Tag Archives: NE Mpls

Lighting the Parkway

Picture of two men working on installing wiring on the boulevard

Stinson Parkway Work Crew Installing Wiring for Streetlights

Walkers and gawkers want to know – What’s happening on Stinson?  The heavy equipment, the incessant noise, the flock of city employees digging up the boulevard – worth a check.  And so I did.

It’s a good story of progress and collaboration.  The workmen who are Minneapolis city employees are working to improve the street lighting system, not only on Stinson but throughout the 61 miles of parkway that shape the city.  They will string new safer wiring underground, then construct new foundations for each of the street lights.  Safety is the first concern since the wires they are replacing are 30-40 years old and showing the inevitable results of an aging infrastructure.

The Park Board didn’t have the heavy duty equipment, especially the borer, that the job required so, though the parkway system is under the control of Park and Recs, the City is doing the work.

The challenge is to get the job on Stinson done before the ground freezes.  We can only hope that the weather cooperates – we know the workers are going full speed, even if it doesn’t always appear that way.  When I talked with the workers this morning they were probing in a small hole they had dug in what seemed to be an arbitrary spot.  Turns out they were actually trying to locate the gas line into a house along the Parkway, a line they had to find before they could get into serious digging.  They were not, one workman assured me, merely “playing in the mud.”

Though progress may be noisy, messy, and confusing to the gawker, the interruption is a small price to pay for a safe lighted Parkway that serves neighbors and commuters especially through the dark days of winter.

Food Safety Made Relevant and Doable by White House Rep Meeting at Eastside Food Coop

Elisabeth A. Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, views her job through a mix of lenses – the lens of the scientist, the bureaucrat, and the mom.  Her professional degree is an MD from Harvard; at USDA she oversees rules and regulations relating to meat, poultry and processed eggs, and she is the proud and caring mother of two young children.

In her professional role at USDA Hagen is responsible for oversight of 20 percent of the food supply.  The agency employs 7,300 inspectors who perform daily and continuous checks inside 6,200 food processing facilities.  Recent concerns about food safety, including those with Twin Cities connections,  have catapulted the agency Hagen directs into the national spotlight.

Dr. Hagen has been in town this week meeting with producers, distributors, bureaucrats and others who play a role in assuring food safety.  Her visit was sponsored by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Council on Women and Girls.  On Thursday morning, September 15, she took time to sit down with a group of women gathered at the Eastside Food Cooperative in Northeast Minneapolis where she shared her views from each of these lenses.

Participating in the lively exchange were representatives of area coops, food shelves, city inspectors and others concerned about issues relating to food safety. Though Dr. Hagen’s position in the federal bureaucracy focuses on the “big picture”, emphasis at this gathering was on the “last mile” of food access and safety.

Hagen presented astounding statistics about food borne disease, with particular emphasis on e-coli and salmonella for which there are one million reported cases a year.  She also described the complexities of the federal oversight process – the role of the Food and Drug Administration and that of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – with handoff to the Interstate Commerce Commission.  The immense challenge to provide safe food to three hundred million Americans was the prevailing theme of her talk.  She noted several examples of recent changes e.g. labeling changes,  that the federal government has done to accomplish the goal

Discussion turned to the need to alter long-engrained habits at the consumer end of the food chain.  As one office in a complex federal bureaucracy Hagen is quick to note that divergent priorities and institutional modes of operation are a challenge.  The ultimate challenge is to the consumer who makes purchasing and preparation decisions about what people eat.

Participants in the discussion lamented the lack of education opportunities for young people, particularly teens, to learn about food safety.  Though younger children may be protected, teens are on their own and are the parents of the next generation.

Another topic of concern to participants was the issue of local entrepreneurship and the ways in which the federal system does or does not support local farmers and producers.

Hagen listened and offered a number of references to resources that her office and the federal government offer to anyone concerned about food safety.  One tangible offering was free food thermometers available from her office.  Digital resources Hagen suggested include these:

Ask Karen, sponsored by the Food Safety and Inspection Service at USDA

Food Safety.gov, managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Or follow the efforts of Dr. Hagen on her agency blog.

Though she clearly had much more information to share, Dr. Hagen took time to listen with care – while her assistant took copious notes.  The women present, representing as we did a wide range of food safety-related issues, overflowed with queries and suggestions, each of which received a thoughtful response and assurance of follow-up.

Last seen this incredibly busy woman was answering questions, grasping ideas and scrambling to maneuver rush hour  traffic to catch a 5:20 flight back to a mighty professional challenge – and to those two little ones – in Washington, DC.

Notes from Northeast

* Fundraiser for NE Seniors:  Past posts have described one of the true treasures of Northeast Minneapolis, Northeast Senior Services.   The organization is headquartered the United Methodist Church, 2510 Cleveland at Lowry

Northeast Seniors programs, ranging from foot clinics to diabetic friendly appetizers, events calendars and housing tours are rich, timely,  informative and fun.  Staff, along with members and volunteers are gearing up now for the Fall Fundraising Dinner scheduled for Friday, October 7, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Faith United Methodist Church, 2708 33rd Avenue NE in St. Anthony.

The suggested donation for the Fundraiser is just $15/adult which covers the cost of hot beef sandwiches, dessert, beverage, entertainment and a basket raffle.  A vegetarian option is available.

Contact NE Seniors at 612 781 5096 or mail@neseniors.org.

HCMC Clinic at St. Anthony Village: Windom Park residents and other Northeast residents have been watching with interest developments at the St. Anthony Village shopping center.  Signs now answer that question as to what’s coming in – the St. Anthony Village, part of the Hennepin County Medical Center network, will open sometime in October at 2714 Highway 88, St Anthony.   It is in the space formerly occupied by the drugstore and a tax service.

  • Among the features of the new clinic HCMC cites these:
  • Evening hours two nights a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Prenatal care and family planning.
  • Care for all ages, including older adults.
  • Same day/next day appointments.
  • Onsite pharmacy.

To follow developments at the new clinic visit the HCMC site.



The REALLY big news in Windom Park is great good news relating to civic action and hazardous waste abatement.  Thanks to a cadre of Northeast residents, in particular four indomitable women, working with local officials and regulators, Interplastic Corporation has agreed to a $15,000 civil penalty and $263,800 in facility improvements for alleged hazardous waste violations.

Minneapolis Interplastic has operated in the residential Northeast neighborhood, near Johnson and Broadway, since 1969.  ( This is the befuddling cross section where drivers are probably more attentive to steering their way through the remnants of the abandoned Interstate 335 than to the industrial polluters.) With sites throughout the nation, including an affected site in Vadnais Heights, the company identifies itself as “an industry leader in thermoset resin, gel coat and colorant research, design and development.”

Interplastic Corporation is regulated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency which initiated enforcement action after hazardous waste compliance inspections by Hennepin County staff at the Minneapolis plant in September 2008 and March 2009 and by MPCA staff at the Vadnais Heights plant in mid-March 2009.  The charges against Interplastic and the changes already in place are spelled out in detail at the MPCA website.  There is also a good article and a photo of the four women by Randy Furst in the September 8 Star Tribune.

Meanwhile, residents of Northeast anticipate cleaner air, while the intrepid women who pushed for change have no doubt moved on to the next challenge facing the neighborhood.  They will be reporting to the community at the next meeting of Windom Park Citizens in Action, Tuesday, September 20, at the community center in Pillsbury School

Local Author Sarah Stonich Premieres Friends of Northeast Library Reading Series

Sarah Stonich is a Northeast resident, a mom, a locavore, weekend hiker, neighborhood walker — and a well-recognized Minnesota writer.  Sarah will share her thoughts, experiences and her written words at a special reading and talk sponsored by Friends of the Northeast Library on Thursday, September 29, 6:30-8:00 pm at the newly-renovated Northeast Library, 2200 Central Avenue.   This special event is the first in a series of readings by local writers sponsored by Friends in celebration of the “new” library and of the recently-organized local Friends group.

Readers may well know Sarah’s books and other writings.  She has published internationally acclaimed novels and short stories.  Her first book, These Granite Islands, is set in Minnesota.  Vacationland, is “a volume of interconnected stories” focused on a crumbling resort hosting a mix of visitors who tell the history of the place over four decades.  Shelter is a memoir that Sarah describes as “a skinny dip into the past.”  Sarah’s work is also included in the very popular Fiction on a Stick now being read by Minnesotans wherever they may be.   Web readers will find several excerpts from Sarah’s writing online on Sarah’s generous website.

Radio listeners have likely heard one of the several interviews that Sarah has shared on local talk shows.  During March of 2011 Sarah was interviewed by Euan Kerr, Ian Leask on Write on Radio! (KFAI) and Kerri Miller on MPR Midmorning.  The interviews are all available for listening online.

Sarah offers a great interview, which portends a delightful evening at the Library.  Consider this response to a questioner’s query concerning her thoughts on e-books:  Sarah says, “By the time my 22 year old son’s generation are THE book consumers, Wally Lamb novels will be repurposed as doorstops, and big [publishing] houses that haven’t embraced the genre will have hung by their own petards and lack of vision.”

Reflecting on her own library experiences Sarah recalls recent times when she was
an itinerant library bum.”

During the down days at Northeast Sarah says she alternated among Bottineau, St. Anthony and her favorites in her hometown to the East.  She reflects that she is “thrilled” that she will be the inaugural author talk presenter at the “lovely” renovated Northeast library.  She expresses a generous hope to remain involved with plans for future Friends of Northeast- sponsored readings by local authors.

The evening with Sarah Stonich is free and open to the public.  No reservations required.

Friends of the Northeast Library is a membership organization of friends and neighbors who support the local library.  For more information click on the link or contact Friends at Northeast@supporthclib.org, call the library (612 543 6775) or pick up Friends information next time you’re visiting Northeast Library.




Deming Heights – a Northeast Minneapolis hidden treasure

Looking for some autumn fun?  Try packing camera and maybe a snatch of buttery Scandinavian treats for a climb up Norwegian Hill.  It’s in beautiful Northeast Minneapolis, on St. Anthony Parkway near Fillmore in the peaceful and shaded depths of Deming Heights Park, a ten acre jewel of the Grand Rounds system.  You’ll be viewing Minneapolis from one of the several vantage points purported to be the city’s highest peak, 963 feet above sea level.  There are, of course, rival claims, including one that Waite Park School at 1800 34th Avenue rests at the pinnacle of the city; other locals aver that Johnson Street NE and 34th Avenue tops Norwegian Hill by a good ten feet!

No mind, on a clear day the legendary Norwegian Hill  offers a fine opportunity to see forever.  Though one can only surmise the origins of the name of this locally famous pinnacle everyone in Northeast seems to know just where it is and why it’s worth the trip.

The origins of Deming Heights Park are easier to trace.  Portius C. Deming, for whom the park is named, was a park commissioner in the last years of the 19th Century and again from 1909-1919..  When the land for St. Anthony Parkway, including today’s Deming Heights, was acquired in 1913 the park was first known as Grandview Park.  It appears that Commissioner Deming thought the name aptly described the panorama.  Apt as that name may have been, the elegant wooded area was re-named to honor the commissioner himself when he died in 1930.

The recognition reflects Commissioner Deming’s commitment to the development of the city, particularly his persistent support of the North and Northeast sections of the Grand Rounds.  Capturing the vision of the commissioners and the genius of landscape architect Horace Cleveland with the informed support of community leaders Charles Loring and William Folwell the Grand Rounds thrive today as a hallmark of the City of Lakes.

Suffice to say, Portius Deming deserves the naming honor conferred on him.  Construction of the Grand Rounds is a story of vision, yes, but also of intense politics, bartering, badgering, public/private sector negotiation, finances, land acquisition/donation, weather, equipment and more. This snippet from the definitive history of the parkway areas of Minneapolis offers a glimpse of the day-to-day business with which Deming and his fellow commissioners grappled.

Through the relocation of University Avenue, the State Highway Department has brought about a very satisfactory grade separation with the avenue passing underneath the boulevard. On September 25, 1924, the various commercial clubs of Southeast and Northeast Minneapolis staged a gals parade and dedication exercises at Columbia Park, marking the formal opening of St. Anthony Boulevard.

The entire St. Anthony Boulevard project, exclusive of the Armour Tract, was financed as follows:  3/9 city bonds, 2/9 city-wide assessments, and  4.9 benefited district assessment.  Many favorable conditions during the construction period, such as available equipment, reduced cost of material, etc, made it possible not only to keep the total expenditure well within the estimates, but permitted the purchase of additional lots east of the parkway intersection at Central Avenue and at Deming Heights, which has greatly enhanced those sections of the Parkway

*It’s a story the depths of which I have yet not plumbed though it remains a goal for future posts to tell more of the story of the vision of Horace Cleveland and of the Commissioners that shaped the seven parkways that comprise today’s Grand Rounds.

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