Archive | August, 2018

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TCGIS Board votes to tear down St. Andrew’s and build new

Posted on 07 August 2018 by Calvin

Save Historic Saint Andrew’s group intends to keep pushing for official historic designation to preserve the church

TCGIS parent Aaron Gjerde questioned whether growing larger fit with the school’s strategic mission. He supported operating a split campus at Central Lutheran to take more time on this issue. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

After considering another location, the Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS) Board has decided to raze the historic St. Andrew’s Church building and construct a new facility in its place to make room for additional students.

The decision was made at the July 30 school board meeting that was attended by over 100 people, some who expressed support for the school’s proposal and others who sought to save the local landmark.

“Our obligation as a board is to ensure our students receive a top rate education supported by our mission of ‘innovative education of the whole child through German immersion,’” said TCGIS Board

Chair Sam Walling. “To that end, our focus must be to do what is right for our students and staff. We empathize with the community and their longstanding ties to the former St Andrew’s church building. However, as a public school, we cannot forego our fiscal responsibility and fiduciary duty as stewards of the school.”

Photo right: This Byzantine-Romanesque structure built in 1927 was designed by well-known architect Charles Hausler. The church closed in 2010, and the TCGIS school moved there in 2013. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

In May, the board received a petition with 600 signatures asking that it wait on expansion until June 2020. While the board denied this request, it did decide to wait on a decision to investigate purchasing the Central Lutheran School (CLS)facility about a mile away at 775 Lexington Pkwy. N., and operating a split campus.

The school’s options of not doing anything, purchasing the CLS site, and replacing the former church building were discussed at the meeting before the 6-1 vote was taken to tear down the church and build new.

“Tonight’s decision was a vote to support the growing needs of our students and staff and to solidify our existing investment in our current campus on Como Ave.,” said TCGIS Facilities Committee Chair Nic Ludwig.

The proposed construction time line is June 2019 to January 2020.

SHSA disappointed but not done fighting
The neighborhood group fighting to save the 1927 church building wasn’t surprised by the board’s decision.

According to Bonnie Young­quist of Save Historic Saint Andrew’s (SHSA), TCGIS’s decision to demolish the former church was a disappointment, but not a complete surprise.

“SHSA supported the purchase of the Central Lutheran School,” stated Youngquist. “The idea of a split campus, even if temporary, was attractive to us because it preserves the former church, reduces impact at the Como site, and allows for the future growth of TCGIS. TCGIS voted to destroy something that remains in the hearts of many as something sacred, beautiful, imbued with deep history and shared meaning. We were profoundly disappointed that TCGIS was not willing to compromise to make the Central Lutheran School financially feasible.”

Photo right: Kevin Anderson spoke in favor of saving the historic St. Andrew’s Church during the Twin Cities German Immersion School (TCGIS) board meeting on Mon., July 30. He is a member of the neighborhood group Save Historic Saint Andrew’s (SHSA). (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

SHSA is still focusing on preserving the church. “We worked hard to help TCGIS find alternative solutions. Now we will work harder to ensure the former St. Andrew’s is not demolished,” remarked Youngquist. “We are moving onto the next phase which includes among other things, local historic designation.”

SHSA has raised over $7,500 of its $10,000 goal through a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the first step in the preservation process.

Pros and cons of the CLS site
Built in the 1950s, the Central Lutheran School site sits on 3.4 acres and offers fields and playground space on the full city block. It has approximately 27,000 square feet of classroom space, with 16 available classrooms. TCGIS needs about 35 classrooms and approximately 75,000 square feet to house its projected 600 students.

According to a section of the school’s website designated specifically to the building project, TCGIS considered operating a split campus until the Como Ave. location sold and then having a single K-8 campus. However, school officials reported that operating a split campus was financially unaffordable without increasing class sizes, and could only be sustained for 2-3 years due to the projected maintenance costs associated with owning multiple old buildings.

Benefits of the site included its size, which would provide a buffer the school currently lacks between its playground and adjacent homes, along with enough green space for a regulation athletic field.

TCGIS would have space to build on the site, as well.

Operating a split campus was projected to increase TCGIS’s operating expenses by approximately $175,000 annually.

The school has a goal of keeping class sizes at 24 students. Temporarily increasing class sizes from 24 to 25/26 kids until the school was back together on one location was presented as one way to make this option work.

However, school officials expressed concern that the Como Ave. site might not sell and then the school would need to pay for both locations. Additionally, if the school moved, TCGIS would be required to pay an early bond payoff penalty.

Building a brand new facility at the CLS site would cost an estimated $15-17 million, while selling the current Como Ave. site would bring in an estimated $8.5 million, according to school officials. The school’s bond capacity is estimated at $15.2 million.

During the Monday night meeting, board member Julie Alkatout shared information from the 300 people who responded to an online survey.

“Como is the preferred option for TCGIS staff and parents,” she stated.

According to Alkatout, the majority of the 28 staff who responded supported rebuilding at the Como site. Of parents who responded, 64% supported the Como option.

The results from the seven students who responded were split, with slightly more than half favoring the CLS site and the option of athletic fields.

The opinion of neighborhood residents depended on whether they were also affiliated with TCGIS. Those who are residents and also send their kids to TCGIS favored the Como option, while neighbors without kids strongly favored the CLS option.

Alkatout observed that many neighbors seemed motivated to respond because they had additional concerns beyond just preserving the church building, including concerns about traffic, noise, and parking.

Should the school be growing?
Some at the meeting discussed whether the school should be growing at this time, including board member Kristen Helling. She told fellow board members she thinks they should focus on how to retain teachers before adding additional students.

TCGIS parent Aaron Gjerde also questioned whether growing larger fit with the school’s strategic mission. He supported operating a split campus at Central Lutheran to take more time on this issue.
“We don’t make good long-term decisions when we are trapped by time,” he pointed out.
School board member Dianne Bell disagreed. “I think the space need is something we have to address,” she said. “We don’t have the luxury of waiting.”

“Doing nothing perpetuates spaces and situations that prevent teachers from doing fabulous work,” stated board member Stephanie Forslund.

School officials contend that the gym in the former church sanctuary is dangerous with its marble pillars and lower-wall coverings. Several children were injured at the end of the last school year, included one who required stitches after running into a protruding corner.

The school also has trouble finding space for special education needs.

TCGIS intends to tear down the former church building and replace it with a slightly larger, three-level structure with six additional classrooms, a gym large enough for two sections to operate at one time, additional office/special education spaces and a cafeteria.

Alkatout agreed that the St. Andrew’s Church structure was unique in part because it was designed by well-known Twin Cities’ architect Charles Hausler. But she said people could find his work elsewhere in the area.

“The TCGIS board member contention that Hausler’s legacy will live on in other structures in the Twin Cities represents a lack of empathy and understanding of its value to the community and historically,” remarked Youngquist. “This mindset is how historic buildings are torn down without any consideration for the long-term impact.

She added, “Preserving irreplaceable historic resources is the right thing to do, especially when other options were viable. Through our outreach efforts over the past few months, we have found that the vast majority of the public agree that history matters and should be respected. The District 10 Community Plan and Saint Paul’s Comprehensive Plan reflect this public value.”

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HM Director Kate Mudge

Hamline Midway Coalition to welcome new executive director

Posted on 07 August 2018 by Calvin

Photo and article by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Longtime neighborhood resident Kate Mudge (photo right) has been chosen as the Hamline Midway Coalition’s new executive director. She said, “I’ll be moving into the position full time on Sept. 1, but will begin meeting with the outgoing executive director, Michael Jon Olson, in early August.”

Mudge will be bringing a varied skill set to her new position. “When I moved to Hamline Midway twelve years ago,” she said, “I was working as a professional baker. One of the things that got me excited about the neighborhood was that it clearly supported small businesses, and I had some ideas about opening my own bakery. I ended up going in a different direction entirely, taking a job at Second Harvest, and eventually becoming the executive director of an animal rescue organization called Pet Haven.”

Throughout those years, Mudge had regular contact with the Hamline Midway Coalition (HMC). She experienced first-hand how a strong district council can make life better for its residents. She said, “Michael Jon was always responsive to my ideas and suggestions. Even if he didn’t have a ready solution for me, he could always point me in the right direction.”

As one of the founding members of the Tatum Park Community Garden (1893 Taylor Ave. W.), Mudge applied to HMC for help six years ago. “They helped us with start-up marketing to get our garden going and to bring a water line in from the street. We were able to turn a vacant urban lot into a productive community garden,” she said.

Mudge and her wife are the proud owners of three dogs and, she claims, “every day, we walk for miles through the neighborhood. I keep looking around and thinking, ‘There’s something I’ve never seen before!’ I’m curious to learn, what do other people see when they look around? Who or what is being under-celebrated? Who or what can we lift up? There’s a sense of pride in Hamline Midway that’s well-earned. To be part of the on-going evolution of this neighborhood, as a resident and with this new job—it doesn’t get any better than that.”

HMC engages the voice and power of the community to advance neighborhood identity, embrace community diversity, enhance neighborhood vitality, and develop neighborhood leadership. They represent the interests of the neighborhood on a broad range of public policy and city governance issues. Recommendations to public agencies are the result of active deliberation on the part of their committees and their board of directors.

While the neighborhood is largely residential, it also includes light industry, retail and wholesale businesses concentrated along the major routes of University, Snelling, and Pierce Butler/Transfer Rd. The Hamline Midway neighborhood is bounded by University Ave. on the south, Pierce Butler Route on the north, Lexington Ave. on the east, and Transfer Rd. on the west.

Mudge concluded, “I’m excited to step into my new role. Along with Melissa Cortes, our marketing and communications manager, and our board of directors, I think we can bring HMC to the next level of being a very productive hub for the neighborhood.”

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Book launch

Why everyone should have a ‘personal board of directors’

Posted on 07 August 2018 by Calvin

In 1998 Jim Zugschwert was laid off from his job. “I didn’t have anybody to talk to about the layoff. I had a young family and ­didn’t know who to talk to. My wife just wanted me to do something,” Zugschwert recalled. He eventually found another job, but it was a struggle.

Fast forward to 2012. Zugschwert found himself caught up in another company layoff. But this time, he found a better-paying and more suitable position within a short time.

The difference? Zugschwert attributes it to his personal board of directors, a few mentors he had in place to assist him in moving forward.

Como resident Zugschwert’s success with this personal board led him to recently publish a book,

“Peak Perspective: Develop Your Personal Board of Directors and Become the Leader You Were Meant to Be.”

Photo right: Jim Zugschwert (Photo by Jan Willms)

Around 2007 Zugschwert was invited to join a group of men for some training. A man named Robert Lewis, author of the Men’s Fraternity series, advised in that training that everyone should have his own personal board.

“At that time in my life I was working with a company that had a traditional board of directors that set policy and governance and had oversight. I wanted the idea but not the structure,” Zugschwert explained.

“So I set out to line up one or two key people, and I came to the realization that having one mentor can almost be considered having another opinion.” Zugschwert wanted more, so he started looking around in his life for men of influence, men he looked up to.

“One by one I started inviting people to coffee, to talk. If it made sense for me, I would take the next step and ask them to be on my personal board of directors.”

Zugschwert noted that he has some very good friends who are not a part of his personal board. “The reason is, they are great people, and I love them, but sometimes people can be prescribers. You tell them what is going on, and they will say ‘Oh, just do this.’ They never listen. They never ask questions. They never give feedback. I wanted to make sure I was looking for people who can understand me, help me clarify my thinking, expand my perspective and make quality decisions for my life.”

Photo left: The official book launch event for Zugschwert’s new book was held in mid-July in Roseville at the brand-new Cedarholm Golf Course Community Building. (Photo provided)

Most people write books about what it means to be a good mentor, according to Zugschwert. “I wanted to come at it from another perspective,” he continued. “If you are at a crossroads in your life or you’re an entrepreneur that wants to make a difference in the next ten years, how do you go about it? How do I put together a good team of mentors?”

Zugschwert said he thinks back to that initial layoff in 1998 and how he did not know where to turn or who to ask for help. After that experience, he set out to put together a plan. “Mentorship became an important part of my life,” he said. He said the criteria he used to choose his board of directors came down to four things. “Number one, they had to listen. Number two, they had to ask questions. Number three, they had to give me honest feedback. And finally, they could give me some suggestions.”

Taking a long time to build up relationships with his mentors was essential to Zugschwert. “I didn’t want people who would tell me what I wanted to hear,” he said. “I wanted them to know here is what I’m thinking, here are the opportunities before me, here’s what I know so far. Then they can talk to me, ask me questions, and give me some ideas for another way to think about it.”

Zugschwert said he would then take some of that feedback from one meeting and meet with another member of his board and do some confirming or some fine tuning.

“By the time I was done talking to three or four mentors, I had a well-rounded point of view and thinking, so I could make a quality decision. I had great input from the people who would listen to me. Honest feedback is a key criterion,” Zugschwert said.

Zugschwert emphasized the importance of working with a personal board of directors whether facing a challenge or an opportunity.

When he was going through his layoff in 2012, Zugschwert said that he had two pages of notes he had taken on his idea to form a personal board of directors, and how he went about it. At that time he was meeting with a publisher about the possibility of writing a book, and he also mentioned his interest in writing a book about mentoring.

He said the publishers thought his other book idea was great, but they were really interested in the book about mentoring.

“So I set the other book aside and pursued the book on mentoring, with my two pages of notes,” Zugschwert said. “I turned it into ten chapters and 32,000 words.”

He started writing “Peak Perspective” in May 2017 and completed it in November 2017. His book was published this summer.

Zugschwert said that when he started to build his personal board of directors, he did not have anyone turn him down. Two of his mentors live out of state; three live in Minnesota. “By the time I asked, we had already been talking for some time,” he said. “I had already invested in them. Some of them took time, and they did not all happen overnight.”

All of his mentors are in different industries.

Today, Zugschwert mentors also come to him for advice.

It has been a rewarding journey for Zugschwert, all about building relationships with people he trusts who encourage him to have faith in himself and make good decisions. “My mentors know they can’t tell me what to do—that would not work,” he said. But listening and reflecting and asking questions is what helps, and by sharing his ideas in a book, Zugschwert hopes others will benefit as well.

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Lyngblomsten Fest 41 slider

2018 Lyngblomsten Mid-Summer Festival was celebration of life

Posted on 07 August 2018 by Calvin

Once again, the Mid-Summer Festival at Lyngblomsten (1415 Almond Ave.) was a day to celebrate artistic exploration, life-long learning, and interconnectedness between people of all ages. This year’s event was held on July 20, continuing an annual tradition that began in 1913.

Volunteer coordinator Shelli Beck said, “There is just no way we could put on a festival of this size without the help of our volunteers. This year we had 130 volunteers, and I can’t say enough good things about them.”

Photo right: Pianist/vocalist Paula Lammers provided one of the many indoor opportunities to view and hear artistic expression. 




Photo left: Volunteer Judy Mueller (left) is part of the pet visitor program. Community members can bring their healthy pets to Lyngblomsten to visit with older residents, a connection which is believed to foster better health through joy, touch, and comfort.




Photo right: Hermes Floral has been in business since 1906, the same year Lyngblomsten came into existence. They donated flowers to the Mid-Summer Festival, as they do each year. 








Photo left: Photo right: Wet Paint is a St. Paul-based art materials store. In addition to providing this inter-generational art activity at the festival, Wet Paint sponsors monthly artist talks at Lyngblomsten where community artists explain and demonstrate their art practices. 







Photo right: Zoe Bird, creator of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, partnered with Northern Clay Center this year. She helped visitors write poems, which were then stamped into clay tiles to be fired and picked up later in the week.




Photo right: Photo left: Volunteer Isabella Hall (left) said, “My friends and I, our moms all work here. We’ve been brought up volunteering, and we think it’s a great idea.”











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Rondo Plaza sign

Plaza memorializes destruction of Rondo community 60 years ago

Posted on 06 August 2018 by Calvin

Looking at panels of Rondo history in a memorial park at 822 Rondo Ave. (Photo by Jan Willms)

The community known as Rondo may have been physically destroyed in 1959 to make way for Interstate 94, but its spirit continues to thrive. This was reflected most recently as Rondo Plaza, a neighborhood memorial, was officially opened to the public.

The site, once the location of one of the last buildings to survive destruction, at 822 Rondo Ave., was formally commemorated in July. It will serve as a small community park where people can see tablets that tell the history of Rondo

The opening of Rondo Plaza is the culmination of 35 years of dedication by Marvin Anderson to keeping Rondo’s memory alive.

Photo right: The Rondo sign will light up at night to be seen from Interstate 94. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Anderson was just graduating from high school when word came that the Rondo community, an area that covered about three and a half miles, was going to be torn down for the building of a freeway.

The neighborhood, made up of African American families, ran from Rice St. to Lexington and from Marshall over to Fuller. “Over 700 homes were taken on Rondo and St. Anthony, and over 100 businesses were taken,” Anderson recalled in a recent interview. “It was very sad to lose your community like that.”

Anderson said there were protests and meetings, everybody wanting to know why Rondo was being destroyed when an alternative route could have been used. “That route was Pierce Butler Road.”

But by clearing out Rondo, the city could get urban renewal and build the interstate at the same time. “This was a fairly common practice,” Anderson explained. “Twenty-five hundred communities across the country in 993 cities were affected. And of those 2500, 1600 were communities of color.”

Anderson’s memories of Rondo are as fresh as if the destruction happened yesterday. He said the African American community was a unique area at the time. “We really didn’t have the freedom to move wherever we wanted because of restrictions,” he said. Limited to living in the Rondo area by their race, the residents flourished and built businesses, organizations, and clubs. “Gone are the days when a waiter or a porter or a street sweeper could live next door to a lawyer or a physician or a poet.”

But that was the case in Rondo. Anderson said his father was a railroad man, but his family lived next door to a doctor. “It was one of those rare opportunities. It made for a unique opportunity, and wonderful exchanges of ideas.”

When Anderson headed to college, the plan had been that he would return home after graduation and join his father and godfather in business. He said they had developed some land in the community and were going to acquire more, looking at opening a bowling alley, small hotel, and restaurant. “They wanted me to study business administration and come back, and that’s what I really wanted to do in life. But that dream they were living through me was taken away. My dad was very sad about that.”

The dreams of many went up in smoke after the homes and businesses of Rondo were eliminated.

“But Eisenhower wanted the interstate system built; he thought it would make the country safer. And how can you argue with a man who had just won the Second World War?” Anderson said. “We appealed to the power of fairness,” Anderson remembered. He said the neighborhood leaders asked those in charge how they would feel losing their homes.

“But it did not work. Twenty-five hundred communities found out it didn’t work that way,” Anderson said.

When Anderson did eventually move back to the Twin Cities in the late 1960s, he said everyone talked about remembering Rondo. He said a friend of his, Floyd Smaller, and some others tried to bring people together for a couple of picnics.

Anderson said he told them, “Let’s do something, really go big if we are going to do this.” So he and Smaller, who have now been friends for almost 65 years, put together a plan for Rondo Days in 1982. It took a year for them to get everything in place, and the first Rondo Days celebration was in 1983. They established an organization, Rondo Ave. Inc. dedicated to keeping the memory of Rondo alive.

Anderson said most of his attention in the past four years has been devoted to creating the Rondo Plaza. With a grant, the organization purchased the space and began raising funds. “Word came back we could build a museum, but that would be a three-story building running into millions of dollars, and it would take at least five people to run it. That was very difficult, so we looked at creating this little pocket park, an oasis within the city,” Anderson said. “I said maybe we could create something that had some legacy to it, but also would be a place where people could come and exchange ideas, and that’s how the plaza got started.”

He said the Plaza features the history of Rondo, as well as the present conditions and the future.

“Each year we want to use five or six panels to tell another aspect of the Rondo story,” Anderson said. “After each year, we will package the previous exhibit into a booklet form and make that available for kids at the school, so we never lose those exhibits. The teachers may be able to do lesson plans around them.” Next year’s exhibit is already planned: the women of Rondo. A Rondo children’s book series is being published in September.

The devastation that took the physical existence of Rondo away was apologized for in 2015 by then-mayor Chris Coleman. “We got the city and state to make a formal apology, which was pretty unique at the time,” Anderson said. “The Commissioner of Transportation said that in no way would they put a road through the community today like it was done. The apology did help heal some of the pain, but it didn’t wipe it out,” Anderson said. “It’s still there for a lot of people from my generation.”

But he keeps looking forward. He said the Rondo community was built on eight core values: spirituality, education, respect for oneself, respect for others, home ownership, economic independence, work with dignity, and hope. “You always have to have hope,” Anderson said, “hope that one day people will wake up and no longer discriminate….”

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NAMI headquarters

NAMI provides hope for those dealing with mental illness

Posted on 06 August 2018 by Calvin

Minnesota NAMI office moves near Fairview/University light rail station

A new location means the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Minnesota has more space for classes and training to help people dealing with mental illness.

NAMI moved its offices from 800 Transfer Rd. near the Amtrak train station to 1919 University Ave. W., Suite 400 in March, and staff members have been enjoying the larger, better-lit location.
Plus the office is just a few blocks from the Fairview and University light rail station, which makes it easier for both staff and others to use public transit to get to NAMI, pointed out NAMI Minnesota Executive Director Sue Aberholden.

Photo left: NAMI moved its offices from 800 Transfer Rd. near the Amtrak train station to 1919 University Ave. W., Suite 400, in March, and staff members have been enjoying the larger, better-lit location. (Photo submitted)

There’s also parking behind the building for those who come by vehicle.

Ramsey County Mental Health Center is also located in the same building. Plus, common spaces are shared with ASPIRE Minnesota, an organization that provides children’s mental health services.
Perkins + Will of Minnesota designed the interior space, while the FR Bigelow Foundation helped pay for new cubicles.

“I encourage people who are in the neighborhood to stop by,” stated Aberholden. “We have lots of resources. Check our website for upcoming classes.

“We are a great resource for the community, and we want people to use us.”

Photo right: Sue Aberholden has worked at NAMI for almost 17 years, and she’s focused on disability-related issues for her entire career. “I’ve stayed because I can see how every day our organization makes a difference,” stated Aberholden. (Photo submitted)

Making a difference every day
Aberholden has worked at NAMI for almost 17 years, and she’s focused on disability-related issues her entire career.

“I’ve stayed because I can see how every day our organization makes a difference,” stated Aberholden.

Like many other NAMI employees, she has family members who live with depression and anxiety. Through that, she knows the importance of treatment and community support.

What is mental illness?
Every year, NAMI Minnesota serves over 160,000 people across the state through advocacy, education, and support. NAMI does not provide treatment, but the organization hosts the annual NAMIWalk, Spring Gala, and educational conferences. Staff members give presentations and provide resources to increase awareness and promote understanding of people living with mental illnesses.

What is a mental illness?

“Basically it’s a medical condition that affects 1 in 5 adults that affects a person’s feelings, thinking or mood,” explained Aberholden.

The number one diagnosis is anxiety, followed by depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and personality disorders.
Mental illness can affect people of any age, race, religion or socioeconomic status. Mental health disorders account for more disability than any other illness, including cancer and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It doesn’t only affect adults, either.

Four million children and adolescents in the United States suffer from a serious mental disorder that causes significant functional impairments at home, at school, and with peers.

“Half of all mental health issues appear before age 14,” observed Aberholden. “If we keep thinking it’s an adult issue we miss the boat.”

30 classes
Education and public awareness play an integral role in NAMI Minnesota’s mission to improve the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families through changing public attitudes associated with mental illness.

NAMI Minnesota offers over 30 different classes and provides vital information about mental illnesses, treatment, and resources through publications, presentations, and newsletters.

Classes are offered throughout the state, and NAMI’s 30 staff members are on the road quite a bit.

Some classes help family members learn how to help their loved one. Others focus on suicide prevention and mental illness in the workplace.

A support group for those dealing with anxiety uses the book, “Embracing the Fear” to go over strategies people can use themselves.

Teens are taught to recognize mental illness in themselves and others. NAMI has found that peer support groups work best for teens who share their life experiences and help others.
One of NAMI’s most popular classes is Mental Health First Aid. “A lot of people have learned first aid over the years,” pointed out Aberholden. Learning Mental Health First Aid is the next step.

“It’s all of us working together that will help,” she said.
Another popular offering is the 12-week Family-to-Family class for those with a family member dealing with mental illness.

This year, the State Fair has designed Mon., Aug. 27, as its first Mental Health Awareness Day. The event will include mental health and wellness resources through inspiring stage performances, music, demonstrations, yoga, information, and more.

Over 4,000 people attend NAMI’s Annual Walk, set for Sept. 22 this year at Minnehaha Park. There is no registration fee. “It’s a really uplifting and joyful event,” stated Aberholden.

Suicides have doubled
NAMI staff members go into schools to provide the national Ending the Silence program and have reached over 9,000 students in Minnesota through the one-hour health class. Staff members often offer evidence-based suicide prevention training to teachers before the class so that they are prepared to answer questions from students who start conversations afterward.

Aberholden wants people to know that it is okay to ask if someone is suicidal, and that doesn’t mean you are “planting a seed.”

However, research has shown that discussions and news articles about exactly how someone committed suicide are contagious and should be avoided.

“The number of suicides using the means Robin Williams did increased dramatically after his death,” she pointed out.
Suicides have been increasing nationally and statewide. In 2001 in Minnesota, there were 400 people who committed suicide. That number has jumped to 800.

“It’s a public health crisis that isn’t going away,” stated Aberholden.

Get help
Last year, over 4,000 people were helped through the NAMI Helpline at 1-888-NAMI-HELPS or namihelps@namimn.org. NAMI guides people who are trying to navigate the mental health system and identifies resources and treatment that can help.

For parents who feel isolated and overwhelmed by their child’s behaviors, NAMI offers a Parent Email Warmline. Email parent.resources@namimn.org to connect with a parent peer specialist.

Photo left: Over 4,000 people attend NAMI’s Annual Walk, set for Sept. 22 this year at Minnehaha Park. There is no registration fee. “It’s a really uplifting and joyful event,” stated Aberholden. (Photo submitted)

Since April, a text-based suicide prevention service has also been available. People who text MN to 741741 will be connected with a counselor who will help defuse the crisis and connect the texter to local resources. Crisis Text Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Mobile Mental Health Crisis Teams can also be valuable in trying to decide whether or not someone needs more assistance, according to Aberholden. “They can provide advice on the phone, come to someone’s house and offer stabilization,” she said.

This is a good option for those who don’t need hospitalization but need help. Each county has a different line to call; find a list on NAMI’s website.

NAMI staff members hear many misconceptions about mental illnesses.

“People sometimes blame parents, and it’s not okay because illnesses happen,” pointed out Aberholden.

Another misconception is that people aren’t trying and if the person exerted a little more willpower they could get over it. “Serious depression isn’t about willpower,” stated Aberholden. “This is something that isn’t someone’s fault.”

She added, “We wouldn’t do that with other illnesses.” When someone is bleeding, he or she isn’t told to exert a little more willpower to heal.

While well-meaning people often tell loved ones to “reach out if you need me,” that doesn’t always help. “If you’re seriously depressed, you’re not going to do that, so people need to learn how to reach in,” observed Aberholden.

Text and say, “Hey, I’m in the neighborhood. Let’s go for a walk,” she suggested. That has multiple benefits as the exercise also gets the endorphins going in the brain.

“Send get-well cards and bring over a hotdish,” said Aberholden. “We do these kinds of supports for people who have cancer, but we don’t do that for people with a mental illness.”

You don’t see CaringBridge sites for people with mental illnesses, she added. Yet she knows of one man who started one at the urging of his wife. He commented that his hospitalization was tough because the decks of cards were all worn out, and they didn’t stock his favorite soda.

“Every day someone showed up with cards and pop,” noted Aberholden. “It turned into the shortest hospital stay he’d ever had.

“Providing hope for the future is critical.”

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Emily Zoltai

Fundraiser growing with the help of neighborhood businesses

Posted on 06 August 2018 by Calvin

Emily Zoltai will be in her third year of graduate school this fall at Concordia University, St. Paul (1282 Concordia Ave.), working toward her MS in Orthotics and Prosthetics. Orthotics and prosthetics are devices that help people who have missing or under-functioning limbs achieve fuller mobility and greater independence.

Zoltai is passionate about her studies and is completing a six-week clinical internship in Quito, Ecuador this summer with an organization called the Range of Motion Project (ROMP). ROMP provides prosthetic devices to children and adults in poverty, who could not otherwise afford them. Their two clinics are located in Quito, Ecuador, and Zacapa, Guatemala.

Zoltai has had a strong connection to ROMP since she graduated with a BS in human physiology from the University of Oregon five years ago.

“At that time,” Zoltai said, “I had a chance to volunteer for two months with the ROMP Clinic in Ecuador. I figured I would eventually go on for an advanced degree in physical therapy, like most of my classmates were planning to do.

She continued, “For the first week I was in Quito, I spent every day in the physical therapy wing creating rehabilitative exercises for patients. The next week, I wandered into the prosthetics wing. I was curious! What were routers, sanders, and band saws doing in a hospital? I was able to watch a prosthetist at work, and it seemed like the perfect combination of art and science. I was hooked.”

Photo right: Emily Zoltai, ROMP ambassador and Concordia University graduate student in Prosthetics and Orthotics said, “Our organization is very grateful for the support of Motion Physical Therapy and the Brewery Running Series event at Lake Monster Brewing. The combined efforts of those organizations, along with our many other community partners, will make it possible for ROMP to continue working toward full mobility for those who lack it – regardless of ability to pay.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

While living in Quito again this summer, Zoltai is organizing her fourth annual ROMP fundraiser—and doing most of her organizing via email. Motion Physical Therapy, which is located at 550 Vandalia in the Midway neighborhood, has offered to support her fundraising efforts in two significant ways.

On Sun., Sept. 16, a 5K run will begin and end at the Lake Monster Brewery—just outside Motion’s front door. Organizer Jack Lunt of the Brewery Running Series said, “10% of our donations from this event will go directly toward ROMP. Our goal is to sign up 200 people and sell out the run. At every event we host, there are families pushing strollers, retirees walking, runners just getting started, as well as experienced runners—all kinds of people for whom mobility is empowering.”

The mission of the Brewery Running Series is to be active, have fun, and give back to the community. The cost for this event is $30; more information and registration forms can be found at ­www.­breweryrunningseries.com.

After the Sept. 16 brew run at Lake Monster, Motion Physical Therapy will be hosting an open house in their offices at 550 Vandalia, #105, with two documentary ROMP videos playing on a loop. The Brewery Running Series will also hold a raffle and social time there.

The fundraiser that Zoltai is organizing from Quito will be held in solidarity with a major climb in Ecuador this summer, where some of the world’s most elite, physically-challenged athletes will attempt to summit Mount Cotopaxi in the Andes, elevation of 19,347’.

On Sun., Sept. 30, anyone wanting to support ROMP locally can come to the Minneapolis Bouldering Project at 5pm. The Bouldering Project is located at 1433 W. River Rd. N. in Minneapolis.

The Sept. 30 line-up of events and presenters will include Motion Physical Therapy; a panel of speakers on mobility issues, including some who are living with limb loss; a prosthetics building station; extensive resources on adaptive sports, including demonstrations by Wiggle your Toes and Mind Body Solutions; and two short-film screenings about highly successful amputee climbers. Participants are also welcome to try climbing at the Bouldering Project, with complimentary climbing shoes included. Donated items from Patagonia, Osprey, Kleen Kanteen and many others will be raffled off or given away.

The goals of the ROMP fundraising events being held around the globe this summer are the same: to show the power of mobility, the importance of access to prosthetic care, and the need for legislation that protects the rights of those with mobility issues.

For more information on the local fund raiser, contact Emily.zoltai@gmail.com. Tickets can be purchased at www.crowdrise.com/romp.minneapolis. To learn about the impact of ROMP in Ecuador and Guatemala, visit www.rompglobal.org.

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inside the soccer stadium

As stadium opening comes closer, traffic concerns gain attention

Posted on 06 August 2018 by Calvin

The new soccer stadium will seat 19,400 fans. With its opening predicted less than a year away, questions on how all those fans will get to and from the stadium take center stage. (Photo courtesy of Minnesota United)

As construction continues on and around the Allianz Field Major Leaguer Soccer stadium, how to get fans to and from the facility on game days continues to be scrutinized.

One step is that of allowing two interim parking lots along Snelling Ave. The St. Paul City Council will hold a public hearing at 5:30pm Wed., Aug. 15 on an interim use permit request by MUSC Holdings, LLC. That entity is developing the stadium for the Minnesota United Football Club.

The request is the latest in a series of actions tied to ongoing work at the stadium. In the past few weeks, new streets and parking spaces have taken shape. Space where Midway, and later American Bank, stood for many years was paved. The long-vacant lot at the northwest corner of St. Anthony Ave. and Pascal St. has been paved for a permanent lot.

The Spruce Tree Dr./Snelling Ave. traffic light was being removed as of the Monitor deadline. The traffic signal will move south to Shields Ave.

The St. Paul Planning Commission Transportation Committee in July began its review of what’s ahead for game day transportation planning. The planning has a lot of moving pieces, for people who take transit, ride shuttle buses, bike, walk or drive to soccer games. Work also needs to be done before any plans would go out for community comment, which could take place as early as September.

By then planners should have a good idea of the projected “mode split” for games. That is, they could have estimates on how many people would take transit to the games versus walking, driving or biking.

Part of the committee’s July discussion centered on the interim lots. Some Transportation Committee members worry that the lots, which are eventually to be replaced with office/retail buildings and structured parking, might be difficult to get rid of once they go into place.

But there are also worries about soccer fans parking in the surrounding neighborhood, and how to encourage ways to get to the games that don’t involve driving. Ways to promote transit and shuttle bus use were discussed by the committee. Those are steps the soccer team would likely take the lead on, in conjunction with ticket sales.

An alternative urban areawide review (AUAR) study of potential environmental impacts of the stadium was completed about two years ago. It outlines potential transit and transportation impacts and raised concerns about the possibilities for traffic congestion. A site plan has also won city approval.

Minnesota United FC and city officials have continued to look at the transportation issues since then, working on a more detailed plan that is to be completed by the end of 2018. One assumption is that many people will take transit to the games and not drive, using the Green Line light rail, A Line rapid bus and other area routes. Another is that others will arrive by bus, either from park and ride lots or from bars and restaurants that offer such shuttle services.

The stadium will have a capacity of 19,400 fans.

Senior City Planner Josh Williams said the intent is to have a plan in place that at a minimum would be reviewed annually.

Developing the plan needs involvement not just from the city and team, but also from Metro Transit, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and other affected parties.

But the planning itself raises questions. One is the level of Planning Commission Transportation Committee involvement. Committee members said they want to see something they can review, but likely at a higher level.

“We should be looking at how people are moving to the stadium and through the area,” said Planning Commissioner Christopher Ochs. “We don’t need to see every curb cut.”

One challenge the committee will have a role in is looking at parking demand, especially as stadium operations start next year. “We know there is going to be a desire to find parking,” said Williams. “There’s not going to be enough parking for everyone who wants to drive.”

Short-term plans for the area call for interim parking lots off of Snelling on sites eyed over the long term for redevelopment. The future developments could be built with structured parking that could be shared with soccer fans. But it’s not known when buildout of the property around the stadium would take place, raising the concerns that there could be protests when the lots go away.

One issue those involved in transportation planning will have to look at is how game days could affect the surrounding neighborhoods and demand for on-street parking there. Williams said that’s something planners want to discourage.

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2103 Wabash building

Wabash development dropped; Historic Places nomination moving forward

Posted on 06 August 2018 by Calvin

An ambitious proposal to redevelop a century-old West Midway meat packing plant at 2103 Wabash Ave. into apartments has been shelved.

But, the property still is eligible for historic designation and possible use of low-income housing tax credits for a future developer. The St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) July 26 reviewed a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the property. The report goes to the State Historic Preservation Office. State review is another step in the designation process, which can take several months.

The HPC and its staff provided comments on the report, which was commissioned by the previous development team. The report, which is almost 60 pages long, gives an overview of the history of livestock slaughter and meat packing at the site.

Photo right: Industrial neighbors objected to the rezoning of 2103 Wabash Ave. to allow residential use. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

HPC comments on the report were generally favorable, with most focus on the building design. HPC members noted it’s remarkable that there was a meat packing plant operating in the middle of the city until the late 1970s.

The meatpacking plant, located on the Wabash Ave. rail spur of the Minnesota Transfer Railway Company was originally built as the Henry G. Haas Slaughterhouse in 1886. The slaughterhouse operated as the Midway Abattoir from 1898 to 1927. The Superior Packing Company purchased it in 1928 and began plant upgrades. While the original wood frame slaughterhouse is gone, many early parts of the plant remain.

But how historic designation would be used by a new developer remains unclear. The property has long been a challenge for redevelopment. It is zoned for industrial use but has sat largely vacant since 1979. Its first floor in recent years has housed uses including pet boarding, guitar repair, and industrial tire sales and service.

The oldest part of the building dates from 1886. It was added to in 1911, 1928 and 1947. Different roof and floor heights pose one challenge for redevelopment. Sections range from one to three stories in height. Another challenge is that the building fills much of the property.

Previous developer Superior LLC obtained a conditional use permit from the Planning Commission in February to convert the largely vacant structure into 64 apartments. The developers had hoped to start work in June. One wrinkle in the project was their desire to seek historic designation and use state and federal historic tax credits. Changes to the tax credits were made at the federal level this summer, which affects how developers can finance projects.

The conditional permit approved was to generally allow residential use in an industrial area. It allowed more than six dwelling units on an industrially zoned property. Plans called for 39 dwelling units on the first floor. Typically, when residential uses are allowed in an industrial area, those are on upper floors.

The permit also allowed 90 percent of the first floor to have residential use. Typically, 80 percent of the first floor would be for non-residential uses.

But in the face of opposition, the conditional use permit request was withdrawn in the spring.

That means a new developer will have to start over once a proposal is developed.

Preserving industrial land versus allowing the apartments to go ahead was an issue debated at length by the Planning Commission Zoning Committee in the spring. One concern was the rezoning of the industrial property.

But the St. Paul Port Authority and Midway Chamber of Commerce spoke for the apartment project, noting that an appropriate new industrial use for the site hasn’t been found. The Zoning Committee and full commission opted to approve a conditional use permit and allow the underlying industrial zoning to remain.

Future site neighbor American Engineering Testing (AET) appealed the conditional use permit in the spring. AET recently purchased the former Rihm Kenilworth truck facility at the southwest corner of Cleveland and University avenues, 567 Cleveland Ave. and 2108 University Ave. The testing firm is expanding and would move its drilling and other services to the site.

In the appeal, AET pointed out that Superior LLC’s project would put apartments very close to its planned new facility, raising the potential for complaints about living next to a busy testing facility. AET has raised concerns about having its operations fall under residential noise limits. Off-street parking and pedestrian safety near busy streets and two rail lines were other noted concerns. The Wabash property lacks sidewalks on all four sides.

Minnesota Commercial Railway, 508 N. Cleveland Ave., also weighed in against the conditional use permit and apartments proposal. The company operates a short line railway in the Twin Cities, including tracks adjacent to the Wabash site, which services the West­Rock paper recycling plant.

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Adobe Photoshop PDF

First look at JA of the Upper Midwest’s new St. Paul headquarters

Posted on 06 August 2018 by Calvin

The first floor of the Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest’s new headquarters will include a reception area, co-working space, a boardroom, the Shiller Training Room, and a grand staircase. (Photo provided)

Office opens in November; innovative experiential learning facility will open in January 2019
Business leaders, educators, and state and city officials received the first look at Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest’s (JAUM) future headquarters, slated for a November opening with the first students using the facility the week of Jan. 7, 2019.

The Junior Achievement James R. and Patricia Hemak Experiential Learning Center is centrally located in the Midway neighborhood right on the Green Line light rail. The new building will enable JAUM to double the number of students served each year by its on-site experiential programs from 17,000 to 34,000.

JAUM purchased the 100-year-old building at 1745 University Ave, W., which has been redesigned and is being refurbished to meet its specific needs with the help of RSP Architects and Mortenson Construction. The new building will house three experiential learning labs, including expanded JA BizTown and JA Finance Park programs and a first-of-its-kind JA Innovation Incubator.

• JA BizTown is a fully interactive free-market lab where students in grades 4-6 learn what it means to be responsible business leaders, consumers, workers, and citizens by participating in this simulated community. Students perform specific jobs within each of the 18 different shops, each of which offers a consumer product or service. Shops are sponsored by Minnesota’s leading companies representing their industry or profession.

• JA Finance Park teaches middle and high school students about personal finance and career exploration through classroom instruction complemented by a day-long hands-on experience where students apply learned concepts in a life-like community.

• JA Innovation Incubator will encourage high school students to cultivate their entrepreneurial interests and develop relationships, talents, and skills to build self-confidence. Students will have access to state-of-the-art technology, including a digital business start-up platform, and the opportunity to learn from local entrepreneurs.

Photo left: Business leaders, educators, and state and city officials received the first look at Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest’s  future headquarters, when they gathered in what will be the main floor. (Photo provided)

“Junior Achievement is a valuable partner in preparing today’s young people for a successful future,” said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “The more we can encourage kids to stay in school and learn, the more prepared they will be to succeed in the workforce and contribute to our community.”

Spurred by a lead gift of $4 million from retail industry entrepreneur and JA alumnus Jim Hemak and his wife, Pat, and $1.4 million donated by the JAUM Board of Directors, the organization is now less than $2 million away from its $20 million fundraising goal for the Let’s Build campaign. The campaign supports the purchase and renovation of the building and will also help grow JAUM by providing funding to meet new demands for program expansion, operating needs, technology upgrades, and the ability to continue providing Junior Achievement programs to local schools at little or no cost.

Students from throughout the metro area, as well as from greater Minnesota, will benefit from the programs housed in the new facility. The urban location and proximity to light-rail and bus transportation make the new facility more convenient for students during in-school and after-school programs.

“We’re excited to move to a central location that is more easily accessible to our students, volunteers, and business partners,” said Gina Blayney, JAUM President & CEO. “Our larger building and state-of-the-art technology will make it possible for us to impact thousands of more students each year with our experiential programs. We are building a 21st-century learning center for our region.”

Demolition of the building began in March 2018 and involved “gutting” each of the four floors, leaving only the exterior structure, floor slabs, and columns. There are currently 40 workers on-site that are busy putting up walls, painting, installing casework, ceiling and bathroom tiles. Work on a new glass canopy with painted steel support will wrap up at the end of August, and a grand staircase will be finished in early September. Crews are also readying the 18 shops for JA BizTown and 18 shops for JA Finance Park that will serve as a blank slate for sponsors to create an inspiring learning experience for students.

JAUM is making a significant commitment to sustainability. Through a partnership with the U.S. Green Build Council (USGBC) to integrate sustainability strategies into the building, including solar panels, energy efficient water heaters and HVAC system, and low flow toilets.

JAUM will utilize USGBC’s ADVANCE program to track operational performance to achieve LEED certification. Students will support this effort by tracking key LEED certification requirements, including water usage, recycling practices, and energy audits.

Teachers, volunteers, and corporate partners who visit the building will be encouraged to embrace sustainability practices, such as using public transportation, carpooling, and packing zero-waste lunches.

Students participating in the JA BizTown and JA Finance Park simulations will learn about sustainability technologies, careers, and education requirements, and teachers will be provided with a sustainability-focused curriculum that they can implement in their classroom.

Also, several shop sponsors in the experiential learning labs will implement at least one of the key LEED certification requirements. This sustainability strategy will be a true collaboration between JAUM and its volunteers, educators, and business partners.

To learn more about JAUM’s future home, the Let’s Build campaign, or to make a secure online donation, visit letsbuild.jaum.org.

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2019 Midway Chamber Directory