Writing about environmental issues

Writing about environmental issues

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Margie O’Loughlin

Margie O’Loughlin

I’ve worked as a reporter for the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger and Midway Como Monitor since 2015. I came into the job with a fledgling interest in community activism, a 20+ year career as a photographer, and a life-long love affair with newspapers.
As the years have passed, one topic has grown in importance for me as a reporter. I’m grateful that our new owner/publisher, Tesha Christensen, has let me take ownership of a few pages in each issue of both papers – and dedicate them to environmental stories happening close to home. We’ve dubbed these pages RRR, which stands for Rebuild, Repair, and Recycle, and we hope they’ll keep you informed about ways your neighbors are taking action.
Minnesota is one of the more aggressive states nation-wide in its efforts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, and many other initiatives. In this time of growing concern over the climate crisis, we want our newspapers to be an intelligent, clear-thinking, and practical resource. Are you trying out a new idea or product in your home that you think our readers might want to hear about? Let us know!
I’ve gone on two public tours recently that have strengthened my commitment to writing about environmental issues: at Eureka Recycling in Northeast Minneapolis, and the Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center in Downtown Minneapolis. Seeing mountains of recyclable materials and waste in these facilities was convicting, to say the least. I stopped thinking in a theoretical way about the amount of waste my own small household produces, and vowed to make better choices for the environment. Both tours are open to the public, with a little advance planning, and are offered free of charge. Check out these websites to learn more or to sign up:
• www.eurekarecycling.org/tours
• www.hennepin.us/your-government/facilities/herc-tour-request-form
I just completed the Climate Reality Leadership Training held at the Minneapolis Convention Center Aug. 2-4, hosted by founder and former vice president Al Gore. There were 1,400 people in attendance from 32 countries around the world. Participants ranged in age from 13-86, and we’ve now joined the ranks of more than 20,000 trained Climate Reality leaders worldwide.
Within one year of completing the training, graduates are required to perform 10 acts of climate leadership. These acts can be anything from giving a formal presentation, to writing a blog post, to submitting a letter to the editor, to organizing a climate action campaign, to meeting with local community leaders.
My main act of leadership in 2019 will be working as an artist –in-residence at Eureka Recycling this fall. I’m offering a quilting workshop there on Nov. 2, and will create three wall hangings for Eureka’s education space – with the help of 15 community participants. The cost of admission to the workshop is one cotton garment that would otherwise be destined for the trash. We’ll talk about the growing problem of textiles in the waste stream, due to fast fashion (on the production side) and overconsumption (on the consumer side.)
This summer, my husband and I are trying to live plastic free, which has been eye-opening and, in some ways, kind of fun. I’ve discovered the best milk I’ve ever tasted, produced by Autumn Wood Farms of Forest Lake. It’s available in half gallon glass bottles at Oxendale’s Market in East Nokomis, and the Mississippi Market Co-op in St. Paul. My husband came home from PetCo in Highland Park last week, proudly carrying a re-fillable 30-pound plastic pail of cat litter. We’re learning about all kinds of new products, including tooth powder from the bulk bin at Tare Market (to avoid tooth paste packaged in non-recyclable tubes.) Who knew?
If there’s one thing I came away from the Climate Reality training with, it’s this. Dr. Jonathan Doyle, founder and CEO of the non-profit Project Drawdown, said, “We have to solve the climate crisis with our heads and with our hearts. But, especially, we have to solve it with our hands.” I believe there’s a way for every one of us to make a positive contribution to this movement, according to our circumstances.
I look forward to sharing what I learn along the way.

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Go ‘Around the World’ in the Midway

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Chad Kulas, Midway Chamber of Commerce

Before the Green Line opened in 2014, supporters of the transit line said it could take you “around the world in 11 miles”– a reference to the distance of the Green Line, spanning downtown Saint Paul to downtown Minneapolis by way of University Ave., and to the many different types of cuisine found along the way.
Have you ever noticed how many great restaurants we have in or close to the Midway? And how many different cultures are represented in the dishes at those restaurants? At the Midway Chamber, we hold an annual event where 15-20 restaurants give samples of a popular dish – a great way to try something new without much commitment.
Cuisine from different parts of the globe along University Ave. include Greek (The Best Steak House, The Naughty Greek), Ethiopian (Bole, Demera, Fasika), Mexican (Homi, Los Ocampo) and Italian (Caffe Biaggio). But the most common cuisines are represented by several Asian cultures – Cambodian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese are all represented. If you’re looking for a fun food-related contest, sample the pho from different Vietnamese restaurants and see which you like best. Or wontons. Or spring rolls.
A lot of the success of University Ave. (both restaurants and other companies) can be attributed to immigrants.
New American Economy, a bipartisan research and immigration advocacy organization, creates Map the Impact, an interactive map which helps explain data about immigrants from a federal level down to Congressional districts. In 2017, about 3.2 million immigrants owned a business, totaling about 20 percent of all business in the United States. According to a 2016 National Restaurant Association study, 29 percent of restaurant and hospitality businesses were owned by an immigrant compared to 14 percent of all businesses in the United States.
Map the Impact states 20,413 immigrant entrepreneurs reside in the metro area (2017 statistic). No doubt immigrants help the economy in our country, and the Midway is a shining example.
A few years ago I was living in Frogtown and made a New Year’s resolution to try a new restaurant in or near my neighborhood every month (this is the kind of food-related resolution more people should attempt!). Making this resolution means you are supporting the local economy and exposing yourself to new restaurants – and possibly new cultures and cuisines.
We are lucky to live in a neighborhood with so many unique food options – make a point soon to try at least one restaurant you haven’t been to yet!

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August Monitor 48

Pies on the Prairie

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Surprise – there’s Pierce Butler Meadows just before the Snelling Ave. crossing

The Pierce Butler Route is known as a short cut through the Midway and Central neighborhoods of St. Paul. It runs, usually without congestion, all the way from Prior Ave, to Dale St. The surrounding area is mostly industrial, but just before Pierce Butler Route crosses under Snelling Ave. – there’s a surprise.
Pierce Butler Meadows is a small patch of native prairie growing on the southwest corner of that intersection. It starts along Pierce Butler Route as a cattail-lined pool, and gives way to swamp white oak and serviceberry seedlings, interspersed with 1,500 native plants and grasses, rising up the hillside.
Planted in October 2017 by teachers and students from Hamline Elementary, Hamline University, and the Hmong Preparatory Academy, countless Hamline Midway neighbors, and Hamline Midway Coalition staff (HMC), the newly-established Pierce Butler Meadows is in full bloom.
Prairies once stretched across western and southern Minnesota; less than 1% of the Minnesota native prairie remains today.
Prairies are sometimes called upside-down forests because much of the plant and animal life they support is below ground. Many prairie plants have roots five feet deep or more.
Extensive root systems improve the ability of water to infiltrate soil, which reduces runoff. Deep roots decrease erosion by anchoring soil. Prairie plants also store carbon, which keeps the soil healthy.

Attend prairie events
With the help of a partnership grant from the Capitol Region Watershed District, HMC is hosting three events called “Pies on the Prairie” at Pierce Butler Meadows this summer. The dates are Aug. 17, Sept. 21, and Oct. 5 from 10 a.m.-noon.
Each of the Saturday programs will offer different activities. Hear neighbors share their expertise about prairie flowers, prairie birds, bee keeping, water use in a prairie eco-system, and more. All ages are welcome, and the zero-waste event promises PIE. There is no cost to attend, and no registration is needed. Attend one or all of the programs.
HMC’s Melissa Michener said, ”’Pies on the Prairie’ is part of our work to build community engagement through clean water education. This is one of the ways we connect with residents, by showing how we can support cleaner water in the Hamline Midway neighborhood.”
For their ongoing efforts at the Pierce Butler Meadows, HMC received a Watershed Project Award from the Capitol Region Watershed District. The award recognizes a project that demonstrates excellence in protecting, managing, and improving local water resources within the watershed. The Pierce Butler Meadows came out of more than a decade of community interest in and activism on the site. Without the dedication of HMC’s Environment Committee and resident Steve Mitrione, the project would not have happened.
Contact Melissa Michener at Hamline Midway Coalition with questions about “Pies on the Prairie.”(Melissa@hmc.org) There will be parking on nearby Taylor Ave., and volunteers to help at the crossing on the west side of Snelling Ave.

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Judge deliberates over  restraining order for TCGIS

Judge deliberates over restraining order for TCGIS

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Save Historic Saint Andrew’s asks that school not be allowed to tear down former church
Save Historic Saint Andrew’s (SHSA) members continue their fight to save the 92-year-old church building that many feel is a community anchor by taking the discussion to the Ramsey County District Court.
Judge Jennifer Frisch began hearing testimony on Monday, July 1, 2019 from both sides, SHSA and property owner Twin Cities German Immersion School which plans to tear the building down and construct a new three-story gymnasium and classroom building in its place.
SHSA filed a suit under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA) seeing a temporary restraining order and permanent injuncture against tearing down the building.
TCGIS indicated in court that they are anxious to proceed with demolition, and expect to have a demolition permit in a matter of days.
The hearing ended mid-afternoon on Wednesday, June 3 and attorneys had until Monday, July 8 to file their final briefs. The judge was expected to rule within 5-7 days, and had not by press time.
The city’s Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) both recommended historic designation, and SHPO asked the State Board to find the church eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
However, the city council voted against designating the church as a historic preservation site on Wednesday, June 5, and approved both the site plan and the three variances requested by the school with various conditions to address impacts of the school’s enrollment growth regarding noise, traffic, and more.

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Monitor In A Minute

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen


Organized collection fight goes on
Some Allianz Field neighbors will get residential permit parking, but others saw their request rejected June 26 by the St. Paul City Council. While that helps Snelling-Hamline residents who say their streets are full on game days, it frustrates Merriam Park residents who will continue to deal with spillover parking from soccer games.
Both requests had the support of Union Park District Council. Ward Four Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson opposed both districts. She and other council members agreed that they’d like to see something other than a year-round permit district in place to deal with game parking.
Nelson also said that there have only been nine games.
On a 6-1 vote the council OK’d expansion of a permit district that includes Concordia, Carroll and Iglehart avenues between Asbury and Pascal streets. That district in Snelling-Hamline was created years ago to deal with commuter park and ride issues. Street, east of Snelling Ave.
Longtime neighborhood resident Daniel Jambor told the council that game day employee and attendee parking has affected the tiny neighborhood. He said that all neighbor want is reasonable access to their homes. Snelling-Hamline residents also tire of speeding and illegally parked motor vehicles, trash strewn on boulevards and noise after games.
Ward One Council Member Dai Thao represents Smelling-Hamline. He sympathized with neighbors.
Nelson cast the lone vote against the Snelling-Hamline request and led the charge against the Merriam Park request. She said that permit parking is too “broad and overreaching” to address the game day issues. She wants other solutions tried first.
Council President Amy Brendmoen supported the Snelling-Hamline request but shared Nelson’s concerns about the overly broad impacts. One suggestion raised during the council meetings was to see if game day only restrictions could be posted.
Snelling-Selby Area Business Association and commercial property owners opposed both requests.
Merriam Park neighbors in the area southwest of I-94 and Snelling Ave. had worked on their permit request for more than a year, in anticipation of soccer. They were unhappy that the request failed on win approval, on a 2-3 vote. Council members Kassim Busuri and Jane Prince voted for the district, with Nelson, Brendmoen and Chris Tolbert against. Thao and Rebecca Noecker had left the meeting before the hearing and vote.
Restrictions in Merriam Park would have included Concordia between Pierce St. and Snelling and on Pierce and Fry streets from Carroll to Concordia avenues. Neighbors there have also struggled with spillover game day parking, along with fan behavior and traffic issues. Neighbors after the meeting said they haven’t decided next steps.
Nelson has called for a more comprehensive parking plan, rather than what she calls a “piecemeal” approach. Allianz Field has 400 parking spaces, most of which are reserved, and 20,000 seats. Fans are urged to use transit or off-site parking.

Bonding requests set
The city of St. Paul will submit four of its own bonding requests to the 2020 Minnesota Legislature, the St. Paul City Council decided June 12. The council and Mayor Melvin Carter’s administration will also work with several St. Paul nonprofit organizations that are submitting bonding requests, to determine what level of support the city can provide.
2020 is a bonding year for state lawmakers.
The state will issue general obligation bonds to pay for the fixed asset, brick and mortar projects. St. Paul will be up against other cities, counties, colleges and universities, state projects and other needs when it makes its requests. The 2020 lists were due at the capitol June 14. Review will start soon, with decisions made during the 2020 legislative session.
The preliminary priorities approved June 12 are, in order, Third Street/Kellogg Boulevard Bridge – $55 million; eastbound Kellogg Boulevard Bridge at River Centre – $10 million, the River Learning Center at Crosby Farm Regional Park – $3 million and planning funds for the Como Zoo Orangutan Habitat and Energy Efficiency and Asset Preservation.
The top three requests have been on the city’s wish list for several years. The bridges are both in deteriorated condition. The Third/Kellogg Bridge is considered to be most critical because it will carry future transit vehicles on the planned Gold Line.
Ward Four Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson said she and other council members have been hearing from nonprofit groups that will be seeking state bonding. Nelson said there are several entities in her ward seeking critically needed legislative support, including the International Institute on Como Ave.
The council member agreed that it is important for the city to review and determine support for the nonprofits’ requests. That review will be done at a later date.

No more “opt-outs”
It’s official – streets will be reconstructed whether St. Paul property owners like it or not. Without discussion, the St. Paul City Council June 12 rescinded its longtime street reconstruction opt-out policy.
The policy has been on the books since 1994 and was sparked when a group of North End homeowners asked to not have their street rebuilt. That led to the opt-out policy. The policy was amended over the years to indicate that residents who successfully petitioned for an opt-out would have their projects moved to the end of the residential street paving projects’ list. The opt-out was also clarified to indicated that an entire project area had to opt out, not just one street.
The current street program is meant to address very old paved or oiled streets that have never been formally built. Streets get new surfaces curb and gutter, sidewalks, driveway aprons, boulevard trees and new streetlights.
Streets with sanitary and storm sewers that required separation were rebuilt in the 1980s and 1990s under a separate program.
Council members Amy Brendmoen and Chris Tolbert introduced the resolution eliminating the past opt-out policies. They contend that delaying work creates high costs later and adds to ongoing street maintenance costs. The city often hears from new residents in areas that opted out in past years, who question why their street hasn’t been rebuilt.
The most recent opt-out was in Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, for the second phase of the Woodlawn-Jefferson project. Residents complained that street reconstruction would mean adding sidewalks and losing more than 50 trees. They said residents don’t need sidewalks and can walk in the streets.

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Hamline Park Playground DSC_5596

McMurry Field, Hamline Park play area make cut in city’s 2020 budget process

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen


A $373,500 construction project is set for 2020 at Hamline Park’s playground, if the funding is approved by the city. (Photo submitted)

With completion of a June public hearing process, St. Paul’s 2020-2021 capital spending recommendations are en route to Mayor Melvin Carter and the St. Paul City Council for inclusion in the 2020 city budget. The recommendations were due in the mayor’s office June 30.
Improvements to McMurray Field and a new Hamline Park play area made the cut, but the long-awaited replacement of Fire Station 20 at University and Cretin/Vandalia was set aside.
Another project that was postponed is planning for the Central District Police headquarters, which moved off of Rice St. in the 1990s. District offices are now at the main headquarters near downtown. Penciled in for the future is planning for the future of the Hamline-Midway and West Side’s Riverview branch libraries.
Hamline Park playground is poised for $373,500 million in 2020, if the committee recommendations make it into the final budget.
Parks and Recreation sought $4 million to replace artificial turf fields at McMurray. The committee recommendation is for $1.5 million.

Will libraries be replaced?
Libraries sought more than $7 million for the two libraries. The recommendation is for planning money in the years ahead.
One idea that has been discussed in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood is to replace the current library on Minnehaha Ave. with some type of community arts center, using the existing library building. Some neighborhood activists wanted to see the current library preserved as such a center or for other uses.
Library spokesperson Phoebe Larson said there are no plans for the library’s future. The next steps will come out of the planning process.
“Both libraries have aging facilities,” she said. No decisions have been made as to whether or not buildings would be modernized or replaced. Each library is more than a century old.
As for Fire Station 20, it was set aside in favor of more pressing needs at Fire Station 7 on the city’s East Side. Replacement of Station 20 has an estimated cost of $8.184 million. Its replacement has been discussed for more than a decade.
The largest 2020-2021 submission was replacement of Rice Recreation Center in the city’s North End, with $11.2 million sought in 2020 and $2.3 million in 20201. The project was awarded $400,000 for planning.

Yes, CIB process has changed
The committee recommendations were developed by a city-staff CIB committee working group and then reviewed by the CIB Committee.
If veteran community activists think the Long-Range Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) process has changed, they’re right. The 2020-2021 budget cycle is the first under a new process for funding capital projects. The process has been in the works since late 2016. The CIB Committee is still working on details of the new process.
“We were building the plane while we were flying it,” said Madeline Mitchell of the Office of Financial Services.
The budget includes $4.451 million in capital bond-supported projects in 2020 and 2021. Most funded projects are for capital maintenance for city facilities. A second public hearing is planned for this fall.
The proposed capital budget calls for $4 million per year in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) spending, $4.451 million per year for annual programs and $6.224 million per year for large projects.
Until 2015, the capital budget process in St. Paul was long, involved, and heavy on community engagement. More than 100 projects were submitted every other year. Every district council is invited to have representatives on CIB task forces on community facilities, streets and utilities, and residential and economic development. The among of staff and volunteer time spent on CIB prompted then-Mayor Chris Coleman’s administration to put the entire process on pause in 2016 so that it could be studied. The 2018-2019 cycle included larger projects chosen in 2017, including the Frogtown Recreation Center.
The t

A $373,500 construction project is set for 2020 at Hamline Park’s playground, if the funding is approved by the city. (Photo submitted)

ask forces are gone. 2020-2021 projects were reviewed by a city staff-CIB Committee group. They used criteria including departmental long-range plans, racial equity and condition of facilities to make decisions.

Is there enough community input?
CIB Committee members had mixed reactions to the new process.
Committee member Paul Raymond said he appreciates that small, community driven projects won’t have to go up against large projects such as fire stations and recreation centers.
But others, including Committee member Joel Clemmer, said they’d like to see city departments do more community engagement when they bring projects forward in the future.
Capital Planning Team members said that while there were tough choices, the recent process was easier than previous CIB rounds, where there were so many submissions to choose from. It also helped participants to look at project scoring and discuss needs. Several agreed it was good to hear focused projects.
In 2020, the CIB Committee and staff will review a small pool of community-based projects. The funding amount to be shared has been suggested at $500,000.

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Improving Saint Paul’s business climate

Improving Saint Paul’s business climate

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Chad Kulas, Midway Chamber of Commerce

It’s one of the oldest conflicts in the world – business owner vs. the government. It’s just one example of a person not wanting to be told what to do by someone else – think parent vs. child, cop vs. suspect, teacher vs. student. Usually, a business owner is expecting (hoping) different licenses, taxes and other fees will cost less than they ultimately do. This story is seen around the world. But is it different in Saint Paul?
Many business owners suggest it is harder to do business in Saint Paul than other cities. It can be hard to make a comparison of an older, built-out city like Saint Paul with a newer suburb- one which has more developable land and aspires to attract more residents and businesses. But often Saint Paul is also seen as more difficult than its bigger twin to the west – Minneapolis.
When a city gets that reputation it can mean a business: a) Won’t consider locating within its boundaries; b) Will choose to expand elsewhere; or c) Will look at moving to a different city, despite all the hardships associated with making a move.
Employees at the city of Saint Paul have heard the concerns and want to make improvements. They too want to see the city run more efficiently and to have fewer business owners annoyed at what they believe to be longer waits and difficult regulations to understand.
In January, the Midway Chamber hosted a meeting where most City Council offices as well as other city staff were present. The meeting was an opportunity for businesses to think about what works, what doesn’t and what could make life easier for a business owner in Saint Paul. The Midway Chamber has taken information from that meeting and is creating a vision going forward. One part of that vision is to form a committee where we aim to make Saint Paul more business-friendly. We will begin meeting this summer and will have involvement from key city of Saint Paul staff.
We are also partnering with the city’s Department of Safety & Inspections (DSI) on a meeting regarding Class N licenses. These licenses include liquor, automobile and health/sports clubs, and require a 45-day period for the public to make comments. Could this process be more efficient? A brainstorming meeting will be held Thursday, July 25 at Urban Growler Brewing Company, 3-4:30 p.m. Please consider attending if this issue interests you.
Another old conflict is a new business moving into a neighborhood vs. the residents. Most district councils review new license applications and offer residents the opportunity to comment. Many residents feel an ownership of their neighborhood (as they should) and ask the hard questions to an outsider moving in to their community. We always stress to businesses the importance of meeting with as many neighbors as possible and building a relationship with the area district council. Usually, a solid relationship with the community means any initial concerns can get ironed out and the residents are more likely to support the new business.
So, will Saint Paul’s reputation change? A major change like this can’t occur overnight, but we hope gradual changes can happen short term and eventually lead to bigger change. Perhaps technology can lead to more efficient services (example: more permits available online) and a cultural shift can occur, as well. A more business-friendly city will help all – including city staff and residents who can benefit from a more thriving community.

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Too Much Coffee: Monitor launches Voluntary Pay program

Too Much Coffee: Monitor launches Voluntary Pay program

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Why do we matter?

Tesha M. Christensen

Why does a small neighborhood newspaper still exist in the days of Facebook and instant online news? What sets the Monitor apart from these other news sources?

We’re Relevant.
The simple answer is we’re your local news source. There’s not another publication that covers the Midway and Como neighborhoods like we do.

We’re Informative.
We write about local businesses opening and closing, about what’s being torn down and what’s being developed, about who is agitating for change and who has paved the way for others to follow.
We tell you about the neighbor who has turned into an entrepreneur, the college student who is giving back to the world, and the Boomer who is following a more sustainable lifestyle.
These are the people in your community. And the Monitor is your community news source. We’re about connecting people through the pages in our newspaper. We print “News for You.”

We’re Reliable.
The Monitor has been delivering news to your doorsteps since 1975. In fact, September marks our 44th birthday. And we’re here to tell you: Print Is Not Dead.

We’re Delivered Responsibly.
The folks who work for this newspaper are connected to the area. We’re not dropping in, writing an article that will tear the area apart, and then flying out. We’re committed to this neighborhood, and the people who live and work in it.
This does mean we approach things differently. We have to.
We don’t do #fakenews.

Will you help cover the costs
of the monthly Monitor?
In the upcoming months, I plan to introduce you to the various people and companies that play a role in getting this newspaper to your front steps and local bulk drop business sites each month. What questions do you have? Send them my way.
We are inviting you and our other readers to help us by voluntarily paying the cost of printing and delivering your paper.
The Monitor doesn’t charge for subscriptions to our monthly newspapers. Like most others, we rely on advertising revenue to pay for the costs of putting the newspaper out – paying the printer, the delivery staff, one full-time and one part-time sales representatives, bookkeeper, and others. We pay for our web site, Adobe and Quickbooks software, phones, and post office box. Because we run a virtual office, we contract with a provider for cloud services and a remote desktop, along with email and other IT services.
We want to make sure that our content is fresh and engaging, and so we pay writers and photographers to cover meetings and conduct feature interviews.
As owner, I’m a jack-of-all-trades, doing the newspaper layout, writing articles, paying the bills, selling some ads – and making the coffee.
I’m committed to quality journalism at the Monitor and its sister newspaper, the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger.
To do that, we’re asking for your help. Would you consider donating $12 – or $1 a paper? How about $24 – or $2 a paper? Maybe you love us so much that you want to send more and pay it forward – we’d love that! One lucky donor will get a four-pack of tickets to the Ren Fest; drawing on Aug. 5.
See page 12 in this issue for our Voluntary Payment donation form or go to our website.
I’d also like to start running photos of readers on our Social Media channels and within our printed pages. So, snap a photo of you with the latest, hot-off-the-press newspaper. Tag us online or email it my way. Let us know what you appreciate about the paper. Let us know what we’re missing. Share story ideas. Send in your letters to the editor and guest commentaries.
We’re relevant, informative, reliable and responsible – because of you.

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In Our Community July 2019

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Handel’s ‘Rejoice:’ Baroque workship
Jehovah Lutheran Church at 1566 Thomas Avenue will host its eighth annual baroque summer worship service Sunday, Aug. 4. Choir and orchestra organized by congregation member Ben Wegner for the event will perform Handel’s “The King Shall Rejoice” at the 9:30 a.m. worship service, free and open to all. Community singers are welcome to participate but must attend remaining rehearsals, all at the church: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 10; 2-4 p.m. Saturday, July 13; 6:30-8:30 p.m. July 17, 26 and 31; and dress rehearsal 2-4 p.m. Aug. 3. The score will be provided. More information is available from director Wegner, benjaminwwegner@gmail.com.


Giveaways, music at National Night Out
The Hamline-Midway neighborhood and beyond is invited to Jehovah Lutheran Church’s National Night Out celebration in the church parking lot from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6. The free event features live music and free hot dogs, drinks and treats.Visits by firefighters and police are expected. Attendees can help themselves to a free giveaway table with gently used clothing, books, household items and other goods. The church is at 1566 Thomas Ave., at the intersection with Snelling Ave. If you have clothing or household items in good condition to donate, please leave your items at the church’s Donation Center, indoors to the left of the entry at 1566 Thomas.

Hand drums class
Women’s Drum Center, 2242 University Ave., will offer a class in hand drums for beginners on July 30, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $10. Drums are provided. Visit womensdrumcenter.org.
Mississippi River Paddle Share
The Mississippi River Paddle Share Hidden Falls Regional Park location is officially open for the season. Paddle Share is an award-winning, first-of-a-kind self-service kayak sharing system that provides everything you need to get out on the water in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. This program is ideal for people with some kayaking experience. Sixteen solo and tandem kayaks are available for $25 or $40, respectively, for three hours. Rentals also include paddles, life jackets, and maps. Kayaks can be rented Friday-Sunday and holidays during July and August, and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays through Sept. 29, weather permitting. Reserve a kayak online at www.paddleshare.org.

Free class: finance your hustle
If you are a business owner looking for financing or have a side hustle that you want to grow, attend this three-hour session hosted by WomenVenture Small Business Development Center. Dive into your business goals and hurdles you’ve run into, learn about aspects of a healthy business, and talk about attitudes toward taking on debt as a strategy for business growth. Sessions to choose from: Tuesday, July 23, 9 a.m. – noon or Thursday, July 25, 5-8 p.m. More at www.womenventure.org.

Lunch & Learn with WomenVenture
Attend Buying a Business: Tips & Warnings on Wednesday, Aug. 13, noon-2 p.m. Learn tips, tricks, and what to watch out for as you navigate the process of buying or selling a business. Lunch & Learns are held at WomenVenture (2021 E Hennepin Ave #200) and cost $15. Lunch is included from Breaking Bread Cafe.

Butterfly, insect survey walk set
Take a Butterflies & Other Insects Nature Survey Walk – documenting species in Como Woodland on Thursday July 18, 6 p.m. Meet at the Kilmer Fireplace, 1221 Wynne Ave (SW Como Park) St. Paul. The 2-hour free educational nature walk will be led by Britt Forsberg, Minnesota Bee Atlas Coordinator with the University of Minnesota Extension and longtime Como Woodland Advisor. The Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom in SW Como Park is a 17-acre site with several different plant communities, so a wide variety of insects could be seen. More at comowoodlandoutdoorclassroom.org. RSVP with committee chairperson: teri.heyer@gmail.com.

FriendChip Farm for kids on Saturdays
The FriendChip Farm free kids’ program at the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market in Lowertown has opened for the season and will take place on select Saturdays from 9:15-11:15 a.m. each month through September. The program is run by Julane Severson, a retired educator, who created FriendChip Farm to introduce kids ages 3-9 to fresh, wholesome foods by working them into fun, educational activities including scavenger hunts, a book club and other games at the Market, and a take-home guide to help kids continue learning at home. The guide includes recipes that kids can make at home, using fresh veggies and fruit that would be found at the Farmers’ Market. Check it out July 13, 20, 27; Aug. 10, 17, 24 and Sept. 14, 21, 28. More at www.friendchipfarm.com.

Get to know NAMI
NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) will hold a free Get to Know NAMI class on July 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., NAMI Minnesota, 1919 University Ave., Suite 400, in St. Paul. Meet NAMI staff and volunteers and hear firsthand how NAMI’s work directly affects the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families. Learn about education and support programs and how to advocate for better mental health policies. RSVP to: Kay King, 651-645-2948 x113 or kking@namimn.org.

Farmers’ markets open for season
The downtown Market location in Lowertown is open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (through October 27). In keeping with its commitment to making local, fresh, healthful foods accessible to all, the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market downtown and neighborhood locations offer the Market Bucks program for SNAP recipients. Shoppers can double their first $10 in EBT with $10 in Market Bucks (once per day) by bringing their EBT card to the Market’s EBT booth where they’ll be given $10 in tokens to spend, plus up to $10 in matching Market Bucks that may be used to purchase foods and plants that grow food. The weekend Market locations also have live music and other events throughout the season. More at stpaulfarmersmarket.com.

‘The Floating Bethel’
Christine Podas-Larson will talk about the history of Saint Paul’s “Floating Bethel,” a refuge for the working poor that was docked off Sibley Street on the Mississippi for over 13 years on Thursday, July 25, 7 p.m. at the Roseville Library, (2180 Hamline Ave. N.) No reservations needed. Free and open to all. The grandmother of Podas-Larson, community leader and St. Paul resident Eliza Newport developed safe places to feed, shelter and help educate the poor and transient of the city, culminating in the Floating Bethel, a riverboat hotel & bathhouse on the Mississippi River. The legacy of the Floating Bethel lives on today through the Bethel Hotel, a transitional housing program for men run by Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities.
QPR – Suicide Prevention classes
QPR is a free, one-hour presentation sponsored by NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) that covers the three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide – Question, Persuade and Refer. Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives.The QPR classes will be offered on July 15, from noon-1 p.m. and July 24, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at NAMI Minnesota, 1919 University Ave., W., in Suite 400. For information, call 651-645-2948 x198 or see “classes” at namimn.org.

Garden tour
On Tuesday, July 23, from 6:15-7:30 p.m., St. Paul Trash Lawsuit is holding an open community meeting at the Rice St. Library, 1011 Rice St. to inform, listen to, and update St. Paul residents about the latest developments in the lawsuit brought against the city arguing for a citywide referendum vote on the city’s mandatory trash collection policy. More at stpaultrash.com.

Plein Air painting workshops
Attend a Plein Air Painting Workshops on Saturday July 20 and July 27, 8:30 a.m. at Gibbs Farm, (2097 W. Larpenteur Ave.). Registrations required; go to rchs.com or call 651-222-0701. Cost is $40 per person per session. Participants may choose one or both sessions. Tom McGregor, award-winning plein air painter, will demonstrate tried and true plein air oil painting methods as well as give personalized instruction based on where you are as a painter. All levels welcome.

Midway Lutheran Rally is July 12-13
Partner congregations Jehovah Lutheran and Mekane Yesus will host a Midway Lutheran Rally for All Ages — especially kids! — from 9 a.m. to noon Friday and Saturday, July 12-13. The event, free and open to all, will be at Jehovah Lutheran, 1566 Thomas in St. Paul. It will feature music, Bible study for adults, Bible stories for kids, puppets, snacks, crafts and other activities. To register and/or volunteer, sign up at worship Sundays or by contacting either congregation — Jehovah Lutheran at 651-644-1421 or jehovahlutheran@msn.com; and Mekane Yesus at 651-621-9866 or syderessa@gmail.com.

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Neighborhood organizations hoping for STAR grants, others out of running

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Four neighborhood organizations are in the running for Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) grants and loans, including Co-Motion Center for Movement, New Vision, Community Involvement Programs-ALLY People Solutions, and the Playwrights’ Center.
The St. Paul City Council is poised to approve the 25 proposals totaling $2.603 million in July. The Neighborhood STAR Board made its recommendations in May.
The funding breakdown for recommended projects is $1,618,472 in grants, $985,433 in loans and $13,923,574 in matches.
Twenty-six projects didn’t make the cut and two others were withdrawn. The total of all requests topped $6.5 million.
The Neighborhood STAR process funds brick and mortar projects. Projects must have set “life span” and must have a match of dollars, sweat equity, materials or a combination of those items. The city used to fund a smaller Neighborhood STAR round but now runs only one round of grant and loan applications each year.
Everything from factories to playgrounds can be in the mix for the funding, which is derived from a half-cent sales tax enacted in the early 1990s.
Under Mayor Melvin Carter, there is more of a focus on projects that create jobs and small businesses. A focus is also on the city’s numerous cultural districts. No Monitor area cultural district asks are recommended for funding, but more than a dozen in other parts of the city are in line for grants and loans.
The top-ranked project citywide is a $50,000 grant and $30,000 loan for a White Bear Ave. deli renovation.

Details on local projects
The Monitor area’s top-ranked project came in fourth overall. The Co-Motion Center for Movement at 655 N. Fairview Ave. is recommended for a $40,000 loan and $40,000 grant, with a $180,000 match. The fund would be used for building improvements by Element Boxing & Fitness.
Ranked 11th is a request for 860 Vandalia St., for the nonprofit New Vision’s headquarters in St. Paul. A $105,424 grant will be matched with $105,424 to build out the facility, which also houses the Tech Dump electronics recycling program.
Coming in close behind at 14th is a new headquarters for the merged Community Involvement Programs-ALLY People Solutions agencies at 1515 Energy Park Dr. The merged social service agencies, which serve people with disabilities, will bring 150 jobs to Energy Park. A $100,000 loan and $50,000 grant will bring a $150,000 match.
A new Playwrights’ Center finished 23rd, with a request for a capital campaign for a new facility at 711 Raymond Ave. The center obtained a $100,000 grant and $50,0000 loan, with $7.625 million match to convert an old warehouse into a playwrights center.
Other requests missed the cut. Junior Achievement, which recently moved to 1745 University Ave., wanted a grant to tuck-point and repair the east wall of its building. Replacement of a mural was also planned.
Midway-based African Economic Development Solutions also missed out on its request for a grant for its small business revolving loan fund. The goal was to focus on North Snelling’s Little Africa area.
The Ain Dah Yung Center for homeless Native American young people at 771-785 University Ave., saw its ask for a loan to add a cultural facility turned down. The cultural facility would have been part of a housing project that is currently being built.
Zion Lutheran Church, 1697 Lafond Ave., and Hamline Midway Elders, had hoped for funding to add an accessible entrance and lift and install an accessible bathroom. The church houses many food and wellness programs. That request was also rejected.
Finishing last overall among ranked projects was the Twin Cities German Immersion School, 1031 Como Ave., for a grant to pay for a 430-foot long, seven foot tall, gabion stone fence along its eastern border.

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