Archive | July, 2014


The President Visits Minnehaha Park

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

7_14President1Our reporter, Jill Boogren, was in the press corps as the President visited Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis in June. Clockwise: 1) President Obama arriving at Minnehaha Park; 2) President Obama answering guests’ questions at a gathering at Minnehaha Park; 3) Air Force One ready for departure. (Photos by Jill Boogren)

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Still time to apply for the Green Line Challenge

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

7_14IOCGreenLineChallengeThe John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is promoting its Knight Green Line Challenge, seeking projects to make St. Paul neighborhoods along the new Green Line more vibrant places to live, work, play and visit. The challenge is part of a three-year, $1.5 million commitment from Knight Foundation to further advance community development in St. Paul’s Central Corridor.

The challenge will accept applications through July 24. The Saint Paul Foundation will administer the challenge.

Any individual, business or nonprofit can apply. The only requirement is that the project must take place in and benefit

at least one of six St. Paul

neighborhoods along the Green Line: Downtown St. Paul, Frogtown/Thomas-Dale, Hamline Midway, St. Anthony Park, Summit-University or Union Park.

The Knight Green Line Challenge is Knight Foundation’s newest effort to invest in the success of St. Paul. The Green Line Challenge builds on Knight’s role in co-founding the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, an initiative that brings together diverse groups across sectors to build opportunity and benefit communities along the new light rail line.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, visit www.knightgreenlinechallenge.org.

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Tickets on sale now for Ticket to Brasil

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

7_14IOCTicketsSince 2003, Adieu Summer Concert hosted by Twin Cities’ group Ticket To Brasil has been an annual tradition as summer slips into autumn. Celebrating and embracing diversity through international music and dance, this year’s concert will be held on Sun., Sept. 21 from 3- 6:30pm at the Historic Lake Como Pavilion.

Adieu Summer Concert 2014 features a great lineup of flamenco, African drumming and dance, world jazz, bossa nova and samba music styles:–3pm, “A Touch of Spain” – – an exciting music and dance ensemble (led by guitarist Michael Hauser) dedicated to presenting the art of flamenco in its most authentic form. The group features some of the best Twin Cities’ flamenco dancers and instrumentalists;–4pm, “World Jazz Collegium” – an international jazz quintet led by guitarist Pavel Jany and featuring violinist Gary Schulte as a special guest;–4:45pm, “Voice of Culture” – a drum and dance company (led by dancer Kenna Camara-Cottman) performing traditional rhythms, movements, and songs of West African people with an emphasis on cultural and artistic education; and–5:15pm, “Ticket to Brasil” – Twin Cities’ premier bossa nova, samba and Brazilian jazz ensemble has been hosting Adieu Summer Concerts since 2003.

Ticket To Brasil features Natania Kamin and Joyce Perez – vocals, Pavel Jany – guitars, Josue Alfaro – drums/vocals/percussion, Dan Musselman – piano/keyboards, Doug Little – sax, Dan Weston – bass, and Tim O’Keefe – percussion, and special guests.

Tickets are $10 for adults and children 12 and over; children under twelve are free. Advanced tickets are available for purchase beginning July 1 at www.tickettobrasil.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate on the day of the event beginning at 2:30pm.

The Historic Lake Como Pavilion is at 1360 Lexington Pkwy. N. Parking is free; food, wine and non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase.

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Pawn America eyes a facelift

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

7_14IOCPawnAmericaPawn America’s Midway store at 1636 University Ave. will be extensively renovated in the months ahead, adding a new entrance point, redoing the exterior and eliminating a long-standing traffic hazard on nearby Fry St. Pawn America is preparing to take its detailed building and site plans to the city this summer. Only site plan review is required, so no Planning Commission or Board of Zoning Appeals action is needed. Once the work gets underway, passerby will notice that the store’s red pyramid icon will go away.

“After three years of watching the construction of the Green Line, we’re excited to be investing in our property,” said Chuck Armstrong, chief legislative officer for Pawn America. The intent is to update the store inside and outside, and make it more pedestrian-friendly.

Armstrong and Link Wilson of Kass Wilson Architects said the store is in need of an upgrade. Its existing entrance is off of Fry St., with some off-street parking there. Customers back out onto Fry, creating a dangerous situation for other motorists. The store entrance will be moved to the building’s east side. Plans show columns, planters and a square roof at the building’s northeast corner. An open walkway will lead to the new entrance on the east side of the building. The current entrance would be used for store personnel. The new entrance would be adjacent to parking shared with a building to the east. There will be columns at the corner, supporting a roof. The new entrance cannot easily be placed at the corner because of a two-foot grade change at the building site, Wilson said.


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HU adjuncts vote to join SEIU in landmark union election

HU adjuncts vote to join SEIU in landmark union election

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

HamlineUnivLogoHamline University adjunct professors have voted overwhelmingly to join part-time faculty at Northeastern University, Georgetown University and thousands of instructors nationwide in a growing union movement.

The vote marks the first time that adjunct faculty at a private Twin Cities-area university have formed a union in their quest to improve higher education for students and faculty. Hamline adjuncts joined SEIU Local 284 after votes for the all-mail ballot election were counted last month. 72% of the valid ballots counted voted yes to forming the union.

David Weiss, an adjunct faculty in the Religion department at Hamline, spoke about why he thought the win reflected a victory for the entire Hamline community. “This is a great day for faculty, students, and the whole Hamline community. It was clear in this campaign that for adjuncts in Minnesota, our time is now. By coming together to address the low pay and lack of benefits and stability for adjunct faculty, we are taking steps to strengthen all of higher education for students and faculty alike. I’m confident that our success today will help empower other workers, including adjunct faculty like ourselves at schools like St. Thomas, to change working and learning conditions in higher education.”

Jennifer Beckham teaches in the English department and spoke said, “We sent a letter to Provost Jensen expressing our interest in building a productive relationship that reflects our shared value in making Hamline a great place for faculty and students. Adjuncts have been energized by the support of tenured faculty, students, alumni, and community supporters throughout this process, and we look forward to continuing this important work.”

Minnesota adjuncts are joining a union movement that hopes to address what they see as a crisis in higher education that has turned what was once a good middle-class profession into a low-wage, no-benefits job without any job security from semester to semester.

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“Our Shared Planet”

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

7_14IOCOurSharedPlanetOn June 18, Groovin’ In The Garden concert series went to solar power when headliner Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders plugged into to a mobile, solar-powered trailer that woodcarving artist Jim Ramsdell uses as his workshop for the ‘Our Shared Planet’ traveling exhibit. Ramsdell was on-hand welcoming concert goers and demonstrating his skills inside the trailer where he worked on his latest woodcarving creation, a mother giraffe and her baby. ‘Our Shared Planet’ is a wildlife woodcarving display dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of the natural world around us and fostering a reverence for all its creatures. It is currently on display in Como’s Exhibit Gallery (in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory building) through Labor Day. The exhibit contains a number of highly detailed life-size wood sculptures, set against lighted interpretive backdrops, beautiful photographs and quotes along with nature sounds and music, all designed to raise the consciousness and awareness of its visitors.

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Activities abound at Hamline-Midway

Activities abound at Hamline-Midway

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

IOC_LibraryThe Hamline Midway Library has many activities planned for July and August to keep neighbors reading, learning, and gathering together through the hot months of summer.

Summer Reading Program continues in July, with the pirate-themed comedy act Treasure Beyond Measure taking the stage on Thur., July 10, 10:30am. Magician Matt Dunn performs Thur., July 17, 10:30am, and on Thur., July 24, 10:30am, Bruce the Bug Guy combines storytelling, nature education, and hands-on activities, along with showing kids interesting live arthropods. Kids can also sign up to earn free books by logging how many hours they read and trying fun activities and projects during the summer.

The library will host family-friendly movie matinees on Thursdays July 10, 17 and Aug 7, all at 2pm.

Fridays at 10:30am, Hamline Midway librarians offer Toddler Storytime, with finger play fun, books, and songs. Upcoming storytimes are July 11, 18, 25, and Aug. 1, 8, and 15.

The Kids Book Club (for ages 8-12) meets at 1:30pm on Sat., July 26, with the Teen Book Club (for ages 12-18) meeting that day at 2:30pm. Both clubs offer treats, fun, and a great way for book lovers to discuss what they’re been reading with other avid readers.

The Saints and Sinners Mystery Book Club for adults meets Sat., Aug. 2 from 1-3pm. The title for August is “Dark of the Moon” by John Sanford. Contact Geraldine Balter at gerrib13@q.com or 651-224-5570 for more information about the club.

Summer programs for young people continue in August with Summer Power activities, sponsored by the Hamline Midway Library Association. On Thur., Aug. 7 from 10:30-11:30am, art teacher Sonja Olson will show kids how to make a simple collage book they can take home. Participants are limited to 15 people; please register online at www.sppl.org or stop in at the library to sign up.

Thur., Aug. 14, money writer Kara McGuire will present a kid-friendly workshop about money, talking with kids about what exactly money is and why grown-ups have to work for it.


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Two local youth to perform in Neverland

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

7_14IOCNeverlandCircus Juventas, the largest youth performing arts circus in the country, announces its 20th Anniversary year summer production – “Neverland.”

“Neverland” has an extensive schedule which includes 21 performances between Aug 1-17 at 1270 Montreal Ave. Tickets can be purchased at www.ticketworks.com.

Local resident Johanna Lies, daughter of Audrey Matson and Robert Lies, will perform in “Neverland” as the pirate Black Murphy, and will perform theater and an aerial act on the triple trapeze. Lies, who is 18, has performed with Circus Juventas for 10 years.

Rachel Wilson, daughter of Jenny and Ty Wilson, takes the stage as the pirate Bonnie Elizabeth and will perform fire dancing, theater, 3-girl hand balance, dance, plus aerial acts on the duo trapeze, hammock, triangle and Mexican Cloud Swing. Wilson has also be a Circus Juventas performer for 10 years.


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Connect with community at Como Neighborhood Days

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

Neighborhood festival grows from 250 to 2,500 attendees in five years


Movie night on Fridays has consistently been one of the most popular activities of the 3-day festival.


Como Neighborhood Days (formerly called Como Fest) returns this year on Fri., July 11 to Sun., July 13.

“I love this event because it’s great to see how this community comes together – the people behind the scenes making the events happen and the neighbors that attend and support the event,” said AndreaLynn Johnson, who has been involved in the event since its beginning as “Staycation” in 2010.

She added, “The variety of activities offered throughout the weekend gets richer and more interesting each year. I have to agree with what I have heard about why people attend this event, and that is that it’s got a very ‘neighborhoody’ feel to it – inviting sense of community around family-friendly events.”

According to District 10 Administrator Ted Blank, “It’s a great way to enjoy the neighborhood, connect with your neighbors, and experience some uniquely creative performances.”



The campout at the park was so popular last year that it is being offered again in 2014.

The event was started in 2010 by the District 10 Como Community Council, along with several neighborhood organizations and businesses.

“The goal was to offer folks a weekend of affordable fun in their own neighborhood and to highlight neighborhood businesses and other amenities,” explained Blank.

Northwest Como Park Recreation Director Darcy Rivers remembers meeting in 2010 with Rhonda DeBough from District 10 to discuss what had been done in the past for National Night Out. “Rhonda suggested we do something before National Night Out to help promote that event and get the word out so we began Staycation,” recalled Rivers. “Because of the budget crunch, we figured people were not traveling as much and would like to do something in their own community.”

The first year it was a three-day event, July 23-25, 2010 and it drew 250 people. It began with a battle of the bands weekend event at The Coffee Grounds on Hamline Ave. Chelsea Heights PTO organized a flea market, Northwest

Como hosted a movie night and District 10 offered a bike ride, garden tour and art crawl.

As an active District 10 block leader at the time, Johnson was approached by then District 10 Community Organizer DeBough about participating in planning an art event during a greater community-building event. “We thought we could find ways for families to enjoy a fun yet budget-friendly weekend in their own backyard – a staycation!” Johnson remarked.

The second year was similar to the first, and attracted more attendees than the year before. The Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corp pitched in to help make things run smoothly.

“The third year we changed the name to Como Fest in hopes of reaching more people,” stated Rivers.

Several other businesses added to the line-up of events in 2012. Lyngblomsten Care Center hosted a Mid-Summer Festival. Black Bear Crossings Cafe offered a wine and cheese social on Friday night. Chelsea Heights PTO added inflatables, carnival games and concessions during the flea market on Saturday. Como Park Language and Arts Preschool organized Make and Take Art projects, the Como Block Nurse Program performed blood pressure checks, and Kinderberry Hill in Roseville offered free Kite Making for Kids. On Sunday, Como Park Lutheran Church held an outdoor worship service with a live band and organized a kickball tournament.

In 2013, the event continued to grow with the addition of event sponsors Linders, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and TopLine Federal Credit Union. There was a beer and wine tasting event at Como Park Grill. And the Friday night movie (with a jump castle, climbing tower, craft, concessions, bingo and the movie) expanded into a campout. “Families pre-register and bring their tents and camping supplies, enjoy a campfire after the movie, then hit their sleeping bags. We wake them in the morning, serve a light breakfast at 8am, then pack up and head out,” said Rivers.


Feat7_14ComoFest3“Como Neighborhood Days has grown and evolved over the years since it started as the Staycation,” observed Blank. “In 2012, the Lyngblomsten Mid-Summer Festival became part of our lineup, which brought a well-established neighborhood arts event on board. Venues for Como Neighborhood Days have changed, as businesses have opened and closed.”

“It has evolved to include a wider range of activities for children to grandparents, as well as more partners and venues, and promotes various businesses and services in District 10,” said Johnson. While some things have changed, with the bike ride and garden tour spinning off as separate events, others parts, such as the Art Fair with hands-on/take-away children art projects and carnival games/movie at North Dale Recreation Center, have stayed intact over the years. “The events have remained virtually free or at a low cost to families have been important for us to maintain,” said Johnson.

“Attendees enjoy the informal nature of the event, getting to have fun right in their own neighborhood, and sampling neighborhood businesses,” remarked Blank.

Last year 2,000 people attended the festival, and this year organizers expect to serve 2,500.

Rivers praised the people who volunteer to make this festival happen. “That’s one major reason why the event is so good,” she said.

JULY 11-13, 2014

The 2014 lineup includes events at Northwest Como Recreation Center, Lyngblomsten, Como Park Grill, and Black Bear Crossings.

Friday, July 11
12 -10pm. Firkin Friday with Summit Brewing at Como Park Grill
6-9pm. Family Movie Night at Northwest Como Recreation Center

Saturday, July 12
11am-6pm. Lyngblomsten Mid-Summer Festival at Lyngblomsten
4-10pm. Patio Party at Como Park Grill

Sunday, July 13
10am-noon. Live Music at Black Bear Crossings
12-4:30pm. Art Fair at Como Lakeside Pavilion/Black Bear Crossings
12-2:30pm. Make and Take Children’s Activities at Como Lakeside Pavilion/Black Bear Crossings
3-4:30pm. Pops Concert at Como Lakeside Pavilion/Black Bear Crossings

Remember that each of these time blocks has multiple activities and participants—find the full schedule at www.district10comopark.org/neigh_days.html and its links.

“What’s valuable about this event is bringing together neighbors of all ages, as well as neighborhood businesses, to promote/celebrate the talents found within the community – all for low to no cost for families,” said Johnson.



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Small conversation leads to huge project

Posted on 11 July 2014 by robwas66

“Transforming Central” receives multiple grants and assistance as it improves the environment


Students work on plantings to beautify Central as part of “Transforming Central.”


Big ideas sometimes start with small conversations. In 2011, the Parent Advisory Council at Central High School, 275 Lexington Pkwy., looked around at the grounds of the school and started talking about what might be done to make the school’s campus a more welcoming and environmentally healthy place. The “Transforming Central” project was born.

“We looked at what hard shape things were in, such as packed earth, runoff and trees that needed to be trimmed,” said Julie Marckel, a member of the Council. “We started very simply, with bulb planting.”

Central connected with Metro Design Center (MDC) at the University of Minnesota. This organization created a document with a list of projects.


This is most recent plan development for Transforming Central as of press time; it may include slight changes as plans progress.

“MDC does front-end conceptual planning for sites,” Marckel explained. “It looks at the before, and how it could be improved for the after. MDC looked at samples of planting on other similar campuses and did an analysis of the way students move, with heavy periods at the beginning and end of the day, and where students gather. This was done in 2011 and 2012.”

In the summer of 2012, tiered beds of natives, perennials and grasses were planted in the front exterior stairway of the school.

Marckel said a survey was conducted and facilitated by National Honor Society members. Students were asked what they liked best about Central, what made them the proudest, and what could be improved. Parents and teachers also provided feedback, and the Transforming Central project built on that information.

In the fall of 2012, the Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) awarded the school a $10,000 grant in services to analyze storm water runoff. This resulted in a conceptual design for improving aesthetics and solving environmental issues.


The tiered landscaping at Central High School presented some interesting and exciting platforms for the Transforming Central project.

“CRWD worked with the architect firm of Emmons and Oliver and did a site analysis,” Marckel explained. “The Watershed District began to propose solutions around water runoff and rain gardens. It looked at worn dirt paths and storm water issues and improvements.”

She said that with the assistance of Nate Zwonitzer, urban best management practices specialist with CRWD, Central received another $50,000 grant to help with a storm water retrofit project. This award will be used for design finalization to be provided to Central High School this year.

“This past year we have continued to work with the Watershed District,” Marckel said. “It is focusing on water issues, but we also hope to address other things, such as the arts, sculpture and more landscaping.”

She said the parents’ group supporting Transforming Central has developed a brochure and met with neighborhood community councils to share information about the project.

Central was also selected as a site for the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation’s Placemaking Residency, and had Gil Penalosa, an internationally known placemaking expert who is passionate about designing cities for all people, speak to the students in May. A selected group of students joined him for a walk through the neighborhood and a follow-up talk to share what they had seen and discuss ways to connect to the community.

“We’re now moving forward,” Marckel said. She said that information has been gathered about rain gardens and maintenance and the realities of snow removal. A goal for 2015-16 is to work on the front plaza areas.

“This is such a large project, and we’re just a small band of parent volunteers,” Marckel commented. “Our challenge is to keep letting the students and faculty know that we are working on it.”

She said Transforming Central is a three-pronged project, focusing on student experience, environmental impact and community connections.

Studies have shown that student interaction with the natural elements on their campus can decrease stress and increase achievement levels. The Central site is also in a very vibrant neighborhood, according to Marckel.

Zwonitzer said the Watershed District is trying to capitalize on Central’s efforts to improve the aesthetics of its exterior and also work on runoff solutions.

“One of our big roles is to manage and treat storm water runoff,” he said. “The water at Central goes into a storm drain and is not treated at all, going into the river. We are trying to find ways to treat the water and get it to soak in the ground.”

He said there are different ways of capturing storm water in underground storage systems, and the agency is trying to figure out which approach will work best.

“There’s a big toolbox of ways to capture runoff,” he continued. “There are rain gardens and permeable pavers with gaps in between the pavers, so that the water soaks into the ground.”

Zwonitzer said his agency has reached the stage where it is starting to incorporate ideas and plan.

“There’s a lot in the mix,” he noted, “including our organization, the faculty, community, parents and the City of Saint Paul. It all takes time.”

“What’s happening at Central is a good example of something we are trying to do district-wide,” added Tom Parent, interim director of facilities at St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS). “We’re at the beginning phase of a master plan for the district, and we have been part of that conversation at Central since its inception.”

Parent said SPPS is looking at how schools’ grounds and community can be an extension of classrooms.

“We want to be welcoming, inclusive and accessible to students from the moment they step off the bus,” Parent said.


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