Kim Eslinger

David Tinjum

Ryan Ojard
Staff Photographer

Claudia Kittock
Columnist / Non-Profits
Email Claudia...

Merle Minda
Small Business Columnist
Email Merle...

Michael Rainville Jr.
History Columnist
Email Michael...

Meg Forney

Doug Verdier

Mill City Times is a not-for-profit community service.  We do not sell advertising on this site.

Cultural Cornerstones
Search Mill City
Recent News
Front Page Archives

Minneapolis Riverfront News

Covering life, work, and play in the Historic Mill District and Downtown Minneapolis Riverfront neighborhoods. Have an opinion, local news or events to share?  Contact us.


Hennepin Theater Trust Collaborates With Other Downtown Organizations to Create Community Engagement

Article by Claudia Kittock

Most of us have had the joy of attending a play in downtown Minneapolis, promoted by the Hennepin Theater Trust. An evening of magic and joy is always something to relish. However, did you know that Hennepin Theater Trust is so much more?

The Global Pandemic of Domestic Violence, Location: 730 Hennepin Avenue, Photo credit Steven Lang

breathe, Location: 924 Hennepin Avenue, Photo credit Steven LangOne of their projects, Made Here, is billed as a "walkable urban art experience," connecting people to local art and showcasing Minnesota artists - with projects as diverse as the artists who created them. The spaces used to display the art are empty storefronts or commercial spaces in the West Downtown Minneapolis Cultural District.

If you haven’t heard of Made Here or have no idea where to start, it isn’t that difficult. Made Here is best experienced on foot (or bicycle). You can determine your own self-guided path to explore all the Showcase windows by starting with the information available online. If you're standing in front of a window, just connect to the Made Here website with your smart device.

panel of 19 artists and art professionals choose the artists and the work. This group of artists are great advocates for Made Here and are passionate about not only the work being done, but the artists themselves.

Another facet of the work Hennepin Theater Trust has created and sponsors is 5 to 10 on Hennepin. This project brings the community together to enjoy unique urban festivities, including live music, family-friendly activities, games, food and public art. The work has attracted national attention, highlighting the power of the arts to spark new community connections and conversations and transforming our city into a thriving, inclusive destination for everyone.

Photo credit Scott Knight Photography

Photo credit Scott Knight Photography

Photo credit Scott Knight PhotographyLast summer, more than 1,200 people participated in 5 to 10 on Hennepin experiences that spanned several several blocks, featuring live performances from over 20 local artists. Musicians performed on the Jack Link’s sponsored Northern Lights Stage. At several of these performances, the Trust provided art supplies for children to create sidewalk art! It was a huge success and will be expanded this summer.

Strong community partnerships were key to the success of 5 to 10 on Hennepin. They worked across a wide range of sectors, integrating the diverse perspectives of local city government, social service organizations, major corporations, small businesses and cultural organizations.

Highlights of this collaborative work:

Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (MDID) and Metro Transit supported the transformation of sidewalks into community spaces with more than 50 street performances and 28 days of chess along Hennepin Avenue.
Salvation Army Harbor Light Center collaborated along with two local artists — Bianca Pettis and Erin Sayer — to create a colorful new mural on the center’s exterior walls.
Kulture Klub Collaborative teamed up to curate and present more than 30 performances on the Northern Lights Stage presented by Jack Link’s, and develop an enriching arts internship for one of its youth.

Artist Bianca Pettis painting a mural on the Harbor Light Center. Photo by Eric Best

Minneapolis MAD DADS (Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder) partnered with the Hennepin Theater Trust and Harbor Light residents to conceptualize their mural project and establish a visible, positive presence at their monthly programs for everyone in the community to feel welcome and safe.

Photo credit Scott Knight Photography

The Chess program is worth another mention. During the summer, chess boards were set up along Hennepin Avenue on Wednesdays from 11 am to 7 pm. It was incredibly popular and the anecdotal information from this program was incredible. Here are a few quotes from participants.

“Kinda crazy, we were both just passing by, we totally just met and started playing, thanks man. This is a great idea. If I knew it was going to be here I would come down all the time.”

“Well, I came down for 5 to 10 with Mad Dad’s to work. Me and this guy just met. Who do you think is going to win? Thank you guys for doing this, it is so good for our community.”

“This is the way I want my town to be. The energy around it is great. Even if I wasn’t playing, it makes me feel better about being here. We actually just met here tonight.”

“We came down together tonight for 5 to 10. This is the first time my wife has played, she’s not bad. Really appreciate all the trouble you have gone through for us to have so much fun.”

Intrigued?  Want to help?  There are a number of ways to participate in these programs from Hennepin Theater Trust.

Come to events!
• Spread the word. These are incredible programs, free to the public, and worth everyone’s time. Let friends and neighbors know what you have learned.
• Donate. Go to to learn about all the ways you can be part of this vital resource.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).



The 1893 Nicollet Island-Northeast Fire

Article by Michael Rainville, Jr.

August 13th, 1893 was not a good day for the city of Minneapolis. It hadn’t rained for two months, the breeze was hot, and clouds were sparse. Just past 1:00pm, the infamous fire started when a few boys decided to have a quick smoke near the southwest side of Nicollet Island. The first building to catch fire was the Lenhart Wagon Works, and it didn’t take long before the Cedar Lake Ice House and stable and the Clark Box Factory were ablaze as well. Because of the arid conditions, the Minneapolis Fire Department did not want to take any chances. While they had crews fight the fires on the south side of the island, they also made sure to have a crew patrol the north side to quickly put out any embers and debris that floated away on this windy day and landed in the area. 

When reinforcements were crossing the Hennepin Avenue bridge, they noticed a towering inferno at Boom Island, growing larger by the second. At the time, Boom Island was the heart of the log milling industry in Minneapolis, or in other words, the least desirable place for an uncontrollable fire. Now, how did a fire on the south side of Nicollet Island leap to Boom Island? As previously mentioned, it was a windy day, and when fires grow, the energy created can create even more wind. That seems like a sufficient explanation. However, there’s a rumor floating around that some of the log mill owners who lived on the northern part of Nicollet Island bought insurance plans for their companies a few years prior to the fire. Sure, the lumber industry was rapidly declining, and insuring your company would have been a smart move, but come on! Embers from a fire jump over half an island where log mill owners just happen to live, leap a river channel, and land where there’s dozens of acres of mills and lumber stacks? I’ll let the conspiracy theorists take over from here.

The fire spread north from Boom Island and was rapidly approaching residential areas, so the St. Paul Fire Department was called in to help fight the blaze. The plan was to stop the fire at Marshall Street from spreading east, and at 13th Avenue from spreading north. Thankfully, the fire itself did not take any lives, but roughly 24 square blocks of Northeast Minneapolis were reduced to rubble. It could have been a lot worse, but the brand-new metal and brick brew house of the Grain Belt Brewery, then known as the Minneapolis Brewing Company, stopped the fire dead in its tracks.

It took a long time for that area to recover, but since then, businesses moved back, homes were built, and trees sprouted from the ashes. When walking on the new, beautiful park trail from Sheridan Memorial Park to Boom Island Park, it’s hard to believe that Minneapolis’ biggest fire ravaged the area over 100 years ago. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

About Michael Rainville, Jr.

A 6th generation Minneapolitan, Michael Rainville Jr. received his B.A. in History from the University of St. Thomas, and is currently enrolled in their M.A. in Art History and Certificate in Museum Studies programs.

Michael is also a lead guide at Mobile Entertainment LLC, giving Segway tours of the Minneapolis riverfront for 5+ years.

He can be reached at


Experience Thai Massage - Now Available at Bierbrauer Chiropractic

Bierbrauer Chiropractic, located at 221 10th Avenue S in the retail level of the Bridgewater Lofts, recently welcomed Certified Massage Therapist Devin Harwood.

Devin Harwood

With over five years of experience in the industry, Devin's work includes Swedish massage, Thai Yoga Stretching, Tui Na, Relaxation and Deep Tissue. However, his primary work is grounded in Thai and Thai oil massage.

While traditional Thai yoga massage is done on the floor on a mat, Devin prefers to work on a table, otherwise known as “Thai Table Massage,” because it allows the option of getting up onto the table to perform compressions, direct pressure, trigger point therapy, easier application of oils, plus it's less strain on the body being directly over what’s being worked on (similar to the way a chiropractor may work to adjust the back, hips, etc.).

Doing Thai oil massage also offers the options of doing anything from relaxing Swedish massage to deep tissue and all styles in between. Where Thai is traditionally done clothed, Thai oil massage is done in the same way you would get a Swedish or deep tissue massage; allowing you to undress to your level of comfort whilst incorporating various modalities and techniques to let you fully relax and become immersed in relaxation.

A graduate of Aveda Institute, Devin has explored different styles and approaches to bodywork and draws inspiration from Traditional Chinese Medicine, not only with massage but as a life style. He is Registered Yoga Teacher and practices Qi Gong and Tai Chi regularly. His knowledge of posture and alignment enables him to recommend useful stretches that will enhance and lengthen your results. He believes that first and foremost, massage does not have to be painful in order to be effective. In fact, he believes the best work that can be done is to relax and relieve - not just the body, but most importantly, the mind.

Massage services are available Fridays 1p-6p and Saturdays 12p-6p. Book appointments online. Grant yourself the gift of self healing!


St. Patrick's Day Pre-parade Face Painting and Discounts at Minneapolis Visitor Information

Join Minneapolis Visitor Information (505 Nicollet, Suite 100) on St. Patrick's Day! 

Love from Minneapolis is offering 17% of retail items. 

From 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. we are offering free face painting before the parade. 

We also have free green beads while supplies last.


Free Rides to Get You Home Safely March 17 from 6pm - 3am

If your St. Patrick's Day plans include green beer and whiskey - this one's for you!

Miller Free Rides on March 17

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day responsibly and get a free ride on Metro Transit on Friday, March 17. 

On St. Patrick’s Day, customers can ride free from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. on all Metro Transit routes – buses, METRO lines and Northstar. Simply hop on and take a seat for free. 

If you’re celebrating that night – or want to avoid driving alongside those who are – riding the bus or train is a worry-free and safe alternative. 

Watch for Metro Transit in the St. Patrick’s Day parades in downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul on March 17. 

Free rides will also be available on Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, SouthWest Transit and Anoka Transit routes.

Check which routes go late here.

Miller Lite Free Rides is a community service program made possible through a partnership with Metro Transit and MillerCoors. 

Call 1-800-FREE-RIDES 
Text “FREE RIDES” to 90464 


Annie Young Meadow in Riverside Park Dedication Scheduled for March 17

Via a March 13 e-newsletter from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board:

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) will celebrate the life of longtime Commissioner Annie Young during a special event to dedicate Annie Young Meadow in Riverside Park on Saturday, March 17, 2018, beginning at 10 am.

In February, the MPRB voted to rename a portion of Riverside Park, formerly called Lower Riverside Park, to Annie Young Meadow in honor of Young, a seven-term commissioner who passed away in January.

All Minneapolis park users and members of the public are invited to attend.


State-of-the-art Clinic & Specialty Center to Open in Late March in Downtown Minneapolis

Via a March 12 News Release from Hennepin Healthcare:

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Thursday, March 15 at 8am in the Clinic & Specialty Center’s lobby. Speakers will include Hennepin County Board Chair Jan Callison and Board Member Peter McLaughlin, Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman and Mayor Jacob Frey, along with others. The community is invited to an Open House on Saturday, March 17 from 10am to 2pm.

When the doors of the Hennepin Healthcare Clinic & Specialty Center open on March 26, 2018, patients will find their familiar caregivers in an inviting, convenient new building located on the campus in downtown Minneapolis. What they won’t find are multiple entrances, long skyways, and three block walks from the parking ramp their clinic. The new Clinic & Specialty Center has eliminated complicated wayfinding and created a seamless, patient-friendly experience – beginning with something simple as parking.

“Parking and convenient access are fundamental needs, which can be hard to accommodate downtown,” said Jon L. Pryor, MD, MBA, CEO. “So we built two levels of parking below the building with elevators that bring patients directly to the floor of their appointment. No more long walks from parking ramps and bus stops to get to our clinics.”   

Parking is important, but access to quality healthcare is what really matters, and Hennepin Healthcare has designed a clinic experience that brings care teams together to provide care that is centered on the needs of the patient. Those patients had a voice in the design of the six-story, 377,000 sq. ft. Clinic & Specialty Center.

“We started by asking our patients what they were looking for in a clinic, and we were not going to miss this opportunity to build it right – which meant listening closely to their suggestions and working them into the plan,” said Pryor. “From design workshops to an experiential mock-up clinic, our patients, staff, and community members provided input every step of the way.”

More than 25 primary care and specialty clinics, including Allergy, Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Oncology, Pediatrics, Pulmonary, and more, as well as same-day surgery, imaging, rehabilitation and other services that were once scattered throughout the five-block campus are now under one roof in the Clinic & Specialty Center. Dental services have expanded thanks to a $4.6 million grant from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. It’s the largest non-governmental grant that HCMC has ever received.

A skyway across 8th St. connects the new building to rest of the campus and the welcoming atmosphere in the new center includes large windows and open areas that offer ample natural lighting, an education and community center, comfortable seating areas, and commissioned artwork placed throughout the building create a healing environment for patients, visitors and employees.

Other strategic design features may not be as noticeable, but are built-in essentials to patient flow and convenience. The building’s team centers support collaborative care by having primary care providers and specialists in close proximity to quickly consult with each other when necessary. Clinic design separates the patient areas from the work areas to maintain a calm, healing environment. 

On the sixth floor outpatient surgical area, patients flow in one direction from check-in to pre-induction, to surgery, to post-op. After they are discharged they exit through a separate elevator to the lower level parking ramp – without needing to move through public areas. Likewise, imaging services are strategically located near those clinics that use them most (Orthopedics, Comprehensive Cancer Center). These are only a few examples of the many thoughtful placements of innovative design features that make the Clinic & Specialty Center a special place.

HCMC was Minnesota’s first Level I Trauma Center, and as part of its comprehensive care for adult and pediatric trauma patients, the full spectrum of care and services are offered, often meaning multiple follow-up outpatient visits.

“It’s no secret that our critical care expertise naturally translate into outstanding primary care,” said Kelly Spratt, Chief of Ambulatory Care. “It’s something that our patients already know – and that’s one reason why the clinics on our campus have seen year-over-year volume growth.”

Aligned with the opening of the new center is a new name for the system – Hennepin Healthcare – to better tell the story of the all of the care, services, and points of access available across the system.

More than 110,000 people (including trauma patients) access Hennepin Healthcare clinics for routine and specialty healthcare services every year. In 2017 this represented a total of 630,000 clinic visits. After the Clinic & Specialty Center opens in March, an estimated 530,000 clinic visits will be scheduled before the end of December at the new building alone.  

Reflecting on the journey it’s taken to arrive at this point, Pryor says that “It was time for a new building to keep pace with the growing healthcare trend from inpatient to outpatient care. To see the Clinic & Specialty Center finally come together from ‘concept’ to state-of-the-art center is not just exciting – it fulfills our mission as an organization to provide access to outstanding care for all. Now our patients and their families can experience care in a state-of-the-art facility and our valued staff has the newest, most advanced facilities in which to do what they do best.” 


CenterPoint Energy's 2018 Project List Includes East Hennepin Avenue 

Via a recent e-newsletter from CenterPoint Energy, and additional information from the related Project pageon their website:

In 2017, CenterPoint Energy worked hard to improve and modernize natural gas pipelines throughout several neighborhoods in its service territory. We would like thank everyone for their patience while this construction activity was taking place. 

For this new construction year, the new piping segments and upgrades will continue to be installed with the most current construction standards and requirements, ensuring safety and reliability of the pipelines for many years to come.

As CenterPoint Energy's crews begin the 2018 construction season in approximately April, please continue to visit our Construction Zone website as 2018 projects have been added to the website. Any changes on the 2018 projects will be added closer to the projects' start dates.

In conjunction with construction from Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis, CenterPoint Energy will be replacing existing natural gas pipeline in Minneapolis along the following streets:
  • East Hennepin Avenue from 5th Street NE to Main Street
  • 5th Street NE from East Hennepin Avenue to the 5th Street NE bridge over the Northstar Line
  • A short s​ection of pipe replacement on Nicollet Island
CenterPoint Energy’s contractor Michels Corporation will begin the work in April or May 2018 and will finish the work in at least twelve weeks. Further construction will be done by road contractors from Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis.

Frequent updates will be posted on CenterPoint Energy’s website closer to the project’s start date. Lane restrictions are anticipated in areas where active construction is occurring. The lane restrictions are necessary to keep both the public and construction personnel safe.
Construction will happen in three phases:
  • Phase 1 is installing the natural gas distribution main.
  • Phase 2 is connecting the natural gas service lines to the new main along the same construction route. (A gas service line is a small-diameter pipe connecting the customer's gas service to the main line in the street.)
  • Phase 3 is restoring the areas affected by construction--typically the utility easement, the street, and the customer's yard.

Map of construction area

How may construction affect customers?

As part of this main project, the crews will also be replacing several natural gas service lines that connect from the main to the customer's property. Customers will experience a short disruption of gas service as the crews are installing the gas service line. 

Crews may have to dig in the ground on your property in the utility easement to complete the task of service and main distribution line replacement. If a customer’s property is disturbed, CenterPoint Energy will restore the hard and soft surfaces affected by construction at no cost to you.
How can I contact CenterPoint Energy?
For questions about the project, please call our Information Hotline at 612-321-5369 or our Communication Specialist at 612-321-5546. For questions about restoration (hard or soft surfaces) please call our Restoration Department at 612-321-5042.

In the News - Downtown & the Riverfront Neighborhoods

Our weekly digest of stories about Downtown Minneapolis and the Central Riverfront neighborhoods:

WEEK OF 3/12/2018

Plans for Nicollet Hotel Block call for RBC Wealth Management to anchor office space
United Properties also plans a Four Seasons Hotel.

YMCA opens new $30 million downtown Minneapolis facility
Former Minneapolis shopping center becomes first-of-its-kind YMCA.

New rec center opens in northeast Minneapolis
Dozens of people turned out to help Minneapolis' newest community center, the Northeast Recreation Center, celebrate its grand opening Saturday.

Thrivent reveals new HQ, other development on downtown Minneapolis block
Besides a new Thrivent building in downtown Minneapolis, the plans call for a hotel and apartment building and day care and fitness centers.

Click to read more ...


The Week Ahead in Mill City


Sisterhood Boutique Brings Fashion Week to Cedar-Riverside

Article by Claudia Kittock, photos by Rick Kittock

All of you have heard of Fashion Week, and maybe about April 23-29 Spring Fashion Week MN, but did you know this year the Cedar Riverside neighborhood will have it's own Fashion Week? How did this happen? I had the honor of having a wonderful conversation with Yasameen Sajady, Social Enterprise Manager at Pillsbury United Communities, and came away stunned at what a small group of indomitable women have accomplished.

It had its beginning in a conversation at the Bryan Coyle Center amongst a group of East African teenagers.  These young women were asked a series of questions by a group leader. They were nudged to talk about what they wanted, and on their list was a space for themselves where they could work on something uniquely their own. During that conversation, the idea of a fashion club and a clothing drive were enthusiastically received. This was the birth of the Sisterhood Boutique.

With support from Augsburg College and the African Development Center, the Boutique opened in a small space on the 2nd floor of the Center. The Boutique opened with the goal of providing gently used clothes at a reasonable price to people in the neighborhood. It caught on quickly, and just as quickly outgrew its original space. Within the last few months they have moved to 2220 Riverside Avenue, directly across from Augsburg College.

One of the things that sets Sisterhood Boutique apart from other retail stores is that the profits of this store are used to fund paid internships for juniors and seniors in high school. The staff at the Boutique run 3 cohorts of students every year. During the internship, each young woman learns business and customer service skills and is required to give back to the community. The first group of interns are now juniors in college and are well on their way to developing their own career paths.

Fashion Week is this week and the slate of activities is both fun and impressive. On Monday, March 12, the Boutique will be highlighted at Pints 4 Pillsbury at Surly Brewing Co. They will hold a casual happy hour to support the people and programs making a difference throughout all of the Pillsbury United Communities. There will be prize drawings, activities, tasty appetizers, great local beer & the chance to support this agency’s work in 2018 and beyond.

Tuesday, March 13th will be an event titled Breakfast 4 Dinner. Held at the Hi-Lo Diner on Lake Street, you will be able to enjoy breakfast for dinner. A portion of the proceeds from all pancake orders will go to Sisterhood Boutique. Bring your friends, family and colleagues along for a night out. Pancakes and supporting a local youth social enterprise? It's a win, win. Raffles throughout the evening, and t-shirts will be available for purchase!

How about a Spa Day? On Wednesday, March 14th, the Boutique will offer a $5 Spa Day with services that include: Massage by Bash Beauty, Henna by Mehndi Moments, facials and DIY essential oils. They are asking for a suggested donation of $5 for each service, and will also be running a Big "Bag Sale" where customers can choose a bag to fill for either $20, $25, or $30.

Thursday, March 15th is an event that I have heard about for quite some time. It is the Open Mic Night, open to high school and college students from the community. Join the Boutique at Cedar Commons from 4-6 pm. Come together for spoken word, performances and, of course, snacks. It might also be worth knowing that this is actually something that happens every month! The address is 2001 Riverside Avenue S.

Alumni Karaoke Night will be held on Friday, March 16th. Current and past youth interns, college interns, volunteers and advisory board members are invited to come eat and sing karaoke at Encore Karaoke & Sushi Lounge, 2111 E Franklin Avenue in South Minneapolis. It's an opportunity for everyone to connect while celebrating Sisterhood's 4-year anniversary!

The final event of this fun filled week is the 3rd Annual Fashion Show, held on Tuesday, March 20th at Augsburg University, where you will see the talents of young social entrepreneurs through spoken word, art and fashion. Doors will open at 6 pm, with the show starting at 7 pm. Admittance is free but donations are accepted. There will be Henna by Mehndi Moments when doors open at 6, music, and Sisterhood t-shirts for sale.

After the show there will be light refreshments and possibly the opportunity to buy outfits. Most of the pieces are being designed by a class from St. Kate's and the others by the intern from the U of MN.

This is an exciting small venture that deserves your business. It is incredible to see what they have done and the dreams for this store. How can you help support this dynamic, neighborhood business?

• Attend their Fashion Week events.
• Donate clothes at the Boutique.
• Learn more about the sewing program at
• Sign up for the email list at

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).



City Employees are Eligible for CSA Deliveries and Discounts

City employees can sign up for the workplace CSA and receive weekly deliveries of fresh produce

Are you employed by the City of Minneapolis? Does your busy schedule keep you from shopping at local Farmers Markets? If so, you can get fresh, locally grown produce delivered weekly to a City worksite by joining the workplace community supported agriculture (CSA) program. When you become a member, you purchase a “share” of vegetables in advance from a local farmer, and during the summer your farmer will deliver your weekly share of produce to a convenient drop-off location.

Learn more about this program between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday, March 15, in the City Hall Rotunda. You’ll have a chance to talk to the farmers, ask questions and get information on their produce and pricing. In addition, you’ll get a coupon for an additional $10 off your membership and a free insulated tote when you pledge to register for a CSA share at the fair.

The Wellness Committee is offering City employees who participate in the CSA program a subsidy. Employees can receive 25 percent off the cost of a summer share up to a maximum of $100 off a half share and $150 off a full share. To apply the discount, you must sign up on the farm’s website and enter the coupon code in the discount code box when you check out.

The farms participating in this year’s City CSA program are the Hmong American Farmers Association and Shared Ground Farmers’ Cooperative. Each farm offers half and full shares. Both farms will deliver Wednesdays to the Public Service Center in downtown, and Shared Ground will deliver Wednesdays to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board headquarters in north Minneapolis. You can receive 25 percent off the cost with a discount from the Wellness Committee.

More Info


2018 Open Streets Minneapolis Dates Announced

Via a March 9 e-newsletter from Our Streets Minneapolis:

Mark your calendars! We are thrilled to announce the Open Streets Minneapolis 2018 summer events! We can't wait to walk, bike, roll, dance, and play with our neighbors all across Minneapolis. We hope to see you at all the 2018 summer events: 

Open Streets Lyndale - Sunday, June 10, 11 AM - 5 PM

Open Streets Lake + Minnehaha - Sunday July 22, 11 AM - 5 PM

Open Streets Northeast - Sunday, August 5, time TBD

Open Streets Franklin - Sunday, August 26, 11 AM - 5 PM

Open Streets West Broadway - Saturday, September 15, 11 AM - 5 PM 

Open Streets Nicollet - Sunday, September 23, 11 AM - 5 PM

Open Streets University of Minnesota - Sunday, September 30, 11 AM - 5 PM

Visit for more information, and to learn how you can sponsor Open Streets Minneapolis or get a spot along the route for any of the events. 


World Premiere of Beck Lee's Dark Comedy “Subprime” Debuts at Mixed Blood in May

Via a March 8 News Release:
Minneapolis will host the world premiere of Beck Lee’s Subprime, a new dark comedy with Minneapolis roots that was developed in New York. Lee’s play, about two couples from Minneapolis who travel to New York on a bargain vacation none of them can afford, debuts at the Mixed Blood Theatre, 1501 S 4th Street, beginning Friday May 4 at 7:30pm, with an opening on Sunday May 6 at 3pm. Produced by Media Blitz Entertainment, the show’s four-week engagement plays through Sunday May 27 at 3pm. Tickets are now on sale at
A prominent New York publicist, Lee conceived the play with Andrea Iten when he was living part-time in Minneapolis. “I have wanted this play to launch in Minneapolis,” says Lee. “The city means a lot to me and premiering it with a homegrown cast and creative team drawn from the city’s extraordinary talent pool, is exactly what this play calls for.”  The Carbonelle Award-nominated director and actor Peter Moore who directed the play’s first developmental readings in Minneapolis - at The Jungle and the Hennepin Theatre Trust -- directs and is the production’s fight and intimacy choreographer.

Featured in the cast of five are Bonni Allen, Jen Burleigh-Bentz, Charles Fraser and Dan Hopman.  (Allen’s notable Mixed Blood credits include “Avenue Q” and “Barbecue.”  Fraser’s many local credits include “Driving Miss Daisy” at The Jungle for which he shared an Ivey Award for ensemble acting. He was recently in Yellow Tree Theatre’s knockout hit “The Royale.”)  The production design team includes several of Minneapolis’s top, award-winning designers: Joe Stanley(scenic design), Anita Kelling (sound design), Mike Wangen (lighting design), and Sara Wilcox (costumes). Toni Solie is the production stage manager.

Set in the summer of 2008 when sharp hints of an impending financial meltdown were being studiously ignored by many Americans - “Subprime” introduces us to the Kellys and the Swensons, two couples from the well-to-do Linden Hills neighborhood in Minneapolis. The scope of their denial about the state of their finances, their marriages and even their identities comes into focus in the course of an evening of progressively debauched relaxation in their Midtown Manhattan hotel.

Lee’s contemporary farce, which he co-conceived with Iten, a Minneapolis-based marketing and brand placement specialist, had several developmental readings in New York, and was first seen publicly in a workshop in June of last year, at the Jersey City Theater Center. Thomas Burns Scully, writing in described the play as “the next ‘God of Carnage,’” calling it “staggering…a show that’s going to be talked about.”  Lee is also developing a new play, “God Save the Human Cannonball,” with the celebrated actress Laila Robins in the lead. Robins, a St. Paul native, starred at The Guthrie in “Lion in Winter” in 2016.

37th Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival is April 12-18

The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul recently announced the Opening Night film and selected Women & Film and Spotlight on the World: Chasms and Bridges titles.

This is a sample preview of the 250+ cinematic works from emerging and veteran filmmakers from around the world to be included in the 37th Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF). The Festival returns April 12-28, 2018, bringing over 150 new feature films and 100 shorts representing 70+ countries to audiences throughout the Upper Midwest.

This year, MSPIFF maintains its hub at the St. Anthony Main Theatre, expanding to include select screenings at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, with additional screenings at the Capri Theater in Minneapolis, the Uptown Theatre, Metropolitan State University's Film Space in St. Paul and the Marcus Wehrenberg 14 Theatre in Rochester.


The 37th MSPIFF opens with RBG, the acclaimed documentary celebrating the life and lasting influence of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Director Betsy West will be in attendance, and director Julie Cohen and other special guests have been invited to attend. The film and opening night reception and party will take place at St. Anthony Main on Thursday, April 12.


MSPIFF’s showcase of female directors from around the globe continues to grow every year, and 2018 is no different, featuring a wide variety of outstanding narratives and documentaries from around the world. MSPIFF programmers have brought in women-directed films that are in the vanguard of global contemporary cinema. A short list of the many titles includes: Sofia Djama’s The Blessed (from Algeria; Ms. Djama will be in attendance), Vivian Qu’s Angels Wear White (China) and Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not A Witch (Zambia).

The #MeToo movement has underscored the inequalities in the film industry like never before,” says Susan Smoluchowski, Executive Director of the Film Society. “Our Women & Film and Chasms and Bridges programs examine the chaotic and divisive world we live in today, as well as the resistance movements that seek to affect change, and we have sought out films that invite discourse and understanding.”


With this in mind, the 2018 MSPIFF Spotlight on the World is Chasms and Bridges: Cinema and the Search for Common Ground. Tackling the lines that divide us and the dramatic potential for reconciliation and compassion, this special series of titles and related panel discussions and workshops, are designed to open up conversations on the social and ideological divides and shifting social order shaping our world today.

Such stories can be found in fiction: A Syrian outsider finds both love and bigotry in Finland (A Moment in the Reeds); a powerful business woman comes face-to-face with the glass ceiling (Number One); upper and middle classes collide in Iran as a minor accident turns into major tragedy (No Date, No Signature). And non-fiction: Delve into the day-to-day life of radical Islamist family (Of Father and Sons); see the 2016 US election from the Russian perspective (Our New President); take a frustrating look at the corruption inside the NYPD (Crime + Punishment).

Highlighting the distinct identities of and commonalities among diverse cultures, these films will take us on a journey across geography, history, age, gender, social and political issues and the complexities of human relationships, bridging differences to find common ground.

Screeners will be provided upon request (if available), as well as more in-depth summaries, director bios, images, etc. The full lineup will be announced in early March. Please contact Publicity Manager Peter Schilling ( or Festival Publicist Connie Shaver (


Charting Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life through growing up in Brooklyn, RBG shows Ginsburg pursuing her education, falling in love, her friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia and eventual appointment as Justice of the Supreme Court. A fighting force, Ginsburg’s determination throughout her life and career has earned her the title of “notorious” both in politics and the wider public discourse. As a history-making public figure, Ginsburg has become “notorious” through her championing of women, her ever-persistent work ethic, and her commitment to democracy. Program: Special Presentation, Women & FilmDirected by Julie Cohen, Betsy West. USA. 2018. English. 97 min. Documentary Feature.


Xiaomi, a motel cleaner, watches as a district-commissioner checks in alongside two girls, Xiaowen and Xin Xin. On the surveillance monitor, Xiaomi sees the commissioner push his way into the girls’ room, and she decides to record the event with her smartphone. In the wake of the assault, Xiaomi’s story does little good for the girls as they face their unconcerned families and a society that would rather put the blame on them than offend their attacker. Program: Asian Frontiers, Women & FilmDirected by Vivian Qu. China, France. 2018. Chinese (Mandarin) w/English subtitles. 107 min. Narrative Feature.

THE BLESSED (LES BIENHEUREUX)                        

In postwar Algiers, Amal and Samir are a middle-aged couple hoping to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary. Drifting through their day, they eventually find themselves at a restaurant. Here, they confront their differences and disillusionment, threaded with the unsettled atmosphere of postwar society. Outside, their teenaged son Fahim and his friends, Feriel and Reda, spend their day on the streets of Algiers. They too reveal ideological differences among them, their banter soon leading to the reveal of hidden wounds left by the Algerian Civil War that shaped their current world. Program: Images of Africa, Women & FilmDirected by Sofia Djama. Algeria, Belgium, France. 2018. Arabic, French w/English subtitles. 102 min. Narrative Feature.

CRIME + PUNISHMENT                

Shocking and true, Crime + Punishment explores the internal corruption of the New York City Police Department and the undeniably racist system that has persisted well past early revelations. Back in 2013, a group of 12 police officers had dared to take the NYPD to court for the corruption, but the case’s federal hearing did not lead to reform. Cut to 2017, and director Stephen Maing reconnects with the police officers who first took a stand, to find them more determined than ever to speak out against the continued injustice. Program: New American Visions, SpotlightDirected by Stephen Maing. USA. 2018. English. 112 min. Documentary Feature.

I AM NOT A WITCH                     

Shula is young woman accused by an older woman of being a witch. Adorned with a spindle to “tether” her to the ground and carted off to a camp for witches that bares little difference to your standard zoo, Shula is then forced to perform her “magic” for a corrupt official. Rungano Nyoni’s debut feature-film renders Shula’s journey by exploring themes of femininity, superstition and acceptance, while also keeping Shula herself a mystery to all the spectators that attempt to control her world. Program: Images of Africa, Women & FilmDirected by Rungano Nyoni. Zambia, UK, France. 2017. English. 90 min. Narrative Feature.


After moving to Paris for university, handsome literature student Leevi returns to his native Finland for the summer to help his estranged father renovate the family lake house so it can be sold. Tareq, a recent asylum seeker from Syria, has been hired to help with the work, and when Leevi’s father has to return to town on business, the two young men establish a connection and spend a few days discovering one another during the Finnish midsummer. Program: Midnight Sun, LGBTQ Currents, SpotlightDirected byMikko Makela. Finland, UK. 2017. English, Finnish w/English subtitles. 108 min. Narrative Feature.


While on his way home from work, forensics doctor Dr. Kaveh Nariman is nearly hit by a reckless driver and in the chaos hits a motorcycle carrying Moosa, Leila, and their children. Moosa and Leila are uninjured, along with their daughter, but their young son, Amir Ali, appears to have a concussion. Brushing off a hospital visit, Kaveh and the family go their separate ways, only for the latter to discover the next day that one of the incoming bodies at the morgue where he works is Amir. Fellow colleague Dr. Sayeh Behbahnani deduces that the boy’s death was due to botulism caused by eating cheap chicken, but Nariman remains convinced that it was the motorcycle accident that ultimately caused it. Program: World Cinema, SpotlightDirected by Vahid Jalilvand. Iran. 2017. Farsi w/English subtitles. 100 min. Narrative Feature.

NUMBER ONE (NUMÉRO UNE)               

When Emmanuelle, an executive in a French energy firm, reaches the glass ceiling, but refuses to recognize her limited options. For years she has refused to acknowledge the sexism inherent in her workplace, but when chauvinistic male colleagues work to undermine her rise in the ranks, Emmanuelle pulls out all the stops in an attempt to capture what is rightly hers.  Program: World Cinema, Women & Film, SpotlightDirected by Tonie Marshall. France. 2017. French w/English subtitles. 110 min. Narrative Feature.

OF FATHERS AND SONS                            

The roots of home run deep in Talal Derki’s latest eye-opening feature. Returning to his homeland of Syria, documentary filmmaker Derki encounters Abu Osama and his family. Masqurading as a jihadist sympathizer, Derki integrates himself into the household of Osama, an Al-Nusra Front member. Program: World Cinema, SpotlightDirected by Talal Derki. Germany, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar. 2018. Arabic w/English subtitles. 99 min. Documentary Feature.

OUR NEW PRESIDENT                 

In this era of fake news v. real news, acclaimed documentarian Maxim Pozdorovkin has crafted a startling cine-essay, pulling together footage from the 2016 election from YouTube, Russian-government run RT, and other sources to dig deep into the propaganda machine that may ultimately have altered the U.S. Presidential election. Program: World Cinema, SpotlightDirected by Maxim Pozdorovkin. Russia, USA. 2017. English, Russian w/English subtitles. 77 min. Documentary Feature.

MSPIFF is presented by the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul, a dynamic 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to fostering a knowledgeable and vibrant appreciation of the art of film and its power to inform and transform individuals and communities.

The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival is generously supported by The Star Tribune, Cedarwoods Foundation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Minnesota State Arts Board Legacy Amendment Funding, National Endowment for the Arts, McKnight Foundation, US Bank, The Minneapolis Foundation, Mora Global, Knock, Inc., KBEM Jazz88, Indeed Brewing Company, Best Buy, Alamo Drafthouse, Depot Renaissance Hotel, Fox Rothschild, Depot Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, numerous local businesses, consulates from around the world, our Masters and Auteurs Member Circle and the 2,300+ Members and Donors of the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul.


Timeless New High-rise Riverfont Condominium Planned for Minneapolis


The building is proposed to be 39 stories tall, with one to five homes per floor, for a total of 101 distinguished residences. It will feature architectural details and amenities designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, including a large landscaped rooftop deck with a pool affording dramatic views of the downtown skyline and river. Other details include, masonry facades with a hierarchical variety of windows; expansive private terraces on most floors; and other unique features. The private terraces will create setbacks that will form a memorable tower silhouette for the Minneapolis skyline. Construction could begin as early as the end of this year, with occupancy in 2020.

Full size Project images...

Strib article...

Journal article...

Via a March 7 News Release from Padilla:

World-Renowned Robert A.M. Stern Architects Will Design First Twin Cities Tower

Luigi Bernardi and Ryan Companies US, Inc. will co-develop an ultra-luxury high-rise residential condominium tower in the Mill District of downtown Minneapolis. It will give residents unparalleled views of the Minneapolis skyline, including the Mississippi River, Stone Arch Bridge and Gold Medal Park. The future landmark will be designed by the world-renowned Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA), acclaimed for designing some of the most iconic residential buildings in the world, including signature properties such as the record-setting 15 Central Park West in New York, One Bennett Park in Chicago and One St. Thomas Street in Toronto.

The elegant masonry and glass building, to be named “Eleven,” will be located near 1101 West River Parkway and Gold Medal Park.

“Eleven will establish a new standard for upscale urban living in Minneapolis,” said Carl Runck, Ryan Companies’ director of real estate development. Preliminary design concepts are being shared with the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association and City of Minneapolis officials.

The building is proposed to be 39 stories tall, with one to five homes per floor, for a total of 101 distinguished residences. It will feature architectural details and amenities designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, including a large landscaped rooftop deck with a pool affording dramatic views of the downtown skyline and river. Other details include, masonry facades with a hierarchical variety of windows; expansive private terraces on most floors; and other unique features. The private terraces will create setbacks that will form a memorable tower silhouette for the Minneapolis skyline. Construction could begin as early as the end of this year, with occupancy in 2020.

Photo credit Spacecrafting Photography 

“Not only will this building feature exceptional views of downtown and the Mississippi River, the design and quality of this building will add enduring value to the community,” added Luigi Bernardi, co-developer.

“I started my career with RAMSA in New York, and therefore know them well. I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact a RAMSA building can have on a market and a skyline. It sets a tone for others to follow.  It’s been decades since an architect of this caliber designed a project for the Twin Cities that was privately funded (since the Wells Fargo Tower was designed by Cesar Pelli), and we are thrilled to share our plans,” said Mike Ryan, Ryan’s SVP and market leader.

Paul L. Whalen, lead design architect for the project at RAMSA, sees the new building as an appealing bookend to the Mill District waterfront. “We want to bring urban living in Minneapolis to a new level,” said Whalen, “but just as importantly we want to anchor the east end of the city's riverfront with a visually powerful statement and a community that will enliven the neighborhood's streets, paths and parks.”

Robert A.M. Stern Architects, recognized for its modern traditional buildings in New York and other major international cities, is known for undertaking exhaustive neighborhood history studies to inform their designs. The residences will be offered exclusively by Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty, and reservations will be accepted starting in late March. “This will become the premier address in the Mill District,” said John Wanninger of Sotheby’s.

About Luigi Bernardi

Luigi Bernardi, serves as president of two real estate development and investment companies, Arcadia LLC and Aurora Investments which began developing Twin Cities commercial real estate in 1987. Now, focusing on medical-related facilities and multi-family residential development, recent projects include the Velo luxury apartments in downtown Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood and Aurora on France in Edina.

About Ryan Companies US, Inc.

Founded in 1938, Ryan Companies offers comprehensive commercial real estate services as a national developer, architect, capital investment consultant, builder and real estate manager with a focus on bringing lasting value to its customers and the communities in which it works. Ryan market depth includes retail, industrial, health care and senior living. Ryan development and corporate build-to-suit work spans a wide range of product types including office, mixed-use, hospitality, multifamily housing and mission critical facilities. Ryan has nearly 1,300 employees in 13 offices and has completed projects in 38 states. For more information, visit

About Robert A. M. Stern Architects

Robert A.M. Stern Architects is a 265-person firm of architects, interior designers and support staff that has earned an international reputation as a leading design firm with wide experience in residential, commercial and institutional work throughout the U.S. and around the world. The firm's extraordinary portfolio of residential buildings, combining its longstanding dedication to the design of private residences with its deep commitment to urban place-making, includes such record-setting landmarks as 15 Central Park West in New York for Zeckendorf Development and residential towers in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver. "Eleven" is the firm's first project in Minneapolis.

Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, practicing architect, teacher and writer, served as dean of the Yale School of Architecture from 1998 through June of 2016. As founder and senior partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects, he directs the firm's architecture, planning, interior design and landscape design projects. Mr. Stern was the 2011 Driehaus Prize laureate and has received both the Athena Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Board of Directors' Honor from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art.

Paul L. Whalen, FAIA, is a partner and studio leader at Robert A.M. Stern Architects whose work includes the design of record-setting multifamily residential buildings across the United States as well as in Canada, South America, Europe and Asia. Along with Mr. Stern, Mr. Whalen is co-author of the 2016 monograph City Living: Apartment Houses by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. He currently serves as the president of Sir John Soane's Museum Foundation.


Mix of housing types and retail proposed for 205 Park Ave

UPDATE - MARCH 5, 2018

Groundbreaking set for May 22, 2018.

UPDATE - AUGUST 11, 2016:

The City of Minneapolis just released the decision to grant Sherman Associates exclusive negotiating rights to develop the city owned parking lot at 205 Park Ave S. in the Mill District of Downtown Minneapolis.

Download the Staff Report recommending the Sherman proposal...

Download the Sherman proposal (13MB)...

View the photos on Flickr...

Quick summary from the CPED Staff Report:



• 6-story mixed-use building

• 115 mixed-income apartment rental units (levels 2-6), with stated commitments for 20%

(23 units) affordable to households earning 60% of Area Median Income (“AMI”). The

average rents for the affordable units would be $950/month. The remainder of the units

(92) would be market rate rentals. 

• 4 two-level, for-sale townhomes fronting Park Ave.

• 130 underground parking stalls (two levels) for residents.

• Sustainable, energy efficient design, integrating components of LEED.


• Approximately 4,800 sq. ft. ground floor restaurant at the corner of Park Ave. and

Washington Ave. with outdoor patio.

•  Approximately 1,500 sq. ft. bakery/coffee shop at the corner of Park Ave. and 2 St. S.,

with loading dock patio space.

• Letters of Intent from Kim Bartmann for both the restaurant and bakery spaces.

• Bank of America ATM (Letter of Intent) on Washington Ave.

• Police substation (500 sq. ft.) on 2 St. (MPD commitment unconfirmed)

Public Amenities

• Pet relief area (open to the public) lining the adjacent municipal parking ramp

(discussions with nonprofit Dog Grounds about co-managing the dog park. 

• Landscaping, bike parking, outdoor restaurant seating, proposed exterior screening of

adjacent parking ramp in collaboration with the City.

Purchase Price:  $3,246,840 ($90 per sq. ft.)

Total Development Cost:  $35,932,762




•  5- or 6-story mixed-use building (stated preference for 6-story building)

• 42-52 for-sale units

• Preliminary discussions with City of Lakes Community Land Trust about partnering on 4 land trust units (no stated commitments or letter of intent from CLCLT).

• 85 below-grade parking stalls.


• Approximately 2,900 sq. ft. ground floor retail along Washington Ave. (in preliminary discussions with owner of Yum restaurant - no letter of intent or commitment).

Public Amenities

• Dog relief area (open to the public) lining the adjacent municipal parking ramp.

• Landscaping, bicycle parking, outdoor seating area for retail space, GREA is looking to the City to provide exterior screening for neighboring parking ramp.

Purchase Price

• 5-story building:  $1,554,000 (~$43 per sq. ft.)

• 6-story building:  $1,924,000 (~$53 per sq. ft.)

Total Development Cost

• 5-story building:  $26,645,150

• 6-story building:  $31,989,898



At least 1 proposal was submitted prior to last Friday's deadline for redeveloping the city owned surface parking lot at 205 Park Ave S. Below is a high level description from the document, along with a link to download the entire report, with graphics:

Download the proposal (13MB)...

View the photos on Flickr...

Developer: Sherman Associates

Mixed Income Apartment Homes: 97,606 square feet, 115 apartment homes on levels 2 through 6. Twenty percent (20%) of the apartment homes will be dedicated as affordable housing for household incomes of 60% AMI or below (details of affordable housing below). The units themselves will included fully furnished kitchens (range/oven, refrigerator/freezer, dishwasher and microwave), ample natural light, in-unit washer and dryers, stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops. There will be two levels of underground, heated parking, providing approximately 130 parking spots for the residents. The apartment homes will also include amenities to allow the building to be competitive in the vast marketplace. These amenities include: 6th floor club room and amenity deck with spectacular downtown views, first floor fitness center, club room, and patio.

For Sale Townhomes: 7,904 square feet, 4 two-level townhomes of approximately 1,900 square feet on two levels. These walk up townhomes on Park Avenue South will include two dedicated heated parking spaces, and will have access to the amenities of the mixed-income apartment building.

Kim Bartmann Restaurant 1: 4,782 square feet, first level restaurant on Washington and Park Avenue South operated by highly regarded restaurateur, Kim Bartmann. This restaurant will provide breakfast, lunch and dinner in a casual eating environment. To foster street level activation, a large patio on the corner of Washington Avenue and Park Avenue South will be incorporated into the dining experience. The kitchen will also serve as the bakery for the restaurant on 2nd Street South.

Kim Bartmann Restaurant Bakery 2: 1,521 square feet, first level bakery/coffee shop on the corner of Park Ave South and 2nd Street South. To echo the loading dock streetscape of Mills City Museum, a loading dock patio space will be integrated into the design on 2nd street and will serve as an outdoor patio for the bakery/coffee shop.

Bank of America ATM: 597 square feet, first level ATM on Washington Ave South. This ATM will be open 24 hours a day and will further promote street level activity.

Police Substation: 500 square feet, first level Police Substation on 2nd Street South. After discussion with numerous residents of the Mills District and support from DMNA, Sherman Associates plans to provide a Police Substation for the Mills District.

Pet Relief Area (open to the public): Sherman Associates initiated preliminary discussions with the Minneapolis urban off-leash management entity, Dog Grounds, to partner on a public pet relief area at 205 Park. Sherman Associates envisions a dog park lining the municipal ramp, funded and co-managed by Sherman Associates in partnership with Dog Grounds. This tremendously needed asset will help manage the escalating pet waste concern within the Mills District.


Mill City Singers to Perform at Orchestra Hall March 9 and 10

Article by Claudia Kittock

The Mill City Singers are having an amazing year. Fresh off a performance at the Super Bowl event, Bold Hope in the North, they have been asked to become a community partner of the Minnesota Orchestra. On March 9th and 10th, the Singers will be performing in the atrium of Orchestra Hall at 7:00pm.

If you haven’t heard of the Singers before, here is a brief history of this dynamic group:

This choir is unique. Its beginnings were unique, our mission is unique, our singers are unique, and our community is unlike others. Almost three years ago, a group of Mill City neighbors formed a running group and invited residents from Emanuel Housing to be part of that group. Emanuel is a 101-unit sober, supportive, permanent housing program that serves economically disadvantaged single men and women.  We quickly discovered that the commonality of running was a means to become friends. On these runs we talked about running, the neighborhood, and our diverse backgrounds. During one of these runs, a friend brought up music and asked the question, “Why isn’t there more music in the know, like a choir?” The simple answer to that question was, “I don’t know, but I will find out.”

When I asked a MacPhail Center for Music employee the same question, she promised to do some research.  Within a week, she suggested MacPhail might be willing to help us set up a pilot project to see if we could make a choir a reality, offering us JD Steele as the director, and his brother, Fred Steele, as our accompanist.

JD became our director, and is as talented as he is unique in the world of music. Rehearsals begin with a ‘call’ from JD. He loudly sings, “Day-Oh!” and the singers echo back. JD continues to go up the scale by half steps until we are warmed up and ready to sing. We do not use printed music. JD never learned to read music, and teaches us using a music technique known as ‘lining out’. Lining has a long and storied tradition in American music. JD sings every vocal part by lining, teaching the singers the words, the music, and each part of harmony.

Lining is another part of the uniqueness of this group. We are a group of varied ages and education, and lining calls on every part of our brains to participate. No one is excluded because they don’t read music or can’t read printed words. Everyone can sing by lining and it truly serves as ‘choral binding’ to each of us.

With each session of rehearsals our numbers have grown as has the diversity of our group. During the first group of 6 rehearsals in 2016, we averaged 29 singers, the second group saw an increase to 33 singers, and as of the last group of rehearsals for 2017, we are now averaging 50 singers, with 220 singers on the roster.

Our mission is to include everyone in our community of singers. We are aware of the socio-economic divide in our neighborhood. While the mean income is $78,000, we know that 25% of our neighbors live below the poverty line. An integral part of the very existence of the Singers is to include all of our neighbors, which involves an almost constant outreach to our neighbors in poverty. Since our inception, we have added members from Alliance Housing and the Harbor Lights shelter. We are hoping to extend our invitation even further. The Cedar Riverside neighborhood has no representation within our group, and we very much want to include our neighbors.

Come here us sing! All that is required to be a member is to:

  • Consider yourself a ‘friend’ of the Mill District
  • Love singing
  • Be willing to open your heart and your soul to becoming part of this vibrant community

Sounds easy? It is! If you're interested, please contact Claudia Kittock at We hope to see you in the audience on March 9 or 10. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).



The Forgotten Islands Beneath the Falls

Article by Michael Rainville, Jr.

Before Minneapolis turned into the Mill City and tamed the riverfront, there was a clump of three islands located downstream of St. Anthony Falls. Cataract, Spirit, and Upton Islands were limestone outcroppings left behind from the receding waterfall. While these islands were not large, like Hennepin and Nicollet Islands, that did not stop early settlers and entrepreneurs from attempting to start up businesses on these river islands.

Light pole powered by the first hydroelectric plant in the US.The first of these islands, Upton, was located immediately downriver of the falls, roughly where the northern portion of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam lies today. The island’s claim to fame is that it was home to the first hydroelectric power station in the United States. In 1881, a group of men, which included Joel Bassett and C. M. Loring, started the Minnesota Brush Electric Company. Once the company bought land on Upton Island, they built a small central power station with five generators that used power lines to connect to businesses along Washington Avenue. The island was completely removed by the Army Corps of Engineers when they built the upper lock and dam.

About 1,000 feet to the East and between Spirit and Hennepin Islands was Cataract Island. In 1855, the Lovejoy Brothers constructed a shingle factory, with a small wooden bridge that connected the island to Hennepin Island. This was done so their employees could have easier access to Cataract Island. Unfortunately, since the island was very small and in the middle of turbulent water, the sandstone located underneath the island eroded rapidly, and Cataract Island collapsed into the river in 1860.

Spirit Island, 1899

The most well-known of the three islands, Spirit Island, held high importance to the Dakota who called this part of Minnesota home well before pioneers settled the area. The mist of the falls would float over the majestic spruce trees that sprouted from the rocky surface, and to top it all off, bald eagles frequently nested on the island. However, once more and more people started moving to the area, the beauty of the island started to decrease. While the island never had any structures built upon it, Minneapolitans, or rather mill owners, valued the island even more than the previous two. For a few decades, the island turned into a Platteville Limestone quarry that provided building materials for many of the mills along the river. In 1882, the St. Anthony Water Power Company purchased the island, and they owned it up until 1957, when they ceded it to the federal government. This was necessary as Spirit Island was right where the lower entrance for the upper lock would eventually be constructed.

Both nature and humans have leveled the islands that once occupied the river at the base of St. Anthony Falls, but let us not forget the practical and spiritual role they once played for the many people that have called the Minneapolis riverfront their home.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

About Michael Rainville, Jr.

A 6th generation Minneapolitan, Michael Rainville Jr. received his B.A. in History from the University of St. Thomas, and is currently enrolled in their M.A. in Art History and Certificate in Museum Studies programs.

Michael is also a lead guide at Mobile Entertainment LLC, giving Segway tours of the Minneapolis riverfront for 5+ years.

He can be reached at


March Programs & Kids Day Camps at the North Mississippi Regional Park

Kroening Winter

Hike: Birds of Prey - Eagles - Saturday, Mar. 10th 1:30-2:30pm

Raptors, the predatory birds of the sky. Though usually solitary, in winter eagles congregate by the hundreds around areas of open water on the Mississippi River. Learn more about our national bird and look for these majestic predators along the river. Activity #81541

Outdoors: Leprechaun Secrets - Saturday, Mar. 17th 1:30-3pm

Learn the ways of the woods by following leprechaun clues. Discover tricks that plants and animals use to thrive in the wild, decipher messages left by animals, and identify helpful and harmful plants. Follow the leprechaun's path to uncover the secret. Activity #81511

Family Funday: Spring Arts & Animals - Sunday, Mar. 25th 1-3pm

Come meet our new baby false map turtle and learn about our neighborhood native species. Meet MN animals up-close, then let nature inspire your creation of spring themed artwork to take home. Activity #81595

Nature Art: Earthen Art - Saturday, Mar. 31st 2-3pm

Get down in the dirt to make sensational soil-based art. Wet, dry or somewhere in between, the earth beneath your feet is a fun medium to create a piece of art. Activity #81551

Public programs are FREE for all ages - Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Spring Break Day Camps for Kids

Neighborhood Nature - March 26th - 30th   8am-4pm

You don't have to go out into the wilderness to find nature, it's right here in your neighborhood! Discover more about the animals that live alongside us as we explore the park, play games, make art and meet some local animals. Ages 6-12. Registration Fee $150.  Activity #81727

Animal Scientists - April 2nd - 6th   8am-4pm

Many animals utilize incredible science in their bodies and behaviors. Come find out more about these animal scientists and conduct some amazing science experiments for yourself. Make concoctions that ooze or explode, use extraordinary methods to create art and play games. Ages 6-12. Registration Fee $150. Activity #81728

Day camp is based out of Kroening Interpretive Center. Every day please bring a lunch, snack and water bottle. Dress for the weather and a mess.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Nature Nuts Play Group Fridays

Come with your little one to play and have fun in nature with other children and parents/guardians. Each day is different, but will have nature themes about animals, plants, and seasons. Enjoy the outdoors together all winter! Ages: For kids 5 and under with an adult.

This is an Adult/Child interactive program. Registration Fee $15

Spring weather is always changing! Wear clothes and shoes for playing outside.

April 13th - May 4th  10:45-11:45am   Activity #81731

May 18th - June 8th  10:45-11:45am   Activity #81732

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Summer Day Camp Registration Now Open

Monday through Friday 8am-4pm all Summer! Summer Day Camp Registration Now Open Monday through Friday 8am-4pm all Summer!

Register kids ages 6-12 for week long, naturalist-led summer camps. Explore outdoors, get messy and learn by doing. Spend a summer of fun playing in the park at North Mississippi. Registration Fees: Full Day $150. Half Day (am or pm) $80. Find programs to start planning your summer today!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Like North Mississippi on Facebook to stay in the loop
about what’s happening in our park.
Learn more about North Mississippi Regional Park at our website.