LA Fest 2018 13WEBSM

RRR: Flying Pig Thrift Store opening in Midway

Posted on 27 July 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Two benefits: 1) Shoppers use and re-use what is already here, and 2) Proceeds benefit local non-profits

Flying Pig Thrift Store owner Melody Luepke, said, “The memory of my sister Heather has guided the vision for this place, where donated treasures find new homes, and worthy non-profits benefit. We’re choosing to operate as a cooperative, with profits shared equally among participating non-profit partners that focus on social justice and reducing gun violence. Donations are welcome during business hours.”(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Melody Luepke had a long, satisfying career as a special education teacher in Cleveland, Ohio. Now at an age when most people are thinking about retirement, she has jumped into a second career instead: as sole proprietor and CEO of the Flying Pig Thrift Store at 722 Snelling Ave. N.
The organizational skills Luepke honed as a teacher and lifetime member of the National PTA have come in handy.
Along with family, friends, and volunteers, she is transforming the former Hamline University Bookstore into an attractive destination for people interested in reusing, recycling, and shopping local. With donations, in Luepke’s words, “pouring in,” a well-stocked, well-tended thrift store is starting to emerge.
The Flying Pig is a way for Luepke to honor the memory of her sister, Heather Valdez, a children’s librarian and thrifter extraordinaire. Valdez died of pancreatic cancer last year.
Luepke said, “Heather was a free-spirited woman with a generous heart. She loved to shop at thrift stores, and always knew how to find the perfect gift for someone. Her greatest gift may have been that she was able to accept people for who they were. Heather lived with cancer for two years, and enjoyed thrifting before her chemo treatments right up until the end.”
A grand opening celebration for the Flying Pig is planned for Saturday, July 20 from 3-7 p.m, with a short program at 5 p.m. Live music will include Melvin Carter Sr. and Friends, the band Zoe Says Go, and more.
Starting July 25, the store will be open from 11 a,m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Monday, staffed by volunteers. When asked to describe her ideal volunteer, Luepke said, “Someone who is willing to come on a regular basis, is reliable, fun, and dedicated to our mission of social justice. For more information on volunteering, email cerdocielo@gmail.com.
Luepke will use her own yardstick for measuring the success of her new business. She said, “After we meet the minimum needed to pay our lease and related expenses, we will donate all proceeds to four local charities. These organizations are Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration, St. Paul Almanac, and Black Truce Peace Organization. We’ll have information on-hand about these organizations, so people can learn while they shop. We’re especially interested in supporting non-profits that are underfunded, working on social justice issues, and serving the local community.”
The site at the northeast corner of Snelling and Minnehaha avenues was chosen because of its easy access to public transportation, and high level of incidental foot traffic. Luepke said, “It had also been on the market for more than a year, and that made the price ‘friendlier.’”
Luepke has contracted with Job Corps students to create both interior and exterior signage for the Flying Pig. At Job Corps, low-income youth aged 16-24 work toward their GED while learning a trade, such as making commercial signs for businesses.
The Flying Pig will feature the work of two local artists for the grand opening: Paul Johnson and Mark Nelson (and the artists will be on hand, too.) Johnson and Nelson both use found materials in the creation of their artwork, underscoring the basic message of thrifting – that it makes sense to use and re-use what is already here.
Did Luepke ever imagine she would be opening a thrift store at this point in her life? “I suppose anything’s possible,” she said, “when pigs can fly.”


Shop to benefit…
1) Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
2) Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration
3) St. Paul Almanac
4) Black Truce Peace Organization

Comments Off on RRR: Flying Pig Thrift Store opening in Midway

CRWD 02sm_560x340

Rebuild Repair Recycle: Capitol Region Watershed District moves

Posted on 14 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Capitol Region Watershed District is now located at 595 Aldine Street. Its neighborhood assets will soon include a pocket park for public use, and a watershed learning center. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) has moved into the Midway neighborhood at 595 Aldine St.
Administrator Mark Doneux said, “CRWD followed the City of St. Paul’s Sustainable Building Policy, and the result is a stunningly renovated building that meets the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).”
Their office building was formerly occupied by MacQueen Equipment, which serviced and repaired municipal machinery.

CRWD is one of 45 watershed districts in the state of Minnesota. It is a special purpose unit of government whose staff members have agreed not to seal themselves off from the community they serve.
The new location is in the heart of a residential neighborhood, and CRWD is making their space accessible to the community in a number of ways.
One of the community highlights is a pocket park still under construction in the NE corner of the property, which will combine natural and built environments with interactive elements for neighbors, visitors, and staff to enjoy.
CRWD is also creating a community watershed learning center and will offer on-site educational opportunities to showcase its work protecting, managing, and improving water resources in the watershed (which includes Como Lake, Crosby Lake, Loeb Lake, Lake McCarrons, and the Mississippi River.)
A gathering room at CRWD is available for public meetings between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The room has a maximum capacity of 94, and can be reserved by community members and partner organizations. Use of the space includes access to a kitchenette, tables and chairs, a projector, and lectern with microphone. Call the main desk at 651-644-8888 to inquire.

Stewardship Grants help homeowners, businesses, schools, and community organizations build projects that prevent stormwater pollution. Awards range from $300-$40,000 and applications are accepted year-round. Visit www.capitolregionwd.org to learn more. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

CRWD held four Community Watershed Conversations across St. Paul in May and early June. Anna Eleria is division manager with CRWD’s department of planning, projects and grants.
At a meeting held at the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, she said, “Our watershed district is the most urban in the state, and that provides some unique challenges. We cover 41 square miles, five lakes, and over 500 miles of storm sewers – every one of which drains into the Mississippi River. One twentieth of the population of the state lives within our boundaries.”
The Watershed Community Conversations were a chance for community members to help CRWD draw their road map for the next 10 years. For readers who weren’t able to attend but would still like to share their thoughts, visit bit.lyCRWDsurvey. Public comments will be taken until June 30, 2019.
Eleria said, “Our organization is 20 years old, and we’ve had many successes over the last two decades. CRWD often works on infrastructure projects that can’t be seen (like the rainwater capture and re-use system at Allianz Field), but we’re also helping to beautify the neighborhood in ways that are very visible.”
Their Stewardship Grant Program, which started in 2005, is one such example. Watershed residents, schools, and businesses are eligible to apply. Grantees receive a free site visit, as well as technical and financial support for installing a rain garden on their property.
In the Hamline-Midway neighborhood alone, 147 raingardens have been designed and installed since the program began.
A grand opening for CRWD is planned for later this summer.

Comments Off on Rebuild Repair Recycle: Capitol Region Watershed District moves