Archive | OPINION

Stop the presses! Make your neighborhood your brand

Stop the presses! Make your neighborhood your brand

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By DENIS WOULFE, Denis@MonitorSaintPaul.com or 651-917-4183

We were vacationing up along the North Shore last month and it was a great time of the year to see those iconic spots that make Minnesota the great state it is: the views at Gooseberry Falls, the crafts of Grand Marais, ships pulling into the Duluth harbor, the sea gulls serenading the tourists along Lake Superior, and the list goes on. The North Shore is like a picture postcard at every turn.
As we stopped in at various merchants in and around the North Shore, I was struck at how often the North Shore, a vacation destination that draws visitors from around the state and the country, still proudly promotes its own “Buy Local” campaign. Businesses religiously remind local residents that they need their support to be successful.
But that Buy Local state of mind is not unique to the North Shore. I think it goes without saying that many residents and business owners believe that their own neighborhood is the best place to live and work. I know that’s true of the Midway and Como neighborhoods. I think it’s also true that when given the opportunity, many residents want to do whatever they can to support their local merchants. They know the stability of their neighborhood and their city depends on the vitality of their business community.
That’s why when advertisers ask me what they should promote in their advertising, I usually tell them that in addition to their products and services, they also should promote the fact that they are longtime Midway and Como businesses that are devoted to the community and devoted to making their community the best place to live and the best place to do business. And I believe those businesses that partner with local schools and charities to “give back” through special promotions where a portion of the proceeds goes to the charity make a strong statement that they are committed to the community in which their business is located.
Now when Midway and Como business owners ask me about what the best options are for them to advertise in the Monitor, the answer can get a bit complicated. In addition to a run of press ad in the paper, we also offer clients inserts and online advertising. Sometimes a marketing plan might call for a mix of options that might include print, radio, TV, social media, and so forth.
And while there’s no doubt that a full page ad with color is bound to attract the attention of our readers, the story of advertising is much the story of the tortoise and the hare. While there is always that temptation of wanting to get to the finish line faster than anyone else, the magic of advertising is really about the long game. It’s about having a presence in your local media on a regular basis for the long haul. And when Monitor readers finally have the need to buy their next home or that pepperoni pizza for tonight’s dinner, and maybe can’t remember your name or your contact information, they will pick up a copy of the Monitor and see your ad.
But in addition to those fine products and services that businesses are offering, I hope businesses also know to convey their local ties and community investment when they advertise their wares. Certainly mammoth companies like McDonald’s, Apple, WalMart, or Heinz Ketchup will always be companies that capture market share in their respective industries, but there are times when being the local guy, the merchant down the street, can be an important selling point in the equation.
Make your neighborhood your business. And be sure to share that message in your advertising in the Monitor and in other media. It’s a message that your customers will appreciate and respond to. And to our loyal Monitor readers, don’t forget to support local businesses, and particularly, those businesses that make a statement by advertising in the Midway Como Monitor. They are asking for your business, reinforcing the fact that they are a community minded business, and need your support to thrive in our community. And we need those same advertisers to hear that from you.
As always, thanks to our loyal advertisers to making advertising in the Monitor a priority in their marketing plans. And thanks to our loyal readers who take the time to keep up on important community news in the Monitor and also take the time to support our advertisers with their pocketbook.

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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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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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Building a Stronger Midway: Feels like summer – find fun outdoors

Building a Stronger Midway: Feels like summer – find fun outdoors

Posted on 14 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By CHAD KULAS, Midway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director

After a long, drawn-out winter has once again come to a close, warmer weather is here. In Minnesota, we appreciate the summer and try to cram in as much outdoor activity as we can – maybe to compensate for the long duration of being stuck inside. But come these warm weather months, we take to the outdoors. We garden. We golf. We ride our bike. We find patios and eat and drink as many times outside as we can.
Looking for something to do? You don’t have to drive “up north” to find ways to enjoy the sun. There are plenty of things to do in or near the Midway, and many of them are free. Here are a few coming up.
Celebrating neighborhoods
Many summer celebrations in Saint Paul focus on the neighborhood and community. In July, a Midway resident does not have to travel far to go to Rondo Days or Highland Fest. The Little Mekong Night Market is an arts and culture-inspired event July 6-7 inspired by night markets in southeast Asia, and has become a very well attended attraction. For those wanting to stick closer to the Midway, there’s the Little Africa Festival Aug. 3-4 at Hamline Park.
If you’re looking for 4th of July plans, Saint Anthony Park continues its annual tradition with a morning race, parade, and live music.
Live music
We are fortunate in Saint Paul to have two big free music festivals – the Twin Cities Jazz Fest June 20-22 and the Lowertown Blues and Funk Fest July 19-20. Both events are run by the same organization – a local nonprofit – and feature both local and national acts.
Another free music option 12 Thursdays in the summer is Lowertown Sounds. Located in Mears Park, proceeds of beer sales go to Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, a nonprofit helping military families in need.
The annual Selby Avenue Jazz Fest will take place Sept. 14 and feature free jazz, artist displays and other family-themed activities.
Tap rooms
The Midway is essentially the brewery district in Saint Paul, and many of the taprooms have summer events. Yoga and a Pint is a popular brewery event, and Midway breweries Lake Monster and Dual Citizen both feature it regularly. Urban Growler keeps its patio busy with events throughout the summer, including live music. Check out the website for more details, as well as Bang, Black Stack, Burning Brothers and The Lab. If you’re looking for an outdoor activity with exercise and fun, a couple years ago the Midway Chamber organized a bike ride between a few breweries.
When the weather isn’t great?
For those rainy days, check out Sunday Funday at Can Can Wonderland, with specials on arcade games and food/beverages. Many breweries also feature inside events, including trivia nights and Dual Citizen even has Tot Time on Sundays.
Saints game
They may not still be in the Midway, but a Saints game on a sunny day is still hard to beat- especially since CHS Field is fun for all ages. My wife and I take our kids to at least one game a year. If you have kids and don’t want to stay out too late, there are a few day games on the calendar and their Sunday games begin at 5 p.m.

Coming up in the Midway on June 29 is the Midway Public Art Festival. The festival will highlight the diverse talents of Hamline Midway neighborhood artists through interactive public art.
After Labor Day, there’s still time to get in some nice weather. The Creative Enterprise Zone is hosting Chroma Zone – billed as Minnesota’s first and largest public mural & art festival Sept. 7-14. The festival will feature 10 large outdoor murals created over eightdays by local and national artists.
Where to find out more?
Good resources include our local district councils (the Hamline-Midway Coalition and Union Park District Council), Visit Saint Paul and cultural associations like African Economic Development Solutions/Little Africa and the Asian Economic Development Association.
Between art, music, sports and dining/drinks, there’s a lot to do outdoors this summer. Many of the best things to do are free and don’t require you to leave the neighborhood!

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Stop the presses! Let’s hear it for/from our readers!

Posted on 14 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By DENIS WOULFE, Denis@MonitorSaintPaul.com or 651-917-4183

I’ve spent the last few weeks helping to introduce the Midway Como Monitor’s new owner, Tesha M. Christensen, to Monitor advertisers, readers, and other stakeholders. And during that process it has reminded me of the early days of working for the Midway Como Monitor. I accepted the position as editor of the Monitor back in 1979, when I graduated from Hamline University, and found a small room to rent in a home on Van Buren Ave. I was able to make it to the office in about five minutes flat back in those days, assuming it wasn’t during the State Fair!
I do recall from our days when we had an office at Thomas and Fairview in the Midway that we often would have many visitors drop by from the neighborhood. One was Kiki Sonnen, who was the Hamline Midway Coalition’s second community organizer and then later served on the St. Paul City Council. She would often stop by with a press release or news of an upcoming meeting to publicize. She might ask about when the Monitor would be coming out next so she could be sure to set a community meeting date where folks would have ample notice by including the announcement in the next Monitor.
Each time Sonnen would enter the front door of our office space she would shout as loud as she could: “STOP THE PRESSES!” It became a running joke, of course, since we really didn’t have any presses to operate in our office, but it certainly did signal her arrival and the fact that she had some information to share with the Monitor.
Over the years, we had many visitors to the Monitor’s offices, particularly when we were going through the process of endorsing candidates for public office. We had visits from then Congressman Bruce Vento, former Ward 4 City Councilmember Bob Fletcher, and I even remember having a particularly interesting interview with now presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, who was running for Hennepin County Attorney at the time. Growing up as the daughter of Star Tribune columnist Jim Klobuchar certainly made for a very interesting conversation and being a journalist myself, I had a lot of questions.
How we get information as a community newspaper has changed over the years, and truth be told, most of our information comes to us digitally today. Each day we receive dozens of press releases from the City of St. Paul, Ramsey County, businesses, and churches and other nonprofit groups. But we also would like to hear more often from you, our loyal readers.
You might have read in last month’s edition that the Monitor’s new owner has been a reporter for the Monitor for the past eight years. She is already well versed on many issues of vital concern to Midway Como residents. But as part of that transition, we are reaching out to residents and business owners like you to find out just what you like about the Monitor and what you’d like to change.
If you have an idea for a story or want to introduce yourself to the new owner and editor, Tesha M. Christensen, you can email her at Tesha@MonitorSaintPaul.com or call her directly at 612-345-9998. What do you like about the Monitor? What do you dislike? What would you like to see more of?
Or maybe you’d like to find out more about advertising opportunities in the Monitor? I hear this question quite a bit, but just to say this, it is through the advertising of our local businesses that we are able to bring you the Monitor each month. And, in turn, it is those same local businesses who want to reach out to local residents like you for their customer base. A community newspaper like the Monitor recognizes that bond between businesses and their local customer base and we help facilitate it. And we need your support now more than ever before. And we need you to acknowledge that support with our advertisers and other community stakeholders.
But you might also know that the options for advertising have changed over the years. In addition to run of press ads in the newspaper, we also offer inserts that can be directed to specific routes in the Monitor delivery area. Inserts can also be a great option for a new restaurant or a church holding a special event. We also offer a special Partner Insert Program where we pair two local businesses to print and distribute a flyer. That makes distributing flyers more reasonable than ever before.
And don’t forget online advertising (you can find us online all the time at www.MonitorSaintPaul.com). Online ads can be placed online almost immediately and it’s a nice complement to appearing in the printed newspaper.
I’d be happy to continue this conversation with you directly. Send me a note at Denis@MonitorSaintPaul.com or call me at 651-917-4183.

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Print is not dead – but we are changing

Print is not dead – but we are changing

Posted on 12 May 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Too Much Coffee

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN, Tesha@MonitorSaintPaul.com

Print is dead, you say?
Nah. It’s just evolving.
A few months ago I attended the Minnesota Newspapers Association (MNA) annual convention, and listened to a speaker talk about just that. I was particularly interested in the topic as I was negotiating to purchase the Midway Como Monitor and Longfellow Nokomis Messenger from longtime owners Calvin deRuyter and Tim Nelson. Was I taking a leap into a dying industry?
After listening to Bill Ostendorf of Creative Circle Media Solutions, I was reassured. He’s spent his whole career in newspapers, and he doesn’t believe print is dead.
After 20 years in the industry, I don’t either.
Why am I convinced?
Well, they first started saying newspapers were going to die when radio got popular. But newspapers stuck around.
Then they said newspapers and radio couldn’t last when the television came out. Yet newspapers stayed and even thrived.
When the Internet got big, they were sure it was the final death knoll of newspapers, radio and television. Yet radios are still in every car, most people have one or more televisions in their house, and newspapers continue to print.
The thing is, people are reading now more than ever before. So the question isn’t whether people are reading, the question is are they going to read particular publications.
The questions those of us in the news industry need to be asking is why should people read our stuff instead of the myriad of information out there.
What makes us different?
What makes us worth reading?
What makes our editions important?
Those are the questions I’m committed to asking. I entered the field of journalism at the cusp of the Internet revolution. For those first few years, I called the local librarian to doublecheck my details. And then fact-checking things became much faster via Google. (Although with its own new set of accuracy questions.) I even did a few editions of cut and paste before we switched over to electronic layout with QuarkExpress.
As I ask others what they love about neighborhood newspapers, I have been thinking about what I value. I want to know what’s happening on my street, what development is going to change my neighborhood, and what fascinating things my neighbors are engaged in. I want to see photos of kids I know and congratulate them on their achievements, noting, “I saw you in the paper.” I want to hear the various sides of issues and wrestle over what the best solution will be in the long run. I want to learn what sparked the coffee shop and hardware store and secondhand boutique owners to open up shop, and hear what tips they have for other entrepreneurs.
The daily stuff of my neighborhood can’t be found anywhere but in the papers of my neighborhood newspaper.
That’s what I love about community journalism. I stay in this industry because I love local, I love to see people engaged, and I love to watch community being built. I appreciate the slice of life the pages of the Monitor offer each month.
I’m also excited to see how newspapers are being innovative and creative. It’s amazing to see the convergence of media – of print, TV, radio, audio, video, and more – coming together in to something new.
What will community newspapers look like in 10 years? I’m looking forward to finding out. I think that the answer lies in asking our readers what they want.
Bill Ostendorf encouraged all the reporters in the room at the MNA Convention (and his session was packed) to focus on being reader-centric. This starts with the basics of what we write in an article, how we shape it, and who we include in it. It also means focusing on writing really good headlines about people instead of things, and really interesting photo cutlines. Plus we need more break-out boxes and standout photos. Research has shown that people read headlines, cutlines and break-out boxes first – and they may or may not read the whole article.
Ostendorf advocated for content that is more engaging and more relevant. He encouraged designers to adopt modular layouts that are easier on the eyes. He encouraged sales staff to sell bigger ads that get attention and bring value to the readers.
Ostendorf reminded us that our print newspapers help people live better lives. The information within our pages informs and educates. It helps people make better decisions and be successful.
What do you want from the pages of the Monitor? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line at Tesha@MonitorSaintPaul.com.


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