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Lloyd’s, Menopause Center burn to ground

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

102-year-old pharmacy burns during uprising, owners forgive looters

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

Midway resident Beverly Jones has bought medicine at Lloyd’s Pharmacy since the 1970s, when they delivered to her home. A few of her kids worked there, as well. “This is a death here, it really is,” she said on Friday, May 29 as she looked over the damage. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The Hamline Midway community is mourning the loss of the 102-year-old pharmacy at the corner of Snelling and Minnehaha that burned to the ground on Friday morning, May 29, 2020.
It was part of rioting and looting following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers earlier in the week. In the Midway, Big Top Liquors, Bole Ethiopian/Napa, Sports Dome, Footlocker and Great Clips were also destroyed by fire. About 170 businesses in the Midway and 530 overall in the Twin Cities were looted causing as estimated $500 million in damages. An estimated 67 were destroyed by fire, with the majority of those in the area covered by the Monitor’s sister newspaper, the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger.
Lloyd’s Pharmacy and the Menopause Center owner Jim Stage plans to rebuild, spurred on by the wish of the community. Right now, customers from Lloyd’s are being served by Setzer’s Pharmacy in Roseville (1685 Rice St., 651-488-0251). They’re also seeing customers from other pharmacies that were damaged.

Lloyd’s to set up temporary
location in Midway
Stage also owns Setzer’s, and was among the 20 staff members from Lloyd’s and Setzer’s working out of that location on Thursday, June 4 when he spoke with the Monitor via phone. Unfortunately, with the loss of the compounding lab on the second floor of Lloyd’s, pharmacists are not able to do any compounding right now, according to Stage. Customers using this service came from across Minnesota and Wisconsin.
He is working to set up a temporary location in the Midway for Lloyd’s and hopes to have that up and running soon. He was waiting for his computer records system to be recreated on Thursday, but pointed out that his longtime staff know their customers so well that they were working with them to fill orders earlier in the week.

Firefighters were called at about 10 p.m. on Thursday, May 28 to the corner of Minnehaha and Snelling, but weren’t able to save the building. Owner Jim Stage plans to rebuild, but estimates it will take one year. (Photo by Rich Trout )

‘Police never came’
It started as a regular day on Thursday, May 28. Stage had bought the staff lunch from Checkerboard Pizza, and while picking it up the staff member saw CVS Pharmacy being looted across the street.
He returned to the pharmacy, alerted Stage, and they began locking the door between customers. At 3:15, they made the decision to close for the day. In hindsight, Stage wishes they would have grabbed the server and other items. The Menopause Center staff member at the back of the building also left.
At about 4:30 p.m., people began to break in and loot the store. Based on surveillance footage, Stage estimates that 100-150 people vandalized the store.
“The police never came,” Stage said. “That still baffles me. There was no help. They had to protect Alliance Field and all the big things, I guess.”
At about 10/10:30 p.m., the fire was set and firefighters responded.
Stage didn’t realize how badly the building was damaged until Friday morning at 7 a.m. The fire department had leveled the building in so that the fire didn’t spread. Up until then, Stage had thought they could fix the existing structure.
“When I drove up to it on Friday morning, I was pretty devastated,” said Stage. A week later, Stage views the complete destruction as “almost a relief from God. We would have probably had to rebuild the whole main level and [the building] might have needed to go anyway.”
Stage doesn’t know who set the fire or why.
“It doesn’t matter the reason,” said Stage. “We forgive the people who did it.”
At first, he wondered what to do next, and he’s been buoyed up by the care and concern members of the community have shown. They’ve told him how much the pharmacy means to them and that they don’t want it to go away, but are pushing him to rebuild.
A GoFundMe page had raised over $100,000 as of press time. “The community has been great,” said Stage. “It’s really amazing to me, my wife and our five kids. With God’s help, we’ll be able to do it. We know it is a tall order.”
Stage has also been encouraged by his staff of just under 40 people, who want to continue working at Lloyd’s and have risen up to help figure out details for customers despite the loss of records immediately after the fire.
“It’s a beautiful thing. That’s what encourages me,” said Stage. “I was devastated, but my employees have shown the resolve and so many people want the pharmacy rebuilt. It inspires me and gives me motivation.”

Ward 4 City Council Member Mitra Jalali visited Lloyd’s Pharmacy owner Jim Stage and his hardworking staff on June 3 at their sister location, Setzer’s on Rice Street, with donuts and coffee for the team that works long hours to help impacted customers still get medications. “The loss of Lloyd’s has been nothing short of tragic to our Midway neighborhood, but they’re planning a pop-up location nearby their old spot in the coming weeks, and will also be working on a public art memorial for their beloved Snelling location lost to fire. My heart goes out to the entire team at Lloyd’s, and we’ll keep working with you to support your rebuilding in any way possible,” said Jalali. “Our community will continue to show up for you, just like you have for us for decades.” (Photo courtesy of Mitra Jalali)

Lloyd’s serves 8,000 customers
Stage grew up in the Midway and graduated from Concordia Academy in Roseville class of 2000. His uncle suggested he might enjoy a career in pharmacy because he liked science and math, so he tried it out and agreed. He earned his degree from North Dakota State University and interned at Lloyd’s. His first job was at CVS as there wasn’t an opening at Lloyd’s, but after two years Lloyd’s owner Ron Johnson called him up and asked if he’d like to work as a pharmacist at his Rochester location. Stage moved the family down and worked at Hunt’s Pharmacy for three years, but he wanted to return to the Midway area.
“I learned a lot about independent pharmacies,” Stage recalled, and he realized he wanted to own and operate his own. When a position opened up at Lloyd’s in December 2011, he returned.
In 2014, at age 33, Stage purchased the pharmacy and its building. Much of running the business has been learned as he goes. “If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never do it,” Stage observed.

Click here to read related article: Ron Johnson’s remembers Lloyd’s

He bought Setzer’s in Roseville from Gary Raines in 2017. The two stores have operated independently. He also owned Schneider Drug off University but sold it to CVS last year.
It’s a tough time for independent pharmacies, according to Stage, because of Pharmacist Benefit Managers (PBR). “They’ve been brutal to us,” Stage said. “They manipulate the market.”
Pharmacies are punished if customers don’t refill their prescriptions on time and money they were paid is pulled back, so a business owner never fully knows what their income will be, he explained.
Because of its compounding work, Lloyd’s income has been steadier. The store serves 8,000 people, and about 15% of the work is compounding.
“The goal is to serve the community, and get back into business and fill people’s prescriptions that are needed on a daily basis,” said Stage. “As a business owner, I’m just called to forgive. I’m thankful no one was hurt and we can move on.”

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How to shrink the racial divide?

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

A conversation with the Truce Center’s Miki Lewis

Miki Lewis is the founder and director of the Truce Center in St. Paul. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The first time Summit University resident Miki Lewis saw George Floyd he thought, “Now, there’s a big guy. Being from African American neighborhoods, a lot of us come up thinking we have to show aggression – but George was different. He was very peaceful.”
Lewis explained, “We met in truck driving school in 2017, when George had been in Minneapolis for a couple of years. We naturally gravitated toward each other, and got to be friends.
“We were together for three months in training. I learned a lot about George in a short period of time. He was from Houston. He came to Minnesota for a fresh start. We both completed the training, and saw each other a few times after that. I hadn’t seen George in five months prior to this happening. When I learned about it on Facebook, I couldn’t believe it.”
Lewis continued, “For a lot of us, it’s the way George was killed that is fueling the anger right now. We’ve seen officers shoot us over and over again. To a certain extent, we’ve gotten desensitized to shooting. In the eyes of our community, it was the level of non-compassion that we saw in the killing. That officer just tucked his hand in his pocket and looked down on George as if he were nothing.”
Lewis runs a non-violence initiative in the Summit University neighborhood called the Truce Center, and he is no stranger to violence himself. He said, “I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been shot, I’ve been homeless, I’ve been hungry, I’ve been cold.”
Out of these hard times, Lewis emerged with a strong faith and a commitment to assist in making the world a more peaceful place. It can often feel like an uphill battle, but Lewis presses on. He said, “I’m not scared anymore because, unfortunately, I’ve gotten used to this. There will be another unarmed black man murdered by a white officer, that’s no secret. We have a president who is inciting racial differences among us: I believe he’s trying to fuel further division, to fuel a race war. That divide is being driven even harder as time goes on. It seems like the divide is growing bigger, not smaller.”
The work at the Truce Center is to help young people develop a positive sense of self through learning African American history and conflict resolution skills.
Lewis explained, “If there’s a kid being taught since he’s little that you don’t like or tolerate certain kinds of people, and that kid grows up to be an adult who acts like that. Is it his fault? Is it his parents’ fault? Is it society’s fault? The only thing we can do is to try and educate each other about our pasts, and to try and develop empathy for what we’ve been through.”
He continued, “You can feel the energy in the air right now; racism is really coming out of the closet. It’s becoming more blatant than it has ever been before, but we can’t continue to divide ourselves as human beings. We will rebuild our cities. I guess we’ll see if the change comes then. We see what this divide has done to us.
Lewis concluded, “It’s critically important for white people to open their mouths and say when things are wrong and not fair, to stop keeping a closed mouth to the racial injustices happening around them. Somehow or other, we’re all going to have to come together.”

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Children & Family Circle 25

Through East African eyes

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Unrest painful reminder of violence immigrants left behind

Youth & Family Circle Eexecutive Director Mahmud Kanyare helps during a food give-away for hundreds of East African families at the Al-Ihsan Islamic Center in Frogtown on June 8, 2020. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd is unlike anything most Twin Cities residents have experienced or imagined. For the East African community that has made Minnesota their home however, it is all too familiar for those of a certain age.
Mahmud Kanyare lives in the Midway neighborhood and has run a program called Youth & Family Circle since 2012. He said, “We serve East African families across the metro area. Many of them are under-resourced, vulnerable, and tend to ‘fall through the cracks’ for a number of reasons.”
The clients he sees are breaking under the combined stress of the pandemic and the recent unrest in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Kanyare said, “Our organization is one of the few in Ramsey County that is fighting for culturally appropriate resources for the families we serve.”
Ramsey County is home to a large East African community. According to Kanyare, the key components his organization is addressing right now are food insecurity, coping with trauma, and addressing racial equity through collaborative efforts.
The majority of East African people are Muslim, and most of the food they eat is certified halal. Halal is an Arabic word that means “permissible.” In terms of food, it means food that is permissible according to Islamic law. They cannot eat pork, any food product to which gelatin has been added (because it often contains pork), and certain cuts of other meats. This can make it difficult to receive culturally appropriate food assistance.
In East African families with male heads-of-household in their 50s and 60s, the men tend to be the wage earners and they often have limited English skills. Kanyare said, “Many of these men lost their jobs when the pandemic began – and most were not successful in applying for unemployment benefits. Youth & Family Circle is partnering with an organization called The Food Group this week to make culturally appropriate groceries available to an estimated 500 East African families. This will help in the short-term. Drivers are needed on an ongoing basis to help bring food to families who don’t have transportation.

(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Large numbers of Somalians began arriving in Minnesota in the 1990s, fleeing the violence of the Civil War in their country. Kanyare said, “During the Civil War, no matter where you lived in Somalia there was unrest. His own family fled from Somalia to Pakistan in 1995, where they waited five years before being admitted to the U.S.
Many East African community members are experiencing trauma from being exposed to the fires, looting, and civil unrest following George Floyd’s death on May 25. It is a painful reminder of the violence they tried to leave behind.
Youth and Family Circle is scrambling to set up an online education forum that can help address the fear and frustration people are feeling. Kanyare and his staff will eventually each take a group of 20 families and work with them online throughout the week: moms, dads, and kids all together.
He said, “We hope to offer them a calm, peaceful conversation – but there are technical hurdles to overcome, as many of our East African families don’t have access to computers or internet service. It is a work in progress.”
The Quran is the central religious text of Islam, and contains a passage that rings true to these times: “Whoever kills one human being innocently, it is as if he has killed all of humanity.”
Through East African eyes, there is deep solidarity with African Americans in this struggle and there is anger. Kanyare said, “We have seen throughout the years how African Americans have been shot or abused by some members of the police. When is it going to stop? One can only be patient for so long.”

(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

For more information about Youth & Family Circle or to make a donation of time or money, visit www.yfcmn.org.
* Editor’s note: Check our web site for articles in this series published between editions of the newspaper at www.monitorsaintpaul.com, tagged Through Their Eyes. The series focuses on letting people tell their stories as it relates to the uprising following George Floyd’s death.

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Not ahead of her time, but changing things now

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Local educator and author Artika Tyner started her own publishing company when told people of color don’t read

Artika Tyner and the Planting People, Growing Justice Board is offering ebooks free of charge on Amazon in order to support youth in their leadership development journey. The Justice Makes a Difference activity ebook is also free of charge. (Photo submitted)

By JAN WILLMS
Social justice has been a part of Artika Tyner’s life since she was a child. “A big piece of it was growing up in the Rondo community,” said Dr. Tyner, an educator, author and advocate for justice.
She serves as the founding director of the Center on Race, Leadership and Social Justice at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Dr. Tyner teaches leadership coursework on ethics, critical reflection and organizational development. Her research focuses on diversity/inclusion, community development, and civil rights.
Promoting literacy and books led Dr. Tyner to gather a team of volunteers to meet in her living room and produce books and learning materials.
“Promoting literacy is personal to me as an educator,” Dr. Tyner said. She helped found “Planting People, Growing Justice Leadership Institute” from the group that first met in her living room.
The organization has launched a “Leaders are Readers” campaign and donated over 1,000 copies of its book, “Justice Makes a Difference: The Story of Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire,” a children’s book on leadership and social justice. It has partnered with local retailers and donated over 1,500 children’s books and cases of school supplies.
According to Dr. Tyner, the organization has inspired over 5,000 children around the world through its school visits and has established a social enterprise model to sell books and raise funds to donate books to children in need.
“Planting People, Growing Justice Leadership Institute” has a mission to plant seeds of social change through education, training and community outreach.
“Only 32 percent of Minnesota’s African American children are reading at grade levels by the time they reach fourth grade,” Dr. Tyner said. “Not reading at grade level at this point increases the likelihood of dropping out of school by four times. This also drastically increases the likelihood of future incarceration.”
Dr. Tyner said she served on the board of African American Babies Coalition. “I was confused about being on the board since I was not a parent,” she claimed. “I was not sure I was the best advocate.”
But she became alarmed by the early learning gap from ages 0 to 3. “There is not enough advocacy and support for children of this age,” she noted. “We focus on K-12, so one of the goals of our publishing company is to cover the whole spectrum of learning for the whole family.”

‘Kofi Loves Music’
The publishing company, Planting People Growing Justice Press, has published seven books that Dr. Tyner has written or co-written. The latest book, published in January of this year, is “Kofi Loves Music.” It is the first board book that focuses on early learners.
Dr. Tyner said the story emerged when she was visiting Ghana and watching a documentary about going to different places to enjoy music. The book features African instruments, such as the Udo, and instruments that can sound like jazz or rock and roll. Dr. Tyner said the book honors cultures of the world.
During her visit to Ghana, Dr. Tyner had an opportunity to introduce some of her books to young people. “I had an impromptu opportunity to visit Akwamu Kingdom and was asked if I could speak with a few students,” she said. “I agreed, and there were over 1,500 students in the room.”

Dr. Artika R. Tyner (left) and Monica Habia hold the book they worked on together, “Amazing Africa: A to Z. The Minnesota Coalition of Black Publishers will be hosting a virtual town hall forum on June 27 from 2-4 p.m. It will showcasing local authors and their work in advancing anti-racism. More details to be announced via the Facebook page @plantingpeoplegrowingjustice. ”The tragic death of Mr. Floyd and the aftermath has only deepened my resolve to continue the work of Planting People, Growing Justice,” said Tyner. (Photo submitted)

Only 10% of authors are black
Dr. Tyner said she tries to focus on writing on weekends and evenings. “I have had a book inside me for my whole life, the book I wanted to see as a child,” she said.
Although she said her mother is a lifelong educator and she was very fortunate in having many education lessons happen at home, she did not see books with characters who looked like her.
But she did have mentors and people who inspired her, such as Ida B. Wells, journalist; and Thurgood B. Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston, who fought for civil rights and the desegregation of schools.
Dr. Tyner said she started her own publishing company after some publishers she went to tried to indicate that people of color didn’t read. “Or they told me I was ahead of my time, and this happened just within the last decade. It’s the same way some don’t think African Americans have assets or capital for small businesses.”
Only 10% of authors are people of color, according to Dr. Tyner. She said lack of access is the biggest reason for this statistic.
“I had business acumen and community support to make my project come alive,” she said, noting that not all authors or activists have that. “I crowd-funded my first book and got $10 donations, which built up to over $20,000 for us to donate books around the world.”

Race matters
Dr. Tyner explained that although the United States has only about 5% of the world’s population, it incarcerates over 20% of the world’s prison population.
She said that race matters when “African-American adults are 5.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than whites and Hispanics are 3.1 times as likely.”
Dr. Tyner said she was a child witness to the “War on Drugs” and saw firsthand the criminal justice challenges at the intersections of race and poverty. “I decided to take action,” she said.
“It took me on a mission. If inmates learn how to read in prison, they can read their indictments. It shows how essential the literacy piece is.”
Reflecting on her work as both educator and writer, Dr. Tyner said she was inspired by Chinua Achebe, who said, “The writer cannot expect to be excused from the task of re-education and regeneration that must be done.”
Dr. Tyner, who is currently researching diversity in dolls for her organization, said she believes education is the key to justice.
“You can learn how to think critically and problem-solve,” she said. “Education also unleashes real magic, an ability to imagine, innovate and create.”

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Over 170 businesses damaged in Midway

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

People step up to help, city council members talk about needs for honest dialogue

Big Top Liquor, in the former Midway Perkins, was looted and set ablaze on Thursday, May 28, and the next day staff from Restoration Professionals was on site to board up the building. Firefighters were still working on DTLR Sports Dome the next day across the street. Businesses damaged there include Midway Tobacco, Boost Mobile, Maxx It Pawn, Culver’s and neighboring businesses. The eastern half of the Maxx It Pawn-Sports Dome group of businesses was leveled after looting, vandalism and fire. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

By JANE McCLURE
Clean up and recovery efforts continue throughout St. Paul after the vandalism, looting and arsons that began May 28. Several area district councils, business associations and community groups organized clean-up groups and were out sweeping up glass and picking up debris May 29 in Midway and Frogtown.
The morning of May 29, hundreds of volunteers helped clean and board businesses. Hamline Midway Coalition, Frogtown Neighborhood Association and Union Park District Council worked (UPDC) to help organize the groups.
Hamline Midway Coalition and Union Park District Council (UPDC) have expressed gratitude for the help rendered. Both district councils have not only helped on the ground in many ways. They also have had to sort through rumors and real situations of possible illegal activities in the neighborhoods.
“There’s been a lot of ways that people have stepped up to help,” UPDC Board President Henry Parker said. Volunteers have worked to clean up and board up businesses, collect and distribute food, and continue to help affected businesses and residents. UPDC volunteers alone helped board up 10 businesses. Others have helped at food distribution points at Lexington Parkway and Central Avenue, University and Fairview, Celtic Junction and at Bethlehem Lutheran Church-in-the-Midway. The church has become a major food hub.
Both Merriam Park, Frogtown and Hamline-Midway Facebook pages set up regular neighborhood watches during and after the nights of violence, to keep each other informed and report activity. Some volunteers walked neighborhood streets in violation of the state-imposed curfews and county state of emergency. Others kept watch from their yards and porches.
Elected officials have been out helping, and are appreciative of the volunteer efforts to help the community. “It’s been an extraordinary, extraordinary week in many ways,” said St. Paul City Council President Amy Brendmoen. City council members have not only been out observing damage and helping with clean-up, they are also looking at the need for an upcoming policy session on steps St. Paul and its Police Department can take to prevent tragedies tied to police brutality. Brendmoen said there is a need for an honest dialogue to continue making changes.
University Avenue businesses sustained the heaviest damage in terms of looting and fires. Two local businesses, Lloyd’s Pharmacy/Menopause Center and Bole Ethiopian restaurant, were lost to fires. Both business were the focus of separate, successful GoFundMe campaigns and plan to rebuild or relocate in the area. Lloyd’s, which is serving customers through its sister pharmacy Setzer’s in Roseville, is planning to open a small interim location in Midway. (See related story beginning on front page.)
Midway Center was hit very hard with looting and then fires. Foot Locker was looted and set ablaze. Adjacent businesses were damaged including Great Clips, Rainbow clothing shop, GameStop Midway, To New York Midway and Peking Garden. Big Top Liquor, in the former Midway Perkins, was looted and set ablaze.
Across the street, businesses damaged include Midway Tobacco, DTLR Sports Dome, Boost Mobile, Maxx It Pawn, Culver’s and neighboring businesses. The eastern half of the Maxx It Pawn-Sports Dome group of businesses was leveled after looting, vandalism and fire. But crews were inside the western half of the structure making repairs the first week of June.

CVS at University and Snelling was looted and vandalized, as were businesses to the east including Ax-Man Surplus, JJ Fish and Chicken, and Metro Sound and Lighting. Metro Sound and Lighting was hit very hard. “We were broken into last night and majorly looted and vandalized,” the business owner stated in a Facebook post. “They tried breaking a front window, and when that didn’t work, they went around to the back of the building, gaining access by virtually destroying a back door. Recession, light rail construction in front of our building, pandemic….and now this.”
At Midway Marketplace, businesses were looted and fires set. Cub, Dollar Tree, TJ Maxx and the Healtheast Clinic were hit hard. The strip mall along University at Hamline had a fire set at the UPS store and businesses including Discount Tire were vandalized and looted. LeeAnn Chin restaurant sustained heavy damage.
Furniture Barn was set on fire and looted.
Midway SuperTarget was looted and vandalized, as were the nearby shops in the building at Hamline and University – Verizon, Noodles and Company, and the Vitamin Shop. The closed BP station at Hamline and University was vandalized.
Stores and restaurants on the first floor of the PPL Building at Hamline and University sustained damage. The building housing Bole Ethiopian restaurant, NAPA Auto Parts and Jackson Hewitt at University and Syndicate was destroyed by fire.
Goodwill at Griggs and Syndicate was vandalized and a dumpster set on fire.
Enterprise’s University Ave. vehicle rental business was damaged by fire. Anaya Dance Theater was vandalized and a wig shop in the former Arnellia’s nightclub was looted and set ablaze.
Office buildings at University and Syndicate were vandalized.
ALDI and Gordon Parks School were vandalized, with a fire set inside of Gordon Parks. Businesses at Lexington and University were damaged including UnBank, White Castle and TCF Bank. O’Reilly Auto Parts was vandalized and set on fire.
Many convenience stores including Speedway and Holiday Station stores were damaged throughout the area including stores on Snelling, University and Lexington. A fire was set at the Speedway at University and Chatsworth.
Many liquor stores around the city were looted and/or vandalized including Snelling Avenue Fine Wines and Liquors.
A few stores have reported break-ins and attempted break-ins during the first week of June.
Overnight May 28-29, the St Paul Fire Department responded to 295 calls for service, 169 of those calls were EMS calls for service and 126 were fire calls. The fire department deployed almost 200 of its own firefighters and had mutual aid from Roseville, Roseville, Maplewood, Little Canada, Lake Johana, North St. Paul, Dakota County Washington County, South Metro, Woodbury and MAC Fire.
Of the 126 fire calls, 55 were actual working fires primarily to commercial properties.
“I want to thank the women and men of our department for the incredible work they performed. Our firefighters responded in challenging conditions which included them having rocks, bricks, and bottles thrown at them. They do this work to serve the residents and visitors of St. Paul and to ensure that every person is cared for and safe,” said Chief Butch Inks.

Volunteers pass out water to those cleaning up and boarding windows on Friday, May 29. “There’s a lot of ways that people have stepped up to help,” observed UPDC President Henry Parker. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

DONATION SITES

• Midway Chamber of Commerce – We Love the Midway: http://www.midwaychamber.com/we-love-midway

• Neighbors United Funding Collaborative: https://midwayunited.org/

• Bole Ethiopian: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rebuilding-bole-ethiopian-cuisine

• Lloyd’s Pharmacy: https://www.gofundme.com/f/lloyd039s-pharmacy-rebuilding-fund-st-paul-riots

FREE LEGAL CLINICS

A series of rapidly organized free legal clinics for individuals, businesses and families impacted by the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd began June 6. The clinics aim to provide safe, confidential and free legal advice, resources and forms for anyone who needs assistance in the community.

Running every weekend while there are those in need, the clinics are organized by the Community Law Collective, a coalition of Twin Cities law firms and Zeus Jones, which will host the first three clinics at 2429 Nicollet Ave S., Minneapolis. Future clinics may be held in the Midway. More information at https://tinyurl.com/FreeLegalClinic.

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Rethinking business: Chamber members share how they’re doing during pandemic

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

Tetra Constantino of Elsa’s

How are local businesses working through the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Midway Chamber of Commerce, together with Finance and Commerce, organized a panel of business owners to answer that question during a virtual meet-up on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. It is the first of several being organized to help businesses navigate through the coronavirus situation.

Rapp: Working remotely
Rapp Strategies (333 S. 7th St., Minneapolis) offers strategic communications and works primarily with hospitals, nursing homes, school districts and electrical industries. Nearly all of their clients have stayed with the company. Their work for projects out six weeks to two months has disappeared, but other work is sustaining them, according to Todd Rapp, who moderated the Zoom panel.
Their staff started working from home in shifts prior to the official Stay At Home order to work out any issues, and has been totally remote since the order. One staff member was let go, a position the company had considered eliminating prior to the pandemic.

Elsa’s: contactless delivery
Elsa’s House of Sleep (1441 University Ave. W.) is a second generation, family-owned furniture store. Tetra Constantino‘s mother, Elsa, started the company in 1997 to make sure families could afford nice items for their homes, and that’s still the driving force of the company, observed Constantino.
As the African American community has been especially hard-hit by the coronavirus, Elsa’s took steps before the shutdown to limit contact to keep both their staff and customers safe, according to Constantino. Elsa’s began selling items on its online store and via telephone orders, and are still working to organize 6,000 items in their online shop. The store does Zoom consultations and offers free contactless deliveries. Staff use masks and gloves. “We make sure safety is our number one priority,” said Constantino. They still believe their customer service sets them apart from large online stores, and sales keep money within the community.
They initially furloughed employees, but have been able to bring nearly all of them back as there is work cleaning the warehouse and reorganizing the showroom. They’re working to set up business for a new normal, said Constantino.
They’ve partnered with a local musician, Jamilah Pettiford, on a song that will be released on local radio stations.

Urban Growler: lean is the new normal
Urban Growler Brewing Co. celebrated its fifth year last July, and is trying to figure out how to still offer a fun experience with food and beer while maintaining social distancing. Pavlak pointed out more training is needed on social distancing so their customers practice it.
“Summer is when we make hay and we survive winter,” observed co-owner Jill Pavlak. They were just starting to pick up and had added several new staff positions when they had to shut down their tap room and laid off 37 servers, bartenders and kitchen staff. They were left with nine managers. Since getting a Payroll Protection Program loan, they’ve added back some kitchen staff. “We’re still a very lean team and we believe that will be our new normal for awhile,” said Pavlak.
They didn’t miss a beat, but started offering takeout immediately as there was no other option for them, said Pavlak. “We had to stay open or we would not survive.”
Pavlak admitted it is hard to wrap one’s brain around this situation, and there is a lot of grief and loss. Overall, their staff is a tight group, and are sharing tips with those who aren’t working, letting them know they’re missed.
“Love can keep us afloat,” said Pavlak. “We will survive because we’re received a lot of love form our team and customers.”

Mendoza: diverse base
Tony Mendoza operates a small law firm in the heart of the Midway. His primary clients are from the telcom and technology industries, entertainment and the non-profit sector. He’s grateful for their diverse make-up, which means he has continued to work through the pandemic. He let one staff member go in a position he had considered eliminating previously, but hired a paralegal for a different type of work.
His two staff members work remotely, and he works out of his office as his house is busy with students engaged in distant learning.

PPP loans and staying engaged
Given his small size, Mendoza didn’t seek a PPP loan.
Rapp staff continue connecting through weekly staff meetings. They received a PPP loan, and are focused on getting the money in the hands of staff. They’re not entirely sure if it all needs to be paid out by June 12, or not.
At Elsa’s, they have worked to stay engaged with each other through conference calls. “I’ve had to rely on our team to be creative,” remarked Constantino. “It’s a challenge to completely shift your business model. We are here to meet the needs of our clients on a budget who want a great living situation. They can have a shutdown, but not be shut-in.”
It doesn’t make sense for Urban Growler to bring back a bunch of staff, said co-owner Deb Loch, so they know they’ll end up paying back some of the PPP loan they received. “We’re maximizing what we can for the forgiveable piece but a lot will be unforgiveable. For us, that loan didn’t help as much as it could,” she said.

Managing anxiety
“Anxiety is at a high level for everybody,” observed Mendoza. “I deal with it by trying to stay informed.” He is helped by the shared sense that “we are all in this together.”
He’s working to maintain his routines as much as possible. His gym is shut down, but every morning he’s running, biking, and using resistance bands.
Pavlak and Loch take a daily walk. They also insist their staff take off two days in a row, and have opted to be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. It helps to know “this isn’t just happening to Urban Growler. This is happening everywhere,” said Pavlak.
Instead of dumping beer they couldn’t sell, Urban Growler partnered with two distillaries to make hand sanitizer that they donated to a hospice center here in their Midway neighborhood. “It helped us feel a little bit better about beer we can’t sell,” said Pavlak.
“Anxiety is high in the black community,” stated Constantino. He deals with it by educating himself and staying informed. “The more you know, you have a plan and that relieves anxiousness,” he said.
Rapp only listens to jazz music until 11 a.m. each day and stays away from the news until then. He makes sure he gets 10,000 steps a day. He and his wife have reinvented “date night” on Saturdays. He cooks and his wife picks an AcademyAward-winning movie to watch.
Mendoza pointed out that he is wondering what businesses will drive the recovery. He observed,“We will need to rethink how we do business as a society.”

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WEB_6ft_apart_IMG_7656

‘6 Ft. Apart’ song lyrics

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Do your part and stay six feet apart… encourage (left to right) Camphor United Methodist Church pastor Rob Bell, Bethel University Assistant Director of Service-Learning and Community Engagement Tanden Brekke, Melvin Giles and United Family Medicine resident Jenny Zheng. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Click on links to view videos of the song.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/132uRHCrnEx9Xsjb6TRohKcObDatMc-V5/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UY3Sh2zcI_gHq-GDtuukEZl5zrMvNC7H/view

Peace bubbles

By Melvin Giles
peacebubbles@q.com

‘6 Ft. Apart’ song lyrics
OOO we need each other,
Yes, we know it’s true!
This coronavirus won’t make us feel blue
Phone me! Zoom me!
Phone me! Zoom me!
And show your love by stayin’ 6 feet apart!
We can love each other and be really smart
Do your part by lovin’ us from 6 feet apart
Phone me! Zoom me!
Phone me! Zoom me!
And show your love by stayin’ 6 feet apart!
6 feet apart. You’re showing all your love!
6 feet apart, is all we need to show we care!
OOO we need each other,
Yes we know it’s true!
This coronavirus won’t make us feel blue
Phone me! Zoom me!
Phone me! Zoom me!
And show your love by stayin’ 6 feet apart!
6 feet apart. You’re showing all your love!
6 feet apart, is all we need to show we care!
Let’s love everybody,
Show them that we care!
May peace prevail for everyone, lots of love to share!
Phone me! Zoom me!
Phone me! Zoom me!
And show your love by stayin’ 6 feet apart!
6 feet apart

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Patisserie Paris makes unforgettable French pastries

Patisserie Paris makes unforgettable French pastries

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Patisserie Paris (383 University Ave.) owner Mark Heu said, “We hope each delicious bite of our pastries will be a magical experience – and will transport our customers, at least for a few moments, to Paris.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Last August, Chef Marc Heu began selling made-from-scratch, mouthwatering French pastries and desserts in his newly opened Frogtown pastry shop. Customers were delighted by the passion fruit-raspberry and lime yuzu tarts, the creamy flan, and the buttery croissants. Business was brisk from the start, with customer response approaching the ecstatic.
From one, “The Opera Crepe Cake is so good, I cried.” And from another, “These pastries are…unforgettable.”
At the time of this printing, the brick and mortar Patisserie Paris is temporarily closed in accordance with Governor Walz’s Stay-at-Home order. While Heu made the decision to close the retail space with “a heavy heart,” the online pastry shop remains open. His baking team is taking and filling orders online; they are measuring, rolling, and proofing dough well into the night – just like before.
The 30-year-old Heu has been baking pastries since he was a little boy growing up in French Guiana, a French territory in South America, and he’s not about to stop now.
Born in France, Heu moved to French Guiana with his parents and five older siblings when he was three. He said, “We actually arrived on my third birthday. My parents had gone to France from a refugee camp in Laos in 1982, but they never really settled there. They were farmers from Southeast Asia, who found themselves living in a busy French city for 10 years.”
He added, “They learned of a good-sized community of Hmong refugees farming in French Guiana, and decided to relocate. It was a lifestyle similar to what they had known in Laos, with a warm, humid jungle climate. One of my earliest memories is of my mom cleaning out cow stalls in the abandoned cow barn where we were assigned to live. She spread blankets on the ground for us to sleep on, and this became our home.”
Heu’s life would soon take on a push-pull of contradictions and coincidences. Or were they?
His older sisters had learned to bake exquisite pastries during their years in France, and they gave their little brother a job to do. Standing on a stool, in a cow barn in French Guiana, he learned to beat egg whites to perfection. Heu said, “We were poor by anyone’s standards, but we had eggs, flour, butter, and sugar. My sisters didn’t know how to make a proper dinner, but they could bake.”
When he turned 13, Heu proudly announced that he was going to become a pastry chef. He remembered, “My parents responded with a single word, ‘NO.’ As refugees, they wanted their children to follow a certain path to a better life. In their minds, the work of a pastry chef was no better than manual labor. I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I tried my best to become a doctor.”
Heu was sent back to France for high school, and applied himself to the study of science. He eventually entered medical school and completed one year, intent on fulfilling his parent’s dream for him. But when it was time to return for the second year, he couldn’t make himself do it.
With the support of his wife, a St. Paul resident he had met while visiting extended family here in 2012, Heu enrolled in a prestigious French baking school instead. He studied under the world’s top chefs in the fields of chocolate, ice cream, confectionary, and cakes. In June 2018, he graduated (second in his class) with a Grand Bachelor’s Degree of pastry. He was going to follow his own dream.

“In baking, the simplest things are the hardest to achieve. Croissants are made with the most basic ingredients: flour, milk, yeast, honey, sugar, salt. It takes 48 hours to make croissants from start to finish. The dough needs time to rest. You can’t be in a hurry. If you don’t have patience, your croissants won’t be tasty. Every day I am learning how to make croissants better.”
~ Marc Heu

Heu said, “We worked very hard in school, but because I had such passion for it – everything felt easy. Baking pastry involves a lot of scientific reasoning, so the time I had spent studying science proved useful. For the first time in my life, I felt free.”
After graduation, Hue was offered a pastry chef position at Stohrer, the oldest patisserie in Paris, which was founded in 1730 by King Louis XV’s pastry chef. As wonderful as the experience was, he and his wife longed to return to St. Paul.
Heu looked at a lot of different locations before choosing the store front at 383 University Ave. W. He said, “It’s about the same size as Stohrer’s, the 300-year-old pastry shop in Paris, and we have the same unwavering commitment to using the finest ingredients. I hope that my business will last a long time, too!”
There is a perception that French pastries are reserved for the rich. Heu said, “I come from a poor family, and I am trying to make this food available to everybody. I want to share what I love. Our pastries are priced as affordably as I can make them, and still run a profitable business.”
Future plans include building out an area for seating in the bakery, and adding coffees and savory baked goods to the menu. For the foreseeable future, go to www.marcheuparis.com and follow the prompts to place an order online. Pick-ups are scheduled by appointment Tuesday to Sunday. Patisserie Paris also offers free delivery for $50+ orders within a 15-mile radius of the shop. All orders must be placed 48 hours in advance.
Call 651-666-1464 or email info@marcheuparis.com with questions.
Heu and his staff are taking their days as they come, one at a time. He said, “We’ve gotten tremendous support from the community, both before and since the pandemic hit. I’m sending out a huge thank to everybody for supporting our pastry shop, and for making this adventure continue.”

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FORM: THERE TO HOLD YOUR HAND

FORM: THERE TO HOLD YOUR HAND

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Community of support for parents

By JAN WILLMS

Parents gather at a FORM meeting pre-corona virus. Currently communication is online. (Photo submitted)

Infants and toddlers come to this world as whole beings, and they should be afforded the same respect and consideration that another person would have.
That is the basis of respectful parenting, according to Kelly Scott, an associate for Resources for Infant Educators (RIE).
“We don’t mean deference, that the child is in charge,” she explained. “By respect, we meant that children have a point of view, that they can be active participants in their care.”
“What they need for the first three years of their life is for a social and emotional foundation to be built,” she continued. Scott, the parent of a young girl, is formerly from California and now spends her time between Chicago and Minneapolis. She joined Carolyn Paetzel recently to talk about their experiences with the RIE form of parenting.
Paetzel, a licensed educator, parent and RIE associate, is the founder of Friends of RIE Minnesota (FORM), which she started in 2014. “We started with a group of four, and now people in 23 different countries follow us online.”
The group meets monthly for discussion, drawing parents, educators, school administrators and counselors to St. Paul. The group meets at different locations, such as homes or libraries, in St. Paul. There are play groups for children monthly. People also participate on Instagram.
Paetzel explained that RIE focuses on children from infancy to two years old, but said the respectful parenting program can go all the way on the continuum to cover adults and relationships in general. There is usually a presenter at the monthly FORM discussion group. For example, recently a Hamline University developmental psychologist talked about raising boys in today’s society. “We had a full house,” Paetzel said.

Stoplight method
She stated the mission of FORM: “We are an open forum for collaborative inquiry, dialogue and advocacy influenced by Magda Gerber’s ‘Educaring Approach’ in Minnesota.”
Gerber taught respectful parenting in the terms of a stoplight. As described in a recollection of Gerber’s work, “When a child can handle the situation, the light is green and the adult does not need to intervene. If the child’s behavior will put themselves or another person in danger, or is socially inappropriate, (a red light situation) then the adult will intervene to prevent anyone from getting hurt or to explain why something is not okay. This is done in a calm, non-judgmental way. It might also include physically blocking the child from causing harm.
“When there is a situation where the child may not be able to manage on their own, the adult can respond to this as an amber light situation. The adult would come close to observe the situation, and be ready to act.”

Trust without intervention
Scott said a hallmark of the RIE approach is to trust an infant and toddler to know how much to eat and how much to sleep. “They know how much to eat, and then they stop. They know when they are tired,” she said. “They don’t need as much intervention as we sometimes believe. Our job is to observe closely when they are trying to send us a message.”
She said parents can see what young children can do for themselves, and not anticipate their needs before they have a chance to tell what they are.
“Sometimes RIE families can look different from a conventional family. There is a lot of emphasis for children to develop gross motor skills on their own without intervention, so there is not as much modifying what they are doing. They are given a space they can freely explore, where a grownup is very comfortable with the environment and does not really intervene,” noted Scott. “We will let them dress themselves sooner or make choices sooner than in a conventional way.”

‘You fell down’

RIE stresses freedom of movement along with freedom of emotion for children. (Photo submitted)

Paetzel added that along with freedom of movement, there is freedom of emotion. “So we wouldn’t stop a child from crying, but acknowledge their crying and support them,” she said. “You fell down. Acknowledge what happened. That is sometimes all that is needed.”
Scott discussed the number and types of toys that children may need. “If children have a lot of toys that are single-use, such as pressing a button and the toy does one thing, children do not stay in interaction with those toys very long,” Scott said. “And they don’t treat those toys as gently.”
She said if you think of a child on a hike, that child may find a stick and find 15 things to do with it as the walk continues.

Talk to your very young child
The RIE approach also puts an emphasis on conversing with a child, even at a very young age. “A six-week-old won’t understand what you’re saying, but will understand your intent,” Scott explained. “The infant will understand what you feel.” She said that when parents talk to their baby, they are slowing themselves down, reminiscent of the way Fred Rogers addressed children.
“The child can participate with what’s happening,” she said. “When we speed up, the child can’t come along. Respectful care is considering children in the choices we are making, considering them in what we are doing to them, telling them what we are going to be doing so they can participate.” Scott noted that a small infant can move its legs up to get a diaper off, for example. “We will talk with them, there is nothing to rush through; we are looking at bonding and attachment that warm, responsive care brings.”
Paetzel said Gerber had described the relationship between the child and his or her caregiver as two teenagers doing an awkward dance. Eventually the caregiver and child, like the teenagers, learn to be in rhythm together.
Scott added that speaking to the child in proper cadence and tone and full sentences helps him or her with language development and becoming highly verbal.

Parents who understand
“We are all looking for community,” Scott said. “Everyone wants to do their best and be around people who are championing them and making them feel secure in their choices. FORM is a great place to come and find empathetic parents who understand what you’re going through. Everyone is trying to find this more peaceful way of being with each other. There is a lot of wonderful information online, but there is still something wonderful about being together, and that is what FORM provides.”
Paetzel added, “So often friendships form that remain until the kids go away to college. Someone is there to hold your hand when you need one.
“FORM is not a group that is exclusive,” she continued. “One of our mottos is ‘Come as you are whenever you can.’ We never charge for anything so it’s open and accessible for everyone. Everybody’s welcome.”

 

Reflections from parents and educators
Annie Pezalla is a parent of twin six-year-old boys, Jackson and Owen. “I have been greatly helped in my parenting through FORM. I have been plugged in to this organization almost since the boys’ first birthday. Jackson and Owen were born here in Minnesota, but when they were just a few months old, we moved to Seattle for my husband’s job. We were completely uprooted, and I felt lonely and overwhelmed with the challenge of parenting twin babies without the support network I had back in Minnesota.”
Pezalla started to read newsletters from FORM forwarded to her by her older sister and quickly became a member in her own right, reading anything she could get her hands on. “FORM has helped me to be a better parent. It combines evidence-based practice on early childhood development with a down-to-earth, compassionate, curious, playful approach to learning about kids.”
“In the midst of some really challenging parenting moments for me – one of my boys had a ‘biting phase’ which was pretty alarming; another one of my boys had some digestive issues which had me completely perplexed – FORM has been a savior. I’ve learned great lessons about how to care for my kids and myself through FORM.”
Pezalla is also a professor of human development and family studies who earned her doctorate at Penn State. “I am so grateful for my education there, which has given me a strong foundation upon which to understand development. Yet FORM has brought about a new layer of color and light to my education. It’s given me a more humanistic understanding of the wonders of child development.”
Pezalla has presented twice at FORM, once on the importance of nature-based free play in early childhood, and another time on healthy emotional expressions in young boys. “Both sessions were a joy for me.”
Nicollete DeVall is a long-time member of FORM and early childhood and family education instructor.
“I absolutely love FORM. It has meant so much to me to be a part of such an amazing group of people who are dedicated to providing the best care for infants and toddlers. FORM has changed a lot since I first started attending, and it has been great to see so many people take an interest in the group over the last few years.
“I first heard about FORM in the fall of 2015 soon after I received my B.S. in early childhood education. Although I can’t always attend the monthly meetings, I always look forward to reading the FORM newsletter and connecting with my friends.
“FORM has introduced me to many like-minded people, as well as RIE resources that have been of great value to me personally and professionally. I am so grateful to have this group as a support to me in my work with children and families. Being a part of FORM offers many opportunities for sharing ideas and resources and for making new friends.”

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Libraries using contactless pickup, offering books and more online

Libraries using contactless pickup, offering books and more online

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

SPPL Librarian Maica Lelis places items on an outside table for contactless pickup. All items for pickup are packed by a gloved staff person, placed in a plastic bag, and delivered from a safe distance. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

When the Saint Paul Public Libraries (SPPL) closed their doors on March 16, they knew they had to quickly figure out how to best serve the needs of the community, while maintaining the health and safety of their staff and patrons.
By April 12, they had begun offering contactless pick-up for physical materials at five library locations. Since the first stay-at-home order went into effect, their selection of online resources has continued to grow.
At present, SPPL patrons are able to request materials for contactless pickup at these locations: George Latimer Central, Highland Park, Merriam Park, Rondo, and Sun Ray. These libraries have staff available Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. They can be reached by phone to answer questions and place holds, or patrons can request items online and pick them up at one of the five open branches. Patrons can also call 651-266-7000 (the George Latimer Central Library has extended phone hours) from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
To place a hold online, visit www.sppl.org/staying-in, click on “catalog” and follow the prompts. A current Saint Paul Public Library card is needed with known user name and password.
Note that held items are not ready to be picked up until library staff contact you by phone or email. Items may show up as “ready for pick-up” on your library account, but you must wait to be contacted by a staff person. They are not yet able to send automated notices when materials are ready.
Contactless pick-up at the library looks like any other type of curbside pick-up. Patrons are asked to call when they arrive at the library, and then step a minimum of six feet away from the door. A gloved staff person will place items, wrapped in a plastic bag, on an outside table.
SPPL Public Services Manager Tracy Baumann said, “We aren’t taking any library returns at this time. We’ve extended all due dates until July 1. As usual, there are no fines and it doesn’t seem like we’re at risk for running out of library materials. SPPL will communicate guidance for safely returning library materials once that information becomes known.”

“While our physical locations are closed, we have found new and different ways to connect with our community. We have pivoted to make our library system work in a totally new environment.” ~ Tracy Baumann

Movies, music lessons, audio books, and more online
In addition to their physical collection of books, magazine, DVDs and CDs, the library has a wealth of digital resources for patrons to enjoy.
To access these, patrons can use their already activated SPPL card, or they can sign up online for an ecard. Only Saint Paul residents can apply for an ecard. Call any of the open branches for help getting started, if needed. Ecards can only be used for electronic resources. They cannot be used to place holds or check out physical items. Ecards are ready for use one to two business days after application has been completed, and residency information verified.
There is something for everyone in the online offerings, from entertainment to education and homework help. SPPL also helps patrons connect to many of the new internet offerings that have appeared during the pandemic. Listen to broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera or the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Stream one of 200 movies for free, with a periodically updated selection curated by SPPL staff. Visit RB Digital to access popular audio books and magazines with an ecard: https://stpaulmn.rbdigital.com/. Audio books and ebooks are also available through Cloud Library.
Baumann explained, “Many of the online resources have been around for a while, but people are taking advantage of them in much larger numbers. There’s a gift in that; patrons are discovering things they didn’t know we had before, like ‘Transparent Language Online’. There are more than 90 languages you can study through this program, including English. The ‘Ancestry Learning Library’ is a program we’ve had as a library-based subscription for years, but the company has made it available for home use during this difficult time.”
Through www.sppl.org/staying-in, the library has linked to opportunities for free music lessons on a variety of instruments, to view award-winning Omni Films from the Science Museum of Minnesota, or to watch live cam broadcasts from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s a rare day that can’t be brightened, at least a little, by seeing sea otters tumbling and jelly fish swimming.
According to Baumann, “The library’s transition has been both hard and easy. We’re doing the same things we’ve always done, but we’ve had to learn to do them differently – and very quickly. It’s hard for librarians not to see ‘their people.’ Library systems everywhere are responding as well as they can.”
Check www.sppl.org/staying-in frequently for new offerings and to connect with the Saint Paul Public Library on Facebook and Twitter for information on upcoming events.

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2019 Midway Chamber Directory

COVID-19