Monitor In A Minute December 2019

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

Dale Street Bridge schedule unveiled
The $14.7 million Dale Street Bridge over Interstate 94 will bring improved walkways and bike access when it is completed in 2020. But the project will bring months of disruption to area neighborhoods. More than 70 people joined the Ramsey County Department of Public Works Nov. 21, 2019 for a preview of construction timing and one more look at bridge plans.
The project goes out for bid in February, with work starting after that. The bridge is to be fully open for traffic in fall 2020, although some landscaping and other work could extend later.
The new bridge will provide 16 feet of pedestrian, bike and plaza space on either side, two 11-foot lanes of motor vehicle traffic in each direction, and 12-foot turn lanes. Dale between University and Iglehart avenues will be rebuilt, with new sidewalks, new street lighting and corner bump-outs added.
A former service station property at the northeast corner of Dale and St. Anthony will be open space, with a direct sidewalk and a winding “switchback” walkway to allow for easier access of what is a steep slope.
The $14.7 million project is covered with a mix of federal, state and local funding. The only assessments for adjacent property owners along Dale will be for above-standard street lighting. Those costs haven’t been calculated.
Those at the meeting had questions about detours, cut-through traffic, access for buses, snow plowing and access to homes, place of worship and businesses. County officials plan to post a question and answer section on the project website. The project will also have a dedicated community engagement worker to help get the word out about detours and other issues.
Bridge planning and community involvement in bridge design have taken place over the last few years, with several community meetings, said Ramsey County Project Engineer Erin Laberee. Much of the historic Rondo neighborhood was wiped out during freeway construction, and one goal is to have a new bridge’s public art honor that community.
“The original bridge was built in 1961, and expanded in 1983,” said Laberee. “It’s time for it to be replaced.”

Fate of BP station up in the air
It will likely be early 2020 before the fate of the crime-ridden BP gas station at 1347 University Ave. W. is known. The troubled business was the focus of an administrative law judge hearing in mid-November. St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) officials contend that the business should have its operating licenses revoked. Owner Khal Aloul has fought the city’s actions and is trying to keep the business open.
A homicide in the parking lot and ongoing allegations of drug dealing, fighting, loitering, city license violations and other crime have area residents and business owners demanding change. Incidents at the property have been live-streamed.
In one Police Department video shown at the hearing, an employee explains how scouring pads and glass tubes were used to make kits for smoking crack. The employee also admitted selling single cigarettes and cigars in violation of city ordinances.
At the hearing, Hamline Midway Coalition presented testimony that included more than 280 survey responses. The focus was on how behavior at BP impacts neighborhood residents, businesses and commuters. DSI and the City Attorney’s Office have focused on a long history of license violations and crimes.
St. Paul has used an administrative law judge process in license matters since the 1990s when facts in a case are in dispute. Attorneys for the city and the business have until Dec. 20 to submit their first round of closing arguments, with further filings possible until Jan. 10. The judge then has up to 30 days in which to make a ruling, which then goes back to the St. Paul City Council for action. That is expected in February, where there will be another public hearing. No date has been set.

Trash rates to be reduced
St. Paul’s 2020 residential trash disposal rates will decrease, over protests from the six-member garbage hauler consortium serving the city. The St. Paul City Council Nov. 13 voted unanimously to approve 2020 rates. The total decrease is $1 million for the $27 million contract, and not the $2.5 million increase haulers initially sought.
Nor would the city agree to freeze rates at the 2019 level for the first six months of 2020, another request the haulers made. The rates go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
On average, property owners will see about a $10 per year decrease.
At public hearings in November, an attorney for St. Paul Haulers LLC spoke against the rate package, as did Sue Stewart of Highland Sanitation. Both cited increased costs.
Organized collection, which is entering its second year, serves one to four-unit residential buildings. Council members and Department of Public Works staff said that with one year’s data on hand, they have actual garbage tonnage to factor in. The tonnage collected for the first year of the program is 56,000 tons.
Council members and Department of Public Works staff stood firm, saying that if tonnage went down, so should rates paid.

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Yunomi 08

Santa’s suit on display at MNHS

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Santa’s suit on display at MNHS
In 2017, Lexington-Hamline resident Leo Treadway decided to hang up his Santa suit after 30 years of playing the beloved St. Nick around the Twin Cities. Recently, he offered his suit to the Minnesota Historical Society, and it has now officially joined the MNHS collection – just in time for the holidays.

A member of Minnesota’s North Star Santas, a group of real-bearded Santas, Santa Leo was the organization’s only second-generation Santa. When he first started out, Treadway wore the suit his father used to play Santa in New Jersey in the 1970s. Over time, he acquired his own red velvet coat – which weighs a hefty 25 pounds – pants and hat, handmade by Lynn Farrington, longtime costume designer for Macalester College’s theater department. “I was very insistent that all my costuming look like clothing which the character would actually wear… .and that it not look like a ‘costume,’” Treadway said.

In addition to this handmade suit, MNHS also acquired various Santa accessories and a less-formal Santa ensemble that Treadway added to his repertoire in the early 2000s. Styled after Finland’s Santa character Joulupukki, the outfit includes a shirt and vest with Finnish embroidery designs. It was created by Sarah Maas, a costume designer who works with Ingebretsen’s Nordic Marketplace in Minneapolis.

These costumes help fill a gap in the MNHS collection. “In our collection, Santa mostly appears on greeting cards, ornaments, holiday-themed marketing and in historic photographs,” said 3D curator Sondra Reierson. “Santa Leo’s suit is the very first in the collection. It’s especially notable because it was designed and made locally and comes with such a compelling personal Minnesota story.” (Photo courtesy of Leo Treadway)

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Bluebell 422

Lawns to Legumes program will create new pollinator corridors

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Homeowners may be eligible for funding to help boost Rusty Patched Bumblebee population

Staff from the partner organization Blue Thumb led a Lawns to Legumes workshop at North Regional Library earlier this month. The new state-funded Lawns to Legumes program will help residents convert at least part of their lawn to flowering plants that provide pollinator habitat. Minnesota is home to about 450 native species of bees, many of whose populations are declining. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)http://monitorsaintpaul.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Web_Lawns-to-Legumes-02.jpg

When the legislative session ended last year, Minnesota was granted something it has never had before: its own state bee.
The Rusty Patched Bumblebee was once among the most widespread of all wild bees seen in the Midwest, but its population nosedived in the early 2000s – it is now listed as an endangered species.
Minnesota is home to a significant number of the remaining Rusty Patched Bumblebees, and many are found in and around the Twin Cities. Bee experts believe homeowners can help this population of wild bees rebuild its numbers, one garden at a time.
At the close of last year’s legislative session, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) received $900,000 in state funding to develop a three-year pilot program focused on planting residential lawns with pollinator friendly plants. Other states are taking notice of the way Minnesota is funding this community-led program to protect and rebuild its diversity of pollinators.
The funding appropriation is through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. BWSR worked with local conservation partners throughout the summer to develop program criteria. Funding has been distributed to those partners (primary partners include Metro Blooms and Blue Thumb). Community workshops have begun state-wide, with garden projects slated to be planted in the spring and summer of 2020.
Funding will be targeted in areas benefiting the Rusty Patched Bumblebee and other at-risk species; Minneapolis and St. Paul are in the highest priority area, as are sections of Southeast Minnesota.

Traditional lawns don’t help pollinators much
Dan Shaw is a Senior Ecologist/Vegetation Specialist with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. He said, “Bee and other pollinator populations are declining due to habitat loss, pesticide use, introduced parasites, and climate change. With Lawns to Legumes, we’re encouraging residents to transform their yards and gardens into places that support a diversity of wildlife.“
He continued, “Traditional lawns and non-native foundation plantings provide little benefit for pollinators. The idea is to restore natural habitat for wild bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and a wide range of insect species – all of whom play a critical role in pollinating our food crops and native plants.”
Minnesota residents who have an area that can be used for outdoor planting can apply for a combination of technical assistance (workshops and coaching) and cost-share funding. Shaw anticipates that Lawns to Legumes will provide assistance to about 1,500 people in total.
Renters are also encouraged to participate in increasing pollinator habitat: either by getting permission from property owners to garden, or by planting pollinator friendly plants in pots.
The state’s efforts to provide critical habitat for the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee will also support Minnesota’s other pollinators and wildlife. Participating residents will be asked to provide before and after photos of their yards, and receipts for related expenses if they qualitfy for cost-share funding.

Apply in December
In December 2019, Blue Thumb will begin accepting applications from residents for the first round of individual support as part of the Lawns to Legumes program. Check the Blue Thumb or BWSR websites for updates and applications. Applicants can receive up to $350 of funding through a reimbursement process. Funding decisions will be made and all notifications emailed in February 2020 for spring garden installations.
• 2nd application round will open in March 2020, for summer and fall installations.
• 3rd application round for 2021 plantings may open depending on available funding.
Shaw explained, “In this partnership, BWSR is collaborating with a large group of conservation organizations around the state, as well as municipalities. As a small agency, we don’t have a lot of staff so we’ll be relying on our partners. We’ve been busy training our trainers. They include skilled volunteers in the conservation field like Master Naturalists, Master Water Stewards, Master Gardeners and others who are already well-grounded in environmental education. They’ll be participating in as many as 40 workshops for landowners across the state over the next three years.”
Another important contributor to the Lawns to Legumes program is the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Students there are developing graphics and messaging for a social media campaign to raise awareness about residential pollinator plantings.

Be part of a movement
Shaw said, “Sometimes I see this more as a movement than a program. Every garden project we fund will have signage, so people can see that homeowners are making a difference.
“There hasn’t been much funding for homeowners to create pollinator habitat before. This is a fantastic opportunity for our conservation partners to collaborate, and to educate the public at the same time.”

Plant these Top 10
The goal of the Lawns to Legumes program is to create areas of habitat in both urban and rural residential yards that will provide food and shelter for bees and other pollinators. Even small plantings can make a big difference, especially if there are enough of them to provide a matrix or corridor. These are the top 10 plants recommended by Lawns to Legumes to sustain pollinators in Minnesota:
Virginia Bluebell (shown above)
Golden Rod
Wild White Indigo
Red Columbine
Blue Giant Hyssop

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Two schools strengthen their longstanding partnership

Two schools strengthen their longstanding partnership

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Hamline Elementary and Hamline University Connection

Felipe Vasquez (left) is a freshman at Hamline University majoring in education/psychology. He is one of more than 90 HU students who tutor at Hamline Elementary, tailoring instruction to small groups and lowering adult to student ratios. Fifth grader Isabella Martinez Rodriguez (right) practiced her reading.(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

There’s only one thing that separates Hamline Elementary and Hamline University, and that’s Snelling Avenue.
Last year, the two neighboring schools agreed to expand an educational partnership they began in 1991 (the partnership actually began over 100 years ago but became official in 1991).
Dozens of Hamline University students are in Hamline Elementary classrooms every week working as tutors, mentors, and student teachers. Hamline Elementary students regularly engage in enrichment activities offered at Hamline University, such as all 4th and 5th graders learning to swim in the campus pool.
The result is an innovative model that brings best practices in educational theory, research, and direct experience to students in both institutions.
Hamline Elementary is called a Collaborative Learning University School. Principal Kristin Reilly said, “There isn’t another school like ours in the state. We are building the program in the two schools simultaneously. We share a tremendous learning synergy.”

Hamline Elementary Principal Kristin Reilly in front of one of the “Wonder Walls” seen throughout the school. In the inquiry-based model, students begin with the phrase, “I wonder,” and follow a process of discovery toward learning. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

How did this all come about?
Reilly said, “When Hamline Elementary changed from a language academy to a community school a few years ago, our enrollment decreased. We were in that place of needing to find a new identity. Our staff, our parent group, and community members had many conversations about how to increase enrollment. We decided to deepen what already existed: our longstanding partnership with Hamline University.”
She continued, “The new Hamline Elementary program builds on an Inquiry-Based Learning Model rooted in curiosity, asking questions, and following an active path toward learning. School staff and all of the education partners at Hamline University use this model to help students meet their individual learning styles and needs.

“Everything happening in this building has to do with strengthening relationships and maximizing community connectedness.”

The partnership model
Last year a fifth grade teacher gave his class an assignment: to design a functional tennis shoe. Working in pairs, students learned basic design elements, how to make form match function, and how to create an advertising and marketing campaign. College students from the digital media arts department at HU taught the elementary school students how to develop and print a 3-D model of their designs.
Reilly said, “This project illustrates how we’re two campuses, but we’re connected. Because of our connection, elementary school students know how to navigate a college campus (with their teachers.) It’s normal for our students to be there, and many of them are from families where college was not part of their experience. Another advantage for our students is that many of the education partners at Hamline University are people of color, which allows our students to see themselves as college students. The majority of our staff at Hamline Elementary is white.”

Inquiry-based teachers

Hamline University Literacy Professor Maggie Struck (center) in a de-briefing session with graduate students in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. The partnership with Hamline Elementary gives HU students experience in an inquiry-based learning environment. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

All student teachers at Hamline Elementary now come from the education department at Hamline University. The student teachers have studied and experienced the model of Inquiry-Based Learning firsthand. They have likely spent significant amounts of time tutoring or mentoring at Hamline Elementary before becoming student teachers.
Education grads right out of college sometimes struggle to get their first fulltime job. Reilly said, “We had three student teachers last year, and they were all hired for permanent positions in the district. The feedback I got from the hiring principals was that these new teachers were very well-prepared – that they were, and I quote, ‘completely different educators.’ That’s because we trained them from the beginning. They left our school understanding what inquiry-based teaching was, and how they could use it to help all children succeed.”
Hamline Elementary is part of the St. Paul Public School system, and is located at 1599 Englewood Ave. For more information or to schedule a visit, call the front office at 651.293.8715.

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You eat vegetables right? So, you’re already eating vegan.

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

So points out Colin Anderson, owner of the only vegan grocery store and bodega in the Twin Cities

Colin Anderson has no set menu. He encourages customers to enjoy what’s there today, rather than what they missed yesterday. It’s a life lesson served up with a vegan croissant. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

There are neighbors to Eureka Compass Vegan Food (629 Aldine St.) who walk their dogs past every day, but have never stepped foot inside the vegan bodega.
Owner Colin Anderson thinks they should and knows they’ll find something they like.
“You eat vegetables, right?” he asks the people who don’t think eating at a vegan place is for them.

It’s a neighborhood bodega
Since opening his corner store, Anderson has been a one-man shop, manning the grill, creating vegan and gluten-free recipes, doing the books, stocking the shelves, and bantering with customers. Over two and a half years since opening, Anderson estimates that he has made 2,500 items – never repeating a recipe.
Anderson is modeling his corner store off the beloved bodegas of New York City, first made popular by Puerto Rican immigrants in the 1940s and 50s. These small convenience stores sell staples, accept packages and hold onto keys for visitors in lieu of doorman. But more than that, they’re neighborhood landmarks whose charismatic staff can point you to the best handyman and best tacos in the area.
“I love this neighborhood,” observed the 12-year resident who more often than not has a punk rock album playing in the bodega. “I love being a spot where neighbors come and just talk, where they strike up a conversation with someone they’ve never met before. We’re both at Eureka. That’s really all you need to start a conversation.”

He launched a Patreon page
Anderson has recently launched a Patreon page to expand the reach and impact of his mission by sharing the stories and lessons of his journey to make veganism more accessible and achievable for all who wish to progress towards more compassionate and conscious habits of consumption.
With this crowdfunding membership platform, people can pledge as little as $2 a month for access to recipes, interviews, and behind-the-scenes insights. Those at $5 a month or more get access to instructional cooking videos too, and the benefits increase with each level of support.
Part of this is in response to Anderson’s customers telling him they wished they had just recorded their conversation to show a friend or parent. Plus, the Patreon site allows him to show deeper and more emotional content than what he posts on Facebook or Instagram.
Right now there are about 30 subscribers. “I’s been a very helpful outlet for me to express myself more honestly,” said Anderson.

Eureka Compass owner Colin Anderson doesn’t think the term “vegan” should scare people away from his bodega, and he thinks everyone will find something they’d like. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

It was what he wanted to see, so he started it
Three years ago, Anderson and his wife, Erin Parrish, took a 10-year anniversary trip. While driving the coast from Los Angeles to Portland, they ate at a bunch of different vegan places. Anderson was thrilled to find vegan options outside Indian restaurants.
At the time, he was working as the assistant manager at the Chuck and Don’s Pet Food and Supplies store in Roseville, and he’d worked at a variety of restaurants over the years. He’d been sober for awhile, deciding he wanted to be present for this life. He’d gone vegan for some of the same reasons, as well as the desire to take action and live out his environmental justice values.
“This is what I want to see in the neighborhood. Nobody else is going to do it, so I guess I will,” said Anderson.
So he found a building that used to be a pizza joint near his house of 12 years, launched a Kickstarter in June 2017, and opened up with three tables. There was no set menu, which was confusing for some.
Anderson encouraged customers to experience what was on the menu that day, as it was the first and only time he had made that particular item.
It’s a life lesson served up with a croissant. “Don’t worry about what you missed yesterday. Enjoy what’s here,” said Anderson. “This isn’t the sort of place you show up to once and have it figured out.”
For awhile, he supplied a skyway restaurant with Jackfruit BBQ, and was only open in the Midway on the weekends, but by last fall he had dropped the other gig and was back to being open six days a week. Earlier this fall he experimented with offering a larger grocery section, but didn’t see the customer support for it so he’s zig-zagging again and is back to cooking more.
Anderson believes that organic, vegan food should be accessible to everyone. So he started hosting pay-what-you-can dinners. The nacho nights were especially popular.
Coming up is the “Pay What You Want/Can Gluten-Free and Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner” on Wednesday, Nov. 26 from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. “I did 350 plates last year and hope to do 500 this year,” remarked Anderson.

Dreaming of a vegan
“I love this business,” he observed. He doesn’t view himself as being in competition with the other vegan restaurants and businesses out there, but instead seeks to collaborate and support them, sharing information with his customers in person and via his social media channels.
“We’re creating a business ecosystem,” observed Anderson.
His big dream is to launch a vegan marketplace somewhere in the Midway area and offer a place where a bunch of vegan businesses can gather under one roof. He’d love to see coffee shops, bakeries, groceries, lunch counters, and clothing around a performance space.
This would help each business thrive as they wouldn’t have to purchase all the needed equipment themselves, but could share items like walk-in freezers and dish rooms.
“It’d be a destination spot,” he said.

Starting with small steps to make change happen
Anderson pointed out that three of the four leading causes of death are lifestyle-related, and can be fixed by changing one’s diet. “Let’s stop making ourselves sick,” said Anderson. He supports eating raw and vegan, and saving the money each month that goes towards prescription drugs you don’t need if you change what you eat.
“It’s not progressive,” he pointed out. “It’s regressive. It’s going back to how we used to eat.”
He is glad to see that young farmers are deciding there is a better way to do things, and returning to older practices. It may not be as cheap at the start, but he thinks it is in the long run when people aren’t facing high medical bills and poor health, as well as the impacts of agricultural pollution.
“I’m going to do my part so that your grandchildren can see a monarch butterfly,” Anderson tells people, while letting them know that the biggest pollutor is the agriculture industry. By switching to a vegan diet, people make a positive impact on the environment.
“If we don’t start with small steps, we will never move forward,” he remarked. He believes that when you magnify those small steps by more people that is when change happens.
One of his favorite quotes is: “If you really wanted to change something, you’d vote with your dollar.”
Another is: “We’re all afraid of the solutions that will rob us of our excuses.”

Shopping locally himself
Anderson makes a point of stocking as many local items as possible, establishing an environmental justice standard for himself that favors less packaging and less transportation. The shelves are stocked with many products made within 10 miles of the bodega, and more made within 200 miles of this location.
“I don’t want to tell you to ‘shop local’” said Anderson. “I want to set an example.”
He gets items when others nearby order them too to cut down on transportation impacts to the environment. When he does get plastic wrap or boxes, Anderson offers them to other entrepreneurs and customers who need the packaging to ship things so that they are reused and don’t end up in a landfill.
The vendors he works with focus on small batches of high-quality items, and use sustainable practices, such as recyclable packaging and sourcing from those who pay fair wages to employees.
Anderson is working to address the way many people operate today without giving a thought to how their food gets to them. Anderson says that many operate like this: “Your food just comes out of a facility, shows up at grocery store and you buy it,” He talks to his customers about the 14-20-hour days some people are working in order to get this product out to them. He has one vendor who quit a good job at General Mills, moved in with parents and teaches yoga classes on the side to pay the bills in order to launch their new hustle.

Creating place he wants to be
“I understand it’s my responsibility to help create the place I want to be in,” said Anderson.
“I care about what I do, and try to do my best. I have a pretty clear vision of what I want the transcript of my life to say when it’s done.”
Contact editor Tesha@MonitorSaintPaul.com.

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Eggroll Queen Music Cafe owner overcomes obstacles

Eggroll Queen Music Cafe owner overcomes obstacles

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

After she lost her hearing, Mai Vang turned to making eggrolls

first-time customer, Mrs. Reyn Martin shares a laugh with Mai Vang. “The food is great,” she said.

Eggroll Queen’s story began in a living room, grew in a food truck, and has now settled in the former Undeground Music Cafe space (1579 Hamline Ave. N.).
Along the way, local resident Mai Vang, who grew up in the Como area and now lives 10 minutes from the restaurant, has overcome her own hearing loss to become a minority, woman business owner. She runs Eggroll Queen Music Cafe with partners David and Helene Schultz.

What is it like being a person of color and woman entrepreneur?
The Eggroll Queen was starting out as a community volunteer event and evolved into a business. It was fine when I was still making egg rolls from my living room to sell them to few friends in the community. When the egg rolls start picking up, I realized I didn’t have the funding to properly operate the business. As a woman in the Hmong community, we don’t normally go out and approach potential investors for money. Besides, almost every family in the Hmong community knows how to make egg rolls.
Finding the proper financial to start a business was the biggest hurdle because I didn’t have anything to begin with and with my disability, my family income was also cut in half. I slowly build the business up from my living room to a food trailer built by my brother Cherxa, funded by families, friends, and the community. When my food trailer was caught on fire, I couldn’t afford another one. I was so fortunate that the community was pouring in with donations enough to get a food truck and get me back on the street again.
On the positive side, being a woman of color, it gives me the opportunity to introduce my food to other larger community because most of them have never had a good egg roll or don’t know how egg rolls should really taste like. They only get the down-graded version from other restaurants.

What challenges have you overcome?
Back in late 2013, I went deaf and everything I knew how quickly came to an end. I struggled to find a solution to get my hearing back. When I finally came to accept that my hearing could be permanent, I lost a lot of hopes and the will power to do the many things I used to do.
To keep myself from focusing on the problem I faced, I started going out to the community again and do what I can to help others that may have bigger problems. I was fortunate enough to find a group of very kind-hearted St. Paul Eastsiders that would go out of their way to help others. We did few fundraisers to help few of our community members that needed help using the egg roll recipe that my family has been doing for years.
As friends and community members start pouring in to get the egg rolls, I focused less and less on my personal problem and more on how I can contribute to the community the way I used to through my egg rolls.
It’s still very hard for me to have a normal conversation with everyone especially my husband and kids, but using technology, we are doing our best to move forward as a family. I still have to take few naps throughout the day on a daily basis to clear pressures from my head and ears so I won’t be so off balance when I walk.

What’s new at the restaurant?
At the Eggroll Queen Music Café, we now have a full kitchen to prep and serve our delicious jumbo egg rolls. We are also offering our special rice bowl dish.  Our goal is to make sure when families stop by for either lunch or dinner, they can get a full meal while enjoying live music from local artists. In addition, we upgraded all of our music equipment so local musicians have a good place and proper equipment to show off their talents to the community.
For years this coffee shop was a neighborhood gathering, we still want to be that. But additionally, we want to make the café at place for new, emerging, and established artists and the community. By that, we have a larger wall for artists to display their art and are rotating it.  We also have a lot of musicians who play here. We also realized that there is no place in the Twin Cities for writers and poets to read or perform their works. We want to be the place for them. We also hope to be a community meeting place, both for neighbors, and for special events.

What drove the changes and grand re-opening?
The former Underground Music Café had woodfire oven pizza and few other food selections when Eggroll Queen took over the business. I was so excited and was hoping to open our line of egg rolls within a month or two, but we learned very quickly that a lot of things in the café need to be brought up to code in order for us to sell our egg rolls and other food there.  It took us most of 2019 to get everything to work and now we are ready to serve the community.

How is the Twin Cities food scene evolving and where do you fit into that?
Personally, I feel that our Twin Cities food scene has changed a lot due to our very diverse communities. A few decades ago, when you are thinking about going to a restaurant, chain restaurants often come to mind and everyone settled for pretty much the same choice of food. Today, our community is filled with so many different communities, foods, cultures, etc.  Eggroll Queen is among one of them; however, our goals has always been focusing on the quality and how we can offer egg rolls to our community with the very same recipe that we would do at home. We want to make sure every bite is good to the last one.
Our restaurant is a very nice, cute place where family can come out for a good lunch or dinner and yet still feel at home.  Parents can read few books to the kids or playing small board games with their kids to strengthen their bonds. People can stop by for locally brewed coffee, beer or a nice glass of wine and enjoy live music from our local artists.
In the morning, you will see friends stop by for a quick meet up, engineer and police officers starting of their day with a cup of latte, coffee and laughters with friends. Ladies would round up their friends and come to share ideas, doing needle work, chatting and laughing together early in the morning.
Our employees know their customers and know what they want as customers enter the door.  With all of those fun and quality time together, kids and adults alike can have one or few scoops of ice cream before heading out.

What specials do you offer that are not-to-be-missed by local residents?
Our lunch special, the Queen Meal, is definitely something local residents should get.  The meal includes chicken or vegetable fried rice, one jumbo egg roll and a drink – soda, juice, or coffee.
I like to invite everyone to come and try our delicious food. Your support of getting three egg rolls and a rice bowl will help provide jobs for few employees, keep the café open for the community, musicians, and artists. See you soon.

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Foxtrot Burger Spot replaces Delicata Pizza

Foxtrot Burger Spot replaces Delicata Pizza

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Foxtrot Burger Spot Co-Director of Operations Jahn Brink is a Como resident with the goal of making this restaurant his neighborhood beer and burger spot. (Photo by Terry Faust)

What’s new?
The biggest moves were changing from a gourmet pizza concept to a burger and beer forward neighborhood hangout. The meeting space downstairs has been converted into a game room with a TV, juke box, dart boards, and vintage arcade gaming.
What drove the changes?
We are very proud of the work and output that we achieved at Delicata. In this industry you don’t always get to choose when you close your doors. We had an exciting opportunity to breathe new life into this space and find a model better suited for a neighborhood go to.
How is the Twin Cities food scene evolving and where do you fit into that?
The Twin Cities food scene is exciting. There are so many talented players and operators in our cities. I think the fact that our food scene is growing helps the greater brand of the Twin Cities. It raises the standard for all of us. While we might be a humble neighborhood burger joint, we have a scratch kitchen and we use some really fun cooking techniques.
What does it mean to switch to a profit sharing model with your staff?
The profit sharing model was just a eureka moment. What better way to keep staff motivated and interested than the knowledge that they are directly impacted by the success of the business?
What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
It’s funny, all of our burgers are so great, but the Cry Fowl chicken sandwich is tough to beat.
What specials do you offer that are not-to-be-missed by local residents?
Monday – Trivia with Trivia Mafia; Wednesday – Pitcher Night $10 pitchers of any tap beer; Thursday – Date Night (1 pitcher of beer or 1 bottle of wine, 1 starter and any 2 burgers for $40); Sunday – Kids Eat Free (1 free kid’s meal with the purchase of any burger or sandwich)
What does it mean to you to be a neighborhood restaurant in the Como-Midway area?
Personally, I live in this neighborhood. I love being a part of the success of the restaurant and creating a space for our friends and family to go to.

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Planet Princess Foods

Planet Princess fills gaps for good grain-free bread

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Founder Alisa Dale (center) with her son, Samueal William, and his wife Kristin William.

When St. Paul resident Alisa Dale couldn’t find a great gluten-free bread, she decided to make it herself.
She began baking grain-free buns and bagels at GIA Kitchen (955 Mackubin St.) with other small start-ups to mid-size businesses who lease space in the licensed commercial kitchen in 2017. Everyone on the Planet Princess team lives in St. Paul.

What drove you to start your own business making gluten-free items?
About four years ago, I learned that my body reacts to gluten, and I needed to stop eating it. That was hard to hear because I really love bread! I honestly tried practically every gluten free alternative out there. But I found them quite unsatisfactory in one way or another: in taste, in texture, and especially in ingredient quality and nutrition.
Being a happy foodie, I resolved to create gluten free, grain free bread reminiscent of the hearty, traditional bread I missed. I had a lot of boxes to tick! It had to toast like bread, have a crumb like bread, stay soft and moist yet not break apart or get soggy. And it definitely had to taste great. And I was determined to do all of this using quality gluten and grain free ingredients, clean enough to be non-GMO with no binders, additives or preservatives.
At the time, I didn’t realize this quest would be a two-year journey. It was challenging and fun, and once I perfected the recipe, it was really gratifying.

What sets your products apart?
There is a huge gap in the market for really good gluten free and especially grain-free bread. In fact, one of the major food trends identified in 2019, projected to grow in 2020 is grain free eating. Consumers are turning away from grains for a number of reasons.
We fill this gap!
Planet Princess breads are so much more than “just” gluten free. Our products are “set apart” in several categories: they are protein rich, low carb, gluten and grain free, and they contain seven vitamins and five minerals. Not to mention that they are delicious and function just like traditional bread.
When you eat a Planet Princess bun, you get so much more! 10 grams or more of protein, as low as 7 net carbs, 4 grams of fiber, 7 essential vitamins and 5 minerals from non-GMO ingredients. This bread nourishes your body! One of our continuing efforts is to build that understanding with consumers.
Our buns are also Keto and Paleo friendly. People struggling with insulin resistance or diabetes have become some of our biggest fans as well! Our majority ingredients register low on the glycemic index.
Our customers keep us going! We really enjoy demos when we get to talk with them face to face, and we are so grateful for their support.

How is the Twin Cities food scene evolving and where do you fit into that?
The Twin Cities food scene is vibrant and growing quickly! New makers are entering the scene, creating amazing, local food products that are truly unique. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a wide range of resources and offers so much support to local makers. Minnesota is unique in its support of food entrepreneurs, financial and otherwise. We are so lucky that way.
And I have to give credit to the many incredible co-ops in the Twin Cities! They are so supportive of locally made products. Honestly, if you want to find locally made, unique food products before they go “mainstream,” check out your local co-op. They have been invaluable in our business building. If it weren’t for them, we would not have been able to do this.
We fit into the food scene as makers who are providing something new and unique. Since we bake in a community commercial kitchen, we get a great opportunity to share ideas and resources with one another. And makers understand the hard work of starting a food company like nobody else. There’s a natural camaraderie there. Food entrepreneurs are really great people. They are talented, enthusiastic, and committed as well as generous and approachable.

What challenges and benefits do you face being a woman entrepreneur?
The benefits of being a woman entrepreneur are exciting. There are so many local agencies and organizations that expressly support women entrepreneurs, providing networking, education, and other opportunities. Plus, in my experience, businesswomen themselves are generous about supporting other women business owners, especially those just starting out. They gladly share connections and helpful information. They are natural mentors. That has been a Godsend to me so many times. I want to offer whatever I can and pay it forward to other women entrepreneurs, too.
We are just now poised to start the process of raising capital to expand our production capacity and grow our distribution. And statistics on venture capital to fund women owned businesses are a bit daunting as I begin the process. For example, 40% of small businesses in America are owned by women, generating $1.8 trillion a year. Yet women still receive just 7 percent of venture funds, particularly angel funds.
This may be another challenge for me to overcome! In truth, though, I have no direct experience with it so far. And in spite of this financial landscape, I feel confident (especially in Minnesota!) that we will find the investors who deeply understand what we have, how on trend and timely it is, and how many people are looking for it. And they will support us financially into the next phase.

What’s your favorite Planet Princess Foods product?
I would say that I use the Plain bun most often for burgers. But my favorite is the Cinnamon Raisin ‘Bagels’. They are so yummy and smell so good when you toast them. Besides, I can feel like I just “treated” myself, yet still get all the good nutrition they contain. The Garlic, Rosemary, Sundried Tomato Buns are awesome, too.
Find Planet Princess items at both of the Seward Co-ops, all three Mississippi Markets, Eastside Co-op, the Wedge Co-op, and the Fresh and Natural Foods in Shoreview and Hudson Wis. Plain buns are also featured at Alma Restaurant in Minneapolis. For those who live outside the Cities, buns are available for delivery online at azurestandard.com, a national healthy foods distributor. We hope to be available on Amazon soon.
If you want to stay informed about new locations and new flavor launches, join us on our website!

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Practicing what they preach

Practicing what they preach

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

CRWD building showcases native plantings, pocket park, rain gardens, tree trenches, permeable pavement, and more

Midway resident Anna McLafferty said, “We can’t survive without healthy water. CRWD is helping to reduce the negative impact of people on the environment. We live in the neighborhood and our kids love the pocket park, especially the pond.”(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) held its Grand Opening Celebration on Friday, Oct. 11. The new headquarters are located at 595 Aldine St. Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests enjoyed local food from Los Ocampo, live music by the Americano Trio, art-making, kids’ activities, and building tours. CRWD broke ground on its new building in May 2018.
The transformed site includes a pocket park with a water feature, native plantings, and an interactive educational exhibit on the corner of Thomas Avenue and Aldine Street. Also visible are rain gardens, tree trenches, and permeable pavement. These features do the good work of collecting and cleaning rainwater by allowing it to soak into the ground, rather than creating storm water runoff.
Administrator Mark Doneux, said, “Our mission is to protect, manage and improve the water resources of Capitol Region Watershed District. The work of CRWD has grown immensely over the past 20 years. We are excited to be able to demonstrate best practices for managing storm water runoff here at our new office.”
Building tours showcased a rainwater capture system including a 3,000-gallon cistern, local art, reclaimed wood from nearby Willow Reserve, solar panels and many other sustainability features. The Backyard Phenology Project’s Climate Chaser was on site with their mobile lab to record and share stories of people’s observations about the changing climate.

Did you know…
CRWD, established in 1998, covers 40 square miles and includes portions of Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, Maplewood, Roseville and Saint Paul. CRWD is governed by a five-member Board of Managers that works to protect, manage and improve the water resources of the watershed district.

Emily Baskerville (right) and Suzy Lindberg (left) explored the outdoor, interactive water feature. Both are connected to CRWD through their work at Houston Engineering, and were pleased to see how the new headquarters reflects CRWD’s commitment to the arts and community. Lindberg said, “CRWD makes me proud of our St. Paul water.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Janice Erickson (holding daughter Azalia) attended the grand opening with her family on Oct. 11. Her sons Rocky and Alexander are photographers participating in the “Our Sacred Water” exhibit, which received a Partner Grant from CRWD and was shown, in part, at the grand opening event. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)


Phyllis Panzer (left) attended the event with her son-in-law, Jordan, and grandson, Cooper. She said, “I’m here to celebrate that business and industry care enough to partner in the management of local water resources.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

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Asking questions, talking about interests and events

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Jan Willms

Meet Our Staff
By Jan Willms
I have been a writer for the Monitor and Messenger since around 2003. From the time I edited my high school newspaper, I have loved to write. My undergraduate degree is in journalism, and I worked as a staffer for the Fargo Forum, where I met my husband.
We later started and operated a weekly in Montana. The newspaper was our life. When our first son was born, after my water broke, I went in and did a few things on the paper and then drove myself to the hospital. It was print day, and we had to get the paper out, so my husband met the deadline and then came in to meet our son. A few days later, we put Liberty in a blanket in a drawer at our office, and he observed firsthand how newspaper production works. When our second son was born six years later, he too nestled in a drawer in the office with a colorful mobile above his head.
Running a weekly, we did it all – wrote the features, news articles and commentary; sold the ads; did the layout; wrote the headlines; took the photos; covered sports and entertainment. We were never caught up on sleep, and our social life consisted of covering stories, but it was the happiest time in our lives. After my husband died prematurely, and I entered the human services profession I have still always tried to keep a link to newspaper writing.
Community newspapers like the Messenger and Monitor are perfect, because I can still work full-time and continue to do interviews after work or on weekends. Although I have written about everything from elections to neighborhood meetings to conversations with authors and filmmakers, I love doing feature articles. Exploring what spurs a person’s creativity, what challenges him or her, or what stirs up the passion within is what I like most to do.
What sets off the creative spark in an author’s quest to complete a novel? What drives someone to start a nonprofit and help others less fortunate? Who are the mentors a musician looks up to? These are all questions that I like to find the answers to and share them with our readership.
I also like to write about the events that have shaped a person’s life. A young man once wanted to talk to us about his brother’s murder, and how it affected the family. We agreed to meet on three different occasions, but he never showed up. But the fourth time he did, and we talked for hours, and his story about his brother got told.
Perhaps most of all, writing for these papers has given me the opportunity to meet so many different people from all walks of life.
It is said that writing can be a lonely profession, but not when you are sharing a part of someone else’s world.
Meeting different persons, talking with them about what interests them, and putting it down on paper is a challenging but fulfilling task. I find that just the physical act of writing is therapeutic, and if you can make a story interesting enough to catch a reader’s eye, it makes journalism a very rewarding profession.

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Discovery Club