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East Lake Library jumps into its third year of Curious Community

Posted on 27 June 2017 by calvin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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