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New name and new route for East Lake Open Streets July 23

Posted on 27 June 2017 by calvin

Lake + Minnehaha Open Streets 04By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Open Streets Minneapolis is a summer-long series of festivals taking place all across the city on different weekends. An initiative of Our Streets Minneapolis (formerly the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition), it’s being presented by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and co-sponsored by the City of Minneapolis.

The East Lake Open Streets has been renamed and rerouted this year. Redubbed the “Lake + Minnehaha Open Streets,” the festival will begin at Lake St. and Elliot Ave., continue east to Minnehaha Ave., and meander toward Minnehaha Falls on Sun., July 23 from 11am to 5pm.
Why the change? Ales Tsatsoulis, communications manager for Our Streets Minneapolis, said, “After a successful event last year, we reached out to neighborhood stakeholders asking what they wanted to do going forward. There was a lot of interest in highlighting the great businesses, road reconstruction, and many improvements along Minnehaha Ave. It wasn’t feasible to do two events so close together, so we decided to combine the two streets into one event.”

“Minnehaha Ave. was part of the East Lake Open Streets experience back in 2013,” Tsatsoulis continued. “It’s great to be coming back to a street that’s been reimagined and is now so much friendlier to bikers, pedestrians, and motorists. Many of the improvements that came out of the last two summers of construction were discussed at the Open Streets three years ago. Open Streets events are more than just a chance to come out and have fun for a day. We believe that people want to be able to shape the communities they live in. These celebrations are a chance to add your voice to the collective voice that makes change happen.”

Many of the details of participating businesses and non-profits have yet to be worked out. A full schedule will be available closer to the event date at In the meantime, a few teasers include the following:

First-time participant Minnehaha Lake Liquor (2613 E. Lake St.) will be partnering with Gandhi Mahal to offer Indian food and all manner of drinks in their parking lot. Jason Krause, a member of the family that has owned Minnehaha Lake Liquor for three generations, said, “We also have a cool vintage bicycle that we plan to auction off to benefit a local charity.”

The HUB Bicycle Co-op across the street (3020 Minnehaha Ave.) will be displaying 3-4 models of e-bikes on their newly created front lawn, one of the many improvements of the Minnehaha Ave. reconstruction. “We see this as a good chance to explain e-bikes to the public,” Chelsea Strate, HUB marketing coordinator and worker-owner, said. “These are an interesting new option for people who either have a very long commute or for whom fitness is an issue. The battery-assisted bikes make it possible for cyclists to go faster and farther than they might under their own steam. And because they’re battery powered, they don’t contribute to emissions as motorcycles do.”

Further down the road, Peace Coffee (3262 Minnehaha Ave.) will be serving root beer and cold press floats all afternoon.

Near Minnehaha Communion Church (4101 37th Ave. S.), hip-hop artist AGAPE will have performances starting at 1pm. AGAPE, also known as Dave Scherer, has inspired listeners from Bosnia to Brooklyn with his outreach ministry. Combining rap, dance, and storytelling in English and Spanish, AGAPE connects with audiences in a big way. His hip-hop ministry includes the hard work of addressing social injustice. The well-established recording artist has ten albums to his credit and a recently published book.

The fruit trees of the nearby Adams Grove Orchard will be setting fruit by late July, and are well worth stopping to admire.

Tsatsoulis concluded, saying, “Our Streets Minneapolis will have a pop-up protected bikeway and bump-out somewhere along the route. We’ll have staff people on hand to talk about bicycle and pedestrian safety, and to gather people’s comments about ways to improve their neighborhood. Lake + Minnehaha Open Streets is a chance to promote healthy living, local business, sustainable transportation, and civic pride in South Minneapolis. We’ll be creating safe, car-free streets so that residents of all ages can walk, bike, shop, eat, participate in play activities, and get to know one another.”

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Riverview Theater hosts premiere of All in the Circle documentary

Posted on 27 June 2017 by calvin

All in the Circle is a creative arts and nature camp for youth that was started seven years ago by educator and environmentalist AJ Pratt.

On May 18, the Riverview Theater hosted the premiere of a documentary about All in the Circle, made and directed by long-time camper and South High School student Isaiah Bischoff. Bischoff already had three films to his credit when he was approached to make the film by a local broadcast producer and a member of the All in the Circle family, David Howell.

All in the Circle 04Photo left: Film-maker Isaiah Bischoff, age 15, addressed the audience. The t-shirt he wore states the three rules of camp: be kind, be kind, and be kind. T-shirts were sponsored by Gandhi Mahal Restaurant. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“We started working together more than two years ago,” Howell said, “and Isaiah has really grown as a director in that time. The biggest thing I wanted to teach him was how to work with other creative professionals. He’s a pretty incredible kid; he goes to school all day, is active on the track team, has tons of homework, and works on film projects in his ‘spare time.’”

Founder AJ Pratt co-directs the camp with her daughter Erin Pratt, in partnership with an organization called Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light. AJ Pratt said, “The idea for All in the Circle Creative Arts and Nature Camp grew from my belief that children’s natural passions are for exploration. I was lucky in that my own childhood was filled with unstructured play in nature. I always dreaded the sound of the dinner bell, because I didn’t want to go inside.”

In her opening words at the Riverview, camp co-director Erin Pratt said, “The mission of our camp is to create an environment where campers learn to connect deeply with the earth. All in the Circle teaches that each one of us is part of the earth and that we’re all in this together. The issue of climate change is at our core. We believe that all ages of people will naturally care for what they learn to love.”

Other participants in the evening’s premiere at the Riverview were staff member Fatawu Sayiby and his Ghanian dance and drumming troupe. Sayiby brings music, movement and Ghanian culture to every All in the Circle session. Dakota elder Bob Klanderud is also an integral part of the All in the Circle staff. He serves as a cultural leader and naturalist; Klanderud gave the program’s opening invocation.

All in the Circle 01Photo right: All in the Circle Creative Arts and Nature Camp co-director Erin Pratt, pictured left. The camp is made possible by Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, whose belief is that active care of the earth is integral to spiritual life and social justice. Their work brings Minnesota’s faith communities together and provides opportunities for congregations to join the climate justice movement. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

All in the Circle Nature camp for 1-6 graders will take place this year July 10–14 at Theodore Wirth Park. The focus of the session will be to dive deep into the natural world through sensory awareness exercises, nature scavenger hunts, and teachings about belonging, cooperation, and kindness. Story-telling, art-making, drumming, and dance will all be woven in.

Two other sessions of All in the Circle have already taken place this summer: a two-day camp for families, and a leadership development camp for middle and high schoolers. For information about camp this summer or in the future, contact Erin Pratt at
Film director Isaiah Bischoff closed the evening by saying, “This film documents how All in the Circle combines story, song, and metaphor to teach kids about their connection to the earth, and their need to protect it.”

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Athletic fields designed near Nokomis, urban ag proposed near Hiawatha

Posted on 27 June 2017 by calvin

Open house held as changes require modification of Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park by park board

With the focus of nearby Bossen Park on softball, some residents feel that leaves room for other sports such as Australian Football and soccer at Nokomis Park.

The current project at Bossen is placing four premier baseball/softball fields in a pinwheel formation looking out, with another two fields on the south side and two large open field areas on the north.

field Concept 2017 - Option A.aiPhoto left: Concept A is one of two concepts MPRB asked the public for input on. (Illustration provided)

When the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park master plan was approved in March 2015, it didn’t include a specific layout for the athletic fields, in part because planners knew that the Bossen Field project was about to get underway, pointed out MPRB Director of Strategic Planning Adam Arvidson.

When the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park master plan was approved in March 2015, it didn’t include a specific layout for the athletic fields, in part because planners knew that the Bossen Field project was about to get underway, pointed out MPRB Director of Strategic Planning Adam Arvidson.

However, the fields at Nokomis are currently in very poor condition, and MPRB held an open house on May 25 to ask for community input on the athletic fields as it prepares to fix them.
The two proposed plans for Nokomis aim to preserve large open spaces for a variety of sports, remarked Arvidson.

Concept A includes seven adult-size softball fields of which two are in the far south of the parcel, three high-school-sized soccer fields, and an Australian football field in the center.

Concept B configures the fields differently and has six softball fields, three soccer fields and an Australian football field in the center. Both include a 60-space parking area and trail cutting across the center of the area.

Citizens asked if there could be a storage shed for groups that play there, as well as a place for bathrooms and drinking fountains. Others asked for lighting on the fields. Additional input was taken through an online survey that was open through June 23.

Football players hope to use the fields more

No-Hi Master Plan 3Photo right: A group of Minnesota Freeze Australian Football, Gaelic football, and hurling players attended the open house on May 25 to learn about the two proposals. The men’s Minnesota Freeze teams currently hold its Wednesday night weekly practices and Saturday morning games at Lake Nokomis, and the women’s team would like to be there, as well. (Photo submitted by Minnesota Freeze)

“It would be great to have the men’s and women’s teams practice together,” noted Freeze Captain Andrew Werner, a Nokomis resident, but it is difficult to do now because of how the fields are arranged. “The sport is community-based,” he observed. “A lot of families come out and watch, too.” Plus, they’d like to see the club grow.

“It would be great to have the men’s and women’s teams practice together,” noted Freeze Captain Andrew Werner, a Nokomis resident, but it is difficult to do now because of how the fields are arranged. “The sport is community-based,” he observed. “A lot of families come out and watch, too.” Plus, they’d like to see the club grow.

The groups need fields that are larger than soccer fields, such as two soccer fields side-by-side, to play a game. The Gaelic team can’t use the fields as they are now due to the number of potholes, unlevel surfaces, and gopher holes.

Urban ag area at Hiawatha
Another change being considered to the master plan was driven by a community desire to be able to harvest fruit in the park, explained Arvidson.

The current plan calls for naturalizing the landscape along the east side of Lake Hiawatha and eliminating much of the grassy lawn. The proposed change would replace the naturalized landscape with an urban agriculture area that would include foraging in a woodland environment.

If this is approved, citizens would still be prohibited from harvesting at the site until the park board changes its anti-foraging ordinance, which was recommended in the Urban Agriculture Plan approved in 2014. The park board is currently working on modifying the Vegetation Molestation Ordinance to allow for harvesting within designated areas, according to Arvidson.

No-Hi Master Plan 2Photo right: Minnesota Freeze men’s team captain Andrew Werner discusses athletic field configurations with fellow football and hurling players during an open house on Thursday, May 25, 2017. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

In the future, the MPRB intends to include a list online with an interactive map showing people where they can harvest food.

Some residents are also pushing MPRB to create a food forest at the Hiawatha Golf Course site, which would not be mutually exclusive from an urban agricultural area on the east side of Lake Hiawatha, said Arvidson. The golf course property is not included within the Nokomis-Hiawatha Master Plan.

Funding tricky
The financing of the fields will be tricky, as regional park dollars can’t be spent on athletic fields, which are considered as neighborhood park amenities, explained Arvidson. Regional park systems tend to be nature-based recreational systems. Neighborhood parks, in contrast, can’t get state or regional funding or access Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment funds.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis seeks to avoid using neighborhood tax dollars for capital improvements in the 19 regional park facilities within the city.

No-Hi Master Plan 1Photo left: Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board employee Siciid Ali (left) discusses possible changes to the Nokomis-Hiawatha Master Plan with Nokomis resident Alan Schneider, who has helped with the Naturescape Gardens over the years. He is concerned that park staff is mowing too much of the natural gardens near the trails. He also hopes that planners continue to leave space for pick-up soccer games in the park. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Arvidson observed that 47 million people a year use the metro-area regional parks, while 10 million visit state parks. The second most popular regional park in Minnesota is the Chain of Lakes Park in Minneapolis with 5.5 million visitors each year.

“Four of the top five most visited parks in the regional park system are in Minneapolis,” said Arvidson. He’s frustrated that the state legislature has excluded these popular areas from bonding bills.

MPRB will likely consider the changes to the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park plan and public comments at its July 19 meeting, which will begin at 5pm at 2117 W. River Rd. N.

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East Lake Library jumps into its third year of Curious Community

Posted on 27 June 2017 by calvin

Over the years, the 100-year-old building at 3016 Lake St. has been home to a barber shop, beauty salon, pawn shop, jewelry store, machine shop and even a church. But now it is occupied by Urban Forage Winery and Cider House, owned by Jeff and Gita Zeitler.

“A lot of people are very curious about what we are doing here,” Zeitler said, as he took some time off from his remodeling work on the main floor of the building to chat about his business.

The uniqueness of the shop led Anna Sheppard, the adult services librarian at East Lake Library, 2727 E. Lake St., to select Urban Forage as the first business this summer to be part of the “Curious Community” series. In explaining the program, Sheppard said she has been a Longfellow resident since 2010. “One of the reasons I love the neighborhood is because it has all these wonderful local businesses to support,” she said. “I got the job at East Lake Library in 2014 and one of my tasks there was to highlight the local businesses that are in the area, and create a ripple effect for the library and the businesses.”

East-Lake-LibraryPhoto left: For the third year, East Lake Library is sponsoring “Curious Community” in the summer. This year features three businesses: Urban Forage Winery and Cider House; Belle’s Toolbox; and Laughing Waters Studio. (Photo provided)

She approached Longfellow Community Council about this idea, and they worked together to come up with a name for the program. Sheppard said they landed on “Curious Community” because many people who live in the community get curious about things and then explore them and spread the word.

This is the third year of the three-part series, and it kicked off June 26 with an event that began at the library with Zeitler talking about the winery and the process of foraging. Once he described what he does at his new business, participants were invited to head over to Urban Forage Winery and Cider House for a tour.

“The first year we started the series we attempted to offer five different programs,” Sheppard recalled. “We realized doing five was tricky. The next year we highlighted three programs and had it more interactive and had question and answer sessions.”

She said that part of what she gets to do as an organizer for the series is to go and ask questions of the business and gather information. “A lot of time people are nervous about going into a new business, but if I’m at the library and I say ‘You know, if you’re really interested in distilling, I know someone who could help you out,’ that removes some of those barriers.”

“This year we are highlighting Urban Forage with Jeff, and Lucy from Belle’s Toolbox on her space for kids. It’s a clever space, and she will let people know about her experiences as an educator that let her create it. And finally we have Bill from Laughing Water Studio presenting the art form of the brush stroke, so some people will be able to create some art of their own and learn about his studio, and hopefully, others will be able to create art there in the future as well.”

Sheppard said the goal of “Curious Community” is to have people come into the library space. “We know there are opportunity gaps for kids, but we encounter lots of adults who have had opportunity gaps their whole life. If somebody meets somebody in a place where they feel safe, like the library, they might be more willing to go out to their location. So we really love that piece. And it’s good because sometimes business owners themselves might not have recently explored our library. Many times we see a drop-off in the use of the library with adults, and it’s so good for them to reconnect with space and have them do that same kind of promotion for the library while promoting their businesses.”

Sheppard said she has tried to keep the businesses the library reaches out to in Longfellow.

“That way it’s easier for us to get to them. The series takes place in June, July, and August. That’s nice because then we can get out of the building and move to spaces more easily than we can in the winter. Summer is always a great time to connect with local businesses and show support.”

The library’s “Curious Community” series has in 2015 highlighted Migizi Communications, Hack Factory, Ballare Teatro, Longfellow League of Artists, Patrick’s Cabaret. In 2016 the businesses were Du Nord, Brownsmith Restoration (Forage, Hi-Lo Diner) and Gandhi Mahal.

“The ‘Curious Community’ series will continue every summer,” Sheppard added. She said East Lake Library tries to do a lot of programs throughout the year that highlight Minneapolis. “In the fall, there is “Museum in the Library” program that centers on museums,” she stated. “They will bring elements of the museum to the library space.”

She added that in winter, East Lake Library focuses more locally with a “Winter Wellness” series. “We have had Big River Yoga and some of the chiropractic and health programs. We are partnering with Minnehaha Yoga.”

Sheppard said the library had its first cultural dance series this spring with Ballare Teatro, Zorunda Flamenco, and Cassandra. “We love to have people participate, and we invite local dance studios in the area.”
The remaining “Curious Community” events are Belle’s Toolbox on July 24, and Laughing Waters Studio on Aug. 28. Both programs are 6:30-8pm beginning at the library.

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Minnesota DNR supports closing Hiawatha Golf Course

Posted on 27 June 2017 by calvin

Update on investigations 29 March 2016DNR favors reducing pumping at the golf course. Residents are split: peace and quiet vs. maximum usage of space.

Of the two directions for the Hiawatha Golf Course that were presented to the public on May 18, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) favors the one that reduces the amount of pumping there by 70%.

“The DNR would prefer alternative B,” stated MPRB Assistant Superintendent of Planning Michael Schroeder. “It has multiple benefits while we’re reducing the pumping.” He added, “The 70% reduction is considered more sustainable.”

The Department of Natural Resources needs to sign off on the pumping at the golf course property. Currently, MPRB has a permit to pump 36.5 million gallons a year, far less than the 308 million gallons it is actually pumping.

“We’re really focused on reducing the pumping while still protecting adjacent homes,” remarked Minneapolis Director of Surface Water and Sewers Katrina Kessler.

Options either 18-hole golf course or something else
MPRB has decided against putting a 9-hole golf course at the site, despite a desire by April public meeting attendees to try to keep some kind of golf there even if the 18-hole course is shut down. There is only one 9-hole golf course in the state that is profitable, pointed out Schroeder, and it is located in Pierz, Minn. “Revenue for golf courses is generated by players who desire 18 holes,” he said. “In the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation system parameters, a 9-hole golf course simply doesn’t work.”

If golf is taken out of the equation, many other uses can be applied.

MPRB asked attendees to comment on two alternatives (photo at the top of page).

Hiawatha golf course meeting May 18 -1Photo right: After discussing two scenarios for the Hiawatha Golf Course, two people from each table shared comments with the entire group gathered at Nokomis Recreation Center on May 18. Meeting attendees were split on keeping golf versus discontinuing the pumping and letting the area flood. There were two competing interests: continuing the peace and quiet of the area versus maximum usage of the space. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

To keep the 18-hole golf course, MPRB would have to continue pumping 308 million gallons a year, while alternative B would require pumping 94 million gallons of groundwater, allowing the lower areas of the property to be covered with water. With Alternative A, there are 9 acres of open water; with Alternative B, there are 41 acres.

To keep the 18-hole golf course, MPRB would have to continue pumping 308 million gallons a year, while alternative B would require pumping 94 million gallons of groundwater, allowing the lower areas of the property to be covered with water. With Alternative A, there is 9 acres of open water; with Alternative B, there is 41 acres.

“Mother nature never intended it to be a golf course,” remarked Joseph Jones. He observed that in the 17 years he’s lived nearby, the area has flooded three times.

Some people at the meeting pointed to a generational and financial gap between the golfers and the other residents, while others countered that they didn’t see a generation gap and regularly golf with their children and parents at the course for $12.

“I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that Hiawatha Golf Course is gone,” said one attendee during the feedback section of the May meeting. “It has some serious water issues. It wants to be a lake.”

Another person commented that the loss of the golf course seemed “inevitable,” while others stressed that the golf course has been profitable the past three years and should continue its operation.

“This project is really divisive, pitting neighbor against neighbor,” stated one man who supports retaining the golf course. “It’s really unfortunate that we are being pulled apart by this issue.”

Phosphorus load could drop 191 pounds per year
There would be no change to the phosphorus load at the property if the 18-hole golf course remained, but a whopping 191 pound a year reduction under Alternative B. Park Commissioner Steffanie Musich pointed out that she has never seen that amount of a reduction on a report before. “It’s a really big deal,” said Musich. Most mitigation efforts drop phosphorus by about 7 pounds a year.

Trash mitigation is included in both options. An open water channel would provide a place for trash to be collected and pollutants filtered out before entering Lake Hiawatha. Alternative B adds more land use changes, including remeandering Minnehaha Creek.

Local resident Sean Connaughty questioned whether changing the outlet of the creek from the south side of the lake to the west side was a good idea because of how it would affect the existing habitat and wildlife there. He didn’t support the suggestion to put a retreat center where the current outlet is now for the same reason.

“We want to see clean water and habitat protection,” said Connaughty.

Local resident Steve Burt was glad to hear about the reduction in trash planned for the lake. “It’s like a receptacle for trash that comes in from every part of the city,” he observed.

Some people expressed concerns about mosquitoes that might come with increasing wetland restoration.

Users estimated to jump if land is used for other things
Attendees also considered how many people currently use the property versus how many might if there were other amenities there. Currently, there are 10,500 golfers, and that number is estimated to rise to 146,000 if the event center is updated. However, if the range of uses at the site was diversified, that number is estimated to be 522,462.

For comparison purposes, Minnehaha Regional Park has 1,717,600 users each year, Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park 5,101,700 (the highest in the state) and TheodoreWirth Regional Park 570,200, according to a Met Council report.

“The neighborhood has been wanting to get access to his park for years,” observed Burt. He recalls the “fence wars” that have occurred as neighbors cut the golf course fence in order to walk around inside. He mentioned how nice Wood Lake Nature Center is, and supports something similar here. “I think that anything that opens people up to nature in the city is a good thing,” said Burt.

Willie Gregg is in favor of using the land for something other than a golf course. “It feels more open and inviting for a variety of users in a wider variety of ways,” he remarked.

Meeting attendees expressed concern about a possible increase in users and the additional traffic and parking issues that would bring. Some stressed that there should not be any additional paved parking lots, while others didn’t want to see street parking problems such as those near Minnehaha Park. Some residents didn’t feel that the infrastructure was in place to handle 500,000 users at Hiawatha.

Update on investigations 29 March 2016Photo left: There is no easy way to summarize the kind of input provided at the April 20 meeting, remarked MPRB Assistant Superintendent of Planning Michael Schroeder. MPRB put the keywords into a word cloud engine and created this graphic to show which phrases were most popular. (Photo submitted)

There were two competing interests: continuing the peace and quiet of the area versus maximum usage of the space.

Others expressed support for the use of solar power and renewable energy at the site, the return of wild rice, the continuation of cross country skiing, an edible food forest, prairie restoration, and increased programming for kids. If the golf course is changed, some are concerned that the property will sit empty and look badly for years during the transition period.

“If we’re going to lose our golf course,” said one commenter, “let’s make it something special.”
Future meetings

A final meeting with the public was held June 21 when there was little public comment in comparison to the past two meetings that were primarily focused on soliciting stakeholder opinions.

Schroeder pointed out that any changes at the course wouldn’t happen this year, or likely even next. “When we get to the Park and Recreation Board, we still have years,” he said.

MPRB will discuss the issue at its July 12 board meeting and select a direction to pursue at its Aug. 9 meeting. Comments are being collected via an online survey available on the MPRB Hiawatha Golf Course project page.

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After 109 years, Bethany Lutheran Church to close

Posted on 22 May 2017 by calvin

Photos and article by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Bethany Church Closure 57The congregation of Bethany Lutheran Church (photo right) will have its final service on Sun., June 18 at 10:30am. At this service, the altar Bible, processional cross, altar candle, chalice, and other sacred elements of worship will be decommissioned. Located at 3901 36th Ave. S., the church has been in the Longfellow neighborhood for 109 years.

In January of this year, members of the congregation voted to enter into a process called Holy Closure. Interim Pastor Susan Masters said, “The decision to close the church was not made quickly; it was made prayerfully and thoughtfully. In the ECLA (Evangelical Church in America), this not something a bishop decides—but the outcome of deep congregational prayer and discernment.”

Paula Conrad, President of the Church Board, explained, “We believe that the closing of our church is a holy act. There certainly are mundane tasks to be performed, but the process is a holy one because we are resurrection people. Death may break our hearts, but it doesn’t frighten us. We believe that the spirit of Bethany will live on long after June 18.”

“We also want to assure our neighbors that we aren’t nailing the doors shut, and running away,” Conrad said. “The parsonage will be sold as a single family home, and the church building will be cared for in its transition period. The congregation voted to transfer the church building to our Minneapolis Area Synod, which will be responsible for its maintenance, upkeep, and eventual sale.”

Bethany Church Closure 51Photo left: Interim Pastor Susan Masters said, “Having served here for the last year, it’s clear to me that the congregation cares deeply about the surrounding neighborhood—that has been an important part of their identity.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Masters explained that “the Bethany congregation will decide how to disburse profits from the sale of the church building. Called the Legacy Fund, this money will be used to further other ministries that have been important to our church over the years. We see that as a continuing act of resurrection. In our way of thinking, no matter who lands here, whether it’s another Lutheran church, a completely different place of worship, or a non-profit agency—Bethany has planted the seeds for good work on this corner, and that good work will continue.”

Congregational Secretary Karen Boberg added, “We have a very rich tradition of raising people up here who’ve stayed true to their faith roots. Because of the nurture of this congregation, so many members have gone on to become ordained ministers or active in the mission fields.”

Boberg described how she was strong-armed into attending Bethany for the first time in 1965. A high school student at the time, she was effectively dragged in by the superintendent of the Sunday School. She left the church when she went off to college, but eventually returned—drawn back by the community, the familiarity, and the recognition that she was, “a traditional Lutheran.”

The history of the Lutheran church is essentially an ethnic history. Lutheran churches were built by Germans, Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, and Finns, who were, by and large, church-going people.

“The elders among us remember what they call ‘The Glory Days’ of a generation or two ago,” Boberg said. “That was back when we had two morning services and not enough room for all the Sunday School classes we needed. This is certainly not the reality for most churches anymore. If the median age of your congregation keeps getting older, you just can’t keep it going. You need the younger generation to do the heavy lifting, and the church is not at the center of most young families’ lives anymore. We are far from the only church that has experienced this.”

Masters concluded, “Social scientists say that young people are less interested in going to church for a one hour Sunday morning worship. What they seem to want is to be involved in community service in direct ways. Congregational loyalty is very different in this generation. Maybe that’s what’s changing—that the building is no longer the main focus.”

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If there is no Hiawatha Golf Course, what do residents want there?

Posted on 22 May 2017 by calvin

The Park Board continues to evaluate whether it will keep the golf course running. Exercise prompts residents to consider the sorts of amenities they would support at Hiawatha Golf Course if the pumps are shut off.

If Hiawatha Golf Course doesn’t remain a golf course, what would residents like to see on the land?
That was the question posed during a community meeting at Nokomis Recreation Center on Apr. 20.
In general, attendees supported natural areas and active, multi-generational uses that aren’t found in nearby parks. Many supported the continuation of golf in some form, whether it be a top golf-style driving range, nine-hole golf course or three-hole learning center.

Because of the size residents support a multi-use area that encourages recreation and exercise, while factoring in environmental impacts. Some named cross-country ski trails, a bike park, archery range, ropes and skills course, and open space as positive amenities for the area.

“This is a huge property, and it should be used for things that need a big area. Small activities can be housed at any park. Golf needs a large space, and as much of the property needs to be devoted to golf. Agriculture can take place at distributed park sites and does not need to be housed at the golf course,” wrote one person who left a comment card.

IMG_7124SmPhoto right: Attendees at an April community meeting regarding the Hiawatha Golf Course were asked to share their opinions on what they’d like to see at the golf course property if the pumps were shut off. They were encouraged to consider how the uses benefit immediate neighbors and park users, as well as what it offered the Nokomis-Hiawatha regional park community. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

However, some did express support for urban agriculture at the property, as well as pollinator gardens, a beekeeping space, deep winter greenhouses, and prairie/wetland restoration.

“What an incredible opportunity we have to create/restore something unique for all generations to follow, for the nonhuman creatures and systems that depend upon this space. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to restore our little section of the planet,” wrote one person.

Others discussed how important it was to have a trail that went around the entire lake, and how other amenities such as an amphibian education trail, fitness trail, viewing platforms and public art could be worked into that.

“We really want a trail all the way around the lake,” wrote one resident. “It would be great to have it be ADA accessible with fitness trail elements. A climbing wall, ropes and skills course, and a nature playground would be really nice to have. They are very popular with parents and children. There is no other bike/BMX trail/park around.”

Another wrote, “The golf course as it exists now is antithetical to other uses—especially cross-country ski trails, sledding, and hiking (during golf season). If the solution includes golf, the golf uses must be friendly to, and share the park well with, other uses.”

There were those who supported an outdoor gathering space, brewpub or restaurant, food truck area, and event space, and others who pushed for more passive uses and a quieter park.

All of the comments, ideas and possible layouts left by attendees can be viewed on the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) project page.

Golf still an option
MPRB continues to move ahead on evaluating options for the Hiawatha Golf Course, with plans to pinpoint a direction by July 2017.

MPRB Assistant Superintendent of Planning Michael Schroeder explained that if the annual pumping of 242 million gallons of groundwater and 66 million gallons of stormwater continues, there will be no change at the golf course.

“If we’re told to stop pumping, something else needs to happen at the property,” said Schroeder, which prompted the Apr. 20 exercise.

The volume of water being pumped from Hiawatha Golf Course is far greater than allowed by a permit issued by the DNR in 1993 for 36.5 million gallons. About 105 million gallons a year are being pumped in a little circle, seeping from the ponds into Lake Hiawatha and back into the ponds.

MPRB is also factoring in whether nearby residences need the pumping to continue to avoid flooding in their basements, and how to capture trash from the watershed before it enters Lake Hiawatha, Schroeder said.

“Could we lower the lake?” asked Schroeder. He answered, “Technically, we could do it. But we can solve most of the problems using other less expensive solutions.”

What’s next?
Since the last public meeting, staff and consultants have further evaluated options for water management and use of the Hiawatha Golf Course property. The range of options has been narrowed to two directions—one that maintains the current volume of pumping and retains the 18-hole golf course, and one that reduces the volume of pumping while introducing other recreation activities to the property. Potential activities in a reduced pumping scenario draw upon input offered by participants at the April 20 meeting.

The DNR supports the option that reduces the pumping by 70% and closes the golf course.

A more detailed description of each option, including ecological, recreational, economic, and other factors, was shared at a public meeting on May 18 (which missed the June Messenger deadline and will appear in the next edition).

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Public art project coming soon to Minnehaha Ave.

Posted on 22 May 2017 by calvin

Mosaic in a Stick 09Photos and article by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
In one of the finishing touches of a two-year period of reconstruction, fourteen handmade, mosaic trash receptacles will be installed in front of businesses along Minnehaha Ave. Community mosaic artists Lori Greene (photo right) and Greta McLain have been working on designing and creating these pieces of public art since January 2017, and expect to install them in early June.

Melanie Majors, Executive Director of the Longfellow Community Council (LCC), said, “Hennepin County approached us about the possibility of doing an art installation along Minnehaha Ave. a couple of years ago, during the reconstruction planning stage. Lots of ideas had been discussed over time, but choosing what kind of art can go in is tricky. Every piece of public art that’s approved has to have an entity that’s willing to be responsible for graffiti removal and general maintenance. Fourteen businesses decided to purchase the trash receptacles, showcase them on their property, and take care of them.”

“Our approach was comprehensive,” Majors continued. “Robb Luckow with Hennepin County talked with business owners along Minnehaha Ave. to learn what they wanted, and what they were willing to do. All of the stakeholders agreed that the goal was not just beautification of post-construction, but to take this opportunity to further ‘brand’ the corridor. Once we settled on the mosaic project, we applied for and received a Minnesota Regional Arts Council grant for $10,000. That grant required a contribution of $2,500 by both Hennepin County and LCC.”

Mosaic in a Stick 15Photo left: Story-telling with mosaic tiles requires working with material that is hard and sharp – to create images that are soft and flowing.

LCC next turned to Glen Dahl, a Realtor who buys, rehabs and sells a lot of homes in South Minneapolis. Dahl has an unusual approach to doing business in that he gives 1-2% of the profit from each sale to a neighborhood project. Majors said, “The scope of our project was in line with how Glen wants to give back to the community, and he was happy to cover LCC’s share of the costs.”

Greene and long-time collaborator McLain held a series of six workshops throughout the winter. Attendees were able to make their own “mosaic on a stick” and, in the process, shared their ideas of what the new trash receptacles would say about the neighborhood.

Greene explained, “Greta and her team are making seven of the trash receptacles, and we’re making the other seven at my St. Paul studio, Mosaic on a Stick. We had a really good turn-out for our winter workshops. Different people would come each time, but it seemed like everyone was coming for the same reason: to do something positive, something creative. We asked each group the same questions, ‘How does your community feel to you?’ and ‘When you think of your neighborhood, what images come to mind?’ Participants drew pictures of gardens, the Mississippi River, biking, dogs, and simple patterns that were pleasing to their eye.”

Mosaic in a Stick 16Photo right: A pile of finished panels, stacked and ready for transport.

“We think this project will bring more people onto Minnehaha Ave.,” Majors concluded, “and will really enhance its visual appeal. From the beginning, business owners were saying that it isn’t just about what goes on inside—it matters what goes on outside of their businesses too. Longfellow is not an insular community. It’s one that says, ‘We want other people to come here.’”

In a final nod to the partnership that made this community mosaic project happen, Majors said, “There was cooperation in every direction. MRAC was great; Hennepin County really did their due diligence, the Minnehaha business owners, the neighbors, and participants were engaged; Glen Dahl’s contribution was greatly appreciated; and Fire Roast Cafe generously donated coffee and snacks throughout the creative process.

Watch LCC’s website or view their Facebook page for updates about the installation next month of the mosaic trash receptacles. Minnehaha Avenue’s new public art installation will be colorful, engaging, and utterly practical all at the same time.

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Junket makes room for All Square restaurant, joins forces for social good

Posted on 22 May 2017 by calvin

The little brick building on the corner of 41st and Minnehaha Ave., easily spotted by the rocking horse, hanging bicycle and an assortment of old chairs on the sidewalk, will soon be housing All Square—a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant with a social purpose.

Emily TurnerFounded by Emily Hunt Turner (photo right, provided), All Square aims to reduce recidivism by giving people with criminal records a better chance at successful reentry through work and professional development. The name itself refers not just to the shape of the sandwiches, but to the idea that, once you’ve paid your debt to society, you’re “all square.”

The idea came from a place of feeling pretty helpless, Turner said. A civil rights attorney with a background in criminal justice and work on fair housing issues, it was unbelievable to her how many people with records could not access housing. As a whole, the system was overly punitive.

“There weren’t any remedies we could provide,” she said. Feeling like we’ve actually devolved in civil rights, she wanted to be able to answer “Yes” to the question: “Systemically, are you part of the solution?”

About one in three adults, or roughly one hundred million people, are said to have criminal records, which limits their access to employment. But Turner, citing Emily Baxter’s aptly named book, “We Are All Criminals,” maintains that the number of people who have broken the law and should have a record but don’t is much higher. Considering that about two-thirds of people who are released are rearrested within three years, according to the National Institute of Justice, Turner wants to give people an opportunity to work to remove that significant barrier to reentry after serving time.

“Second chances are critical,” she said. “We all need them.”

It’s safe to say Turner never dreamed she’d be running a restaurant. She’s the first person to acknowledge she’s not a cook, with grilled cheese being one of the only things she’s capable of cooking. So much so, that her friends know that’s what they’ll be having if they ever eat at her place. They told her, jokingly, that she should open a grilled cheese shop someday, an idea that eventually clicked.

Why not? Turner thought. Grilled cheese sandwiches are earning their rightful place on the menu. Why not be the employer who puts people with criminal records to work?

Turner is well aware that restaurants are risky business and incredibly nuanced, but she’s received affirmation from a few places. One is from Edwins, a similar (albeit higher end) establishment in Cleveland, OH, that in seven years has shown a reduction in recidivism. Another was the successful Kickstarter campaign she launched last fall that suggested people would get behind the idea.

DSC_0761Photo left: Junket’s storefront. The door to the left will soon open into the All Square gourmet grilled cheese restaurant. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

“I really trusted the idea would work and the model would work,” she said.

She’s also working with industry professionals who are offering much-needed guidance. Jodi Ayers and Heather Bray, co-owners of Lowbrow (which was just named by Foursquare as one of 15 places to have a grilled cheese sandwich right now), have provided mentorship in the pragmatics of opening and running a restaurant: how to think about inventory, crunch the numbers, how to contract, design a kitchen, run a kitchen, and operate the front of the house. And Chef Sarah Masters (formerly of Barbette) helped craft the menu, putting the “gourmet” into the grilled cheese.

A Grilled Cheese Sandwich cut in four squares pulling the cheese on a wood tablePhoto right: provided

“There are some incredible variations of grilled cheese that she came up with,” said Turner. “

She also has a retired chef who wants to volunteer and help get everyone trained in, and she’s learning from those with direct experience.

“We have people who have been incarcerated who are on our Board of Directors, in our leadership,” she said, adding that too often people who have experienced these barriers are not at the table. “I trust them completely,”

All Square aims to provide professional development assistance, and Turner imagines a “prison-to-law-and-policy pipeline” for those who are interested in pursuing legal and criminal justice careers.

The restaurant will be housed on the left side of the storefront, and Junket, on the right, will retain its current front door. All Square will have an open window kitchen with a countertop bar facing it and seating toward the front. Turner expects to have 11-14 employees on board, with their open hours mostly aligned with Junket’s schedule.

The enterprise makes sense for Junket Owner Julie Kearns, who sees a desire for a walkable food option near 41st & Minnehaha. Turner’s values are also a natural fit.

IMG_3830Photo left: Julie Kearns and Emily Turner sign the lease, which will convert part of the space at Junket to make room for All Square. (Photo provided)

“It’s a healing neighborhood,” said Kearns, whose own compass is trained on being in service to the community. Her shop, first and foremost, has an environmental mission: reducing waste and creating a stable future for her daughter, Meridel, and her contemporaries.

“This is about a future society that runs better than the one we’re in now,” she said.

Kearns has already raised the idea with Turner about creating a zero waste restaurant, an idea Turner is exploring and which has already informed some of her purchasing decisions.

“[Kearns] is 18 steps ahead of me at all times,” said Turner, who is looking into purchasing used kitchen products. “Because… who needs new”? This is a mindset that Kearns wants to take hold throughout the marketplace.

Revolutionize retail through reuse
Kearns may be downsizing her shop footprint, but she’s kicking around some giant ideas of her own. In 2015 Kearns contracted with Ecotone Analytics, GBC, to track carbon dioxide emissions avoided by consumers buying used instead of brand new items. To the best of Kearns’ knowledge, hers is the only retailer in the country undertaking such product-specific analysis, which she and her staff have conducted by meticulously weighing and tracking items sold in her shop.

Two years later, she’s reached a data-driven conclusion: “There’s no environmentally virtuous alternative to reuse, period.”

Last year, Junket’s customers purchased 14,825 items with a combined weight of over 6.2 tons, much of which would have gone into the waste stream. The production of new goods, according to Junket’s 2016 carbon impact data, would have generated more than 31 metric tons of new carbon dioxide emissions.

To bring this home, Kearns focused her attention on the tiny but ubiquitous paper clip and found significant savings in buying existing versus brand new or recycled ones, even factoring in the cost of transporting them. In fact, Kearns calculated, a reused paper clip could travel 30 times from New York to Los Angels by train before reaching the CO2 emissions it would take to produce even a recycled paper clip. Consider that 11 billion new paper clips are purchased each year, and they’re all made of steel, the production of which creates 16,830 tons of CO2 emissions—the equivalent of driving all the way from Earth to Venus—and suddenly that tiny little paper clip looks a whole lot bigger.

“If I have this much impact, imagine the impact of everything else,” suggests the personified paper clip on her infographic, above images of safety pins, a kettle, silverware, kitchenware, and a bicycle.

To tackle the problem, Kearns wants to treat throwaways as commodities and mainstream reuse. She envisions a supply chain that gets what’s in people’s attics and closets to the people who need them. For this to work, secondhand shops need to specialize and organize in ways they currently don’t. People need to adjust their standards (secondhand can still mean first-rate) and accept mixed sizes and possible imperfections (much like they do with the less uniformly-sized apples in the organics produce section, for example). And the packaging itself needs to come from reused materials.

Kearns wants to “revolutionize retail through reuse,” the goal being for people to rethink what we buy, thereby pushing demand for reused goods and ultimately forcing retailers to rethink what they sell.
“We’re working to provide high-quality ease of access to the most sustainable goods possible: those that already exist,” she said.

To that end, Kearns is doing what she can to organize inflow. She is developing education materials as well as a prototype app, already underway, that will match reused goods to the people who need them. She still has her sights on paper clips, and will begin working with schools to collect the ones they would otherwise discard.

“If I can solve this for paper clips, I can do this for anything,” she said.

So yes, big things may soon be coming from the little building at 41st & Minnehaha. All Square plans to open in the fall. Together, they’ll push sustainability and what it means to be in service to the community one grilled cheese sandwich and one paper clip at a time.

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Festival Cinco de Mayo Minneapolis 2017

Posted on 22 May 2017 by calvin

Cinco de Mayo 50

Photos and article by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Minneapolis’ largest Cinco de Mayo Festival took place on Sun., May 7 outside of El Nuevo Rodeo Restaurante on E. Lake St. between 27th and 29th avenues. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not the day Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain (that holiday is observed Sept. 16). Cinco de Mayo honors the Mexican army’s surprising victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Mexican Army won the battle despite being much smaller and ill-equipped.

Cinco de Mayo 06Photo left: The Festival Cinco de Mayo Minneapolis 2017 was a wild ride with bucking bulls, music, dancing, and street food. This year’s event was produced by Maya Santamaria of Midwest Latino Entertainment and Talent.





Cinco de Mayo 15Photo right: Naara’s Silver was one of several Latino-owned artisan booths lining East Lake Street for Cinco de Mayo.





Cinco de Mayo 27Photo left: In the US, Cinco de Mayo has become a general celebration of Mexican-American culture, a chance to revel in the joys of tacos, Mariachi music, dancing, and tequila. These well-ornamented margaritas were for sale at El Nuevo Rodeo Restaurante.






Cinco de Mayo 39Photo right: Cinco de Mayo is a bigger deal in the United States than in Mexico. In Mexico, the day is observed with political speeches and battle reenactments. Alvi Jurez and daughter Jazleen are shown here, en route to teaching a Zumba class for festival attendees, a popular form of dance done to Latin music.



Photo below: El Pollo De Los Santos, which has a brick and mortar store at 417 E. Lake St., brought its mobile operation to Cinco de Mayo—along with lots of chicken.

Cinco de Mayo 08


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St. Paul Ballet

All Energy

Chanhassen Dinner Theatre