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Listening and ready to work


Listening and ready to work

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Ward 1 St. Paul City Council

Dai Thao, St. Paul Council Member

By Dai Thao

I am angered by and strongly condemn the tragic and unjust murder of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Imagine yourself on the ground. Put yourself on the floor in the position that Mr. Floyd was in. Now have someone put 200 pound of weight on your neck with their knee. I bet it won’t end well. It’s murder, and I urge and support Attorney General Keith Ellison to increase the charge against Derek Chauvin to first-degree murder and to swiftly bring justice to all officers involved. In my capacity as the city council member for Ward 1, I am committed to further and increased transparency and accountability with the city of St. Paul’s operations.
I hope to see open and renewed dialogue around how our city prioritizes its funds. In regard to the St. Paul Police Department, I want to see a continued and invigorated focus on de-escalation practices and shift to building and funding mental health resources for those in crisis. I also want to continue working with my city council colleagues to focus on community-first public safety strategies; for example, creating a People’s Cabinet and funding community organizations working with youth and restorative justice organizations.
As we move forward as a city in our rebuilding and healing process, I hope that the hunger for justice and change remains. I want to hear from more people and bring more voices to the decision-making table. I am listening and ready to work with you all.

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‘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.



Peace bubbles

By Melvin Giles

‘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


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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School spreads message of joy during distance learning

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

St. Paul City School District has a message for its 540 students: “We miss you and we are here for you!”
St. Paul City School staff is putting some heart into their distance learning plans by visiting individual students at home to post a message of joy and support in front lawns. “We want our families to know they are being supported from afar even in these uncertain times,” said District Executive Director Dr. Meg Cavalier. “This closure has been difficult for all of us, but our community has risen to the challenge by continuing to celebrate and care for our students above all.”
St. Paul City School (SPCS) is a public charter school district whose three school sites serve preschool through 12th grade students. Like all schools across the state, St. Paul City School temporarily closed all buildings and moved to distance learning for the remainder of the school year.
After the technical pieces were set in motion, such as getting classrooms online and delivering books and other materials to students’ homes, SPCS knew they needed to go one step further to bring joy to the community. “We want to help students and families find a smile in the midst of this really scary time,” explained Primary and Middle School Principal Justin Tiarks. That’s when SPCS staff began printing signs with the message “We miss you! We are here for you” in English, Spanish, and Hmong and planting them in the front yards of each of their students. Some staff were even lucky enough to get to wave to their students from afar.
Distance learning is a practice that all Minnesota schools are in the process of getting used to. There are plenty of challenges; “I don’t get to see my friends and help people or do group projects,” says Lyna N., a fifth grader at St. Paul City Primary School.
Some families struggle to access technology, meals, mental health supports, and other resources typically provided by schools.
But there are also highlights to note. “I have really enjoyed working so closely with students and their families each day. It is nice to have time to connect with families and get to know them better,” said second grade teacher Brittany Burrows.

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Frog Food by Z Akhmetova May 2020

Frog Food by Z Akhmetova May 2020

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

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Food program reopens

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Feeding Frogtown reopens Friday, May 15 at St. Paul City School after shutting down in March. It will no longer offer walk-up distribution. Folks must drive up or call 612-440-8570 for delivery in Frogtown, Rondo or the North End. Beginning Friday, May 22, two satellite sites will open: at Frogtown Farm (bottom of the hill along Minnehaha) and Como Place Apartments.

The Frogtown Farm board has announced it will scale back this year to smaller areas that can be maintained by a reduced farm crew and hold monthly pop-up produce distributions. A cover crop will be planted on the larger fields to enrich the soil for the 2021 season.

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WEB_Treadle Yard Goods 25sm

Now more than ever, home matters

Posted on 15 April 2020 by Tesha Christensen

First time home buyer settles into Frogtown

LeAndra Estis is a first time home-buyer through Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. She said, “The one thing I asked for was a front porch. We always had a front porch growing up, and it’s a sentimental thing for me. My strongest memory of childhood was that everybody sat on their front porches in Rondo.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

LeAndra Estis knows something about being first. In her family, she was the first daughter born, the first grand-daughter, and the first niece. She was the first child to go to college, and she is the first person in her extended family to purchase a home. Thanks to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, and her own perseverance – Estis is a proud first time homebuyer.
She now lives in Frogtown with her two children, but their family history in St. Paul goes back four generations. Estis grew up in her grandmother’s home in the Rondo neighborhood, near Victoria and Selby. She said, “I always knew I wanted to buy a house in this area because, to me, it’s home.”
Of her grandmother’s house, Estis said, “We always thought she owned it, but it turned out she was a renter for all those years. She was never able to buy that house, or any other one. When she died, it was like our family lost its center.”
It’s a proven fact that creditworthy, low-income and minority families face significant barriers to sustainable homeownership, a major vehicle for building wealth and economic opportunity. Last June, Estis and her daughters busted that mold and moved into a newly constructed three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a finished basement. It took a lot of hard work to get there.
With a college degree in human resources and 15 years experience in hospitality management, Estis thought she was a good candidate for home ownership through Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. She met with a Homeownership Advisor to review her credit report two years ago. Her work history and income made home ownership look within reach.
Estis said, “I set a savings goal, and I stuck to it. I learned that $6,300 would be needed for closing costs, and as a cushion for unexpected emergencies. I had to be financially straight for anything that might happen. I started saying ‘no’ to going out, and cut way back on unnecessary expenses.”
Habitat requires all prospective homeowners to complete an eight-hour First-time Home Buyer Class. Applicants learn how to connect with city and county services, their city council member, how to settle incidents with their neighbors, and practical things like how to repair a hole in sheetrock, or unplug a toilet. Estis said, “I felt like I really got the facts. They gave me the largest three-ring binder there is, and now it’s completely full.”
Applicants are also required to complete service hours at one of Habitat’s home build sites or at one of two ReStore Home Improvement Outlets. Once matched to a home, applicants begin their service hours.
Estis said, “Every month there’s a different list of available homes to choose from including location, nearby shopping, freeway, public transportation, and schools. You’re not guaranteed your selection, but you throw your name in with other interested applicants. It was about six weeks from the time I made my selection until I learned we had been chosen for this location. And then they still had to build the house!”
Construction began and ended, and moving day came. Then just two months later, Estis lost her full-time job. That cushion she had saved for unexpected emergencies was soon put to use. It took five months of searching, but she was offered a job with the state of Minnesota. Estis said, “I took my time finding the right job. I was consumed with getting settled in the house, and being a first-time homeowner. I was learning so much that the waiting wasn’t unbearable for me.”
In the last 30 years, Twin Cities Habitat has helped more than 1,300 families buy affordable homes across the metro area. They offer mortgages with monthly payments set at 30% of household income, homebuyer education classes that prepare applicants for the responsibilities of owning a home, and post-purchase support on maintenance, upkeep, and ways to connect with new neighbors.
It will soon be the first anniversary of Estis and her family holding the keys to their own home. With her oldest daughter finishing her first year of college soon, the circle of firsts keeps growing.
Add to that list, the current Covid 19 health crisis. Estis said, “This really is a tough time we’re in. I’ve had a few family members reach out to me and say, ‘You’re the one who’s in the safest place right now. You have shelter for your children, and that’s important.’”
For more information on home ownership with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, go to www.tchabitat.org.


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Frog Food by Z Akhmetova April 2020

Posted on 15 April 2020 by Tesha Christensen

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In Solidarity!sm


Posted on 15 April 2020 by Tesha Christensen

The state has launched a Discrimination Helpline. The helpline will allow those who experience or witness bias and discrimination to report incidents to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Toll-free helpline: 1-833-454-0148, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

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NeighborWorks: a home partner

Posted on 15 April 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Customers can apply for mortgage and refinance loans from home

Jason Peterson

NeighborWorks Home Partners (533 N. Dale St.) is offering three new programs to make buying a home or refinancing a mortgage more accessible for Twin Cities residents.
NeighborWorks Mortgage now offers first mortgage financing, and refinance financing, to homebuyers and homeowners throughout the 11-county metropolitan area.
Purchase and refinance products are available to buyers of any income level, with no limit on purchase price.
In addition to mortgages, NeighborWorks has rolled out a new down payment assistance program, NeighborWorks Leap, that pairs with their mortgage products. The Leap program provides up to $15,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance for buyers who are using NeighborWorks Mortgage first mortgage products, and homeowners refinancing with NWHP. Buyers must have an income below 140% of the Area Median Income in order to qualify. Leap DPA is also available to for homes throughout the 11-county metro area.
Community Lending Manager Casey Ware said she’s excited to help more people reach their dreams of homeownership. “I meet a lot of people who want to buy a home, but just don’t believe they can do it, or don’t know where to start,” said Ware. “Give NeighborWorks a call. We have everything you need to get started on that path to homeownership.”
She added, “We shop to find the best loan product for each individual borrower,” said Ware. “We offer a variety of loans, including conventional, FHA, and VA. And we have resources to support homebuyers every step of the way, so they can feel confident as shoppers, and supported as new homeowners.
“NeighborWorks is also a resource for homeowners who have been eager to refinance their existing mortgage to a lower rate to lower their monthly expenses.”
Jason Peterson, Chief Executive Officer of NWHP, noted that customers who choose a mortgage product from NeighborWorks are supporting affordable and accessible homeownership in their communities.

Casey Ware

“Buyers who get their mortgage through NeighborWorks will find competitive rates and excellent customer service, but there’s more to it than that,” said Peterson. “They’ll also be helping another homebuyer access pre-purchase education, or a down payment, or they may be helping a senior neighbor get needed accessibility improvements so they can stay in their home. It’s really a mortgage that pays it forward.”
Peterson said that the new products round out what was already a diverse suite of homeownership services to help homeowners at every stage.
“NeighborWorks is one-stop shop for homebuyers and homeowners,” said Peterson. “You can start with us to improve your credit and learn about the homebuying process, take homebuyer education, get personalized coaching, and find a down payment. You can come to us for home improvement financing, and to remedy hazards in your home. And we hope you never need it, but we also have free and confidential foreclosure intervention counseling if you should be at risk of missing payments.
More information about the programs can be found at https://nwhomepartners.org/mortgage, or by calling 651-292-8710.
NeighborWorks Home Partners is a community based nonprofit organization with offices in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and is a member of the national NeighborWorks America network. Specializing in homebuyer education and preparation, including credit repair, first mortgage loans, refinance loans, home improvement loans, down payment assistance and foreclosure prevention, NWHP serves the eleven-county metro area.
The organization currently provides services in English, Hmong, and Spanish. More information is available at nwhomepartners.org

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2019 Midway Chamber Directory