Couple provides a safe space for women in recovery

Couple provides a safe space for women in recovery

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Bernard Jones and Georgia Giles-Jones, partners and owners of Central Village Housing in St. Paul. Bernard said, “With the growing drug and opioid epidemic in the community, facilities like ours are greatly needed. We want to shine a light that it’s okay to go into recovery.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Five years ago, Georgia Giles-Jones and Bernard Jones realized they didn’t need such a big house anymore. Instead of putting a “For Sale” sign in the front yard, they turned their six-bedroom home near Dale St. and University Ave. into a recovery house for women working their way out of addiction.
Called Central House, it is one of three St. Paul recovery houses they now own and run under the name Central Village Housing (CVH).
“A recovery house is different from a halfway house,” Bernard explained. Most halfway houses are overseen by the Department of Corrections, and residents are court-ordered to live there. Sober living or recovery houses are structured like a home, and give residents more privacy, comfort, and sense of place.
The three CVH properties are spacious, attractive, and above all, safe. They have amenities such as gardening in the summer, easy access to the Green Line and MTC bus routes, wifi, and in-home laundry at no cost. Meals are not provided, but kitchen space is ample.
Georgia and Bernard both have family members who struggle with addiction issues. Each grew up witnessing the instability that addiction brings to families. This fuels their passion for helping women committed to the hard work of recovery.
There are no social services offered on-site at a recovery house, but there are rules and requirements. A prospective resident at CVH must be at least 18 years old, have 14 days sobriety from drugs or alcohol, and be able to live in community; each house has between 8-12 residents. Once accepted, a CVH resident must attend two recovery meetings weekly, such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous. She must participate in a weekly social hour, and work with a sponsor weekly.
Like all recovery houses, CVH is private-pay and, by law, is not eligible for grant-funding.
“Understand this,” Georgia said. “There is no one face of addiction. We’ve had every kind of person stay here: professional women like teachers and nurses, and some that are just getting started. One of our cardinal rules is that no matter who you are, you will be respectful to others at all times. Our residents have good days and bad days, but they learn to be there for each other.”
There is also no such thing as a typical length of stay at a recovery house. Bernard said, “Outpatient treatment might last for a few months, but after that – what’s your safety net? Our residents can stay here as long as they’re continuing to meet house requirements. In recovery, you’re living an honest program. If someone relapses and they have to leave, they can come back. We know that life is hard. We give people as many chances as they need.”
For more information about Central Village Housing, or to schedule a tour, call 612.401.5794 or email 513centralhouse@gmail.com. View the website at www.centralvillagehousing.com.

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Gifts of darkness

Gifts of darkness

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

AT RIGHT – Eily Marlow believes that reclaiming darkness is essential for our spiritual and emotional well-being. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

In mid-January, daylight lasts only nine hours and 15 minutes in the Twin Cities. That means we experience almost 15 hours of darkness every 24 hours. While this can be hard for some people, especially those with seasonal depression, Midway resident Eily Marlow believes that time spent in the dark can be regenerative.
The ordained Presbyterian minister led a day-long retreat at the Benedictine Center of St. Paul’s Monastery last month called “Reclaiming Darkness.”
“In the workshop,” she said, “participants explored their preconceptions about darkness.” After an opening meditation, Marlow and co-presenter Kiely Todd-Roska asked, “How do we learn to walk with courage in the dark? What practices and rituals can we cultivate to increase our comfort with darkness?”
Marlow shared some of the ideas around engaging seasonal darkness that she and her spouse Mary have tried with their two elementary school-aged children. She said, “When our daughter turned five, she asked to have an in-the-dark party for her January birthday. Candles and sparklers made her party special. We also like to string holiday lights in our kids’ bedrooms, and leave the overhead lights off as much as possible. This creates a magical atmosphere in the long winter months.”
She continued, “Mary and our daughter often sleep out on the porch in the winter months to enjoy the fresh air and darkness: it’s sort of like winter camping, but they use an electric blanket.”
Marlow and her family have found several ways to be sociable, and safe, outside in the dark. All four of them enjoy pajama walks to a park near their Midway home. Marlow said, “The kids love to run through the ball field in every season. No matter what time of year, these walks give us a chance to observe the moon in its different phases – and to be together after dark.”
>> from 1 The Hamline Midway Coalition held a Winter Solstice Celebration on Dec. 20 at Newell Park with live music, hot cocoa and cider, chili cook-off, sledding, and bonfire. Marlow was there with her family and said, “Being in the dark with friends and neighbors can inspire a different sense of connection and community.”


Invite darkness into your home joyfully
Our lives are filled with artificial lights from overhead, and also from electronic devices. Here are some suggestions for inviting darkness into your home joyfully in the winter months:

•If time and money allow, cook warm, aromatic soups, stews, and breads.
• Before bedtime, avoid using your phone or social media.
• Try having zero light in your bedroom when it is time to sleep. Cover your digital alarm clock with a book or magazine.
• Take unhurried baths and naps without guilt. Our bodies need more rest and relaxation at this time of year.
• Observe the phases of the moon, and recognize that we all have seasons of waxing and waning.
• Light candles and enjoy watching them burn.
• Consider your attitude toward darkness; is it positive or negative? If negative, is it based on real or imagined experiences?

Winter is a time when the natural world slows down. In Minnesota, bears, bats, bees, and chipmunks are among the many creatures that hibernate in dark, cozy places. Perennial plants and trees go into dormancy, using stored resources to survive the cold winter months. If you (or your family) have ways of unpacking the gifts of darkness, please consider sharing them with fellow Monitor readers. Email your ideas to editor/publisher Tesha M. Christensen at Tesha@MonitorSaintPaul.com.


A Blessing for Traveling in the Dark
by Jan Richardson (abridged and used by permission)

Go slow if you can.
Slower. More slowly still.
Friendly dark or fearsome,
this is no place to break your neck
by rushing, by running,
by crashing into what you cannot see.
Then again, it is true:
different darks have different tasks,
and if you arrived here unawares,
if you have come in peril, or in pain,
this might be no place you should dawdle.
I do not know what these shadows ask of you,
what they might hold that means you good or ill.
It is not for me to reckon whether you should linger
or you should leave.
But this is what I can ask for you.
That in the darkness there be a blessing.
That in the darkness there be a welcome.
That in the night you be encompassed
By the Love that knows your name.

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Give drumming a try at Women’s Drum Center

Give drumming a try at Women’s Drum Center

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Classes foster mind-body connection

Bettie Seitzer was looking for a musical community nine years ago, and found it at the Women’s Drum Center (2242 University Ave. W.).
The blue and bluegrass musician had worked in a traveling band until she got married and started a family. At her first class, she knew she would be drumming for a long time. She now serves as the center’s executive director, leads “Women Who Groove,” and teaches two beginning level classes.
The Women’s Drum Center (WDC) offers beginning level, intermediate and advanced level classes in stick and hand drumming to any interested women. There are co-ed classes in beginning and advanced level West African drumming, and a monthly “Beat Cabin Fever” series offered for adults and children in the winter months. Workshops in 2020 will focus on unique instruments, including the African xylophone (called gyil). WDC offers private lessons; Health Rhythm programs at offsite community centers and care facilities; and facilitators for drumming at birthday parties, retirement parties and other group gatherings.

How can the center help people be healthier in mind, body and spirit?
Seitzer: There is a growing body of research that demonstrates the health benefits of drumming; it enhances feelings of well-being, challenges mind and body through learning a new activity and creates a sense of community and collaboration that many people are longing for these days.
Drumming fosters a mind-body connection through engagement in a new activity where we use our muscles differently and learn new things every time we drum. Experts agree that learning new things keeps our brains flexible and young!
I like to tell my participants that by drumming they are creating new neural pathways and synapses. I am privileged to hear from so many of my participants how drumming has improved their lives. Just a few examples:
• One participant had struggled with insomnia for years, she found that her ability to relax and sleep improved significantly
• Another member came to us after the loss of her husband, she said she hadn’t smiled in months and drumming has brought a new joy into her life. She smiles all the way through class now!
• Multiple people have told me that they feel a very warm sense of community, and refer to their classmates as the “sisters they chose for themselves”.
Participants tell me that at the end of class they feel both relaxed and energized! I have found that to be true myself.

How does drumming contribute to mindfulness and centering?
Drumming engages our bodies through movement; each class is geared to a skill level so that participants find easy things and slightly challenging things each time they attend. The motions of drumming become automatic and allow a person to really “be in the moment.” I am always delighted with how quickly a group falls into sync, playing together with a shared sense of pulse – that shared experience furthers the centering that people tell me they experience. The shared energy and experience allow the cares of the world to just drift away.
It is such a unique experience that it takes us outside ourselves into a clam state of being – even when we are playing very energetic pieces!

What is the history of the WDC?
The Women’s Drum Center (WDC) began in 1989, started by Colleen Hass who wanted to create drumming opportunities for women. One of the most common stories I hear from women joining a class is that they always wanted to drum but were told that women could not be drummers!
I think that there has been a significant change and more and more women are drumming in school and outside schools. The WDC is the only Women Centered non-profit drum center in the country (that we know of) and offers very affordable classes and lessons.

How can people get involved?
Getting involved is super easy! Our website calendar lists all of the options – womensdrumcenter.org. Most people start with one of the beginning level classes; those classes function on a drop-in basis so people can start at any time. The WDC has a vast inventory of equipment so it is not necessary to own a drum; one of our core values is to “share our drums.”

Any other comments?
My experience as a teacher and participant have deeply enriched my life, and while drumming may not be for everyone, I do think people should give it a try!

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RRR: Pollinator Pathway workshops starting soon

RRR: Pollinator Pathway workshops starting soon

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Tara Nielson (left) is one of the two mosaic artists who will teach the community workshops at Mosaic on a Stick. Lori Greene (right) will design the mosaics. The monarch design for the first container is shown here. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

An eight block stretch of North Snelling Ave. will be transformed this summer, connecting Allianz Field to Pierce Butler Meadows with pollinator friendly plantings. Hamline Midway Coalition Executive Director Kate Mudge has secured funding from the Allianz Foundation for the creation of a pollinator pathway. The pathway will be marked by 10 three-foot-tall, mosaic-tiled containers filled with annual and perennial flowering plants.
The public art/environmental project is aimed at both beautifying and unifying the neighborhood.
“The opening of Allianz Field brought a great deal of excitement and energy to the Hamline Midway neighborhood, and we’re eager to continue that momentum by working with the Hamline Midway Coalition and Mosaic on a Stick,” said Allianz Life President and CEO Walter White. “We are dedicated to making a difference in the community, and welcome the opportunity to provide financial and volunteer support for this project.
“We believe that, as the naming rights sponsor of Allianz Field, it’s crucial for us to have a strong connection with community leadership in Hamline Midway. This will help us to have a better understanding of their priorities for the neighborhood and provide support for different initiatives that connect with our company values.”
Lori Greene, owner of the art studio Mosaic on a Stick, will host a series of mosaic-making workshops to bring the large scale containers to life. Her studio address is 1564 Lafond Ave. The workshops are being offered at no cost and are open to the public. Residents and non-residents are invited to learn how to make mosaic art with local artists Tara Nielson and Juliette Meyers.
According to Greene, “Mosaic is an art form available to everybody. No previous art experience is needed.”
The first two workshops will be “Train the Trainer” workshops, offered Thursday, Jan.16 from 6-9 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 18 from 3-6 p.m. Participants only need to attend one of these to become a trainer. Workshops are open to anyone who has made an RSVP. Maximum attendance is 15; minimum age is 11 years. The workshops will continue every other week into the month of May, depending on how long it takes to finish all of the containers. Call Mosaic on a Stick to reserve a spot at 651.645.6600, or visit the Hamline Midway Coalition website at www.hamlinemidway.org.
The inspiration for the first container design came from Greene’s home garden. She said, “I was lucky to find several monarchs on Father’s Day last year, eating away at our milkweed plants. They stayed in the garden all summer, and I loved watching them. These community workshops will be a great opportunity to learn to make mosaic.
“The art form is peaceful and uncomplicated; our studio is a wonderful art-making space. We are hoping to have a diversity of art makers join us!”

Interested in a two-year grant?
The Allianz Foundation is funding the Pollinator Pathway that will be installed along N. Snelling Ave. this summer. Their mission is to promote financial literacy, independence and self-sufficiency of senior citizens, and youth development/inclusion in the Twin Cities area. The organization values sharing their financial resources and expertise with organizations that make a positive impact in communities. Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America makes two-year grants, which typically range from $15,000 to $25,000.

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‘Our Home: Native Minnesota’ opens at MN History Center

‘Our Home: Native Minnesota’ opens at MN History Center

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Minnesota is a Dakota word that describes the reflection of sky onto water, a well-known image in this state of many lakes and rivers. Dakota and Ojibwe people, as well as people from other tribal nations, have lived in this area for thousands of years.
A new, long-term exhibit called “Our Home: Native Minnesota,” opened Dec. 7 at the Minnesota History Center in downtown St. Paul.
“We constantly hear from visitors and teachers that Native stories are fundamental to their understanding of Minnesota history. Now we have a permanent gallery devoted to the stories of today’s Native communities,” said Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) Director and CEO Kent Whitworth.“These are inspirational stories of survival, resistance, and resilience that offer hope for the future. These stories show how Native people have retained their cultural practices, teachings and values, and their essential connection to home.”
The exhibit challenges viewers to see Native Americans in the present tense, while learning about their long history in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. More than 1,100 people turned out for the opening, and experienced a day filled with Native music, artistry, and games. Free admission was provided by major sponsor U.S. Bank, and associate sponsors 3M and Ecolab.
Mattie Harper DeCarlo is a senior historian with the Minnesota Historical Society, and one of two content curators for “Our Home.” She said, “There were so many stories we could have told with this exhibit. Our final decision-making was based on encountering and challenging stereotypes of indigenous people in Minnesota. Native people tend to be seen as either traditional or assimilated. We’re really pushing against that way of thinking with this exhibit. Native people have had to adapt to changing circumstances throughout time. We have always been very dynamic communities.”
She continued, “This exhibit isn’t arranged chronologically. We present historical and contemporary stories side by side. In addition to stories that have not been told before, “Our Home” features historic and contemporary photographs, maps, and artifacts to illustrate Dakota and Ojibwe life as it was – and as it is now.”
Harper DeCarlo grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, earned her undergraduate degree from Hamline University, and her MA and PhD in ethnic studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She said, “One common stereotype that still exists today is of Native people as ‘savage,’ which is fueled by narratives about Dakota and Ojibwe people as constantly at war with one another. Sometimes this stereotype was used as a justification for U.S. colonialism. For example, agents of the U.S. government argued that U.S. peace treaties were necessary to create peace between the two tribes, that they were incapable of otherwise making peaceful agreements.
“However, we show in this gallery that Ojibwe and Dakota people have long-standing friendly relations going back way before the U.S. was ever a presence in the region. The challenge with museum work is how to tell a nuanced, truthful story on an exhibit panel in 75-100 words.
“Native American history is much more complicated than most people think.”
In her work as a graphic designer with MNHS, Midway resident Terry Scheller translates exhibit content into strong visual images that capture and hold people’s attention. Scheller was an integral part of the design team for “Our Home.”
She said, “When you work on museum exhibits, you work as part of a team. You learn to see an exhibit as a vessel for telling a story. You can’t treat exhibit text like a novel, or even a 30-second ad. You look at it in layers. How do you want visitors to feel when they walk in? For this exhibit, visitors are met with a feeling of welcome, beauty, peace, and a connection to nature.”
Scheller explained, “The main exhibit text is presented in English, Dakota, and Ojibwe. It resonates with all of our audiences, Native and non-Native, and school groups. The text is written with first person pronouns, as if the viewer is being spoken to directly.”
Scheller hopes this exhibit will bring native people up to the present in the eyes of visitors. She said, “Native people are relevant today, they’re not just stuck somewhere in history.” Harper de Carlo hopes that Native people will feel a sense of belonging when they visit “Our Home.”
The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. The museum is closed on Mondays. Paid parking is available in the lot on-site.
Admission to “Our Home: Native Minnesota” is included with regular History Center admission of $12 for adults; $10 for seniors, veterans/active military, and college students; $6 ages 5-17; free for ages four and under and MNHS members. Museum admission is free for everyone on Tuesdays from 3-8 p.m.

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Development plan at ‘superblock’ evolving

Development plan at ‘superblock’ evolving

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

A 2016 master plan for the Midway Center “superblock” outlined an ambitious vision of 18-story high-rise office buildings along Snelling Ave., as well as apartments, hotel space and commercial properties. Redevelopment reality could be quite different. How different is still unknown.
That lack of specifics frustrated attendees at the Dec. 16, 2019 Union Park District Council’s land use committee meeting. More than two dozen people turned out to hear about the property, which is bounded by St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues and Pascal St.
Since Allianz Field opened for its inaugural season in 2019, area residents and business owners have wondered when the rest of 34.5-acre site will be redeveloped. There is also unhappiness that Minnesota United FC hasn’t contributed toward a community benefits fund for neighborhoods around the soccer stadium, despite pressure from Union Park District Council and Hamline Midway Coalition. The fund is meant to support a range of community improvements, based on ideas gathered in a public input process.
Most attention at the district council meeting focused on redevelopment. Minnesotan United FC principal owner Dr. Bill McGuire asked for patience. He also said that while plans are in the works, those behind redevelopment must persuade potential partners that there are exciting plans for the property.
“The odds of (the site) looking exactly like the master plan are zero,” he said. While there is still a vision of a mixed-use urban village as outlined in the 2016 plan, it won’t be to the scale city planners imagined.
The lack of action on redevelopment is causing the most frustration. “Who makes the decisions?” said Hamline-Midway resident Jonathan Oppenheimer. “Who should we hold accountable?”
When the pace of redevelopment was questioned, McGuire said, “We have a good thing here. We don’t have the rest of it yet.” He added that Allianz Field is something the community can be proud of and it will spark redevelopment.
“You have a quarter of a billion dollar stadium that the whole world is talking about …streets, trees, grass and people. Five hundred thousand people came to this neighborhood in 2019 because of redevelopment,” McGuire said.
Minnesota United and the shopping center owners are working with the architecture firm Populous, which designed the stadium itself. What’s envisioned is a smaller, mixed-use village-type development.
“I spend more time on this than anybody,” he said, describing himself and Midway Center owner Rick Birdoff as the two decision makers. McGuire and his partners lease Midway Center from its longtime, New York City-based owners.
McGuire estimates that more than $1 million has been spent on planning for redevelopment, which could start in the fall. But there are issues to work out with the city and Metropolitan Council, which owns the former bus garage property at the northeast corner of Snelling and St. Anthony, before development can proceed.
Redevelopment of the entire site has an estimated cost of $850 million. The initial projects McGuire sees are an apartment complex with up to 240 units, a hotel and buildings adjacent to the Great Lawn with first-floor food vendors and offices on the upper floors.
One challenge with redevelopment, especially when affordable housing is considered, is that the Midway Center property is valued up to $5 million per acre. But McGuire said some level of affordable housing hasn’t been ruled out.
The site also has its challenges with a high water table along Snelling and the high costs of providing parking, especially underground parking.
Much hinges on what development partners can be brought in. The Midway Center redevelopment also is affected by what happens on the Midway Marketplace block to the east, where Walmart closed last year.
In the meantime, less than half of the Midway Center strip mall is still standing, along with three smaller buildings along University.
One likely change is that the Great Lawn park area north of Allianz Field is poised to become an entertainment district, which was the topic of a St. Paul City Council public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at City Hall. The parkland agreement with MUSC LLC keeps the green space open to the public as part of the city park system. Delaware North, which oversees food and beverage concessions at Allianz Field, has applied for an extension of the liquor service area on the Great Lawn as well as the areas between and across Shields Ave. to allow patrons to consume malt liquor, strong beer and wine at events held there. The change would be in time for 2020 events.

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{ Development Roundup } January 2020

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Reuter Walton unveils Fairview plans at Fairview and University
Two seven-story apartment buildings could rise at the northwest corner of University and Fairview avenues. Minneapolis-based Reuter Walton Development presented plans for 279 apartments in December to the Hamline Midway Coalition Development Committee. The project will go through the city approval process in 2020.
The complex will be one of the first new affordable housing projects on University west of Snelling Ave. The property, which is comprised of commercial buildings and a parking lot, is owned by Goodwill/Easter Seals of Minnesota. Reuter Walton was selected as developer through a request for proposals process conducted by the property owners, and has a purchase agreement for the property.
Paul Keenan, vice president for development at Reuter Walton, outlined the project. The University-Fairview development would be its first affordable housing project, Keenan said, with a mix of apartments offered at 30 to 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). Rents could be as low as $71 per month for a studio, at 30 percent of AMI.
Two buildings are proposed, one with 157 units and the other with 122 units.
The buildings would have a mix of studios, one, two and three-bedroom units. About 70 three-bedroom and 65 units would have two bedrooms, meeting a high demand for larger affordable units.
The buildings would share a 150-space Charles Ave. parking space with Goodwill/Easter Seals and would have 127 stalls of underground parking entered from a point mid-block. Each building would be E-shaped, with two plazas fronting University.
The developers studied the station area plans for the Green Line Fairview Avenue Station, the neighborhood plan for Hamline-Midway and other city plans, said Keenan. One goal is to improve the pedestrian experience in the area, with wider sidewalks, public art and preservation of the walkway connection between Goodwill/Easter Seals and the Fairview station.
HMC Committee members liked the idea of affordable housing, but they questioned why the project has no first-floor retail. Keenan said retail space can be challenging to rent. “We’ve had a lot of retail sit vacant in our developments,” he said.
The site has been in transition for more than a decade. Buildings where the parking lot is located were torn down several years ago. Finn Sisu’s old building, which most recently was a place of worship, will be torn down, along with another larger commercial building and a former service station/restaurant/retail shop.

Library property up for bids
The long-vacant Lexington Branch Library, 1080 University Ave., is being offered for redevelopment by the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA).
The building, which was originally the Center Theater, hasn’t been used as a library since 2005. It was replaced by the Rondo Community Outreach Library. It is zoned for traditional neighborhoods three mixed use and is near the Lexington Green Line eastbound station. The property size is .62 acres. Its value, based on a 2018 appraisal, is $450,000.
The HRA bought the building from the city’s library agency in 2014. A structural engineering report indicates that the building, while structurally sound, is in fair to poor condition. City documents indicate that the HRA will consider reuse as well as demolition proposals.

Residents say ‘no’ to Alatus
Citing the lack of affordable housing and a fear that new market-rate apartments could drive up rents and local property taxes, neighbors voted on Jan. 2 to oppose developer Alatus’ request for $11.25 million in public financing to aid in the construction of a six story, 236-unit mixed-use residential and commercial building at 411-417 N. Lexington Pkwy.

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{ Monitor in a Minute } January 2020

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Como going from 4 lanes to 3
The St. Paul City Council in December asked for a lane configuration change on Como Ave., which is needed to implement a larger project.
The city is asking that the Ramsey County Department of Public Works implement a four-lane to three-lane conversion on Como Ave. between Canfield St. and Snelling Ave.
Como Ave. in that area is a county road. The change sought would be meant to tie into planned city-county improvements on a longer stretch of the street between Raymond and Hamline avenues this year.
Como is part of the city’s Grand Round citywide system on bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, including sidewalks, bike lanes and trails. The Grand Round plans have been in place for several years.
The project scope includes construction of an off-street trail along the north side of Como between Raymond and Hamline, narrowing the street to encourage slower traffic, construction of bump-outs, installation of wayfinding and placemaking elements, and installation of street lighting to improve safety for all roadway users. It also includes the lane conversion between Canfield and Snelling.
A traffic speed study conducted in July 2019 identified 85th percentile traffic speeds at 39 miles per hour in the eastbound direction and 41 miles per hour in the westbound direction, well in excess of the posted 35 mile per hour speed limit.
But the conversion also includes prohibiting on-street parking on both the north and south sides of Como between Canfield and Snelling. Parking counts were done, and meetings were held in the community.

Fewer billboards?
Outfront Media’s efforts to relocate a billboard near the Interstate 94-Highway 280 interchange will be in the hands of the St. Paul City Council, as a result of an appeal by St. Anthony Park Community Council.
The St. Paul Planning Commission unanimously approved a non-conforming use relocation Dec. 20. The billboard would also be converted to a dynamic display, with a lighted message that will regularly change. The billboard would be visible from the highways at its location at 2516 Wabash Ave., just west of Highway 280 and north of Interstate 94.
Billboard relocation and conversion ordinances would require Outfront Media to remove as many as 35 smaller billboards throughout St. Paul neighborhoods.
Which neighborhood billboards eventually come down would be determined in negotiations between Outfront Media and city staff in the Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI), said Senior City Planner Anton Jerve.

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Inside schooling decisions

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Get a glimpse into the lives of local families who are navigating through the many educational choices available today, and forging a path that fits their families.

The Schabert family

Maternity of Mary Saint Andrew Catholic School (MMSA)

Meet Traci Schabert, who currently sends two boys, Alex (grade 8) and Andrew (grade 2) to MMSA, and has two MMSA graduates, Jack (grade 12) and Mary (grade 10).
Why did you select this school?
We joined the school community when our oldest could, at three years old. Jack is almost 18 now. We have had a child at MMSA every year since 2005. We chose MMSA because of the love and passion we received from the teachers and staff. They all truly loved working together, were passionate about the kids and were all dedicated to helping us identify our children’s talents and help with the areas they struggled with.
What do you appreciate most?
All of our children are so different. One of our children truly struggled with some classes. The teachers went above and beyond helping by staying late, coming in early, emailing us, calling and doing what was needed to help her not only get to grade level but to exceed. She is now taking accelerated classes in high school in these subjects. We have another child who was bored at school because it was too easy for him. Mrs. Warden has been working with him and a few other students who need excellent stead math. He will be going to high school in the fall, and he will taking precalculus as a freshman.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
Skills needed are not just school subjects like math and science. Compassion, understanding, teamwork, community and understanding one another are all things that are greatly needed.
Share your school hacks or tips.
As soon as our kids could crawl I had a plastic laundry basket filled with board books in our living room. They could crawl over, pull, chew, play and look at these books. They learned to love books from this stage on. As kindergartners we made special trips to get their own library cards and made regular trips letting them pile large numbers of books in our book bags.


Yinghua Academy

Meet Starr Eggen Lim, who is married to Albert. Her daughter Lily is now in 11th grade at Highland Park High School, and daughter Magdalena is currently a ninth grader at Highland Park High School. They are at Highland because Yinghua Academy has an agreement that kids can continue their Chinese education at an appropriate level at Highland Park in St. Paul.
Why did you select this school?
Being that our children are Asian and adopted, it was a good fit as they would learn much about their birth culture as well as having Asian role models and influence.
What do you appreciate most?
Having my kids learn to read, write and speak Mandarin has so many advantages. If they ever chose to search for their birth parents, or even wanted to live or experience their birth country, having the language and cultural understanding would help to cross over so many barriers that could inhibit that from happening. I also wanted to give them the opportunity to feel at ease around other kids in college who may be international students from their birth country, whereby they could understand and feel a part of that community. Yinghua Academy not only provided this backdrop for my kids, but also having a second language like Mandarin allows so many doors to be opened for them. When learning a second language at the tender age of five, kids absorb things so much easier. Having the ability to read, write and speak can open potential careers opportunities, as well. The school’s academic expectations are quite rigorous and kids have adapted well into all kinds of high school experiences.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
As far as the most important skills for kids to learn, I would think preparing them to be global citizens is a priority. Language immersion does help to accomplish this. Critical thinking is probably one of the most important skills for kids to learn as our current administration (in my opinion) has become so harsh on scientific research, facts, and the media in general. Learning how to decipher facts from fiction and how to ask questions is critical to our society’s survival as a democracy.

Career Pathways

Meet Kelina Morgan, whose daughter Nasi is in ninth grade at Career Pathways.
Why did you select this school?
I chose Career Pathways for her because it was close to my employer, and it offered a non-traditional way of learning, with small class sizes.
What do you appreciate most?
Career Pathways also is a welcoming place with diversity of race, culture, religion, and sexual orientation. It’s a place where my daughter feels a sense of belonging. We’ve lived in various cities, including Vadnais Heights and Somerset, Wis. It was important to me that she attended a school where the staff and students welcome diversity.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
I believe that acceptance and appreciation for differences is a valuable skill to learn, as well as life skills needed to find and maintain a career if college is not the choice.
Share your school hacks or tips.
Because education is important to us and can open many doors, our family hacks on how to help kids learn are 1) read to kids early and daily, 2) require they read at least 20 minutes five days a week, and 3) purchase workbooks for their next grade level that they complete over the summer breaks to continue learning.

Como Park Senior High

Angela Rein is mother to Como Park Senior High School students Eloise (senior), Nicholas, (junior), and teven (freman); and 2018 graduate Maureen. Lucille is a seventh grader at Murray Middle School.
Why did you select this school?
All five children attended Crossroads Elementary, Montessori and then Murray Middle School. We chose Murray and Como because their father, Mark, is an alum. All of the children thus far have benefited from the AP classes offered at Como Park Senior High. I would like to add, that as a parent of five children, all three schools did a fantastic job of recognizing each Rein child as a their own individual. The staff never compared the younger ones to the older ones.
What do you appreciate most?
I love the sense of community at both Murray Middle School and at Como Park High School. Como Park High School has so much diversity. I feel that is so important in learning how to work with people in the adult world. I’ve always liked the leadership at both Murray and Como, along with the dedication of the teachers. The teachers have always been available to work with the kids either before or after school. Communication with the parents has been fantastic at both schools. Crossroads was great with communicating with parents, too.
What are the challenges?
Funding is always an issue with public schools. Class sizes can be quite large at times, although it is better this year.
What skills do you think are most important for schools to teach kids in 2020?
Time management; responsibilities for one’s actions; to feel comfortable to ask for help when needed; how to navigate the internet for reliable sources; and respect for “Everyone.”
Share your school hacks:
My kids need to be self-sufficient. I guide them when asked for help. I receive notifications of missing assignments, but it is up the student to do the work and turn it in. Turning it in seems to be the difficult part for some. You cannot force a child to study, but you can help them understand the end result. Each child is unique and has their own destiny. I cannot determine that, only the child has control over that. Each child has their own pathway. It is important for parents to understand that the pathway belongs to the child, not the parent. I find that to be the hardest thing in regards to parenting.


Carrie Pomeroy is mom to Bridger, grade 11, who has been homeschooled his entire education and is now attending the University of Minnesota for PSEO; and Cassidy, grade 8, who was homeschooled for part of her education and is now attends Edvisions Off-Campus, an online, project-based charter school.
Why did you select these options?
Before I had children, I taught homeschooled students through the Loft Literary Center back in the mid ‘90s and early 2000s. I got to know several families very well over the course of almost a decade of work with them, and I was just really inspired by the freedom and flexibility these families had to learn at their own pace, as well as their freedom to pursue learning in a way that seemed very effective and enjoyable for their kids. I remembered feeling so often when I was in school that I was just watching the clock and counting down the days until the weekend or until vacation, and what I noticed about these homeschooled kids I was working with was that they seemed so happy and engaged in what they were doing; there was a feeling of flow in their endeavors and a self-directedness that was pretty exciting and infectious. I talked to my husband about it, and we both thought homeschooling was worth a try. We asked our kids every year if they wanted to check out school, but my son never did. My daughter’s work at Edvisions Off-Campus for the last two years has been a natural extension of homeschooling. As she hit her middle-school years, she wanted more accountability and structure for her learning, but she didn’t want that accountability from me. She also knew that I’m not that great at providing structure. Now, with input from her EdVisions advisors, she creates projects to learn about subjects that interest her and decides how she’ll demonstrate her learning, whether through a research paper, a slideshow, a timeline, or whatever she and her advisors decide would help her grow in her learning. She also has to manage her own time and make sure she’s putting in the work to get her projects done in a timely way and earn credits in a variety of subjects. It’s a really good fit for her learning style and personality.
What do you appreciate most?
When I waited until they were ready to learn something and genuinely interested, they seemed to retain so much more of what they learned than when I forced learning because of some artificial, imposed timeline for when they “should” learn something.
I especially appreciated that after years of being read out loud to many hours a day, both my kids taught themselves to read using Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield comic books. That was so empowering and pain-free! They learned to read “late” by school standards, around age seven, but went from being pre-readers to fluent readers very, very quickly, and they are now avid, voracious readers and curious, thoughtful writers.
Now that my son is attending college classes at the U for PSEO, my daughter is attending EdVisions, and they are both thriving, I wish I could go back and reassure my past self that things were going to work out OK. There was a lot of anxiety for me about choosing this path, so it feels really good to be on this side of our homeschooling journey rather than just starting out. .
What are the challenges?
Many people think that a drawback of homeschooling is a lack of socialization, but that really hasn’t been a problem for us in the ways that many might think it would be. Both my kids have been able to make friends both in the homeschooling community and outside of it, with people of many different ages. My daughter has learned to work as part of a group as an Irish dancer, a martial artist, and by acting in plays, as well as doing volunteer work in our community. My son has also volunteered locally, something I think is really important.
Share your school hacks or tips.
The biggest one for me is being attentive, noticing what interests my kids, and finding ways to help them learn more, find mentors and resources, and go more deeply into that interest, while also knowing when it’s time to back off and not lean too hard into making everything a teachable moment.
Another really important thing for me has been being aware that sometimes even when they don’t seem like they’re really learning or doing something educational, they may actually be doing something really valuable to their growth. For instance, my son has always loved video games. When he was younger, he got pretty involved on online gaming forums discussing gaming techniques and strategies and helping mediate disputes among other gamers. That really built his writing skills, even though that kind of writing wasn’t a traditionally academic pursuit. Eventually, he also started writing game-inspired fiction. Now, I really think his experiences with writing about video games for an audience of other interested gamers have profoundly shaped his abilities as a writer. He understood from an early age that writing needed to be clear, concise, organized, and interesting to capture and hold other people’s attention; I don’t think we always learn those things from more abstract academic writing assignments that we just do for a grade.

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Letter: Military pollutes, too

Posted on 10 February 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Dear Editor:
The Monitor is a great community resource and keeps so many people ‘in the know’. I appreciated the November issue with the focus on local foodies.
A statement attributed to Colin Anderson sticks out. On page 6, 3rd column, middle of the 3rd paragraph, it states “…while letting them know that the biggest polluter is the agriculture industry.”
As an organic proponent from a long line of farmers, I agree that industrial agriculture is a big part of the problem. And, I’m glad that Anderson points to the industry – not the farmers caught in the system. However, I believe that the statement is not accurate. He may mean carbon emission, but consider these findings. In a quick search I found agriculture listed as third in carbon emissions. “In 2010, global greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector totaled 4.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, up 13 percent over 1990. Agriculture is the third largest contributor to global emissions by sector, following the burning of fossil fuels for power and heat, and transportation.” We can’t afford to ignore fossil fuels used for heat, power and transportation. Source: The EPA website.
However, there is another sector that should be exposed. A huge ‘elephant in the room’ question is, how much does US military pollute?
“In 2017, the US military bought about 269,230 barrels of oil a day and emitted more than 25,000 kilotons of carbon dioxide by burning those fuels. The US Air Force purchased $4.9 billion worth of fuel, and the Navy $2.8 billion, followed by the Army at $947 million and the Marines at $36 million.” Jun 28, 2019 from qz.com.
Another perspective from Science Daily: “The U.S. military’s carbon footprint is enormous and must be confronted in order to have a substantial effect on battling global warming, experts argue. …the US military is one of the largest climate polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries.” So, perhaps a future issue on carbon use in the neighborhood and what we can do about it. Or, exposing pollution and cleaning it up.
Thanks for listening!
Donna Goodlaxson

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