Tag Archives: NE Minneapolis

Harvest Gathering Matches Needs with Volunteers

Television personality turned local theater star Don Shelby will highlight the 6th annual Gathering the Harvest community gathering and exhibit sponsored by Interfaith Minnesota.  Gathering the Harvest showcases the wide range of organizations that serve individuals and families in need in the Northeast community. Northeast neighbors are invited to participate in the event which is set for Monday, November 21, 7-9 p.m. at Northeast Middle School, 2955 Hayes Street, NE.

An invitation has gone out to community service organization to participate and promote their work and their volunteer opportunities.  The goal is to match volunteers with opportunities to serve the community.  There is no cost for exhibitors or attendees, though donations to the Harvest Gathering are appreciated.  Those organizations interested in exhibiting should reserve a table space now by contacting Jennifer@necommunity.net or 512 788 2444.

Interfaith Minnesota is a virtual community, sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Churches, grows out of the Council’s mission to manifest unity and build the common good.  The Minnesota Council of Churches is a member of numerous interfaith partnerships working for justice, including the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition.

Don’t Dump on Northeast Redux


“Don’t Dump on Northeast” signs that once marched boldly across Northeast have faded and faded from view.  The threat has not.  In fact, the Minneapolis-Hennepin County proposal to construct a “recycling and drop-off center” in the Holland neighborhood, at 340 27th Avenue NE near University Avenue, is currently boiling on the “front burner” at City Hall. The “Don’t Dump on Northeast” campaign has engaged all of the Northeast neighborhoods.


Though Holland residents are most immediately affected, other neighborhoods, including my own Windom Park, are concerned about a host of issues including pollution, truck traffic, and the inclination of City officials to dismiss the concerns of Minneapolitans who happen to live East of the Mississippi.

Spring 2012 is the proposed start of construction of the site which is projected to be fully operational by spring 2013.  The project as outlined by the City will include two buildings that will house separate functions:  The first building, approximately 26,000 square feet, will contain the Hennepin County Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Center (HHDC) and support offices.  The second building, termed the Voucher Program Building (VPB), is approximately 22,800 square feet and is planned to operate as a drop-off point for construction and demolition materials and clean up debris for the City of Minneapolis voucher program whereby residents receive City vouchers to unload “household debris.”

More details re. the City-County plan for the Recycling-Drop-off Center  are laid out in a recent detailed document with copious links to detailed reports, maps, studies, and other government-produced information.

And then there are the opinions of the affected Northeasters who have consistently and persistently organized and protested the City-County plan.  When local residents sued to stop the project, largely on the basis that the dump does not meet zoning requirements, they were held at bay by the City Attorney’s contention that “the city will move to dismiss the lawsuit because no application is yet pending for the facility with the city.”

Another major bone of contention between Northeasters and the City of Minneapolis concern the very purpose of the facility.  The City and County prefer the more benign “recycling and drop-off center” terminology.  At the same time, plans seem to call for the move of the Hennepin County Southside Transfer Station to the site.  Statistics indicate that only 1/3 of the materials at the Southside Transfer Station are recycled.  Residents’ challenge on this issue could put a crimp in the plans for a joint City-County venture.

In spite of City officials’ assertion that there are no definite plans, residents argue that the taxpayers have already invested $2 million in the planning process.  Opponents also object to the fact that several City staffers with whom they had been working have been reassigned.

The facts are indisputable:  1) The City continues to work on a recycling-drop off center (whatever it’s to be named) and 2) opposition to what is locally known as “the dump” in Northeast is alive and well.  In today’s E-Democracy post local activist and Holland resident Bruce Shoemaker writes:

It’s time for the City (or the few proponents for this that are left among City staff) to face reality,[to] stop wasting their time and our money, and give up on the current plan.  The opponents – who have won every neighborhood vote that has taken place in Northeast by substantial margins – aren’t going away.  Every step of the process is going to be under intense scrutiny.  We have a strong and compelling legal argument and a substantial majority of our community on our side and we are going to prevail.






Live Northeast. Educate Northeast – Showcase November 12

Once again the schools of Northeast are collaborating to host the 6th annual Northeast School Showcase. It’s Saturday, November 12, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at Thomas Edison High School Community Gym, 700 22nd Avenue Northeast.

The showcase offers a one-stop look at how you can map out an awesome K-12 journal in a Northeast school – Pillsbury, Waite Park (for PK-5), Northeast (6-8), Sheridan (PK-8), March (K-8), Edison (9-12) and Emerson (PK-5 Spanish Immersion)

Free activities for parents and children.

The Showcase is sponsored by PEN (Public Education Northeast), a collaborative organization supporting Minneapolis Public Schools in Northeast. For more information visit http://publicedne.blogspot.com/ or call Jenn Bennington 612 578 8616.

Friends of NE Library Slate Book Sale December 2-3

Friends of the Northeast Library has announced plans for their next book sale to be held December 2-3 at the Northeast Library, 2200 Central Avenue NE.  Hours TBA.

The Friends will be collecting books for the sale beginning Friday, November 25.  Other collections dates are Saturday, November 26, Tuesday, November 29, Wednesday, November 30 and Thursday, December 1.  Drop off gently used books at the Library meeting room – Please no Reader’s Digest condensed books of textbooks.

In the week preceding the book sale Friends of Northeast Library volunteers will sort the books and organize for the sale December 2-3.

No plans for a blizzard this year – but then again we didn’t plan on a blizzard during the book sale last year either.  And still, thanks to the resilience of shoppers and Friends, we made a handsome profit to enhance the “new” library.

Questions – contact the Friends at northeast@supporthclib.org

Magnificent new Mosaic at the East Side Food Cooperative

Picture of a man putting the finishing touches on a mosaic including a bright sun.

I was fortunate enough last week
to be on hand for the final touch-up of magnificent mosaic mural that now
graces the South external wall of the Eastside Food Cooperative.  The work of art, created by area youth under
the mentorship of artist Sharra Frank, is stunning – a happy visual respite for
Central Avenue travelers.

ArtsWork, a
project of COMPASS,
employs young people during the summer months, giving them an opportunity to
learn a skill, to learn some income, and to experience the work that an artist

The formal
installation was part of the community BBQ sponsored by the Eastside Food

Neighbors, nosh and news at Neighborhood Night Out



By my count there are seventeen sites in the Windom Park Neighborhood.  For a full listing of sites, arranged by neighborhood,, check the City Hall website.

By my count there are seventeen NNO sites in Windom Park!  All feature good food – potluck or BBQ;  specialties include bounce houses, visits from the police and fire departments, games, rides, food shelf drives, even a book swap!

Like most grassroots efforts, NNO has roots.  The National Association of Town Watch, a nonprofit, crime prevention organization, introduced NNO in 1984 as a concerted effort to heighten awareness and strengthen participation in local anticrime efforts.  The first year 400 communities in 23 states participated for a total of 2.5 million Americans.  Focus in the early days was on “lights on” and front porch vigils, some of which remain in practice.

Today NNO involves 37 million people in over 15,000 communities from fifty states, territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.

Sure, you know all your neighbors.  Remember, though, that it was a long hard winter and a short hot summer.  Folks cocooned.  You could have missed something.  Here’s your chance to pick up on the news and to share stories, pictures and a tempting taste treat with folks you might not have seen since last August!

Library Friends sponsor book sale

No excuse for readers in Northeast Minneapolis to run short of books this winter!  Friends of the Northeast Library are arranging truck routes, sort plans and volunteer work schedules for the celebratory book sale set for December 10th and 11th at the Eastside Food Co-op, 2551 Central Avenue Northeast.  The book sale celebrates – and will help to fund — the Spring 2011 re-opening of the Northeast Library which is currently being renovated and generously expanded.  Northeast Library is part of the Hennepin County Library System.


The book sale begins with a preview sale for members of the Friends, the Library Foundation or Eastside Co-op on Friday, December 10, 2:00-8:00 p.m.  The general sale is Saturday, December 11, 10:00-5:00 p.m.  On Saturday book buyers will have a chance to participate in another celebration, the 7th anniversary of the Eastside Food Co-op, replete with entertainment and taste treats.


Friends of the Northeast Library is one of several Friends groups that has received organizing assistance from the Library Foundation of Hennepin County which has much to celebrate itself. Recently the Otto Bremer Foundation has awarded the Library Foundation of Hennepin County Library a grant of $50,000 to support local Library Friends groups.  The Professional Librarians Union of Minneapolis (PLUM) has also voted to give slightly over $83,000 to the Library Foundation of Hennepin County.  A portion of that gift is specifically given to support formation of Friends groups for community libraries.


For more information about donating gently-used books or to volunteer to help with the sale contact northeast@supporthclib.org.

Eastside Food Co-op Celebrates Success



For years I’ve made regular stops at my neighborhood coop, the Eastside Food Co-op (EFC). It’s a bustling place, filled with parents toting kids in strollers, fresh produce, organic food staples, herbs and spices, and shelves filled with aids to health and beauty far beyond my ken.  Usually I have a cup of free trade coffee, read the well-stocked bulletin board, and marvel at the world around me.  In recent times, I’ve had several reasons to pay closer attention – mostly because I’m on a quest to learn more about my neighborhood.  (Northeast icon Jeanette May recently advised me that the more I learn about Northeast the more I will love Northeast!)


My reading of the latest EFC newsletter clued me into the fact that my slow learning curve coincides with the 7th anniversary of the opening of the EFC, to be celebrated with a neighborhood party on Saturday, December 11.  It’s time to explore the wonders of the EFC.


A visit to the EFC website gave me a great start.  Local resident Ginny Sutton was an early supporter who worked tirelessly to create “the little co-op that could.”  The appellation refers to the fact that the common acceptance of the fact that co-ops work in upscale neighborhoods, not in less affluent ethnic neighborhoods such as Central Avenue.  Ginny wrote a fascinating article published in the March-April 2004 issue of Cooperative Grocer in which she describes in historic detail the politics of bringing together the 13 neighborhood associations in Northeast, the Neighborhood Revitalization and other political forces with the financial expertise and resources in Northeast.  It’s a great read and a tribute to persistence and collaboration.


More recently, Leslie Watson, President of the EFC Board expands on that history, with insights including reflections on the exploits of the EFC Precision Shopping Cart Drill Team that marched in the 2004 Northeast Parade.  She also provides expanded details about the governance structure, politics and updated history of the EFC.  Watson reports that, as of September 2009, over 2800 member households owned the Eastside Food Co-op. Today, there are nearly 3500 members.


EFC is indeed a community hub.  The food shelves are just the surface of a beehive of activities. Today EFC serves an ethnic community that includes a large Mexican population, Somalis, many Ecuadorians (the Ecuadorian consulate is in the neighborhood) as well as the rich heritage of Eastern European and other ethnic communities long identified with Northeast. EFC promotional materials are published in Hmong, Arabic, Somali and Spanish, grocery shelves feature ethnic foods and programs to address community priorities are omnipresent.


As the vital community served by EFC evolves, so have the programs and resources of EFC.  The calendar of events overflows with ongoing and special events.  For example, third Thursdays are Co-op Movie Nights – first-rate movies with popcorn and beverages.  Or there’s the NE Network, second Thursdays, featuring free and open discussions of community issues (December 9 it’s “The Other Side of the Tracks: Future of Shoreham Yards).  There are cooking classes, wellness programs, a yoga studio, arts and crafts exhibits and demonstrations, the well-known spring plant sale, seasonal programs and a new winter farmer’s market every second Saturday morning.  Increasingly neighborhood organizations are meeting in the newly-opened granite studio.  EFC has ongoing programs going with Edison High School (you’ll find Tommie paraphernalia on the EFC shelves), with community education, the public library and nonprofits that serve the community.


Best of all, EFC is on firm financial footing, looking to and planning for a bright future.  Assistant Manager Kristina Gronquist observes that in these tough times, when for-profits are struggling and failing, EFC is a “smashing economic success” – no small feat for a member-owned organization that plans to start paying dividends to its members in the near future.


The EFC website offers an amazing pot pourri of events, services and ideas plus details about staff, facilities, membership and more.  The EFC newsletter carries news about the neighborhood and the community as well as the Co-op.  There’s a regular email newsletter with the latest from EFC.


Plan to join with the over 3000 member households who are members and owners of EFC in the celebratory events on December 11 – enjoy the music, raffles, door prizes, fabulous baked treats, the winter farmer’s market, even a book sale sponsored by the Friends of the Northeast Library which just happens to be going on at the same time at the Co-op.


Add ECF to the unique treasures of Northeast.



St Anthony of Padua High School – Northeast Minneapolis

A black and white picture of a class from St Anthony High School.(This article originally appeared in The Northeaster)

“Strong and strident women” is the memory that Carolyn Puccio has of her years at St. Anthony High School  Now a leader in the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet community, she is a proud graduate of St. Anthony which decades until it was closed in 1971.  At that time nearby DeLaSalle, operated by the Christian Brothers,  became a co-ed high school.

Unlike most of the Catholic high schools in the area St. Anthony High School was operated by the parish itself.  The original building still stands at 8th Street and 2nd Avenue Northeast where it houses one of the Catholic Eldercare sites. St Anthony High School was actually co-educational until DeLaSalle opened in 1900.

St. Anthony’s High School grew out of the parish of St. Anthony of Padua which was established in 1849.  In 1853 the Sisters of St. Joseph opened the school, which was known for a time as St. Mary’s Convent. The name change came when the school was merged with the parish school across the street some years later.  The new facility  which provided a home for the first church, the convent that housed the first parochial teachers in Minneapolis, continued to be known as St. Mary’s for many years. Though tuition was just fifty cents a month several of the young scholars were admitted free.  Receipts for 1854 were $197.58, with expenses at $203.70, leaving a deficit to begin the school year in 1855.  In his book Lighting New Fires, published by the National Catholic Educational Association, historian Michael Guera notes that “this item of information is of interest only to show how poorly and simply our predecessors lived, their wants were few and even those were supplied with difficulty; their spirit of self-sacrifice was great and their contentment in making sacrifices was still greater.

The first school had just five school rooms and a residence for the Sisters on the second floor. Sister Gregory LeMay, one of the original teachers, was the first Sister to receive the habit of the Sisters of St. Joseph in St. Paul. For most of its history St. Anthony was staffed almost entirely by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

St. Anthony, unlike most other high schools of the Sisters of St. Joseph, remained a parish-owned school.  Although the three year diploma offered at the high school for many years did not qualify students for college entrance, many students were admitted by taking entrance exams. At that time it was uncommon for young people to go to college, but most of the St. Anthony graduates did. In 1915 the building for St. Anthony’s High School was opened.  For decades it educated the young Catholic women of Northeast.

Graduates of St. Anthony of Padua High School have happy and amusing stories of their experience.  They agree that attendance at the school was “always a special advantage to families in the area.”  Graduates of St. Anthony of Padua elementary school were assured of admission to the high school.  They tell stories of threadbare blue jumpers  and blue oxfords commonly known as Happy Hikers, of playing basketball – and “usually losing” – against other Catholic girls’ schools in the Twin Cities, of dramatic productions in which boys from DeLaSalle were recruited to play the male roles.  1954 graduate Rose Vennewitz, now living in Fridley, remembers the experience of being checked out by the Sisters before going to the Prom.

One common memory is of the May processions to the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, constructed in 1947 and still a on the grounds of St. Anthony of Padua church.

Though the school is closed the spirit remains as countless graduates of St. Anthony continue to lead the Northeast community.

The Flavors of Annona Gourmet in Saint Anthony Village

According to the infallible Wikipedia  Annona is a genus of flowering plants in the pawpaw sugar apple sugar apple family cultivated in Mexico since 1000 BC. Currently, seven Annona species and one hybrid are grown for domestic or commercial use mostly for the edible and nutritious fruits; several others also produce edible fruits. Many of the species are used in traditional medicines for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Several annonacaeous species have been found to contain annona.   Annona is also a goddess, personification of plenty or the produce of the yearly harvest.

Picture of the Annona plant

Botany and mythology aside, for increasing numbers of Twin Citians Annona is becoming a household word, not because of the flowering plant but because of Annona Gourmet.  Annona is a gastronomic treasure trove of taste-satisfying treats for the gourmet and for lurkers who want to know about subtle tastes.

James Norton, writing for the gourmet’s delight, Heavy Table, tempts the tastebuds with his description of Annona Gourmet:  “In terms of sheer impact, few gastronomic experiences rival letting a few drops of flavored balsamic vinegar slide across your palate.  The result can be a fig-tinted sledgehammer, a pomegranate wrecking ball, a blueberry uppercut;  vivid , slashing, barn-burning flavor that demands bread, or tonic, or vegetables to act as a catcher’s mitt for the vinegar’s flavor fastball.”  (Heavy Table, February 13, 2009)

In just two years Annona owner and Windom Park  resident Jean Rarick has made her welcoming shop an essential destination for many and a the hub of the community.  Visitors will find gourmet delicacies accented with neighborhood news and a glimpse of what’s next in Northeast Minneapolis, St. Anthony Village and environs.
Several years ago, while pondering a career change from the international business world of fine paper, Jean was laid off.  Having traveled extensively with her previous job, she had seen the gourmet shop concept in other countries and states.  Knowing there was nothing just  like she craved in Minnesota, she decided to open Annona Gourmet in The Village, a relatively nondescript strip mall that straddles St. Anthony Village and Northeast Minneapolis.

Annona Gourmet fills the gustatory gap while the community benefits by Jean’s commitment to stay in Northeast where she has lived for the past 25 years and where she has had family in the area since the late 1800’s.  Annona Gourmet also provides a lively outlet for local entrepreneurs with ideas, kitchens and workshops and a pitch to local customers.

Annona Gourmet offers an endlessly tempting array of gourmet delicacies – a rich assortment of vinegars that Jean rotates on a regular basis, extra virgin olive oils from around the world, pasta, sea salt and a mix of locally produced products.  Shoppers will find such local products as honey, jams, salsas and snacks plus a variety of art, pottery, jewelry and crafts, including handsome woodcrafts – and of course aprons — created by local artists and crafters.  Recent additions to the gourmet shelves include  coffee from Café Palmira, biscotti from LindaLiscious and seasonings from Kayak Kitchens.

Visitors to Annona Gourmet, 2807 Pentagon Drive in the Village Shopping Center, will also find a warm welcome, taste tests of fine vinegars and virgin oils, and a new appreciation of gustatory subtleties introduced by Jean who loves fine cuisine, her adventuresome customers, her community and good music as played on her favorite KFAI – not necessarily in that order.  Shoppers and shopper wannabes will  also find a busy shopkeeper and community resource, currently making big plans for the St Anthony Village holiday special set for December 10 – more on the traditional SAV carriage rides, vendors and entertainment in future posts.

Contact Jean and Annona at 612 354 2027 or sales@annonagourmet.com