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Minnehaha Academy: #TogetherWeRise

Posted on 29 August 2017 by calvin

An explosion destroyed a section of the school and killed two, but school proves its community is strong and resilient

Minnehaha Academy is working to rise together following a devastating gas explosion at the Upper School (3100 W. River Pkwy.) on Aug. 2 that killed two staff members and destroyed the oldest section of the school facility built in 1913.

Nearly 1,000 people wearing the Minnehaha school color red attended a Unity Walk on Aug. 15. The walk started at the Upper School and ended at the Lower School with a ceremonial raising of the flag back to full mast.

Hiawatha Walkers PresidentPhoto left: Minnehaha Academy President Donna Harris greeted each person who walked from the Upper Campus down to the Lower Campus during the Unity Walk on Aug. 15. Over 1,000 people wore the school’s color red and attended the Unity Walk. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“Two weeks ago we were dealt a blow,” remarked Minnehaha Academy Board Chair David Anderson. “Together we will rise.”

Executive Director of Institutional Advancement Sara Jacobson noted, “It’s important for current students and alums to come together to comfort each other, but also to celebrate the community that we have. The Unity Walk enabled us to thank the first responders, demonstrate our commitment to each other in this tragedy, and most importantly, begin to look forward to what God has for Minnehaha Academy in the future.”

The school has begun tagging its own social media posts with the hashtag #TogetherWeRise and encouraging others to use it, as well.

“We chose #TogetherWeRise as a hashtag for this experience because we are a caring community, and we know that together we will become stronger, we will grow, we will rise up to be a greater school and to show the community what we can do together,” explained Jacobson.

Hiawatha Flag RaisingPhoto left: After two weeks with the flag at half-mast, it was brought back to full-mast during a special ceremony on Tues., Aug. 15 at the Lower Campus as the Minnehaha Academy sought to move forward together from a devastating gas explosion. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Minnehaha Academy President Donna Harris observed, “Together is the pivotal and transformative word. I am confident we will rise from the devastating blow we have sustained as a community because our shared experience of pain and loss has drawn us closer together. So with God’s help, I believe we will rise in unity, with a renewed sense of purpose, hope, and commitment to our mission.”

While the start of the school year will be different, Upper Campus Principal Jason Wenschlag has been assuring students, “We’re going to be ok.”

“It’s going to be a great year. It’s going to bring us together,” said Wenschlag. “We’re going to rally around this. We’re going to be sure to carry on the same traditions and experiences our kids expect.”

Hiawatha Police HarrisPhoto right: The Unity Walk gave Minnehaha Academy the opportunity to come together and thank first responders who arrived within minutes of the explosion that rocked the campus, destroyed the center section of the school and killed two staff members on Aug. 2. Here President Donna Harris thanks members of the Minneapolis Police Department. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

On Wed., Aug. 23, the school announced that classes for its high school students school announced that classes for its high school students would be held at 1345 Mendota Heights Rd. in Mendota Heights in the former Sanford-Brown College building. The school has signed a two-year lease at the site which is eight miles south of the Minnehaha campus, and hopes to be back in a permanent location as soon as possible.

Hiawatha BandPhoto right: Members of the Minnehaha Academy pep band, old and new, played during the Unity Walk on Aug. 15, just two weeks after an explosion damaged the Upper Campus and killed two staff members. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“The process for assessing the structural soundness of our Upper School and conducting rebuilding analyses with a partially destroyed structure is complex, so it is prudent and beneficial for Minnehaha to have a longer time window at the Mendota Heights site if needed,” stated Harris.

Moving forward
Wenschlag was out of town in Chicago when he received the news of the explosion. He hopped on the next flight and was back at Minnehaha Academy by 2pm, but found there was little he could do except pray for those unaccounted for as the authorities were managing the scene of the blast.

Master Mechanical workers had been moving a gas main at the campus, and those inside were given just a few minutes notice before the structure exploded.

Hiawatha Red HeartPhoto left: A fence surrounding Minnehaha’s Upper Campus keeps people out of the property as the investigation is underway. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The explosion rocked and set ablaze the center of the upper school at 10:23am, causing a partial collapse of two floors over a sub-basement. After the fire was extinguished, an intensive operation began to find the missing. By the end of the first day, Minnehaha knew it had lost 17-year receptionist Ruth Berg, as well as alum and staff member John Carlson. Nine were injured and transported to the hospital with fractures, cuts and head wounds, including assistant boy’s soccer coach Bryan Duffey.

Since that first day, Principal Wenschlag has been very busy, working long days and moving forward on short nights of sleep.

“We have kids and teachers, but we’re basically starting a school,” observed Wenschlag. They have to find a building to hold classes in, set up food service, arrange for furniture and more.

Classes at the Upper Academy will start two weeks late on Tues., Sept. 5. With some juggling of the schedule, including the removal of the week-long Cultural Field Experience, the 360 upper-class students at Minnehaha will end their school year at the same time as the Lower and Middle students in June.

Meanwhile, the school has continued to move forward as it can. Athletic teams started practicing on Aug. 14 as scheduled. Administrative staff who were housed at the Upper School will be located in temporary offices outside the Lower/Middle School. All faculty were welcomed back to work on Aug. 15.

How to help
The school has received many offers of support from Minneapolis and St. Paul, where 79% of their students come from. To some the school is saying, “We don’t know how you can help now, but we’ll know later,” said Wenschlag.

A letter from President Donna Harris outlined three ways to help Minnehaha:
“1. Pray. Continue to pray for everyone who was involved in the incident, for the families of John Carlson and Ruth Berg, for our leadership team as we make decisions, for our staff, faculty, and students, and for the future rebuilding of the Upper School.
“2. Help. Let us know your expertise. Sign up to let us know how you can be of service during this time.
“3. Give. In the rebuilding process, we will make an even better Minnehaha. Your gifts will support the school in this transition and cover expenses beyond our insurance coverage.”

Neighbors have offered their help and their support, and several local businesses donated food and coffee. “We are grateful to be in a caring Minnehaha community, but also in a caring Longfellow community,” said Jacobson.

Strong and resilient community
Before the Aug. 15 Unity Walk, Richard Bauer didn’t truly understand what it was about Minnehaha Academy that connected its past and present students, parents, and teachers. But after the walk, Bauer realized how tightly knit the Minnehaha Academy family is. His wife’s maternal grandfather served on the school board, and the following generations have attended school there, including Bauer’s two children. One is currently a senior at Minnehaha.

“It is one of those jewels in plain sight,” said the Bryn Mawr resident.

As he looked around at the crowd gathered for the Unity Walk, Bauer commented, “This is a reflection of Minnehaha—Minnehaha before and Minnehaha today.”

Bauer added, “I’m incredibly hopeful for what the future looks like as they continue to unravel what happened—but also as they continue to move forward as a community of faith—that all the pieces will come together.”

“We are fortunate to have a strong, resilient community and a faithful God,” said Jacobson.

“We believe that the school will become even greater through this experience, and we move forward knowing that our school is so much more than a building—it’s a community. Students and families come to Minnehaha because of the tremendous academic experience delivered by our amazing faculty. That doesn’t change.”

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Ninth annual LoLa Art Crawl scheduled Sept. 16-17

Posted on 29 August 2017 by calvin

The League of Longfellow Artists (LoLa) invites the public to visit with and buy directly from artists and makers in this South Minneapolis neighborhood by the river known for its classic bungalows and natural beauty, during the 9th annual LoLa Art Crawl on the weekend of Sept. 16–17, 10am to 5pm both days.

In this year’s crawl, 103 artists will be showcasing their work at 63 sites, including artists’ own homes, unique independent shops, cafés, and bistros. Directories with maps are available at, at businesses throughout the

Longfellow neighborhood in September, and from participating artists during the crawl.
The self-guided tour is free and spread out over two days to allow visitors to enjoy and shop for locally created fine art and crafts at their own pace, with opportunities for food and refreshment at our independent cafés and bistros, many of which have pitched in to support LoLa with their sponsorships.

Part of the fun of the LoLa Art Crawl is meeting artists in a low-key setting and talking with them about their work.

More information about the LoLa art crawl and artists is available at

LOLA16r_wicklundPhoto right: Rebecca Wicklund, Site 24—3347 42nd Ave. S. I’m a jewelry artist, and I’ve participated in the LOLA Art Crawl since its inception. It’s been so wonderful to have the perennial support of the Longfellow neighborhood—and a fun way to get to know more people in the community. I’ll be located at Flourish Pilates again this year with my sister, Beth Wicklund, who creates letterpress cards.

Gwen_PartinPhoto right: Gwen Partin, Site 14—3154 33rd Ave. S. My drawings, prints, and paintings are explorations of pattern, texture, color and the juxtaposition of these in shape and space. The work is mainly abstract but references textile design and things seen in nature. In my daily drawing practice I call My Daily Papers, I complete at least one drawing or painting a day. My prints are monotypes, a painterly way of printmaking where I use an etching press. I use rollers and brushes to apply ink to a plexiglass plate and often make hand cut paper stencils that become part of the finished work.

Bob_SchmittPhoto left: Bob Schmitt, Site 62—Laughing Waters Studio, 3718 E. Minnehaha Pkwy. Chinese calligraphy and painting. Zen one-stroke paintings. Originals, prints, cards, scrolls. A Chinese brush with a Minnesota spirit. Daily drawing for $50 gift card. Walk the meditation garden.



LisaArnoldPhoto right: Lisa Arnold, Site 47—Fireroast Cafe, 3800 37th Ave. S. I’m Lisa Arnold, xola arts. I’m a mosaicist and teaching artist, specializing in stained glass and glass beads. I’ve lived in Longfellow for 20 years. I’ve been a LOLA artist from the beginning. The best part of LOLA is talking to new people, seeing old friends, and getting the chance to make connections with both artists and art lovers.




Megan_MoorePhoto left: Megan Moore, Site 8—3712 E. 29th St. Original oil and watercolor paintings, giclée prints, cards, calendars, books. Megan has been showing her work in the LoLa Art Crawl since 2010. You may have seen her work as public art along the Midtown Greenway on electrical boxes.

Presley_MartinPhoto right: Presley Martin, Site 13—3129 31st Ave. S. Presley Martin’s “The Foam Project” takes a close look at foam from the Mississippi River. Through sculpture, ceramics, and photography this common material is presented in new, unexpected ways.

CrayzikatHardwareNecklacesPhoto left: Kathy Jensen, Site 45—Riverview Café, 3753 42nd Ave. S. Crayzikat Jewelry works to stand out in the sea of jewelry artists by offering interesting, unique, affordable pieces. Examples include eye-catching necklaces and earrings made from hardware store parts and sterling silver earrings in a variety of shapes that allow you to change the beads for a different look. This is the fourth year Jensen’s jewelry has been featured in LoLa.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto right: Julie Meyer, Site 20—3212 43rd Ave. S. With a desire for quality functional items and a passion for creating, Julie Meyer Handbags offer you an everyday bag showing off your individuality. Locally sourced cowhide and leather bags made in Longfellow and sold worldwide.






Jean_Bushey_2Photo left: Jean Bushey, Site 60–4524 35th Ave. S. Beadwork is my medium of choice. I learned to do fine bead knotting while working at Hedstrom Jewelers on 27th and Lake almost forty years ago. I still have beads I bought from dealers at that time. My love of the tiniest of beads and sewing skills drew me to bead weaving. Being part of LoLa and being able to welcome neighbors into my home where I can display my work is a wonderful opportunity for me.

Cherie Rinehart-BurkePhoto right: Cherie Rinehart-Burke, Site 38—4729 Isabel Ave. I’ve worked to hone my painting with a focus on oil, acrylic and watercolor pencils. Making jewelry is incredibly satisfying and fun too. I love scouring thrift stores and garage sales which enable me to create wonderful mosaic bird baths, birdhouses, mirrors and picture frames.





Blake_NellisPhoto left: Blake Nellis, Site 9—Forage Modern Workshop, 4023 E. Lake St. I am a fine art photographer specializing in portraits and weddings (and taking photos of my new baby girl!) I love candid moments and working with the human form.



Ann_OpatzPhoto right: Ann Opatz, Site 38—4729 Isabel Ave. Mittens and slippers made from recycled wool and fabric napkins and pillowcases.



Photo left: Karen Grimm, Site 51—3845 36th Ave. S. Karen’s ReKreations specializes in creating beautiful and practical treasures out of found and commonly discarded items. This year focusing on home decor, gifts, foraged preserves, and garden art!


 ila_duntemannPhoto right: Mary Ila Duntemann, Site 17—3231 36th Ave. S. Handmade glass beads!








SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto left: Jinjer Markley, Site 13—3129 31st Ave. S. In 2016, Jinjer Markley decided to weave the creative thread that has run through her life into an illustration career. She is starting out with a bang—the LOLA art crawl follows two solo shows, one at Riverview Cafe, and one at ArtPlayce in St. Paul. The drawings and paintings from her recent Instagram project: 100 Days of Colorful Flowers will be in her studio for the LOLA art crawl. Besides drawing, Jinjer loves the magic of making things by hand and will have a selection of her handmade felt chickens at the crawl.



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Well-known Minnesota chef plans to open restaurant in The Capp

Posted on 29 August 2017 by calvin

Development near 46th and Hiawatha will also include grocery store, other retail, and 150 apartments

James Beard Award nominee chef Erick Harcey plans to open a new restaurant next year in The CAPP building, a mixed-use project near 46th and Hiawatha that will include a grocery store.

The restaurant at 3939 46th St. E. will be part of a five-story mixed-use development proposed by Excelsior-based Oppidan Investment Company. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2018.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to develop a restaurant in the Longfellow neighborhood,” Harcey said in a press release. “My team and I are looking forward to bringing an approachable space to the area and a destination for all.”

Name, concept still unknown
TheCapp_ViewFromSouthwestThe new 4,000-foot, one-story restaurant building (illustration right provided by Oppidan) with outdoor seating will be located on the northwest slice of the property, between the extension of Snelling Ave. and the railroad tracks. The five-story building with the grocery store will be to the east, replacing the current structure that houses Creative Kidstuff’s corporate offices.

Harcey has not yet picked a name for his new restaurant, and other details, including concept and menu, are still in the works.

The new restaurant in Longfellow near Minnehaha Park comes at a time of flux for Harcey, who has recently stopped serving the “Perfect Burger” at his Victory 44 restaurant in North Minneapolis and shuttered the Upton 43 and Dirty Bird take-out in Linden Hills. The Upton 43, known for its modern spin on Nordic food, will be reopening at a smaller location in the North Loop.

Harcey’s deep Swedish roots are at the source of his cooking, according to his website.

“He has never quite recreated, in later life, the joy of coming home from school in Cambridge, MN, and smell, before he even opened the door, that his mother was baking potato dill bread. And it was several long talks near the end of his Swedish grandfather’s life that gave him the ultimate vision for Upton 43. But Chef Harcey is just as influenced by Marco Pierre White’s White Heat, and the insatiable inventiveness of Ferran Adría.”

When he’s not in the kitchen or planning a new restaurant, Harcey might be found coaching one of his four son’s baseball teams or trying to get a fat walleye to bite the end of his line.

No grocery store named yet
Both the restaurant building and the five-story structure with a grocery store, 150 apartments and pedestrian-friendly town center were reviewed by the city’s planning commission on July 17.

“We received project approvals from the Minneapolis planning commission about a month ago and are very excited, but still have some big challenges,” said Drew Johnson of Oppidan.

TheCapp_groceryStoreStreetLevelPhoto right: James Beard Award nominee chef Erick Harcey plans to open a new restaurant next year in The CAPP building near Hiawatha and 46th, part of a multi-use development that will include 150 apartments and a grocery store. (Illustrations courtesy of Oppidan)

A grocer has not yet been selected.

“Now that we are approved, we’re going to the market to see who can best meet/achieve the specific land-use requirements of Minneapolis,” said Johnson.

Challenge ahead for the project include funding for the public improvements, including the new city street, Min Hi Line trail project, and relocating the Xcel power poles.
The city approved a variance to increase the maximum allowed gross floor area for commercial use from 20,000 square feet to 47,280 square feet, subject to a few conditions. Staff recommended that a principal entrance, accessible to the public during the open hours of operation, be prominently located at the corner of 46th St and Snelling Ave., and at least one commercial tenant space in addition to the grocery store face 46th St.

The city also requires that architectural elements, such as windows, shall be incorporated on the north, east and west building elevations to prevent blank, uninterrupted walls exceeding 25 feet in width as required by section 530.120 of the zoning code. On the west elevation of the elevator/stair tower and at the upper floors of the corner of the building facing 46th St and Snelling Ave, additional consideration shall be given to ensure the corner of the building is an attractive focal point with visual interest. Also, to be consistent with the zoning code, the exterior appearance of the face brick and thin brick cladding on the insulated precast wall panels will match, and the types of metal panel used will be limited to two, one of which will be an accent material.

At least 32 bicycle parking spaces must be provided for the nonresidential uses. Bicycle parking facilities provided between the building and 46th St. will be oriented parallel to the building. Oppidan was directed to explore relocating the bike parking to a location that is not between the building and a street, as well as options for installing discontinuous curbing to allow the on-site retention and infiltration of stormwater in landscaped areas.

The planning commission also gave a deadline for the project: all site improvements shall be completed by July 17, 2019.

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Newly designed Nokomis Playground is imaginative fun for kids

Posted on 29 August 2017 by calvin

After a year and a half of public hearings, planning and construction, the children’s playground next to the Lake Nokomis Community Center had its official grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony July 28. Kids, from toddlers and up, came with their parents to try out the newly designed playground equipment. The party included free snacks and glitter tattoos from Kristine Thesing from Funtime Funktions.

Park Board Commissioner Stephanie Musich and Minneapolis Park Board project manager Beth Pfeifer were there to officially cut the ribbon and open the new area, handing out pieces of the official ribbon for the kids to take home as souvenirs.

Highland Playground Opening 02Photo right: “The park board has made significant investments in our neighborhood, and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Nokomis East Neighborhood Association Board President Mike Ferrin. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The original playground was designed and opened to the public in 1935. During the next 82 years, the area has seen many changes and had been updated several times.

The Park Board had surveyed about 250 residents, mostly in the Nokomis and Hiawatha neighborhoods, both online and at events like September’s Monarch Festival and at preschools and PTA meetings, to see what was needed. The results showed that neighbors were looking for new and imaginative modern style playground pieces, but wanted to keep some of the more popular (and classic) pieces.

So, along with the new 21st-century playground design, members of the public insisted that some of the oldest and most popular pieces be reincorporated and remain at the park.

Highland Playground Opening 03Photo left: Four-year-old Faye Saybolt goes down the big slide at the Nokomis Community Center playground, a feature that residents recall having been there in the past and asked for again, according to project manager Beth Pfeifer. “It’s amazing,” said Faye’s mother, Jennifer Saybolt, who lives near the lake. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The old-style metal slides, the chin-up bars, and sand diggers are still there, with a few rehabilitated pieces that no longer conformed to current safety standards. But now, new and imaginative pieces and newly built areas have been created for kids of different age-groups, from babies to pre-teens. Some of the pieces are accessible to children with disabilities.

There are two baby swings and a set of smaller swings and slides for the younger children. Older kids can take advantage of the new full-sized swings and a high slide, with concrete pillars (suitable for climbing) surrounding the area.

Workers had finished the installation only the day before, with the new wood chips and newly sewn grass protected, for the time being, by temporary fences. But, fences didn’t stop kids from climbing on the rocket ship or the abstract tree. Even before the official opening, kids were already swinging on the swings or balancing on the balance boards.

Highland Playground Opening 01 sliderPhoto right: Slides, climbing poles, and other play equipment were built on a topography inspired by the natural world. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Musich said that playgrounds like this one are a vital part of the park community. “So many kids in the urban environment don’t have the opportunities to interact with nature on a tactile basis. That’s why so many people shared the excitement,” she said.

Luke Schmidt and his daughter Maddie came to try out the turtle swing, an original from before the restoration and one of Maggie’s favorites. They had been surveyed last autumn at the Monarch Festival and had made their preferences for what they wanted to see in the new the park, known.

“I voted for the turtle,” said Maddie. “I voted for shady seats,” said her dad.

Highland Playground Opening 04Photo left: Parks Commissioner Steffanie Musich is most excited by the natural play area to the south of the new playground equipment. It is the first like it in Minneapolis and will provide an example of how to do this elsewhere. “So many kids in an urban environment don’t have the opportunity to get comfortable with nature in a tactile way.” (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“People like the way the old playground was spread out,” said Pfeifer. “They also loved the nature play area, which was originally meant to be temporary. We worked with the forestry department for that, and all the materials for that are from the park.”

Nokomis Playground is also the new home of the Willow Thicket, a natural dome structure, moved from the Lake Harriet Rose Garden and installed at the center of the playground.

The money for the project, $300,000, had been approved by the city in 2015, paid for with net debt bonds. The Park Board hired designer Chris DesRoches, who specializes in children’s playgrounds. He said that when he designs equipment, he tries to see the playground through kid’s eyes. He wants them to say, ‘Hey, this is cool,’ he said.

Much of the park is what DesRoches calls ‘abstract nature.’ “We’re replicating themes from nature, with natural concepts and forms, hills and topography,” he said.

One section features real sticks and logs, with natural topography and grading. “It’s a key part of the play area,” DesRoches said and hopes it will spark imaginative play.

“I like to offer kids opportunities for free play,” he said. “Kids can play tag or play on the rocket ship. This playground represents what the community wanted. People wanted a big slide, and people wanted it to be inspired by nature. So, we built that. The kids seem to like it.”

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Golfers rally to save the Hiawatha Golf Course

Posted on 29 August 2017 by calvin

Golfers Rally Crowd

Photo above: A group of about 100 Hiawatha Golf Course supporters gathered on Tues., Aug. 15, in response to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board decision on Aug. 9 to shut down the course. They encourage residents to browse their site, for more information and to get involved in saving the course. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Following Park Board decision to close course, supporters come together to push back

Article and photos by TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
“We don’t want a beautiful recreational asset turned into a stormwater pond,” Jerry Mullin told a group of about 100 Hiawatha Golf Course supporters on Tues., Aug. 15.

Mullin, an environmental consultant who used to work for Baar Engineering, has lived across the street from the golf course for 20 years. He and other speakers at a rally in support of Hiawatha Golf Course charged that the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board process hasn’t been fair since the beginning, and they want to have more of a say in what happens at the course.

Golfers Rally Jerry MullinPhoto right: Jerry Mullin, and other speakers at a rally in support of Hiawatha Golf Course, charged that the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board process hasn’t been fair since the beginning, and they want to have more of a say in what happens at the course.

Following a flood in 2014, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) learned that the course is pumping far more water off the property than allowed by a Department of Natural Resources permit. The park board began holding meetings in 2015 to update residents on what was happening at the course and to begin envisioning what else the land could be used for if it wasn’t a golf course.

On Aug. 9, the park board approved reducing the pumping from 242 million gallons to 94 million gallons by a 6-3 vote. The course is expected to remain open through the 2019 season.

Supporters push for advocacy
Kathryn Kelly grew up near the golf course, and her mom still resides in the neighborhood. “I believe if they flood this golf course all the houses down there are at risk for flooding,” said Kelly, who was at home during the 1987 flood when the water came up to Longfellow Ave.

Kelly also played golf at Hiawatha as a teenager when she was a member of the Roosevelt High School team. “I think it should stay,” she stated. Kelly doesn’t support the park board idea of putting in parking lots and a pavilion. “I don’t understand how you can build a pavilion on a swamp,” Kelly commented.

Golfers Rally Levy PoundMayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pound (photo right) told the crowd she believes this situation is another example of the Park Board not listening to the people. “Unfortunately, they have too much unchecked power,” Levy-Pound said. “The November elections are coming up, and they’re very important because we have the chance to change park board leaders.”

Levy-Pound said that she didn’t understand how the park board is moving ahead with closing the course before it has a solid plan for redevelopment or the funds to pay for it.

Levy-Pound questioned, “How can golf be a dying sport at Hiawatha Golf Course if this course is used by so many?” She pointed to the youth that use the course, as well as all the people who showed up for the rally.

“I believe that because of the power of your advocacy, it will remain open,” Levy-Pound said.

Several other candidates for office within the city spoke to the crowd, including Charlie Casserly, at-large park board candidate; Bob Fine, who is running for the District 6 Park Board seat in the southwest section of the city; Bill Shroyer, District 5 Park Board candidate; and Andrea Fahrenkrug, District 5 Park Board candidate.

Shroyer is a 17-year Park Board employee in the forestry and maintenance department. “They’re going to dredge the Mississippi, and they can’t dredge this lake?” he asked.

Shroyer thinks the user numbers generated for the site if it were redeveloped are fake. “I know the food forest isn’t going to bring half a million people here,” said Shroyer. “This is a success, and we’re not going to give it up.”

Andrea Fahrenkrug’s husband grew up playing the course at Hiawatha. She understands that some people don’t like to play golf and don’t use the course. “That’s fine,” she said. “You don’t have to want a golf course. We want a golf course.” She believes that diversity in the activities offered within the park system is important.

Golfers Rally Bobby WarfieldBobbie Warfield (photo left) agreed. “There are 6,800 acres of park land in Minneapolis,” he pointed out. “What are we going to get by having another restaurant in Minneapolis? But this is the only golf course in south Minneapolis.”

Course supporters encouraged people to browse for more information on how to get involved in saving the golf course.

MPRB’S next steps
Earlier in August, the MPRB directed staff to organize a process of amending the Nokomis Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan to accommodate changes to the Hiawatha Golf Course property following the decision to reduce pumping there.

MPRB will be forming a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to determine if some form of traditional golf can remain on the property.

The process to determine the future usage of the course is estimated to take between nine and 12 months, according to a press release. The process to prepare plans and obtain permits will take another 12 months or more. During that time, MPRB will work with the DNR to continue current pumping levels so that Hiawatha Golf Course will remain open as an 18-hole golf course until at least the end of 2019.

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Changes may be ahead for the Mississippi River Gorge

Posted on 25 July 2017 by calvin

Dam removal 09 panoramaWhen Lt. Zebulon Pike first explored the Upper Mississippi River Basin in 1805, he described the 8.5 mile stretch of the Gorge as one of continuous rapids. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Ford Dam (pictured here), one of two dams within the Gorge that have greatly altered the way the river flows. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

A public meeting was held on July 13 at St. Peder’s Evangelical Lutheran Church to discuss possible changes within the Mississippi River Gorge. Well over a hundred people attended the meeting, which 12th Ward Council member Andrew Johnson called to order. Representatives of government and non-profit agencies presented background information for the first hour, after which the meeting was opened up for questions.

“The 8½-mile-long Mississippi River Gorge begins at Upper St. Anthony Falls, drops 110’ over its course, and ends at the confluence with the Minnesota River,” explained National Park Superintendent Jon Anfinson. The Gorge is a unique part of the 72-mile-long Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which falls under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Anfinson continued, saying, “Below the Gorge, the Mississippi is a floodplain river that extends to the Gulf of Mexico.

Dam removal 02Photo right: 12th Ward City Council member Andrew Johnson addressed the July 13 public meeting on the future of the Mississippi River Gorge. He emphasized that discussions about possible lock and dam removals are just in their beginning stages. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will decide by mid- August whether or not to embark on a two-year process called a “disposition study” for this stretch of the river. That study would determine if it is in tax payers’ best interests to continue paying for the Upper and Lower St. Anthony locks, and the Ford Lock and Dam within the Gorge. According to Nan Bischoff, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager, “the annual cost to taxpayers to operate, maintain, and repair these facilities is $1.5 million.”

The dam at Upper St. Anthony Falls is not part of the possible disposition study, as it belongs to Xcel Energy.

Dam removal 13Photo left: Following the public meeting, there was an opportunity to leave comments and ask questions of representatives of the NPS, the DNR, American Rivers, and Brookfield Energy—among others. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Brian Graber is a dam removal specialist with American Rivers, a regional organization out of Rock Island, IL. “Removing dams is an effective strategy,” Graber said. “Since 1999, 1,380 dams have been removed across the US. Of those, 49 have been removed in Minnesota; the national average for dam removals is 27 per state. There is no faster and more efficient way to bring a river back to health than to remove a dam.”

Mike Davis, a river ecologist with the DNR, said, “Everyone is worried about invasive species traveling upstream. The best way to stop invasive species is to clean up the river. We know that Bighead and Silver Carp have been seen in Minnesota waters but, to our knowledge, they have yet to reproduce here. Many of us believe that if water quality and native fish species were restored, the invasive species could be kept in check.”

Dam removal 06Photo right: Photo right: Lauren Crandall, president of the Minneapolis Rowing Club, delivered a prepared message. She said, “Our 300+ members are on the water more than 200 days/year. We have an award winning boathouse facility just north of the Lake St. Bridge, a site we’ve occupied since 1965. We believe that our club deserves a seat at the discussion table, and to date, we have not been included.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

One of the closing questions from the audience was, “Given the reality of global warming, and the pressing need for clean energy, why remove the Ford Dam which supplies hydropower for some 30,000 nearby homes?”

Contact Nan Bischoff, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers program manager, at with questions or comments about the disposition study being considered.

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Women-owned lumberyard focuses on service, lasting relationships

Posted on 25 July 2017 by calvin

Hiawatha Lumber Women“Women bring a unique vision to our business,” observed Jan Siwek (left), who owns Hiawatha Lumber Company with sisters-in-laws Pat Siwek (center) and Lisa Siwek. They purchased the lumberyard in May 2016, and have recently finished remodeling the hardware store and showroom. (Photo provided)

Three sisters-in-law purchase Hiawatha Lumber, remodel, increase inventory, and add specialty products


It is rare to find a women-owned lumberyard, but Longfellow neighborhood boasts of one.

Long considered a male- dominated industry, the lumber and building materials business is featuring more and more women in prominent sales, marketing, human resources, management, and ownership roles. Females now account for a larger percentage of employees in the lumber industry than ever before as workplace demographics continue to evolve and become more diverse.

When the 70-year-old Hiawatha Lumber Company (3233 E. 40th St.) was sold last year, it was purchased by three women with deep roots in the lumber industry.

“Women bring a unique vision to our business,” observed Jan Siwek, who owns the company with sisters-in-laws Pat Siwek and Lisa Siwek.

“Our focus on personal service, quality products, and lasting relationships carries on a tradition that seems lost in our industry,” said Siwek. “We focus on the customer, not the bottom line.”

Option for those who like to shop in their neighborhood
One of only three independent lumberyards in the Twin Cities, Hiawatha Lumber Company is a full-service lumberyard with nearly two acres of construction, structural and exterior lumber and building products.

In addition to an extensive assortment of high-quality lumber, the lumberyard sells Marvin windows and doors, millwork, hardware and building materials. Hiawatha Lumber Company also offers delivery and cutting services.

“Providing an exceptional offering of quality brands like Marvin, Integrity, Acclimated, Heritage, Teal, SmartSide, Prestige, Paslode, GRK, Milwaukee, etc. help us focus on the customer’s real goal: a comfortable home to enjoy with their family,” stated Siwek. “Our experts can gain the trust of our customers by listening to their desires and offering great choices of product without a song and dance.”

Hiawatha Lumber JM Skoglund“Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a general contractor, we have quality materials for your small or large projects,” remarked general manager Jon Skoglund (photo left provided), who has worked at Hiawatha Lumber Company for over 34 years.

“We provide an option for people who like to stay in their neighborhood and shop locally, and get the type of customer service that isn’t always available in bigger stores.”

Hiawatha Lumber specializes in hard-to-find millwork from the 1900s. “In most cases, standard-size windows and doors don’t fit the homes in our neighborhood, so it’s beneficial to our customers to be able to buy products that not only are custom fit to their homes, but will last,” stated Skoglund.

“Our staff has years of service in the industry, so we can offer expert advice and support to those who need it. Although big-box stores may have lower prices and larger inventories, we have higher-quality lumber, and we can easily custom order products for our customers.”

History of Hiawatha Lumber
Hiawatha Lumber TruckIn 1900, Minneapolis was the leading lumber market in the world, and the city was home to scores of sawmills and lumberyards.

Photo right: Hiawatha Lumber began by selling chicken coops to customers that were personally delivered by the owner. The owner’s son, Denny Gustafson, took over in 1964 and operated the lumberyard for over 50 years. (Photo submitted)

Before 1930, the lumberyard along the railroad at 40th and Dight was known as Berg Lumber. The building sat vacant during the depression until 1940, when it became Hiawatha Lumber.
Hiawatha Lumber began by selling chicken coops to customers that were personally delivered by the owner.

The owner’s son, Denny Gustafson, took over in 1964 and operated the lumber yard for over 50 years.

For decades, Hiawatha Lumber Company flourished. New homes, basement finishing, garages, and remodeling were hot, and the 1960s and 1970s were boom times for the lumberyard and the neighborhood.

“With the troubled economy, 2008 was a hard time for us, but with loyal customers and cooperative suppliers, we were able to weather the storm while many other lumberyards closed as a result of the economic downturn,” recalled Skoglund.

In May of 2016, the new owners immediately doubled or tripled the in-stock inventory, and reduced prices by 20-30 percent.

Then they set about on their own construction project in the winter of 2017, remodeling the hardware store and showroom in the winter of 2017 to showcase products, specifically Marvin and Integrity Windows and Doors.

Refocused and more diverse
“Refocused on quality products and a bigger and more diverse inventory, Hiawatha Lumber Company has a new attitude of excellence, affordability, and creativity in our products,” said Siwek.

A grand re-opening was held in June. “We had a great turnout, and it was nice to see our customers and get in touch with our neighbors,” said Skoglund.

Customers like the remodeling they’ve done, he pointed out. Plus, the original sign from the 1940s on the front of the building that was unearthed during the renovation is a big hit. Also, customers like the variety and quality of products that are now being offered.

“If you haven’t visited us in a while, you should stop in,” encouraged Skoglund. “We have a new look with a lot of new products, and we’re right in the neighborhood.” More at

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Time for Commissioners to decide what happens at Golf Course

Posted on 25 July 2017 by calvin

Meanwhile, golfers ramp up efforts to save course and continue to question why Minnehaha Creek can’t be dredged

As the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) of Commissioners begin discussing the future of Hiawatha Golf Course, golfers are ramping up their efforts to save the course.

Local resident Craig Nichols, who has golfed at Hiawatha all his life, started an online petition and is running a Facebook group called “Save Hiawatha Golf.” He presented a petition with over 1,200 signatures to the board during a July 19 public hearing.

“Hiawatha golf course has been a friendly and affordable home to golfers of the Twin Cities since 1934,” explained Nichols on the petition page. “Through good times and bad, our families have been able to ‘escape’ to Hiawatha for a quick round and chat with friends.

Hiawatha Golf Craig NicholsPhoto right: Craig Nichols practices putting at Hiawatha Golf Course. He recently started the Facebook Page, “Save Hiawatha Golf.” “I did this because I wanted the youth of Minneapolis to be able to have the opportunity to learn a game they can play their whole lives and with that learn to be part of a community,” he explained. “I felt the park board was leaving golfers out of the conversation, and seemed to not want people to know what was happening. Did you know the golf course isn’t allowed to post anything about its own future at the course? Even so much as a notice that there will be a meeting? Makes a person wonder about their transparency a little doesn’t it?” (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Hiawatha has a vibrant community of golfers from ages five to 85 that will have to find somewhere else to golf. Some of the younger and older golfers will have a difficult time getting to one of the suburban courses.

“Please convince the Minneapolis Park Board, the Minnesota DNR, and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District to do their jobs and come up with intelligent solutions to solve the problems Hiawatha faces rather than just shut generations of golfers out.”

Some have commented that if the course was rearranged and used a modern design, less would be located in the lower elevations.

Golfers are also pushing the park board to hold off making a decision until after new park board members are installed in 2018.

“We’d like to see the vote on the course put off until the next board is in,” wrote Nichols on the Save Hiawatha Golf Facebook page. “We feel they are rushing this through since most aren’t running again.”

As of press time, the full Board of Commissioners planned to consider the water management recommendation at its Wed., Aug. 9 meeting.

Local commissioner Steffanie Musich has stated that she is refraining from making a final decision about pumping until the board has been provided with the final staff report and the public hearing has been held. She is one of the few board members who is planning to run for re-election.

Two options
MPRB staff, with the assistance of local firm Barr Engineering, have narrowed the options for Hiawatha Golf Course to two.

Option A would reduce the pumping there to 308 million gallons of groundwater, which keeps the course open.

Option B drops the pumping to 94 million gallons of groundwater, which would effectively flood much of the property and close the course while keeping neighboring basements dry.

Hiawatha Golf Hole 5Photo left: For the past 10 years, Craig Nichols has lived within a few blocks of Hiawatha Golf Course. He values the course because it offers what others don’t by being the only course in Minneapolis fully within city limits. “Do people expect that kids from south Minneapolis will be able to get to Wirth or Gross, or Meadowbrook easily on their own?” he questioned. “It also has one of the most extensive practice area of any course in the metro, let alone the inner city,” Nichols added. Five high schools practice at Hiawatha, and other children participate in the First Tee program. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Without any pumping, the groundwater elevation underneath the golf course would rise by 4 feet and flood most of the course. MPRB has been pumping stormwater and groundwater off the course into Lake Hiawatha since the 1960s. The property was originally a wetland, called Rice Lake before it was dredged and the fill used to create a golf course, which is currently sinking.

Options A and B were presented to the public following a series of meetings regarding the issues at the course. During the April and May meetings, staff solicited opinions from the public about what they’d want on the land instead of a golf course, and suggestions were varied.

On June 21, staff announced that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which must approve the level of pumping at the property, favors Option B because it reduces pumping by 70% and is considered more sustainable and less costly in the long run.

However, the DNR will not make an official statement and decision about the project until the MPRB submits an appropriations permit application, and so some residents question whether the DNR is actually in favor of closing the course.

Would dredging solve the problem?
Other residents are pushing for MPRB to lower the level of the lake and dredge it and the creek to maintain the golf course.

Engineers have repeatedly said that dredging the lake would make it deeper but not lower the level of the lake, so it will not reduce pumping.

To lower the lake level, the outlet of the lake would need to be lowered. This could be accomplished by modifying an existing weir at 28th St. and another weir at Hiawatha Ave. It may also be necessary to dredge the creek between the two weirs. Lowering the lake would also result in lower water elevations in the creek downstream of the lake, and would affect how much flood storage is available both around Lake Hiawatha and farther downstream. Plus the project would require permits from several agencies.

Minnehaha Creek could be dredged, but not by more than one foot because of several utility crossings, including a Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) 11-foot diameter gravity sanitary sewer pipe. One foot deeper would not help the situation at Hiawatha, according to a MPRB face sheet available online.

However, if existing sanitary sewer pipes were protected in some way, MPRB could consider lowering 2,000 feet of channel to an elevation of 809, which would result in a slight reduction in the flooding at the Bloomington Pond Area/Sibley Pond and no impact in flooding at the Hiawatha west watershed.

There are three bridges/crossing downstream of Lake Hiawatha that would need to be modified or reconstructed to achieve the lower channel elevation, and the city water main upstream of 28th would need to be lowered. An abandoned CenterPoint gas main downstream of 28th would need to be removed. Additionally, the creek channel would need to be redesigned and restored to achieve a stable channel and banks, and it would take some time to re-establishing the existing biological communities.

If the pumping changes
If the pumping at the course changes, a master planning process will begin that will take 9-12 months and include input from a Community Advisory Committee. The course would continue to stay open, likely through the 2019 season.

The Hiawatha Golf Course in numbers

• The highest number of rounds was 55,000 in 2001.
• The lowest number of rounds was 14,000 in 2014 when the course was flooded.
• The annual average rounds per year is 40,800.
• However, in the last six years impacted by flooding, wet conditions, and market changes, the average was 23,800.
• For the period before the wet years, the average annual revenue was $250,000.
• For the six years impacted by flooding, the average annual revenue was a loss of $180,000.

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Venn Brewing brings taproom to 46th St. Blue Line station

Posted on 25 July 2017 by calvin

Venn Brewing mockup

Rendering of the Venn Brewing Co. taproom. (Image by RSP Architects)

Here’s something for beer lovers to cheer about: a new brewery, Venn Brewing Co., is moving into the ground floor space of Oaks Station Place at the 46th St. light rail station. Construction is already underway, and things seem to be chugging along nicely.

Co-founders Connie and Kyle Sisco are realizing a longtime dream: to open a neighborhood taproom. They will feature up to 16 small-batch brews that will only be available on site.

Unlike most breweries, the Siscos are not aiming for wide distribution. This puts them in the company of two other non-distributing Minneapolis breweries, Wild Mind Ales and Dangerous Man, whom Kyle, Venn’s head brewer, cites as a huge inspiration for what they’re doing. It gives Venn room to experiment and patrons a beer selection they won’t find anywhere else. Growlers and crowlers—canned takeaways—will still be available for purchase.

VBC TaproomPhoto right: Kyle and Connie Sisco, co-founders of Venn Brewing Co., stand in the future patio of their brewery-taproom being constructed in the ground level of Oaks Station Place at the 46th St. Blue Line station. (Photo by Alexios Photography)

Their goal is to have “something for everybody.” Venn means Friend in Norwegian, and the Siscos hope people will gather with friends and meet new ones over a variety of beer.

The location was a huge draw for the Siscos. Not only are they on the Blue Line, but it’s also a hub for major bus routes, including the rapid bus to Highland Park, and a spur for the trail to Minnehaha Falls.

“We’re so excited about being close to so much public transportation,” said Connie, Venn’s marketing director. “It’s easy for people to get to us.”

PrintPhoto left: The logo for Venn Brewing Co. notes their “global flavors.” (Photo provided)

But even more, they’re excited about being part of a residential neighborhood. The Siscos had looked for space in more industrial areas, but what they really look forward to being a drop-in place for people who live nearby.

This was a key element for their landlord, too. The space at Oaks Station Place had been vacant since the building was built in 2013, and though there was interest, some prospective tenants either wanted to use only part of the space or weren’t the right match.

“We wanted something to fit the lifestyle of the building and neighborhood and to compliment the light rail line,” said Angie French, vice president of Oaks Properties. She said they’re excited to have a family-owned business coming in, and one that will be a gathering place “not just for our building but the neighborhood in general.”

Kyle is a longtime homebrewer and credentialed national beer judge who has planned to go commercial for quite some time. For the past year and a half, he’s been the interim head brewer at Wicked Wort in Robbinsdale. A 10-barrel brewhouse that also doesn’t distribute, Wicked Wort is giving Kyle experience bringing his brewing up in scale.

More than for magnitude, he’s adapted to mechanical changes; where at home you might just stick a spoon in it, here you’re using machinery. The biggest learning curve, though, has been in fine tuning his use of yeast—”one of the major drivers for flavors of beer” that also happens to be very expensive. He’s learning how to harvest yeast from batch to batch on a larger scale.

He’s also had to find ways to work with the water in Robbinsdale, which Kyle calls “terrible.” Brewing with well water versus surface water (which we have in Minneapolis and Roseville, where the Siscos live) yields very different results. Rather than go through an extensive process of treating and reconstituting the water, he looks forward to being able to just open up the tap and go.

Kyle isn’t interested in break­ing new ground at Venn, as much as expanding what beer has to offer in an environment that fosters community getting together. Their motto is “local craft, global flavors.” Rather than specialize in one type or region as many brewers do, Venn will offer styles from the world over: Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. “We’re trying to bring that all under one roof,” said Kyle.

“We will hopefully have a version or beer style for every palate,” said Connie, whose own beer preferences are seasonal: a crisp, clean Pilsner in the summertime; a lager, or a darker beer that is light in body, come winter.

Kyle said Pilsner is his “desert island” beer, but true Pilsner, as it’s brewed in Germany or its namesake Czech town of Pilsen. “It’s almost like a hoppy pale ale meets Pilsner, dry, crisp,” he said. “It’s absolutely nothing like the yellow water in [mass-produced American Pilsners].”

Venn will most certainly have a Pilsner on draft, as well as an IPA or two, a porter, a stout, a Berliner Weiss. Kyle will also do a variation on Sahti, a Scandinavian brew which in Finnish translates roughly to “homebrew.” Akin to farmhouse ales in Belgium, it’s brewed out in the country at high strength and incorporates juniper branches, multiple grains, berries, and uses a baker’s yeast.

“A lot of those ideas are cool, but it’s too many things,” said Kyle. So he’s taken the core principles of it, cleaned it up (namely removing the baker’s yeast and juniper branches) to be a little more approachable.

Construction of the brewery is on track. The space will be very open, except for the walls enclosing the bathrooms. Look for Scandinavian-inspired design, with clean, simple lines, and a lot of natural woodwork in the furniture, tables, and bar tops. Kyle, a woodworking hobbyist, is doing much of the finish work himself, and tables are mostly already built. The bar will face east, and garage doors will open onto the patio.

Ah, yes, the patio!

“This was one of the major draws about this location,” said Kyle. “The patio around our retail space is probably bigger than the taproom itself.” It’s set lower than the walkway to the train and is also made with pervious pavers, so it doesn’t get wet at all. They’re aiming for a winter opening, though, so you’ll have to wait until next season to use the patio.

The Siscos hope the bulk of construction will be done in September, with woodwork soon to follow. After that, it’s licensing and hiring.

“We’re really excited to be a part of this neighborhood and community,” said Connie.

You can connect with Venn Brewing online at

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Monarch Mile will connect Gateway Gardens with Naturescape

Posted on 25 July 2017 by calvin

The East Nokomis neighborhood has two outstanding native plant habitats: the Gateway Gardens at the NW corner of E. 50th St. and Hiawatha Ave., and the Nokomis Naturescape just a mile away at 5001 E. Nokomis Pkwy. These two native plant habitats will soon be connected by a series of gardens along E. 50th St. called the Monarch Mile.

Monarch Mile 14Photo right: Gateway Gardens volunteer Linda Wogstad (left) and Nokomis Naturescape volunteer and visionary Vicki Bonk relaxed in the Gateway Gardens. Those two native gardens will soon be connected by 17 additional pollinator friendly gardens along E. 50th St., in a neighborhood collaboration called the Monarch Mile. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

According to Gateway Gardens volunteer Linda Wogstad, “The goal of this collaboration is to piggyback on the federal government’s monarch corridor, which runs broadly on either side of I-35 from Duluth, MN to San Antonio, TX.”

The Monarch Mile, also called the 50th St. Monarch Corridor, will be installed on July 31 and Aug. 1. Members of the Conservation Corps of Minnesota will remove sod and replace dirt in the 17 participating boulevard gardens.

Monarch Mile 36Photo left: Rich Harrison, director of landscape design for Metro Blooms, stopped by to admire the growth of the Gateway Gardens’ flowers, prairie grasses, and trees. Harrison provided site evaluations for the boulevards gardens that will soon become part of the Monarch Mile. Metro Blooms is a major partner on this project. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The 15 homeowners, one church, and onebusiness receiving the pollinator patches, as they’re called, all applied for garden grants through NENA. (Contact if interested in applying for a grant next year.)

Metro Blooms has provided the design work and will be coordinating the installation of the Monarch Mile. Landscape design director Rich Harrison said, “The gardens will be in the boulevards between the sidewalks and the curb. Each garden will be about 7-1/2 x 12-1/2‘. The boulevards on E. 50th St. are especially wide, which will make the gardens more impactful. We have different plant selections depending on whether a site is sunny, shady, or a mixture of both.”

Monarch Mile 48Photo right: Black-Eyed Susan and Butterfly Weed (shown here) are examples of pollinator friendly, drought tolerant, native plantings. Plants like these make the Gateway Gardens a monarch magnet, especially during the migration months of Aug./Sept. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Members of the Fresh Water Society’s Master Water Steward Program were instrumental in getting residents to apply for grants. The cost share per garden is about $250, with the labor and plant materials having a value much higher than that. Wilderness Inquiry will be providing the muscle power to get the plants in the ground.

The Gateway Gardens exist on a half-acre inner-city lot. They are the result of a collaboration between the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, area residents, Metro Transit (who owns the lot), and the City of Minneapolis. Colberg/tews landscape architecture created the garden plan pro-bono in 2010. They designed the plantings to look like a butterfly wing when viewed from the air. A generous donor covered the cost of the plant materials.

Monarch Mile 26Photo left: Invasive insects, like this Japanese Beetle held by gardener Marilyn Jones, present a constant challenge to the core of six gardeners responsible for the care and up-keep of the Gateway Gardens. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Wogstad was quick to point out that “all of this is the result of dedicated, well-informed arearesidents. The gardens could not exist without the support of this community. In particular, the volunteer gardeners had the vision in the first place, and have kept it going for all these years. We continue to welcome gardeners of all experience levels to join us.” Visit the Nokomis East Gateway Gardens Facebook page to learn more.

The four+ acre Nokomis Naturescape rests at the other end of the soon-to-be Monarch Mile. Vicki Bonk has been with the project since the beginning. “We started out by applying for a Neighborhood Revitalization Project grant 20 years ago,” Bonk said, “and I’ve shepherded the Naturescape along ever since. We’ve been able to achieve something special here through our model of Demonstrate (with the oak savannah and prairie plantings), Educate (the Growing Monarch Habitat Workshops offered in the spring), and Celebrate (the Monarch Festival each fall).”

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