Neighborhood needs your voice

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Faith Dietz (at left) share what she loves about her neighborhood. (Photos submitted)

The Hamline Midway Coalition (HMC) has begun work on the 2020-2030 Neighborhood Plan, a roadmap for the next 10 years of transportation, development and environmental initiatives in Hamline Midway.
All community members are invited to share their thoughts and ideas for the future of the neighborhood at Newell Park on Saturday, March 21 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Children are welcome and the working meeting will be followed by a light lunch and socializing.
HMC started work on the neighborhood plan in the fall of 2019 by establishing a committee and hiring an intern, Emma Kiley. She is in charge of implementing the ideas of a steering committee that includes Mike Reynolds, Christine Weeks, Garrett Backes, Steve Samuelson, Seema Kairam, Don Raleigh, HMC Director Kate Mudge and HMC Community Organizer Melissa Michener.
“We are committed to including as many community members as possible into a single vision for our neighborhood and we’ve been planning how best to do that,” said Mike Reynolds who is on the HMC Board of Directors.
So far, the committee has created lists of businesses and organizations to partner with, developed a plan and timeline for outreach events, and Kiley has created a toolkit to use to gather ideas from the community.
Kiley researched community engagement methods and compiled the most promising in a document that will be accompanied by the materials, such as markers and paper, to complete the toolkit. The toolkit will allow any member of HMC to obtain community input for the neighborhood plan.

Tachianna Charpenter shares what she loves about her neighborhood. (Photos submitted)

“The toolkit has options for all group sizes and ages of participants,” said Kiley.
The toolkit will debut at Newell Park (900 Fairview Ave N.,) on March 21 during the first of three community engagement events for the neighborhood planning process. Next up will be an online survey via the HMC webpage and a second meeting on Saturday, May 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Hamline University’s East Hall.
For more information about the neighborhood planning process please see the website: https://www.hamlinemidway.org/neighborhood-plan.

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Inside Pages March 2020

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen


YMCA roses

The Friendship Club was started by Gary and Jean Ales over 50 years ago. Gary and Jean both graduated from Central High School. Now a new Central Sophomore student Satya Mamdani from Central and her sister Rosanna decided to be a big part of the Friendship Club by giving out Roses to the community.
For the past four years, Joseph Lallier, a junior at Eagan High School, organized with Eagan Sam’s Club to collect roses not sold on Valentine Day and give out to the community.
Satya and Rosanna Mamdani wanted to get involved in bring a little smile to people in their community. They asked if they could pass out roses at the Midway YMCA.
After they pass out roses at the Midway YMCA, the group went on to reach out to about 1,000 people by delivering them to 11 Senior Centers, police, fire and five schools.
People receiving a rose from either Satya or Rosanna could not believe that these girl took the time to give back to their community in this very special way of kindness.


Murray Middle School students at state science fair

Murray students get ready to board the bus to the Minnesota State Fair’s Rose & Lee Warner Coliseum where the Twin Cities Regional Science Fair was held Feb. 28, 2020. The State Science Fair will be held at Benilde – St. Margaret’s School, St. Louis Park March 26-28, 2020. Chittra Xiong (Senior) has submitted a research paper, “Formation of Nanopores in a Polymer Monolith Through Cleavage of Bulky Side-Groups” and qualified for the Junior Science and Humanities Symposia (JSHS) Program. (Photo submitted)


Database of mass shooters released for public use

The Violence Project, a nonpartisan think tank has released the largest, most comprehensive database of mass shooters in the United States.
This new database, funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, was developed by professors Jillian Peterson and James Densley and a team of students at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. It includes 171 mass shooters from 1966 to 2019, each coded on 100 pieces of life history information. The entire database is downloadable for free at www.theviolenceproject.org.
“Mass shootings are a complex issue, requiring multiple avenues of prevention,” says Dr. Jillian Peterson, “The goal of this project is to ground our public policy discussions in data and develop evidence-based policies to prevent these tragedies.”
The mass shooters in the database each shot and killed four or more people in a public space, including schools and houses of worship. They are 98% male and 52% white, with an average age of 34.
Most mass shooters were in crisis prior to the shooting and suicidal, and almost half of them leaked their plans in advance. 62% of mass shooters had a criminal record and 57% had a violent history. 70% of mass shooters knew at least some of their victims.
This database is the first to look closely at the mental health histories of mass shooters. Among the 171 mass shooters, two-thirds had a mental health diagnosis or presented mental health concerns. This is only slightly higher than the 50% of people in the general population who will meet the criteria for a mental illness in their lifetime. However, a mental health diagnosis does not mean that the actions of mass shooters are directly motivated by their symptoms. The database shows that 16% of mass shootings are at least partly motivated by psychosis – which is less than the percentage of shootings motivated by domestic issues, employment changes, interpersonal issues, and hate.
This is also the first database to look closely at how many shooters obtained their guns. The majority of mass shooters use handguns (77%) and 25% used assault rifles. Of the known data, 77% of shooters purchased at least some of their guns legally, 13% made illegal purchases, and 19% stole guns.
“Mass shootings have increased in recent years, both in the number of incidents and the number of people killed”, Dr. James Densley explained. “Mass shootings are rare but routine events. We now have the data to understand that routine and disrupt it before it’s too late.”


Get to know local organizations

Hamline Midway Elders

By Laurel

Monthly Luncheons – Second Tuesday of each month, 11:30 a.m–1p.m., at Hamline Church United Methodist (1514 Englewood Ave.). Chef Erik Hendrickson will prepare a wonderful meal, blood pressure checks will be provided, and new attendees are always welcome at our “Second Tuesday” luncheon events. Suggested donation $7.
• April 14 – Panel of area organizations: Animal Humane Society, NeighborWorks, Veterans Services, Handi Medical
Jody’s Documentary Film Series: March 25, 1 p.m. at Hamline Midway Library. Check website for film description (www.hmelders.org/events.html).
Cards & Games: Feb. 11, 1-3 p.m. (after luncheon), Hamline Church United Methodist.
Tai Chi for Health with Bruce Tyler: Mondays, March 30 – May 11, 11 a.m.–noon, Hamline Church United Methodist. Students will practice an easy-to-learn set of Tai Chi movements that can be done both seated and standing. This gentle, flowing exercise fosters mind-body connection and coordination; build strength and flexibility; improves balance and cultivates mental clarity, awareness and calm.
Gentle Exercise Class Series: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30– 2:30 p.m., March 19 – May 7, Hamline Church United Methodist. Joni leads this arthritis-friendly exercise class for older adults, utilizing her unique Irish sense of humor to create a welcoming and motivating atmosphere. New attendees are always welcome.
Knitting & Crochet Group: Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. (ongoing) at Hamline Church United Methodist. Hamline Midway Elders provides the yarn and needles, tea and cookies.

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D.C. close up, MCJROTC retreat, teaching honor

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Como Park Senior High School
By Eric
Social studies teacher

Como AP Government students spent six days in Washington D.C. from Feb. 23-28 as participants in the national Close Up program. (Photo by Eric Erickson)

Twenty-seven seniors currently studying AP Government and AP Macroeconomics spent the last week of February 2020 in Washington D.C. The participating students were part of the national Close Up program, which promotes civics education and participation in our democracy with the capital city as a living classroom.
Como student highlights included study visits to national monuments and memorials including Jefferson, FDR, Martin Luther King, Jr., Lincoln, World War II, Vietnam and Korea. There were also study visits at museums of the Smithsonian, the Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol, Arlington National Cemetery, Holocaust Museum, and unique Washington neighborhoods.
Students met with Congresswoman Betty McCollum in her House of Representatives Office and also discussed policy with staff and legislative aides from Senator Smith’s and Senator Klobuchar’s Capitol Hill offices.
While observing the House of Representatives in session from the House Gallery, Como students witnessed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez present the Green New Deal Resolution. For several students who enthusiastically advocate for and support the proposed legislation, it was inspiring to see a Congresswoman they know speak passionately about the issue.
Throughout the week, Como students were engaged in policy discussions and simulations with peers from across the nation and beyond in workshop groups. A total of 150 students represented the states of California, Texas, Louisiana, Utah, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, as well as Puerto Rico and Panama.
The annual adventure to Washington D.C. for Como AP Government students is made possible through student and school-sponsored fundraising activities, with generous scholarship support from individuals in the Como community. The Como Park Booster Club, Rice St. Athletic Club, and Friends of Como Athletics (FOCA) are also significant contributors.

Cadets from Como’s Marine Corps JROTC spent Feb. 21-23 at their annual Winter Cadet Leadership Camp in central Minnesota.(Photo by James Kirkland)

Fifty-seven cadets from Como’s Marine Corps JROTC spent the weekend of Feb. 21-23 at Camp Ripley in Little Falls, Minn. and Camp Shamineau in Motley, Minn. The Winter Cadet Leadership Camp included evaluations in the standards of cross-country skiing, ice wall climbing, rock wall climbing, hiking, horseback riding, winter survival skills, zip lining, broomball and even sledding.
Cadets meeting or exceeding standards in those or any of the other five activities earned a Distinguished Military Training Award (DMT). All cadets performed exceptionally well – rising to challenges and strengthening bonds. They returned to Como with great stories of adventure.
Family and Consumer Science teacher Courtney Gbolo was selected as a semifinalist for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year Award. Of 134 nominees, 36 were selected as semifinalists.
Ms. Gbolo teaches Culinary Arts and has developed an International Cuisine course that incorporates knowledge she gained from a grant to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She values the opportunity to create a classroom culture which allows students to explore and collaborate.
“Teaching CTE (Career and Technical Education) classes provide students with real-world opportunities to explore career paths,” Gbolo said. “I have former students who are thriving in fields that our programs have exposed them to, which is really rewarding.”

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In Our Community February 2020

Posted on 10 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Couples drum jam
Announcing a Valentines Day Couples Drum Jam at the Women’s Drum Center, 2242 University Ave.W. in St. Paul on Saturday, Feb. 14, 6- 8 p.m. Couples come in all shapes and sizes! Valentine’s day is a day to celebrate the loving relationships in our lives, so come and join us in some lovely rhythms using the large variety of drums we have available at the Women’s Drum Center. “Special games and rhythm explorations will be part of the fun and of course, there will be chocolate!“ say planners. Register by email to reserve your place with your name and phone/cell number (in case of event changes): info@womensdrumcenter.net. Pay by cash or check at the event. $20 per person, or $30 per pair/couple. Facilitator: Jo Klein.

Learn about elections and security Feb. 18
“What Do YOU Know About Elections and Cyber Security?” will be presented on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 6:30- 8 p.m. in the Ratskeller taproom at Summit Brewing (910 Montreal Circle) by the League of Minnesota Women Voters. The event is free and open to the public, with opportunities to purchase beverages onsite. Interested participants can register on the LWVSP website, (www.lwvsp.org).The program will delve into election cybersecurity from both a local and state perspective, with Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon leading the discussion on the state level and Ramsey County Elections Manager Dave Triplett, providing insight at the local level.

Chamber Legislative Panel Feb. 19
Back by popular demand, hear from Hamline University professor of political science, David Schultz on his thoughts regarding the 2020 election on Feb. 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Delta Hotels by Marriott (1330 Industrial Blvd. N.E.). Prior to the Midway Chamber of Commerce luncheon, join Senator John Hoffman and additional elected officials as we discuss current issues facing local and state government. Leadership Awards finalists will be honored in the lead up to the Annual Celebration & Leadership Awards that will be held Saturday, Feb. 29 at the Intercontinental Hotel- Riverfront.

Annual gala celebrates 101 years
The Midway Chamber of Commerce will celebrate 101 years during its annual gala on Leap Day, Saturday, Feb. 29, 5:30-9:30 p.m. at the Intercontinental Hotel Riverfront (11 E. Kellogg Ave.). Enjoy fellowship, food, and the annual Leadership Awards. Last year over 340 guests attended the Centennial Celebration making it the Chamber’s biggest Gala ever! More at http://www.midwaychamber.com/pages/Gala.

Community yoga set
The Como Community Council is expanding its Community Yoga sessions in 2020. Spring sessions take place on Sundays March 8, April 5, and May 3 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the Como Park Streetcar Station, 1224 Lexington Parkway N. Community member Meegan Hall leads the sessions, which will be suitable for all levels of skill and experience. Bring a yoga mat or blanket and wear comfortable clothes. Registration is $5. If you really want to plan ahead, sessions resume on Sept. 13, Oct. 4, and Nov. 8.
Respectful parenting group meets Feb. 27
Local children’s author, Ioana Stoian, will be sharing her latest children’s book, “Always Be You” on Thursday, FEb. 27, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave. It is part of the Respectful Parenting: Let’s Talk About It! Library Series hosted by The Form Network (theformnetwork.org). Founded in May 2014, FORM is a growing community of parents, educators, students, and administrators who gather monthly to inspire, support and engage in topics relating to early childhood education and parenting. Form provides an open forum for collaborative inquiry, dialogue, and advocacy influenced by Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach.

emPOWER social hour
Join WomenVenture for an evening of networking, learning, inspiration, shopping, socializing and fun on Thursday, March 5, 4-7 p.m. at Urban Growler Brewing Co. (2325 Endicott St.). Comedian Miss Shannan Paul will host the event with short talks from WomenVenture CEO Elaine Wyatt and social entrepreneur Anna Tsantir of Two Bettys Green Cleaning Service. Enjoy drinks and appetizers, take part in fun networking activities and shop the mini-marketplace of WomenVenture clients.

Tonic Sol-fa show
Enjoy the award-winning music of Tonic Sol-fa at Roseville Area High School (1240 County Road B2 W.) Friday, Feb. 28, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online at: www.isd623.org/tonicsolfa. Tonic Sol-fa is a ground-breaking a cappella ensemble from Minnesota, in constant development since their formation two decades ago.

Introducing the HMELC

We are a group of residents and organizations who work to address the needs and experiences of youth 0-14 in our community. We are a group committed to enacting change through conversation, outreach and action. Our experience has taught us we can do more to support youth in our community when we do it together so we’re excited to invite our neighbors to drop us a line at earlylearning@hamlinemidway.org and/or join us at an upcoming meeting so we can get to know each other. Hope to see you soon!
• Feb. 13, 12:30-2:30 p.m. at Hancock Recreation Center
• March 12, 12:30-2:30 p.m. at Hamline Station Community Room

How to declutter and downsize

Monthly Luncheons – Second Tuesday of each month, 11:30 a.m–1p.m., at Hamline Church United Methodist (1514 Englewood Ave.). Chef Erik Hendrickson will prepare a wonderful meal, blood pressure checks will be provided, and new attendees are always welcome at our “Second Tuesday” luncheon events. Suggested donation $7.
• March 10 – Decluttering and Downsizing, with Laurie Wrobel of Clutter 911
Reading Buddies: 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month, 12:30–1:10 p.m. We invite elders to be a Reading Buddy with third grade students at Hamline Elementary School. No experience is necessary, just a desire to interact with children. And you don’t have to attend every session, just come when your schedule permits.
Cards & Games: Feb. 11, 1-3 p.m. (after luncheon), Hamline Church United Methodist.
Jody’s Documentary Film Series: Jan. 29, 1 p.m. at Hamline Midway Library. Check website for film description (www.hmelders.org/events.html).
Chair Yoga with Nancy: Thursdays, Jan. 9-Feb. 27, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave.
Knitting & Crochet Group – Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. (ongoing) at Hamline Church United Methodist. Yarn and needles, tea and cookies provided.
“Friendly Frog” Potluck Lunch and Bingo: third Friday of each month, 11a.m.–2 p.m. at Frogtown Community Center (230 Como Ave.). Join other Frogtown seniors for a meal and bingo. Bring a dish to share, plus $1 for supplies, and 5 cents and additional coins for bingo cards.

Arts on Lafond

Arts on Lafond
Arts on Lafond is cultivating a thriving music and art scene in the Hamline Midway area of St. Paul. “We are a group of local artists who teach, perform, and encourage others in self-expression,” said organizers.
Feb.14 – All You Need Is Love – an evening of music and painting with Xibaba Brazilian world jazz. Visual artist Andrea Marboe will offer a guided painting experience; no art experience necessary. Paints, brushes, easels and canvas will be supplied. Painters are welcome to arrive at 6:30 p.m. to get started before the music begins. Suggested donation is $10 for the concert; $40 for the painting experience and concert.
All concerts run 7-9 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church 1697 Lafond Avenue St. Paul. For more information, contact 651-321-4235 or artsonlafond@gmail.com. Refreshments will be available.




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Briefs February 2020

Briefs February 2020

Posted on 10 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Erin Spry

Watershed district honors D10 volunteer
Congratulations to Erin Spry, who received this year’s Watershed Citizen Award from Capitol Region Watershed District. Spry voluntarily coordinated 2019’s Como Lake Cleanup. The cleanup, overseen by the District 10 Environment Committee, attracted more than 60 volunteers last summer. They pulled more than 200 pounds of trash from the water and the shoreline.

Hamline Hardware closing
After serving St. Paul’s Midway area for nearly a century, Hamline Hardware is closing its doors.
For the last 94 years the Hagen family and current owners Jim and Jan Gildner and their staff have strived to provide excellent products and outstanding service for the do-it-yourselfer and working professionals alike.
Hamline Hardware, now known as Hamline Hardware Hank, has been in business since 1926 when Walter Hagen started the business at its current location at the corner of North Snelling Avenue and Englewood Avenue. Over the next several decades two succeeding generations owned and operated the business, selling to the Gildners in order to pursue other ventures about 10 years ago.
Jim and Jan are now ready to retire and are conducting a storewide liquidation sale through March 28.

Murray Middle School’s Science Fair is known as the largest science fair of any middle school in the state. This year was no exception.

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Como_Iowa Caucus

Iowa caucus, history day, Urban Growler event

Posted on 10 March 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Como Park Senior High School

By Eric
Social studies teacher

Como’s AP Government students witnessed democracy in action at the Iowa Caucus on February 3. (Photo submitted)

Forty AP Government students witnessed democracy in action at the Iowa Caucus on Feb. 3. The whirlwind political activity included a chartered bus ride past the Iowa border and into Cerro Gordo County. After a brief stop and walk in Clear Lake, the field trip reached its destination of Mason City.
Following dinner at The Pizza Ranch, we headed to the Republican Caucus site. A meeting was scheduled with the Republican County Chairperson to learn about Republican Caucus procedures and to ask student-generated questions. After another Republican speaker, and observation of caucus-goers filing in, we hopped on the bus to arrive for the beginning of the Democrat Party Caucus. Iowa Democrats use the unique procedure of standing together for their preferred candidate, and being completely public about their support. Then there’s reallocation for candidates who didn’t earn 15% of the vote. While complicated, it’s a vivid example of voting and political participation.
Student observations ranged from “it’s interesting to see the process for picking the president,” to “it’s way smaller and simpler than what I imagined,” and “there’s a lot of old people.”
Several students had never been to Iowa before, and were surprised to see such rural landscape and a lack of ethnic diversity. After about five hours of being on the ground in Iowa and interacting with its people, our bus headed north up Interstate 35, arriving back at Como by 11 p.m.
The goal in bringing students to the Iowa Caucus is to create a connection to the electoral process and inspire poltical participation going forward. Plus it’s a unique and fun memory. As a teacher, they may not remember my lessons about nominations and campaigns or our reading about separation of powers in Federalist #51, but they’ll never forget the Iowa Caucus – and how decisions are made by those who show up.
About half the AP Government students will be able to vote in their first presidential primary on March 3. Another 20 will be serving as Ramsey County Election Judges. Hopefully an evening in Iowa can help lead to a lifetime of political participation.
History Day at Como featured the research and final products of 11th grade U.S. History students, and any student who desired to produce a history project in addition to their existing coursework. Students advancing to St. Paul regional competition include the following:
Individual Documentary – Wim Lenkeit for The Fall of the Berlin Wall. Alisaed Ali for Redoshi: Last Survivor of the Middle Passage. Kashia Vang for Loving v. Virginia.
Group Website – Sara Capone and MaiKou Her for The European Union. Hay Blute Paw, Htoo Baw and Dissel Moo for Genghis Khan. Lah Say Wah Hser, Naw Mu, Sumayo Yusuf for Edward Jenner’s Small Pox Vaccine. Johntae Hudson and Jahrese Adeagbo for Elijah Mohamed and the Nation of Islam.
Individual Website – Antonin Sequot for the Japanes Military Unit 731. Cerenity Khang for The 19th Amendment.
Individual Performance – Olivia Miller for Jim Henson and The Muppets.
Save the date! The annual Como Park Booster Club fundraiser at the Urban Growler will be held on March 22 from 3-7 p.m. For questions or ticket information, email comoparkboosterclub@gmail.com

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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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