Category Archives: Windom Park

Neighborhoods USA Conference – Ideas, Energy and an Opportunity Missed

The Neighborhoods USA conference which I’ve been attending for the past two days was a delight and a disappointment – the first being the responsibility of the planners who get great credit, the latter the responsibility of local organizatons and neighborhoods who missed the boat.

During my time at the national conference I met some incredible people who had a message their community wants to share.  For example, I learned stories about the Little Rock school integration that I will always remember.  There were great discussions of neighborhood concerns ranging from sustainability to economics to organizing for social justice and change.

I also met some local representatives of what is happening in the Twin Cities, mostly Minneapolis.  The Heart of the Beast, for example, staff of Park and Rec who had great ideas for positive action, representatives of local organizations including Amicus, Loring Park, Windom and Seward neighborhoods.   Attendees had a chance to take some great bus tours of the Riverfront, the Northeast arts district, the Midtown Greenway,  the Lake Street Corridor and more.

Regrettably, it seemed to me that there were the omissions.  There was no mention of Metro Transit or the impact it has on our community and our neighborhoods;  no discussion of community-building and support systems such as community gardens or food shelves that might serve neighbors in need, nothing about our community’s public education system or community media (other than police);  CURA had a booth and the U of M Libraries Tretter collection was reflected in a display.  I saw very little about the dynamics of neighborhood forces such as coops, senior centers, or projects related to communities of faith.  In truth I was most saddened by the fact that public libraries were nowhere to be seen on the program or in the exhibits.  I’ve always told myself that strong libraries were the glue the binds the neighborhood in a common pursuit of learning.

Bottom line, there are hundreds of people of good will who are giving their all to build community within their neighborhoods  They are working in very different urban environments, subject to influences beyond the neighborhoods in which they hope to create harmony and healthy living conditions for all.  Meeting the attendees from around the country was an inspiration.

As I reflect on the conference experience I am thinking that institutions may be so focused on themselves that they don’t put a priority on the agencies and individuals – often volunteers – that make a neighborhood work.  Schools, libraries, police, transit and city government are all top down operations.  Though neighborhoods exist on a wall map, they are real to the residents, not the decision-makers.

Strong neighborhoods with which  residents identify and in which we take pride takes time, focus and footwork not just on the part of over-stressed staffs but on the part of residents.   It was informative and fun, also humbling, to learn about what’s happening and could happen in other cities and to think of how I can be a more active participant in my own Windom Park neighborhood in beautiful Northeast Minneapolis.

 

Walking Windom Park — and more

For several reasons, most notably the glorious days of an ideal Minnesota autumn, I’ve been walking a lot in recent weeks.  This week I did stop for coffee and found myself on a pedestrian’s holiday reading the recent Journal piece written by Hilary Reeves, communications director for Bike Walk Twin Cities.  As I walked on I started formulating my own thoughts about walking  — the plusses and the problems of one who lives in Stretchers and disdains the very thought of a pedicure.

We all know that walking is good for the bod, even a bod that’s been around the block – literally and figuratively – more than a few times.  It’s also good for the mind – lots of time to craft the perfect retort, the clever ditty, the letter to the editor, or probably the great American novel for well-shod walkers with literary talents.  I muse about what Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote of Thoreau, who communed with nature and eschewed city sidewalks. “The length of his walk uniformly made the length of his writing. If shut up in the house, he did not write at all.”

Lacking the bucolic escape to Walden Pond  — and Thoreau’s way with words –I’m an urban walker with a penchant for walks in Windom Park.  As such, I love to deconstruct the neighborhoods I trod – why the Tudor house on the corner?  Why the row of cozy cottages that bear the indelible mark of post-WWII vintage design?  Why the abandoned shop on the corner that once let families dash out for a quart of milk , a loaf of bread  or a handful of penny candy without driving to the mall.

On summer days I ponder the pied-colored hieroglyphics that foretell what’s about to happen with the plumbing, the electricity or some other mysterious city development project.  The complexity of the coded information gives rise to wild images of which public utility is about to break ground in the hood.

Walking can also engender deep thoughts about the barriers impeding the progress of the city walker – uneven sidewalks that could use a warning stripe if the city lacks the finances to restore the cement, the unleashed dog that threatens to clear the chain link fence in a single bound, bikers who haven’t got the message that the bike lanes are for their personal use, and most of all, the inevitable snow banks that rise at every corner, then freeze so that pedestrians are effectively frozen in captivity while the school bus  or Metro Transit speeds by unaware of their diminutive presence.

Rodgers and Hammerstein notwithstanding, I actually prefer to walk alone. A high-energy pacer would intimidate me.  Besides, I like to choose my own erratic path, to stop and examine the particulars of a site, to chat with neighbor kids, or to quit when I’m too tired, too cold, or if I want to get back to the computer so I can download my musings.

Of late I have been narrowing my thoughts to some forthcoming walks that add purpose to my idle pedestrian ambles.  There are scores of purposeful walks, of course, these are just some with which I am personally involved.  Every walker his a similar slate of walks for a cause.

  • First is the Raise Our Collective Voices to Say No walk and rally next  Saturday, October 20.  The walk is planned to alert voters in North and Northeast Minneapolis to the pernicious implications of the Voter ID Amendment that will face voters on November 6.          
  • Or there’s the Walk to End Hunger, a monumental collaboration in which walkers of every stripe and stature will gather at the MOA early Thanksgiving morning.  It’s a fundraiser sponsored by several hunger-related organizations working in tandem to address the travesty of Minnesotans lack of access to essential food resources.
  • Also playing in my mind are plans underway for the annual President’s Walk in Northeast Minneapolis.  It’s not till February but it’s this neighborhood’s very special way ro honoring our nation’s presidents by walking or biking the streets on which we live, running from Washington to McKinley and (sort of) beyond.  It’s a great neighborhood event during which neighbors celebrate the presidents and the history of Northeast.  Intrepid walkers are delighted that the 2013 walk has caught the attention of some hearty bikers who will defy the wintry odds by peddling the presidential route.  Plans are percolating – details later.

It’s great that walking offers a low-cost fitness routine.  Walking can also promote social justice and political change.  Still, if the sages ask me why my saunters are wasted on the earth and sky, I’ll tell them that, if neighborhoods are made for seeing, then walking is its own excuse for being.

WPA’s Legacy Shapes the Landscape of Minnesota and of Northeast Minneapolis

There’s talk these days that what this nation/state/city needs is a 21st Century Work Progress Administration (WPA).  It’s short-hand for what is, in fact, an incredibly complex story of a Depression era program of immense import to the participants and their families, to the economy, and to every American today.

Instinctively, mention of WPA conjures images of bridges, roads, buildings and other concrete (literally) memorials to the work of thousands of men and women who improved the physical infrastructure of the nation.  In part this is because those physical structures remain and the “WPA” stamp is an enduring reminder of who did the work.

One remarkable aspect of the WPA initiative is the less visible but equally lasting impact on the lives of people who were struggling through treacherous economic times.  The goal was to provide one paid job for all families where the breadwinner suffered long-term unemployment.  As one recorder of WPA activities wrote in 1942, “The Work Projects Administration helped to solve the problems of the family and the city.”

The WPA was authorized in 1935 under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt with the inspiration and guidance of his adviser Harry Hopkins.  Framed as an outgrowth of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration WPA focused on economic recovery and on the absolute commitment to the value of a real job.  Though critics charged that WPA was a government handout, the truth is that WPA workers improved the health and welfare of millions of Americans who learned new skills, tried out ideas, and left a positive imprint of solid construction and implementation of essential community services.

During WPA’s  eight years Americans invested $13.4 billion dollars. In Minneapolis 70,000 men and women found gainful work, education and creative opportunities through WPA. When WPA was dissolved in 1943 it was not failure of the program but a more robust economy buoyed by the harsh reality that American men and women had found defense-related employment.

One hallmark of WPA was that it was largely operated by state and local governments.  Local agencies which provided 10-30% of costs worked closely with and nonprofits and community organization that played a major role in developing and delivering services.

Begun as an economic development/employment project WPA shifted with the tides of time.  As American workers found jobs in industry, labor unions worried less about their members losing jobs to WPA workers; this opened the way for WPA to venture into vocational training.  As visionaries worried about the loss of creative talent and feared that writers, artists, musicians were given unskilled labor jobs, programs in the arts emerged.  Later, as War overwhelmed the nation, existing programs were repositioned in terms of defense preparedness.

The diversity, complexity and shifting direction of WPA programs is hard to categorize. Though they are variously grouped, the WPA programs fall generally into the categories of Construction and Community Service.

Construction

Minneapolitans live in a city built with the labor of WPA workers, working for no more than $8/hour and grateful to have a job to go to in the Depression era.  A shining example of their work is the Minneapolis Armory, built in 1935, probably the most important building constructed in the Twin Cities during the Depression.

The Armory is known as the nation’s shining example of Moderne style.  Its very existence depends to some extent on the fact that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Armory construction brought $300,000 into the local market while it employed over 400 tradesmen.  All of the materials for the building were produced locally, in keeping with principles of WPA projects – steelwork by Minneapolis Moline and Gillette-Herzog, brick from Twin City Brick, granite from St Cloud and limestone from Mankato.

The Armory is just one stunning example of the physical impact of WPA . Some basic statistics describe the scope:  WPA workers built eleven new city garages and reconditioned five new parks, 68 playgrounds and eight high school athletic fields enlarged and improved 14 branch and main libraries, built or repaired sewers, alleys, curbs and gutters repaired, repaved thirty miles of street and built ten new bridges.  They also installed nearly 65,000 street and traffic signs.  You get the idea.

Other construction highlights include these:

  • Columbia Golf Course, which dates from the early 1900’s,  is one WPA project with which most Northeasters are familiar.  Golfers enjoy the upgraded grass greens created by WPA workers.  The improved greens actually helped Columbia to continue to operate, though at a loss, during hard times.
  • Another local hallmark of WPA is John P. Murzyn Hall in Columbia Heights which began as a WPA project at a cost of $649,407.  Originally known as Columbia Heights Field House, the hall served da community center for the people of Columbia Heights.  The first official event at Murzyn was the January 28 Birthday Ball to celebrate Washington’s Birthday in 1939. Murzyn Hall continues to serve the community as the site of countless dances and other activities and a popular locus for weddings and other important family and community celebrations.
  • Wold-Chamberlain, then one of the largest in the country, enjoyed a major rehab subsidized with $2 million federal funds and the labors of hundreds of WPA workers.  The construction include 30,000 feet of new runway, new hangers, grading for a new naval base and more.
  • Liberal grants of federal funds and WPA labor benefitted the Minneapolis Municipal River Terminal
  • The Minnesota Soldiers Home got a new power plant along with extensive landscaping and sidewalk construction.
  • The Longfellow House was rehabbed and converted into a public library, now a charming museum and reminder of an earlier Minneapolis
  • The “belt line highway” remains a major thoroughfare that still bears the mark of the WPA workers who provided a sixty-foot main highway 66 miles long, “flanked on each side by walks and service drives.”  The goal was to “enable motorists from the west to enter the heart of Minneapolis at the most advantageous point, with minimum confusion and maximum safety.”
  • The city’s proud heritage of beautiful parks owes a debt to WPA workers who established five new parks and reconditioned thirteen others. They built five new parks and added bath houses and landscaping to Lake Calhoun and Lake Hiawatha.  The beauty of Theodore Wirth and Minnehaha Park tells the WPA story writ large.
  • They remodeled the interior of the Minneapolis auditorium and rehabbed numerous court houses offices.
  • Workers reconditioned 22 municipal buildings including seven fire and four police stations.
  • General Hospital and the University hospital received assistance for a total of 155 WPA construction workers.
  • WPA workers worked in a quieter environment to conduct a geodetic survey of Minneapolis “to determine the precise locations of boundaries and geographic points so that the city’s future may be planned intelligently and precisely.”  The report of the survey is that the “geodetic maps are accurate within an inch and less. The project is closely allied to the U.S. coastal and geodetic survey.
  • Of particular interest to Northeasters are the five greens that WPA workers constructed at the Columbia Heights Golf Course.
  • The Minnesota State Fairgrounds are not exactly Minneapolis but as the home of the Great Minnesota Get Together the Fairgrounds belong to all of us – and to WPA we all owe a debt of gratitude to the WPA workers who built the swine and horse barns, the poultry building, the cattle barn ramp, the 4_H building, with improvements to the grandstand, parking areas and the grounds – all at a cost of $2 million federal funds.

Minneapolitans who walk, drive, fly, learn, play sports or just enjoy the beauty of a city park or other public space have a WPA worker and a progressive administration to thank for the vision that merged the economic vitality of the community with the needs of a family for a steady, if minimum, income and a worker who is proud of day’s work well done.

Community Services 

One chronicler of WPA notes that, “everyone can watch the construction of a new school or a bridge in his community, see the men at work, and recognize the value of this work to himself and his fellow man.  The value of this [community service] work aimed at the educational, recreational, and cultural needs of the people as well as at their physical health and well being, is more difficult to determine.”  Still, the reporter observes, it is essential to record “what this work means in time of peace and its increased possibilities in time of national emergency.”

A quick survey of the community service programs of WPA offers a superficial hint at the truth of this observation:

1) Education.   High on the list of programs is adult education, broadly defined.  Americanization classes were a key “defense activity.” Governor Stassen observed that “such classes are a distinct aid to national unity – they help to extend the friendly hand of a free people to those who desire to become one with us.”

Other adult education programs focused on literacy assistance geared to “making Minnesota the most literate state in the union.”  Assistance went to local school boards to establish “Junior Extension colleges.”

Vocational courses such as shorthand and typing, navigation and life boat practices, first aid and safety, dressmaking and dramatics also got WPA support.  Vocational courses included foreign languages, radio code, diesel engineering and just about anything related to national defense.

There were courses in practical skills such as public speaking and parliamentary law as well as special programs in handicrafts for “shut-ins” who learned skills to create products to sell.  Homebound teachers reached children with disabilities who had never been to school

Numerous other programs came under the broadly-defined education activities:

  • Nursery schools were another priority.  By 1941 over 1000 “under-privileged children ages 2-5 were enrolled in 29 nursery schools in 22 communities including several Indian reservations.
  • Children’s health was a major concern as WPA provided yearly examinations and other health measures including smallpox vaccinations, diphtheria inoculations and Mantoux tests for thousands of children.
  • The women’s WPA sewing project employed nearly 500 women in Minneapolis.  The efficient manufacturing organization was a model of efficiency, so efficient that it was threatened because the women had produced enough clothing to serve the relief department’s distribution needs for up to seven years.  At one point it was rumored that the clothing might go to England as part of the lease-lend program.
  • WPA played a significant role in the extension of public library service to a million unserved Minnesotans.  WPA opened 167 new book stations, served nearly 3000,000 Minnesotans without nearby libraries and registered 37, 117 new borrowers.
  • Under the supervision of Gratia Countryman and working at Trudeau School 183 WPA workers indexed the Minneapolis Star Journal from its beginning and microfilmed the Minneapolis Journal for the years 1878-1939.  The project also provided braille textbooks and texts in large print.
  • WPA workers were visible in school libraries.  Though many were placed as librarians in the schools, others restored thousands of damaged books and magazines – everything from repairing book bindings to erasing finger smudges from the margins.
  • Over 900 WPA workers served recreation projects serving 200 communities in 76 Minnesota counties throughout the state.  Again, emphasis was on long-term recreation programming couched in terms of national defense.

2) Arts.  The most lasting of the WPA community service are programs in the arts – visual arts, music, writing and museums.  The impact of these programs is evident and powerful sixty years later.  The Federal Writers Project and the WPA Artists Project clearly have lives of their own.

Federal arts Project:  In Minneapolis the imprint of the Federal Arts Project is pronounced.  WPA-supported visual artists created paintings, sculpture and murals in public buildings as well as easel paintings and graphic arts for public agencies.  Artists worked in realistic styles and chose familiar subjects such as cityscapes, farm scenes, people at work and play to create a portrait of Minnesota life in the era.  The murals at the Minneapolis Armory are perhaps the most evident. The Armory houses two of the few remaining examples of Federal Arts Project murals, large frescoed murals by local artists Elsa Jemne and Lucia Wiley. In recent years both the Minnesota History Center and the Weismann Museum have mounted exhibits of Federal Art Project works.

The program also included free classes for all age groups and rotating exhibits of national and local art works.  At the Walker Art Center scores of workers conducted art classes and activities for hundreds of children and adults.

Federal Writers Project.  In Minnesota as in other states the emphasis in the Writers Project was to communicate the state’s history, folklore, stories, culture and more to the written page.  Writers collected manuscripts and plumbed the memories of pioneers.  They recorded and organized thousands of stories that live today in books, libraries and particularly in the American Memory Project sponsored by the Library of Congress.

Of particular interest to Northeasters is one of these books, The Bohemian Flats, first published through WPA in 1941.  It’s the story of a small, isolated community that lay on the west bank of the Mississippi, tucked underneath the Washington Avenue bridge  From the 1779’s to the 1940’s the village was a home to generations of immigrants  – Swedish, Norwegian, Czech, Irish, Polish and especially Slovaks.  The book continues to be published, expanded and read.

Another visible WPA project is publication of Minnesota: A State Guide, part of the American Guide Series and still in print.  A fascinating story about the Guidebook is the controversy it caused when right wingers charged that it and similar guidebooks from other states were actually community propaganda.

Hundreds of photographs taken by WPA workers are now digitized and online through the Minneapolis Central Library. Photographs of neighborhood churches, monuments, landscapes and more are an essential visual record of the city as it was in the late 1930’s.

Music project. Emphasis of the Minnesota Music Project was to bring the educational, cultural and entertainment values of living music to communities who could not otherwise had had these advantages.  The project included summer band concerts and music for community singing, band clinics for young musicians, and radio concerts broadcast over the University of Minnesota radio station.

250 musicians were employed oin twelve units throughout the state – one symphony orchestra, two concert bands, one “negro” chorus, a teacher’s project, a copyist project and six small bands.  In addition WPA supported an experimental project in music therapy at the University of Minnesota Hospital

3) Research and records.  Though the work sounds tedious, the impact of the research and records programs of WPA are used every day by Minnesotans.  The project included several elements focused on arranging, indexing or improving essential records;  neglected in boom times the records are of long-time importance for administrative and research purposes as well as to Minneapolis-born residents who want to find their own birth records or those of their forbearers.

One major records project was the Historical Records Survey designed for the use it gets today by public officials, attorneys, students of political scientists and researchers.  WPA workers surveyed public archives, the records and history of organizations, from churches and cemeteries to social organizations, objects and places, including monuments, historic sites, trails and Indian burials and mounds., manuscripts and more.  Today the Survey is a research staple.

Some 800 workers were employed at the state and county levels to refurbish, list, revise, extend, index and otherwise improve private records.  Workers also created a variety of maps for every incorporated village and city in the state, including maps of real property.  Today Minneapolitans can research their house history by referring to the WPA survey of Minneapolis homes and residents including the condition of the building and yard, the type of heating, whether the house had running water, sewer connections, mechanical refrigerator or ice box, the number of residents in the home, their ethnicity, nationality and occupation.

Minnesota’s Historical Records Survey identified and organized local public records such as the names of local officials, the function of each office and the records of historic buildings and sites.  WPA workers assisted in the development of research studies including surveys of the safest routes for school children, real estate activity surveys, income studies and the Minneapolis fire hazard survey which revealed and led to the correction of thousands of fire hazards.

Research was also a priority at public higher education institutions.  WPA supported technical undertakings, many related to national defense. The main and “farm” campuses of the University of Minnesota were at the forefront of WPA implementation.  Some 460 WPA workers worked on over one hundred project in the fields of science, history, medicine, technology and others.  Workers assisted in research several projects tied to national defense, including studies of sulfa’s use in treating wounds, burns and infections, elements of high explosives, the strength of aircraft materials.

Conclusion

Whether or not a WPA-type project is appropriate to meeting the economic and social challenges of today, the history of the initiative is a rich sources of ideas proposed, projects planned and implemented, concrete results that can be measured in terms of the degree to which they have met the test of time.

Note:  This article was written for and published in The Northeaster, the community newspaper of Northeast Minneapolis.  Much of the material in this article is based on reports by and to WPA officials.  Of particular value was the 1041 report to the Federal Works Agency, Works Projects Administration, published by the Work Projects Administraton of Minnesota.    Also important was a 1939 report by the State Administrator, Linus C. Glotzbach, prepared for Colonel F.C. Harrington, director of WPA.  A 1942 guide prepared for Social Studies Teachers, prepared with the assistance of the WPA, was also very useful 

These reports and countless others are available at Minneapolis Central Library Special Collections.

 

 

 

Celebrating My Independents!

 

 

A superfluity of wealth, and a train of domestic slaves, naturally banish a sense of general liberty, and nourish the seeds of that kind of independence that usually terminates in aristocracy.   Mercy Otis Warren, 1728-1814, political writing and propagandist

Back in June, when word came down that Celebrate Your Independents Month was the classy theme for July 2012, I made big plans to interview the independent businesses in my neighborhood.  After some futile calls around, to learn for one thing that the Northeast Neighbors and Business Association is currently dormant, I scrapped the interview plan and decided to focus instead on the great independent business owners with whom I, as an inveterate supporter, come in contact every day. 

Theirs are the stories I know, the people, the products and the services I want to celebrate! In the words of Mr. Rogers, these are the “people in my neighborhood”, the people I know not as vendors of goods and services but as friends.

Sue Johnson, the ebullient queen of all things breakfast-related at Johnson’s Bacon & Eggs Cafe in Columbia Heights, shares her culinary talents,  decorating bent, and unstinting hospitality with all comers – the daily gathering of locals and those of us in search of the perfect blueberry pancake. Great food served with a touch of class, a shared laugh and Sue’s warm friendship sends me on my way with a new take on the day to come.

Jeannie Rarick, who rules at Annona Gourmet in the newly-spruced-up St. Anthony Village Shopping Center, shares her energy and zest for life with an ever-growing cast of gourmet shoppers from the neighborhood and from far-flung environs.  Jeannie dispenses tasty samples of her wares, principally vinegars and oils, along with an encyclopedic knowledge of their histories and virtues, along with the latest tidbits from the hood.

Just next door is Corner Books, a totally irresistible bookstore owned and operated by one of the world’s great bibliophiles, Carol Urness.  Carol is a scholar, librarian, birder and traveler who knows and shares with shoppers and gawkers just about everything there is to know and share about books.  Customers know Carol is in if her brilliantly painted library cart, full of great reads, is parked outside the shop.

And then there is Jennifer Schmidt nnow reigning at Hair-O-Smith, a woman-run hair salon cum dance studio nestled in the Q.arma Building in the heart of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Area.  The funky setting is the ideal palette for Jennifer, hairdresser extraordinaire who is always at the ready with the right cut and the right take on the realities of life. 

Trish and Matt at Crafty Planet, 2833 NE Johnson, meet the talented crafter and those of us who struggle with the intricacies of dishcloth construction with equal  enthusiasm for the possibilities.  They and their staff add a personal touch to the charming shop that bursts on the seams with every conceivable pattern, material, yarn, thread, and learning opportunity. They share their knowledge with a host of classes and outreach activities, including their July 22 NoCoast Craft-O-Rama craft and art family fun event at Silverwood Park.

Though I’m not sure which comes first, I know that a visit to the Crafty Planet and a stop at The Coffee House Northeast, just across the street at 2852 Johnson NE, are inseparable.  The friendly neighborhood gathering spot offers not just coffee but a full menu of smoothies, sweets, salads, sandwiches and more.  The ongoing expansion project at The Coffee House Northeast testifies to the come-on-in spirit of this neighborhood independent business.

There are not enough hours to track my own steps through the neighborhood in order to chronicle the scores of independents I patronize – or at least visit – on a regular basis.  And there’s nowhere near the money for to help these fine businesses owners spur the economy.  Still, I am proud to tell the story of the role of independent businesses in my life neighborhood.  Through their very presence, their services and the unique products they provide, they and the scores of other independents in my neighborhood contribute immeasurably to the vitality of the community of which they are the economic and social hub.

For others’ celebratory thoughts, check the St. Paul Pioneer Press Twin Cities.Com article in which Twin Citians extol the virtues of their own favorite independent vendors of books, theater, movies, music and art. 

So much to celebrate, so little time! 

 

 

 

 

Northeast happenings

Last week was outdoor festival time in Northeast.  Neighbors turned out en masse for the Windom Park/Pillsbury carnival then gathered again on Saturday for Johnstock  Lots of sunshine, arts and crafts, community resources, rides, kids and more kids – topped in my view with a tour of the once and future magnificent Hollywood Theater.

Here’s a quick look at some of the myriad activities that friends and neighbors  are participating and contributing:

* Northeast Minneapolitans who oppose the “Marriage Amendment” are invited to the NE Votes No Kickoff on Saturday, June 16, 2:00-5:00 at the Soap Factory.  Near neighbors in St. Anthony and Columbia Heights, North Minneapolis and surrounding areas are welcome.  Free and open.   The Soap Factory is at
514 Second St SE
Minneapolis MN 55414.   Email questions to  nevotesno@gmail.com

*For months – or is it decades – North and Northeast Minneapolis have been separated by the mighty Mississippi.  Though the river has kept on rolling along between the two communities, for decades. sturdy bridges (Plymouth, Broadway, Lowry and Camden) constructed decades ago eliminated the need to portage or wait for low tide.  As long as locals can recall – and until recent years –making the trek from North to Northeast or vice versa, has been no problem – until the bridges were declared unsafe for cars, trucks and buses.

The good news is that the arches that are the main support of the not-quite-new-yet Lowry Bridge now gleam in the sun, like a sweet promise that hope is on the way that motorized vehicles will once again flow with ease above Old Man River.

For the latest update on “The Lowry Link Between Two Communities” you will want to participate in the next Northeast Network meeting.  It’s Thursday, June 14, 7:30-8:45 a.m. at the Eastside Food Co-op, 2551 Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis.

Guest speakers are Carol Anderson, Hennepin County Department of Community Works and Transit, Bill E. Feltow, Engineer with the City of Minneapolis, Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Association, and a representative of the County Commissioners TBA.

As with all NE Network sessions the June 14 gathering is free and open to the public.  Free coffee, muffins and fruit for all comers.  RSVP to board@eastsidefood.coop

* Trivia fan alert!   Unlock the mental cupboard where you store  your Co-op trivia.  You’ll need those dormant snippets to ace the competition at the Co-op Trivia contest set for Saturday, June 9, 5:00 p.m. at the 331 Club, 331 13th Avenue NE in NE Minneapolis.  The United Nations has designated 2012 is the International Year of Cooperatives. In so doing, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared that “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility. ”

So now you have the answer to one  basic trivia question  – Who passed the declaration for the International Year of Cooperates?  The rest is up to you.  Hint:  You will be questioned on food, co-ops and the environment.

The June 9 event at the 331 Club is one of several Co-op Pub Trivia contests sponsored by several Twin Cities area food co-ops:  Eastside Food Co-op, Just Food C-op, Lakewinds Co-op, Linden Hills Co-op, Mississippi Market, River Market, Sewad Co-op Grocery & Deli, St. Peter Food Co-op, Valley Natural Foods and The Bridge Co-op.

Whether you’re a Co-op regular, a Trivia fanatic or just a neighbor looking for a gathering of healthy-eating and smart shopping Trivia-philes, check it out!

Vigil for a Neighbor in Northeast

Windom Park and Audubon residents, along with other Northeasters, will share the grief and lend support to the parents of neighborhood resident Antionette Hawkins who was murdered last week in her home.  They will gather for a prayer vigil on Saturday, June 2, 4:00 p.m. near her home at the corner of 26th Avenue Northeast and Stinson Parkway.

Antionette Hawkins’ visitation and funeral will be held at the Minneapolis Cremation Society, 4343 Nicollet Avenue South.  Visitation is Wednesday, June 6, 5:00-9:00 p.m. and Thursday, June 7, 10:00 a.m.  Funeral services will be June 7, 11:00 a.m. at the Cremation Society.  Donations to support the Hawkins family may be sent to any M&I Bank Account in the name of MAD DADS for the Benefit of Antionette Hawkins.

The Minneapolis Police Department Homicide Unit is investigating and asking anyone with information to call the Department’s Tip Line at 612 692 TIPS (8477).

Stinson Conservancy Seeks Planting Volunteers

Though passersby speeding up and down Stinson Parkway (the number and their speed seems to increase each day) may scarcely notice, the joggers, dog walkers and stroller pushers of Windom and Audubon Park take time to relish the beauty of the magnificent boulevard that joins the neighborhoods..

This spring more than ever we have reveled in the abundant color of the azaleas, the daffodils and other perennials planted last fall by members of the Stinson Conservancy. Conservancy members continue to work with a consultant to create a final design for the Boulevard.

As planting season reaches its peak Conservancy members are asking for some help.  Specifically they invite gardeners of every skill, age and proclivity to join them on Wednesday June 13, (rain date June 14), 6:00-9:00  on the median at 2200 Stinson, and/or Monday, June 25, (rain date June 27) on the median at 2700 Stinson, 6:00-9:00 p.m.  Come equipped with shovel, hand tools and gloves, plus a vision of the blooms that will come from the plants provided with funds from generous donors and from a participant in the Park Board Stewardship Program who had an abundance of plants to share.

The Stinson Conservancy is an organization of neighbors, friends and gardeners who share the goal to preserve and enrich the parkway.  Stinson Parkway is one visible link in the National Scenic Byway known as the Grand Rounds, a route covering over fifty miles through green space; the Grand Rounds was created and is maintained by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Membership in the Conservancy is open to all who care about this neighborhood treasure.  To join the Conservancy or to provide financial support email the Conservancy or send a note/contribution to Stinson Parkway Conservancy
2243 Roosevelt Street Northeast
, Minneapolis, MN  55418.