The 21st century version of ‘over the fence’: Facebook

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin

Hamline Midway Facebook page deals with everything from dog poop to the stadium to racial insensitivities


The purpose of Facebook is to “connect with friends, family and other people that you know,” but the members of the Hamline Midway Facebook Group also use the social media platform to communicate with a lot of people that they don’t know—Facebook users all throughout Saint Paul’s Hamline Midway neighborhood.

facebook-like-button-big-free-images-at-vector-clipAs of press time, the group has nearly 4,500 members. That’s significant considering Hamline Midway’s population at the 2013 census was 9,600 people above the age of 18–meaning nearly half of the adults in the neighborhood are members of the page. Group administrator Chris Jones estimates that the page grows by about a 1,000 members a year.

“This group does wonders to keep neighborhood communication open and information flowing. As group members make connections, share resources, and discuss issues that impact our lives, many of us have found this group to be a vital part of our community-making,” reads the group’s purposes, rules, and guidelines.

Posts range from reports of suspicious activity, public service announcements, lost dogs, events, job postings, business recommendations, funny pictures, and jokes, to neighbors offering to lend a helping hand with shoveling snow or giving away food. Group administrator Christine Brinkman estimates that on an active day, there can be up to 10 posts every hour.

Laura Whitley, another group administrator, says the page is a reflection of Midway’s incredibly diverse neighborhood, as well as a sense of community and the connections between people.

Reoccurring conversations
According to the administrators, the same type of neighborhood debates continually come up at the same time every year, and generally they are the same people in the arguments.
One that come up every spring is, wait for it…dog poop.

“There is this big debate over how to get rid of dog poop,” said Brinkman. “Is it okay to throw it in someone’s garbage can? Or a public trash can? Or do you need to take it home?”

Apparently the dog poop debates became so heated, that some neighbors put stickers on their trash cans saying “No dog poop,” said Whitley. In response, other neighbors made dog-poop friendly stickers for their trash cans.

The plans for the new Midway stadium have repeatedly been debated on the page for awhile too; neighbors were even debating what to do with the space before the stadium had been proposed.

The newest group administrator, Dan Buck, has been watching these conversations over time.

“For years people have complained about the Midway Center: ‘It’s not pedestrian or bicycle friendly.’ ‘It’s rundown.’ ‘It’s dumpy.’ ‘I wish something new could happen.’ ‘Why isn’t something happening in that big lot?’” he recalled from the posts.

Buck said that before the stadium was proposed, there were comments all over the group from people wanting to fill the space with a development that was bicycle, pedestrian and traffic friendly.

“A lot of things that were talked about on the neighborhood page are in that [stadium] plan. Is that by accident or on purpose? I don’t know,” Buck said.

Buck also noted that it appears to be just a handful of people that are against the stadium and are very vocal about it on the page.

facebook-logo-vector-art-clipartBrinkman also remembers heated discussions on the page regarding the stadium. She believes that some of those conversations are a good example of the economic diversity of the neighborhood.

All the admins agree that the page has helped prevent additional crime in the neighborhood because it provides a platform for people to communicate suspicious activity.

For example, someone will post that they have seen the same person drive around the block four times, and it gets called in for appearing suspicious.

“Once or twice they have caught someone with a history,” said Jones.

Branching out
The admins recalled several instances in which after many comments and posts regarding a common interest or concern, members have branched out and created their own more neighborhood specific Facebook groups or pages.

One example is the “Hamline Park Neighbors” page. According to Brinkman, many people were voicing their concerns about issues at the Hamline Park like rough activity among unsupervised youth and drug dealing that appeared to be going on. These neighbors organized a new page, which his now used to organize plantings, park cleanups, events and extend invitations to neighbors to join them for a relaxing evening at the park.
“I truly believe that started because the community concerns were made known on the page, and from there people stepped up to take action,” said Brinkman.

The admins cited more pages that have branched off the Hamline Midway Facebook Group including a canine page, a barter page, a toddler group, a walking group, a knitting group, the Hamline Midway Craft Group and more.

“You can’t give the page credit for starting them all, but for connecting people,” explained Whitley.

One of the more heart-warming pages that has branched off is called the Hamline Midway Angels.

In the past, members falling on hard times have posted in the Hamline Midway group reaching out to their neighbors for help.

“There are a lot of people who don’t have the ability to make ends meet. They have to choose between paying bills and Christmas presents,” said Jones.

Many neighbors have not hesitated to respond to those posts and have provided meals and more for others.

However, it became apparent that some people were embarrassed to ask for help, so an anonymous “HM Angels” page was born. The page regularly organizes donations and is holding a “Fun Find May Day” egg hunt event for children in the neighborhood next month.

The group administrators are anonymous, giving off the angel persona.

“Whether it is a need for car maintenance to get to a job, help with purchasing a uniform for work until a first paycheck comes through, or to need a couple meals to get someone through until their next paycheck, the HM Angels will look to connect neighbors to each other for help, as well as existing services or resources in the neighborhood throughout the year,” reported the Hamline Midway Coalition.

“We’re not for sale”
The admins pointed out more than once that as volunteers with their own busy lives, monitoring the page constantly can be a challenge, even among four people.

However, they have heard of other Facebook neighborhood groups that monitor their posts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and have zero negativity.

Wondering how that was possible, their question was recently answered when a realtor contacted them trying to purchase the Hamline Midway Facebook Group.

“Realtors hate the page because it’s real life,” said Jones. The dog poop and crime posts make the area look less desirable, and in effort to sell more houses, realtors have begun to pay off the admins and pay new admins to monitor neighborhood pages.

But the Hamline Midway Facebook Group admins were unanimously against selling.

“They want to sanitize the page, whereas we want it to be a reflection of a real community,” said Whitley.

“I’m in favor of complete transparency,” added Jones.

Censoring the negativity
That’s not to say that the admins never remove posts, comments or people from the group.

The group has user guidelines and rules that state hate speech, harassment or bashing toward any one group or person is not allowed.

However, when thousands of people from different cultures and backgrounds come together in an online forum, what is considered respectful and appropriate behavior tends to be subjective, according to the admins.

“They don’t know they’re violating them [the rules] because how they speak at their dinner table consists of just their family and people who have the same thoughts as they have, and they do not realize this a huge dinner table now,” said Jones.

One of the most debated guidelines is the definition of “bashing” said Brinkman.

“It’s not okay to bash an individual or business, but then there are people who live in a world of ambiguity and want to know the difference between bashing and critiquing,” she said.

When it does come down to removing a post or comment, the admins get hit by two groups of people with different views on how the page should be run.

“We walk this fine line,” said Whitley. “There are people who are like ‘You’re depriving us of our freedom of speech’ and then there are people that are like ‘Why are they still here? Why are you allowing them to get away with it [negativity]?’”

The admins are frequently accused of censoring posts or comments when they’re not the only ones with the power to do so. The original poster, the original commenter or even Facebook itself can delete posts or comments, according to Jones.

The few times the admins have removed a person from the group, “it’s pretty egregious, or they have been told numerous times, and they’re still not getting it,” said Jones. She also said that in some cases, serious stalking and threats were being made, or in another, the user was trolling the group.

However, most recently the admins have been challenged by posts containing racist remarks that have spun out of control with hundreds of comments.

One post about a black person being searched at a Holiday gas station because “they looked like a suspect” garnered hundreds of comments and hundreds of replies to those comments. Individuals felt that they were being personally attacked, and the comments got so bad, said Jones, that they shut down the page temporarily.

This was an instance when the admins felt it was necessary to meet in person and discuss the Facebook group.

“For us dealing with them [racist remarks] there is a level of stress, and we need to all be clear that we are on the same page,” said Whitley.

“And that we’re all qualified to do,” continued Jones. “That’s kind of what our last meeting was about, recognizing that, and looking for a better way to [deal with the situation] because we’re all white females, and we see through those eyes.

“As far as myself,” she added, “I look through a white person’s eyes and I think I’m doing good, but then I realize that I’m not. And we realized our failure to quickly act on it was not the way we wanted to represent the neighborhood. We kind of dropped the ball on this.”

That’s when the admins decided it was necessary to add another administrator that could better assist with these types of issues.

“We had announced numerous times that we are looking for administrators, but there haven’t been a lot of responses,” said Jones.

Jones then convinced Dan Buck, an active member of the group who has previously called out other neighbors on their racist remarks, to be the fifth admin.

“I’m probably going to be a little more willing to step in when race becomes an issue because now I’ve been given an opportunity to do something,” said Buck. “I also don’t want to try to be speaking for all POC’s [people of color], but I’m not going to sit there and deal with the bullshit of racism.”

Buck has noticed that there are many neighbors on the page who have genuine hearts and want to help address racial issues, and they can check their privilege for a moment to see another person’s point of view. But then there are also people who have a ‘I think you’re feeling oppressed because you want to’ type of attitude, he explained.

“There obviously is still racism, especially in the neighborhood, and a lot of people don’t realize how out front it is there,” said Jones.

Nevertheless, Buck is grateful for the page. “For all the faults of the page, all the weirdness and issues and stuff, I truly am glad it exists,” he said.

As a new admin, he is hoping there is a possibility for some growth on the page.
“I’m not going to dream too big, though,” he said. “We are dealing with people through the Internet, after all.”

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Poet Guitar 1

“Poet Guitar” screens at the International Film Festival

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin

Filling ‘down-time’ on the bus leads artist to poetic interpretations in an animated film

Lisa Rydin Erickson is a multi-tasking mom living in the St. Anthony Park area. Her multi-tasking is reflected in the variety of artwork she creates—paintings, drawings, prints, and animation.

And all of those artistic skills have resulted in a short animation film that will be shown in the 35th annual Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, running Apr. 7-23 at St. Anthony Main Theater, 115 SE Main in Minneapolis. Other venues are at Metro State, McNally Smith, Rochester Gallery 14, the Cathedral of St. Paul, the Basilica of St. Mary and the Uptown Theater.

Poet Guitar 1Photo left: Drawing of a Hagstrom guitar by Lisa Rydin Erickson. Created on an iPad, artworks such as this make up the animated film she has created. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Erickson’s film was shown Apr. 10 at St. Anthony Main and will screen Apr. 16 at Rochester Gallery 14. Titled “Poet Guitar,” it is described as an experimental short of poetic interpretations of Hagstrom Guitars drawn on an iPad and set to music inspired by the real-time playback of the drawing process.

Erickson, who has combined her artwork with motherhood and employment as a dental hygienist, said she started drawing on an iPad around 2011 and took it with her on her bus ride to and from work.

“It was just a way to have some down time, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon on my way home,” Erickson explained. She said the drawing app on her iPad allowed her to draw on the screen. “It’s an old app, and it’s just like finger-painting,” she said.

A lot of Erickson’s drawings have been placed in various stores, and some of them were at the American Swedish Institute (ASI) in Minneapolis. “The Institute had an exhibition last summer of Hagstrom guitars that are made in Sweden,” she said. “ASI asked me to do some drawings, so I drew 12 different guitars with different kinds of poetic interpretations of Swedish themes, and part of Hagstrom and part of midsummer, things like that. That’s where the animation came from.”

Erickson decided that the only sound she wanted with the animation was Jimi Hendrix-style guitar playing. “My husband builds guitars and plays them, so I told him I really wanted him to play some loud guitar music for the film, and he did.”

“I thought ahead with the staff at ASI, so I just went there and had the images right there. It took me a couple weeks to draw them.”

Poet Guitar 003Erickson said she used a system of researching, looking and pulling images together. “I looked up a lot of things about guitars and Scandinavian history, and I started going off that with the drawing.”

Photo right: Lisa Rydin Erickson looks through her guitar sketches as she reflects about her animated film, “Poet Guitar.” (Photo by Jan Willms)

In her research, she discovered that the Hagstrom family had an accordion factory in Sweden. Karl Erik was sent over to the United States in the 1960s to explore the accordion market.

“He went home and told his father there were no accordions; there were guitars, electric guitars.” Erickson said one of the guitars is named after Karl Erik; another is called Pearloid because this was the material used where the keys are placed on an accordion. “They use that on the fronts of their guitars,” she said. Others are names, like Goya.

Erickson said one guitar was called Corvette, but they could not use that name, so they changed it to Condor. “So one is called Corvette Switch Condor,” she said. “Switch is also the name for a part of a guitar, but they also switched the name.”

One guitar is 12-string, and Erickson said the reference is like the Scandinavian weaving on the guitar.

“With this film, you can watch the drawing being made. It’s like a playback of finger-painting on the iPad. You can watch it being drawn and erased, forward and backward. I just kind of strung them together—a pretty simple kind of idea—and then just added music to it. It is image after image being added together.” she explained.

Erickson’s background is rich with various art forms. She studied painting and printmaking in school.

“During the time of having kids I worked kind of sporadically at their schools and at the Arboretum,” she said. She did a variety of arts and science projects with a group now called Nature-Based Therapy at the University of Minnesota. “At the time it was just horticulture-based therapy; now it’s nature-based. That’s a project I have stayed with for a long time.”

Painting backdrops for a dance school in St. Paul has also been a long-time project for Erickson. She has put together other animation shorts, some in stop-motion working with John Acre of Sloppy Films, Inc.

Erickson has also taught at the Galtier Elementary School, the first school in St. Paul to get iPads. She did a science-technology-English-Math (STEM) project.

“The science teachers had the kids write stories researching endangered animals, the English teacher helped them write the stories, and we did frames per second for the math. We put the iPads on music stands so the little camera would shine down. We painted backdrops and puppets. The kids made all the animations and did the recordings,” explained Erickson.

“I didn’t realize when I first studied art that I would be doing this kind of art now,” Erickson reflected. “I still paint. But the iPad is sort of a portable studio. When I was raising kids, it was either having a studio and having my paints out all the time, which would be great, but I was also working all the time. So the iPad would instantly allow me to do what I want to do, and I’m the boss. The color, composition, design and drawing are all right there. That was a pretty good discovery at a good time.”

The most challenging part of animation for Erickson is the time, or lack of it, because she loves doing it.

“When I do paintings, it’s wonderful but it seems like they go really quickly, which is good,” she said. “When I do prints that seems to be more of the business end of it. And when I do animation, it’s like ‘Well, what do I do with that?’ So I have been able to do projects, and that’s really fun.”

Her next project is creating a notebook of drawings for a dog run that is being built at the Arboretum. “There may be an animation with it,” she said.

Once she had completed Poet Guitar, she came across Film Freeway, in which filmmakers can submit their film online. “I sat down one night and submitted the film to festivals all over the world,” she said. She said she didn’t realize that would open up the door to weekly rejections. But then one Friday she found that her film had been accepted by MSPIFF. “I opened it up, and I was accepted, and it was to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Festival. I was excited. That was the best.”

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Harrigan Cover Front Actual

Local author releases timely novel ‘Crosshairs on Castro’

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin

John J. Harrigan hopes historical thriller helps readers understand decades of mistrust between Cuba and U.S.

As Cuba opens back up to Americans, a local author is hoping to help people understand what happened between the two countries five decades ago.

Harrigan Cover Front Actual“With President Obama’s initiative in opening up to Cuba, this a timely book that I hope everyone will read,” remarked author John J. Harrigan.

His recently published historical thriller, “Crosshairs on Castro,” weaves an assassination plot around the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The book revolves around Army lieutenant Charlie Parnell, who is blackmailed into the scheme by CIA rogue agents. Masquerading as an Irish journalist, he enters Havana only to meet danger at every step. He must elude his Cuban watcher, the tantalizing Isabel Fernandez, who learns his true identity just as the crisis erupts. While she debates what to do, Castro prepares for invasion, throwing Havana into chaos and cutting off Charlie’s escape route. He and Isabel must scramble for their lives.

The book is available in either paperback ($12.95) or Kindle ($4.50) on Amazon.com. Locally, it can be purchased at the Underground Music Cafe, 1759 Hamline Ave.

“In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis came within an eyelash of destroying the bulk of Western Civilization in a cascade of nuclear blasts,” observed Harrigan. “Throughout much of the 1960s and 1970s, the CIA devoted enormous energy trying to assassinate Fidel Castro. What I did was create a fictional assassination story and weave it around the real-life historical drama of the Missile Crisis. Nobody has ever done this before.”

Harrigan added that although these events of 1962 may have happened long ago, they did a lot to shape the long half-century of distrust between the two societies.

“We can’t remove that distrust unless we understand why it happened. ‘Crosshairs on Castro’ uses historical fiction to address that issue,” stated Harrigan.

Addicted to historical fiction
This is Harrigan’s third historical novel. “I’m addicted to historical fiction,” admitted the Falcon Heights resident.

Harrigan earned a Ph.D. from Georgetown University. He spent 30 years at Hamline University where he taught political science, chaired the department, served as assistant dean of Liberal Arts, and authored several textbooks.

“When the chance for early retirement appeared, I grabbed it to learn the craft of writing historical thrillers,” said Harrigan.

His debut thriller, “Patron Saint of Desperate Situations,” was praised as “excellent” by the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 2007. “The Patron Saint of Desperate Situations” is built around the plane crash that killed iconic U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone.

His second novel, “The Jeeptown Sock Hop” is an exploration of home life during the Korean War of the early 1950s, seen from the eyes of a white boy who falls for a black girl in a town deeply split by racial and class divisions.

“One thread links these stories,” remarked Harrigan. “I want to help people feel what it was like to live through these critical moments. Histories can tell us what happened in the past, but only novels and movies can get us to feel what it was like.”

Experience enhances novels
Biopic HARRIGAN-used this oneEarlier in his career, Harrigan spent three years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as a U.S. Foreign Service cultural affairs officer. “I loved Brazil and would go back in a heartbeat if I had a good reason to go,” said Harrigan. He still speaks Portuguese fluently, has close Brazilian friends, reads the literature, and listens to the music. Harrigan also taught courses on Brazilian movies for Hamline’s senior OLLI program.

Photo left: John Harrigan (Photo submitted)

The heroine of his first novel is a Brazilian immigrant single mom living in Minnesota who is devastated by Wellstone’s death. A somewhat minor character in his second novel “Jeeptown Sock Hop” is a nun from Cape Verde with a Portuguese accent who has a large impact on the novel’s 15-year-old protagonist. The heroine of “Crosshairs on Castro” is a young Cuban mother.

“Without my experience in Latin America, I never could have created these characters,” noted Harrigan.

Advice for aspiring novelists
Harrigan advises aspiring novelists to keep writing and submitting their pieces to appropriate venues.

But most of all, he encourages them to seek feedback.

“I’ve found an invaluable source of critiques in the Minneapolis Writers’ Guild,” said Harrigan. “Local authors can submit pieces to us. If we have openings, and the work holdssome promise, we will critique it.”

In exchange, the authors also have to critique other peoples’ writings.

“It’s amazing how much one can learn in the process of critiquing somebody else,” remarked Harrigan. “Having a first-rate group like this examine your work is infinitely more useful than paying several hundred dollars to some ‘expert’ to review it.”

He recommends using the Meetup website as a starting place for finding local critique groups.

“Whether it’s an epic poem or an article on a local sport’s team, you simply have to strive to write the most compelling piece that you can,” said Harrigan.

He is polishing off his next book, “Spiderwoman,” a thriller-caper built around a woman’s reaction to her soldier son’s death in the Iraqi War.

For more, browse www.harriganbooks.com or http://www.cubahopes.blogspot.com.

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Lyngblomsten kicks off iPod Project for Music & Memory

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin

apple-ipodOn May 1, Lyngblomsten, 1415 Almond Ave., will launch the iPod Project for Music & Memory. This month-long donation drive has a goal of collecting enough iPods for each of Lyngblomsten’s 237 Care Center residents. With the help of many individuals, Lyngblomsten will be able to bring the healing power of personalized music on iPods to all of its residents to help them feel connected to their memories, their lives, and each other.

That’s good news according to Andrea Lewandoski, Director of Arts and Lifelong Learning and co-leader of the program.

“Lyngblomsten is fortunate to have the Music & Memory program,” she said. “Past generations made music an integral part of their lives. It’s important that we as caregivers respond to their needs and desires to continue to have music as a natural part of their daily lives.”

Founded in 2010, Music & Memory is a nonprofit organization that helps enhance the lives of older adults in care facilities through the use of personalized music on iPods. Lyngblomsten staff completed training in Oct. 2015 to become a Music & Memory Certified Care Facility.

The program is simple. Staff learns what residents’ favorite songs and styles of music are by asking the residents and their family members. Lyngblomsten volunteers load the personalized playlists onto iPods, and residents receive an iPod customized with their favorite music.

While the program may be simple, its benefits are powerful. In addition to being an enjoyable and fulfilling activity, listening to music has been shown to:
• Awaken memories from the past, leading to a more engaged life
• Reduce anxiety and agitation
• Lessen reliance on certain medications
• Enhance socialization

While originally designed for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the program has been successfully used with older adults suffering from chronic pain, depression, and anxiety.

In addition to enhancing memories, two of the greatest benefits of listening to personalized playlists are that it enables a sense of individuality and is a valued and fulfilling activity for residents.

How you can help
Contribute to the May iPod Donation Drive.

Here are three ways you can help bring the healing power of music to older adults during Lyngblomsten’s month-long iPod donation drive in May.
1. Donate a gently used or new iPod.
2. Donate an iTunes gift card.
3. Designate a monetary gift to Music & Memory/Artful Living at www.lyngblomsten.org/donate.

There will be collection boxes on the Lyngblomsten campus to drop off in-kind and cash donations.

Kick-off event
Come to Lyngblomsten on Tue., May 10, to learn more about the Music & Memory program and kick off the Lyngblomsten iPod Project with a special showing of the award-winning documentary “Alive Inside,” a joyous 70-minute cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls. The film is showing at 6:30pm at Lyngblomsten, 1415 Almond Ave., and is open to the community. Allow 90 minutes for the film and discussion. Admission is free. Donations of iPods and iTunes gift cards are greatly appreciated.

Have questions about the Music & Memory program at Lyngblomsten? Contact Andrea Lewandoski, Director of Lifelong Learning & the Arts, at 651-632-5318 or alewandoski@lyngblomsten.org, or visit www.lyngblomsten.org/musicandmemory.

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Earth Day: a time for celebration and resolution

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin

By TRUDY DUNHAM, Ready and Resilient Hamline Midway

April is a time to celebrate our planet. The greening lawns and sun warming our faces herald Earth Day on Apr. 22. Celebrated in nearly 200 countries, Earth Day is touted as one of the largest secular celebrations in the world.

And like New Year, it is a time to step back and take global stock of where we are. How are we doing on those resolutions to adopt Earth-friendly behaviors? Are we good role models?

CleaningUpParkPhoto left: Hamline Midway residents clean up Hamline Park as a celebration of Earth Day. (Photo submitted)

The world is adopting earth-friendly practices. The United Nations agreement negotiated at the COP21 meeting in Paris last December opens for signatures on Earth Day. This agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions only goes into force when at least 55 countries responsible for 55% of the emissions have formally adopted it. Both the United States and China, responsible for 40% of the world greenhouse gas emissions, have indicated that they will sign the agreement on Earth Day. Another 120 countries will also sign on Earth Day. These Earth Day actions start building the momentum for the formal agreement adoption process.

Minnesota is a good role model. Xcel Energy announced last fall that it would cut carbon emissions 60% by 2030 by reducing its dependence on coal-fired plants and increasing its use of renewable energy sources. Some big MN businesses (including 3M, Best Buy, Cargill, General Mills and Target) have felt the impact of climate change on their supply routes, production, and sales, and are taking adaptive action. They are vocal in their support for more aggressive governmental action. Minnesota has made protecting water quality and quantity, and the tradeoffs it entails, a high-profile issue.

St. Paul is actively pursuing its status as a GreenStep City, and its Forestry Department is planting boulevard trees in our neighborhood. Hamline University has established a Director of Sustainability, Hamline Church formed a “Green Team,” and Hamline Midway Coalition is reorganizing its citizen input to strengthen our voice on environmental issues.

What can I do?
Which brings us to individual citizens. What are our goals, what do we need to do to keep the momentum building?

Many of us will take the Earth Footprint Calculator (http://www.earthday.org/take-action/footprint-calculator/). How many planets would it take if everyone lived as you do? ‘More planets than we have!’ is the usual answer. The behaviors at the forefront of change are often around our diet, transportation, and housing.

But given the current discussion about trash hauling in St. Paul (https://www.stpaul.gov/residents/live-saint-paul/utilities/organized-trash-collection), I decided to adopt trash reduction behavior as my individual goal for 2016.

It is said that if you want to understand a society, don’t look at its museums, but at its trash dump. We can’t haul our trash away—there is no “away.” Everything in our trash is a resource from our finite planet that we have wasted, which we might have put to better use.

So how can I reduce my trash? A quick look in my waste can says to start with less packaging. For whatever reason, the food and objects we purchase come elaborately wrapped in plastic, paper and cardboard. While there are debates about which covering is more environmentally friendly, the best option is as little packaging as possible. Carrying reusable containers for food is a strategy I’ll adopt:
• A reusable water bottle and coffee cup to decrease use of bottled water and disposable cups
• A “refrigerator dish” to avoid the to-go container when eating out
• Buying in bulk when feasible and using my reusable containers to carry it home
• A reusable bag or basket to hold all purchases

Composting is on my list. Ramsey County offers a how-to kit and free compostable bags (https://www.ramseycounty.us/residents/recycling-waste/organic-waste). Just drop it off at the Recycling site on Pierce Butler. And give more thought to what I purchase to ensure it is a durable or reusable product, or will be consumed before its shelf life expires.

At the core of my resolution is the consistency of my behavior—I do all the things I listed some or most of the time. Just not always. If I want to reach the zero waste standard (at least 90 percent of garbage is recycled, composted or reused), I can’t be inconsistent.

But my actions aren’t enough in 2016. I will need to speak out—to policy makers and friends. I will need to write letters and use social media to advocate for less packaging and more recyclable packaging, to talk trash reduction and earth-friendly actions.

Make your personal resolution to be a good steward of our earth. Use the power you have as neighbors, family, citizens and caregivers of this planet to speak up for it, to create a new normal that recognizes there is only one Earth. We can’t afford to waste it or its resources. I think this may be more important than any other Earth Day resolution.

The Ready and Resilient Hamline Midway project is an initiative of the Hamline Midway Environmental Group (HMEG) to build climate change resiliency in our community.

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Lady Cougars going to State!

News from Como Park High School

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin


• The BrandLab (www.thebrandlab.org) has awarded six marketing internships to Como Park Academy of Finance students. The recipients are Archie Gjerdrum, Larissa Evans, Titilope Yusuf, Tou Meng Yang, Angela Aryiku and Innocent Murwanashyaka. The paid summer internships will allow students to work alongside marketing and advertising industry professionals at various agencies and corporations throughout the Twin Cities. The Como students will be among 60 other interns who were selected from high schools across the metro area.

The BrandLab’s mission is to change the face and voice of the marketing industry by introducing, guiding and preparing students for careers in marketing and advertising. The interns were chosen through a rigorous application process. The BrandLab has been a community partner at Como for several years through Gail Rosenow’s Marketing classes, and recently launched two new initiatives this spring in Jamie Crandall’s Academy of Finance classes.

• A team of four Como Park seniors including Emma Hartmann, Katie Erickson, Lina Abajebel and Ellie Thorsgaard advanced to the State Championship of the Personal Finance Decathlon. More than 400 students competed online to qualify for the state competition, and the 12 qualifying teams from high schools across the state are set to compete at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis this month. If Como’s team wins at the state level, they will move on to the National Finals on May 22 in Kansas City, MO.
The Personal Finance Decathlon is an opportunity for students to test their knowledge in ten areas of personal finance such as economics, financial planning, investment banking and financial institutions. Students will prepare a case study analysis of a fictional family’s financial situation, present to a panel of judges, and then compete in a quiz bowl round.

• Como’s “Dare 2 Be Real” student group of 40 students, supported by three staff members, traveled to Memphis, TN during spring break. “Dare 2 Be Real” focuses on combating systemic racism to promote equitable access to education. On this “pay it forward” tour, the Como student group partnered with a national non-profit organization, Students Today/Leaders Forever, to visit several colleges, complete a variety of service projects, and ultimately visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

• Five advanced French students spent their spring break in France under the guidance of Como French Instructor Patricia Teefy. The travels began in Paris and eventually headed to Chartres, about one hour southwest by high-spread train, for visits to a couple famous castles. From there the students met up with their respective home-stay families for a full immersion experience and cross-cultural exchange.

• Advanced Spanish students from Senora Kirsten Peterson’s classes took their developed, interactive lesson planning out into the community to connect with elementary students and inspire language learning. The Como students conducted classes for young learners at St. Anthony Park and Chelsea Heights, incorporating numbers lessons, colors and storybook vocabulary.

Como Spanish students at SAPPhoto Right: Advanced Spanish students are pictured in front of St. Anthony Park Elementary School after leading second-grade students in fun, engaging introductory Spanish lessons. (Photo submitted)

• Como Park Robotics (aka BEASTBot Team 2855) was set to participate in the 10,000 Lakes Regional Competition at the U of M’s Williams Arena over spring break. Results had not yet been released when the Monitor went to press, but the team was proud, ready, and excited for the season’s culminating competition. Robotics coach Donna Norberg reported that Robotics team membership was at an all-time high this season with over 40 participants and that the “build season” had been rewarding, invigorating work.

• The school day on Apr. 1 concluded with the annual student-faculty basketball game. 1,000 fans watched the traditional festival of fun as players from the senior class play a friendly game with the staff that included a half-time dance routine from the Como staff cheerleaders. The Como tradition of this game always produces laughs and memories.

• Como fans also had a wonderful time supporting the Lady Cougars basketball team in the State Tournament. Fan buses and cars rolled over to Mariucci Arena on the U of M campus on Mar. 16 to cheer for the girls in their state quarterfinal game against Becker. While the girls lost a close game 62-57, their journey to state was special and provided an uplifting experience for the school amid challenging events that grabbed local news headlines.

Lady Cougars going to State!Photo left: The Como Park Girls’ Basketball team won the Section 4AAA Championship, defeating De La Salle 76-71 on Mar. 10 to advance to the State Tournament. (Photo submitted)

The Lady Cougars advanced to State by winning the Section 4AAA Tournament. They defeated Hill-Murray in the semi-finals, and beat DeLaSalle in the final to claim the Section 4AAA Championship. That was a crowning achievement for the program, and for senior Andrayah Adams, who finished her decorated high school career by achieving the team goal she always dreamed of—playing in State. Adams will study and play at St. John’s University in New York next year on a full scholarship.

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St. Paul Spring 2016 Art Crawl scheduled Apr. 22-24

St. Paul Spring 2016 Art Crawl scheduled Apr. 22-24

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin

Over 50 artists represented in open studios and galleries in Midway and Como

The St. Paul Spring 2016 Art Crawl will be held Apr. 22, 23 and 24 in multiple locations throughout the city. Hours are 6-10pm on Friday, 12-8pm on Saturday, and 12-5pm on Sunday.

Now in its 25th year, the Saint Paul Art Crawl has become much more than an open–house–style, art exhibit. It now features performances, events, spontaneous gatherings in studios, and local eateries. On average, 30 venues opened for the Spring Art Crawl including art cooperatives, buildings with art studios, galleries, and community businesses. With over 350 artists participating, it is one of the largest and most loved open arts events in Minnesota, and it is completely free to visitors.
Monitor neighborhood locations for the crawl include:

Front-Ave.-Pottery-icon• FRONT AVENUE POTTERY & TILE CO., 895 Front Ave.: Como clay studio and its artist neighbors invite the public to the community art event, invitational exhibit and sale—try your hands at the potter’s wheel or a free clay workshop; find the functional porcelain and atmospheric firings of Adorae Artworks-Luci Haas; functional wheel-thrown pottery by Brett Monahan; panoramic Midwest landscape photography of Jim Gindorff; watermedia paintings Marion Wolters; functional stoneware pottery of Jason Trebs; watercolors by Judith McLaughlin; functional playfully decorative stoneware by MJ Smith; sterling silver and stone jewelry by Jenny Levernier; landscape-inspired functional pottery by Laura Thyne; the thrown and altered functional ceramic wares of Steve Wicklund; and handcrafted functional ceramics and slab built pottery by Trucks Ceramics.

• BODHI STUDIO, 1563 Como Ave.: pottery, jewelry, and paper cut illustrations of Kara ZumBahlen; photography of Amy Gabriel; and outsider art tableaus of Andrej Peterka.

• CENTRAL BAPTIST CHURCH, 420 Roy St. N.: presents recent works by artist Michael Okerstrom and photographer Jay Rasmussen.

• INTERACT CENTER FOR VISUAL ARTS, 1860 W. Minnehaha Ave.: artists with and without disabilities, and inspire a spectrum of media that are created in their studio.

• BINDERY BUILDING, 708 Vandalia St.; on the first floor find the hardcover bookbinding by E&L Bindery, the pastel drawings and mosaics of Morgan Brooke, and the hand-bound books and greeting cards by Teresa Angelo BookArts; and in Studio 708 the oil paintings of Kyle Pettis.

• DOW BUILDING, 2242 University Ave. W.: Dow Art Gallery and Picture Framing featuring the fiber art of Joan Koiber, botanical ink images by Lina Snouffer, mixed media textiles by Peggy Wright, watercolors by Don Dikinson, pastel paintings of Bart Galle Studio, photography and digital art by North Woods Photos, abstracts and whimsical creature portraits by Susan Gainen, the SubArtParticle Physics of Robert Delutri, oil paintings on copper by Denise Minkler Marych, abstract contemporary multimedia by Nathan Renken; in Studio 150, the porcelain and wood fired pottery of Kevin Caufield; in Studio 164, the contemporary abstract paintings and installations of Greta Claire, and the mixed media paintings and murals of Ryan James Ryoe; in Studio 201A the imagination+paper+paint+charcoal+words of LR Johnson of Blue River Studio; in Studio 201B the collage and mixed media of Tobersonstudios; in Studio B-14 the plush monsters, apparel, and screenprints of Tim Monsters and the photography and jewelry of Madcapzest; in Studio B-4 find the abstract and glitch photography and collage of Joshua W. Murray, the handmade jewelry of Earth Angel Jewelry; and in the Basement, the hand-built clay sculpture of Ann Meany.

• CARLETON ARTIST LOFTS, 2285 University Ave. W.: handmade jewelry bags, pillows and multi-media work by A Sage Designs and Friends, hand bound journals, paper sculptures and photos from The Studio Project, abstract acrylics of Nelson Cain, and DanceSpace with Reiki Laughter, energy work, and stress reduction.

• MIDWAY COMMERCIAL BUILDING, 2500 University Ave. W.: in Studio B5 find the paintings and prints of Louis N. LaPierre; in Studio C1 the hand lettering and upcycled textiles of Lettergirl Gina Sekelsky; in Studio C2 find coats and jackets for the evolved woman by JH Designs; in Studio C7 the landscapes, figurative and still lifes in oil by WS McCarty; in Studio E2 the bronze figurative sculpture of Zahnworks; in Studio E5 the fine art female nudes in nature by Artsy Images; in Studio F1, the environmental sculpture by Alis Olsen; in Studio F5 the art, illustration, and mixed media of Jessica Turtle and the assemblage, paintings and sculptures Jessie McNally.

See the full Spring 2016 Art Crawl catalog at https://issuu.com/saintpaulartcrawl/docs/s16_spac-catalog and more about the crawl at http://saintpaulartcrawl.org.

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From pajama storytime to garden cleanup, the library is where it’s at

From pajama storytime to garden cleanup, the library is where it’s at

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin

IOC_LibraryThis spring, the Hamline Midway Library (1558 W. Minnehaha Ave.) is offering a film showing, book clubs, storytimes, and a gardening event to help library patrons learn, grow, and connect with their community.

Preschool Storytimes happen at 10:30am every Friday through May 20. Each storytime features finger plays, songs, puppets, and stories. They’re a great way for young children to develop their social skills, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and letter and number recognition—and they’re fun! Children of all activity levels are welcome.

Evening/Pajama Storytimes take place Tuesdays, Apr. 19 and 26, at 6:30pm. Pajamas, favorite blankets, and stuffed animals are all welcome to join in at these family events.

The Baby Boomers Book Club meets Sat., Apr. 16 at 1pm to discuss “The Virtues of Aging” by Jimmy Carter.

Also on Sat., Apr. 16, 3-4pm, the Teens Reading Bravely group meets in the library’s new teen area. The group is recommended for ages 14+, grades 9+. Members focus on reading books in the Read Brave genre. Read Brave is the St. Paul Public Library’s annual program encouraging young people and adults to read young adult novels and discuss them together.

The Hamline Midway Library Association is hosting a garden clean-up day on Sat., Apr. 16 at 2pm to get the library’s pollinator-friendly gardens ready for spring. Please bring gardening gloves and trowels if you have them. Master gardeners will be available to guide volunteer efforts. Get your hands dirty and make our library grounds more beautiful! Call Carrie Pomeroy at 651-645-1196 for more details or with any questions.
On Wed., Apr. 27 from 1-3pm, Jody’s Documentary Series features the film “My Way to Olympia” directed by Niko Von Glasow, a funny and insightful documentary about the Paralympics.

The library will be closed on Thur., May 5 for staff training.

The Saints and Sinners Book Club meets on Sat., May 7, 1-3pm. This month’s title for discussion is “The Boreal Owl Murder” by Jan Dunlap. Please contact Geraldine Balter at gerribalter@gmail.com or 651-224-5570 for more information.

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Hamline Midway Logo

Join the conversation about proposed improvements to Hamline Ave.

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin

Hamline Midway LogoThe Transportation Committee of the Hamline Midway Coalition will host a community conversation around the scheduled construction project on Hamline Ave. Join us Wed., Apr. 27, 7-8:30pm at Galtier Community School, 1317 Charles Ave., to learn about the proposed improvements, and provide input on the plans to inform final design decisions.

The City of St. Paul plans to conduct a mill and overlay on Hamline Ave. between University and Minnehaha avenues in late 2016. The work will involve removing and replacing the top layer of pavement, updating some pedestrian ramps, and installing in-street bicycle lanes.

This vital neighborhood route services three schools, public housing, and a vibrant business community. As the neighborhood continues to grow, many neighbors have raised concerns about safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers alike, on Hamline Ave.

This project offers the community an opportunity to create a safer, more vibrant route that serves all road users.

Hamline Ave is identified as a key bike route in the Citywide Bike Plan, which was adopted by the city in early 2015. The City’s current strategy is to implement segments of the Bike Plan in conjunction with scheduled mill and overlay and other road construction projects as they happen. As part of the Hamline Ave. project, the city will install in-street separated bike lanes between University and Minnehaha. Due to the width of the road, on-street parking would likely be removed from one side of the street.

The Department of Public Works recently completed a traffic and parking study that found much of the on-street parking throughout most of the project area to be underutilized, and concluded the remaining on-street parking on Hamline and adjacent side streets would be more than sufficient to accommodate existing parking demands.

Parking demand was notably higher around the business node near Hamline and Thomas avenues., though it was still underutilized even at peak times. The parking study similarly determined that existing parking in that area would still be sufficient to satisfy the demand should on street parking be removed from one side.

Despite not being included in the original project, the Department of Public Works has also presented the community with the opportunity to decide whether to install some form of bike infrastructure on Hamline Ave. from Minnehaha to Pierce Butler Rte.—another important bike route that serves as the most direct bicycle connection to and from Hamline Midway to the west. This section of Hamline also serves the pedestrian bridge that crosses the train tracks north of Pierce Butler—the only dedicated railway crossing between Lexington Ave. and Snelling Ave.

Because this section of Hamline is narrower than the southern section, some types of bicycle infrastructure would require removal of on-street parking from both sides of the street.

The way the road is currently configured without shoulder striping, it appears much wider than a typical residential street due to the low on-street parking demand. When few cars are parked on the north section of Hamline, the apparent wide road encourages speeding, creating dangerous conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.

While bike infrastructure will likely eventually be installed on this north section of Hamline Ave. as outlined in the Bike Plan, it is not scheduled for construction work anytime soon. Installing bike infrastructure is a proven tactic to visually narrow a road and encourage safe driving speeds, which makes the road safer for all. This is an opportunity for the Hamline Midway community to determine the immediate future of Hamline Ave, and to help influence the safety and type of street it can be and how it serves the surrounding neighborhood.

We recognize that Hamline Ave. as currently configured poses significant safety risks to many in our community, but are also sensitive to the fact that the loss of some on-street parking can be troubling to others. We hope that this event will be the start of a productive community conversation about neighbors’ priorities for this important route and how best to balance the needs and safety of all road users.

Join us on Wed., Apr. 27, 7pm, to get the conversation started. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Kyle Mianulli at kyle@hamlinemidway.org or 651-494-7683.

Midway Spring Festival to partner with A-Line BRT Launch, June 11
The Hamline Midway Spring Festival is growing in 2016. This year, we are combining the annual festival with the planned A-Line Bus Rapid Transit launch on June 11 near the intersection of Snelling and University avenues. We’ll have all the fun, food, and community goodness from last year’s festival, plus a whole lot more. Hamline Midway Coalition is partnering with the Midway Chamber of Commerce, Union Park District Council, Metro Transit and members of the Planning and Economic Development department to put on a fabulously festive pre-summer bash that celebrates all Midway has to offer. If you’re interested in vending, exhibiting, performing, or helping to organize this event, contact Kyle Mianulli at kyle@hamlinemidway.org or 651-494-7683.

Registration for Neighborhood Garage Sale now open
Registration is now open for the annual Hamline Midway Neighborhood Garage Sale on Sat., June 4, from 8am to 3pm. Visit www.hamlinemidway.org/garagesale to register your sale. Garage sales are a great way to meet new neighbors, reduce waste, and support the community economy. With more than 50 participating sales across the neighborhood in 2015, we’re looking to have an even bigger impact this year.

There is a $10 fee for participating sales to help with the expense of printing flyers, sale maps, and signs, as well as advertising in local newspapers and Craigslist. If you live within the Hamline Midway boundaries, start clearing out your closets and collecting your items for this year’s sale! Want an even better turnout for your sale? Invite your neighbors to organize sales alongside yours to make an attractive cluster on the sale map. Visit our website for helpful tricks and tips for organizing a successful sale. You can also register your sale and pay online while you’re there. Feel free to contact us with any questions or for more information at garagesale@hamlinemidway.org.

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stop for me banner 10×3

Monitor In A Minute

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Calvin

Compiled by JANE MCCLURE

stop for me banner 10x3“Stop For Me” is the theme of a safety campaign launched in mid-March by the St. Paul Police Department, all 17 district councils, St. Paul Smart Trips and other pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups. If statistics from the first five of 34 planned public awareness events are any indication, police and their advocates have their work cut out for them.

The first phase of the year-long Stop For Me campaign began Mar. 18 in Merriam Park, Snelling-Hamline and Lexington-Hamline neighborhoods and wrapped up Mar. 21 on the city’s East Side. It resulted in 529 traffic stops, 129 failure to yield citations for motorists and seven warnings to pedestrians for unsafe crossing. Thirty-nine police officers, led by Sgt. Jeremy Ellison, participated in the events as did several dozen community volunteers and elected officials. Police handed out information to motorists they stopped.

The most common reason police heard for not stopping was that the motorists didn’t see the pedestrian or pedestrians.

Tickets for failure to yield cost $186 apiece. “That has a huge impact on your pocketbook,” said Ellison.

The $50,000 campaign’s costs are split between a state grant and the city’s safe routes to schools funding.

Two of the events were in area neighborhoods, at Lexington Pkwy. and Hague Ave., and at Snelling and Laurel avenues. At the events, some volunteers from area district councils and pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups held up Stop For Me banners and gave information to the public.

The braver souls crossed streets as police looked on and in many cases, pulled motorists over. Some of the groups had close calls as vehicles didn’t yield for them in crosswalks. In other cases, a vehicle would stop, giving pedestrians a sense of safety. Then a vehicle or vehicles in the adjacent lane would zoom past.

Police Department statistics as of mid-March indicate that 39 pedestrians or bicyclists had been struck by vehicles in St. Paul, according to police. Shelby Kokesch was the first fatality of 2016, killed in March while crossing Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul had six fatalities last year. There were 40 fatalities statewide.

About 900 people were injured statewide, with 150 pedestrians and bicyclists hurt in St. Paul.

The long-awaited Cleveland Ave. bike lane won St. Paul City Council approval Mar. 16. If Ramsey County approves the project, bicycle lanes will be striped on a 2.75-mile stretch of Cleveland Ave. starting this construction season.

The $2.86 million project extends from Highland Pkwy. to University Ave., but the 2016 work would only extend to St. Anthony Ave. It’s not known when the final few blocks north to University would be completed. Some bicycle advocates asked the City Council to build the entire project, to connect with University and Midway area bike routes.

Council members Jane Prince and Dan Bostrom voted against the bike lane plan. Both said they wanted to see more time given to Marshall and Cleveland businesses, rental property owners and residents who are worried about the loss of parking. Prince also tried to amend the plan to put “share the road markings,” or “sharrows,” on Cleveland between Dayton and Marshall avenues. But both measures failed 2-5, with council members Russ Stark, Chris Tolbert, Dai Thao, Rebecca Noecker and Amy Brendmoen voting for the bike plan. Supporters said the project has been thoroughly vetted.

Whether Cleveland should be striped or marked for bicycles has been debated for more than a year. Last year the City Council sent the issue to a community advisory committee, which chose Cleveland over routes on Prior Ave. or Finn St. The issue drew dozens of people to the council meeting, with bicycle advocates wanting a north-south route squaring off against business owners and residents worried that they will lose convenient parking.

The project scope has changed over the past several months. It originally was to be part of a 2015 county mill and overlay projects in Macalester-Groveland neighborhood but was laid over for more community input. It is to be done this summer, with work in Merriam Park done in conjunction with county street work there.

One key change made would lower the speed limit on Cleveland to 25 miles per hour, from Highland Pkwy. to St. Anthony Ave. That recommendation and the final bike plan now go to the Ramsey County Board for final approval.

The St. Paul City Council voted in March to approved $40,000 for the Jefferson-Griggs Bikeway project. Funds will come from the Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) Ward 4 Year-Round Program Funds.

The funding will pay for various completed features of the project, and was sought by the St. Paul Department of Public Works in collaboration with the Hamline Midway Coalition. Much of the project is already in place, including traffic circles, bump-outs, signs, lighting, new sidewalks and shared lane markings on portions of Griggs St. and Jefferson Ave. Work on the project began in July 2014.

The project was reviewed in February by the Neighborhood STAR Board, which ranked the project a 1.46 on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high). But, the city is waiving STAR guidelines in approving the project.

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