Archive | NOKOMIS

Homeless encamp in city parks, MPRB policies shift and adapt

Posted on 29 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

For more than a century, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) has not allowed camping or other overnight activity in the parks between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. This changed on March 27, 2020, when Governor Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-20.
The original Shelter-in-Place order restricted local units of government and law enforcement officers from removing people from public spaces because of COVID-19 risk.
The order stated that encampments should not be subject to sweeps or disbandment by local officials, as such actions increase the potential risk and spread of COVID-19.
MPRB Communications and Marketing Director Dawn Sommers said, “The Executive Order greatly changed the dynamic in our park system, though the full effect wouldn’t be felt for months.”
On May 17, Executive Order 20-55 was issued, stating that there could be exceptions to people being allowed to shelter in city parks. It said, “If a local government entity is providing sufficient shelter, or if an encampment has become a threat to the health, safety, or security of residents, state or local government may restrict, limit or close encampment spaces.”
Prior to June 12, there were scattered tents throughout the park system. On that day, 100+ people experiencing homelessness were evicted from temporary shelter at the Midtown Sheraton Hotel. They moved themselves to Powderhorn Park and other locations throughout the city.
On that morning, there were approximately 25 tents set up in Powderhorn Park, and MPRB Superintendent Al Bangoura said they had to go. Based on Executive Order 20-55, he felt the encampment was too large. Bangoura was contacted by the state with concerns that he had violated the executive order, and by dozens of Minneapolis residents demanding that he let the people stay.
Five days later, MPRB commissioners approved a resolution that the parks be declared refuge space – because that was already being done with the support of the state and residents of the Powderhorn neighborhood.
Jeremy Barrick is the Assistant Superintendent of Environmental Stewardship for the MPRB. He said, “In hindsight, we see that housing people experiencing homelessness in city parks is not a solution. The MPRB charter does not include housing people. We have a $126,000,000 budget this year. We have the smallest budget of any department in the city of Minneapolis. Most of our budget is designated for human resources and salaries.
“To give an example of an unexpected expense, and this is just one line-item of many, we’ve spent $38,000 on hand washing stations and portable toilets since the park homeless encampments began. That’s the equivalent of paying 12 seasonal part-time park employees for the summer. We can’t both manage our parks for the homeless and staff our parks adequately.”
Barrick continued, “The park board just wrapped up our master redevelopment plan, in which we set forth a vision to guide long-term development and improvements for all of the city parks. Our months of planning engaged individuals, groups, other community partners, and government entities.
“None of the planning and visioning included having homeless encampments in the parks. The core function of the MPRB is to separate the park land use from city politics.”
Encampment permits required
At the last bi-weekly MPRB board meeting on July 15, park board commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that will reduce the number of parks with temporary encampments for people experiencing homelessness to 20. At its highest point, there were encampments of various sizes in 39 Minneapolis parks. The resolution will limit the number of tents per encampment to 25, and establish a new encampment permit requirement for each encampment.
The resolution provides direction for the design and facilitation of temporary encampments in parks that supports the health and safety of individuals experiencing homelessness. Any given encampment may occupy no more than 10% of available parkland, with reasonable access to recreational features of each park for visitors.
MPRB acknowledged that it will take time to de-concentrate tents across the park system. It will likely be a fluid situation while outreach continues, encampment permit applications are processed, and park spaces are delineated. The priority for the MPRB will be first addressing sites with a documented threat to the health, safety, or security of residents. Toward that end, the encampment on the east side of Powderhorn Park was removed on July 21.
The locations of the 20 refuge sites for encampments is yet to be determined. MPRB is not pre-selecting the sites, but rather is allowing those who apply for a temporary encampment permit to request the park they want to stay in.
Like other MPRB permit applications, the temporary encampment application will be reviewed by staff and the site will be approved or rejected based on staff’s analysis of the park’s capacity to support an encampment and other guidelines outlined in the resolution. If approved, the MPRB will provide restrooms or portable toilets, hand washing stations (as vendor supplies allow), and trash/recycling containers to a permitted encampment within 48 hours of issuing a permit.
To view the video from the July 15 board meeting, start at 1:51 (one hour and 51 minutes into the meeting) to hear Commissioner Londel French state concerns for MPRB taking on encampments in the parks; see video on City of Minneapolis YouTube channel. For more information, including regular updates, visit

Comments Off on Homeless encamp in city parks, MPRB policies shift and adapt

Being the bridge: South High Foundation helps students in financial crisis

Posted on 29 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Judy Ayers, South High Foundation

The South High Foundation, 3131 19th Ave. South, was started in 1983 with only $75.
Their goal was to provide financial assistance to students and school programs in order to enhance the students’ ability to learn. It’s come a long way since then. In the 2017 school year, the South High Foundation funded more than $62,000 in grants for athletics, academics, fine arts and extracurricular activities.
When asked how many students were impacted by grant money, foundation president Judy Ayers said, “I would tell you that every student at South High is.”
Normally, students and teachers would be able to meet with Ayers or another member of the foundation’s board in order to request a grant. But now, COVID-19 has changed the way they are able to meet people’s needs. Staff are only allowed in the school once a month to get their mail, all meetings are done remotely, and challenges of the pandemic brought on more families with financial needs. They had to think of a way to continue giving money to South High families in crisis.
The South High Emergency Relief Fund was created. This fund is for families who have gone through financial crisis or homelessness during the pandemic and Uprising. Sheri Harris, a social worker who has collaborated with the South High Foundation for 20 years, works with a team made up of other social workers in order to run the fund.
“We problem solve to take care of whatever the need might be,” Harris said.

Sheri Harris, South High social worker

How this helps
A family that particularly stuck out to Harris was one whose members all contracted COVID-19 at the same time. They were too ill to get up and cook. They were unable to see anyone outside the family or have someone they knew come help as they needed to remain quarantined. But, they reached out to Harris and she gave them an e-gift card. This way, they were able to order in food until they were strong enough to cook for themselves once again.
“What everyone knows is the full impact but seeing it on an individual level – the challenges of COVID-19 – made the difference,” Harris said.
The South High Emergency Relief Fund serves many families like this. Donations can be made through PayPal or GiveMN on the South High Foundation’s website,; specify relief fund. Families can reach out if they are in need by contacting Harris at After families reach out, the foundation transfers money to gift cards or e-cards for rent, insurance or groceries. Harris and the social work team then work with families to see if there’s anything they can do in the long term to help them through the crisis.
“Being able to help with this [rent] just one time means that they aren’t looking at eviction. They’re looking at another month when unemployment could kick in or when the stimulus could come through,” Harris said.

A united community
Even during the challenges the pandemic and the Uprising have brought on, both Harris and Ayers mentioned that the community has still been incredibly helpful and banded together for a greater cause. Normal fundraisers for the South High Foundation like the pancake breakfast or the golf tournament were cancelled, but donations have still been coming in. Teachers at South High held a food drive and graduates, even those who now live in other states, have continued to donate to both the Emergency Relief Fund and the Foundation itself. But, they still hope to grow even more.
“With all of the cuts that schools seem to face every year, there’s more and more need. I see the Foundation being able to fill those needs,” Ayers said.

Moving forward
Looking toward the future, the foundation wants to be able to fill more of the gaps between families or students in financial need and how to help them get an education. They want to get to the root of what causes struggles for families. Ayers is aiming to get more donations from outside companies to pay for bigger programs students may need. Ayers works as a volunteer and does not gain any money from donations, but believes that if people are able, then they should be helping.
“My goal is to continue doing this until I can’t anymore,” Ayers said.
The foundation also aims to create more relationships with students, teachers, staff, and families. They want to directly ask the community what it needs and will do whatever they can to meet those needs in order to give students access to a better education. They don’t want to let the gaps of a financial crisis impact how far a student can go.
“The needs are there and the needs have always been there; the goal is to be the bridge and support in order to help students be the best student that they can be,” Harris said.

Comments Off on Being the bridge: South High Foundation helps students in financial crisis

Athena award winners honored in shortened school year

Posted on 29 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

High school sports evaporated with the spring thaw due to COVID-19 but recognizing top student athletes didn’t.
Three area seniors received Athena award honors, capping their high school careers in May. Named by the Minneapolis Athena Awards Committee, the annual honor goes to a female senior student athlete at each participating high school. The committee considers athletic achievement, volunteering in the community and other school extracurricular participation in addition to academic success.
Awards went to Emily Mulhern of South, Marie Peterson of Roosevelt and Kate Pryor of Minnehaha Academy.

Emily Mulhern
Emily Mulhern had a duffel bag of supplies handy for teammates in addition to being a strong competitor for the Tigers.
“Each athlete plays a different role on the team, and I was known as the ‘team mother,’” Mulhern said. ”I was the one who had the extra pair of gloves, the bottle of sunscreen and a huge bag of trailmix to share. If someone was having an off day, I could be counted on for moral support.”
Mulhern led Nordic skiers as team captain her junior year and made a splash as rookie of the year for Tigers cross country in the eighth grade. She also helped the ultimate frisbee club team reach nationals.
“For me, the (Athena) award itself acknowledges the important role participation in athletics can play in girls’ lives,” Mulhern said. “I am also very grateful to my coaches and teammates who helped form supportive communities for all of the athletes.”
Outside of athletics, Mulhern volunteered at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital and environmental service projects in Central America. She also performed with Project Opera and played flute in wind ensemble.
Her academic achievements included being the valedictorian, an AP Scholar with Distinction and National Honor Society treasurer. She also earned a certificate of recognition for the Academics, Arts and Athletics Award.
Mulhern will attend St. Olaf College to study psychology and play for the Ollies ultimate frisbee team.

Marie Peterson
Marie Peterson excelled at sports with Roosevelt, but her biggest success came in club wrestling.
She won a state club title in 2017 and took runner-up in 2018. She also competed on a national level.
“To win state was one of the proudest moments of my high school athletics career,” Peterson said. “Competing nationally was definitely eye-opening because I was introduced to so many amazing wrestlers.”
Peterson also succeeded in tennis and track and field for the Teddies as she won Minneapolis City Conference all-conference awards in both sports. She helped the Teddies rugby club team take runner-up in state.
“I have been dreaming about the Athena award for my whole time at Roosevelt, and so it means everything to me as an athlete,” Peterson said.
Her volunteer involvement included serving as president of the Asian Club at Roosevelt, math team captain and as a student ambassador. She also volunteered with the National Honor Society.
Peterson also received the Smith Book award, academic all-state, academic achievement award and made the honor roll. She hopes to major in biology for college and play rugby but hasn’t decided on a major yet.

Kate Pryor
Kate Pryor went from losing a baby tooth in her year of high school softball as a seventh-grader to holding school records in home runs, RBIs and hits.
“I don’t even remember the play I made at third,” Pryor said about the game. “But apparently people were impressed by it and one of my teammates yelled from the dugout, ‘she just lost her last baby tooth today’ and everyone started laughing.”
Her softball prowess will lead her to Boston University next where she will also study health science, but she leaves Minnehaha Academy as being much more than a softball star. She helped the Redhawks girls basketball team win a state title as a junior and won Independent Metro Athletic Conference all-conference honors twice. In volleyball, she also earned all-conference honors and all-section honors once.
“I feel really honored to be selected as the Athena Award winner because there are a lot of really talented female athletes at Minnehaha,” Pryor said.
Outside of sports, she volunteered as a retreat leader for Minnehaha’s middle school. She also served as a camp counselor for Covenant Pines Bible Camp.
Academically, she earned AP Scholar and Academic Letter honors. She also participated in the National Honor Society.

Comments Off on Athena award winners honored in shortened school year

‘We’re not going to go on with our lives the way things were before’

Posted on 27 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Protesters at Minnehaha Parkway and Nokomis Ave. serve as visual reminders


Nokomis resident Laurie Meyers protests at Minnehaha and Nokomis. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Stefanie Beniek is driven to be a visual reminder every Monday night from 5-7 p.m. at Minnehaha Parkway and Nokomis Ave.
The group of local residents started gathering at that corner shortly after George Floyd was murdered a mile away at 38th and Chicago, pulled together by Tanya Ketcham via a Facebook event.
“We’re still seeking justice for George Floyd,” said Beniek. “There’s lots of other people who have been murdered by police and we are seeking justice for them – like Breonna Taylor. We want to be out here. We’re not going to forget. We’re not going to go on with our lives the way things were before.”
Beniek and her husband, Tim Hereid, have lived near the Keeywadin school campus for 10 years.
In addition to helping organize the twice-weekly protests in Nokomis East, Beniek has been volunteering at the Calvary Food Shelf at Chicago and 39th. She’s also working with Acupuncturists Without Borders to start a clinic to help people protesting nearby process trauma.

Nokomis Community School – Wenonah campus second grade teacher Rebecca Priglmeier. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

‘Thank you’
The attendance at the corner of Minnehaha and Nokomis has waxed and waned since it started the week after George Floyd died. On nights when it is larger, such as the evening after George Floyd’s memorial, they have a moment of silence at 6 p.m. There might be a few speakers. Someone might roam around with a petition.
The response from passersby varies, too. On Friday, June 12, 2020, they received a lot of “thank yous” and fists held high from drivers and bikers. One woman yelled, “Thanks for keeping it in front of our faces.”
Being an ally
Nokomis Community School – Wenonah campus second grade teacher Rebecca Priglmeier is driven to protest because of her students, “who had to be witness to all of this, as if this year wasn’t hard enough.”
Priglmeier explained, “I think white people need to be allies. This isn’t going to change without everybody’s help.”
She pointed to the 88 people of color killed by police this year in the United States, and school shootings. “I want kids to not have to live in fear – especially not kids of color. It’s enough. It has to stop.”

Nick and Rebecca Kimpton, and their four-year-old daughter, Bea. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

‘We can no longer be silent’
Nick and Rebecca Kimpton, and their four-year-old daughter, Bea, stood with a large Black Lives Matter sign on Friday night, June 12. They bring their young daughter along because “it’s never too early to teach about race and teach them to be part of the solution,” observed R. Kimpton. They hope their daughter grows up to be part of the change.

“We feel like there is a lot of momentum right now and we want to keep it going,” said Rebecca. “Finally some real change can happen.”
They’re working to be more aware, and to talk to the people in their circle of influence – within their family, neighborhood, and workplace.
“Ever since the murder of George Floyd, we knew we needed to take a more active role in change in our city,” added Nick. “We’re here because now is the turning point in our society to dismantle the systematic racism. We know we can no longer be silent.”

Photo by Tesha M. Christensen


Comments Off on ‘We’re not going to go on with our lives the way things were before’

Thanks, Nokomis East neighbors

Posted on 25 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Jerome Evans

NENA Board President


Dear Nokomis East Community: this is a letter of gratitude. In case we haven’t met, my name is Jerome Evans and I chair the board of directors for our Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (NENA). I served on the board for a few years before becoming chair so I can tell you that 2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenge, resilience, and growth for our organization. Neighborhoods 2020, the outbreak of the coronavirus, and the killing of George Floyd have tested NENA’s organizational skills, caused us to question the way that we undertake our mission, and demonstrated that NENA is an invaluable resource for this community.
In a typical year NENA’s board and staff plan and put on community building events like the State of our Neighborhood, Monarch Festival, Bossen Renter’s Party, or Night Before New Year’s Eve celebration. This year, in light of the risks that the coronavirus poses for some residents, we are planning for food distribution for people who are isolated or otherwise unable to secure food. In a typical year we might organize around allocating the Curb Appeal Matching Grant, continuing the Green Fair, and educating residents through our Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. But this year we were called upon to organize for the safety of our entire community and to do so with little to no notice.
And we did it. On May 30 when local leaders suggested that we band together for communication and defense in light of public safety concerns sparked by the death of George Floyd while he was in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department – NENA called and the community responded. I can only be profoundly grateful to the people of Nokomis East for putting aside their plans for that Saturday, defying the medium-term risk posed by the coronavirus, and coming together to confront a short-term and unknown risk to our collective safety. And I am grateful to NENA board members, staff, and community members who stayed up all night that first night watching for danger and then turned around and did it again the next night!
This could not have happened in a different community. And I’ll tell you another thing that I’m grateful for. The death of George Floyd has sparked conversations on racial equity and white privilege in our community that I never expected us to have. As a gay, Black man living in our once redlined community it gives me great hope to see communities that once encouraged segregation now contemplating how their actions may have unintentionally perpetuated systems of oppression for other people. That gives me great hope for our future. Perhaps the dream of equality for every American really can mean equality for every American.
On a personal level, I’m comfortable sharing that I have been challenged to rethink the way that my actions contribute to our system. For example, as chair of NENA I never questioned the community safety meetings that we’d host or how we might define the type of ‘suspicious activity’ that would prompt a call to the police. Did NENA inadvertently encourage our community to engage in racial profiling? I hope not. But moving forward we will be more direct and forthright in leading with our commitment to racial equity. We will support the community’s interest in education on racial equity, support efforts to stand in solidarity with more diverse communities, and provide space for more BIPOC residents to congregate, heal, and help lead.
Perhaps instead of or in addition to meetings with law enforcement, we can host meetings with community members who we don’t often hear from. Last week, I personally held a Community Conversation regarding Achieving Racial Equity. I hosted a law professor, an educator, and a Nokomis East community member. What struck me most from my conversation with Luis Rosario is how much he loves our community. Even when he feels that he is being racially profiled, he loves being a part of Nokomis East and all that that means. By providing him with a platform to share his experience I gained insight into the importance of NENA engaging in racial equity work that benefits everyone in our community and, perhaps, community members got the opportunity to see how damaging racial profiling our neighbors can be.
I love our community and I believe that we have risen to the challenges that 2020 has thrown at us. Thank you for committing yourselves to creating a more equitable Nokomis East. I assure you that I and NENA will be learning, growing, and supporting you grow through this challenging time. Thank you.
Editor’s note: Jerome Evans is running for State Representative 63B in this year’s election.

Comments Off on Thanks, Nokomis East neighbors

NENA July 2020 update

Posted on 25 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Nokomis East

Executive Director

Becky Timm, NENA Executive Director

Food resources
With the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of stores on Lake Street, food insecurity is an even greater issue in our community. There are several food resources for Nokomis East neighbors. The Minnehaha Food Shelf is open every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information found at Minneapolis Public Schools offer free food boxes for kids under 18 at the Keewaydin Elementary School and Bossen Field. More info at
The Minnehaha Food Shelf and NENA will be launching an additional biweekly free food distribution site in the Bossen area at the intersection of 33rd Ave. and Sander Dr. The project will run through October. Visit or call 612-293-9683. Se habla Español.

Running for seat on NENA Board of Directors
NENA’s Annual Meeting and Board Election will be hosted on Wednesday, Aug. 26. NENA will hold the event online and Nokomis East residents will vote for Board candidates online or by phone this year.
Serving on the NENA Board of Directors is a great volunteer opportunity. Board members feel connected to the community they call home and help guide NENA to continue to meet the needs of Nokomis East. To learn more about serving on the board, visit We will be hosting online information sessions in July and you can schedule a call with NENA executive director to learn more. We hope you will consider running for a seat in August.

Mutual Aid Group
Content provided from the newly formed Nokomis East Mutual Aid:
In this difficult and uncertain time, we support our community. The COVID-19 crisis has already affected all of us, and it will almost certainly get worse before it gets better. We’re your neighbors, and we’re here to help:
• If it isn’t safe for you to go to the grocery store, we’ll go for you.
• If you’re sick and need supplies, we’ll get them.
• If you need food, we’ll help you find some.
• If you just want someone to check in every once in awhile, we’d love to say hello.
There’s no charge for these services. Everyone at NEMA is a volunteer who lives in the neighborhood. If you need support and aren’t sure whether we can help, please get in touch. Call (612) 440-9174 or visit

Comments Off on NENA July 2020 update

Church adapts

Posted on 26 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

In touch through video calls, telephone, email, and postal mail


Joy and Randy Nelson keep in touch online with their fellow members at Holy Trinity Church. (Photo by Terry Faust)

Randy Nelson participated in a recent congregation-wide meeting, along with nearly 100 members of his church, Holy Trinity Lutheran (2730 E. 31st St.), but Nelson could only see 30 fellow congregants at a time. Those 30 were on his computer screen in his apartment.
At a time when church buildings in Minnesota are closed and gatherings with more than 10 people are banned,* Holy Trinity and religious groups all over the state are using computer technology to bring their congregations together. By necessity, church members like Nelson, a retired Lutheran pastor, are becoming computer savvy.
“Before the pandemic, I had never heard of Zoom,” he said. “Now I seem to be using it almost every day.”
At Holy Trinity, church meetings are conducted on Zoom, but the Longfellow Lutheran congregation uses a different technology known as Vimeo for video broadcasts of its weekly church service.
“The service is recorded so we can watch it anytime,” Nelson said. “The videos do help to bring the church into our home but they are no substitute for being there in the pews with our fellow congregation members. For me, at least, videos make the services seem like a spectator sport.”
While they can watch the Holy Trinity service anytime during the week, Nelson and his wife Joy have decided to watch it at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning. “That is a traditional worship time for us, so when we watch the service at 11 it does feel like we are part of a larger group, even though there are only two of us in our apartment,” Nelson noted.

Maintaining connection virtually
At St. Albert’s Catholic Church (2836 33rd Ave. S.), the 9:30 a.m. mass on Sunday is livestreamed on Facebook. “We can see there are at least 110 households present for that service,” said Mike Vitt, a longtime member of St. Albert’s parish. “We are together virtually, so that way we can maintain some connections. We can feel each other’s presence even if we are not together physically.”
Greta Gantriis, a member at St. Peder’s Lutheran Church (4600 E. 42nd St.), said she misses being with long-time friends on Sunday morning. “The online service does keep us connected, but it is not the same as being together in person. So many of us are part of a long-standing community of people with a Danish heritage. St. Peder’s has done so much to maintain that sense of community.”
Like Gantriis, Rita Juhl, another St. Peder’s member, wishes she could be together with fellow congregants on Sunday morning. “But that is not possible now. We have to adapt to this new reality,” Juhl said.

Volunteering in the community
At a time when so many people are finding themselves quarantined at home, churches in Longfellow and Nokomis have made a special effort to stay connected with the members of their congregation.
“With the shutdown in place, many of our members have rediscovered the telephone,“ said Holy Trinity’s senior pastor, Ingrid Rasmussen. “When the shutdown occurred, we contacted everyone in the congregation by phone. We continue to keep in touch that way – particularly for the small group of people who don’t have access to reliable computer communications. We also have a newsletter that goes out every week, by email and by postal mail.“
Rasmussen said that Holy Trinity has maintained its connections with people in the neighborhood who may not be church members. “We know that many neighbors are suffering financially as a result of the pandemic. They may have lost their jobs or been furloughed. We have an emergency fund that can help in special situations.”
Even with the shelter in place orders in effect, Holy Trinity members continued their community outreach efforts. “A number of us are involved as volunteers at Longfellow School, the education center for mothers with children and pregnant mothers,” Joy Nelson explained. “Earlier this month, we were able to participate in an event at the school. We brought gifts over for the graduates. They came outside one at a time.
“With proper social distancing, we stood in the school yard with bells and signs congratulating them. We volunteers were able to see each other in person and even talk to each other through our masks.”

Joint church food shelf busy
At Minnehaha Methodist Church (3701 E. 50th St.), a group of four area congregations jointly sponsor the Minnehaha Food Shelf. The four include Minnehaha Methodist, Nokomis Lutheran, St. James Episcopal and Living Table. George Gallagher, the food shelf’s director, said he has seen an upswing in food shelf use as the pandemic has taken hold in Minnesota.
“Our demand surged in April when we served 880 client, a 22% increase over the previous month,” Gallagher said. “Right now, we are able to keep up with the demand. But our biggest concern is whether we will be able to keep doing that as more people are laid off and furloughed. People in the community have been very generous. Our contributions are up. That is a good sign that we will be able to meet the need in the months ahead.”
“Our church buildings may be closed, but that doesn’t mean that our churches are closed,” noted Minnehaha United Methodist Pastor Becky Seachrist. “We continue to fulfill our mission. Now, we have to do it in new ways.”

* 25% of capacity
*Gov. Tim Walz has issued a new executive order enabling places of worship to hold indoor services, starting on May 27, at 25% of their capacity, as long as they follow public health guidelines. Churches and other places of worship must provide six feet of separation between attendees. Indoor and outdoor events are limited to a maximum of 250 participants.

Comments Off on Church adapts

Thank you, Nokomis East

Posted on 26 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Becky Timm, NENA Executive Director

Nokomis East

Executive Director

Thank you, Nokomis East
Responding to NENA’s fundraising campaign, Nokomis East raised over $10,000 for the Minnehaha Food Shelf, which serves our geographic area. Community food needs continue, and neighbors can continue to support the food shelf with online donations at The food shelf is open each Tuesday from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. All are welcome.

Summer programming updates
With rapidly changing conditions from the COVID-19 pandemic, NENA has postponed or canceled most of our regular summer programming. The annual Nokomis East Garage Sale Day scheduled in June will return in 2021. We have also canceled the Bossen Renters Party planned in July.
In brighter news, the Minneapolis Monarch Festival is revisioned as a summer-long virtual and in-person event, instead of a large festival in September. The festival will honor its mission of celebrating the 2,300-mile journey of the monarch from Minnesota to Mexico. We will continue to feature our artists, educators, chefs, and more with activities for the whole family. Visit to join the celebration! NENA is also looking for weekend dates in August to host the Great Nokomis East Kickball Tournament and Fundraiser.

Residents form mutual aid group
Content provided from the newly formed Nokomis East Mutual Aid. In this difficult and uncertain time, we support our community. The COVID-19 crisis has already affected all of us, and it will almost certainly get worse before it gets better. We’re your neighbors, and we’re here to help:
• If it isn’t safe for you to go to the grocery store, we’ll go for you.
• If you’re sick and need supplies, we’ll get them.
• If you need food, we’ll help you find some.
• If you just want someone to check in every once in awhile, we’d love to say hello.
There’s no charge for these services. Everyone at NEMA is a volunteer who lives in the neighborhood. If you need support and aren’t sure whether we can help, please get in touch. Call (612) 440-9174 or visit

Businesses re-opening in June
Join your neighbors in supporting our local businesses by shopping and dining in June. Some, like Nokomis Hardware and Oxendale’s Market, have served our neighborhood throughout the pandemic. In fact, Oxendale’s staff raised over $1,500 to support the Nokomis East Business Association (NEBA).
As our businesses open up and put in place new ways of operating, please treat yourself with meals and coffees to-go, sign up for virtual classes, get your dog groomed and maybe yourself, buy new shoes, and get your teeth cleaned. Most of our businesses are owned and operated by local proprietors, and they need our support now more than ever.

Sign up for NENA News
Your Guide to News, Events, and Resources! Get your neighborhood news delivered to your inbox every other Thursday. Sign up today at Once you sign up, you’ll receive updates on news and happenings for your neighborhood.

Comments Off on Thank you, Nokomis East

Rooftop prairie: Nokomis family doesn’t have to go far to relax

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Home & Garden

“Water quality and stormwater management are really big values for us,” observed Nokomis resident Steffanie Musich as she drinks a glass of water on her rooftop garden. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)


When Steffanie Musich sits on her green roof looking out over the rooftop prairie and the tree canopy, it’s hard to remember that she’s in the city.
That sense of peace and relaxation without having to get in the car is exactly what she was aiming for.
The 11-year Nokomis resident, her husband Matt and son live within blocks of Highway 62 and Cedar, surrounded by the constant hum of traffic and roar of airplanes. They’re also close to Lake Nokomis, and have dedicated years to the intricacies of water quality and sustainability issues.
The green roof is an extension of those values, and a way to demonstrate how it can work in a neighborhood.
When Musich read about the green roofs being installed by Omni Ecosystems of Chicago, Ill. they resonated with her. She didn’t want the type of living roof that merely had a sedum tray of close-to-the-ground plants. Instead, she envisioned a prairie.
The problem is that a roof with 1.5 to 2 feet of soil material is heavy – and gets even more so with a load of snow on it. Plus, the costs of a roof like that are typically beyond what a homeowner can pay.
But Omni Ecosystems offered an innovative system using a new lightweight growing medium with a higher capacity for stormwater management, which allows them to build lighter green roof systems that require less structural capacity. Omni’s projects include the O’Hare Terminal 2 Concourse, Harvard Business School, Chicago’s Wild Mile, and McDonald’s corporate headquarters.
The 300-square-foot green roof at the Musich residence cost about $17,000. That doesn’t include the cost of replacing the garage or the flat roof that is underneath.
While the initial cost is higher than a regular roof, the Musich family believes the positive impacts on their mental health, the extended life of the flat roof beneath it, and the environmental impacts are worth it.
It was 2015 when they began envisioning the project. The couple hired Craft Design and Build from Uptown Minneapolis as the general contractor, and Jody McGuire of SALA Design as architect. Steffanie and Matt saved on costs by doing much of the construction themselves, including all the painting, stucco, and finishing work, putting in time in the evenings and weekends. For the rest, they refinanced and rolled the cost in.
It is important to them that the living roof will last 50-100 years, 3-5 times longer than a traditional roof.
The green roof doesn’t heat up as much in the summer, and it provides insulation in the winter. “Green roofs help with urban heat island effects,” observed Musich.
Bonus: brewery space and sauna
The two-car garage on the property was rotting and didn’t have footings under the cement slab. So they tore it down and started from scratch. The new three-car garage uses three sets of three tri-lam beams made of manufactured wood to distribute the weight. A room in the center helps support the load of the roof. As an added bonus, they moved their longtime home brew operation into the new space and got it out of the house.
The garage is connected to the house via a main floor breezeway and a second story deck. An upstairs door offers the only way to access the green roof. Near the plants is a beehive decorated by local artist Jamie Anderson.
Nestled in the prairie is a sauna that’s been a great way to pull the neighborhood together in the winter months.

Green roof part of system of rain gardens and more
When the house needed a new roof eight years ago, Steffanie and Matt opted for a “cool roof.” The steel roof reflects sunlight and heat away from the building, reducing roof temperatures by 50–60°F over a typical shingle roof and helps the house stay cooler inside. The material is also a lifetime product.
“Water quality and stormwater management are really big values for us,” observed Musich. She started Friends of Lake Nokomis, and has served on the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board since 2014.
Given their proximity to Lake Nokomis, Musich wanted to replace an impermeable surface with one that would hold water in place and not flood the city’s stormwater system. “Part of what we’re trying to do is keep stormwater on our property for a longer period of time to reduce the volume of water the city infrastructure needs to manage during a storm event,” she explained.
Their green roof can hold a one-inch rainfall. More than that runs off the backside where they’ve done some regrading. They added a raingarden for Steffanie’s birthday last year that holds more water and keeps it from flowing immediately into the street. They plan to add another in the front in an effort to hold as much water as they can on site.
Over the years, they had also overseeded the backyard grass in favor of plants (such as clover) that help capture water and provide habitat for pollinators. They mow at 4 inches to allow for a deeper root system, which in turns means the plants are able to take more water into the ground than if the lawn was mowed shorter – a tip she learned through her master gardener training.
The best practices guidelines have been to hold a one-inch rainfall, although Musich foresees that may change as the state has been experiencing more and more high rainfall events. “One inch was unusual and on the high end, but now we’re seeing 2-3-4-6-inch rainfall events,” she said.
Musich pointed out it’s important to keep raingardens 10 feet from a building foundation to avoid basement flooding. Using a French drain between homes helps the water move and protects both homes.
Due to the way their home sits on their corner lot, their backyard is essentially their neighbor’s front yard. The new garage and green roof helped them carve out a private space.
“Plus we’re up in the canopy,” said Musich. “We get to see the birds and the squirrels in their element.”

‘Cathartic to care for natural space’
Initially, they planted 24 plugs with six different sedges, forbes, and grasses that were overseeded with a mix of annuals and perennials. Not everything was native.
White asters, white yarrow, black-eyes susan, mountain mint, purple coneflower, bachelor buttons, baby’s breath, columbine and more grow on the roof. The rooftop prairie starts blooming in April and continues through fall.
“The first thing that starts to bloom is the baby’s breath, which is self seeding. We’ll get a field of white which is beautiful at night,” said Musich. The first year, many poppies bloomed but they haven’t seen any since, and the wild indigo bloomed just the first two years. Meanwhile, the purple coneflower was elusive until the summer of 2019.
“It’s been very interesting to watch the evolution of the plants and the way they cluster and change,” said Musich.
The maintenance of the roof each year is minimal. “I’ll come out here and weed a couple times a month,” remarked Musich. “If I’m having a particularly stressful week, I’ll be out here more frequently. It’s very cathartic to care for a natural space.”

Benefits of green roofs
Ordinarily, rainwater picks up contaminants and heat as it rushes across roofing and other hard surfaces on its way to lakes and rivers. Green roofs hold onto much of the rain, reducing the runoff that would otherwise cause water pollution and decreasing the need for additional (and expensive) stormwater treatment infrastructure.

Because the waterproofing membrane is underneath the other layers of the green roof, it is protected from factors that can cause roofs to fail: extreme heat, UV radiation, and thermal swings. In general, green roofs last longer than conventional roofs, reducing both consumption and waste.

The plants on a green roof shade the building, and further cool it through the natural process of evapotranspiration. If enough roofs in a city are greened, they can combat the urban heat island and help mitigate the effects of global warming.

Green roofs create green spaces in the built environment that birds and beneficial insects can use as habitat. Green roofs also beautify cities, creating better habitat for humans as well.

Green roofs improve air quality by taking up carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, and by filtering airborne particulates.
~ Information from

Comments Off on Rooftop prairie: Nokomis family doesn’t have to go far to relax

Gypsy moth eradication program planned for May

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Gypsy moth caterpillars are voracious eaters, and can strip entire trees of their leaves.As an invasive species, they have few natural predators in Minnesota. Repeated defoliation can kill trees, change the mix of tree species in an area, and affect dependent wildlife. (Photo courtesy of MDA)

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), in collaboration with federal, state, and local partners, is proposing to treat gypsy moth populations in the Nokomis area of Minneapolis this spring.
A state monitoring program found a high number of gypsy moths there in 2019. Follow-up site visits also found gypsy moth egg masses, which indicates there are reproducing gypsy moth populations.
The MDA is proposing a management plan to eradicate gypsy moths on 298 acres in the Wenonah neighborhood, with the northern boundary extending into the Keewaydin neighborhood. The proposed treatment area is bounded by the following streets:
• North – 53rd St. E.
• South – Highway 62
• East – 34th Ave. S.
• West – 24th Ave. S.
Two information sessions were held in late February at Crosstown Covenant Church and Keewaydin Recreation Center in the Nokomis neighborhood.
Kimberly Thielen Cremers, MDA Plant Pest Manager said, “We also did a direct mailing to residents in the targeted area. Our staff put flyers in public spaces like bus stops, gas stations, and apartment complexes. All literature was written in English, Spanish, and Somali. We do not have a plan for additional public meetings at this point. However, if there is community interest, our staff can arrange to come and speak at an event.” Contact project manager Marissa Streifel at, if interested.

Gypsy moth in U.S. since 1860s
The European gypsy moth is not native to the U.S. It has worked its way west from Massachusetts, where it was introduced in the 1860s. Isolated populations are appearing in different parts of Minnesota, as gypsy moths continue to advance south and west.
Large numbers of gypsy moth caterpillars can cause a reduction in tree growth, branch dieback, and eventually tree death. The treatments proposed for 2020 will decrease the likelihood of defoliation, and will slow the expansion of gypsy moths in Minnesota and beyond.
Since 1973, the state of Minnesota has been actively surveying for gypsy moths. Minnesota’s first gypsy moth eradication project was conducted in 1980. Since that time, over a million acres have been treated in Minnesota to eradicate or slow advancing gypsy moth populations. Treatments have been conducted throughout the Twin Cities metro area, including the Lowry Hill area of Minneapolis in 2018.

‘Destructive pest’
The gypsy moth is a leaf-eating insect. It belongs to the same order as butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera). It feeds on more than 300 trees and woody plant species found in Minnesota, and is considered one of the most destructive pests in the U.S. For more information about the MDA’s gypsy moth program, email

Foray to be used locally
For the proposed treatment in the Nokomis neighborhood, the MDA and its partners recommend using Foray: a water-based, organic, biological insecticide that kills gypsy moth caterpillars. The active ingredient in this product is the naturally-occurring bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk), and the crystalline proteins it produces. When ingested, the proteins are toxic to gypsy moth caterpillars and other butterfly and moth caterpillar species that are actively feeding.
Thielen Cremers said, “We get a lot of concern about other butterfly and moth species being affected. Foray will only affect caterpillars in the early stages of development that are actively feeding. Applications are made before the general monarch population in this area has returned.”
Foray does not affect humans, mammals, birds, or most beneficial insects including bees. Gypsy moth caterpillars stop feeding and die within a couple days. Foray is broken down naturally by sunlight. Two applications (made about a week apart) are used to make sure all gypsy moth caterpillars in the treatment area are exposed.
The proposed treatments will take place in May when gypsy moth caterpillars are very small. Treatments generally happen early in the morning using an airplane or helicopter. The treatments are applied at low altitudes, approximately 50 feet above the treetops. Aircraft are equipped with the latest available technologies to ensure application is accurate. Non-forested areas such as large fields, stretches of pavement, and open bodies of water are not treated.
Thielen Cremers explained, “If a person is out during an application, they will smell a slight fermenting in the air. The product is applied at a rate of one-half gallon per acre, and more than 90% of that is water. Most people will not notice more than a fine mist, if even that.
“Exact dates and times of application will depend on weather conditions and caterpillar development. You may see or hear the low flying aircraft in your neighborhood at the time of application.”
To learn more:
• The MDA will mail a postcard that will identify a timeframe for the treatments.
• Go to to sign up for text or email messages.
• Call MDA’s Arrest the Pest line (888-545-6684).
• Follow MDA on social media:,

Comments Off on Gypsy moth eradication program planned for May