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Archive | May, 2014

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Go Green, Garden Local

Posted on 08 May 2014 by robwas66

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Spring has arrived and pansies, a cool weather favorite, are one of the best flowers to plant early for those cool mornings! (Photo by Jill Boogren)

By JILL BOOGREN

The closing of Linder’s Garden Center on Larpenteur Ave. last fall left a big hole in St. Paul’s gardening landscape. You may need to go a bit farther afield, but there are still a few local places you can go to get your green on without going to the big box retailers who don’t specialize in gardening.

Egg|Plant
Urban Farm Supply
1771 Selby Ave. (@ Wheeler)

Open since 2010, Egg|Plant specializes in seeds, plants, soils and tools for the small-scale urban garden, with an emphasis on food — fruits, veggies, berries, edible flowers — and plants that attract bees. They sell chicks (by preorder) and chicken-keeping supplies as well as cheese-making and canning equipment. They also carry a large selection of native bee houses.

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Egg|Plant co-owner Audrey Matson and Leslie Ostrander with two-day-old chicks which they sell by preorder. They specialize in seeds plants, soils and tools for the small-scale urban gardener. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

“We promote native bees and native pollinators through native bee houses and planting,” said Audrey Matson, who co-owns Egg|Plant with Bob Lies.

Egg|Plant doesn’t do landscaping, but they do offer a variety of classes in raising backyard chickens, beekeeping, edible landscaping, backyard mushrooms, canning, fermentation, and making cheese.

“We want to help people learn skills to grow and preserve their own food, to learn traditional skills, to lead healthier lives,” said Matson.

Check the chicken coops and farmhouse cider containers out back.

Hours:
Tues., Wed., Fri., and Sat., 10am-6pm; Thurs., 10am-8pm; Sun., noon-4pm. Closed Mondays.
www.eggplantsupply.com

Highland Nursery
1742 7th St W.

A visit to Highland Nursery is like stepping into a secret garden, where carefully contoured stone paths are lined with plants of all types, and statues abound. Tucked among the pots and greenery are sculpted concrete renditions of children reading, cats, dogs, angels, gnomes, wizards, gargoyles, and dragons. Standing high above them all is a bur oak sculpture, which commemorates Irish pioneers who homesteaded the site in 1850. The children of Narnia would be quite at home here.

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Plants are in abundance at Highland Nursery, along with their collection of statuary, pots and other garden accessories. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

“We specialize in ambience,” said President Sue Hustings. “You feel like you’re in a garden more than a garden center.”

Highland Nursery has been in the family since 1947. Their plants, including over 140 varieties of herbs and every conceivable shrub, come from Minnesota and Wisconsin. They are carefully nurtured from one season to the next, with many housed in the adjacent greenhouse. Highland carries an abundance of cast iron pergolas, baker’s racks, and trel­lises, along with garden art (have kids see if they can spot the giraffes), pots, and miniature items for fairy gardens.

They don’t do landscaping or carry sod.

Hours:
Mon.-Fri., 10am-8pm; Sat.-Sun., 10am-5pm
www.thehighlandnursery.com

Leitner’s Garden Center
945 Randolph Ave.

The chalkboard out front reads “over 100 years young and still local”! Leitner’s evolved from the horse and wagon days until it became a garden center in 1976.

“We pride ourselves in having an entire greenhouse devoted to edibles, organic or sustainably grown,” including over 100 varieties of herbs, said Manager Joan

Westby, who has been with the company for 30 years. Most plants come from Minnesota and Wisconsin, with some from the west coast.

They also have a year round floral department that specializes in botanical, European-style designs. And, according to Westby, they have a cult following for David Austin English Roses. Leitner’s carries gardening supplies, art and pottery, and offers a year-round custom potting service.

They don’t do landscaping, but their Leitner’s Landscape Products Center (across 7th St. at 630 Juno Ave.) has a huge selection of products for do-it-yourself-ers: bulk landscape rock, flagstone, pavers, gravel, soil, mulches, ready-mix concrete, and sod.

On shopping local, Joan said she loves going to her neighborhood store. “I hope everybody feels that way and gives neighborhood stores the first shot,” she said.

Hours:
Mon.-Fri., 8am-8pm; Sat., 8am-6pm; Sun., 9am-5pm
www.leitnersstpaul.com

Mother Earth Gardens
NE Mpls.
2318 NE Lowry Ave. (@ Stinson)

Opened last year, Mother Earth Gardens is the second of two garden centers owned by Karen O’Connor and Paige Pelini, the other being in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood. Their aim is to be an affordable urban boutique garden center with what O’Connor calls “a small footprint, huge selection.” Their plants, nearly all if which are organic, are grown in Minnesota and Wisconsin and include annuals, perennials, herbs, and vegetables. They also offer hundreds of native varieties, including trees and shrubs.

Their main emphasis is organic gardening and sustainably-grown plants. They carefully vet all their products—no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are used or sold, and they’re committed to using compostable pots.

Bird baths, garden pots, and steel trellises are for sale, as well as locally-made art pieces for pot, garden, and home. They also carry bird feeders, birdseed, and feed and supplies for backyard chickens.

Mother Earth has a garden consultation business that ranges from an hour’s worth of garden coaching all the way to a full-scale plant list. They do very little installation (and only after the busy season) and no hardscaping.

They have a smart watering system on their lot: a 1200-gallon cistern in the ground allows them to use rainwater to water ornamentals, with overflow going into their rain garden.

Hours:
Mon.-Wed., 9am-7pm; Thurs.-Fri., 9am-8pm; Sat., 9am-6pm; Sun., 10am-6pm
www.motherearthgarden.com

Hermes Floral
1639 Larpenteur Ave. W. (across the street from its old location)
Hermes is now cut flowers only. They also carry locally-made cards, jewelry and pottery.
www.hermesfloral.com

More Gardening Resources

In addition to gardening tools and supplies, ACE Hardware at Lexington and Roselawn carries a huge selection of soils, manures, and mulches, including many organics. Other ACE Hardware stores in the vicinity carry a selection as well.

100% local, the St. Paul Farmers Market has flowers, plants (many organic), and shrubs available. Check out the big weekend market in Lowertown or weekday markets at satellite locations on Summit Ave. and in Roseville.

Boasting 2,300 varieties of plants, the annual Friends School Plant Sale is held Mother’s Day weekend at the State Fairgrounds.

Happy Gardening!

Ace Hardware

www.acehardware.com

ACE Suburban Hardware

1930 Lexington Ave. N.,
Roseville
Mon.-Fri. 8am-8pm,
Sat. 8am-6pm, Sun. 10am-6pm

Kendall’s ACE Hardware & Paint

978 Dale St. N.
Mon.-Fri. 7:30am-8pm,
Sat. 9am-6pm, Sun. 9am-5pm

St. Paul Farmers Markets

www.stpaulfarmersmarket.com

Lowertown
290 E. 5th St.
Sat. 6am-1pm, Sun. 8am-1pm

St. Thomas More Church
1079 Summit Ave.
Fri. 1:15-5pm

Church of Corpus Christi
2131 Fairview Ave. N., Roseville
Tues. 8am-noon

Friends School Plant Sale

www.friendsschoolplantsale.com
State Fairgrounds
Fri. May 9 9am,-8pm;
Sat. May 10 10am-6pm;
Sun. May 11 10am-2pm

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HawiHeadshot

Job Corps changes lives

Posted on 08 May 2014 by robwas66

St. Paul-based training site celebrates 35th anniversary in 2014

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Job Corps members volunteer at the 2013 Rein in Sarcoma event. Last year, the 300 Job Corps students logged in 7,000 volunteer hours. Among other tasks, they can be found volunteering at Lyngblomsten, working at Como Conservatory, assisting at ComoFest or picking up trash on nearby streets.

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

Over the last 35 years, the Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corps program based in St. Paul has changed a lot of lives.

A few short years ago, Abdi Warsame was unemployed, without health insurance and living on his friend’s couches. After completing the Job Corps medical office support program, he got a job and enrolled in the EMS Academy in St. Paul. Today he’s an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with the St. Paul Fire Department.

Hawi Gelta immigrated to Minnesota from Ethiopia at age 21 and was reunited with her mother after a 10-year absence. But she wanted something better than working at a warehouse and caring for her siblings. She knew she could do more. So she went through the Job Corps nursing assistant program, and focused on improving her English language skills. Today she is working full-time as a nursing assistant and is planning to attend college to become a registered nurse.

Cate Smith Edlund started off as a neighborhood volunteer at the Job Corps program, and then served on the Neighborhood Advisory Council. Today she works full-time as the Job Corps Business and Community Liaison. She is constantly inspired by the students around her.

“They are just great young people,” said Smith Edlund. “Some of them have had very

tough lives and they’ve managed to figure out where they need to go to get what they need to be successful.”

Smith Edlund isn’t the only one who comes and discovers they want to return. Congressman Keith Ellison made an obligatory stop once. “Next thing you know he is teaching math classes,” said Smith Edlund.

AT-RISK PERSON TO TAXPAYER

The Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corps location at 1480 N. Snelling Ave. was originally the campus of Bethel University. The St. Paul site is one of 125 Job Corps located throughout the nation, and it serves all of Minnesota.

One of the goals of the program is that students be able to live independently and become good taxpayers, according to Smith Edlund. For every $1 spent, $1.81 goes back into the economy. “You’re taking that at-risk person and you’re turning them into a taxpayer,” Smith Edlund noted.

ABDI WARSAME

by TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

AbdiHeadshotAbdi Warsame was born in Somalia. Before enrolling in Job Corps, he was living with friends. “You can call it couch-hopping through friends,” said Warsame. “I was 21 at that time. I was also unemployed and didn’t have health insurance. I was a high school drop out and was running around places. … I did not have a GED and could not get jobs because of it.”

He saw a Job Dig ad for Job Corps, and was drawn to the idea of getting paid, housing and learning. He started Job Corps at end of 2011 and was enrolled for a little over a year. “I got a room that I shared with a roommate and small allowance money to get me through the week,” said Warsame. “I went through some basic test at first did not do well, but later on passed them and then I got my GED.” He began his trade skill classes in the Medical Office Support program, which focuses on the administrative and clerical work in the medical field. “The only thing left was to get a weekend job while I was working on my trade,” said Warsame. “I did couple of job searches with the help of Lisa Nabbefled and then I got job at the airport working at a ramp agent.”

“My first week there I did not like the rules and the regulations,” admitted Warsame. “My plan was to get my things done and get out as fast as I could. Eventually, I started to like the place. It had free gym, plus I made a lot of new friends and close ones, too. I can say it was life-changing experience.”

He graduated and staff helped him make a moving transition out of Job Corps into his apartment. They also told him about the EMS Academy in St. Paul. He enrolled, completed it, and became an Emergency Medical Technician.

“I enrolled myself in college for the first time at Inver Hills Community College and now work as an EMT with St. Paul Fire Department,” said Warsame. “I also work as a volunteer CPR and First Aid Instructor for St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department. My major is in paramedicine. My future goal is to finish my martial arts in karate, and to work as a fire medic in St. Paul.”

“These are young adults with very few resources, but they have potential,” Smith Edlund added. “They want something more.”

Many of them have been working at minimum wage but find they can’t get ahead. When students enroll, an individual plan is developed. Some begin with academic classes while others head straight to vocational training. Meals, housing, uniforms, classes and basic health care are free. Students get a small stipend, but many also get evening or weekend jobs. Eighty-five percent of students live on campus.

Students ages 16-24 choose from six basic trade programs: culinary arts, office administration, medical office support, facilities maintenance, painting and certified nursing assistant. There is one advanced program based at the St. Paul Job Corps location –– transportations communications union — that prepares students to work with railroads, airlines and barges.

“What we do is a basic training that includes a whole body of work,” observed Smith Edlund. The average length of stay is 13 months, but students may stay as long as two years.

The campus has zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol. “They know to toe the line,” noted Smith Edlund. “It’s a very rigorous program.”

Students are up at 6am and sign in by 6:45am. Dorm rooms are inspected daily and rotating floor jobs completed. They must be in uniform and ready for roll call at breakfast. Classes begin promptly at 8am.

“If you’re going to have a job, you’re going to do these things to get to work,” explained Smith Edlund. “So we do these things.”

When the regular school day ends, many opt to continue their education, participating in English language and written communication classes. Tutors are also available.

“The program itself is successful,” said Smith Edlund. “It’s tested. The system is refined in terms of what works and what doesn’t.”

“I can’t stop telling people how Job Corps is a good place to become successful,” said Gelta. “I’m very happy that I came to Humphrey and so blessed that I have had this opportunity to make my dreams come true.”

“I can say it was life changing experience,” agreed Warsame.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS

Job Corps students can be found caring for seniors at Lyngblomsten care center, painting at AEON, working at the Como Conservatory, volunteering at Shop for the Cop, assisting at Regions Hospital, and picking up trash on nearby streets. They assist at the annual Rein in Sarcoma, Festival of Nations, and ComoFest. Last year, the 300 students logged in 7,000 volunteer hours.

“This is a scholarship program and they know it. They want to give back,” stated Smith Edlund.

In 2013, the Job Corps received the Red Cross Student Group Award. In January 2014, they were named to the District 10 Neighborhood Honor Roll.

Learn more by attending the 35th anniversary party on Aug. 20 at 1:30pm, or browse http://huberthhumphrey.jobcorps.gov.

HAWI GELTA

by TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

HawiHeadshotHawi Gelta has overcome much in her 23 years. She was born in a small village in Ethiopia. When she was 13 years old, her mother moved to United States and she was left in charge of the house and her siblings. “I took my mom’s place,” sad Gelta. “I planned meals, cooked, and cleaned.”

On Jan. 28, 2012, when she was 21, she immigrated to the United States with her brother and sister because she wanted a better life. They had not seen their mom for 10 years.  “We were so excited to be reunited,” recalled Gelta.

During her first year in United States, she lived in an apartment with her family. Her mother had to work a lot, so Gelta continued to take care of her family and did chores around the home. She got a job at a warehouse.

“I soon realized that I needed something better so I could support my family and myself,” said Gelta. “I stated looking for adult education programs, but I didn’t find anything that fit. I didn’t give up. I knew that, with training, I could do more. I could be more.”

Then a close friend of hers told her about Job Corps: a place where she could get a free education and get certified in a career. “At first I didn’t believe it,” said Gelta. She and her friend went to an orientation and she made the decision to enroll the same day.

“I began my education, but I did not think this would work out for the best,” remarked Gelta. “Then I started taking communication classes and working to improve my English. I felt the language barriers begin to break down as I began to feel more comfortable communicating with people.”

Her next step was to enter a trade. “I’ve always been a caregiver and connect to the people that I’m helping, so nursing assistance was the perfect choice,” said Gelta. “Each class I took taught me things I never thought I would have the opportunity to learn. I succeeded by paying attention, staying on task, and asking for help when I needed it.”

On Jan. 28, 2014, two years to the day that she moved to the United States, she was offered a full-time job at an assisted living facility.

“I’m proud that I’ve been hired for a position in my career field,” said Gelta. “But things don’t stop here for me. I plan to go to college to become a registered nurse. Even though things were hard for my family and I in the beginning, I know now that we will able to live the American dream — we will work hard and never give up.”

She added, “Job Corps has blessed me with the chance to learn English, receive career training, and get help I needed to find a career that I love. I can now take of and help others. I’m so thankful for the support I have received from staff. I’m so proud to become one of the Job Corps students. I can’t stop telling people how Job Corps is a good place to become successful. I’m very happy that I came to Humphrey and so blessed that I have had this opportunity to make my dreams come true.”

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Flowers and Vacuum Cleaners – A Unique Combination

Posted on 08 May 2014 by robwas66

Local florist wins Downtown Greening Award four years in a row

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Lynne Tischler and Randall Prochowitz operate two separate and unique businesses – Your Enchanted Florist and Vac That Thing Up, located at Dale and Nebraska. (Photo by Mary Thoemke)

By MARY THOEMKE

For the fourth year in a row Lynne Tischler’s Your Enchanted Florist has received a Downtown Greening Award from the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District.

In partnership with The Local (931 Nicollet Mall), Tischler was presented an Encore Award for “exemplary contribution to the environment of downtown consistently, year after year.”

Although she was honored for her work in Minneapolis, Tischler and her husband, Randall Prochowitz are firmly rooted in St. Paul. After running her business out of the basement of their home, Tischler moved her florist shop to 1500 N. Dale St., at Nebraska. In 2010, she and Prochowitz purchased the former Ace Vacuum Cleaner business, along with the building. Today they operate Your Enchanted Florist and Vac That Thing Up in an unlikely combination of flowers and vacuums.

Passersby notice the floral displays, the artistic creations, rose petals on the sidewalk, the neon-sprayed vacuum cleaners, and hearts sprayed in the snow.

Tischler, a native of West St. Paul, graduated from floral school in Oregon before she began her work as a florist. She emphasizes that all of her floral creations are unique and made to order for each customer. She and her designers offer a wide array of services including faux finishing, murals, staging, interior and exterior seasonal decorating, seasonal planting and onsite plant care. They also offer one-of-a-kind designs for weddings, funerals, proms, and everyday occasions. They will provide a free initial consultation for any event. Tischler says she has enjoyed the pleasure of doing events throughout the United States.

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In partnership with The Local (931 Nicollet Mall), Lynn Tischler of Your Enchanted Florist was recently presented an Encore Award from the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement Council for “exemplary contribution to the environment of downtown consistently, year after year.” This was the fourth year that Tischler has been presented an award from that organization.

Customers are invited to stay for a cup of tea or coffee and a cookie while they watch their flowers being arranged. They can bring in their own vase to make their floral arrangement even more meaningful. Your Enchanted Florist also invites people to bring in their vases to be recycled.

In addition to the flowers and plants, Your Enchanted Florist features the work of over 25 local artists whose art ranges from jewelry and plant stands, handmade cards and bags, and manifestation crystals. Over half of the artists live within walking distance of the store.

Every Friday is a special day which is called “Almost Free Friday.” An item is selected that is offered at ½ off the regular price on Friday only, and the selection is changed every week. The selection is posted Friday morning on their Facebook page.

In addition to her recent award, Tischler has been recognized as professional florist of the year by Koehler and Dramm. She has placed in the Minnesota State Florists “Designer of the Year” Award and has received several nominations and awards from Blooming Saint Paul. Your Enchanted Florist has been featured in The Knot NY, Midwest Home, Bride’s Magazine, Lavender, and Minneapolis/St. Paul magazine.

Prochowitz grew up in Winona, and for the past 27 years has worked at his day job as facilities manager for a condo association. During the day Ryan Clements manages Vac That Thing Up. The store both sells and services vacuums and supplies. Clements says none of the vacuums they sell are bagless because they are very high maintenance for the customer and don’t work as well. Prochowitz says, with pride, that he features Made in USA Maytag and Simplicity vacuums.

In addition to selling vacuum cleaners, Prochowitz and Tischler have a collection of vintage vacuum cleaners on display at the store, including a 1928 Hoover with a wooden handle. Prochowitz designs artistic creations, also on display, that he makes from recycled vacuum parts.

Devoted to promoting a sense of community, both Tischler and Prochowitz say they are grateful to the neighborhood for the support they have received. “It is phenomenal,” says Tischler.

Hours for both businesses are Mon.-Fri., 9am-7pm; and Sat. and Sun., 10am- 5pm. Extended holiday hours are posted at the stores.

 

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Meet Your 21st Century Library

Posted on 08 May 2014 by robwas66

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Self checkout is just one of the many features moving the library system into the 21st century. (Photo courtesy of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library)

By JILL BOOGREN

The Homework Center is packed with people of all ages working with tutors. Almost all of the 30-plus computers in the main room are in use. Teens hang out at a table chatting. A young girl sits at a terminal and plays a Spongebob game; her friend looking on exclaims, “How’d you do that”?! Over the loudspeaker is an announcement for a free poetry reading and conversation, with cookies.

It’s Wednesday afternoon at Rondo Community Outreach Library, but it could be just about any day at any St. Paul Public Library (SPPL). As the world moves online, our local libraries are on fast forward.

“Libraries are evolving just as fast as technology is,” said Ann McKinnon, director of communications and marketing for The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library. “And they’re anticipating the changing learning needs and styles of people they serve.”

Beyond the stacks of books are CDs, DVDs, printers, scanners, copiers, and computers. And then there’s the invisible but ever-present internet. It’s already been possible to browse materials and search databases from the library website. But now you can check out eBooks, magazines, and music, and even take classes online.

Freegal lets you download up to three songs a week, yours to keep, at no cost. Over 80 language classes from Transparent Language Online are available to library card holders, and Treehouse teaches basic coding skills to build your own website and create a mobile app. Cost prohibitive for most people, these are completely free and available through the SPPL website.

“We’re about democratizing access to sophisticated software and to highly technical and creative kinds of software,” said SPPL Director Kit Hadley.

The library has always been about access, and that is especially true for technology. The first time using a computer for many people was, and still is, at the library. Not everyone owns a computer, and not every household has internet. Yet technology is changing everything about how people work, apply for jobs, and learn.

“People who don’t have access to technology can get left behind in a hurry,” said McKinnon. “The library is a great way to be on the train. And stay relevant. And adept enough that you can keep up with the rest of the world.”

Rondo Branch Supervisor Charlene McKenzie said there’s a great need for access to computers and the ability to scan and make copies, as well as instruction around those things. A lot of curriculum is taught for basic computer skills, from using the internet and social media to creating an Xcel spreadsheet. The SPPL WORKplace program gives one-to-one help writing resumes and looking for jobs, and holds workshops on running a business. Rice St. has a “Tech Petting Zoo” that lets people try out an e-reader or other digital device.

Technology aside, libraries are being used differently now, too. Having storytimes for kids is not new, but now they’re offered in eight different languages, including Karen (at Rondo and Rice St.), Oromo (at Rondo), and Mandarin Chinese (at St. Anthony Park). This is very intentional.

“What children need to learn is love of reading, language, narrative,” said Hadley. “We want their parents to be their first teachers. They can teach in any language.”

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The outside appearance of the Hamline Midway Library, opened in 1930, masks the 21st century library housed inside. In addition to books, there are CDs, DVDs, printers, scanners, copiers and computers–and now you can check out eBooks, magazines, music, and even take classes online all through the modern library system. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

More and more, libraries are playing the role of community centers, what Hamline-Midway Library Manager Mark Kile calls a “community living room.” At Hamline-Midway this spring, Ruthanne Bredenberg and Tim Hegman led a Swedish weaving class. May is Monarch Month: Butterfly art by Andrea Martin is on display in the children’s area; a workshop on Raising Monarchs will be held May 31; and soon a master gardener will be creating a butterfly garden out front.

At Rice St., volunteers from Collectors’ Corner (in partnership with the Science Museum) showcase rocks and fossils for kids to trade; Toastmasters meet; and on Mondays teens enjoy the Library After Dark. At Merriam Park there’s a Doctor Who group, and in Paw Pals, kids read to dogs. At various locations, films are shown in the “Women’s Human Rights Film Series” and in the labor history series.

Not everything happens inside library walls either. You can already use the website from anywhere, and now there’s a mobile library App for the android and iPhone that lets you browse and put a hold on materials, register for classes, check out an eBook, download music, and more. It’s already had 1.2 million visits since 2011, its first full year available.

Library staff go to other locations, too. A Bookmobile brings books to hi-rises and other locations, and a mobile WORKplace brings skill-building tools to a broader community, especially settings where non-English speakers congregate.

János McGhie, associate librarian at Rice St., calls it a “blurry library.” “We’re not just a building, we serve the whole community,” he said.

McGhie takes a suitcase full of iPads from the Rice St. Library up the road to the Teen Zone at Marion St., where kids can try them out. Part of the Createch program, this is a collaboration between the Science Museum and St. Paul Parks and Recreation to give kids a chance to experiment. One day it’s exploring helium ballons, another it’s creating things with dowel rods and rubber bands, while another it’s circuit bending, or creating sound art, with Beatrix*JAR.

Here, the spirit of HOMAGO – Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out — is alive and well. A mantra that has been embraced by SPPL, HOMAGO is seen as an important part of development and learning. It’s not about finished products or specific outcomes. No pressure, just play.

No matter what changes take place in technology or how people want to use their library, its core mission, affirmed Hadley, is the same: to support learning, whether it’s for school, work or fun.

“The library is the place where people can pursue their lifelong learning ambitions,” said McKinnon. ”It’s free for everyone, accessible to everyone, because there’s a library in every neighborhood.”

The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library invite you to share your library story at #BecauseOfTheLibrary on Facebook and Twitter.

Local Library Locations and Hours

Hamline-Midway

1558 W. Minnehaha Ave.
Mon. and Wed. noon-8pm; Tues., Thurs. and Fri. 10am-5:30pm; Sat. 11:30am-5pm; Sun. closed

Merriam Park

1831 Marshall Ave.
Mon.-Thurs. 10am-8pm; Fri.-Sat. 10am-5:30pm; Sun. 1-5pm

Rice St.

1011 Rice St.
Mon. and Wed. noon-8pm; Tues., Thurs. and Fri. 10am-5:30pm; Sat. 11:30am-5pm; Sun. 1-5pm

Rondo

461 N. Dale St.
Mon.-Thurs. 10am-8pm; Fri.-Sat. 10am-5:30pm; Sun. 1-5pm

St. Anthony Park

2245 Como Ave.
Mon. and Wed. noon-8pm; Tues., Thurs. and Fri. 10am-5:30pm; Sat. 11:30am-5pm; Sun. closed

Bookmobile

Has stops throughout St. Paul. For schedule and locations, contact 651-266-7450 or see www.sppl.org/bookmobile

To Get a Library Card

You can apply for a library card in person at any Saint Paul Public Library. Bring a current picture ID with name and current address (or a piece of recently received mail with name and current address). Children can get a card if they meet the same ID requirements as adults, or if they’re with a parent or guardian who does. They can also present a postcard mailed to them by the Saint Paul Public Library (and can request a card be mailed to them). There’s no minimum age.

Website

For a list of programs, go to www.sppl.org and select Events + Classes then browse by location or type of activity.

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May2014BurningBrothers_2

Burning Brothers Brewery and taproom opens in Midway

Posted on 08 May 2014 by robwas66

Gluten-free beer so popular company expanded in its first month

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By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

For over a year, Megan Quick of Minneapolis has yearned for a good beer. Every so often, she has tasted a sip of someone else’s, but she’s stayed away from drinking any more than that since she became gluten-free.

She was very excited to check out the recently opened taproom at Burning Brothers Brewery, 1750 W. Thomas Ave. in St. Paul. It’s the only gluten-free brewery in the Midwest.

“This is a niche that is growing,” said Quick. She appreciates that Burning Brothers owners Dane Breimhorst and Thom Foss recognize that Minnesotans are gluten-free for health reasons, and it’s not part of the latest diet fad.

Quick admits that she has never drunk pale ales before, but instead prefers stouts. “But being gluten-free, I’ll take what I can get,” Quick said, as she tipped back a mug of Burning Brothers’ American Pale Ale, the only variety currently available. She is looking forward to new flavors. An IPA (India Pale Ale) will be released in mid-May. “I know I’m going to like it because they’re trying different things,” Quick stated.

“I love that they’re pushing the boundaries of gluten-free beer,” she added.

“It’s good beer,” agreed her husband Daniel Quick, who isn’t gluten-free.

“It’s nice to see people doing something different,” observed Nathan Steigman, a Como resident who is also a homebrewer. “It’s a very good quality beer.” Steigman, a chef himself, recognizes the chef in head brewer Dane Breimhorst, which comes across in how Breimhorst describes his beer-making efforts and the detailed knowledge he has about ingredients.

“You can taste the passion,” remarked Steigman.

HEAD BREWER DIAGNOSED WITH CELIAC DISEASE

Breimhorst knows how hard it is to find a good gluten-free beer. Diagnosed with Celiac disease five years ago, Breimhorst and longtime friend Thom Foss were in the middle of developing beer varieties for what would eventually become Burning Brothers Brewery (named after their former fire-eating antics at many fairs, including the Renaissance Festival). Following Breimhorst’s diagnosis, they started from scratch and relearned how to brew. It took three years to perfect a gluten-free recipe.

“It’s a really big thing for the Celiac community to have a real multi-beer,” remarked Breimhorst.

At Burning Brothers, they don’t use gluten-free filtering, gluten-free enzymes or any other gluten-free gimmicks. Instead they use naturally gluten-free ingredients to create great-tasting and unique beers, including sorghum, buckwheat and millet.

Foss and Breimhorst have known each other since they were 19 years old. “My head is in the clouds,” remarked Breimhorst. “I come up with the ideas. He scales them down to reality.”

FROM THEIR BASEMENTS TO A WAREHOUSE

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Burning Brothers Brewery owners Thom Foss (left) and Dane Breimhorst chat with a tour group. Right now they only offer an American Pale Ale, but plan to introduce an IPA (India Pale Ale) in mid-May at the taproom. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

In July, Breimhorst became a full-time Burning Brothers employee, and Foss followed him in December (after having worked in operations at his former IT company for exactly 10 years and a day). The brewery moved from their garages and Brienhorst’s basement in December to the warehouse in Midway. In the last month and a half, Foss and Breimhorst have taken one day off — Easter Sunday.

“It was a big slap-in-the-face difference,” remarked Foss. Instead of making five gallons at a time, they’re brewing 270 gallons, which means that the timing is completely different. “We can’t brew the same way,” he said.

“I’ve become an engineer, microbiologist, chemist and chef,” noted Breimhorst.

They started with two 7-barrel fermenters and quickly added three more 15-barrel fermenters, expanding in month one, instead of month four when they had planned. “I wasn’t surprised that we grew,” noted Foss, “but I am surprised at how quickly.”

When it’s time to brew beer, the perfectionist in both Foss and Breimhorst comes out. “When I am brewing beer, I am brutal,” Breimhorst admitted. “I am an absolute stickler. I demand my own standards because my name is on the beer.” A lot of beer has been poured down the drain. It can’t just be “good enough,” added Foss. Before they’ll release it, it has to be great.

They are currently on target to produce 150 barrels a month or 1,500 cases.

Despite the stigma regarding cans, its what Burning Brothers opted to use. “Beer is better out of cans 100%,” said Breimhorst, who explained that a beer is fresher from a can than a bottle. Part of that is because it is not exposed to light, which degrades the beer. Burning Brothers also makes sure that no air touches the beer, pumping a bit of foam into the can as the last step in their bottling process to ensure there’s no space for oxygen.

Their process is environmentally friendly. “I love fishing so I don’t want to kill my fish,” remarked Breimhorst. “We try to stay as environmentally safe as possible.”

Why did they opt to locate in the Midway neighborhood? “We are St. Paulites,” noted Breimhorst. “We live in St. Paul. This is where we want to work.”

Foss, who lives near Lake Como, added that St. Paul has very good water, and considering that water makes up 95% of the beer, “it plays a tremendous role in how beer tastes.” He noted, “We do very little to treat the water,” primarily removing the chlorine and floride that the city has added.

Both have appreciated how supportive the neighborhood has been.

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect,” said Foss. “I’m tickled we’ve gotten the exposure we’ve gotten, even just having one style of beer.”

VISIT THURSDAY TO SATURDAY

Right now, Burning Brothers beer is available only in Minnesota, but they hope to expand to surrounding states soon, and from there to Chicago and the west coast. They also have plans to partner with Minnesota growers to use barley. And they’re eyeing up 30-barrel fermenters.

Breimhorst, who is always working on a new recipe, jokes that perhaps, in true-Minnesota style, he’ll make a rhubarb lambic next.

Taproom hours are Thursday from 4-9pm, Friday from 4-9pm, and Saturday from noon-5pm. Learn more at www.burnbrosbrew.com.

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May2014_YouthServiceDay2

You don’t need to be big to make big impact

Posted on 08 May 2014 by robwas66

Local 2nd grader receives grant to fight childhood hunger on Global Youth Service Day 2014

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First to third grade students at Great River School, 1326 Energy Park Dr., gather for a group photo during the Global Youth Service Day Event. Second grader Johan Rafael (Rafa) Bastida-Rickmyer applied for and received a grant through Youth Service America for the second year in a row to address the issues of childhood hunger.

Johan Rafael (Rafa) Bastida-Rickmyer, a 2nd grader from Great River School (1326 Energy Park Dr.), was awarded a Sodexo Foundation Youth Grant through Youth Service America. The grant supported Bastida-Rickmyer’s efforts in leading a community service project on Global Youth Service Day 2014 that addressed

the issues of childhood hunger. Great River is an urban Montessori serving children in 1st – 12th grade.

Rafa’s classroom (28 students from 1-3rd grade) spent the two weeks in April presenting to the upper classes the statistics on childhood hunger and how this community could help do something about it. Their hard work culminated with a field trip to Merrick Community Services in Maplewood where they were able to deliver the food, weight, sort and present to the clients of Merrick extra food for the week.

Merrick Community Services serves over 150 families a week. The children engaged the smaller children waiting with their parents to help distribute the groceries. Rafa is not new to this work. This is his second year winning the grant. Last year they delivered over 400 pounds to this community.

Courtney Roessler, the administrator of the food shelf, said, “We were so pleased with how willing these children were to just dig in and do whatever job it was they were asked to do.” With their increased advertising and decorated custom t-shirts, they were able to donate over 600 pounds of food this year. The bags streamed on and took a good chunk of time loading onto the bus and into the shelter. Not even the rain could dampen the lightened spirits of both the children and the recipients.

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28 students in grades 1-3 from Great River School donated over 600 pounds of food to the Merrick Community Services Food Shelf. They collected, packed and delivered the food to observe Global Youth Service Day 2014.

“As communities are challenged by the reduction in public resources, it makes our vision of a hunger-free America more difficult to attain,” said Robert A. Stern, chair, Sodexo Foundation. “Each Sodexo Foundation Youth Grantee is doing their part to tackle an issue that directly affects one in five of their peers. It will be through their actions and ingenuity that we will one day see an end to childhood hunger in America.”

All in all it was a great event. The children worked up an appetite and their hunger created a perfect opportunity for a learning moment filled with compassion and empathy. “Your hunger is easily solved with the lunch you brought today. These people live with hunger more often than they should. And this works helps ease that pain,” said main teacher Erik Akre and aide Jenny Thompson. The children were accompanied by their teachers and volunteers from the community.

YSA (Youth Service America) improves communities by increasing the number and diversity of young people, ages 5 to 25, serving in substantive roles. Through campaigns, grant programs, resource development and training opportunities, YSA promotes a global culture of engaged youth committed to a lifetime of service, learning, leadership and achievement. As a campaign of YSA and the largest service event in the world, Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) celebrates and mobilizes the millions of children and youth who improve their communities each day of the year through service, and is held in more than 135 countries on six continents. For more information on YSA, visit www.YSA.org and www.GYSD.org.

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LibraryArt

“Imagine One Million Monarchs in the Midway”

Posted on 08 May 2014 by robwas66

Hamline Midway Library dedicates month of May to imperiled insect

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Last year alone, researchers with the World Wildlife Federation found a 59 percent decrease in the area of forest typically occupied by the monarch butterfly during the winter months—indicating the numbers of the iconic insect has hit a 20-year low. (Photo by Kyle Mianulli)

By KYLE MIANULLI

The monarch butterfly is one of North America’s most beloved insects. It’s distinct orange and black flitting wings are a recognized symbol of summer throughout the upper United States. Spotting one this year might be significantly more difficult than last year, though, as it was the year before, and the year before that. Monarch butterflies are disappearing at an alarming rate, leading many in the Midway area to take action, including the Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave.

Following the lead of neighbors who have taken to planting milkweed—the most vital plant to monarch reproduction—and other conservation efforts, the library is dedicating the entire month of May to the imperiled monarch.

Dubbed “Imagine One Million Monarchs in the Midway” the library is rolling out a slate of programming and activities geared toward raising awareness and spurring local action.

Over the last two decades, the monarch populations of North America have been dwindling. Every year monarchs from all over Canada and the United States migrate thousands of miles to wait out the colder months at various overwintering sites in Mexico’s forests.

Last year alone, researchers with the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) found a 59 percent decrease in the area of forest typically occupied by the migratory insect during the winter months—indicating the number of monarchs has hit a 20-year low.

The WWF identifies a range of probable causes for the monarch’s disappearance, including habitat loss due to deforestation and widespread pesticide use, as well as climate change and the loss of milkweed plants, which are their primary food source.

While the driving factors might be global in nature, there is a lot that can be done in your own backyard to begin to address the issue, as many area residents have already shown.

“These are desperate times,” says Hamline Midway resident Erin Pavlica. She keeps a large crop of common milkweed in her plot at the Midway Green Spirit Community Garden. “A whole generation of monarchs were lost in the migration process last year.”

Pavlica says she generally brings the caterpillars hatched on her milkweed home for her kids to raise and nurture as they transform into healthy monarch butterflies. Last year wasn’t a fruitful one for her milkweed plants, though.

“Sadly, I did not get a single egg laid last year,” she says.

Another Hamline Midway resident, Stephen Mitrione, has seen a similar decline in monarchs at his plush rain garden in front of his home on Hubbard Ave. He keeps a large crop of milkweed and other native plants attractive to monarchs and other pollinating insects.

“It’s interesting, there’s been a lot fewer these last couple years,” he says. “I think that has a lot do with the habitat destruction that’s been going on.”

Monarchs are just one piece of the puzzle. Insects that pollinate a large range of edible fruits, vegetables and plants vital to our food supply and ecosystem are suffering from the same loss of habitat as the monarchs.

Organizers at the Midway Green Spirit Community Garden have already taken measures to provide habitat for pollinators. Pavlica, who heads an orchard team at the garden, says they are discussing adding more milkweed and other pollinator-attracting native perennials into the orchard this year.

The garden has its own colony of pollinator insects, as well. They may not be as endearing as the monarch, but the two hives of bees on site are no less important to the health and productivity of the garden.

“Theoretically the output increases by about 30 percent with reliable pollinators,” Mitrione said.

At the Library

LibraryArtThe integral nature of pollinators, and more specifically, monarchs in our food and bio-systems will be on full display at the Hamline Midway Library throughout the month of May. Anyone interested in learning more about the valuable role of monarchs and their precarious position in today’s world will find an array of helpful resources, activities and events there.

The library has expanded their collection of books on the subject, and will have new books on display daily. “We are hardly able to keep the bookshelf stocked,” says library Branch Manager Mark Kile.

The collection includes both fiction and nonfiction books for all ages, and cover every topic of monarch butterflies and other pollinators, from gardening to biology, picture books and more.

An art display will also feature butterfly paper cuts from local artist Andrea Martin. The display includes several different butterfly species, which will not be labeled. Instead, visitors will be encouraged to flip through one of the butterfly field guides on hand to identify each of the colorful winged creatures.

There will also be a display from Kathryn Malody of Hamline University featuring monarchs and viceroys—another butterfly that looks similar to the monarch but is poisonous to potential predators.

On Sat., May 10, 1:30-3pm, the Saturday Club will feature a monarch butterfly-themed craft for school-aged children.

On Wed., May 21, from 5-7:45pm the library will host a community seed swap followed by a screening of the PBS/Nova documentary, “The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies.” Gardening expert Mary Hedenstrom will lead a discussion on how gardeners can help protect the fragile monarch butterfly population following the movie.

Sarah Weaver, of the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab will also present a hands-on workshop on the best way to raise monarch butterflies Sat., May 31, 1:30-3:30pm. Volunteers and participants will also plant milkweed and other native species of pollinator plants in the demonstration garden during that time. Ramsey County Master Gardeners Diane Dodge and Mary Hedenstrom will be on hand to orchestrate the planting and provide insight and information.

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May2014_EldersPhoto2

Volunteers are crucial to Hamline Midway Elders programs

Posted on 08 May 2014 by robwas66

Never a lack of ways to volunteer, from teaching, driving, to baking, or just paying a visit to someone alone

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Joni O’Connell leads a weekly exercise group for seniors in the basement of Hamline Church United Methodist, where the Hamline Midway elders program has space. (Photo by Jan Willms)

By JAN WILLMS

Hamline resident Joni O’Connell calls volunteering a double payback. Those being assisted receive services, but the volunteer is also rewarded and gets a lot out of the process.

O’Connell knows of what she speaks, having volunteered as an exercise teacher for the past seven years for the Hamline Midway Elders, an organization that has been providing volunteer and professional assistance to enable elders to remain in their homes with independence, dignity and choice since 2001.

“My husband Gerry broke his foot, and we heard about this exercise group at Hamline Midway Elders,” O’Connell said. They joined the group, and after about a year the instructor was leaving for another job.

“They asked if I could get certified and teach, so I did,” O’Connell recalled. She received her certification at the Arthritis Foundation.

“People are so appreciative, and the feedback is great,” she said. She teaches classes in strength and endurance twice a week in the basement of the Hamline United Methodist Church, 1514 Englewood Ave., where Hamline Midway Elders has space.

“We don’t do aerobics or go down on the floor,” she explained. “It would be hard for a lot of us to get up off the floor,” she added with a chuckle.

O’Connell said her class usually has about three men and about 12 women participate, some using canes or walkers.

“Hamline Midway Elders does so much for people,” O’Connell said, adding that she feels so lucky to be able to help. “I am 22 years beyond my expiration date for ovarian cancer,” she added. With only a 4 per cent chance for survival, she was diagnosed while planning a tour to Ireland. She conducted tours as a hobby while managing an office full-time. She said she told her doctor “I don’t have time for this. Let’s go.” She started treatment and never looked back.

Some of the more than 150 volunteers, who provided over 2,500 hours of service in 2013, who support neighborhood seniors come from beyond the Hamline area.

Kathy Lilly lives outside the neighborhood, but joined a friend to wrap books at Borders to help raise funds for the Hamline Midway Elders. When Borders closed, she started driving seniors to medical appointments. Then she had the idea to bring a little more sweetness to their lives.

She started baking cookies and banana bread, and now makes a cookie delivery every week to the Hamline Hi-Rise at 777 Hamline Ave. N. “Gingersnaps, oatmeal cookies and banana bread are the favorites,” she said.

Up at 5 every morning to walk her dogs, Lilly bakes on Sundays for the seniors, but also for some of the shops near where she lives.

Lilly said she perceives two different senior communities in the Hamline-Midway area.

“There are people who have lived in their homes in the neighborhood and are now surrounded by people they don’t know,” she said. “They’re fond of their homes, but they feel very isolated.”

Lilly said she has found that in the Hi-Rise, many residents living there are not from the Hamline area and have no affiliation to the Midway. “But they get to know each other and develop their own community in the Hi-Rise,” she said.

There is never a lack of ways to volunteer. Lillie said people residing in their homes often need help with shoveling or lawn mowing, installing air conditioners or repairing old doorbells. Those in the Hi-Rise need help with rides to the doctor and to the grocery store.

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(L to R) Hamline Hi-Rise residents Sven Olness and Mary Murphy are joined by resident and volunteer Mike McCarthy on a day when volunteer Kathy Lilly delivers her baked goods. “Gingersnaps, oatmeal cookies, and banana bread are the favorites,” she said. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Assisting Kathy with distributing cookies as well as making errand runs is Mike McCarthy, a Vietnam vet who has lived in the Hi-Rise for the past 17 years.

“I had some health problems related to the war,” McCarthy said, “and I’m confined to a wheelchair. But I like going down to the Midway, and I’m happy to get something for the residents when they need it. Some like candy and chocolates, and a few have to have their cigarettes. They say it’s the only pleasure they have left.”

McCarthy said when Kathy comes with the cookies, “They’re almost on top of me. Everyone wants cookies.”

But as well as sharing cookies, one group at the Hi-Rise also keeps in good shape by walking every day of the week except Sunday. Jerline Clark is the treasurer and spokesperson for Proud Hamline Walkers, a group of women (with a few men participating), who walk about a mile each day. During the winter, or if the weather is bad, the group walks inside. Otherwise, they walk around the park.

“We go at 8am every day,” Clark said. Originally from Chicago, Clark used to live on the east side of St. Paul. But now she is getting to know the Hamline-Midway neighborhood.

“In the summer it’s great, because people have gardens,” she noted. She said the walking group is also thinking of getting a garden plot at the community garden at Pierce Butler and Hamline.

“I was born on a farm, and I like fresh vegetables,” she commented. Clark said she goes out early every day and gets one mile walked on her own before starting with the group.

For Kathy Carlson, the Hamline Midway Elders program was there for her parents before she became a volunteer and board member of the group.

“They moved here from Illinois and didn’t know anyone,” Carlson said. “My mom looked forward to the monthly luncheons, and someone would stay with my dad while we took her to doctor appointments.”

Carlson said the Hamline Midway Elders can always use more volunteers. “We need more, even if to cover when other volunteers go on vacation or are ill or have surgery,” she said.

The organization operates with just two part-time staffers. Tom Fitzpatrick is the program director and Monica Gallagher is service and volunteer director.

Fitzpatrick said the budget for Hamline Midway Elders for 2014 is $81,429. “We expect to raise that amount through a combination of government support, grants from foundations and contributions from neighborhood individuals and businesses,” he said.

Gallagher said a wide variety of services are offered to assist Hamline-Midway seniors in living a healthy lifestyle in their own homes, including homemaking, shopping, rides, and access to Medicare-certified homecare. There is a monthly caregiver support group, a monthly lunch and education session and exercise groups.

“When we were founded in 2001, two of the greatest areas of volunteer service were volunteer and/or affordable chores and affordable, flexible door-to-door rides,” Gallagher said. “We continue to provide these services but still have more demand than supply,” she added, saying drivers and seasonal chore help are greatly needed.

 

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May2014_ZooMomFeat1

Zoo Mom: The Life of Arlene Scheunemann

Posted on 08 May 2014 by robwas66

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Arlene Scheunemann was sometimes referred to as a “velvet hammer.” Her patience, perseverance, tenacity, and never-ending dedication ensured survival for many of the animals she cared for and helped make Como Zoo what it is today. The book about her was published this month.

Can you imagine taking a gorilla on a road trip? Or sharing your dinner table with a growing orangutan? Or walking a lion cub on a leash? The late Arlene Scheunemann did it all in her early years as a Como Zoo docent, responsible for the care and feeding of hundreds of zoo babies at her own home in the 1960s and 1970s, before Como had the facilities to care for infant animals.  Scheunemann’s “wild” family life, raising teenagers and primates in the same house, is the subject of “Zoo Mom: The Life of Arlene Scheunemann,” a new biography that will be released on May 8.

Arlene Scheunemann was the beloved “Zoo Mom” of Como Zoo. It began one significant day in 1968, when a small lion cub named Janice came to stay in the Scheunemann home. Spanning 45 years, Arlene was mother to four human children and foster mom to over 200 wild animals. She was a tireless advocate for improving the lives and safety of animals, procuring funding for zoo improvements, and promoting sustainability on the campus of the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Arlene was on the ground floor of establishing the Docent program to promote awareness of Como Zoo and helped establish foster-care standards for the animals she would come to care for—including Bruno, an orangutan who loved tipping over the dining room chairs; Turkey, a parrot who put Arlene in a potentially precarious situation; José, a jaguar who accompanied the family on vacations; and, Tamoo, a lowland gorilla who taught herself to open the refrigerator and retrieve her favorite, strawberry yogurt.

Sometimes referred to as a “velvet hammer,” Arlene’s patience, perseverance, tenacity, and never-ending dedication ensured survival for many of the animals she cared for and helped make Como Zoo what it is today.

Scheunemann was a board member of Como Friends and was also vital to the 2013 addition of Gorilla Forest to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. She was a strong advocate of Como’s shift toward operant conditioning training, a progressive approach to animal care that keeps animals from becoming bored, and encourages them to participate in their own health care.

You can get your copy of “Zoo Mom: The Life of Arlene Scheunemann,” by calling Garden Safari Gifts at 651-487-8222. Proceeds from the book will be donated to Como Friends, the non-profit partner of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

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May2014_LyracistFeat1

A fateful decision at age 12 plays out 30 years later

Posted on 08 May 2014 by robwas66

Como resident is songwriter for the band Mitchell Yards that releases CD on May 16

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Como resident Paul Seeba is a member of the band Mitchell Yards, who will perform May 17 at a fundraiser at Chelsea Heights Elementary. The band will also release a CD, “Mitchell Yards,” on May 16. (Photo by Jan Willms)

By JAN WILLMS

When Paul Seeba was about 12 and living in Hibbing, he realized he wasn’t going to make the hockey team and chose to play guitar instead. Today, as a father, teacher and musician, he is glad he made that fateful decision.

He saved himself from some bumps and bruises, and he chose an interest that he will be able to pursue long after a hockey player hangs up his skates. Although he has played guitar all these years, it has just been in the past year that Seeba has reunited with his old band.

The group will perform May 17 for a fundraiser at Chelsea Heights Elementary, where Seeba’s daughter attends. Another daughter is a student at Murray Middle School.

“I’ve been playing guitar for over 30 years, but now that my kids are getting older it seemed like a perfect time to get back to the music,” Seeba explained. The Hibbing native, who has been a Como resident since 1999, describes his band as an acoustic-based, Americana-style group with an emphasis on lyrics and harmonies.

“I have known my bandmates forever,” Seeba said. His brother, Bob, plays bass. Rod Tahija, an old friend from Hibbing, plays guitar; Greg Tiburzi from Duluth plays drums, and he and Paul both are songwriters for the band, Mitchell Yards.

“We used to play together, and then the drummer moved away. He has recently moved back to Duluth, and so we got together again,” Seeba noted. They practice on week nights.

“Through the magic of digital devices, we can rehearse with Greg, who is 150 miles away,” Seeba said. “It’s a good thing to do in the winter.”

The band will officially release a CD May 16, also titled “Mitchell Yards,” at a performance at Manitou Station.

Seeba said people can check his website, www.paulseeba.com or get the new CD through CD Baby or on Spotify.

“It’s amazing, all the different kinds of ways to get music these days,” he said.

Seeba, who teaches geography at North High School in White Bear Lake, and has previously taught history and economics, said he weaves history and geography into his songs at times.

The band’s name is based on an old switching station located just outside of Hibbing.

“It was on the verge of being razed,” Seeba said, “but cultural preservationists made a case for not tearing it down. I became fascinated, writing a song about it and getting a little bit involved in saving old buildings.”

Seeba said his songs tend to gravitate toward the Arrowhead region. His early years on the Iron Range provide him with a multitude of history to draw from.

One song on the new CD is “Science Fair” and relates to the fact that years ago the Communist headquarters in the United States was located in the Hibbing area.

“One of my teachers told me how as a younger man, he was stopped in the 1950s by an FBI agent and investigated. The FBI believed he was a member of the Communist Party,” Seeba recalled.

The Greyhound Bus Line, recently celebrating its 100th anniversary, had its start in Hibbing. The basis for another song.

“I do a lot of my writing in the winter,” Seeba added, “especially with a winter as rough as this last one.”

He finds it beneficial for his songwriting to live in a climate that offers four seasons, finding the different weather enables him to be more productive than living in a warm climate all year long. The bitter cold of winter, especially, seems to hone his writing skills.

Mitchell Yards performs at different locations, and Seeba performs solo at local gathering spots like Gingko’s and Coffee Grounds. The band is playing at the Stone Arch Festival in Minneapolis on June 15.

“It’s a struggle and hard to juggle it all, but it’s exciting,” Seeba said. His wife, Louise, is a member of the St. Paul School Board and also has a busy schedule.

He considers himself fortunate to be able to take this time in his life to focus on his music. And he does not regret his decision at 12 to play the guitar rather than play hockey.

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