Tag Archives: Windom Park

Pillsbury School Readers “Targetted”

Later this week several hundred members of the American Association of School Librarians will be gathering for their annual conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  The program covers the rapidly expanding outpouring of books that depict and reflect the diversity in the schools, improving reading skills, all manner of technology, information literacy and the inexplicable joy of reading and learning.  I hope to spend some time learning myself.

Even more, I wish I could organize a contingent of these learning librarians to visit my nearest school library media center at Pillsbury School, 2250 Garfield Northeast in Windom Park.  Pillsbury is a K-5 school in which some 650 emerging scholars are just becoming acquainted with the richness of their school library media center, recently rehabbed and restocked through the generous financial contribution of Target Corporation, the redesign of a national partner organization, Heart of America,  and the contributed services of scores of Target employees.

In a 2010 talk to Grantmakers in Education Reba Dominski, Target’s Director of Community Relations Education Initiatives, describes her corporation’s broad commitment to reading and literacy, the commitment that led to the grant to Pillsbury.  School Principal Laura Cavender saw a need to revamp the twenty-plus year old library – and she saw the possibility of Pillsbury applying to Target Corporation for funding.

The result was a $200,000 grant that spiffed up the media center and added 21st Century technology including IPads and computers, new furniture and redesigned reading nooks, and a school-wide buzz about what was happening in the school media center.  Most important, the library collection was the focus of the make-over;  over 2000 new books reflect the time and the student population.

I was fortunate to be on hand September 28 for the Grand Reopening of the Library Media Center – and I was not alone!  Some 175 Target employees who had worked on the project were there to enjoy the fruits of their labors.  Mayor Rybak, Councilman Kevin Reich and Senator Amy Klobuchar stood out in the overwhelming mass of parents and siblings, Pillsbury students, neighbors, teachers and red-shirted Target workers.

One of the most touching aspects of that day was the fact that every child, Pillsbury student or sibling, received a generous stack of age appropriate books – and a canvas bag in which to tote their treasures.  Families in need were also invited to share a plentiful bounty of good food.  These same families will continue to receive food, including fresh produce, throughout the school year.

There were cheers and tears, beaming teachers, proud Target employees and above all young folks reading, showing off their new digs to their friends and families.  This was a day to remember – I replay the event and the idea every time I pass the school.

If the librarians visiting from around the nation – and the readers of this post – don’t have the chance to visit Pillsbury, this video snippet:  http://www.kare11.com/news/article/940125/26/Big-library-makeover-for-Minneapolis-school]

captured by television KARE 11 offers an honest and informative overview of the project, their spirit and energy of the students and volunteers,  and its long term impact on a much deserving school.

Sarah Muench, Pillsbury School librarian, also found time to snap some great photos of appreciative young learners exploring their new media center.

All Politics Are Local – In Windom Park at least

An historic 111 Windom Park residents braved the chill to show up on the monthly meeting of Windom Park Citizens in Action on Tuesday, October 18. Judging from the early exodus of several newbies one might conclude that the draw was a hotly-contested neighborhood vote on a proposed liquor store at Stinson Marketplace, in space recently vacated by Rosacker’s.. A proposal to oppose the liquor store initiative went down to defeat in what seemed to many a confusing vote.

When the dust settled the remaining residents grappled with a wide range of major issues affecting Northeast in general, Windom Park in particular. One that received short schrift at this meeting was the issue of revamping/closing the I35 exit ramp at Johnson/Stinson/New Brighton Boulevard. That discussion was deferred till public discussion sponsored by Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis and MnDot. That discussion is October 25, 5-7 p.m. at the Northeast Recreation Center, 1615 Pierce Street NE.

Much more time was spent in exploration of the proposals relating to riverfront development. That discussion, led by Representative Diane Loeffler, covered a wide range of options and issues including environmental, fiscal and development implications. Loefler pointed out the input periods on a wide range of proposals is brief and that the time to learn and to act is immediate. Action on multiple fronts has profound implications for development of the neighborhoods East of the river, including Windom Park. The issue deserves and demands far deeper research and opportunities for resident participation.

The annual meeting of Windom Park Citizens in Action is set for November 15, 7:00 p.m. at Pillsbury School, 2251 Hayes Street NE. One item on the agenda for that meeting is election of Board of Directors.

Additional information at info@windompark.org or http://www.windompark.org.

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!

Northeast Mpls Residents Celebrate Annual President’s Day Walk

Neither snow, nor sleet,  nor hail shall keep the intrepid Northeast resident from participating in the annual President’s Day Walk and Celebration.  On Saturday, February 19, scores of neighbors trekked – or rode a shuttle bus – across the streets from the Firefighters Hall and Museum along 22nd Avenue to Windom Park (for hot chocolate and a warm-up) then on to Northeast Middle School (for chili and chat.)  Walkers pause en route to learn about the U.S. Presidents for whom the streets are named.

Some nitpickers, who probably don’t walk anyway, point out the rare inconsistencies in the street names – for whatever reason my house is on Stinson, between Benjamin (Harrison) Roosevelt.  Still, generations of Northeast residents can beat the much vaunted Watson of Jeopardy! fame on the topic of presidential succession.  Their ready recall comes not so much from the history text but from years of walking and biking the hood.

The 2011 President’s Day Walk marks the third year of the neighborhood celebration – with future treks planned.  Though some might wish that President’s Day were celebrated after the snow and ice are also history, Northeast folks rise to the occasion to  honor their forebearers, learn some history, and to share the spirit of a welcoming community that has always thrived in Northeast Minneapolis.




Windom Park Report – Antiquified

African American History Month presents a challenge for readers and teachers of American literature, for keepers of the American musical heritage – and for antique collectors and dealers. Julie Gubbin, owner of Antiquified*, can tell the stories.

Julie’s shop in Northeast Minneapolis collects and sells Black Americana Antiques, a selection of which is posted on the shop’s website. On a routine basis she faces severe criticism pitted against the voracious buying habits of customers who are ardent collectors of the genre.

In an article posted on the Antiquified website entitled “To preserve or not to preserve” Virginia Broich describes the dilemma: “Usually nobody objects to preserving history, but collectors of black Americana are divided over the issue.” The More Than McCoy website, cited by Broich, expands on the controversy:
Black Americana or Memorabilia refers to a variety of items relating to African Americans, dating back to the early days of slavery. Most of these items depicted African Americans in a prejudicial, stereotypical, and derogatory manner, especially from the 1900’s to the 1950’s. However, public outrage during the 1960’s along with the Civil Rights Movement, brought this practice to a halt. Today, Black Memorabilia is considered highly collectible, and is a reminder of America’s not so pleasant past.
Picture Aunt Jemima cookie jars, Gold Dust Twins washing powder, African Americans picking cotton and a host of images generally unrecognizable by all but the more mature.. Then picture 21st collectors scrambling to locate and purchase those same relics of a bygone day.

Consider the view of Julie’s husband, Ira Sims, an African American who collects, buys and sells African Americana. Broich quotes Sims’ observations on the displays at Antiquified: “There’s nothing in this case that defines me. The typical stereotypes – big lips, big eyes – are derogatory, but a McCoy cookie jar in the shape of a mammy is part of black Americana” Sims adds that “Black Americana tells a story of where we were and where we are now. It is to be shared. We cannot act like it never existed. If we did, we would be missing a large part of our history and culture.”

Black Americana is a unique focus of Antiquified featured here as a special resource spotlighted during African American History Month. Antiquified is a “full-service” antique shop, located for the past six years in the Alamo Building, which is itself an antique. Once the home of the Imperial Tractor Company, the Alamo Building was nicknamed by Northeast locals who noted its obvious physical resemblance to the San Antonio landmark. The building is evolving as a major destination for a mix of creative enterprises including Nimbus Theatre, the Wood Carvers Store & School and Gaytee Stained Glass.

Antiquified is in the Alamo Building, 1519 Central Avenue NE, in Northeast Minneapolis. Contact Antiquified at 612 789 1989 or shop@antiquified.com.

* Owner Julie Gubbin, who ought to know, says the name was inspired by Tigger who uses the wonderful construction on one of her kids’ videos. Though it may not be original AA Milne, it is a very Tiggerish sort of word.

Windom Park Neighborhood in Minneapolis – News and Views

One of the hats I wear with pride and a mighty sense of responsibility is that of citizen journalist covering my neighborhood, Windom Park in Northeast Minneapolis, for the Twin Cities Daily Planet.  My interpretation of the assignment is somewhat expansive so I mostly write about resources that are convenient to my Windom Park neighbors.  Though at times I’ve posted some of these Windom Park snippets on the blog I’ve never explained the raison d’etre for sharing these local treasures with blog readers.

In the past few days I have written a mix of reports from the hood that I’d like to share with blog readers.  The stories have interested me – I hope they are of interest to folks who from the world beyond the relatively narrow boundaries of Windom Park.  This is a good time to “formalize” a process.  I will post neighborhood news with a Windom Park note  so readers will know the item reflects the voice of a neighborhood resident sharing life in Windom Park with TCDP readers and beyond.  Posting on the blog “repurposes”** the information.

The following posts are some recent Windom Park stories that have been published or will appear in the TCDP.  More to come in future posts.


** Have I ever mentioned how I loathe phony words?



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