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

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

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 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

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)

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 in the next few weeks. For more information on forming a pollinator partnership, contact Erin Rupp at

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Rebuild Repair Recycle: Junket moving forward sustainably

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Owner Julie Kearns seeks to align business and personal values

Junket owner and creator Julie Kearns asked, “How can we make this the greenest neighborhood in America? Each of us can choose to set a personal carbon consumption budget of 5 tons of CO2 emissions per year, and then use that smaller footprint as the basis to design a simpler, better life.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Julie Kearns is the creator and owner of Junket: Tossed and Found, a funky second hand store that was a fixture on Minnehaha Ave. for years.
In August of 2018, she and her team closed their store.
Kearns said, “We tried a space sharing arrangement with another social enterprise, but it didn’t work. While we hadn’t planned on closing, it turned out to be a positive change in the end. Junket looks different these days, but we’re very much moving forward.”
The Junket team is currently working remotely – coming together for meetings, popping up at events, and keeping their inventory organized and accessible in temporary storage. Visit to learn more about their ethically sourced and sustainably shipped quality goods and creative supplies now available online.
Kearns said, “I knew I’d need to grieve the loss of the physical store. With time came the realization that I’d been operating in a driven state for years: through the frustration of the Minnehaha Ave. construction, and all of the changes that have hit the retail market, generally. While Junket has always been about fostering positive social change through creativity and reuse, retail had merely been the vehicle we’d used to engage with community and with each other.”
Kearns decided to change vehicles – in more ways than one.
As part of her healing process, she started to look at how running the shop had made it difficult for her to live out her own values of a low-carbon lifestyle.
Kearns said, “I felt like a hypocrite driving my two block commute every morning, but I never knew when I might need my car during the day for a pick-up or delivery.”
Once the shop was closed, she sold her car in favor of using a scooter that gets 89 miles per gallon. Between the scooter, her bicycle, two feet, and public transportation, Kearns is getting around just fine.
On the home front, Kearns and her daughter had already transitioned from a three-bedroom house to shared ownership in a cooperative and an 800-square-foot apartment in 2015.
She said, “Last year’s forced do-over came with a powerful upside: I’ve had time to strategically simplify other areas of my life to align with closely held values, and to mold the business around our lives instead of the other way around. After so many years in the public eye, this has been a welcome, more private, time of strategic thinking, pausing, and shifting.”
The Junket team right now is small and mighty.
Kearns said, “For our next chapter, we envision a community space nestled in the Longfellow neighborhood with a focus on creativity, innovation, and resilience through re-use. We envision a healthy, vibrant collaborative that offers many possibilities – imagine intergenerational skill building, consulting and classes in sustainability, making and repair, incubating low-carbon business start-ups, sales and swap events where senior citizens and down-sizers can transfer goods to those who need them, perhaps a commercial kitchen for food growers/preparers, a co-working space, and a CSA pick-up site.”
Kearns continued, “While we wait for the right space and time, we’re building a stronger base of operations online, offering carbon-informed classes and consulting, and making appearances at niche events like the Midtown Farmers Market.
“We’re using our online store to model carbon-informed commerce selling reused goods, all of which are packaged in reused materials and shipped via ground transit (which generates 10 times fewer emissions than air shipping). Having this infrastructure in place will make it easy to scale up quickly, whenever market demand and carbon constraints finally propel data-driven climate measures into mainstream economic decision-making.”
Kearns is also actively involved in the work of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps. A training will be held August 2-4 at the Minneapolis Convention Center (application deadline for the no-cost event is June 19). For more information go to

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State’s first zero-waste shop opens

Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

After meeting at South Minneapolis Green Fair, two women decide to start the zero-waste store they’ve been looking for


Tare Market co-owner Amber Haukedahl (left) helps shopper Elise Coroneos who is working to minimize the impact her family has and is glad Tare Market has opened. She brought a number of different containers to fill with products. >> Read story on page 3. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Two women who want to make sustainable living convenient and accessible have opened Minnesota’s first zero waste store.
Tare Market opened on Earth Day at 2717 E 38th St., the first shop in the new 3828 building’s commercial strip along 38th.
“We’re trying to do better,” explained shopper Elise Coroneos who lives in South Minneapolis. “It’s really hard in the regular grocery stores to do that.”
She pointed out that some things for zero waste living are more expensive while others are cheaper, and others have a higher cost at the start but then lower cost in the long run. “It’s a balancing act,” Coroneos said.
Tare Market owners Kate Marnach, age 33, and Amber Haukedahl, age 34, both began their own zero waste journey in 2017.
Haukedahl, who lives near Lake Nokomis with her husband, has a degree in conservation biology and has taught environmental education to urban youth and children with special needs. She started in 2017 as a resource for others who wanted to live more sustainably.
Marnach also has a degree in biology along with one in business. Right now she lives in Maple Grove with her husband and three kids, but plans to move back to Minneapolis. She co-founded in 2017 with two other local moms who wanted to provide information on the zero waste movement for parents with young children.
The two met at the South Minneapolis Green Fair in February 2018 hosted by the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association. They started talking about the problems they were facing as they tried to go zero waste. Some items were available locally at co-ops and Whole Foods, but others weren’t. Some could be found on Amazon, but they were still coming wrapped in plastic.
They began envisioning a better and easier way to do this.
They decided to open the state’s first zero waste store.
“We wanted to be a one-stop zero waste facility,” observed Marnach.
Marnach and Haukedahl picked the Standish-Ericsson neighborhood because the area had been identified as a food desert. They were also drawn to the transit options on 38th, and the close proximity to the lightrail station. Plus, they appreciated the focus on the building owner, The Lander Group, on fostering walkable communities, and wanted to be a part of that.

Tare Market co-owner Kate Marnach stocks toilet paper and soaps that help

Sustainable living products at Tare Market includes items such as: reusable food wraps (to replace plastic wrap), bamboo cutlery to-go kits (to replace single-use plastic cutlery), reusable straws (to replace single-use plastic straws), compostable dental floss (to replace plastic dental floss), and bamboo toothbrushes (to replace plastic toothbrushes). Shampoo bars eliminate plastic bottles while also ensuring you don’t use too much at each shower (or that the kids don’t). Biodegradable hair ties are made of all-natural rubber and 100% cotton instead of plastics that don’t compost.
Fillaree soaps come in jugs that are returned to the store and then refilled. The coffee comes in big buckets that go between Tare Market and the store. While some products come in large plastic bags, there are the kind that are reusable and recyclable, versus the one-time-use individual pouches people usually get at the store, pointed out Marnach. “Any containers we can’t return, we reuse and offer for other people to reuse,” she added.
Through a partnership with Two Bettys Cleaners, Tare Market gets high concentrate cleaning supplies that come in big drums. This reduces carbon emissions from shipping and excess packaging.
If a company doesn’t offer bulk options or package-free items, Marnach and Haukedahl ask them to, and have found that some are accommodating. “Some products we can’t stock because we can’t find,” stated Marnach.
The item they get asked for most frequently that they can’t find is bulk white vinegar.
Tare Market isn’t allowed to carry any produce, meat or dairy, Marnach observed.
It took awhile, but they were able to find bulk ketchup, mustard and BBQ sauce. Other items, such as lotions in one-gallon containers, they’ve started with while they continue looking for better alternatives.
The area with snacks such as granolas, dried fruit, and popcorn, is popular. Their make-up is also a good seller, as buyers get a compact once that is made of bamboo, and then purchase tins of the make-up later that come in seed paper. The tins can be recycled.
The switch that Marnach made at home that is her favorite was a move to hankies instead of tissues. It happened after one day when all three kids were sick, and they went through an entire box of tissues. Marnach thought, “What a giant waste of money.” She bought 20-25 hankies which can be reused over and over, and discovered an added benefit. They don’t make your nose raw.
Like many of the zero waste strategies out there, the use of hankies isn’t a new one.
“This is just getting away from what we’ve all gotten so used to lately with single-use items,” remarked Marnach.
While Tare Market’s Instagram followers are primarily women in their 20s and 30s, they’ve found that people of all ages are shopping at Tare Market. Some come there because they’ve heard about it while others pop in because they are walking past and want to check it out.
“My favorite thing is all of the kids that are basically dragging their parents in here,” said Marnach. “Those age 8-15 are very concerned about sustainability and recognize that they have a long time to live on the earth. It’s easy for them to change and adopt new habits,” Marnach pointed out, in contrast to the adults who might not want to change.
“The kids are leading the way.”
Bridget Letmes of New Brighton has been working to have a zero-ish waste lifestyle with her family of five, driven by environmental concerns. “It’s great to hear my nine-year-old say, ‘I’ve got to have a home lunch today because the tacos come in a bag.’”
The Letmes family is down to one bag of trash a week. Her daughter, who is old enough to drive, brings their compost to the Ramsey County facility.
Letmes has learned that to be zero waste, you need to plan ahead and prepare stuff — such as getting jars and containers ready to bring to the store with you.
Tare Market owners Marnach and Haukedahl see themselves as more than shop owners, and envision their role as helping educate people on zero living. They offer regular workshops such as DIY salve making, mindful mending, backyard composting, indoor worm composting, and transitioning your home to zero waste. In addition to sharing knowledge, these classes help build community, Marnach pointed out. After a DIY salve class in May, participants hung around another hour because they were enjoying their conversation.
“The fact that this will be the first zero waste store in Minnesota means we’re getting that opportunity and seeing that leadership right here in our community, and is all the more reason to support this concept so that it’s successful and replicated across the entire state,” stated Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson.
“We each have a personal responsibility to be less wasteful and reduce our negative impacts, and Tare Market will help with that.”


Did you know?

>> The average American generates over 4 pounds of trash per day?
>> The methane gas released from the rotting trash in landfills warms the planet 86 times more than carbon dioxide in the first two decades it is released, before turning into carbon dioxide itself?
>> The average plastic bag is used for 12 minutes and can then take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill?
>> Only 9% of plastics used actually get recycled?
>> The pumps in shampoo battles can’t be recycled?

“This is a visionary concept that’s long overdue. All that single-use packaging from food and lifestyle products has a huge cost to the environment and society. It’s immensely wasteful to manufacture and transport all that bulky material just to throw it away. When it gets recycled, it still has a carbon footprint, as it takes energy to pick-up and process. What’s worse is that not everyone recycles, so too much of it ends up at the HERC burner downtown and results in pollution that has increased childhood asthma rates and other health problems in our city. And regardless, we end up paying more than we otherwise need to – whether in the form of hundreds of dollars per year that each household spends on their solid waste utility bill, or at the checkout where packaging costs are added to the price of goods.
It’s time we have options for consumers to shop
in a smarter and more sustainable way.”
~ Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson

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Posted on 09 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

A group of 6th-8th graders who live in Longfellow rode their bikes to school every day this year – no matter how cold it was. They said that biking through the long 2019 winter was easier than they expected. Undeterred by foggy glasses, frozen face masks, and deep snow, they all agreed they would do it again. The freedom they had on their bikes, and the fun of riding together, made it worthwhile. Parents and staff of their neighborhood school support several groups of bikers by providing hot cocoa on Fridays, learn-to-ride lessons for new bikers, biking field trips, and a DARO ZAP scanning system that tells kids instantly how far they’ve biked to school, how many calories they’ve burned, and how much gas they’ve saved. Pictured left to right are Clara, Tove, Addie, Amelie, Ingrid, and Iris (not pictured is one ride-along dad.) (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)


Paddle Bridge brings kayak tours to the Mississippi River Gorge

Posted on 22 April 2019 by calvin

Theo Byrnes is the owner of Paddle Bridge Guide Collective, a new service that brings people out on the Mississippi River Gorge in kayaks. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Kayak enthusiast and Minneapolis native Theo Byrnes didn’t paddle the Mississippi River until he was almost 20 years old. Along with his family, Byrnes had explored the city lakes and the St. Croix River as a kid but, like many people, they had stayed clear of the Mississippi.

Now the owner of a two-year-old business called Paddle Bridge Guide Collective, Byrnes is enthusiastically getting paddlers of all ages and abilities out on the mighty river. The driving force behind Paddle Bridge is to promote urban adventure, paddle safety, and the history and ecology of the Mississippi River Gorge.

As a kid, Byrnes came up through the ranks of the YMCA’s Camp Menogyn. He paddled all the way to the Arctic Circle with their advanced explorer’s program in 2007 and got hooked. He found a job guiding for “Above the Falls” in 2009, an operation that brought kayakers out on the river above St. Anthony Falls. When the owner retired in 2017, Byrnes and his co-workers wanted to keep guiding together, and the Paddle Bridge Guide Collective was born. More than just a local outfitter, they are working to create an active and sustainable river community.

All of the Paddle Bridge guides are extensively trained in First Aid and Water Rescue techniques to guarantee a safe paddle experience. “For new paddlers,” Byrnes said, “we start with basic instruction on the shore, and cover everything a person needs to know to feel comfortable on the water. The stretch of the river between Minneapolis and St. Paul is the only naturally occurring gorge on the entire Mississippi. Water speeds are faster here because it’s a narrow stretch. We hope to have our full schedule online by mid-May, if the weather cooperates. Water levels will still be up, but safe for paddling.”

Lessons for experienced paddlers who want to hone their skills are also available by request; kayak terminology, techniques, hazard awareness, and self-rescue are covered. To inquire about lessons, email

Paddle Bridge has a fleet of 12 red hot kayaks made by Current Designs in Winona, including four tandems which accommodate two paddlers at-a-time. There are life jackets for all ages and sizes, though 12 years old is the minimum recommended age. Younger children can be included on private tours.

Two-hour River Gorge tours are $65/person, four-hour River Gorge tours are $95/person, and 1.5-hour sunset tours of Boom Island are $45/person (30% discount for all tours for kids under 16).

Tours are by reservation only. Check the website for availability at When making a reservation, specify if you have a particular area of interest in the river.

“All of our guides have their own interests including geology and biology,” Byrnes said. “Across the board, I’d say our strongest suit is history. Our goals are to get people out on the water; we guarantee them a memorable experience and a good night’s rest.”



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