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School opens in former Rainbow; senior housing, grocery store coming

Posted on 21 November 2017 by calvin

Wellington Management expands reach from west side of Hiawatha to east with 6-acre Minnehaha Crossing project

The former Rainbow Foods, 2912 28th Ave. S., is being reincarnated as a mixed-use building anchored by a school.

The Universal Academy Charter School (UACS) moved into the building in time for the start of the 2017-2018 school year. The K-8 school is located in temporary classrooms at the front of the building as landlord Wellington Management Company oversees a 19,600-square-foot second-story addition for classroom space on the back side of the building. To accommodate the addition, a single-family home on the property was torn down.

When it is complete, the school will have 31 classrooms and 55,000 square feet, with an entrance on the east side of 29th Ave.

“Our team is excited to redefine the backside of a big box retail center with a light-filled school where students will learn, play and grow,” said Wellington Management Director of Acquisitions and Development David Wellington.

Photo right: The former Rainbow Foods site has been mostly vacant since the grocery store closed in 2014. It had been purchased by Jerry’s Enterprises as part of a 27-store deal that reshaped the Twin Cities grocery scene. The building and 6-acre lot were purchased by Wellington two years later for $5.35 million, according to Hennepin County records. Universal Academy Charter School moved into temporary classrooms in time to start the 2017-18 school year. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Built in 1984, Rainbow Foods closed in 2014 after it was purchased by Jerry’s Enterprises as part of a 27-store deal that reshaped the Twin Cities grocery scene. The building and 6-acre lot were purchased by Wellington two years later for $5.35 million, according to Hennepin County records.
Universal Academy served 288 students at its St. Paul location in the Midway neighborhood last year. This year, the school added another kindergarten class for a total enrollment target of 338 students.

Photo left: “Our team is excited to redefine the backside of a big box retail center with a light-filled school where students will learn, play and grow,” said Wellington Management Director of Acquisitions and Development David Wellington. (Illustration courtesy of Wellington Management)

Formed in 2014, UACS was originally slated to be located in Minneapolis, but ended up in St. Paul, according to Principal and Director Ms. Farhiya Einte. Most of the students live in Minneapolis.

Ninety-eight percent of students at the charter school are English language learners, according to Minnesota’s Report Card on the school. Its authorizer is Novation Education Opportunities.

‘Golden opportunity’ for Wellington
The Minnehaha Crossing project continues the efforts of Wellington that began more than a decade ago with projects such as Hi-Lake Shopping Center, the Greenway Office Building, Corridor Flats, Lake Street Station, and the Blue Line Flats.

Photo left: The three-prong Minnehaha Crossing project at the six-acre property along Minnehaha Ave. includes a two-story addition on the west side for a school, the renovation of the east side of the empty Rainbow building for a grocery store, and the construction of a 90-unit senior affordable housing building. (Illustration courtesy of Wellington Management)

The largest landowner and developer in the Hi-Lake market, Wellington Management’s work in the area began with the purchase of the Hi-Lake Shopping Center in 2004, recalled Wellington, whose father considered it a “golden opportunity.”

He added, “It was a good fit for our company. We saw a lot of potential for development.” It was a strategic decision to become invested in the area. Since “we’ve really enjoyed our work in the neighborhood,” said Wellington, age 35, who plans to work at the company another 30-40 years and continue the civic-minded approach his father has taken.

Photo right: A 19,600-square-foot second-story addition is currently under construction on the back side of the former Rainbow Foods building. When it is complete, Universal Academy Charter School will have 31 classrooms and 55,000 square feet, with an entrance on the east side off 29th Ave. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Through the years, the family-run company has doubled the density at the original site, first by building Corridor Flats, which houses Aldi’s and 36 market-rate condos. Then they erected the Lake Street Station building next to the light rail line in 2015, which provides 64 units of senior affordable housing. Rates are federally regulated and set at 60% of the area median income, or roughly $900-$1,200 a month.

Last year, Wellington built Blue Line Flats in the Corcoran triangle off 32nd St., offering 135 units of workforce housing at 30%, 50%, and 60% of the area median income.

The Minnehaha Crossing project marks the first time the Wellington Group has embarked on a project to the west of Hiawatha.

“We’re just trying to be your friendly neighborhood developer,” said Wellington.

Grocery store coming
Taken together, the Rainbow site, Cub land, and Target property represent the second largest piece of continuous asphalt in the city of Minneapolis, pointed out Wellington. The city’s plans for the area call for greater density due to the light rail line, which Wellington Management has focused on providing as it redevelops the area.

The addition for Universal Academy is phase one of a three-prong project.

In the second stage of the Minnehaha Crossing project, the existing retail that currently fronts the parking lot along Minnehaha Ave. will be repositioned. This will include approximately 12,000 square feet of small shop retail, as well as a 22,000-square-foot grocery store. Work on this will begin after the school moves into the finished addition, likely in the summer of 2018.

They have been in discussions with Aldi, which has tossed around the idea of a new concept store focusing on high-quality meat and fresh fruits and vegetables at the site, remarked Wellington, but nothing has been finalized yet, and they continue to market the site to a variety of grocery stores.

Wellington does not own Schooner Tavern, just north of the Rainbow building at 2901 27th Ave. S. and it is not part of this project.

Affordable senior housing in the project mix
Stage three includes the construction of a mixed-use building on the northwest corner of the parking lot. It will have 90 units of affordable housing for seniors, and 15,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level. This portion of the project is behind schedule as Wellington Management works to put the financial pieces together to make it affordable.

“It takes a village to get an affordable housing project off the ground,” observed Wellington, but the company believes it is an important piece of the total development, particularly in light of the broader discussion on affordable housing in the city.

Wellington envisions that seniors who currently live in Seward and Longfellow will move into this building and stay in their neighborhood, shopping at the places they’ve always shopped at.

While Wellington Management tried to purchase the Auto Zone property at the corner of E. Lake and Minnehaha, the property owners were not interested in selling. So they signed a long-term agreement with Wendy’s to remain there for 20 years, and have plans to construct a single-story 3,500-square-foot retail building in the existing parking lot area not being used by Wendy’s along Minnehaha.

While two new buildings will use up some of the parking currently available at the site, Wellington believes there will still be enough parking there. He pointed out that parking, as well as the perception of adequate parking, is important to their retail tenants, and one of their primary concerns.

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Woodshop empowers women to do what they’ve been told they can’t

Posted on 21 November 2017 by calvin

Women’s Woodshop focuses on community building by offering variety of classes for women, non-binaries, and men

Women’s Woodshop owner Jessica Hirsch believes there is nothing more empowering than being told you can’t, and then going ahead and doing it anyway.

In 2014, she built a sculpture at a shelter for domestic abuse survivors. As she worked, a 12-year-old girl became one of her assistants, and she watched the girl’s confidence grow. The girl was building her own parts to add to the sculpture by the end of the month-long install.

“She went from using cordless drills, to miter saws, and jigsaws. When we completed the sculpture, she was glowing with pride,” recalled Hirsch. “It was witnessing that transformation that birthed Women’s Woodshop.”

Photo right: When Women’s Woodshop owner Jessica Hirsch was an undergraduate college student who was falling in love with sculpture, her instructor told her, “Sculpture makes you feel like a superhero. These skills you learn here can apply to all realms of life.” Hirsch agrees. “Someone can learn how to make a cutting board, and apply those skills to fixing up their house,” she pointed out. (Photo by Studio Zu)

She began planning to open a woodshop, but it was the 2016 election that really pushed her to take the risk.

“I think its imperative right now to hold physical spaces for positivity and community building at the ground level,” explained Hirsch. “I launched my website on the day of the inauguration as a personal protest.” A fundraiser to buy a safer table saw followed, and she began accruing more equipment.

“I am learning as I go, and I know it’s worth it when my student’s say ‘thank you for starting this space,’” said Hirsch.

Teaching from their skill sets
Women’s Woodshop offers three to four different classes per month. In all, the shop has offered 11 classes varying from birch bark weaving to power tools 101. There will be four new courses coming up this winter: Black Ash Basket Weaving, Custom Canvas Stretcher Bars, Patterned Cutting Boards, and a Shaker Stool Class.

While some classes are limited to women/non-binary folks, others are co-ed. “It’s about inclusion and changing the dynamics of the woodshop,” said Hirsch.

She offers men tips on how to be an ally on her website. Women and non-binary or gender non-conforming folks have various levels of experience with wood. When they ask a question, give them the answer they are looking for without additional information.

She also points out that women and non-binary crafters need space to learn. “I have witnessed many women being watched by male students when they are working. I think the intention is so that the man can step in if they need help. But actually, we need to do things ourselves to learn. We will ask you for help if we need it,” Hirsch stated.

Photo left: Kingfield resident Jenna Rice Rahaim took a wall shelf class using Japanese joinery techniques, and the finished piece is now hanging on her wall. “I’ve long admired joinery: constructing a functional and beautiful object without using glue or screws is like magic. Instead, the shelf has a single walnut wood peg, which keeps the entire shelf together,” said Rice Rahaim. (Photo submitted)

Instructors at the woodshop rotate based on availability, each teaching from their own skill sets.

TiAnna DeGarmo’s Wall Shelf class teaches students how to make a through tenon joint using hand tools. Teresa Audet teaches a butterfly (bow-tie) joint class with hand tools; she studies in Japan and also does residencies across the country. Hirsch is the only consistent instructor offering spoon carving, power tools 101, and bowl turning each month.

Beginners from the neighborhood
Since its opening on March 25, 2016, at least 200 students have walked through the doors.
Many of them are from the neighborhood, such as Standish-Ericsson resident Nicole Stroot. So far, Stroot has taken the Spreader and Spoon classes and is looking forward to the Women of Color Power Tools 101 class in December. Stroot discovered the woodshop driving by one day on her way to get groceries.

“I think having a maker space and working with something that comes from the land gives people more respect for the Earth,” remarked Stroot. “Jess has been my teacher for both classes. It’s her shop and she makes it feel like you belong there. I love her calm courage and grace.”

Stroot describes herself as an enthusiastic beginner. “I had taken wood shop 1 and 2 in high school, but I graduated a long time ago. Without tools of my own, you kind of lose the skills,” she observed.

“I love the idea of hand-carving, which I’ve never done before, because it’s so mobile and affordable.”

Stroot recalls being the only female student in those high school shop classes, and feeling intimidated at times. She has found the atmosphere at the Women’s Woodshop to be very different. “Being encouraged to work with our hands and being able to ask as many questions as we have without feeling like it’ll make us appear less intelligent is important. I also think it’s empowering to see other people that look like you doing things you’re interested in, knowing you’re not alone,” said Stroot.

Kingfield resident Jenna Rice Rahaim learned about the woodshop when a friend brought her to a spoon carving class for her birthday.

“I made a birch spoon that was perfect for sauces and stirring, and have been hooked ever since,” said Rice Rahaim, who later arranged for a private co-ed class for her dad’s 70th birthday.

Before that first class, Rice Rahaim was a complete novice, and six months ago she would have never guessed that she would be spending as much time in the studio and carving at home as possible.

“I had never used a power tool other than a drill and an electric sander,” she stated. “I had never worked with wood independently. On the spectrum of woodworkers, I’m still a relative beginner. But I’m very happy with what I’ve been making, both at Women’s Woodshop and at home, and find the process incredibly satisfying.”

She loves that the emphasis of the shop is on women and non-binary woodworkers. She appreciates that the woodshop is rooted in Scandinavian traditions, which are such an important part of Minnesota’s history. “And I’m grateful for the community that takes shape through this solidarity,” said Rice Rahaim.

“It’s empowering to learn to work with my hands in new ways and also learn safe techniques for using power tools. There’s also something incredibly grounding about learning about wood and tools in such an intimate way,” remarked Rice Rahaim. “We learn how to care for our tools and sharpen them and appreciate the craftsmanship with which they were created.

“We also come to feel connected to the wood we’re working with… aware of the differences between birch, cherry, or boxelder. Walks in the woods will never be the same after relating to the wood in such an intimate way.”

A ‘starter home’
Hirsch considers the location at 2237 E. 38th St. to be a “starter home” as it is a cozy operation. Almost everything is on wheels so the two classrooms can be re-arranged for each class.

Before this location, she had rented a studio in St. Paul but wanted to be closer to her home in Central, near Powderhorn Park. She called the storefront listing on a whim thinking they would never let her have a woodshop in an office/retail space. “Luckily my landlord is a spoon carver and encourages me to chainsaw in the back parking lot,” remarked Hirsch.

When she was starting out, Hirsch rented galleries to teach spoon carving, and it was a great way to test the waters without jumping into expensive overhead. “Now I offer my space for educators in the same way,” she pointed out. “We have a Writing as Healing workshop going on right now, taught by Glenda Reed, and a Turn of the Century Shoe Making Class taught by Martha Brummitt.”

Complimentary layer of sawdust
Community members are encouraged to drop by for a sale on Dec. 3, 11am-6pm. It will showcase women and non-binary makers ranging from ceramicists to weavers.

Additionally, the shop is normally open 10am-4pm, Tues.-Fri., with classes on the weekends. “If the lights are on, come on in!” encouraged Hirsch. The front window is packed with goods for sale made by instructors and awesome makers. Please note that most objects come with a complimentary layer of sawdust.

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Apartment building for seniors facing homelessness to open in 2018

Posted on 21 November 2017 by calvin

Funding puzzle falls into place for Minnehaha Commons, a 43-unit building operated by Alliance Housing

Minnehaha Commons, a four-story apartment building for seniors struggling with homelessness, is now fully funded and on track for construction in 2018.

The building (formerly called Frey Flats) will be constructed on the vacant lot at 3001 E. Lake St. and offer 43 studio units to single adults age 55 and over. The land was once home to McMahon’s Pub, which burnt down in March 2010, killing six people in the apartments above the bar.

Illustration right: Minnehaha Commons, a four-story apartment building for seniors struggling with homelessness, is now fully funded and on track for construction in 2018. The building (formerly called Frey Flats) will be constructed by Alliance Housing, Inc. on the vacant lot at 3001 E. Lake St. and offer 43 studio units to single adults age 55 and over. (Illustration submitted)

For many, the new apartment building is a fitting way to continue to shelter the same people who once rented low-cost apartments above McMahon’s Pub.

Only this time around, the units will be managed by a non-profit that’s well known in the community for maintaining a high standard of housing.

Alliance Housing was born out of the vision of St. Stephens’ Catholic Church with the goal of creating tangible, long-term housing solutions for homeless families and individuals.

The nonprofit (not religious affiliated) organization was incorporated in 1991 and took advantage of vacant and available properties at low cost in South Minneapolis. Alliance works with people who either can’t afford the high market-rate rents or who have difficulty renting because of a prior eviction, poor financial history, or criminal background.

Alliance’s programs and activities include affordable housing development and management, as well as supportive housing programming for families. Its 450 units of housing serve a continuum of single adults to families.

Waiting a year for housing
According to Alliance Housing Inc. (AHI) Executive Director Barbara Jeanetta, the interest list for single adult housing is over 200, and the wait is up over one year.

Fifty-eight-year-old Carl Rogers knows what it is like to wait a year to get housing. He spent the last year homeless, bouncing between shelters and the streets before he got into an Alliance boarding house.

He finds that many people assume you’ve done something to be homeless and that you’re homeless for a reason. But for Rogers, it’s hard to find work because of his disability and criminal record. That, combined with his race, makes it hard to find housing, as well.

“I think there are a lot of people like me who end up being homeless. A lot of times, they can’t find an affordable place in the area,” said Rogers, who is grateful to now have a place where he pays $335 a month for a room. “I consider myself one of the lucky ones.”

Southside resident Charles MacMillan, age 57, has also found it difficult to find housing he can afford, despite having a job. “The thing about Alliance is they’re willing to work with you even if you have a criminal record,” said MacMillan, who rents a duplex with two others. He pointed out he’s been clean from alcohol and drugs for 17 years and doesn’t expect a handout. “It’s a place to start out to help you get better in your life,” he observed about Alliance.

Number of homeless seniors is growing
Rogers and MacMillan are among the growing number of adults over 55 who are facing homelessness in Hennepin County. The problem is expected to get worse as the number of Baby Boomers over 55 grows in the next decade.

“Last I checked, there were approximately 1,200 homeless adults over age 55 that are homeless (shelter stays),” said Jeanetta. “It’s likely higher given the number of people who bounce around with friends or stay outside.”

Jeanetta has found that most people don’t understand the level of chronic homelessness among adults over 55.

“Many of these adults have never had a place of their own or certainly not for many years,” said Jeanetta. “There is a high level of alcoholism and mental illness. Housing has proven to mitigate the problems from both.”

Alliance plans to have a capable, experienced service provider on staff at Minnehaha Commons through Touchstone Mental Health that can address underlying mental health conditions, and support whole person wellness and self-sufficiency.

There are good examples of how stable housing and a supportive community environment are a foundation for a more positive lifestyle and opportunity to make other positive change. The lack of it leads to other chaos.

A 2012 report sponsored by the Family Housing Fund, “Financial Implications of Public Interventions on Behalf of a Chronically Homeless Family” documented significant savings of public dollars in emergency medical care, foster care, substance abuse treatment and incarceration when people have stable and supportive housing.

In addition, these elder adults are easy victims of assault, theft and other crime that further sets back opportunities for stability.

A shelter bed at Hennepin County cost $30 a day. A hospital stay at Hennepin County Medical Center for alcohol/drug use treatment is a minimum of $4,169 a day. A night in jail is $378 per day.

A room at an Alliance Housing facility costs $9-15 a day.

According to the Wilder Foundation’s homeless survey, seniors are the fastest growing segment of homeless people. Alliance Housing is uniquely positioned to successfully house this population because of its previous experience serving seniors in rooming houses. Alliance’s tenant service coordinators and property managers build trusting relationships with tenants, discuss problems, identify options for maintaining housing stability and increasing self-sufficiency, and assist tenants to choose their community services.

Alliance Housing’s model offers a solution for housing stability and makes it possible for individuals and families to create homes for themselves, regardless of income and background by developing and managing housing that is: inclusive, affordable, relational, and flexible. Alliance Housing also challenges the environment that limits its residents’ opportunities. Neighbors and tenants alike say Alliance’s properties are the “best on the block.”

Alliance also manages Hiawatha Commons (2740 Minnehaha Ave.) in Longfellow, a four-story, brick apartment building located a short walk from the Hiawatha Light Rail station on Lake St. This transit-oriented, mixed-income project was designed for low-wage workers who work in the neighborhood or at the airport, Mall of America and downtown. The building was opened in 2006, and its 80 units stay leased consistently.

Minnesota Housing recently announced that Alliance Housing would receive $5,146,302 in deferred funds for Minnehaha Commons. Other funders include the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Council, the Federal Home Loan Bank, and private investors.

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Local Tale Weavers Toastmasters learn to talk, listen, evaluate

Posted on 21 November 2017 by calvin

Article and photos by JAN WILLMS
It is a Tuesday night, around 6:30pm, and the meeting room on the second floor of Minnehaha United Methodist Church at 3701 E. 50th St. is starting to fill up. Here, on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, the Toastmaster group, Tale Weavers, gathers to talk, listen and evaluate each other’s words.

Don Mathews, current president of the Tale Weavers, co-founded the group with Dave Schaal in 2003.

“I had started going to the VAMC Toastmasters club in 1996,” Mathews said. “I thought ‘What a great organization, dedicated to people who like to talk.’” Mathews described Tale Weavers as a club that is small and has a safe environment, where new members feel comfortable. He said when someone gets up to speak for the first time, he or she can be assured that the audience members have all done it before. “We are not teachers, we are comrades,” he explained.

Mathews said members get a kit when they join, with two books enclosed. One is a manual on communication, the other on leadership.

Photo left: Don Mathews speaks to Tale Weavers.

“The communications manual is all about speaking,” he said. “The first speech project is the icebreaker, a four-to-six minute speech where you tell us about yourself. You are what you know the most, and this speech is the easiest way to break the ice. The second speech is about saying what you mean, talking about something you are passionate about. And as you get more encouragement and confidence, you learn how to say it.”

Mathews emphasized that when someone joins they are responsible for their own education. “Most people join, and within eight months they’re out. They get through about six speeches and then just leave. Toastmasters International has found this to be a problem,” he said.

He said members who are successful in the club are those who are self-motivated or have someone to help them. “People who grow and stay in Toastmasters for many years are very self-directed. One thing which we try to do in our club, which all clubs should do, is when a new toastmaster comes in we get them to give their first speech, provide evaluation and get them as comfortable as they can be.”

One part of the Toastmasters program that does not provide a lot of comfort to newcomers, according to Mathews, is table talk. In Tale Weavers it is called tiny tales. Members are asked to answer a question or speak off the cuff for two minutes. Sometimes a story is started, and after two minutes, someone else needs to continue it.

“I ask them if they have ever been asked a question by their boss and had to answer it quickly. And if so, don’t they wish they had practice?” Mathews said these short, impromptu speeches provide good learning.

He stressed the importance of the skills training Toastmasters provides. “For $40 every six months, you get to practice many speeches. You can pay $!000 for a Dale Carnegie course, get a couple of practice sessions and then you’re on your own. So what is best? Be self-directed or be told what to do? Where do you retain your learning?” He said a lot of companies are bringing in Toastmasters because it is excellent training for their employees and does not cost very much.

Photo right: Stephen Taylor weaves a story.

Mathews said his only expectation of members is that if they cannot make a meeting, they let him and the education vice president know.

Mathews said Tale Weavers has a lot of charter members who are still in the club. “That’s always a good sign for a club,” he claimed.

“Here at Tale Weavers we tell stories,” Mathews continued. They have told stories at NPR Moth Hour events. One member does storytelling for children; another has a small film company. Whatever their profession is, Toastmasters has been helpful.

“Every club does different things,” he said. “We have a regimented program to follow but are still flexible enough you can do what you want with it. Visit another club and draw comparisons. We’re very different but in some ways the same.”

Mathews said he recommends potential members visit at least three clubs to see where they feel most comfortable.

Schaal, who co-founded the club with Mathews and is vice president of education, said he has been a Toastmasters member for 20 years. “To tell a good message, you want to tell stories,” he noted. Listeners may forget your point but remember your story. And if they remember your story, they will remember your point. I felt storytellers could use Toastmasters, and Toastmasters could use more storytelling. I told Don, and he said ‘Let’s do it!”

Schaal said belonging to the club has made a difference in his professional life. “For a while, I was a consultant, and I had to do a lot of interviewing. Toastmasters helped me so much. He said it has also helped him in his work as a minister and his character acting as he plays Santa Claus for groups each year.”

Schaal said that although Toastmasters started as a speaking club, the organization has a long history of wanting to serve people professionally, providing skills in listening, giving feedback staying on time and other leadership skills.

Kent Hawks, a 17-year member who is vice president of membership, said Tale Weavers is designed to help members improve and develop as speakers, leaders, and storytellers.

“Once people become members, they become my responsibility,” he said. “I make sure they are coming to meetings.” He said if someone becomes busy in his or her professional life, he encourages them to take time away and return when they can.

He said he works in customer service and has found Toastmasters has helped him communicate on the phone. “I can talk with them about anything, and impromptu speaking is something I want to keep up with.”

He said Toastmasters becomes a part of one’s life. He has earned the Distinguished Toastmasters award, the highest level in the organization, and he said it took him 14 years to do it. Hawks said he worked with another member, and they encouraged each other to move ahead.

“We strongly recommend that when someone joins, they get a mentor,” he said.

It has been about an hour and a half. Speeches have been given and evaluated. A grammarian and timekeeper have weighed in. One member listens for how many ahs or ums a speaker may voice.

The evaluations are helpful and encouraging. And there has been a lot of laughter.

Mathews likes the blend of professionalism and enjoyment. “Someone told us once we were professional clowns, and we take pride in that,” he said.

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Skateboarders looking forward to better and more skate parks

Posted on 21 November 2017 by calvin

Nokomis in mix for 20-year Skate Park Activity Plan; MPRB will take public comments during hearing on Nov. 29

Ask a Minneapolis skater what he or she thinks of the city’s skate parks, and you’ll likely get a list of problems.

The six existing parks were built 15 years ago with modular obstacles and features that were designed by playground manufactures versus skateboard professionals. The park at Morris has a soft, asphalt surface and the ramps and features have sunk into it. All the existing skate parks are small and undersized. The elements are short, and not exciting to use. And they’re all falling apart.

These issues and more are outlined in the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation’s new Skate Park Activity Plan, which was initiated in 2012.

“Minneapolis skateboarders have been asking for quality skateboard parks for years. It has been a long five years in the making, but I am looking forward to the Minneapolis skateboard community finally getting the world-class skate parks they deserve,” stated City of Skate President Paul Forsline, who served on the MPRB’s steering committee for the new skate park plan.

Public comment on the plan was accepted online until Nov. 5, and will be taken in person during a public hearing on Wed., Nov. 29, 6pm, at the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation (MPRB) Headquarters, 2117 W. River Rd.

20-year roadmap
The 66-page Skate Park Activity Plan is a 20-year roadmap for providing quality support to the local skate park community and encouraging skating among new generations of park users.
The draft Minneapolis Skate Park Activity Plan has three goals:
1) Increase the number, variety, and distribution of skate parks in Minneapolis;
2) Address policy barriers to high-quality skate park experiences; and
3) Improve the overall skate park experience through design, operations, partnerships and safety measures.

It also provides context and analysis to help inform future decision-making regarding skate park opportunities within Minneapolis and the Minneapolis park system.

Photo right: In this design conception, a skate park is shown at Nokomis as part of the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan. But, it is currently unfunded. It would be located west of the recreation center, and the initial design integrates natural elements. Skate bowls flow within the landscape. The skate plaza replicates nature with granite, bark textures, and shade trees. Plus, there’s a high priority on integrating water management features. (Image provided)

The plan recommends having one regional skate park, ten neighborhood skate parks (including expansion of the existing six), and six skate spots for a total of 17 public skate parks.

“If the skate park plan is funded moving forward, it will give our award-winning Minneapolis Park system a skate park infrastructure second to none,” observed Forsline.

He pointed out that Minneapolis has developed some of the best skateboarders in the world, despite little public support. “We saw Alec Majerus take silver in July at the 2017 X Games at US Bank Stadium. Minneapolis skateboarding is known and respected worldwide,” said Forsline. “It is time for our own public entities to recognize this and support our local skate scene.”

What the parks could be
Currently, 5,000-square-foot skate parks exist at Morris, Armatage, Brackett, Elliot, Bottineau and Creekview parks.

“These six parks never inspired skateboards, yet some of the skate parks are the busiest features in their respective parks,” remarked Forsline.

Photo left: The skate park at Morris Park. “Morris has limited space, so it would be important to prioritize a skate park for beginner and younger skaters, but have some creative and unusual features to still challenge more advanced skates,” remarked Paul Forsline of City of Skate. (Photo provided)

In the plan, these parks would be updated and expanded, when possible.

“Morris has limited space, so it would be important to prioritize a skate park for beginner and younger skaters, but have some creative and unusual features to still challenge more advanced skaters,” said Forsline. “A community stage would be a nice multi-use feature to include in this skate park space.”

“The skate park in Morris is in poor shape,” observed Longfellow resident Bill Welk. “I have not been there for several years due to the condition of the skate park and overall poor layout. The skate park features pre-fabricated concrete obstacles sat on an asphalt surface. Over time the heavy concrete obstacles have sunk into the asphalt and created gaps between the ramps and the asphalt. Not to mention that the rough asphalt eats up speed as a skateboarder pushes across; however, the aged asphalt is wonderful at removing layers of epidermis should a trick not go according to plan.”

Brackett’s existing skate park has always been a well-used skate park, despite having a rough asphalt surface. “With more space allocated here, having both street and transition skateboard features would be important,” said Forsline. “We have to keep the existing old playground rocket feature as a landmark. Maybe build the skate park around the rocket? A NASA and/or space themed skate park would be cool. A glowing skateable moonscape would be awesome.”

To accommodate the number of skaters in the city, the plan calls for adding skate parks at Nokomis, Northeast Athletic Field Park, Central Gym Park, and Cedar Field Park, and the potential Underpass Park and Skyway Commons Pocket Park.

A skate park at Nokomis is a part of the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan, but it is currently underfunded. It would be located to the west of the recreation center, and the initial design integrates natural elements. Skate bowls flow within the landscape. A skate plaza replicates nature with granite, bark textures, and shade trees. Plus there’s a high priority on integrating water management features.

Photo right: “The Nokomis Park is in a great location. It is set to be built in an area between the two lakes,” pointed out Longfellow resident Bill Welk of City of Skate. (Illustration courtesy of City of Skate)

“The Nokomis Park is in a great location. It is set to be built in an area between the two lakes,” pointed out Welk.

In addition to creating spaces for skateboarders, planners recognize that inline skaters and BMX riders will use these parks.

“The skateboarding community in Minneapolis is pretty tight-knit,” observed Welk. “I like that skateboarding is always there for me when I want it. I can go skate by myself or with a group of people. There isn’t a set time, a season, or reliance on another people to skateboard.”

The challenges the community faces include a lack of public parks and long winters, according to Welk, who was part of the steering committee meeting on the Skate Park Activity Plan.

Quality skate parks: a great asset
“Skateboarding is only going to grow in popularity, and a city with a skateboarding plan is going to benefit,” pointed out Forsline, whose children skateboard. “Quality built skate parks by our park system will be the most heavily used features in our park system, and will, therefore, be a great value for our tax dollars. Well-designed skate parks should be inspired spaces that the community and skaters are both proud of.

“I hope every Minneapolis child has the opportunity to discover the challenge and creativity of skateboarding at their local public park and throughout our city.”

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Minneapolis Park Board delays closing Hiawatha Golf Course

Posted on 26 October 2017 by calvin

Golf supporters have held rallies and other events to fight for the continuation of an 18-hole course at Hiawatha. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Next step is to form a community advisory committee to fashion a more sustainable water management plan\

Golfers, the 18-holes at Hiawatha won’t be closing as early as thought.

While the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) decided in August to reduce pumping and effectively close the course by allowing it to flood at the end of the 2019 season, the commissioners agreed on Oct. 4 to keep the course open until a new master plan for the property is adopted, and implementation begins.

To facilitate that, the park board directed staff to obtain approval from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to allow groundwater pumping at the current volume of 242 million gallons a year. The existing permit is for 36.5 million gallons a year.
Approximately 17 percent of the water being pumped is stormwater runoff, 33 percent is seepage directly from Lake Hiawatha, and 50 percent is shallow groundwater.

The DNR has indicated it will support pumping at the current volume of groundwater as long as the permit application includes: a safety operations plan for the property; a plan for a community engagement process to evaluate alternatives for the property that addresses excessive pumping issues identified by the DNR; and annual updates to the DNR on the community engagement process to evaluate alternatives that address the excessive groundwater pumping.

While that’s good news for golfers for the next few years, it is still expected that the Hiawatha Golf Course will eventually cease to operate as an 18-hole golf course due to excessive groundwater pumping.

That said, the current board of commissioners has requested that MPRB staff strongly consider that some form of traditional golf remains on the Hiawatha Golf Course property.

MPRB has been working to address the recreational impacts and environmental concerns related to the volume of groundwater being pumped at the Hiawatha Golf Course since it was discovered following the June 2014 flooding. MPRB held nine public meetings between January 2015 and July 2017.

Community committee will make recommendations
The park board has not set a definitive date for when changes to the Hiawatha Golf Course property will commence. Instead, board members directed staff to begin a planning process for incorporating a more sustainable water management plan into the landscape, according to District 3 Commissioner Steffanie Musich.

“I am confident that the public planning process utilized by the MPRB will respect the past while considering the future of this parkland, the need to design a landscape that reduces pumping while protecting nearby homes, and is resilient to the impacts of climate change,” she said.

As is typical for MPRB projects, a community engagement process will be used to gather input and inform decisions about the future of the golf course property. A Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will be formed to recommend an amendment to the Nokomis-Hiawatha Master Plan that will lay out the plan for the Hiawatha Golf Course property.

The first step in creating a CAC is for staff to present the CAC’s “charge and composition” to the board of commissioners for approval. Once that is done, MPRB staff will begin taking applications for community members interested in serving on the CAC. Once the process opens, the information for submitting applications will be shared with the public through the Gov Delivery email subscription service, posted on the MPRB website, and shared through local media outlets.

The park board is expected to discuss a more refined version of the process and structure at one of its November meetings.

Stay involved and vote, urge golf course supporters
Supporters of keeping the Hiawatha 18-hole course are urging people to stay involved and do the same things they’ve been doing for months. Craig Nicols is glad that the park board listened to residents and considered the larger issue of water in the area.

“We very much encourage residents to gain as much knowledge as possible when making their park board choices on Election Day, because everyone uses parks,” said Nicols.

State legislators get involved
On Oct. 6, elected officials from the area representing Lake Hiawatha and the golf course held a hearing at the State Capitol about water issues and plans to change the recreational opportunities that would be available.

Testimony was provided by the Park Board, the city of Minneapolis, the DNR, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, and others.

“Some of the citizen testifiers brought a different perspective,” remarked Rep. Jean Wagenius (63B), who pointed out that they talked about the high water levels at Lake Nokomis and constraints on the ability to release water from the lake. They mentioned high groundwater levels and wet basements in an area south of Lake Hiawatha. Citizen reports about water percolating up from basement floors were new; it had not happened before. And they are increasing.

“While much focus has been on Lake Hiawatha and the golf course, it became clear at the hearing that the issues there are symptoms of a larger problem,” remarked Wagenius. “This area of south Minneapolis is receiving more water than can be managed. All of us need to understand the larger problem before we can design solutions.”

Wagenius asked the DNR for a briefing on the impact of the surface land use on the deep aquifer below the Minnehaha Creek watershed area that is used for drinking water, and Senator Torres Ray plans to arrange additional hearings at the Capitol.

Concerns about trash, phosphorus remain
Local resident Sean Connaughty is deeply concerned about how this change will delay a solution to reduce phosphorus and trash from entering Lake Hiawatha from the storm sewer pipe on the north side. The pipe that was installed in the 1930s currently drains 1,195 acres of South Minneapolis directly into Lake Hiawatha without any mitigation or clean-up.

Connaughty has personally removed 4,000 pounds of trash from Lake Hiawatha since 2015, and other volunteers have removed several thousand more pounds. Additionally, he pointed out, “Water quality measurements at Lake Hiawatha recorded the highest phosphorous measurements in the entire Minnehaha Creek Watershed.”

The “open channel” option laid out in the MPRB’s proposals earlier this year would provide a system of filtering out the trash and pollutants, and is one he supports.

“I hope that all sides of the issue can come together and find an equitable solution that meets the ecological and water quality needs of the lake, surrounding parkland and watershed while addressing the historical significance and important equity issues it represents,” said Connaughty. “I think that comprehensively mitigating the north pipe could be the issue that all folks can agree upon. The pollution of the water via this storm sewer system is avoidable and letting it continue is negligence.”

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Songwriter, musician, and novelist Ann Reed debuts new CD

Posted on 26 October 2017 by calvin


Longfellow music legend Ann Reed (photo right provided) started picking on her brother’s guitar at the age of 12, and she’s never looked back. In a music career that has taken her across the country performing live, Reed has written and sung songs that touch the heart and free the mind. And her new CD, “Winter Springs, Summer Falls,” adds to her repertoire. The CD release concert is scheduled for 7pm, Sun., Nov. 12 at St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 3rd Ave. S.

Born in Minneapolis, Reed spent the first two years of her life in St. Louis Park and then moved to Minnetonka, where she grew up.

“Almost everyone in my high school was learning how to play guitar,” Reed recalled. She was also a part of a folk mass in a local Catholic church. “That helped me gain confidence,” she said. “The first concert I ever saw was Peter, Paul and Mary, and I was off and running.”

Reed said she tried a year of college in Bemidji, but joked that she is not an academic. Making her home in Minneapolis, she did a variety of part-time and temporary jobs but always focused on her music. “One time I tried to write down all the part-time jobs I had. It took awhile,” Reed quipped.

Reed and her manager, Lin Bick, did go to Nashville. “It was a generally pretty open community as far as being able to talk to publishers and labels,” Reed said. “We got in to see everybody we wanted to. We sat down with the fellow who had brought in Alabama.”
Reed said he listened to her tape, then turned to her manager and asked what Reed wore on stage.

“I thought that if that’s what it’s about, I don’t want a part of that. I would rather be independent. They’re not in the business of discovering people but in the business of making money. They know what they have made money with before, and it just wasn’t comfortable for me. I want to write songs.”

And write songs is what she did. Her new release is her 24th album. Reed worked for a couple of years with Red House Records, but after that went her own way, forming her own company, Turtlecub Productions, Inc.

And, Reed has not limited herself to writing and performing songs. She has written a play based on a song she wrote called “Heroes” and took it on tour. She also wrote a play about Dorothy Fields, the lyricist behind “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.”

Last year Reed (photo left by Jan Willms) completed her first novel, “Citizens of Campbell.” It is the story of two WWII vets living in the small town of Campbell, IA, and their unlikely friendship.

“My wife had an internship in psychology and was working in a small town in Iowa, so small they made announcements when a storm was coming rather than use a siren. That stuck in my head, and I started writing this story after my dad died. The two main characters have a little bit of my dad in them.”

Reed said she wrote about 15 pages and then let it go for many years, until about four years ago. “A friend was writing, and she wanted me to read her work. But then she wanted to read some of mine in exchange. So we started mutually helping each other, and I got it done.”

Reed has also published a book of Haiku. “I write at least one Haiku every day, and I have been doing it for the past eight years,” she stated. “It’s a nice way to focus your day, and it’s a centering kind of poem. You only have those three lines and 17 syllables. It’s the opposite of writing a novel.”

The writing process, whether songs or Haiku, is something Reed enjoys very much. “It really fills me up, and is kind of my number one thing,” she said. “Writing is a very solitary endeavor, but very peaceful for the most part, unless you’re frustrated, which can happen too. I have a small writing group, and we talk about writing or drawing. Having that kind of support is great.”

She recalled that when she was starting out, it was a great time for songwriters. It was also a time for social activism and protest songs. Reed said she doesn’t know why great protest songs don’t resonate today. “I know songs are being written, but they are not the kind that you join in and sing. When we think about the old folk songs, they were so easy for people to catch on right away and jump in. Times have changed.”

Reed added that her shows are not free of commentary. “I try to do it in a way that sometimes is humorous and sometimes is poignant through my songs,” she noted. She said she has reached an age where she feels free to speak her mind. “Once you have crossed the line of being 60, you don’t care anymore. You just let it go.”

Reed said she recently read an interview with the actress Frances McDormand. “She was talking about being a post-menopausal woman and becoming invisible. I had always thought of that as a negative thing, but her take was that we can become invisible and become very powerful. All bets are off, and there is a great deal of freedom when you get to be an older woman. You have lived long enough and have had all this experience, and it is very freeing.”

When she wrote her songs for her upcoming CD, Reed centered her album around the seasons. “Seasons are so important for me in my life; I feel we live by the seasons,” Reed said her favorite time of year is fall and winter when people are heading toward resting. “This is a time when we are putting the garden to bed, getting ready to nest, and have a nice long rest in winter,” she explained. “Winter is lovely, and then we get ready for spring, a time of renewal. Summer is full of energy, with people awake and active.” She said most of the songs on her new CD pertain to the seasons, except for “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.” “But that song has the energy of summer, so it does relate to the seasons in that way,” she added.

For this CD, Reed put it together a little differently. “Usually I will sit down, write all the songs, then go in the studio and record them. This time I wrote a couple, then recorded them. It took over three years.”

Unlike BB King and his guitar Lucille, Reed has not christened her 12-string guitar with a name. But in December she will have had it for 40 years. She is one of few women who play a 12-string. “12-string is notoriously hard to tune,” she said, “but I have always loved its sound, because of the high strings. There is a very bright and very full sound to it.” Her guitar was made by Charlie Hoffman, who has a shop in the Seward neighborhood.

Reed is at work on another novel. “I might be doing a project with my bass player, Joan Griffith,” she said. “A lot of people have asked us to do a CD of covers or standards.” She will continue with her regular December gig at the Riverview Cafe, monthly sing-alongs, and shows at Zumbrota.

“And I will start writing songs again,” she said. “Because that’s what I do.”


Music CDs by Ann Reed
Road of The Heart – 1991
Hole in the Day – 1993
Life Gets Real – 1995
Timing Is Everything – 1997
Through the Window – 2000
Not Your Average Holiday – 2001
Gift of Age – 2002
Ann Reed Valentine’s CD – 2003
Telling Stories – 2006
Heroes – 2007
Songs For Minnesota – 2008
Where The Earth Is Round – 2009
Eventually – 2013
Winter Springs, Summer Falls – 2017

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Supermercado La Mexicana is one-stop grocery for everything Latin

Posted on 26 October 2017 by calvin

La Mexicana is decorated by a painting and mosaic by Greta McLain, part of the Somilla Project.

Article and all photos by STEPHANIE FOX
Just a few blocks west of the Longfellow and Nokomis neighborhoods, in an area where ethnic grocery stores attract customers from around the city, is the Supermercado La Mexicana. Located on the corner of Lake and Bloomington Ave., it was one of the first Latin American grocery stores in the area. If you are coming from the east, you can’t miss the place. There is a stunning mosaic covering the entire side of the building. If you are looking for an authentic culinary experience by preparing your own Mexican or South American food, this is where to come to find the ingredients.

Josie and Robert Dehoyos, recent immigrants from Texas, were having trouble finding what they needed to make the kind of meals they’d enjoyed back home. Then they discovered Supermercado La Mexicana. “Most places are smaller, and they don’t have as much to choose from,” said Robert. “They have a variety of Mexican foods here that we can’t find elsewhere.” On this shopping expedition, they brought along their daughter Harley Canto and her boyfriend Cory Sumner, visiting the city from Texas, a must see place, the parents had said. Canto said they’d be moving up to Minnesota, soon. “When we move here, we’ll shop here,” she said.

Photo right: Chicken breasts, wings, and legs, ready to package up for customers.

The store, and another one like it in St. Paul, is owned by Maria Lala, who opened it 18 years ago. Her husband, Mauro Madrigal, manages the Lake St. store. He was born in Mexico, he said, but grew up in Chicago. “I worked in IT for years,” he said. “Then I met my wife, married her and moved up here.”

Madrigal says that having a large variety of products is what makes the store a cut above others in the area. They specialize in Mexican, Honduran, and Salvadorian products with a small selection of South American choices, and it’s a full-fledged market, so you don’t have to be looking for south-of-the-border foods to want to shop here. They are busy enough to employ 14 workers, including full-time butchers, bakers, and a deli chef.

If you are looking for spicy condiments or cooking sauces, there is a whole aisle of choices. In the produce section (photo left), you can find standard grocery selections in addition to more unusual fruits, vegetables, and herbs. They carry two kinds of cactus, yucca, and starchy plantains. You can also find fresh bunches of an aromatic herb called hierba de olar, used in preparing southern Mexican tamales or in a traditional chicken recipe, tapixte de pollo, served at special occasions such as weddings or birthdays.

The store’s on-site bakery makes sweets and breads, displayed along a 25 ft. long specialty aisle where customers can choose their own, including breakfast pastries and large chocolate chip and M&M cookies.

In the carniceria—the meat department—Madrigal employs full-time butchers who start with whole pigs and large sections of beef and cuts them into thin slices or cubes and the specialty cuts like ribs and shanks. Butcher Edier Cruz (photo right) has worked behind the meat counter for two years. He used to drive a truck, he says, but he was offered a chance to learn meat cutting on the job.

In the frozen food section, you can find Latin American foods, ready to cook and eat. Or, find the lulo pulp and make yourself some lulada, a cold summer drink from Colombia. (Or use lulo to make a traditional Ecuadorian breakfast, the Ecuadorian Colada by simmering together for about 10 minutes: 2 cups of frozen lulo pulp, three-quarter cup of instant uncooked oatmeal—first soaked in one and a half cups of water—a half-pound of brown sugar, three sticks of cinnamon and four and a half cups of water.)

Photo left: Beef and homemade pork chorizos at the La Mexicana meat counter.

If you don’t feel like cooking yourself, check out the popular six-table sit-down deli run by Osvaldo Ocampo. “I learned to cook from my mama and grandma,” he said in Spanish. The secret is the seasoning, he said. The pork chorizos are freshly made, as are the tacos, tortas, and the Mexican and Oxaquenos tamales (wrapped in hierba de olar instead of corn husks.) “The best part of my job is being independent,” he said. “I get to work on my own.” His foods are available for take-out as well.

The place also makes and sells their own Mexican style homemade yogurt in strawberry, peach, coconut, and apple. “It’s a very good seller,” Madrigal says.

Photo right: Angie Rosas helps check out a regular La Mexicana customer.

While Madrigal still uses his IT training at the store, it’s the customers who bring him out from behind the computer screen. “I like working with people,” he says. I see new faces daily. We get all sorts of people, Black, Polish, American Indian, people from India. We’re starting to see a lot of Somalis. I like to welcome everyone.”

While finding parking in the area can be a challenge, the store has a parking lot in the back, free to customers.

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Minnehaha soccer coach injured in explosion focuses on recovery

Posted on 26 October 2017 by calvin

Duffeys are grateful for community support as they move, seek larger vehicle, and await birth of their first baby

After losing his right leg following the Minnehaha Academy gas explosion on Aug. 2, Bryan Duffey is focused on walking again and becoming a father in January.

“Bryan has continued to be forgiving and gracious in all of this, and has been so strong through it all,” observed his wife, Jamie. “There are, of course, frustrations and a great sense of loss, but we work through them together. Right now we are just focused on getting him walking again, and for us to keep moving forward with the changes so that we can focus on the baby when he gets here.”

Rescued from under a column and a wall
After graduating from high school in Nebraska, Bryan earned his degree from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, where he met his future wife, Jamie, who was originally from Perham, Minn. The two got to know each other while working for the non-profit Hope for Opelousas in Louisiana, providing after-school programs for grades 4-12. After a stint in Wisconsin, Bryan took a job as an assistant soccer coach and custodian at Minnehaha Academy a year ago. Jamie works full-time for Midwest Special Services providing day training for adults with disabilities.

On Aug. 2, Bryan was working at Minnehaha Academy when the building exploded.
He was fortunate to be found by two responding officers and a third off-duty deputy who lives near Minnehaha. They removed a column that landed on top of him first. Then they took apart a wall brick by brick to uncover Bryan’s entire lower body before they could get him to safety. Bryan was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center and was released 27 days later on his two-year wedding anniversary.

“I am overwhelmed thinking about how blessed we are to have had these men there and to have Bryan still with us today,” said his wife, Jamie on their CaringBridge page.

Bryan underwent several surgeries that left him with his right leg amputated just above the knee and his left leg stabilized by screws and a nail through his tibia.

Big purchases needed to help Bryan achieve independence
The injury pushed the Duffeys into buying a house earlier than planned. They were renting a home in Minneapolis before the explosion but weren’t able to modify it to suit Bryan’s needs, so they purchased a home in St. Paul. They were able to move in a week after his release from the hospital, but they are still waiting for workers compensation to approve funding for a bathroom remodel so that Bryan can transfer without pain, and they can have a bathroom door back on.

Photo left: Wed two years ago, Bryan and Jamie Duffey are expecting their first child in January, which helps carry them through the tough times they’ve been facing since Bryan was injured and lost his right leg following the gas explosion at Minnehaha Academy on Aug. 2, 2017. (Photo submitted)

By the beginning of October, Bryan’s neck brace was off, which was a relief for his wife to know that his neck is good and he could sleep a little more comfortably. Bryan was beginning to bear some weight on his left leg, which means he is getting closer to starting the prosthesis process.

He also graduated from speech therapy, which mostly worked with his brain injury.

“This is exciting because mentally he is able to drive again,” said Jamie via CaringBridge. “Unfortunately, physically he is not able to drive until we get a new vehicle that is higher off the ground and will have hand controls put in. We hope to get him driving soon so that he can gain some of his independence back.”

The couple owns two small cars, a Honda Civic and Bryan’s tiny Ford Fiesta. They can’t fit Bryan’s wheelchair and a baby in the Fiesta. And so, they’re on a hunt for a bigger vehicle that is higher off the ground. With his prosthesis, he needs a vehicle that will enable him to keep his knee joint at a 90-degree angle and not have to jump out of, explained Jamie. They also plan to outfit it through worker’s compensation with hand controls so that Bryan can drive independently.

The couple wasn’t planning on buying a house, and they weren’t planning to also replace a vehicle right now just before having a new baby. “Financially, it’s going to be really tight,” remarked Jamie. While they considered moving to a place where the cost of living isn’t as high, they decided to stay in the Twin Cities because of the increased opportunity for employment and access to doctors.

Fundraiser to help buy larger vehicle
Bryan’s in-laws, Wes and Teresa Jeltema, have attended Richville United Methodist Church in northern Minnesota where they live for the past ten years. On Oct. 7, the church held spaghetti feed, serving 100 people and raising over $3,500 to date. Fifteen volunteers served, sang, and cleaned up.

If you want to participate, but could not get to Richville, consider mailing a check to Richville United Methodist Church, 130 SW 1st Ave., P.O. Box 67, Richville, MN 56576, or wiring a gift of stock, bonds or mutual funds to TY9146536. “This will help Bryan and his wife, Jamie, who is six months pregnant, maintain appropriate housing and secure transportation for the trying months ahead,” remarked Richville United Methodist pastor Rod Turnquist.

“Bryan and Jamie have inspired all of us by their honesty, their courage, and their resilience,” added Turnquist.

What keeps them going
Their faith and the support of family, friends and the Minnehaha community is helping pull the Duffeys through this difficult time. Plus, there’s the excitement of expecting their first child.

“I think that having a baby on the way helps to motivate,” observed Jamie.

They are grateful for the support they’ve received since the explosion.

“We have been supported by so many families, friends, church community, and work communities,” remarked Jamie. “Minnehaha Academy has surrounded us with love and prayers, and families have been bringing us meals.” Their church, Calvary Baptist, has also brought them meals regularly.

The Duffeys appreciate all prayers and positive vibes sent their way.

Life has become busy once again.

“Bryan coached every regular season soccer game, and we are now moving into playoffs,” wrote Jamie on the CaringBridge site Oct. 7. “This has been such a blessing for him as this created some normalcy, and allowed him to continue to do something that he loves.”

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Solid State strives to foster a community of music and art lovers

Posted on 26 October 2017 by calvin

Record shop hosts Vinyl 101 workshops, in-store performances, public gallery nights and more

For Phil Borreson, opening up a record shop in Longfellow with his wife, Hannah, was a way to turn a passion for music into a viable career. At the same time, he gets to share that passion with a community of like-minded people.

Solid State opened at 4022 E. 46th St. in the former Pink Closet Consignment building in December 2016. In the past, the 4,248-square-foot space had also housed a grocery store, hardware store, and vacuum shop.

Photo right: For Hannah and Phil Borreson opening up a record shop in the Longfellow neighborhood was a way to turn a passion for music into a viable career. Solid State is located at 4022 E. 46th St. (Photo courtesy of Heather Swanson @photonut74)

While Solid State also carries new and used cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and retro video games, the heart of the business is its vinyl record collection.

There’s an experience associated with vinyl records, pointed out Borreson, an additional layer that MP3s don’t provide.

“Downloading a song is incredibly impersonal when compared to the thoughtfulness that goes into getting a record. The act of going to a shop and finding that record and talking to the people at the shop about the record, getting to share that excitement, that experience, with other people, that’s what sets it apart,” stated Borreson.
It is also what sets their store apart.

The Borresons make an effort to be helpful and friendly with every customer who steps through the door. “We offer advice where we can, and we do our best to help people find the records they’re looking for, and maybe even show them some cool stuff they don’t yet know about,” remarked Borreson. “Some shops you walk into and you don’t talk to another person until you’re checking out, but we want to connect with the people in the community who take the time to come visit us.”

Do people under 40 listen to vinyl records?
When the iPod was released in the mid-2000s, the younger generation began clamoring for something that they could experience. “They not only wanted to listen to their music, but they also wanted to hold it and feel it in their hands. Thus the vinyl resurgence began over a decade ago,” pointed out Borreson, who falls within the under 40 age category himself.

Photo left: In recent years, vinyl has become more desirable simply because of its aesthetic appeal. “Having the ability to add a song to your phone or computer is convenient, but it’s also impersonal,” pointed out Solid State owner Phil Borreson. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

In recent years, vinyl has become more desirable simply because of its aesthetic appeal. “Having the ability to add a song to your phone or computer is convenient, but it’s also impersonal,” pointed out Borreson.

“There’s nothing interesting about tapping a screen until you find the song you want. But there is a very special kind of excitement that a person feels when they go to a record shop, and they find a record they love and hold it in their hands, a physical copy that they can see and feel and hear without the use of a device. It’s refreshing. And people know that, or at least they’re beginning to recognize it.

“More and more as this ‘digital age’ pushes forward, people want a break from the technology that surrounds them almost constantly, and vinyl records can give people that break.”

Vinyl 101, live music and art
There’s a lot more to a turntable than an iPod or smartphone regarding the musical operation. Solid State offers Vinyl 101 workshops to give customers a basic rundown of how to use their turntable and some maintenance techniques to keep it in tip-top shape. During the workshop, they share some tips they’ve picked up over the years to keep music sounding great on the turntable.

The next Vinyl 101 will be on ladies night Wed., Nov. 8. Women also get 10% off all used vinyl from 5-7pm.

“Solid State is well equipped to be the destination store for life-long collectors, and also be a friendly place for people who want to start collecting and need a helping hand,” said Borreson.

The shop accepts submissions from musicians and artists seeking special perks such as prime product placement, social media plugs, etc. Musical acts can also earn the chance for in-store performances, while artists can score public gallery nights.

Photographs by Heather Swanson (Instagram tag @photonut74) are currently on display in the store. A reception is planned for Tues., Nov. 14.

Audio from past in-store performances is available and includes Falcon Arrow’s Feb. 17 show, Graham Bramblett‘s March 11 show, and Ellen Stekert’s Mar. 25 show. Check the website for upcoming musical events.

In addition to musical items, Solid State also stocks “exclusive” home accessories, Engels by Design handbags, jewelry, accessories, vintage band T-shirts, and musical equipment. Call 612-916-0990 to sell unwanted media.

Solid State is open Monday to Saturday from 11am to 7pm, and Sunday 11am to 6pm. View the online catalog at

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