CVT 05

The Center for Victims of Torture: “One of Minnesota’s best-kept secrets”

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

Story and photo by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

According to executive director Curt Goering, the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) is one of Minnesota’s best-kept secrets—and he and his staff are working hard to change that. With their international headquarters at 2356 University Ave. W. and offices in Atlanta, GA, Jordan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, CVT staff are helping restore dignity to those who have suffered torture around the world.

Photo left: Curt Goering (left), executive director, and Beth Wickum (right), volunteer coordinator. Wickum said, “The staff and volunteers here at CVT make me believe every day that positive change is possible.”

CVT was founded 31 years ago by former Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich. Perpich’s son was a law student at the time, and came home one day to ask his father, ”What are you doing in your role as governor to support the work of human rights?” Out of that conversation between father and son, CVT had its beginnings.

The human rights movement was coming into its own in the mid-1980’s. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were becoming well established. As human rights advocacy continued to gain momentum, the need for rehabilitation of torture victims in all corners of the world was becoming clear.

CVT was the first, and is still is the largest, organization in the US dealing with the rehabilitation of torture victims. From the beginning, CVT established itself as a place where clients could receive the very best quality of care. Goering said, “Between them, our staff has hundreds of years of experience collectively.”

Separate from their administrative offices, CVT has a healing center in the nearby Summit-University neighborhood. The building was specially designed with its clientele in mind. The therapy and meeting rooms aren’t square like interrogation rooms might be, and there are no bright lights overhead. The spaces feel warm and inviting, more like a home than an office.
“At any given time,” Goering explained, “we serve about 250 clients who may be suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, major depression, and anxiety disorders. We estimate that there are between 30,000-40,000 torture survivors living in Minnesota. Not all of them require our therapeutic services but for those who do, we’re here to help.”

Volunteer coordinator Beth Wickum added, “Since the beginning, we’ve had a steady of stream of volunteers eager to support human rights immigrants in any way they could. Most of our clients are backlogged in the process of applying for political asylum. While that can be very overwhelming, we’ve learned that the small details of life can also be surprisingly hard.”

“I had a client call me from a grocery store not long ago,” Wickum said. ”She had gone on a simple errand to buy a bottle of stain remover. There were 16 different kinds on the shelf, and she couldn’t figure out which one to buy. We have a dizzying array of choices to sift through in this country, so even a small decision can sometimes seem big. Every volunteer role with CVT is about building empowerment; we try to help our clients access their own resiliency.”

“Toward that end,” Wickum continued, “we may pair a volunteer with a client to help them learn to navigate public transportation. They’ll go out and practice riding the bus or train together, so the client understands what change to bring and how to use schedules and transfers. Our volunteers work on cultivating trusting relationships. The time spent with clients is a way to practice English conversation, to learn about amenities in the Twin Cities like the Como Conservatory, the library system, the parks and trails, the art museums.”

“Some of our volunteer roles include direct client contact and some, like working in the office or helping to organize a special event, do not. If you want to have a volunteer role that involves direct contact, be aware that the person you’re working with may or may not choose to share details about their past. So much depends on culture and individual personality. You don’t have to worry about acting as their therapist—we already have plenty of those.”

Information about volunteering with CVT can be found online at http://www.cvt.org/what-you-can-do/volunteer.

Cynthia McArthur has been a volunteer with CVT for 19 years. “Our volunteers are a vital part of the rehabilitation process,” she said. “It’s one of the ways we welcome people not just into services, but into the life of the community here.”

McArthur heads up CVT’s bike program. Formerly a trained car mechanic, she brings a wealth of knowledge to the scores of used bikes CVT receives each year. Got a used bike, helmet, pump or light to donate? Contact Sarah Henely, CVT’s direct response officer, at shenely@cvt.org.
Instead of buying new bikes or equipment, please consider a cash or credit card donation to CVT. Local bike shops, Grand Performance and Boehm’s Cycle, have generously agreed to sell these items to CVT at cost.

Goering concluded, “The largest national populations we’re serving right now are Karen (a minority group from Burma), Bhutanese, Ethiopian, and Somali. They’re people who’ve already settled in this area, and some have brought with them the agony of having experienced torture. Their need is very real. CVT is working toward a future where torture no longer exists, and where victims have hope for a new life.“

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Public comment meetings planned on stadium and superblock

Public comment meetings planned on stadium and superblock

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

Community advisory committee rushed, and unhappy, to give input on plans that are wholly fluid and hypothetical


Plans for a Major League Soccer stadium and redeveloped Midway Center are poised for public comment after release Apr. 29 by the St. Paul Planning Commission. A community meeting is set for 7-8:30pm, Tue., June 7 at Buenger Library (275 Syndicate St. N.), Concordia University. The Planning Commission hosts a public hearing on the plans and a related zoning code amendment at 8:30am, Fri., June 10 at City Hall.

160225_Midway Presentation overview niteThe 180-page stadium site plan and master plan for the block bounded by Pascal St. and St. Anthony, Snelling, and University avenues are on a fast track for late summer City Council approval. The commission and council approvals will include an amendment to the city’s traditional neighborhoods zoning to allow the stadium to be built on the proposed site.
One big unknown that could halt the plans is what the 2016 Minnesota Legislature will do. Stadium site property tax exemptions and a liquor license request have been heard this spring by House and Senate committees. But as of Monitor deadline, none of the measures had passed. That has to happen before state lawmakers adjourn May 23.

Minnesota United FC owner Bill McGuire has made it clear that the stadium project cannot proceed without the tax breaks. Because the stadium is considered to be the long-awaited catalyst for Midway Center redevelopment, one project hinges upon the other.

Some members of the Snelling Midway Community Advisory Committee, who are to make a recommendation on the stadium site plan and superblock master plan May 26, are frustrated about other uncertainties. At its Apr. 28 meeting, committee members expressed unhappiness that plans continue to be fluid, not just for the shopping center but for parts of the stadium-related infrastructure.

Some committee members balked at a city Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) report they were given as a draft Planning Commission recommendation. The report will be rewritten before the committee votes May 26.

An ambitious master plan unveiled earlier this year shows high-rise office buildings along Snelling Ave., with housing at University and Pascal. It also includes green spaces between University and the planned stadium, hotels and mixed-use buildings. Parking ramps would be built into the buildings. But drawings McGuire showed Apr. 28 looked less dense, with smaller buildings closer to the stadium. McGuire said the plans were concepts to show different design scenarios. He and city staff said that while the stadium needs to be built by 2018, shopping center redevelopment is on a longer and more uncertain timeline governed by everything from existing center leases to the economic climate for redevelopment.

“We’ve repeatedly said these are concepts,” McGuire said. He said the center is set for redevelopment, “but it cannot all happen in two years.”

While the soccer stadium, its infrastructure and a 300-space parking lot for team staff and select fans would be built in time for the start of the 2018 season, shopping center redevelopment has no set timeline. Existing leases and the need to relocate center tenants who wish to stay could mean gradual redevelopment, including the development of two green open spaces between the stadium and University Ave. “We’re not going to tell anyone to kick out a tenant if they’re not ready to go,” McGuire said.

“We’ve always assumed the development would be phased,” said Donna Drummond, planning director for PED. “We can’t make somebody build something. We don’t know how quickly redevelopment will happen here.”

If what is built differs greatly from the master plan, “this to me feels like a disappointing outcome,” said advisory committee co-chairman Eric Mohlo. He said community members have been asked to buy into a plan that may or may not happen.

“What happens if all we get is a stadium?’ said committee member and Hamline-Midway resident Jonathon Oppenheimer.

Others spoke of lost opportunities for jobs creation and tax base improvements if center development doesn’t happen as envisioned—or at all. Committee members said this was a chance to get longstanding neighborhood concerns about the shopping center, ranging from its appearance to the longstanding complaints about abandoned shopping carts in neighborhoods, addressed.

Several advisory committee members said that they want to hear more from New York-based center owner RK Midway. The center owner and representatives have only been at a few meetings, and McGuire has done most of the master plan presentations.

Another concern committee members raised is that past shopping center redevelopment plans haven’t materialized, and that generates questions about what will happen this time around. Committee member Becky Landon recalled lengthy debates several years ago over a later-shelved plan to replace the current Big Top Liquors building with a new liquor store and Walgreens. Neighbors wanted a more transit-friendly structure than what was proposed. She said the attitude seemed to be, “Well, you’re a developer, and you must know what you’re doing.”

Others said redevelopment is more likely than in the past. “For me, this feels more real than any other plan we’ve seen,” said advisory committee co-chairperson Julie Padilla. She said the stadium is a driver for redevelopment and an opportunity for change.

Transportation studies for the site were wrapping up as of Monitor deadline. A separate study group on jobs creation completed its work in late April and planned to release a report soon.
City Planner Josh Williams said that the potential environmental impacts of redevelopment, such as traffic, parking demand, noise and other issues, are under study in an Alternative Urban Areawide Review or AUAR. This study will give city officials and developers direction as to how to mitigate impacts of redevelopment. “The document binds the city and its project partners to make sure mitigation measures will get done,” Williams said. The draft AUAR is to be published in late May and released for a 30-day comment period.

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Cruisin through Time on Univesity Ave – Giesla Hoelscher

Collage honoring Porky’s and automotive influence unveiled

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

Porkys Art by MSP Home Tour

The Terrace at Iris Park, 502 E. Lynnhurst Ave., hosted a public unveiling Apr. 30 of a photographic collage commissioned to honor the legacy of Porky’s Drive-In Restaurant. Porky’s stood at the corner of University and Lynnhurst avenues. The project was supported by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM).The public art concept involves a 45-foot-long photographic mural with historical images of automotive history and related businesses on University Ave. Sidewalk paving, in Porky’s signature checkerboard pattern of maroon and peach, compliment the original Porky’s Drive-In menu box re-installed on site. Dedication remarks were made by Episcopal Homes President/CEO Marvin Plakut and collage artist Giesla Hoelscher. For decades, Porky’s was a landmark in the Midway area of St. Paul. The legendary neon pig sign beckoned people of all ages to this popular hang-out that was a cruising destination for street rod lovers near and far. In 2011, Porky’s was moved to the Little Log House Pioneer Village, and the Porky’s site has been developed into a new senior housing complex for Episcopal Homes. Porky’s may be gone, but it is definitely not forgotten. The Preservation Alliance and Episcopal Homes worked together to design the photographic mural that pays tribute to the drive-in and the car culture that shaped the look and feel of University Ave. for most of the twentieth century. (Photo submitted)

Below, two of the collage panels by artist Giesla Hoelscher that are part of the project. (Photos by Giesla Hoelscher)

Cruisin through Time on Univesity Ave - Giesla Hoelscher Porkys Mural Panel - Giesla Hoelscher

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Hamline Ave. 2

Open House for proposed Hamline Ave. improvements slated May 26

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

News from District 11 Hamline Midway Community Council

By KYLE MIANULLI, HMC Communications Coordinator (Photos submitted)

Hamline Ave. 1The Hamline Midway community has an opportunity to help shape the future and safety of Hamline Ave. The City of St. Paul Department of Public Works will hold a public open house on Thur., May 26 from 6-7:30pm at Sejong Academy, 1330 Blair Ave., around proposed improvements to Hamline Ave.

The City plans to conduct a mill and overlay project in late 2016 on Hamline Ave. The work being proposed will involve removing and replacing the top layer of pavement and updating all non-ADA compliant pedestrian ramps. As this route is identified in the Citywide Bike Plan, the City is also proposing to install on-street bicycle lanes, which would require removal of on-street parking from one side of the street. A parking study recently completed by Public Works determined the remaining parking would be sufficient for demand, even at peak times.

Additionally, despite not being included in the original project, Public Works has presented the community with the opportunity to inform the decision of whether to install some form of bike infrastructure on Hamline Ave. from Minnehaha to Pierce Butler Rte.—another important bike route that serves the neighborhood. Some forms of bicycle infrastructure on this section of the route would also require removal of some or all on-street parking. 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.

Hamline Ave. 2This vital neighborhood route services four 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.

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 open house will continue a productive community conversation about neighbors’ priorities for this important route and how best to balance the needs and safety of all road users.

In addition to attending the meeting, you can also share your priorities for the project by taking a community survey available at www.hamlinemidway.org/hamlineave. The results of this survey will be used to inform the recommendation made by the Hamline Midway Transportation Committee to the City of St. Paul regarding the proposed project on Hamline Ave.

The Transportation Committee of the Hamline Midway Coalition is doing direct outreach to businesses along Hamline Ave. and plans to also engage residents of Hamline Hi-Rise directly..

In addition to the mailing that will be sent by Public Works to all addresses along the project area, the transportation committee will also be flyering the area to advertise the upcoming meeting. If you know someone you think should be involved in this discussion, please, don’t hesitate to reach out to them directly and invite them to participate. You can find downloadable information to share with friends and neighbors at www.hamlinemidway.org/hamlin­eave. Feel free to contact Kyle Mianulli at kyle@hamlinemidway.org or 651-494-7683 with any questions or to learn more.

Spring Festival postponed; A-Line Launch June 11
After initial plans were announced last month to combine the annual Spring Festival with the launch of the A-Line Bus Rapid Transit route, it has become clear that there is simply too much to celebrate in the Hamline Midway area to fit on the limited site at the southeast corner of University and Snelling. Rather than have to tell many of our terrific community groups, businesses, and valued partners that there would not be room to include them in the annual festival this year, we have decided to postpone the festival until this fall.

There will still be all manners of festivities at the A-Line Launch on June 11, from 10am to 2pm, including music, food trucks, vendors and exhibitors, kids activities and more. If you’re interested in being an exhibitor, performer, or otherwise participating in the launch event, please contact Kyle Mianulli at kyle@hamlinemidway.org or 651-494-7683.

The celebration at Snelling and University will be one of four throughout the route running from 46th St. in Minneapolis to Rosedale. Come out and join the fun and ride the line to explore all the great communities, businesses, and destinations it will connect.

The A-Line is a new kind of bus service for the Twin Cities’ busiest urban streets. This rapid bus line has a package of transit enhancements that adds up to a faster trip and improved experience. Visit www.metrotransit.org/a-line-project to learn more.

Neighborhood Garage Sale
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 now. 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 will be 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

Hamline-Thomas Community Garden efforts
Now in its 10th year, the little and beloved Hamline-Thomas Community Garden at the northeast corner of Hamline and Thomas avenues continues to grow and flourish. Many neighbors have contributed time and care, and organizers are looking for a few extra hands to help continue to cultivate community and beauty at this well-used corner of the neighborhood.
Volunteer responsibilities might include coordinating a planting date and mulching; making sure there is regular watering; help with maintenance and weeding every few weeks; end of year cleanup; and informing neighbors of volunteer needs and opportunities. If you would like to help out, please contact Hannah Texler at ekvadnais@hotmail.com.

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Rain garden

Ready and Resilient

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

Patterns tend toward extreme rain events as the norm by 2025


Extreme rainfall. Kenny Blumenfield, a Senior Climatologist at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, told the recent Gov­ernor’s Water Summit that our MN rainfall pattern is beyond the range of historical probability. Annual precipitation increased 10-15 percent from 1985 to 2007. Heavy downpours are twice as frequent as they were 100 years ago.

“Unprecedented” rainfall events are possible in the coming years, and will become the norm by 2025.

Warmer temperatures increase the evaporation of water into vapor. Warmer air can hold more water vapor than cooler air. When the vapor condenses into rain, there’s more of it to fall. Blumenfield called the increasing intensity and frequency of rainfall the “smoking gun” of climate change.

What is extreme rainfall? A lot of rain falling in a very short time. It can be several inches within a few hours, or rain falling for days at a time. The July 1987 “Superstorm” dropped 9 inches of rain at the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport in 6 hours.

While heavy rain can make travel dangerous and result in power outages, the real problem is stormwater runoff: when the rain cannot soak into the ground. Water runs off our yards, driveways, parking lots and streets. Sometimes it flows into our rain gardens and stormwater ponds, but too often it runs directly into our storm sewers.

Stormwater runoff threatens our water quality. Sediment, litter, leaves, pesticides, fertilizers and oil waste flow through our storm sewers into our waterways. Lakes and rivers are polluted, aquatic ecosystems impaired, and recreational use spoiled.

The runoff contributes to flooding. Infrastructure built for 20th-century precipitation patterns cannot handle the rapid influx of rainwater. Drainage systems, roads, and stormwater holding ponds are overwhelmed. Since 2000, federal, state and local government agencies have spent $350 million in Minnesota to repair flood damage.

Finally, we need the rainwater to recharge our groundwater supply. Minnesota’s groundwater use has increased 35% in the last 25 years. Rain held in the soil has time to filter contaminants and seep down to replenish aquifers. We need this water to prevent future water shortages.
What can we do to adapt to the extreme rainfall and stormwater runoff?

Let’s start with our yards:
Aerate your lawn. Residential lawns tend to be highly compacted and absorb little water. Removing small plugs of soil or punching holes in the ground with an aerator helps the lawn to soak up more water.
Let your grass grow taller. Grass roots are about as long as grass blades. Longer roots mean better water absorption, so consider letting your grass grow to a height of 2.5–3.5 inches.
Replace some grass with native plants. Even if taller, grass is inferior to native shrubs and wildflowers at absorbing and retaining water. The extensive root systems of native plants keep soil from washing away and increase the amount of water the soil can absorb. Plants are especially important in areas where stormwater runoff collects. Consider installing a rain garden.
Add mulch and compost. Cover any bare soil with mulch or wood chips to reduce runoff and prevent soil from washing away. Compost can improve the soil structure and nutrient content, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. It also retains a lot of water, reduces runoff and filters pollutants. Consider adding 2-4” of organic material each year.
Protect urban trees. The root system of a single large tree can absorb up to 100 gallons of water in a day. Tree canopies also slow the rainfall and spread it over a larger area.

Some maintenance issues to consider:
Keep your trees trimmed. Branches are more likely to break off in severe storms, falling on roofs, cars and power lines where they can inflict more damage.
Pick up pet waste. When pet waste becomes part of the storm runoff, it adds disease-producing organisms, further impairing the water quality.
Clean your gutters. Flush your gutters to keep rainfall away from your house foundation. If they still overflow, consider installing wider “elbows.”
Pick up trash. Pick up litter in your street and along the boulevard so it isn’t swept down the storm sewer in a storm. If leaf debris collects between City street sweepings, consider raking and recycling it. Clear debris from around the storm drains.

If you arRain gardene considering renovation or landscaping:
Use permeable surfaces. If you are replacing a driveway or patio, consider permeable pavers. Gravel, flagstones, and bricks allow water to soak in between them.
5% slope: Make sure that the yard slopes away from the house a minimum of 5%, to minimize possible drainage into your basement.
Catch or slow the runoff: If your lawn slopes, consider installing a rain garden or berm to prevent or slow stormwater from flowing into the street. Install a rain barrel or cistern to catch stormwater runoff from your roof.
Channel the water: Direct your gutter downspout into your yard, not onto a paved surface. Consider incorporating slight slopes or ditches into your landscaping to slow the runoff, and channel it where you want it to go.

Be ready—the storms are coming! Do what you can to prevent stormwater runoff. We’ll need it for the water shortages to come.

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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BEASTBot Como High School

Como High School News

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• Como Park Robotics (aka BEASTbot Team 2855) participated in the 10,000 Lakes Regional Competition at the U of M’s Williams Arena over spring break, and advanced to the State Tournament! Out of 200 Robotics teams in the state, the top 30 qualify for the culminating state event on May 21 at Mariucci Arena. BEASTbot also won the prestigious Entrepreneurship Award at the 10,000 Lakes Regional, earning an addition to Como’s trophy case.

BEASTBot Como High SchoolPhoto left: The Como Park Robotics team, also known as “BEASTbot,” poses with their state tournament qualifying robot at the 10,000 Lakes Regional at Williams Arena on Apr. 9. Out of 200 teams in Minnesota, Como finished in the Top 30, advancing to the state finals at Mariucci Arena on May 21.

The Como Robotics team has 27 members this season and is captained by Senior Evan Hulick and junior Marie Wulff. The team’s coaches are Como teachers Donna Norberg and Mike Fischer, assisted by former Como Principal Dan Mesick. For those interested in supporting the team, fans are invited to a pep fest on May 19 at 2:15pm in the Como Gym. Supporters are also welcome at Mariucci for the competition. Feel free to contact donna.norberg@spps.org with any questions.

• The Como spring play was a humorous and whimsical production called “30 Reasons Not To Be in a Play.” Written by Alan Haehnel, Como’s performers were directed by Allison Hartzell. The cast included Anna Anzaldo, Camryn Borrego, Alyssa Clark, Margaret Coyne, Grace Fick, Erianna Jiles, Madeline McPhee, Madison Moody, Nicolas Otte, Heather Rogers, Lillian Rogers, Minna Stillwell-Jardin, and Norah Vitalli. Audiences enjoyed the show in the Como Auditorium at the end of April.

• The Ordway Honors Concert was held on Apr. 19, with top performing students from across St. Paul joining forces for a fantastic night of music. Como Choir students selected for the Ordway were Olivia Berven, Rebekah Blesi, Alyssa Clark, Margaret Coyne, Angel Khang, Emily LaCroix-Dalluhn, Kou Lee, Chimeng Jimmy Lor, Oo Meh, Nicolas Otte, Anthony Phelps, Justine Sanchez, Granda Sayavong, Adam Swanson, Patsy Thayieng, Divine Uchegbu, Sara Lee Yang, and Yue Pheng Yang. The Como Choir’s Spring Farewell Concert is Thur., May 19 at 7pm in the Como Auditorium. It will be a chance to hear some of the music the Choir’s touring students will sing at Carnegie Hall on May 28, as the New York City trip approaches!

• Como Orchestra and Band students that performed in the Ordway Honors Concert included Mariah Williams, Christian Berger, Vincent Portuese, Peter Schik, Martin-malik Williams, Theodore Lucy, Henry Hanson, Ellie Thorsgaard, Joe McCune-Zierath, Bridget Proper, Eva Hanson, Max Narvaez, Shyann Salverda, Chrys Sowards, Tuomas Sivula, Thomas Quinn, Noah Frese, Dominic Wolters, Tyrin Anderson, Justin Rogers, and Jackson Kerr. In the most recent state high school festival, the Como Strings received a superior grade in the solo/ensemble category, and the Como Band received an award of excellence for large group ensemble.

• The Como Apps club completed and submitted their technology app, which is called “YOU, Because Your Mental Health Matters” to the Technovation Challenge on Apr. 21. Como Apps club members Marie Wulff, Josie Schermerhorn, Hannah Rhee, Ellie Thorsgaard and CharDay Vincal, had after school meetings for months to plan, design, code, and create a business plan and pitch for their app, which is now entered in a global competition!

Their app has a mood tracking calendar, calming sounds, games, coloring, and resources to help the user take control of their mental health. As the Monitor went to press, the team was preparing to pitch their app at the Minneapolis Convention Center at an event called “Appapolooza.”

• Como French students participated in the annual “A Vous La Parole” language contest at the University of Minnesota on Apr. 28. Students presented Francophone songs, readings, poems, and theater skits at the event. Excellent and creative performances were fun to prepare, and were well received, as Como students earned a combined 47 medals for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place results.

• The first two weeks of May are an intensive time for students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) classes, as AP Exams are administered for 20 different courses at Como. In total, over 500 student exams will be taken at Como. The AP exams students choose to take are a culminating assessment of the study and knowledge gained from the rigorous and enlightening courses. AP courses are instructed by Como teachers and regulated by the AP College Board.

• A “Taste of Como” is an annual get together at Como when families bring food to share that reflects their home culture and delicacies. Over a hundred students and families gathered on Apr. 26 in the Como cafeteria to celebrate the diverse and delicious food experience.

• Facility improvements were also on the agenda Apr. 26, as the third design meeting for Como community members took place in anticipation of building construction projects slated to begin next school year. A new front entry, commons area, cafeteria, and classroom space are all part of the Facilities Master Plan to invest and upgrade in Como Park High School’s physical space. The designs are exciting for students, staff and parents, and will create more functional, flexible and technologically advanced learning environments.

• 39 11th grade Academy of Finance (AOF) students culminated months of mentoring with Federal Reserve Bank officers by spending a full “Day at The Fed.” Fed employees came to Como monthly throughout the year to conduct mock interviews, analyze markets, and run a stock market activity. AOF juniors spent Apr. 29 at the Minneapolis Fed, including meeting Federal Reserve Bank President and CEO Neel Kashkari. The President explained key monetary policies, but also challenged students to advance their skills, study with discipline, and have a hunger for reaching their goals. Students also spent time in career networking simulations with Fed professionals, were given customized tours of the Federal Reserve facility, and enjoyed two high-quality first-class meals.

• Graduation is right around the corner for the Class of 2016! The Senior All-Night Graduation Party on June 9 is supported and sponsored The Como Park Booster Club. The Booster Club is accepting more volunteers and community partners willing to help. This event provides Como’s graduating seniors with a safe, fun environment to celebrate with friends. Donations or questions can be directed to comoparkboosterclub@gmail.com.

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Renter workshop

Workshops, block clubs, garage sales, and ComoFest all in play

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

Landlord or tenant workshops
District 10 is partnering with HOME Line to offer tenant and landlord workshops in June. The workshops are free, but registration is required: sign up at www.district10comopark.org/rental_workshops.html.

Renter workshop• The Tenant Workshop will focus on the three biggest sources of renter complaints: repairs, evictions, and security deposits. It takes place on Thur., June 2 from 5-6:30pm.

• The Landlord Workshop is designed for property owners and managers, whether they rent out a single-family home or multiple units. Topics include the application process, discrimination and fair housing issues, repairs, bedbugs, evictions, and requirements about when a landlord can or cannot enter an apartment. The Landlord workshop takes place on Tue., June 7 from 6:30-8:30pm.

Both workshops will leave plenty of time for specific questions. Both workshops are at the Como Park Streetcar Station, at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

Tell us how to build better block clubs
The District 10 Como Community Council is partnering with the Como Park Falcon Heights Living at Home Block Nurse Program to revitalize block clubs in our neighborhood. To do that, we need your opinions.

Please take our survey. Tell us your priorities so we can all do a better job of connecting with our neighbors and looking out for one another. You can take the survey online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/blockclubs.

Neighborhood Garage Sale
The annual Como Neighborhood Garage Sale takes place this Sat., May 14. Last year, 50 homes participated—making it a great day to do browsing, buying and socializing while barely leaving home. To find out who’s participating and who’s selling what, go to the District 10 website at www.district10comopark.org. You can download a map and list of sales.

Stop taking your life into your hands
District 10, Saint Paul Police, and the citywide “Stop for Me” campaign will raise the visibility of pedestrian safety—literally—with a crosswalk event at one of our neighborhood’s most dangerous intersections.

The safety and enforcement event on Tue., May 19 from 5:30-7:30pm, takes place on Lexington Pkwy. at East Como Lake Dr. That crosswalk, where park paths cross Lexington north of the Pavilion, is the second-most-dangerous intersection for pedestrians, according to a survey of neighborhood residents. The May 19 safety event will educate drivers that state law requires them to stop for pedestrians in every crosswalk, every time.

Como, Front, and Dale is the most dangerous intersection for pedestrians to cross, according to District 10’s survey of residents. A safety event at that intersection is planned for fall.

Share your garden seeds and more
District 10’s Environment Committee is hosting the first-ever Como Seed and Seedling Share. The free event is Sat., May 21 from 11am-2pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station, northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

The exchange is a rare, inexpensive opportunity to share seeds, seedlings, advice, and gardening stories with neighbors—whether you’ve been gardening for years or are just getting started.

Organizers Alison Goetzman and Dawn Lamm encourage neighbors to share excess seeds, seedlings, and perennial divisions and add new variety to their yard, patio or window sill. For more information, email comoseedsavers@gmail.com or look up “Como Seed and Seedling Share” on Facebook.

New board members
Congratulations to the four newly elected District 10 board members, and to the four current members who won re-election during the 2016 annual meeting. On the new side of the equation: João Medeiros, the current secretary, was elected vice-chair; Monzong Cha was elected in Sub-District 4; Melissa Finnegan and Melissa Liu were elected At-Large. Re-elected were treasurer Amy Perna, Jon Heyer in Sub-District 1, Kim Moon in Sub-District 2, and Deb Pursley in Sub-District 3.

ComoFest plans something new
There will be more to ComoFest in 2016, with family fun and events every weekend in July. District 10’s annual Ice Cream Social on Fri., July 15, is one of the events. One of the new twists this year: outdoor bocce, sponsored by Half-Time Rec.

For a peek at this year’s calendar, a link to sign up for the 5K Run and Walk, and a link to register to exhibit at the Art Fair, go to www.comofest.com.

Pick up a recycling bin
The Como Park Streetcar Station is back to its normal summer hours. That means the historic station is open from noon-4pm every Sunday between now and the end of September. A District 10 board member will be on hand to distribute recycling bins, organics composting bags, or just take your comments and suggestions. The Streetcar Station is at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

Get D10 news every week
To keep up to date on what’s going on down the block, across the street, and around the corner, sign up for District 10’s free weekly e-newsletter. We send it to your inbox every Friday. Go to www.district10comopark.org, then click on the sign-up icon in the right column.

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Beer brewery

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

Brewery wins needed licenses
Beer breweryTransformation of the former Silgan can factory at 755 N. Prior Ave. continues. Black Stack Brewing has been given licenses for a brewery taproom, malt off-sale, liquor on sale, Sunday liquor and Class A entertainment licenses by the St. Paul City Council. The owners went through a legislative hearing before winning council approval in April.

Hamline-Midway Coalition recommended city approval of the licenses. One neighbor raised concerns about spillover parking and noise, so the hearing was held to discuss license conditions. The entertainment license is for amplified or non-amplified music and singing by performers without limitation as to number, and group singing participated in by patrons of the establishment. That includes karaoke but doesn’t include performer or patron dancing.

Black Stack Brewing has more than 60 adjacent parking spaces, with 338 surface and below-grade stalls planned as the entire facility is redeveloped. The brewery will operate Sun., 11am to 10pm; Mon. through Thur., noon to 11pm; Fri., noon to midnight, and Sat. 8am to midnight. Live music will be offered some Fridays or Saturdays but not every weekend. As part of the renovation, the building has been insulated to absorb sound. New dual-glazed windows were also installed for sound insulation.

Conditions placed on the licenses center on the entertainment aspect of the brewery and restated what is allowed under the license granted. No opening date has been announced. The brewery will be part of a complex that includes Can Wonderland artist-designed mini-golf.

BROWNstone moving ahead
Redevelopment of a one-story University Ave. commercial building and parking lot into the Model Cities BROWNstone project took a key step ahead April 13. The St. Paul City Council, acting as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), unanimously approved the issuance and sale of up to $5 million in conduit housing revenue bonds, as well as project agreements with Model Cities.

This vote allows the nonprofit to redevelop 839-849 University Ave. The existing building will be torn down, and a new four-story mixed-used transit-oriented development will be built next to the Green Line light rail Victoria Station. It will have 35 units of affordable rental housing units and approximately 20,415 square feet of commercial/retail space.

Part of the first-floor space will include a reading/ museum room dedicated to the history of the Pullman train car workers from the 1900s. Most workers were African-American and lived nearby in the Rondo neighborhood.

The second-floor space will be split between Model Cities offices and six rental housing units. The third and fourth floor will have 29 rental housing units. There will be 26 residential underground parking spaces. Model Cities already owns and operates an apartment building to the east of the planned development.

Rents will range from $756 for a one-bedroom unit to $1,126 for a two-bedroom unit.
Total development cost is $14,762,926 for both the housing and commercial components. A combination of Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) grants and loans, low-income housing tax credits, federal Community Development Block Grant, HOME program funds, tax increment financing and public and private grants will be used to finance the project, along with the conduit bonds.

The city acts as a pass-through for the bonds, and there is no financial risk to the city.

Grants in the works
St. Paul city officials have their fingers crossed for a number of grants. The St. Paul City Council Apr. 20 approved a series of applications for bike and trail funding and redevelopment funding.
The St. Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) is applying for Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grants for contamination cleanup and to Metropolitan Council for Tax Base Revitalization Account (TBRA) grants for nine projects. Those include 2300 Territorial Road and RS Eden workforce housing, Union Park Flats, at 1509 Marshall Ave.
The grant applications were due in early May,

The council also authorized the St. Paul Departments of Parks and Recreation and Public Works to seek a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for work on the Grand Round system of bicycle and pedestrian trails. Part of the Grand Round is in area neighborhoods and is complete. The grant would be used for East Side, North End and Midway area segments of the trail. The grant application notes that the Grand Round is increasingly used by bicycle commuters to get to work.

Word on all of the grants will be received later this year.

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Spring events are flowering at the public library

Spring events are flowering at the public library

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

Spring is a great time to stroll over to the Hamline Midway Library at 1558 West Minnehaha and check out a wide range of special programs for all ages.

IOC10_14LibraryGraphicThe library features Preschool Storytimes on Fridays from 10:30-11am, with upcoming storytimes on May 13, 20, and 27 and June 3 and 10. Storytimes include stories, songs, puppets, and more. They’re a fabulous way for young children and their caregivers to enjoy bonding time together while building a foundation for learning success. Children of all activity levels are welcome.

The Kids’ Book Clubs meet Sat., May 14 and Sat., June 4. Kids ages 8-11 meet 1:30-2:15pm, and kids ages 11-14 meet 2:30-3:15pm. Readers get a chance to share their favorite books, enjoy snacks, and celebrate reading through discussion, activities, and games. New members are always welcome.

The Hamline Midway Elders present Chair Yoga on Thur., May 19 and 26, and June 2, 9, and 16 from 10:30-11:30am. All movement is done while seated or using a chair for balance. The class is taught by Nancy Giguere.

On Sat., May 21, 1-2pm, join the Baby Boomers Book Club to discuss Mitch Albom’s book “Have a Little Faith.” This book club is designed to bring baby boomers together to discuss books relevant to the concerns and questions of their generation. Expect to laugh, connect, and come away with some new perspectives about life as a baby boomer. Co-sponsored by the Hamline Midway Elders.

Teens Reading Bravely meets on Sat., May 21 and Sat., June 11, from 3-4pm. Teens grades 9 and up read and discuss books that would fall under the “Read Brave” genre of books that tackle challenging, timely topics in innovative ways.

Jody’s Documentary Film Series continues on Wed., May 25, 1-3pm, with the POV documentary “All the Difference” directed by Tod Lending. Two African-American teens from the South Side of Chicago dream of graduating from high school and going to college, even though statistics predict they’ll drop out. Oscar-nominated producer/director Lending follows the two young men as they work hard, overcome setbacks, and discover that support from teachers, family, and mentors makes all the difference. This is a special opportunity to view this film before it premieres on PBS in September 2016.

The library will be closed from Sat., May 28-through Mon., May 30 for the Memorial Day weekend, so plan to stock up on your long weekend reading materials early!

Saints and Sinners Mystery Book Club meets on Sat., June 4, 1-3pm. Contact Geraldine Balter at gerribalter@gmail.com or 651-224-5570 for more information.

Evening/Pajama Storytimes return on Tuesdays in June, with upcoming storytimes on June 7 and 14 from 6:30-7pm. Wear your pajamas and bring your favorite stuffed animals and blankets to enjoy storytimes before bedtime.

On Sat., June 11, 2:30-4pm, the library hosts Optimal Well Being with educator Jim Rose. Rose will share a simple meditation technique that can help the body, mind, and spirit.

Finally, the Hamline Midway Library Association is seeking volunteers who’d enjoy working in the library’s pollinator-friendly gardens to keep the grounds looking beautiful. If you’re interested in helping, whether it’s on a one-time basis or more regularly, contact Carrie Pomeroy at carriepomeroy@icloud.com or 651-645-1196. No gardening experience is necessary; volunteers are available to help train you on what’s a weed and what’s a desirable plant!

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Earth Day

Monitor In A Minute

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Calvin

Sustainable St. Paul honors given
Area residents and groups are winners of the 2016 Sustainable St. Paul awards. Mayor Chris Coleman and City Council members presented the awards Apr. 20, just before Earth Day. This is the tenth year for the awards, which are given to salute energy efficiency, natural resource conservatioEarth Dayn, environmental education, beautification, youth leadership, and environmentally sustainable partnerships.

Chris Duffrin was honored for energy efficiency and conservation. Duffrin was executive director of the Neighborhood Energy Con­nection (NEC) for eight years. Under Duffrin’s leadership NEC, 1754 University Ave. W., expanded residential energy audits, energy-focused home loans, and the HOURCAR car-sharing program.

Frogtown Park and Farm was honored for natural resources conservation. The project is the culmination of a multi-year, multi-partner effort that started with a neighborhood dream to create an urban farm. The result is a 13-acre neighborhood park with a play area, nature sanctuary, and urban demonstration farm in what was Saint Paul’s most park-poor neighborhood. The Frogtown community now has a park with a farm situated on top of a hill, which will serve as a hub for health, recreation, local food, and a connection to nature. A new playground will be completed later this year.

Places to gather
Watch in the future for “lawn chairs” of a different type. One of the St. Paul civic projects that won a Knight Foundation Knight Cities Challenge will transform the front lawns of homes and apartment buildings into places where people can gather. The grant for $82,400 will be used at a couple dozen Hamline-Midway and Frogtown area homes, and will be partnered with the Friendly Streets Initiative.

The project is the idea of Max Musicant, a Minneapolis resident and founder of the Musicant Group. He wants to transform what are often empty spaces into places where people can meet and gather. He will offer advice and kits to help neighbors transform their front yards.

Shared-use trail eyed May 18
A dirt path along Pierce Butler Rte. could become a shared use trail. The St. Paul City Council will host a public hearing at 5:30pm on Wed., May 18 on the proposed trail, which would run from the southeast corner of the intersection of Pierce Butler Rte. and Dunlap St. to the shared-use trail along the west side of Lexington Ave.

The public can testify for or against the project. It would be city-funded, to the tune of $160,000 in capital improvement bond dollars. Neighbors would not be assessed.

Pierce Butler Rte. is an east-west arterial roadway with one lane of through traffic in each direction. There are dedicated bicycle lanes in both directions and a two-way left turn lane. There is already a shared-use trail along the west side of Lexington Pkwy. from Minnehaha Ave. to Horton Ave., at the Como Park Zoo. Both Lexington Ave. and the shared-use trail that runs alongside it are grade-separated over Pierce Butler Rte.

The new trail would be paved with bituminous material and would be on the south side of Pierce Butler. The St. Paul Department of Public Works sees it as a needed connection between existing bicycle facilities. Bicyclists, walkers, and joggers already use the dirt trail.

Construction would take place later this summer or fall if it wins City Council approval. Any nearby ash trees would be removed, along with one or two coniferous trees and some shrubs. Two large deciduous trees that are near the trail’s path would remain in place.

Compiled by JANE MCCLURE

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