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Longfellow climate activist walks the walk every day

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Standing in front of her electric Chevy Bolt, Jean Buckley said, “I use my buying power to make an environmental statement. I believe in making educated, responsible choices.”(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Longtime Longfellow resident Jean Buckley believes each of us can make a difference in the current climate crisis.
She said, “I’ve always been a strong environmentalist. I believe every human being has a responsibility to protect earth’s finite natural resources. Some people choose to be what are called ‘first adopters,’ which means taking on higher costs when technologies or products are new. First adopters are willing to bear those initial costs, with relative certainty that the costs will come down when the technologies or products become more main stream.”
Buckley was a first adopter of residential solar energy, among many other things. Ten years ago, she had solar panels installed on her garage roof. That first set of solar panels produced enough energy to power her house until she bought an electric car last year. She is now adding more solar panels to the roof of her home to produce the extra energy she needs.
Over the next 10 years she will receive rebates from Xcel Energy as part of their Solar Rewards Program, and she won’t ever have to pay for electricity or gasoline again. Visit www.xcelenergy.com to learn more about their Solar Rewards Program.
When the Volkswagen Jetta TDI came on the market, it was the greenest car available. Buckley bought one early on, and was able to sell it back to VW after their emissions scandal broke. With the money from the resale, she purchased an electric Chevy Bolt. This car qualified for a $7,500 federal tax credit. She frequently travels to Duluth to visit her grandchildren. Money from the VW settlement is helping build infrastructure for electric vehicles; this includes more charging stations along highly traveled corridors like 35W.
Buckley has made most of her home improvement decisions from the standpoint of what’s best for the environment. She said, “Many of these choices have higher costs up-front, but I believe they are cost-effective over time. The metal roof I chose for my house cost about 20% more than asphalt shingles. It will last at least 100 years though; I’ll never need to replace it. I’ve lived in my house for 25 years and as someone who hopes to age in place, the metal roof made sense both environmentally and economically.”
On Earth Day 2019, Buckley retired from her job with Ramsey County as an Environmental Health Educator. Prior to that job, she worked for the city of Bloomington. Her areas of expertise included renewable energy, building efficiency, water quality, and recycling. She said, “I had a long career as an educator. I’m still finding ways to encourage people to make positive changes for the environment.”
Buckley is involved in her neighborhood as a Block Club Coordinator. Block Clubs are a function of the city of Minneapolis (visit www.minneapolimn.gov to learn more.) The focus of Block Clubs is often on crime prevention, but can include other things depending on neighborhood interests. On Buckley’s block, she has organized a list of neighbors willing to share tools and skills, or barter for professional services.
She said, “We think our network is even better than Next Door, because it’s neighbor to neighbor on our own block.”
Since retiring last spring, Buckley has literally put on a new hat. She proudly wears a cap that identifies her as a River Educator with the Mississippi Park Connections Program: the nonprofit partner of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (the 72-mile section of the Mississippi River that flows through the Twin Cities). The program gives kids the opportunity to get out on the river, and have a national park experience right here in the Twin Cities.
In addition, she volunteers with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and 350.org on various climate issues such as pension divestment from fossil fuels, and investment in clean energy.
When asked what drives her seemingly endless supply of energy for environmental causes, the matter-of-fact Jean Buckley gave a surprisingly sentimental answer. She said, “It’s the Starfish Story.” So here, in closing, is the Starfish Story (author unknown.)
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy throwing something into the ocean. He asked, “What are you doing?” and the boy answered, “I’m throwing starfish into the sea. The tide is going out and if I don’t put them back, they’ll die.” The man said, “Don’t you see that there are miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” The boy picked up another starfish and gently put it back in the water. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “Well, I made a difference for that one.”

From Jean Buckley
Did you know that every 4th grader in the U.S. can obtain a free pass for themselves and their families to visit more than 2,000 federal lands and waterways for a whole year? The hope is that this “Every
Kid in a Park” will help to
build the next generation of passionate and informed
environmental stewards.
Visit www.everykidinapark.gov to learn more.

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Xcel Energy installing new energy-saving electric meters

Posted on 01 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Xcel Energy is installing 17,500 new electric meters across South Minneapolis and Eden Prairie in the next few months.
The new meters will measure customers’ electricity use in 15 minute increments, so they can see how much energy they use at different times of the day – and make better-informed energy decisions.
Next April, about 10,000 of those households will switch to a new pricing system. During the two-year pilot program, electric rates will vary depending on time of day. Electricity will cost more during peak hours (3–8 p.m.), and less overnight. The pilot program is designed so that customers may see some savings by shifting to off-peak energy consumption.
Xcel community relations director John Marshall said, “Our customers want more than just reliable energy. They also want products and services that will help them save money and energy.”
He added, “Our customers want more transparency from us, and this is one way to deliver that. At the end of the day, it comes down to knowing how and when energy is being used.”
There are a lot of ways to use energy more wisely. Consider doing laundry on weekends rather than during peak weekday hours. Think about running an air conditioner at night, and using blinds or curtains to keep the heat down during the day. Buy a smart thermostat and set back the temperature of your home at night. Charge your electric car overnight, instead of plugging it in the moment you get home.
Marshall said, “Customers switching to off-peak hours helps us better manage our energy grid, and reduces the use of fossil fuels. If we avoid spikes in electricity demand, we can avoid building new, expensive carbon emitting generating plants.”
The pilot study is a chance for customers to choose when to use their electricity. The long term goal of Xcel Energy is to work toward being carbon free by 2050.

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Long buried toxic dump at Hidden Falls Park getting attention

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

When the river rises, it rinses through the industrial waste which leaches into surrounding river and ground water

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Hidden Falls Regional Park is located along the Mississippi River bluffs just below Lock and Dam #1. Trails run through shady, wooded bottomlands; long stretches of sandy shoreline offer a reprieve from busy city life.
But a short hike north from the picnic shelters brings visitors to a tumble down cyclone fence that defines the northern park border. Called Area C, this is where the Ford Motor Company dumped unknown quantities of industrial waste onto the Mississippi River flood plain from 1945 to 1966 near its now closed St. Paul plant.
The location of Area C has been public information for years. The dumpsite looks benign, more neglected than threatening. It is covered with concrete, soil, and scrub vegetation. However, its contents are lesser known and almost impossible to quantify.
Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) executive director Whitney Clark said, “Areas A and B were known dumps on Ford Redevelopment Site on top of the bluff (the former Ford Motor Company.) Their contents were moved to Area C in the 1960s, back when environmental standards were non-existent. The components of Area C fit into two categories. The largest category, which forms the top layer, is non-toxic construction debris. Underneath all of that lies an unknown quantity of toxic industrial waste contained in metal drums.
“We believe that the quantity of toxic waste (including industrial solvents and paint sludge) is enormous.”
Because public pressure is so important, FMR staff and volunteers informed Hidden Falls Park visitors about the potential threat of Area C on Sept. 28, Oct. 5, and Oct. 12. Staff and volunteers gathered on site at the park in morning and afternoon sessions, and engaged visitors interested in learning more. Visitors were able to sign up for FMR updates and future meeting notifications. People using the park are likely to be among its strongest advocates and, once the snow flies, are much harder to reach.
At the request of FMR and the Capitol Region Watershed District, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will hold a public information meeting in February 2020 to explain current site monitoring, requests for additional study, and long-term clean-up options. Contact site leader Colleen O’Connor Toberman at ctoberman@fmr.org to be notified of public meeting details, and to receive FMR updates on Area C developments.
Toxic waste is leaking from Area C into the river and groundwater. It’s unknown whether concentration levels are safe for human health or the environment. FMR and their partners are pushing for additional testing through the MPCA to ensure proper risk evaluation.
Clark said, “Modern dumps are lined with clay soils and other geo-technical materials that prevent leakage. Area C is nothing like that. It’s just a whole bunch of metal barrels sitting on the Mississippi flood plain, covered by a huge volume of construction debris. When the river rises, it inundates Area C – literally rinsing through the industrial waste, and leaching into surrounding river water and ground water. Metal barrels corrode, and some of them have been there since 1945.”
FMR has partnered with the Capitol Region Watershed District and MPCA to put added pressure on the Ford Corporation.
Clark said, “They have agreed to do a full spectrum feasibility study; this means that they could decide to do absolutely nothing when it’s over, or they could decide to haul all the debris away. We don’t believe that the investigation done to date has been adequate to inform their feasibility study. They need more extensive data.”
He continued, “That’s what we’re telling our constituents. We are pushing for the best-informed feasibility study, so that this situation can be dealt with ethically – not just legally. The Ford Corporation is in the process of selling the redevelopment site to Ryan Companies, but the river parcel (which contains Area C) will continue to be the Ford Corporation’s responsibility.”
Toberman concluded, “There’s a big gap between public information, and what people actually know about. All of the data that’s out there has been published by Ford Corporation and its consultants, in partnership with the MPCA. This is an area that park visitors and neighbors are very interested in, and we look forward to having a great turnout for the public information meeting early next year.”

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For South High students: Homecoming or Climate Strike

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN and TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

About 200 South High students walked out of school on Friday, Sept. 20 during the Global Climate Strike. Carrying signs, they headed to the Blue Line train station at Lake and Hiawatha to travel to St. Paul’s rally. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The 200 students who left South High School to be a part of the Global Climate Strike on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, were not allowed to participate in their homecoming football game and related activities that night.
Because of that, senior Claire Hennen made the tough choice to not attend the strike so that she could go to her last homecoming pep rally during seventh hour.
It wasn’t an easy choice to make, and she’s frustrated by the district’s decision to prohibit students from returning to school grounds for events later in the day.
“I care about climate change,” said Hennen. “It affects us, but people don’t give us the chance to say anything.”
She added, ‘That’s why I think older people need to step up for us.”

Students strike despite MPS policy
Despite the school district’s policy, many students at all grade levels participated in the Global Climate Strike held three days before the UN Climate Summit in New York City.
Protests were held in more than 150 countries around the world to demand transformative action to address the climate crisis.
The Twin Cities Youth Climate Strike began at 11:30 a.m. with students meeting at the Western Sculpture Park in St. Paul and then marching to the capitol a few blocks away. Some younger students left neighborhood schools with their parents. Many high school students took public transportation to downtown St. Paul to participate in the rally.
Julie Schultz Brown, executive director of marketing and communication for MPS said, “Like Black Lives Matter, Immigration Reform, and so many other worthwhile events, the Climate Strike was a hard call for the district. But our mission is teaching students, and we have an extremely diverse student body of more than 36,000. We strive to be fair, and also to be true to our mission of educating students. We try to avoid ‘mission creep,’ which is what happens when you lose sight of your primary focus. When you choose to protest, you are making a sacrifice. That’s one of the lessons of life.”
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) issued the following statement in a letter sent to all families: “Climate change is a threat to our planet’s future and ultimately to our students. The science is clear, and we share responsibility as a school system, and as individuals, to leave future generations a healthy and livable Earth. There are no easy answers, but our country and our school communities must have real conversations about how to move forward.”
“MPS respects students’ First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble, and will not discipline students for the act of protesting as long as their protest remains peaceful. Our normal protocol regarding students returning to school and after-school activities continues to apply when students leave their school grounds/campuses. To be clear, if students walk out of school, they will NOT be able to return to the school for the remainder of the day or participate in after-school activities such as athletic events or homecoming even with an excused absence.”

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Organics recycling changes coming for businesses

Posted on 08 November 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Mallory Anderson, waste prevention and recycling specialist, said, “Organic materials are a resource, not a waste.” Waste-sort studies show that organic materials are the largest proportion of trash at about 25%, according to the county’s solid waste management master plan.(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Restaurants and others with food waste must compost by Jan. 1, 2020

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Businesses with a large amount of food waste must start recycling it by Jan. 1, 2020.
Hennepin County Ordinance 13 also will require cities within the county that have more than 10,000 residents to offer curbside organics recycling beginning in 2022. The new ordinance was triggered by a state mandate that counties recycle 75% of their waste, and a county resolution to send no waste to landfills by 2030.
Under the new ordinance, grocery stores, hotels, sports venues, senior living facilities, office buildings with food service, food shelves, colleges and schools with food service, shopping malls, and airports that generate one ton or more of trash per week (or more than eight cubic yards) will have to recycle their food waste.
Mallory Anderson is a waste prevention and recycling specialist with Hennepin County. She said, “We’re already well into notifying businesses about the new requirements. Outreach has been coming in the form of mailings, phone calls, and site visits. There are about 90 businesses in the 55406 zip code that could meet the limit of generating an eight-yard dumpster or more of trash weekly. We really are going after places with commercial kitchens; there is a lot of food waste happening out there.”

Grants available to help
Thanks to a county and state tax on trash, there are funds set aside to help businesses comply with the new requirements.
Anderson said, “Last year the county issued about 70 grants, with an average amount of $4,000. A request up to $10,000 can be funded anytime until the money runs out – which will probably be later in the fall.
“Examples of things we’ve funded in the past have been organics compactors, compostable products, or containers to hold organic matter until it can be moved outside. The requirements for participation are to submit an application, complete a grant agreement, and report back to us within one year to tell us how it’s going.”
Businesses are strongly encouraged to apply for grants while they are still available.
For more information about the new organics recycling requirements, and about granting opportunities, call Mallory Anderson at 612.348.3837 or Amy Maas at 612.348.6848.
You can also email businessrecycling@hennepin.us or call 612.543.9298 with questions.

Focus on smooth roll-out
Note that all Minneapolis businesses will be required to have recycling bins in the front-of-house, if they have trash receptacles there. Dual bins are an efficient, attractive way to get the job done, and are covered under the cost of a grant ($1,200-$1,500.)
The county will have authority to enforce the new requirements, including the ability to issue warnings or citations.
Anderson said, “What we really want to focus on in the beginning though is compliance. We are doing our due diligence to inform businesses and ensure a smooth transition. Once the roll-out is complete, it’s likely that the county and city health department will observe how the organics recycling containers are being used as part of their health inspections.”
Ordinance 13 had not been updated since it was last signed into law by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners in 1986. Hennepin County waste prevention and recycling specialists Mallory Anderson and Amy Maas led the team that wrote the updated version of Ordinance 13.
Anderson concluded, “It sets a new bar for recycling that our residents have asked for and expect within their community.”

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Meet Our Staff: Writing about environmental issues

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Margie O’Loughlin

I’ve worked as a reporter for the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger and Midway Como Monitor since 2015. I came into the job with a fledgling interest in community activism, a 20+ year career as a photographer, and a life-long love affair with newspapers.
As the years have passed, one topic has grown in importance for me as a reporter. I’m grateful that our new owner/publisher, Tesha Christensen, has let me take ownership of a few pages in each issue of both papers – and dedicate them to environmental stories happening close to home. We’ve dubbed these pages RRR, which stands for Rebuild, Repair, and Recycle, and we hope they’ll keep you informed about ways your neighbors are taking action.
Minnesota is one of the more aggressive states nation-wide in its efforts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, and many other initiatives. In this time of growing concern over the climate crisis, we want our newspapers to be an intelligent, clear-thinking, and practical resource. Are you trying out a new idea or product in your home that you think our readers might want to hear about? Let us know!
I’ve gone on two public tours recently that have strengthened my commitment to writing about environmental issues: at Eureka Recycling in Northeast Minneapolis, and the Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center in Downtown Minneapolis. Seeing mountains of recyclable materials and waste in these facilities was convicting, to say the least. I stopped thinking in a theoretical way about the amount of waste my own small household produces, and vowed to make better choices for the environment. Both tours are open to the public, with a little advance planning, and are offered free of charge. Check out these websites to learn more or to sign up:
• www.eurekarecycling.org/tours
• www.hennepin.us/your-government/facilities/herc-tour-request-form
I just completed the Climate Reality Leadership Training held at the Minneapolis Convention Center Aug. 2-4, hosted by founder and former vice president Al Gore. There were 1,400 people in attendance from 32 countries around the world. Participants ranged in age from 13-86, and we’ve now joined the ranks of more than 20,000 trained Climate Reality leaders worldwide.
Within one year of completing the training, graduates are required to perform 10 acts of climate leadership. These acts can be anything from giving a formal presentation, to writing a blog post, to submitting a letter to the editor, to organizing a climate action campaign, to meeting with local community leaders.
My main act of leadership in 2019 will be working as an artist –in-residence at Eureka Recycling this fall. I’m offering a quilting workshop there on Nov. 2, and will create three wall hangings for Eureka’s education space – with the help of 15 community participants. The cost of admission to the workshop is one cotton garment that would otherwise be destined for the trash. We’ll talk about the growing problem of textiles in the waste stream, due to fast fashion (on the production side) and overconsumption (on the consumer side.)
This summer, my husband and I are trying to live plastic free, which has been eye-opening and, in some ways, kind of fun. I’ve discovered the best milk I’ve ever tasted, produced by Autumn Wood Farms of Forest Lake. It’s available in half gallon glass bottles at Oxendale’s Market in East Nokomis, and the Mississippi Market Co-op in St. Paul. My husband came home from PetCo in Highland Park last week, proudly carrying a re-fillable 30-pound plastic pail of cat litter. We’re learning about all kinds of new products, including tooth powder from the bulk bin at Tare Market (to avoid tooth paste packaged in non-recyclable tubes.) Who knew?
If there’s one thing I came away from the Climate Reality training with, it’s this. Dr. Jonathan Doyle, founder and CEO of the non-profit Project Drawdown, said, “We have to solve the climate crisis with our heads and with our hearts. But, especially, we have to solve it with our hands.” I believe there’s a way for every one of us to make a positive contribution to this movement, according to our circumstances.
I look forward to sharing what I learn along the way.

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What does the life of one young climate activist look like?

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Marianna Hefte will be a junior at South High School this fall. She loves history and English; she competes in debate. She is 16 years old and, like many of her close friends and colleagues, has already been working on climate justice issues for years.
Hefte is part of a fast-growing youth movement for climate action. She said, “When I first learned about climate change as a 5th grader at Dowling Elementary School, I lost faith in humanity. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that activism is a remedy for hopelessness.”
Hefte began cultivating a spirit of activism that has grown steadily stronger over time.
She got involved in the local chapter of iMatter Youth, a group that advocates for city and state level climate policy. In 2018, her chapter wrote a comprehensive, 100% renewable electricity plan for the city of Minneapolis – and delivered it.
Along with other members of the youth movement MN Can’t Wait, Hefte sat with Governor Tim Walz on his third day in office last January – and presented a three-point platform to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the state now, including the Minnesota New Green Deal.
As a member of the Green Tigers Environmental Club at South High School, Hefte went back to Dowling Elementary School last year and gave a presentation to second graders about climate change.
She said, “Talking to kids about climate change is really hard. In the future, I think we’ll take a more discussion-based approach to engaging kids on this issue.”

‘I want to make sure the city is working its hardest’
Most recently, Hefte has been a summer intern for Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson.
Her internship is part of a city of Minneapolis program called Step Up. The program connects youth ages 14-21 to internships in nearly 200 companies, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
Her internship has involved working with constituent concerns, researching health issues that impact residents of South Minneapolis like diabetes and the opioid epidemic, and drawing things out of the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan.
She said, “I want to make sure the city is working its hardest not to be reliant on fossil fuels. We only have about 10 years left to solve the biggest threat humanity has ever faced – and we have to make sure our solutions are equitable.”

South High plans demonstration for Sept. 20
Hefte has been inspired by the work of young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, creator of the Friday School Strikes that have been carried out in several countries around the world. Thunberg’s strategy is extremely straight forward. To the adults, she says, “If you aren’t going to do what you need to do to clean up our earth, then we aren’t going to do what we’re supposed to do – which is go to school.” View her TED Talk at Greta Thunberg: the disarming case to act right now on climate change.
Students at South High School will participate in an international strike day on Friday, Sept. 20 (follow details on Instagram.)
Hefte said, “At South, we’ll come to school in the morning and then, at a designated time, all of the strikers will leave school and take the train to the St. Paul Capitol for a rally from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.. I’m looking forward to that. I’m glad so many of my peers are joining this movement.
“We need to keep equity in mind when we organize. People from under-represented communities should be given space to lead these movements because climate change will not affect everyone equally; it will especially hurt people in low-income communities.”

Give your input
Marianna Hefte is one of 19 Minneapolis residents appointed by the City Council and the Mayor to serve on the Community Environmental Action Committee. Members offer advice on issues regarding the environment, climate change, and sustainable development.

The group meets the first Thursday of every month from 6-8 p.m. in different parts of the city. Meetings are always open to the public.

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 5 at Roosevelt Library (4026 S. 28th Ave.)

Email Kelly.muellman@minneapolismn.gov or call 612.673.3014 with questions.

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Trail-blazing female park keeper paved the way for others

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Longtime Nokomis Recreation Center’s Cindy Waelhoff Lidstone retires

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Cindy Waelhoff Lidstone began her long career with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board in September 1980, when she was hired as a park keeper trainee. Half a year later, she moved into a permanent position – and a park keeper she remained for just two months short of 39 years.
Lidstone’s first assignment was at South Minneapolis’ Pershing Field, where she worked for 22 years.
She said, “I was 23 when I started there, and only the sixth female park keeper in the history of the city. At the time, I was one of the youngest people on staff. By the time I retired on June 28 of this year, I was one of the oldest. I felt like I grew up in the park system, like we all grew up together.”
Robert Nielsen, an early co-worker, said, “Cindy always had a positive attitude and a great work ethic. I’m sure those helped her get through in the beginning, when the world of park maintenance was very much a man’s world. I know she had to prove herself along the way. She not only hung in there, she went on to open doors for other women to follow her as park keepers and crew leaders.”

“It was kind of scary at first, being so much in the minority.”
~ Cindy Waelhoff Lidstone

A park keeper has a long list of responsibilities but, in short, their job is to keep all aspects of their park looking clean and good throughout the year. That includes maintenance of park buildings, park grounds, athletic fields, and ice rinks – as well as helping park patrons to have a positive experience.
Lidstone said, “Things were very different back when I started; each park had a couple of telephones, but there weren’t any computers. I suppose nail guns had been invented, but we didn’t have one. When we put the ice rinks up, we pounded every nail in by hand.
“The work was very physical in all seasons, but we used to say, ‘The winters would make or break you.’ Working with ice is really hard.”

“Cindy was definitely a trailblazer for us women who followed in her footsteps. Along with the few other gals who survived, she paved the way for the rest of us. Cindy is a real trooper.”~ Former co-worker Mary Mattson

Seventeen years ago, Lidstone transferred to Lake Nokomis Park.
She said, “I grew up a stone’s throw from there. I eventually bought our family home, so I’m still close by. I walked the park grounds for all those years, and just got a cart right before I retired.”
There are plenty of reminders for Lidstone that nearly four decades have passed since she first donned a park uniform.
For starters, when she was a young park keeper there was no such thing as work clothing for women. She said, “We had to buy men’s steel toed boots, and work clothes that were cut and sewed for men. Everything was always a little too big.”
Lidstone claims she had no sense of being a role model for women in the 1980s. She said, “I just needed a job. I couldn’t live with mom and dad forever!”
As it turned out, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board employed half her family. She said, “My two brothers and I worked our whole careers there, and my son has joined the ranks, too. My sister worked as what was called a ‘park matron’ many years ago, helping the park keeper with cleaning jobs.”
Lidstone is still getting used to the new rhythm of retirement. As someone who has worked full-time since graduating from high school, it’s been an adjustment. While she may not miss the alarm clock going off at 5 a.m., she is grateful for her long tenure as park keeper with the Minneapoli Parks and Recreation Board.
She said, “This turned out to be the best job in the world for me. I learned new things every day, until the day I walked out the door.”

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RRR: How wildlife-friendly is your yard?

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Hiawatha resident Daniel Schultz is a hard working real estate broker by day, helping people buy and sell their homes through the company he founded: Flourish Realty. After hours, he is a dedicated gardener and Master Naturalist with a passion for enhancing urban wildlife in Minneapolis – starting in his own back yard.
Schultz and his family began gardening seriously years ago, and got their yard certified as a wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in 2010. He said, “I knew I wanted to be part of a community project after that happened. It made sense to be part of an urban wildlife corridor, and not just a stand-alone property.”
Now the coordinator of the Longfellow Community Wildlife Habitat Project, Schultz is encouraging others to do the same. He said, “So far, we have 56 home gardens certified through the NWF, and we need 150 to be designated a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat. We have three schools certified (four are required), and three businesses (four are required.) We’re making progress.”
Why are Schultz and others working so hard to make this happen? Because whether pollinator gardens are large or small, they provide habitat for threatened wildlife – and the greater Longfellow neighborhood is in a central migration corridor for monarchs and birds.
There are only four elements required for a garden to be certified by the NWF. The garden must provide food in the form of seeds and nectar. Clean water must be available. There must be plants to provide cover, and a place to raise young.
Schultz said, “We’re trying to demonstrate how easy it is to adopt more wildlife friendly practices. Head over to Mother Earth Gardens and buy a few native plants to get started. Consider choosing plants that have a diversity of bloom times, and see what kinds of birds, insects, and animals your yard can attract. Put up a bird bath or a nesting box. It doesn’t take much to make a positive difference.”
With more than half the world’s land mass now used for farming or grazing, the potential for pollinator diversity in urban areas is steadily growing.
Schultz said, “One example is the Minnesota state bee, called the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee. According to U of M entomologists, it used to be widespread across the state – but now is making its last stand in the backyards of Minneapolis and St. Paul where native and other friendly pollinator plants offer what it needs to survive.”
To learn more about the Longfellow Community Wildlife Habitat Project, visit www.longfellowwildlife.blogspot.com. The cost for certification is a $20 donation to the National Wildlife Federation. Schultz and members of his team are available to help with backyard consultations or mentorships for new gardeners. Call or text Daniel Schultz at 612-408-0233 or send an email to dschultz6@comcast.net.

4 Components
of a Certified Wildlife Habitat:

1) Food – a habitat needs three of the following types of plants or supplemental feeders: seeds from a plant, berries, nectar, foliage/twigs, nuts, fruits, or sap.

2) Water – provide clean water for wildlife to drink and bathe from a birdbath, lake, stream, seasonal pool, water garden/pond, river, butterfly puddling area, rain garden, or spring.

3) Cover – provide at least two places to find shelter from the weather and predators: wooded area, bramble patch, ground cover, rock pile or wall, rosting box, dense shrubs or thicket, evergreens, brush or log pile, burrow, meadow or prairie, water garden or pond.

4) A Place to Raise Young – provide at least two places for wildlife to engage in courtship behavior, mate, and then bear and raise their young: mature trees, meadow or prairie, nesting box, wetland, host plants for caterpillars, dead trees or snags, dense shrubs or a thicket, water garden or pond, or burrow.

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RRR: School’s out but Dowling Elementary is still buzzing

Posted on 01 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Students, community members learn about beekeeping from Pollinate Minnesota

Tracy Young, Dowling Elementary School environmental education teacher, visits the school apiary. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The students at Dowling Elementary School are done for the year, but 60,000 or so honeybees in their school yard apiary are gearing up for a busy summer.
Through a partnership with the non-profit organization Pollinate Minnesota, Dowling received two bee boxes last year – each houses one queen honeybee, enough males to ensure reproduction, and tens of thousands of hard working female worker bees. The bee boxes were placed on school property adjacent to the Dowling Community Gardens: home to 200+ community garden plots, which offer up a smorgasbord of flowering plants for the bees to feed on.
The hives have provided a living, outdoor classroom for students from the K-5 environmental magnet school since their arrival late last summer. Environmental education specialist Tracy Young and ELL teacher Jeff Johnson started thinking about having an apiary at their school a couple of years ago. They reached out to Erin Rupp, founder of Pollinate Minnesota, and were able to bring their idea to fruition.
Pollinate Minnesota is an education and advocacy organization working toward a better co-existence of pollinators and people. They offer safe, immersive experiences with honeybees for learners of all ages. As an educational organization, they teach over 100 programs a year, mostly to K-12 youth, and partner with organizations like Dowling to install and maintain their apiaries.
Tracy Young explained, “Our students have been able to interact with bees in many different ways. With the younger children, we use a combination of stories, puppets, and play activities to help them understand the different jobs that bees do – both in and around the hive. Some of our best experiences have been just sitting and watching the bees go about their business. The K-2 students are invited to approach the fenced-in apiary, but don’t go inside the 6’ tall, chain-link enclosure. Starting in third grade, students get to work with the bees up-close, wearing bee suits and other protective clothing.”
She continued, “Honeybees aren’t aggressive, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t afraid of them. There were a few children who were scared in the beginning, but once they learned about the honeybees and how they worked together – their fear went away.”
One of Young’s most successful teaching tools this year was a series of bee puppets she made with cardboard and donated chop sticks. The younger students took the puppets outside and “collected” pollen from apple trees while they were blooming. They learned about bee anatomy, bee behavior, how flowers are pollinated, and why it matters.
Pollinate Minnesota will be hosting a community bee-keeping class at the Dowling Apiary later this summer. Look for updates at www.pollinatemn.org in the next few weeks. For more information on forming a pollinator partnership, contact Erin Rupp at erin@pollinatemn.org.

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