Monthly Archives: July 2011

Stinson Park Conservancy Volunteers Beautify and Boost the Northeast Link of the Grand Rounds

The story of the Stinson Parkway Conservancy is one of beauty – elegant flowering trees, carefully tended gardens of azaleas, daffodils and roses, and committed neighbors.  The neighbors share not only the love of beauty but the vision to imagine a reborn Parkway, the artistic sense to plan just the right colors and layouts to fit the space, the persistence to persevere against all odds, and the strength to haul hundreds of gallons of water to the arid median whose access to the pipes that once carried water to the median strip have fallen to rust and ultimate cut-off.

The Stinson Parkway Conservancy is a charitable organization and has filed with the State of Minnesota and the IRS.  To date the annual receipts of the Conservancy do not meet the minimum threshold set to require 501(c) (3) nonprofit status.  Contributions are  tax deductible to the extent of the law.

The Stinson Parkway Conservancy has adopted by-laws and selected a board of community members headed by Lois Kelly, a long-time Windom Park resident and community activist.  It was Lois who took action when she and others saw a need to create a Stinson Parkway deserving of its prestigious standing as part of the National Scenic Byway of the City’s Grand Rounds system.  The political and financial history of Stinson Parkway is a story for another day; the fact is it has suffered from neglect over the years.

Stinson Parkway is that .7 mile part of the Grand Rounds that connects St. Anthony Parkway with a unfulfilled vision, a section  of the 50 mile Grand Rounds system that has yet to be.  The South end of Stinson Parkway, at the crossroads with New Brighton Boulevard, offers a gracious welcome to a quiet residential community that includes the Windom Park and Audubon Park neighborhoods.  That same gateway swings out of the neighborhood into the industrial strip of Stinson that once housed some of the City’s largest industrial giants, including Honeywell Aerospace in the more recent past.

Stinson Parkway, and all of the Grand Rounds system, is under the purview of Minneapolis Park and Recreation which has long planted and maintained the brilliantly colored flowering trees that line the Parkway.  Conservancy volunteers complement the trees with flowers and shrubs often contributed by local business and other organizations.  Just this month the last of the flowering beds, including renovation of the gateway garden, were completed.

The Stinson Parkway Conservancy welcomes visitors to the gardens and is happy to share information with to who may be interested in the project to maintain and enhance the Parkway and the Northeast neighborhood it serves.  Contact, find the Conservancy on the web at or call 612 781 9936. Contributions to the Conservancy should be directed to Stinson Parkway Conservancy, c/o 2243 Roosevelt Street Northeast, Minneapolis, Minnesota  55418.

Most important, find time to explore Stinson Parkway and all of the magnificent parkways that shape and enhance Minneapolis as the renowned Grand Rounds, one of the nation’s premiere Scenic Byways.

Photos from the Conservancy:

Three volunteers planting trees on Stinson Parkway


A map:








Stinson Parkway Photo by David Erickson:

Women of the Polanie Club Share the Polish Heritage for Eighty Decades and More

Of the scores of clubs and organizations that have donated their priceless archives to the James K. Hosmer Special Collections at the Minneapolis Central Library none collected and preserved the record more thoroughly than the Polanie Club.  Known well by Polish Americans everywhere and by residents of Northeast Minneapolis in particular, the Polanie Club is mighty force committed to preserving – and sharing – all that is good about Polish culture.

The Polanie Club  became a reality in October 1927 when a dozen young women of Polish descent gathered for a social club and welcome home to a friend who had just returned from Poland, “full of enthusiasm” to share what she had learned.  The young women agreed to a common purpose,  shaped a collective vision and a shared mission: to preserve their Polish heritage – the history, language, art, music and cuisine of their native land.  The fledgling group called themselves the Polanie Club, “polanie” meaning “people of the prairie.”  From the outside the Club served as a resource, providing Polish national clothing, exhibits, recipes, and a library open to the community.  In the   1930’s the Club sponsored Polish language classes at the U of M and at two public high schools.

Nearly a half century after the formation of the Polanie Club the publication  Northeast: A history described the women and the early days of the club they shaped:

Each was beginning her career as wife, mother, teacher, social worker, lawyer, musician or University student.  Even the Depression years, which followed, were gay times at the Club…The group celebrated each other’s birthdays, engagements, graduation, scholarship awards, and new babies, but never lost sight of its main purpose, to enhance understanding of Polish culture.  This was largely due to the influence of Monica Krawczyk.  (from notes found in the Polanie Club file housed at the James K. Hosmer Special Collections, Minneapolis Central Library)

The unidentified author of this article reminds the reader that the Polanie Club grew at a time when many Polish Americans were changing their names by dropping the RZ-SC-CA combination that native Americans found difficult.

Over the years the Polanie Club continued to meet in members’ homes where they enjoyed comraderie and a monthly gourmet dinner.  Though they ardently supported the defense effort, they held firm to their commitment to preserving the Polish culture.  Wartime programs included “The Music of Poland”(1939), Musical Education in Poland”, and “Poland, a Songland of the World from Music and Youth,”  Later programs featured “Polish Folklore” and” “Polish Women Authors” among a long list of serious discussions of Polish culture, talks often presented by noted scholars and artists.

At these monthly meetings, the women reviewed their many projects and pondered how best to promulgate Polish culture in this country.  Focus on writing and publishing, they agreed, was the best way to spread the word.

Their first publishing venture was launched in 1942 with a collection of the lyrics of 110 Polish songs, Piesni Ludowe. On their 15th anniversary they published Victoria Janda’s collection of poems entitled “Star Hunger”.  That was followed two years later by the poet’s “Walls of Space.”  In 1948 the Polanie Club published its premiere best seller, a cookbook entitled Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans, illustrated by Stanley Legun, a Northeast Minneapolis artist.

The presses were kept busy with Polish publications – poetry, short stories and, in 1957, a compilation of over 300 songs – music and words.  This major work, entitled Treasured Polish Songs with English Translations was illustrated by Maria Werten and translated by Polanie members.

A major event for the Polanie Club came in 1966 when the organization sponsored the Annual Convention of the American Council of Polish Cultural Clubs (now known as the American Council for Polish Culture.)   The conference, held at the University of Minnesota, celebrated the Polish Millennium with a program of distinguished lecturers on the theme, “Poland through a Thousand Years”  The Polanie Club also supported the Polish American Cultural Institute of Minnesota in hosting the 1996 ACPC convention, held in Minneapolis.

The following year, in 1967, the Club celebrated their fortieth anniversary. In that year four members of the great (Josepha Contoski, Cecily Helgesen, Rose Polski Anderson and Marie Sokolowski), received research grants for study in Poland.  Their experiences and the realia with which they returned to the Twin Cities launched Polonie on a more formal exhibition program.  The Club had long supplied Polish costumes and memorabilia for local projects.  Now the Exhibit Committee, armed with the materials brought back by the grant recipients, extended the program of displays – for which they soon began to receive acclamation and awards.

In 1977 members of the Polanie Club celebrated their 50th anniversary in style with a Red and White Ball at the Holiday Inn on the Nicollet Mall.   They also expanded their publications list.  Treasured Polish Folk Rhymes, Songs and Games was translated into English then published in both languages.

Over the years the list grew.  In 1983 Polanie published Bocheck in Poland: A children’s story about the white stork, the fairytale bird of the old world, by Joseph Contoski.  In the late 1980’s the Club diversified their publications later with a 1989 cassette of Polish Christmas Carols and later a CD of Christmas carols created my piano virtuoso Bonnie Frels.

Let it not be written that Polanie Club members look only to the past – one of the most active programs of today’s Polanie is the scholarship program for post-secondary education.  Minnesotans of Polish-American descent are eligible for stipends to attend the post-secondary institution of their choice.  Since the inception of the program in 2000 tens of thousands of scholarships have been awarded.

When the American Council for Polish Culture met again in Minneapolis in 2003 Polanie  seized the opportunity of the organization’s lifetime when they were called upon to conduct national wide auditions for the Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Vocal Competitions.  The winner performed in concerts at both Hamline and Universities, events that offered hundreds of Twin Citians an opportunity experience the beauty of Polish culture.

A delightful tradition of Polanie is the annual Wigilia celebration, a Polish Christmas tradition kept alive in this community.  Wigilia, meaning “watchful vigil,” is hosted by Polanie during Advent, offering Minnesotans a chance to prepare for the Nativity in a celebratory but reflective gathering feature Polish food, live performances and an altogether “magical evening.”

At this writing, members of the Polanie Club are working feverishly on preparations for the Twin Cities Polish Festival 2011, August 13-14 on the banks of the Mississippi near St. Anthony Main.  The event itself is a celebration of Polish culture featuring a Chopin Celebration, a Polish film festival, an exhibit of the works of Joseph Conrad, Polish jazz and folk music and dance – along with fabulous food and great exhibits where visitors can learn about the Twin Cities Polish community, including the Polanie Club.  Don’t miss it!


v    In truth, having lived in Northeast Minneapolis fewer than thirty years, I am a newbie.  Learning about the women of the Polanie Club expands my understanding and appreciation of my neighborhood.  My profound thanks to those who have maintained the record, everyone who kept the minutes, clipped the newspapers, and preserved the reports.

v    It is worthy of note that the files are replete with the individual names of Polanie members and their roles in the Club.  Though I would love to have been able to attribute some of this credit, there were just too many women to name!

v    Most of the publications of Polanie are still available.  Check the Polanie publications on line.  If you don’t find the title you want there, check Amazon.  My google search was successful in finding virtually all of the titles new or used and at reasonable cost.

v    This piece was written for my blog, whimsically, if accurately, known as Poking Around with Mary.  That is what I do, poke around  – around my neighborhood, the city, libraries, parks, coffee shops, and any other sites or gatherings that catch my eye.  I also search online a range of interests, including a current passion to learn about and draw attention to threats to open government.  When I’m not poking around, I write about what I have learned.  If you’re interested you might take time to poke around the blog where you’ll find past posts on related issues including a piece on last year’s Polish Festival and several pieces of what’s happening in Northeast Minneapolis  You will find an easy subscription link online.

Live and Learn in Hennepin County – Registration Open for Citizen Academy

Wondering where to dump your old PC?  Considering adoption?  Need a permit or license for whatever?  Unclear about voting sites and procedures?  Require emergency medical assistance?  Wondering about your property tax – when, where and what?  Looking for a good book?  A bike map?  A park in your neighborhood?

Whatever your information or service need, if you live in Hennepin County you’ll probably find yourself working with and through Hennepin County – whether you know it not.

To deal with the massive information needs of Hennepin County residents the County Board has approved a resolution in support of The Hennepin County Citizen Academy.

In short order, the County has a plan for the Academy which will open its virtual doors this fall.

In six sessions, beginning Wednesday, September 14, representatives of the County will cover the basics. The sessions will be held each Wednesday evening through October 26 (excluding Rosh Hashanah) 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. at sites throughout the County.  Each session will include a tour or interactive learning opportunity.  For a complete schedule and listing of sites – and a quick video intro to Hennepin County services, check the Citizen Academy website.

 Applications are due August 4  (which, you may be too busy or too hot tonotice, is just around the proverbial corner.)  Interested residents should call 612 348 5130 or email to leave their name, phone and address.  Applicant names will be placed into a lottery for consideration for one of the 35 available seats.

Questions? Email or  call 612 348 5130 or check the website link included above.



Minnesota Center for Book Arts Welcomes Artists to the Book Art Biennial, July 30-31

For book artists everywhere the Book Art Biennial at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts brings joy unfettered – immersion in the time-honored art form, time with colleagues who share the passion for the art, and a chance to revel in the beauty of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and the Open Book. And so they will gather in Minneapolis for “Pacing the Page”, the Book Art Biennial, on July 30 and 31.

Planners of the conference write about their art in compelling terms:

The strength of a sequential narrative cannot be denied.  Artists’ books, like no other art form, have the ability to cultivate meaningful and intimate relationships with viewers and readers through the development, refinement and advancement of content over time.

A lovely description of a unique art form kept alive and shared at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

The conference includes workshops, lecturers, conversations and exhibitions, all of which will explore the power of “pacing which the planners define as the “structuring of sequence, the manipulation of rhythm and the significance of physical engagement in contemporary artists’ books.

Keynote speaker, Gary Frost, brings decades of experience in a changing profession.  One example of his many accomplishments is his authorship of Future of the Book, a blog that shares the latest thinking on reading behavior, traditional book use in the context of digital delivery systems, library preservation and book art.

The conference includes a potpourri of intriguing activities.  Leaders in the profession will present numerous workshops.  And there is time for fun, especially the MCBA prize gala, a high point of the gathering.

The MCBA is located in the Open Book Building near downtown Minneapolis at 1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415. .  For more information re. the schedule,  roster and bios of speakers, registration and more,  check the MCBA website.  Email or phone 612 215 2520.

It is an honor for local artists and book lovers to join MCBA in welcoming participants in this extraordinary gathering.  We  thank visiting book artists and hope you enjoy your stay as we enjoy your art.

Northeasters Cool Off at Gatherings toTalk Business, Bike Trails and the Riverfront

In the next couple of weeks two priority items appear in close proximity on the public agenda in Northeast Minneapolis.  In addition, the Board of Directors of Windom Park Citizens in Action will hold an important meeting in the neighborhood.

So, dig under the heaps of swimwear and the accoutrement of Summer – the end (of summer) is in sight, time to get down to BUSINESS!  Ease in with some cool topics discussed in cool environs that will make you forget the heat!

The Windom Park Citizens in Action (WPCIA) Board of Directors will meet Tuesday,July 26, 7:00 p.m. at the association’s office, 2314 Lowry Avenue Northeast.  The meeting is open to all; Board members invite community members to get the season off to a good start by participating in this and the following gatherings:

RiverFIRST is the sole topic on the agenda on Thursday, July 28, 7 p.m. at the Bottineau Park building, 2000 2nd Street NE.  The gathering is actually a community meeting in which attendees will participate in a visioning process for the upper riverfront in Northeast/North Minneapolis.  The session is sponsored by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.  Because the residents of the City of Lakes does share the Mississippi with the Saintly City those who are concerned might want to peruse a recent report from an 18-month planning study for the Great River Park.  This is St. Paul’s initiative to increase accessibility to St. Paul’s seventeen miles of Mississippi riverfront property.  The complete plan is available on the web (

Come early for a slot on the bike rack for the East Side Bike Summit.  It’s Monday, August 1, 6-7 p.m. at the Ritz Theater, 345 1113th Avenue NE (just East of University)  City and County staff assigned to develop bike trains on the East will be on hand to report ad to listen.  The agenda includes these developments/plans:

ü     18th Avenue NE, Phase 2-Monroe Street NE to the Quarry Shopping Center – should there be a tunnel under the railroad tracks?

ü     Central Avenue – 37th Avenue NE to the Mississippi – Update

ü     East Hennepin and 1st Avenue NE bike lane study – Update

ü     5th Avenue NE to Broadway, Broadway to Lowry – Idea of using empty railroad tracks from Scherer Brothers lumber site as future North/South bike trail

ü     Marshall/Main Street bike lane – Update

ü     1st Avenue NE to Broadway, Broadway to Lowry, idea of using empty railroad tracks from Scherer Bros. umber site as future north/south bike trail.

Questions? Contact Michael Rainville 612 378 0431

Busses and Bargains at the Fair

You’re probably way ahead on this – you’ve got your woodworking entry polished, selected the recipe for your to-die-for soufflé and have combed and clipped all of the press coverage of new taste treats.  It’s State Fair time!

Time to get practical now –   The earlybird bus bargain tickets went on sale July 20th – buy before August 25 at $4 –kids four and under still ride free.  Buy a group ticket and get four round-trip rides $15.  Buy online or get information about sales outlets at

Shutter service operates throughout the Fair, August 25-September 5.  Rides are every 15 minutes from some sites, every 30 minutes from others.  You’ll find a full list of park and ride to the Fair sites on the website.

If you just can’t wait – or you want to practice bus riding, know that Metro Transit is offering free rides to three art fairs the first weekend in August, August 5-7.  Pick up and drop off at the Loring Park, Powderhorn and Uptown Art Fairs.  Download a pass at

Chinese Photography on Display at Nash Gallery

China Insights: Unsettling Consequences” is the provocative title of a group exhibition of contemporary photography from The People’s Republic of China, opening August 2-25, 2011 at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the Regis Center for Art on the University of Minnesota campus.  The exhibit includes dramatic photographs of seven photographers from mainland China: Chen Yuan Zhong, Hua Er, Jia Yu Chuan, Li Nan, Yang Yan Kang, Yu Haibo, an Zhang Xinmin.  Each has undertaken the creation of long-term documentation of one or more emerging or vanishing aspects of Chinese culture in contemporary China.

Six of the photographers are based in Shenzhen, the first of the Special Opportunity Zones established by China in the post-Mao era as magnets for entrepreneurs and educated people of all fields.  As recently as forty years ago the city was a quiet fishing and farming area; today Shenzhen is a booming metropolitan of over 13 million mostly young people.

Details of the exhibit are available online.

The Katherine E. Nash Gallery is open 11 an to 6 pm Tuesday through Saturday.  On Tuesday, April 11, 4:00 p.m. A.D. Coleman, one of the curators of the exhibit will offer a public lecture on contemporary Chinese photography.  The lecture is followed by an opening reception.  The Gallery is located at 425 21st Avenue South.

All programs and events at the Regis Center for Art are free and open to the public.

For additional information call 612 6242 6518.