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Transit for Livable Communities working to better Midway Como

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

For Executive Director Jessica Treat, definition of ‘transit’ is about movement

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

A trip to Europe planted a seed that grew into a planning career for Midway resident Jessica Treat.

Treat grew up in suburban Bloomington, MN and then attended college in Tempe, AZ, a place of massive urban sprawl. When she had the chance to travel to Europe, she saw how things could be different.

JessicaTreat_daughterPhoto left: When Treat bicycles with her six-year-old daughter from their home on Snelling to her sister’s house in Falcon Heights she heads all the way over to Lexington because she doesn’t feel safe biking on Snelling. (Photo submitted)

Back home, she enrolled in a planning class. “I learned that the environment we have around us is of our choosing,” Treat observed. “If you want to have a place that’s oriented towards cars that’s what you’ll get, but you don’t have to.”

She also learned it takes a community to agitate for change.

Treat brings those lessons to her position as the executive director of Transit for Livable Communities (TLC), 2356 University Ave. W. She was named to the position this past January.

“Transit for Livable Communities is very enthusiastic about this next chapter for our organization,” said board chair Adam Welle. “Jessica Treat is a smart, strategic leader and a passionate advocate for transit, bicycling, and walking in the region. Under her direction, Transit for Livable Communities will be well-positioned to advance our mission, grow our impact, and create positive change in Minnesota.”

Different level of vitality in the streets
Treat comes to Transit for Livable Communities from St. Paul Smart Trips where she had served as executive director since 2007. In addition to her eight-year tenure at St. Paul Smart Trips, she previously worked at the Midway Transportation Management Organization and served as the executive director of the Lexington-Hamline Community Council.

It was during her stint with the community council that she was propelled into the discussion about Twin Cities transit. Residents were debating what should be built at the southwest corner of Lexington and University. They wanted something that would work well with future transit. In the end, the Wilder Foundation building was constructed.

For Treat, the definition of “transit” is a broad one. While some think of transit as being about trains and buses, Treat defines it as “movement.”

She pointed out that big box stores are spread out and by their nature don’t lend themselves to tight-knit communities. But when you have bus stops and train stops that people are walking or biking to, they rub shoulders with strangers with whom they might not otherwise interact.
“There’s a difference,” Treat insisted. “There’s a different level of vitality in the street.”

Health and equity benefits
Treat is also passionate about transit because it offers her the ability to impact climate change directly. When she bikes, when she walks, when she rides the bus or the train, she’s able to limit her footprint and be kinder to the environment.

“The impact of personal transportation on the environment is important,” Treat stated.

Then there are the health benefits of transit that are important to her. “We live very sedentary lives in the United States and have significant problems with obesity and diabetes,” she pointed out. Transit offers a way for people to build physical activity into their day. “If you take the bus, you have to walk or bike a bit,” she said.

There’s also the equity side to transit. Owning and operating a car costs about $8,000 a year, which isn’t affordable for many, she observed. Transit gives people options to get to jobs and school.

Gaps in the Midway Como transit system
As a 12-year Midway homeowner, Treat has seen the big transit changes that came with the Green Line. She is looking forward to the start of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) A Line down Snelling in June. (Watch for article in next Monitor on the A Line.)

“It’s a significant change and the first in the region,” pointed out Treat.

But there are still some gaps in the system where things need to be buffed up. In particular, there are some bus lines that would benefit from greater frequency, especially at night and on the weekends.

Treat is paying attention to changes that will come with the proposed soccer stadium and hopes that it will include bicycling improvements.

There are also places where there are no sidewalks, such as in the industrial areas.

There’s a significant gap in one’s ability to get from the Midway to downtown Minneapolis via bicycle. The industrial areas and rail lines create real challenges there, according to Treat.

Snelling presents a barrier for those trying to cross it, despite the recent improvements of curb cuts and a wider median. The biggest problem is simply that vehicles don’t stop at crosswalks, she pointed out. That’s a city-wide issue.

When Treat bicycles with her six-year-old daughter from their home on Snelling to her sister’s house in Falcon Heights, she heads all the way over to Lexington because she doesn’t feel safe biking on Snelling.

And she gets nervous when she bikes along Pierce Butler or Energy Park Dr. because there aren’t designated bike lanes, and she can hear the cars close by.

Charles Ave., however, is a great roadway to bike on, and Treat would like to see more bicycle boulevards like it in the city. The roundabouts at intersections help slow cars down and allow bicyclists to avoid stopping.

“As a woman and a mom who rides, I’d like to see protected bike lanes,” Treat remarked, such as those in Minneapolis with some kind of barrier between cars and bikes. She’s not alone. TLC has heard from other women who feel the same way.

Lobbying efforts
Founded in 1996, Transit for Livable Communities is dedicated to transforming Minnesota’s transportation system to strengthen the community, improve health and opportunity for all people, foster a sound economy, and protect natural resources. TLC is the largest transportation advocacy organization in the state, with nearly 10,000 advocates and members, and a staff of 8 employees. TLC promotes a balanced transportation system that encourages transit, walking, bicycling, and thoughtful development.

TLC has been active this spring lobbying at the 2016 legislative session, pushing lawmakers for new investments in all modes of transportation in the Twin Cities, suburbs, and Greater Minnesota.

They’ve partnered with groups pushing for better streets and bridges. “I don’t like potholes anymore than a driver does,” Treat stated.

She added, “It’s an exciting time for the work we’re doing.”

Lutheran Social Services honored as transport leaders
Earlier this year, TLC recognized a number of organizations, including Lutheran Social Services (2485 Como Ave.), for their work as Transportation Leaders. Through a variety of ways, Lutheran Social Services is supporting transit, biking, and walking.

The benefits for companies are many, according to Treat. When employees are physically activity, they are healthier and more productive. Transit, biking and walking help people save money, as well.

Some companies certified as transportation leaders offer transit passes at discounted rates. Others make sure they have a place to store biking gear and have a shower available. Others make a point of stating on their websites how to get there via car, bike and transit.

Treat pointed out that millennials want to live in a place where they don’t necessarily have to own a car. “How you get around is part of the benefits package,” said Treat.

Learn more at www.tlcminnesota.org.

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New Midway group takes aim at senior health

Posted on 10 September 2015 by Calvin

On Sat., Oct. 3, the Hamline Midway Health Movement (HMHM) will partner with Hamline Elementary School’s Fall Festival in a local scavenger hunt. Participants will walk from Hamline Elementary south on Snelling Ave., visiting local businesses and then return to the school. ‘Hunters’ will be given a Bingo game card with a listing of the participating local businesses noted on the card.

The goal of the scavenger hunt is for participants to walk into the businesses named on the card and receive a sticker from that business. Once the card is filled, the participants will return to Hamline Elementary and enter their completed card in a drawing for a grand prize. The Fall Festival will take place between noon and 4pm on the Hamline Elementary School grounds.

HMHM hopes the event will benefit the community in several ways. Participants will receive the benefit of exercise, fun, socialization, and getting to know neighborhood businesses. Local business will benefit from the prospect of new customers. Participating businesses are encouraged to provide the ‘hunters’ with a business card or flyer; perhaps a coupon or some other incentive to encourage our hunters to purchase from that store. This event wouldn’t be possible without the help and support of the local businesses along Snelling Ave.

Together with our community partners, we hope to improve the health of Hamline Midway adults over the age of fifty and have the Hamline Midway community be known as a “wellness district.”

HMHM is a volunteer, community-based, “grass roots” initiative whose goal is to inspire and engage seniors in the Hamline Midway area to incorporate healthier lifestyle choices into their daily lives.

Within the Hamline Midway senior community, the HMHM will host monthly educational and informative seminars, as well as provide physical and social activities with the goal of increasing the awareness and importance of self-care and prevention strategies. The larger intent is to reduce chronic health issues and the subsequent unsustainable dependency on healthcare services and a diminished lifestyle. Most importantly they hope to address the physical, mental, social and emotional concerns seniors experience and help them live their lives more fully and continue to be contributing and integral members of our community.

HMHM is in the early planning stages, but already there is synergy between this group and the community. The goal is to host a free, once-a-month gathering for Hamline Midway seniors. It could be followed by the educational programs on such topics  as Alzheimer’s and dementia, resources for caregivers, end-of-life planning, managing limited finances, teaching basic computer skills, gardening tips etc. Attendees will receive a light, healthy dinner, followed by activities such as educational speakers, exercise programs teaching yoga and Tai Chi, organized walking groups, ballroom dancing, board games, and yes, Bingo.

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HM Health Movement holds first event

Posted on 11 June 2014 by robwas66

IOC_HealthyVeggiesHamline Midway Health Movement’s first Community Wellness event for Hamline Midway residents fifty years and older will feature a free meal, guest speaker, healthy recipes, and door prizes. All Hamline Midway residents, fifty years and older, are welcome to attend on June 25, 6:30-8:30pm at Hamline United Methodist Church, 1514 Englewood Ave. Come learn how to age with gusto and vitality.

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Midway local foods movement readying for abundant 2014

Posted on 13 March 2014 by robwas66

Feat3_14MidwayFoods

Even though a few feet of snow still cover any sign of tillable land, Hamline Midway local food activists are planning new ways for more neighbors to grow their own food. Residents grow their own produce and enjoy the many community gardens in the Midway area. (Photo by Kyle Mianulli)

By VALERIE STEFFL

Even though a few feet of snow still cover any sign of tillable land, Hamline Midway local food activists are planning new ways for more neighbors to grow their own food.

Hamline Midway and surrounding area is home to a vibrant local foods scene made up of the Gardening Matters’ Midway Local Foods Resource Hub, Hamline Midway Local Foods Project Group, Midway Green Spirit and Hamline-Thomas community gardens.

The soon-to-be Frogtown Farm is another major resource that is looking to sprout this year. Community members have worked tirelessly in conjunction with the City of Saint Paul, the Trust for Public Land and the Wilder Foundation to acquire a 12.7-acre plot of land for a public park. Five and half of those acres will be a dedicated urban farm.

Frogtown Farm is currently seeking monetary support from local residents in order to become an inclusive place for learning and a local healthy food system. The first phase of the farm is set to begin this summer with a working farm ready in Summer 2015. Check the Frogtown Farm website for ways to get involved and for information on their summer/fall ribbon cutting celebration this year.

Erin Pavlica, founding member and treasurer of Midway Green Spirit Community Garden has been involved in the neighborhood’s sustainable food efforts for over 12 years and has seen recent growing involvement.

“I think people are realizing it’s healthier and cheaper to have access to food in your backyard,” Pavlica said. “A lot of lower income families need the food in order to supply their families.”

Gardening Matters, a Metro-wide organization, supports the Midway Local Foods Resource Hub, which provides affordable seeds and plants that people need to start growing their own food.

Mallory Morken, of Gardening Matters, sees the hub as more than a place to get supplies, but also as a space for community support and collaboration.

“[Gardening Matters] is also organizing monthly gatherings called Community Food Forums to do just that—highlight the good work already happening, and bring people together to network, collaborate, dream, and scheme,” Morken said. “We’re also trying to make it easy for people to collaborate at the events on bulk orders like fruit shrubs, mulch, or any other garden resource.”

Registration for the resource hub is available now directly through Gardening Matters’ website, www.gardeningmatters.org.

Saint Anthony Park Community Council and Hamline Midway Coalition’s Transportation and Sustainability Coordinator Lauren Fulner is at the center of the neighborhood’s local food scene. She is working to bring new life to the Hamline Midway Local Foods Project Group.

“Hamline Midway is a great place for sustainable food because the people involved have above average neighborhood pride and have passion and energy to get things done,” Fulner said.

With the new formalized HMC staff capacity and money dedicated to the project group, Fulner hopes to work with the Midway Local Food Resource Hub and committed community members on specific and distinct projects such as a local foods wiki map and fruit tree seedling distribution.

Pavlica and Fulner both highlighted the collective community interest in a shared commercial kitchen space for classes, canning, fermenting or upcoming chefs or bakers. Work is underway to make that a reality, as well.

If you have a specific foods project in mind or are interested in working with the Hamline Midway Local Foods Project Group, email Lauren Fulner at lauren@hamlinemidway.org.

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Page & Flowers leading urban garden movement in the Twin Cities

Page & Flowers leading urban garden movement in the Twin Cities

Posted on 11 July 2013 by robwas66

 

Page & Flowers is working with the city regarding regulation surrounding the hoop house next to their home in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood.

Page & Flowers is working with the city regarding regulation surrounding the hoop house next to their home in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood.


Local couple named 2013 Ramsey County Farm Family of the Year

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

The 2013 Ramsey County Farm Family of the Year lives and farms in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood.

Cherry Flowers and Tim Page of Page & Flowers (formerly named Holistic Health Farms) are part of the growing movement of urban farmers. “We were the first people to put up a hoop house in St. Paul,” Flowers said. The 6.5-foot high hoop house sits alongside their home. It’s one of the many innovative methods the two have employed in their urban garden plots.

“We push the envelope,” Flowers said.

They believe that urban farms are important and that they empower the people who contribute. “In neighborhoods that have community gardens, the crime rates go down,” said Flowers. “Property values go up. Communities are connected.”

The hoop house enables the farmers to extend the Minnesota growing season significantly, which gives them an edge at farmer’s markets. In the winter, they use the hoop house for compost. The compost is used to enrich their soil, which in turn enables them intensively farm the small plots they have.

Page and Flowers are actively working with St. Paul and Minneapolis officials to standardize the requirements on hoop houses. In Minneapolis, they are considered a temporary structure, Flowers pointed out. Right now in St. Paul, they are considered a permanent structure, similar to other outbuildings. The size is limited, and footings are required. Page and Flowers are working with St. Paul right now regarding their own hoop house. They’ve had to make it smaller to comply with regulations, and are installing 12-foot-deep concrete footings. St. Paul’s regulations are limiting for the urban farmer, Flowers noted, many of who are using land that they don’t own.

TECHNIQUES TO MAXIMIZE LAND USE

“We try to use a lot of techniques to maximize the use of the land,” said Flowers. She added that if they owned 140 acres, they wouldn’t need to be as conscious of space as they are. But because they have small plots in the city, they try to cram as many plants together as they can.

With companion planting, Flowers and Page put plants together that benefit each other, such as mint and cabbage and asparagus and strawberries.

Within their rows, there is a mixture of vegetables. Between the tomatoes is basil and at the ends of the lettuce rows are onions.

They don’t walk on the rows where they plant to avoid compacting the soil.

They use SPIN techniques, planting a lot of items in two-foot-wide rows that are easier to weed. The staggered rows resemble the pattern of a dice. Instead of placing carrots three inches apart in rows that are 15 inches apart, their carrots are merely three inches apart.

Rows that are skinnier cuts down on labor costs because they are easier to weed. They also lay burlap coffee bags between plants to keep the weeds down, a product they’ve found works much better than other options. “It allows us to focus more on growing and less on weeding,” said Flowers.

GARDENING THROUGH EXPERIENCE

Flowers learned about gardening at a boarding school in Iowa where she lived during her four high school years. The students did everything there, including butchering pigs and making yogurt. Her passion has most recently led her to attend the classes to be a Ramsey County Master Gardener; she has 50 volunteer hours left before earning her certification.

Page picked up his knowledge of gardening through the youth work he’s done.

The duo met working in an urban garden in North Minneapolis where teens from low-income families were learning about how to grow their own food.

In addition to the plot next to their house, Page and Flowers operate a one-acre market garden at Maryland and Arundel St. in St. Paul’s North End neighborhood. The land is owned by Sparc, a community development corporation, and was initially slated to be a housing development. When the market changed, Sparc decided to focus on market gardens. Page and Flowers only use about half the site there, and host a community garden on the other half.

The duo also farm on certified organic land in North Branch that is owned by the Women’s Environmental Institute. They are involved with gardens in North Minneapolis, and last year provided a site for a Picnic Operetta by Mixed Precipitation Theater. Over 150 attended the event in their garden, which included not just the musical performance but a 5-course sampling menu.

TRANSFORMING LIVES

Page and Flowers are known for their youth mentoring work through Boys Totem Town in St. Paul and Emerge Community Development in North Minneapolis. The look for opportunities to put youth and seniors together. Their work tends to involve gardening. They believe it is important to teach young people about where their food comes from. “I can’t tell you how many kids have no idea that carrots come from the ground,” said Flowers. “It’s exciting to see the transformation.”

TOUGH TO MAKE A LIVING AS FARMERS

Despite all the effort they put into growing vegetables, the duo recognizes that they can’t make a living off of just farming. Even rural farmers often have second jobs, Flowers pointed out.

In addition to working elsewhere, Flowers and Page have begun focusing on “value-added products” that they sell while at farmer’s markets. These items include the burlap coffee bags that block weeds, and several food items: salsa verde, Page’s Cha Cha relish/chutney, zucchini bread and flavored vinegars. Flowers & Page can be found each Saturday at the Mill City Farmer’s Market and on Sundays at the Linden Hills Farmer’s Market.

Page teaches classes on how small entrepreneurs can survive in part by focusing on value-added products. He also manages Market on the Bluff at 798 E. 7th St., an event on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Why do farmers need an extra job to survive? Why is food in the United States so cheap? Why can’t a lot of people afford to buy food? Those questions point to problems with the United States food supply.

“We think that local, sustainable food is part of the solution,” said Flowers.

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Building a ready and resilient neighborhood

Posted on 10 December 2015 by Calvin

By MARIA HERD
What are the challenges to building resilience?
How can you increase readiness and resilience in your community?
How do people connect in the neighborhood?
How can we increase trust and communication face to face with neighbors?

Midway residents brainstormed answers to these questions and more at three community workshops held in October and November—the beginning of the Ready and Resilient Hamline Midway movement. The main purpose of the meetings was to better prepare the community for events of extreme weather like ice storms and heat waves. However, the overall mission expanded to strengthen connections between neighbors in Hamline Midway.

IMG_4831PHOTO LEFT: Neighbors brainstorm how to make Midway more Ready and Resilient in Snelling Cafe on Tue., Nov. 17. (Photo by Maria Herd)

“They’re really discussion-lead,” said Kyle Mianulli, the Director of Community and Engagement at the Hamline Midway Coalition. “We want to be able to learn from the from the elders in our community who might have experienced moments of adversity in their lives, and use their experiences to form a blueprint for similar situations in the future.”

Last May, five members of the Hamline Midway Environmental Group attended a day-long climate change resilience training put on by Macalester College at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The goal of the workshop was to empower St. Paul communities to be prepared for extreme weather events that are increasing in frequency in the face of climate change. Attendees had the opportunity to apply for a neighborhood grant, and Midway was awarded $1,500.

The need for community
At the training, a news clip covering the heat wave of 1995 was shown to the audience. The extreme weather event resulted in over 700 heat-related deaths in Chicago over a span of five days. The majority of victims were poor, elderly residents that lived alone.

IMG_4801PHOTO RIGHT: Ready and Resilient Hamline Midway Coordinator Julie Hellwich’s example of an emergency tool kit that she had on display at each workshop. (Photo by Maria Herd)

“A lot of people died in their homes because no one knew that they weren’t okay, and that video is what inspired us to try to connect more with the community,” said Ande Quercus, a four year resident of Hamline Midway.

Through discussions at the Ready and Resilient workshops, attendees began developing the language for a buddy system to implement throughout the neighborhood. Someone will be assigned to check in on an elderly or vulnerable person on their block during an emergency.

The purpose is that when disaster strikes, “instead of spreading out multi-directionally and connecting with everybody, you know that you’re supposed to connect with this one person to make sure they’re okay and tend to immediate needs they might have,” said Mianulli.

The elderly is not the only sector of the population that Ready and Resilient Midway hopes to both learn from and assist in emergencies. Immigrants and single mothers in the neighborhood may require special assistance during disasters as well.

“When we talk about immigrants or elderly people we think of vulnerability, but they’re also very rich assets,” said Julie Hellwich, Ready and Resilient Hamline Midway Coordinator. “We can learn from immigrants who come here if the pathways of communication are sensitive, and the is trust there.”

IMG_4813PHOTO LEFT: Neighbors discuss their concerns and suggestions to be better prepared in emergency situations at the third workshop in Snelling Cafe on Nov. 17. (Photo by Maria Herd)

At one workshop, attendees participated in a role play in which everyone was given a character to act out in the event of an emergency. For example, Mianulli was a single mother with three children whose native language is not English, and a big storm had cut off the power. He had to come up with what that person’s immediate needs would be, what resources are available to tap into and what kinds of community resources would be helpful.

“We realized that everyone has vulnerabilities and that we all need to be prepared,” said Lucy Hunt, President of the Hamline Midway Environmental Group and one of the grant writers for Ready and Resilient Hamline Midway.

How do we communicate when technology breaks
Additionally, finding a means of communication if there is no mobile or internet connection available is an unanswered question that was discussed at more than one workshop.
“I worry that in an emergency if the cell phone network went down, people would just be paralyzed and not know what to do,” said Quercus.

Mianulli noted the effect technology has had on personal relationships in neighborhoods.
“It’s an interesting dynamic that has risen in the past couple of decades,” he said. “As people get more and more plugged in and more and more connected—we are more connected than we ever have been before—but at the same time people have turned internally and are less likely to know their neighbors or be familiar with them on a personal basis.”

A continuing role for neighborhood block clubs
One portion of the grant is helping revitalize the Hamline Midway Block Club program. There are currently 25-30 active block clubs in Hamline Midway. Organizers decide the geographic parameters and level of activity, which can range from an annual block party to monthly potlucks.

IMG_4837PHOTO RIGHT: Ready and Resilient Hamline Midway Coordinator Julie Hellwich presents attendees’ thoughts on the challenges to building resilience in the neighborhood.  (Photo by Maria Herd)

“It was interesting hearing about how some people in the community have tried to set up block clubs, but there has not been interest on their block,” said Quercus. “How do you be a part of an involved community when no one else around wants to be in that with you?”
Ready and Resilient attendees collaborated ideas to further connect with neighbors, and revitalizing the block clubs will hopefully build stronger bonds throughout the Midway.

Mianulli plans to include the buddy system in the latest edition of the block club manual, which includes community and city resources, contact numbers, flyer templates and information on how to start and organize a block club.

“How we better connect the block clubs and organize people is a big part of this discussion because you’re most likely to know and go to your immediate neighbors in the case of an emergency,” Mianulli said.

Hellwich, a 15 year resident of the Midway, has formed close friendships with the neighbors on her block through monthly potlucks. At one workshop, she shared an emergency situation in which she was grateful to have those connections.

Her teenage daughter was home alone when an intruder broke into their home. Hellwich instructed her daughter to call 911 and then immediately called her neighbors, whose numbers were already programmed into her cell phone. The neighbors came over, and her daughter was able to find safety in the home of a close friend.

“It wasn’t just someone that she had waved at, it was someone that she knew, she had many meals with, it was a family person, and that was a great comfort to me,” said Hellwich.

Block clubs are not the only way Hamline Midway neighbors stay connected. Representatives from the Hamline Midway Elders, Hamline Midway Health Movement and African Economic Development Solutions were all present at the final workshop in Snelling Cafe.

“It’s interesting that we have so many things going on in the neighborhood, all of these groups and events. Now we have this group, and I don’t think I’ve met any of you before,” said Margaret Schuster at the third workshop. “The more that we have the opportunities to meet each other, it enriches our neighborhood.”

Surveying Hamline Midway to compile a community resource list is another possible solution to be more ready and resilient. This list could include physical items such as generators to provide electricity during a power outage or skill sets such as fluency in another language or emergency medical training.

This list would be so that people “know exactly where to go in the event of an emergency, and not have to get on Facebook assuming that it’s working, or search high and low for someone with a certain medical background,” explained Mianulli.

The next steps
But the next official steps for the Ready and Resilient Hamline Midway movement are still to be decided.

“One of the big questions the organizing group has asked as we move forward is how do we continue this momentum and turn these conversations and workshops into something tangible for the community,” said Mianulli.

However, Ready and Resilient attendees appeared passionate about carrying over this energy into the new year after the grant period is over.

If you’re interested in becoming more involved with Ready & Resilient Hamline Midway or a block club, contact Kyle Mianulli at kyle@hamlinemidway.org.

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Food professionals cultivating change in regional food system

Posted on 10 December 2015 by Calvin

During monthly happy hours, Minnesota Young Food Professionals connect, learn and catalyze action

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
A group of young professionals who are passionate about food is hoping to change the food system in the region.

MNYFP_Daniel and othersAmong them is Midway resident Daniel Gerdes, who joined Minnesota Young Food Professionals (MNYFP) a year ago through an internship with Hamline University, and now serves on its steering committee.

PHOTO RIGHT: Photo left: MNYFP monthly happy hours include delicious food and drinks. Midway resident Daniel Gerdes (center of table) is deeply thankful the group exists. “Some of my greatest memories with family (when I was younger) and with my close friends (more recently) involve making food with them,” remarked Gerdes. (Photo submitted)

“The value in MNYFP for me is a very welcoming community of individuals who genuinely care about the food system in the region, and are excited to talk about/become involved in/support local efforts to make the food system more sustainable and equitable,” said Gerdes.

“We’re helping connect various local food leaders, movements, and projects to support each other and realize the change they desire to see in our community.”

MNYFP_FarmTripMNYFP founder Eric Sannerud agreed. “For me, MNYFP is all about building friendships with fellow young folks who are working towards a better food system—relationships that will allow us to more effectively lead change together, now and into the future,” said Sannerud.

PHOTO LEFT: Minnesota Youth Food Professionals visit Prairie Horizons Farm in Starbuck, Minn. Left to right: Eric Sannerud, farmer; Mary Jo Forbord, registered dietitian and farmer at Horizons Farm; Hannah Jastram, registered dietitian and storyteller; and Donald Warneke, SNAP-Ed educator. (Photo submitted)

Sannerud operates Mighty Axe Hops in Ham Lake, working as a fourth-generation farmer on the land his great-grandfather settled. This year, Mighty Axe sold hops to Burning Brothers (located in the Midway neighborhood), Fulton Brewing, Bad Weather Brewing, Fair State, Bent Brewstillery and 10K Brewing.

Full-time food professionals into ‘foodies’
While some MNYFP group members like Sannerud work full-time as farmers, others are simply interested in the food movement and are self-defined “foodies” interested in healthy eating.

Gerdes falls somewhere in between.

Employed through AmeriCorps VISTA through the Phillips Family Foundation’s “Phillips Sectoral Employment Initiative,” Gerdes is placed at the Pohlad Family Foundation as a Program Associate with the Pohlad Foundation’s Youth Advancement Program (YAP). His range of duties includes creating a plan to expand the use of SNAP Employment and Training money to improve employment and training services for the State’s SNAP recipients (formerly known as food stamps).

“I think there are several very large issues the food system faces today—the greatest one among them is access to healthy food,” said Gerdes. “Wealth/income disparities in the US, and especially here in Minnesota, create grave health disparities for people of color and low-income people. The price of healthy food often puts it out of reach for people living near the poverty line.

“While SNAP helps expand families’ budgets to make that food more accessible, we must do more to help folks living in poverty access healthy food…especially locally-grown healthy food.”

MNYFP_HannahJastram_8422814248508588887_nPHOTO RIGHT: Hannah Jastram appreciates the deeply personal nature of the group and has been inspired to write more on her blog, landfoodlife.blogspot.com. Two of her closest friends are regular attendees, not because they are connected to the “food industry” in any formal sense, but because they respond to and connect with the passion of the other attendees, she pointed out. (Photo submitted)

Fellow steering committee member, Hannah Jastram is also working to change health and nutrition policies in the state. Jastram’s experiences touch upon many areas in the food industry. She worked in restaurants for eight years, got an undergrad degree in nutrition and dietetics, earned credentials as a registered dietitian nutritionist in 2012, and currently works as a communications associate for University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development.

“ECFD includes health and nutrition programs that work to change policy, systems, and environments to make the healthy choice the easy choice for Minnesota families, and it is my privilege to support them in this work,” she explained.

Monthly happy hours
MNYFP’s mission is to “connect driven, young food professionals in the greater Twin Cities area to develop a professional community, generate and share knowledge, and catalyze action.”

While some of those qualifiers are loosely defined (young and professional), the group is attempting to build a more connected sphere where people interested in changing the food system—or who are already doing so—can connect with each other. By connecting, they can help support each other’s work and collaborate to be more effective, explained Gerdes.

MNYFP_2ndAnniversaryMinnesota Young Food Professionals hosts monthly happy hours. The next one will be Tue., Dec. 15 from 6-8pm at Wedge Table in Minneapolis.

PHOTO LEFT: Minnesota Young Food Professionals celebrate their second anniversary in November 2015. The group hosts monthly happy hours centered around a theme. On Dec. 15, the group will meet at Wedge Table in Minneapolis from 6-8 p.m. (Photo submitted)

These monthly social events are centered around a theme. Recent topics included: Are we what we eat?; To organic or not to organic; and soil health and water quality. Local food system leaders share their stories and field questions from group members. MNYFP also hosts conversations on a range of different topics surrounding food. Events include icebreaker and team building activities.

Group members also visit local organizations to be more involved in food projects, such as helping with the harvest at Mighty Axe Hops Farm harvest and gleaning with Fare For All.

Connections
“The core function of MNYFP—to connect people to each other—is what feeds my soul. Nothing generates warm fuzzies for me like connecting people to the resources they need,” remarked Jastram. “To be a happy person, family, community, or city, you need to experience a meaningful connection with other humans, to be heard by others. MNYFP creates space for people to experience those connections and be heard in a way that attendees might not get in their place of work/education/faith.”

Jastram appreciates the deeply personal nature of the group. Two of her closest friends are regular attendees, not because they are connected to the “food industry” in any formal sense, but because they respond to and connect with the passion of the other attendees, she pointed out.

“Food is so personal, so intimate, and our discussions about food regularly go to those intimate places,” Jastram observed.

“The commitment among our ‘Cultivators’ (our word for leaders) to maintaining a community is authentic to our needs,” stated Sannerud. “We’re not your usual professionals group, and we’re not trying to be.”

Gerdes pointed out that the steering committee is always talking about how the group can be ever more inclusive to people who might not feel like they fit the group description of “young food professional.”

He is deeply thankful the group exists. “It’s very uplifting to know I have a time (at least) once per month that I can get together with other people in the Twin Cities who are actively involved with changing the way our food system operates,” Gerdes remarked. “I truly believe the more connections we make between the various moving parts of the vast regional food system, the smaller the space we’re all operating in will seem.”

Jennifer Nicklay, the newest MNYFP cultivator, is constantly inspired by the people she meets at MNYFP events, and impressed with how much motivation folks provide each other to act on their dreams and goals.

“The support network we’re developing will touch all aspects of the Twin Cities because we come together from the arts, education, farming, hospitality, and corporate sectors,” said Nicklay, who is a volunteer community gardener with Fairshare Farm in the Southeast Como and works at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota.

“As we continue to take on leadership roles in these sectors, we’ll be able to reach out to one another and more effectively enact change.”

For more information, check out the group’s Facebook page or email minnyfp@gmail.com.

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HM Elders plan monthly activities

HM Elders plan monthly activities

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

April2014IOC_HmalineMidwayEldersThe popular “Chair Yoga” class led by Nancy Giguere returns for an 8 week series on Thursday mornings beginning Jan. 8 from 10:30-11:30am. This free class is moving to a new location–the auditorium at the Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave. Chair yoga focuses on range of movement, alignment, stretching, strengthening, awareness, breathing and relaxation. All movement is done while seated or standing using the chair for balance.

The Caregiver Support Group is open to anyone caring for older adults or persons of any age with special needs. This group is facilitated by Monica Gallagher and trained volunteers. The group will meet on Thur., Jan. 8 from 6:30-8 pm (and meets regularly on the second Thursday of each month) at Hamline United Methodist Church, 1514 Englewood Ave. There is no cost and new attendees are always welcome.

Dr. Steve Vincent, from People’s Center Health Services in Minneapolis, will make a presentation on “Elder Health Care” at the Hamline Midway Elders monthly luncheon on Tues., Jan. 13, from 11:30am to 1pm. Free blood pressure checks will be provided and transportation for neighborhood seniors can be arranged with advance notice. Second Tuesday monthly luncheons are held at Hamline United Methodist Church, 1514 Englewood Ave.

HME are excited to be partnering with the Hamline Midway Library again for the upcoming winter series that will be held at the library and feature guest speakers on a wide variety of topics. Programs will be held on Wednesdays, 1-3pm. New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger kicks off the series on Jan. 14 – and folks of all ages are invited to attend any/all programs. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information on any of the above programs, please contact Hamline Midway Elders at 651-209-6542 or info@hmelders.org.

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IOC10_14LibraryGraphic

From cows to Tai-Chi to Buster Keaton

Posted on 08 October 2014 by robwas66

A month of activities at the Hamline Midway Library will help open your eyes to the world around us

IOC10_14LibraryGraphicThe librarians at the Hamline Midway Library are working hard in October and early November to bring library patrons an amazing array of activities and cultural experiences, including a front-lawn petting zoo, improv after hours, a theater performance, and a silent movie matinee with live musical accompaniment.
The Wednesdays @ 1:00 series continues throughout the fall. Wed., Oct. 15, 1-3pm, Harriet Mednick presents “Herbs and Spices: Aromatic Stories and Secrets.” Mednick continues the food theme with “Take Your Dose of Chocolate” on Oct. 22, 1-3pm, sharing how chocolate has been used medicinally throughout history.
On Wed., Oct. 29, 1-3pm, Tom Fitzpatrick presents “Effectively Reading Aloud with Children.” Each participant will receive a free picture book to share with the children in their lives.
Hamline Midway Library fans should mark their calendars for Wed., Nov. 5, 1-3pm, when Steve Bailey of the Hamline History Corps will present “The Evolution of the Hamline Midway Library,” unearthing fascinating bits of history from the library.
Wed., Nov. 12, 1-3pm, the focus is on mind-body well-being as Bruce Tyler presents “Tai-Chi: A Healthful Regimen of Gentle Movement.” Participants will have an opportunity to try out a few warm-up movements, simple breathing exercises, and Tai-Chi postures.
Toddler and Preschool Storytime happens Fridays from 10:30-11am and is offered Oct. 10, 17, 24, and 31 and Nov. 7 and 14.
Fri., Oct. 10, 17, and 24, the library stays open for special evening hours from 7-9pm for an improv performance by the Playground Players and special guests.
Fri., Oct. 17, 2-3:30pm, the library will feature a silent movie matinee of two Buster Keaton comedies, “Neighbors” and “One Week.” These short, hilarious films will be accompanied by local band Dreamland Faces. Hot popcorn and cider will be served.
On Sat., Oct. 18, from 2:30-4:30pm, don’t be surprised to see cows and sheep grazing on the library front lawn. It’s all part of the MOO!velous Celebration, an outrageous trunk show with local author David La Rochelle and local illustrator Mike Wohnoutka, featuring their book “MOO!,” winner of a 2013 Minnesota Book Award. The show will feature live music with Tom Lieberman, snacks, crafts, and a petting zoo with farm animals. It’s all made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
Wed., Oct. 22, 7-8pm, actors from the Park Square Theatre’s production of “33 Variations take the stage to perform scenes from the production and discuss their work in the program Behind the Curtain with Park Square Theatre. 33 “Variations” explores themes of memory, music, and life-changing moments. Contact the Friends, who are presenting this event, for a 1/2 price ticket offer in conjunction with this program (must attend library program to get special offer).
On Sat., Nov. 1, 1-3pm join the monthly Saints and Sinners Mystery Book Club for discussions of good mysteries. The title for Nov. is “A Time to Kill” by John Grisham. Contact Geraldine Balter for the latest titles under discussion at gerrib13@q.com or 651-224-5570.
Book club fun continues on Sat., Nov. 1, with the Kids Book Club for book lovers ages 8-12 meeting 1:30-2:30pm, and the Teen Book Club meeting 2:30-3:30pm (for readers ages 12-18). The teens will be discussing “Navigating Early” by Clare Vanderpool, and both groups will enjoy snacks together.
Saturday Club offers monthly drop-in activities for school-age kids in art, crafts, technology, and FUN. It will meet in the library auditorium on Sat., Nov. 8, 1:30-4:30pm. This month’s activity is to be determined, but it’s guaranteed to be something new and interesting.
All St. Paul Library locations will be closed Mon., Oct. 13 for a staff training day and Tuesday, Nov. 11, for Veterans Day.

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