnehaha Academy plans ‘student-centered’ design for new building

Posted on 27 March 2018 by calvin

Minnehaha Academy, in conjunction with Cuningham Group, has designed a new student-centered design for the Upper School, 3100 W. River Pkwy., following the explosion in August 2017.

According to Dr. Donna Harris, President of Minnehaha Academy, and representatives from Cuningham Group, the student-centered design is based on best practices and the latest design research. Important elements that were taken into account were:
— multi-use spaces that are welcoming, dynamic and flexible to help support student-centered learning;
— spacious learning spaces that are well organized, with flexible furniture and layouts that support a variety of activities and various teaching styles; and
— restorative areas in the building to nourish the mind and spirit (elements such as window seating that faces the outdoors will offset fatigue and stress, and casual spaces will facilitate conversation and connections).

Photo right: A view of the new addition which Minnehaha Academy has designed after the explosion at the school last August. Cost for the project has not yet been finalized. (Photo provided)

Harris emphasized that the design of the new Upper School reflects Minnehaha Academy’s celebrated history, while still meeting the current and future needs of the students and teachers for the next 100 years. Minnehaha Academy’s foundation of Christian faith played an important role in the design to underscore the joy, beauty, and grace of God.

Photo left: Minnehaha Upper School’s new front entry as designed by the Cunningham Group after extensive meetings with teachers, staff, students, and parents. (Photo provided)

The exterior architectural materials of the new addition were chosen to complement the existing palate of materials throughout the campus. They are neutral and light, durable, and sustainable, and are intended to reflect the simple and modern Scandinavian sensibility of the school’s founders.

Cuningham led more than 35 design meetings—across departments, grade levels, and schools—to co-develop the design principles alongside Minnehaha faculty and staff. The work to-date has been expansive, but there is much more work ahead, and many more opportunities for input as the building process moves into the next phase.

Photo right: An aerial view of the proposed new building project for the Minnehaha Academy Upper School, 3100 W. River Pkwy. They hope to begin the project this spring for completion in fall of 2019. (Photo provided)

Minnehaha Academy students and families also were involved in the design process. Many participated in a visioning workshop, provided input on facilities vision and design principles, and shared inspirational ideas through the visioning exercise. According to Cuningham, the student’s ideas were transformative and heartfelt. “The students will help us in an exciting next step to three-dimensionally answer the question, ‘How will we make our Christian faith visible?’”

“Our faculty and staff are deeply invested in this project,” Harris said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in June 2018, and the school is committed to welcoming students back to campus in August 2019. The cost of the project will not be finalized for several more months. Funding for the building project will include the insurance adjustment from the explosion and from fundraising. Capital campaign planning is underway, and more details will be available this spring.

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Solar customers need project liaisons for happiest outcomes

Posted on 27 March 2018 by calvin

There are 22 solar panels on top of the Casey residence in Longfellow. (Photo submitted)

After working in the solar energy industry across the country, for companies both big and small, Michael Allen and his brother, Bryan, learned how not to do things in the solar industry.

Following years of experience, they returned to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and in 2009 launched All Energy Solar, 1642 Carroll Ave. in St. Paul, a company that provides clean, green, solar energy solutions for residential, commercial, agricultural, and government clients.

“A common frustration we saw with customers was that at the end of a project, they would tell the company working with them ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were still around,’” Allen said.

The brothers knew early on they wanted to form their own company, with Allen writing the business plan for All Energy Solar while he was still in college. And after working in California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut gaining experience, they knew how they wanted to treat their customers.

“We poured our heart and soul into this company, and we still do,” Allen said. “And there is no better feeling than getting a really happy customer.”

He said All Energy Solar doesn’t just have salespeople and installers, but also someone in the middle. “We wanted to create a project manager, but we call them project liaisons,” Allen explained. “We have others set up to do things a project manager would do. But we wanted someone who just does the interconnection work with the utility. Our project liaison holds the customer’s hand and walks the customer through the process of getting solar energy.”

Allen said the customer should not need to talk to the electric company or the permit company; the project liaison should be able to get all the answers needed. “The way we have structured our company, if you have a happy customer you will have a happy business and happy employees,” Allen continued. “And so, we always have felt it important to make it easy and simple for our client.”

“We talk all the time about putting ourselves in their shoes. You get on the other end of the phone and not hear anything for two weeks. What would you want to be done?”
Allen said the Minnesota-made rebates ended in 2017. “The legislature did away with that program and took $100 million out of it,” he said. “But instead of that, there is the Solar Awards program through Xcel, and that is provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. That rebate program started on Jan. 8 and will be ending soon. So we are encouraging anyone who is interested to apply as soon as they can.”

Allen said the most important component for a home to qualify for solar energy use is the shade and types of trees in the customer’s yard. Second is orientation, whether the house is facing south or east or west. The third most important is the tilt angle of the roof.

“With potential barriers, you look at how you can get around that,” Allen said. “We utilize different technologies for different projects. We can isolate certain areas of the solar panel system.”

He said that in Minneapolis and St. Paul, traditionally home-owners need 16-32 panels. “It comes down to how much energy you use as a consumer and buy from Xcel. We have systems that are as low as eight panels.” Allen said a customer might want the biggest solar panel system money can buy but may not need that much.

Allen displays an app that shows the solar details on his own home. With the app, at any time, he can see how much energy he is using and how much he is producing. He can tell if something in his home has been turned off, or if an appliance such as a toaster is being used. “You become much more aware and conscious of the energy you are using,” he said.

Allen said the company can install solar panels on home and business roofs, garage roofs, or on the ground. “If your home or garage are covered by trees, but you have a nice area in the backyard where you like to go sit and have a beer in the evening, we can ground-mount the solar panels there,” he said. His company can also build a carport and mount panels on top of that. “We work all over the state, from Moorhead to Mankato, from Duluth to Marshall, in huge 40-acre fields to an eight-panel solar system.” The company also doles solar panels in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Connecticut.

The benefits of using solar energy are numerous, according to Allen. “First, there are the financial savings,” he said. “With the rebates Xcel has, along with federal tax credits, you can get more than half of the entire cost of the project paid for. That is money given to you. It’s pretty tremendous that you can make a home improvement and receive that type of incentive.”

The consumer is also benefiting the environment by using solar energy. “But let’s assume this is not your biggest concern,” Allen said. “Why do it?”

Allen said the rate of return on the investment is so important to consider. “What are you currently doing that gives you return on your investment with electrical usage? You are getting reliable electricity, but what return are you getting by paying Xcel every month?”

The other factor he said a customer should consider is the energy independence component. “It’s not about sticking it to the man, but more just about self-reliance, not having to rely on someone or something else.” Through solar, the customer is creating his or her own energy.

What might be the most challenging aspect of this for the homeowner? Allen said it is knowing that it is going to work and having confidence that it will. He said the homeowner has a 10-year contract with his company. The company has multiple warranties. “We warranted our work for five to ten years,” he said, “anything we have touched on the project. We have done this work long enough we know what, and what not, to be concerned about.” He noted that solar has now been around for about 70 years, and there is pretty phenomenal technology now that makes it a safe and reliant product.

“From our standpoint, the most challenging aspect is continuing to navigate the on-going red tape,” Allen said. “But we manage the red tape and deal with issues head-on.”

With its strong customer service, All Energy Solar has been able to get a foothold in an industry where there have been many entrants and exits, according to Allen. “I don’t say with any pleasure that our competitors have come and gone. At the end of the day, it is not good for the industry, especially an industry where people are still reluctant,” he said. He noted that a lot of companies can throw solar panels up on the roof with no problem. “The installation is probably the easiest part of it. But all the red tape on the front end of a project can be daunting to the customer.”

Allen relies on the staff at All Energy Solar to make the whole process as simple and easy for the homeowner or business owner as possible. “One big reason we are so successful with our liaisons is that they are not just looking for a good paying job, but the majority of our employees are also looking for more fulfillment. They are really into the solar thing and believe in what we are building for our clients,” Allen said.

The company has around 120 employees, and Allen said the majority live in St. Paul or Minneapolis.”I take a lot of pride in that; it’s a pretty cool thing,” he stated. He said his company also works with local providers, and he believes that helps the local economy and the community.

“I would like to also tell people to keep an eye open for some newer programs and some larger opportunities to buy in bulk,” he said. “Customers can be part of a program that allows them to get discounts on their solar project because of a bigger initiative that’s going on. This is very exciting.”


Solar panels plus phone app make saving energy easy and fun

Longfellow residents Mac-Layne Casey and his wife, Katy, have been advocates of solar energy for a long, long time.
“I have been a big fan of solar power since I was a kid,” Casey said. “And Katy’s dad actually built a solar panel for his neighbor back in the early 80s.” The couple had long thought solar panels were something they wanted to try, but Casey said they thought it was something they wouldn’t be able to afford.

But a little over a year ago, he said he saw some signs and heard some advertising on the radio about affordable solar energy. “I thought I would check it out and see what it was all about,” he recalled.

“It turned out to e a great option for us, and the whole process was very easy,” Casey said. The couple met with a representative from All Energy Solar, and they were able to take advantage of a Minnesota-made rebate.

“We started last year around February because the rebates were soon ending,” he explained. Their name was placed in a lottery, and they were among the 50 percent who qualified for the rebate.

“Our solar panels were made in Minnesota,” Casey said. “The company made the process very, very easy for us. They held our hand through pretty much everything, all the paperwork and the rebates. That was huge. It could have gone either way.”

Casey said they have 22 solar panels on their roof (photo right provided). They first met with All Solar Energy in late February and had the project completed by Aug. 10. “Our roof is a big flat canvas that faces the south, so basically we were the perfect home for solar panels,” Casey stated. The amount of shade and angle of the roof play a part in determining the success of the solar paneling, but adjustments can always be made.

“Throughout the year our energy usage is roughly 17-kilowatt hours a day,” Casey said. “In winter we are using less air conditioning, so our winter usage is roughly 13-14 kilowatt hours a day and in summer, 20-22.”

He said the company provides them with an app that shows how much energy you are using and how much you are making.

“I geek out on that app every single day,” Casey admitted. “When our contractor was redoing our basement, I could see when he was entering our house just by the use of energy. He’s a buddy of mine, and I would call him and say ‘Oh, you’re working on the house now.’ And he would say “How did you know?’ It’s pretty cool.”

Casey said in the last few days, they have averaged production of 35-kilowatt hours a day. “Winter is a little bit slow for production because we had a snow cover, but in summer it’s great, even on cloudy days. I feel so happy to see these 35-kilowatt-hour days. We have not paid Xcel for the last two months just because of the energy we are making.”

Casey said that using solar energy also changes the way he looks at energy. “I have always been one to turn off the lights, but now I am fine-tuning it even more. It will be interesting to see this summer when we use air conditioning. If we have it colder or warmer, it changes the amount of energy. It’s an experiment.” He continued to explain that he feels adding solar energy has been a great investment, and also fun. “I now charge my phone using solar power,” he said.

Casey said that probably the biggest con to the process is when it’s snowing and the solar panels are covered with snow. “The first snowfall we had this year, it was really icy,” he noted. “The rain and ice mix left a thick sheet of ice on the roof, and we had poor readings for a month. But now we are making up for it. These are really high-energy days.” He added that the solar panels save wear and tear on the roof and actually expand its life.

“I do have way more energy boxes in the back of the house than I used to, but we have decorative plants that cover those.”

“I have had solar energy for less than a year, but my long-term bet is that it will last and that All Solar Energy will be around for 25 years and the maker of solar panels will be around for 25 years,” Casey said. “It’s kind of a leap of faith, but I’m not the first one on the block to use solar energy.”

He said he and his wife feel they jumped in at the right time, with the new administration in place and not knowing what might happen.

He is also pleased with the significant rebates they will get over the next ten years. “Basically the state and federal government is paying for over two-thirds of the cost of our solar panels. We are paying for less than a third, which is great,” he said.

Looking at the use of solar energy for their home, Casey said he sees it as a kind of cycle.

“I look at Katy’s dad and where he was at in the early 80s, building these do-it-yourself solar panels. That was the first step. Now 40 years later we are using solar panels for energy. And we are educating our two-year-old, showing him the value of solar energy. Passing down that mentality is pretty great.”

There are 22 solar panels on top of the Casey residence in Longfellow. (Photo submitted)

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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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