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Meg Forney

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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.


Mill District Business Spotlight: Sweet Light Studio and Alli Jagoda Photography

Our neighbor, Rachel, recently introduced us to Alli Jagoda, owner of Sweet Light Studio and Alli Jagoda Photography, 500 Washington Avenue South.  Rachel and her husband, Wade, hired Alli for a portrait session with their newborn son.  The result was a collection of treasured pictures.

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Alli (above) and her husband moved to Minneapolis about 11 years ago.  She's been doing commercial photography (under Alli Jagoda Photography) for 10 years, and has amassed an impressive portfolio of clients, including Target, Best Buy and Creative Kidstuff. 

She mentioned her most unique engagement was with The Mall of America when they promoted the newly opened Nickelodeon Universe. The work took place both onsite and in studio, and featured kids having fun playing with their food (something normally frowned upon at the dinner table).

After becoming a parent, she discovered how fun it was to photograph kids - and Sweet Light Studio was born.  Below are some samples of her portrait work.  View more on her blog.


She also does work with Adsoka, another neighborhood business.

Alli moved her studio to the Mill District in 2007.  She explained that while this area is a magnet for photographers (she considers it to be the best neighborhood in Minneapolis for photographers) it is cost prohibitive for most to have a studio here. By sharing a studio with 2 other photographers and a videographer, the foursome is able to have the best of both worlds.   With different specialities and schedules, and large space and individual offices allows them both privacy and flexibility.

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While Alli has a supply of props, she encourages clients to bring items with personal meaning for their shoot.  Sessions can be held at the studio, or clients can opt to shoot around the neighborhood landmarks.

Alli can be reached at 612-460-1212 or

Sweet Light Studio is offering an incredible deal on Groupon TODAY and TOMORROW only (April 29 and 30) for a 1-hour studio photo session and a CD of 10 high resolution images for only $69.


MacPhail's Annual Music Matters Luncheon - an Incredible Experience

Dave and I immediately became fans of MacPhail while attending our first event there.  

We were fortunate to have been guests at the April 20 MacPhail Center for Music "Music Matters" Luncheon held at the Convention Center.   It's an annual fundraising event in which attendees experience first hand what an incredible institution MacPhail.   We enjoyed numerous live performances, heard from students and staff, and watched videos of how music through MacPhail has transformed lives in very different ways. 

Below, some scenes and videos from the event:

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MacPhail was established over 100 years ago - that it continues to thrive is no accident.   An example of using technology to meet student needs is internet real-time training.  And while not obvious by the below video, what we are witnessing here is cutting edge technology.  As Nathan Hotchkiss, piano student of Irina Elkina, played piano live from San Francisco, he was actually controlling the piano on the stage at the Convention Center. 

Meg Gehlen Nodzon, Director of Development, commented, "It was amazing to see over 1,000 people at the luncheon in support of MacPhail and its programs.  Music DOES indeed matter to this community.” 

Yesterday we learned that over $400K was raised in support of MacPhail’s programs.   If you'd like to make a contribution, please click here or call Amanda Schroder at 612-767-5343.

Over half of the 8,400 students experience MacPhail free or at a greatly reduced cost.  In 2010, $306K in financial aid was awarded to students who would not otherwise be able to afford music education. Dave and I agreed it was a great investment to become Music Matters Circle members.

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Click here for more pictures and videos.


New Living Areas Further Enhance Life at People Serving People

From an April 26 People Serving People E-news:

Homeless Families Get Comforts of Home at People Serving People

Homeless children and families at People Serving People can now gather, relax and play in six new living areas at our shelter.  The International Interior Design Association donated over $100,000 in products, as well as the talents and time of some of their top designers, to help comfort and inspire the families at People Serving People.  Please take a look at some of their amazing work!

The International Interior Design Association Northland Chapter has transformed blank-walled common areas in our homeless shelter into comforting and inviting spaces for struggling families to unwind and catch their breath.  Additional funds for the makeover were donated by Target, as well as thousands of children's books to go in each redesigned room.
Since the fall of 2010, the IIDA Northland Chapter has been in and out of People Serving People’s shelter for homeless families – speaking with shelter guests, taking measurements of spaces, and gathering materials so they can use their talents as leaders in the industry of business space renovation to make the most out of the underutilized common areas in this bustling shelter.
Dr. Craig J. Lewis, President of People Serving People, said, “The first thing I noticed about the lounges is they inspire children’s curiosity and their imagination. We forget that kids live in an imaginary world.  This one little girl walked into a lounge for the first time, and went straight to the dress-up area, put on a princess gown, and started performing on the stage.  She was four years old, and already knew just what to do.  The second thing about the lounges that I saw is the increased connectivity that parents now have with each other.   There was one mother I spoke with in a hallway near the lounge, who was worried about getting clothing for herself, her whole wardrobe was actually on her back.  She stopped by the lounge, saw a comfy couch, and took respite.  As she sat there, another guest at the shelter approached her to enjoy the comfort of that same couch.  As they spoke with each other, I witnessed that mother receive numerous resources for free clothing from her new friend.  That is when I realized that the new spaces at our shelter serve as a catalyst for building connections between families.  This is truly amazing.” 


Tonight - TLS/KVA Presentation and Design Q&A - Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative

Time: 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Where: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, 2117 West River Road

This two-hour session features MR|DI designers TLS/KVA, who will give a 90-minute presentation of their RiverFIRST design proposal for the Upper Riverfront. Following the presentation, there will be 30 minutes for Q&A and feedback with the designers and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.


People Serving People Named Cornerstone of the Mill District Neighborhood

We're proud to announce People Serving People as a Community Cornerstone of the Mill District.  

"People Serving People plays a vital role beyond being a haven for families in need of shelter" according to Kim Eslinger, Editor of the Mill City Times. "They help prepare families for success in living after they find permanent housing" said Eslinger.

View the press release here...

The Community Cornerstone Awards are given to organizations that contribute to the growth, health and vibrancy of the Mill District neighborhood of Minneapolis. The Mill City Museum, Guthrie Theater, MacPhail Center for Music, Open Book, People Serving People and Mill City Commons are currently recognized as cornerstones of the Historic Mill District of Minneapolis.


Library Launches Mobile App

From the April 26 Hennepin County E-newsletter:

If you're a smartphone user, access to Hennepin County Library is now at your fingertips, wherever you go. The Library has launched a mobile application, "hclib mobile," so people with smartphones can have mobile access to features available on the Library's website. The app is free of charge, and hclib mobile is compatible with most smartphones, including Android, Blackberry, J2ME, Palm OS, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile and iPhone.

With the Library's app, you can access many online services, including:
- Fast catalog searches with minimal keystrokes;
- Access library "My Account" functions such as renewing and reserving items;
- Find hours and library locations;
- Check the events and classes calendar;
- See new title lists;
- Ask questions via phone, chat or email;
- Connect to HC Library on social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Click here download the mobile app, or follow the link from the HC Library home page. The mobile application is funded by the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA).


The Benefits of Being a Mill City Commons Member - An Ongoing Series

Earlier this year Dave and I became members of Mill City Commons.  We joined for a number of reasons, including the ability to attend interesting member-only events, meet fascinating people, and to have more of a hands on role in helping with their various fundraising activities. 

Unfortunately, our schedules prohibit us from attending as many events as we'd like.   For example, this week members participated in a Guthrie play reading of Arsenic and Old Lace.  Play readings are hosted by Guthrie staff or an artist associated with the play.  

However, we were able attend the monthly MCC Happy Hour prior to the play reading.  The April Happy Hour was held at Spill the Wine, and as usual there was a large turn out:

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Next week, we look forward to a menu sampling event at Masu Sushi and Robata Restaurant, hosted by MCC members Scott Parkin and Amy Sperling.

To learn more about Mill City Commons, please visit the website, or contact Linnea at 612-455-3329 or


Tonight - Advisory Committee for the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative

Time: 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Where: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, 2117 West River Road

This is a public session featuring design team TLS/KVA. Representatives of community and non-profit organizations who are members - or would like to become members - of the Advisory Committee will attend and participate. The agenda will be posted on Tuesday, April 26. Other members of the public may observe this meeting and are encouraged to attend the scheduled public meetings.


Tonight - An Evening of Rhyme, Swine, and Wine at Central Library

Time: 7:00pm

Location: Pohlad Hall, Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall

In celebration of National Poetry Month.

Local poetry legend Jim Lenfestey has edited a new collection of poems on the subject of pigs. This porcine-anthology, Low Down and Coming On: A Feast of Delicious and Dangerous Poems about Pigs, features the work of 105 poets from around the world and throughout time, including works by Margaret Atwood, William Blake, Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, and dozens of local authors.

The idea behind the collection came from Minnesota author Bill Holm before he died in 2009. In the introduction dedicated to Holm, Jim roots through the history of pig poetry since Homer, uncovering many tasty surprises. Join Jim and contributing poets Jim Heynen, Jill Breckenridge, and Katherine Grant for an evening of rhyme swine, and wine. A wine toast will kick-off the program and a book signing reception will follow.


Save the Southern - $400,000 Must be Raised by April 30 to Keep Doors Open

There have been a number of articles regarding the financial crisis at the Southern Theater. 

Click on this Save The SouthernFacebook event link for quick access to those articles, letters from the Board and Wall posts featuring feedback on what The Southern Theater means to people in the community. 

The Southern Theater opened its doors on March 1, 1910, offering a variety of entertainments. Following years as a garage, warehouse, antique shop, restaurant and vacancy, the Southern resumed its role as a theater when the Guthrie Theater renovated the space for use as a second stage. With the assistance of the Minneapolis Arts Commission, the Southern Theater Foundation emerged in its present, non-profit corporate structure in 1983.

Donations are being processed through GiveMN.


Sanctuary Announces Chef Patrick's "End of Hibernation" Menu

Sanctuary, which we consider a Mill District treasure, recently posted their new menu.   Click here for photos.

On a recent visit, we enjoyed the Daydream - a refreshing concoction similar to a mojito. 

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The Sanctuary has a fantastic staff - including Kerrie (below) who created our drinks.

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Follow Sanctuary on Twitter and Facebook


Tonight - Public Workshop: Historic District Design Guidelines for the St. Anthony Falls Historic District

Time:  6:30pm – 9:00pm

Location: City Hall, Room 319, 350 South Fifth Street (Enter City Hall at the Fourth Street South Entrance)

The City of Minneapolis announces an upcoming community meeting on the development of the new Historic District Design Guidelines for the St. Anthony Falls Historic District. The Public is invited to help shape Design Guidelines for the St. Anthony Falls Historic District...



Mill District City Apartments included in the April 30-May 1 Minneapolis & St. Paul Home Tour

Mill District City Apartments is #9 on the 2011 Minneaplis and St. Paul Home Tour.

Homes on the free, self-guided 2011 tour will be open Saturday, April 30, 10:00am-5:00pm and Sunday, May 1, 1:00-5:00pm. It will be held April 30 & May 1, 2011 regardless of weather conditions.

The Minneapolis & St. Paul Home Tour is coordinated by Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) and the City of Saint Paul Planning and Economic Development department, with other corporate and non-profit sponsors. They encourage people to stay in the neighborhoods they love, and to maintain and improve the cities’ housing stock. For information, call 612-673-5103. 


Countdown to May 7 Opening Day at the Mill City Farmers Market!

Just 2 weeks until the May 7 Opening Day at the 2011 Mill City Farmers Market!  Here's more pictures from the 2010 MCFM to help get you in the mood...

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Mill City Farmers Market 2010

Mill City Farmers Market 2010

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Mill City Farmers Market 2010

See you there!  :D


This Weekend in Mill City / April 22 - 24

It's Easter weekend and very quiet in the Mill City, my hometown.  Events this weekend in and around the Historic Mill District of Minneapolis and across the Stone Arch Bridge in Old St. Anthony.

Friday, April 22

SCUBA at the Southern Theater (2 nights)

Live Music at the Aster Cafe

Saturday, April 23

Celebrate Earth Day at MCBA

Washburn A Mill Tour at Mill City Museum

How'd They Do That Workshop at the Guthrie - Arsenic and Old Lace

Live Music at the Aster Cafe

Weekend Brunch

Saturday & Sunday

Brunch at Spoonriver
750 South 2nd St (at Chicago Ave S)
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Reservations recommended

10:00am - 2:00pm

See the menu...

Saturday & Sunday

Brunch at the Aster Cafe
St. Anthony Main
125 SE Main Street
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Until 2pm.

See the menu...


Brunch at Spill the Wine
1101 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55415

brunch buffet 10am- 2pm Sunday
$12/person (kids 3 and under eat free, 4-12 years are 1/2 price!)

includes: eggs, bacon, french toast, hash browns, fresh salad and fruit, pastries, build your own omlette bar and more...

featuring absolut bloody bar for $5.

also offering fair trade coffee and full bar.


Tonight - Celebrate Minnesota Libraries at Central Library

Time: 7:00pm

Location: Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall

Come celebrate the state's beloved libraries and the pubication of the new book, Libraries of Minnesota.
'Libraries of Minnesota' features stunning photographs by the popular Doug Ohman and library stories by seven of Minnesota's best known writers of books for children and young adults. Doug will share images from the book and contributing authors Pete Hautman, David LaRochelle, Will Weaver, Marsha Wilson Chall, and Kao Kalia Yang will tell stories about their childhood libraries.
Program is free and open to the public. Book sale/signing follows the presentation. Seating is first come, first served.  
In celebration of National Library Week. Co-presented by Metropolitan Library Services Agency and Minnesota Historical Society Press.


Dr. Jon Hallberg and Mill City Clinic in The Line

In case you don't subscribe to The Line, here's a link to an article titled "Human-centric" Design Makes Health Care Friendlier that posted today.  It mentions Dr. Jon Hallberg and Mill City Clinic(scroll down to the The "iPod of Clinics" portion of the article).


Minneapolis Locks Re-Open for Commercial Traffic


The St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this morning opened three locks along the Mississippi River to commercial barge traffic.

River levels have been steadily falling for about a week. The locks are expected to open to recreational traffic Monday.

The Upper St. Anthony Falls and Lower St. Anthony Falls locks in downtown Minneapolis and Lock 1 near Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis were closed earlier this month after the district determined the high waters were unsafe for navigation.

The river rose to a spring high of 19.01 feet in St. Paul March 29 — the eighth highest on record. The river also saw a second crest of 18.71 feet April 11.

At 9:15 this morning, the river was at 15.65 feet. It's expected to drop below flood stage — 14 feet — Friday or Saturday.


Coming to the Mill District - Twin City Trolleys

We recently learned that Twin City Trolleys will have a downtown route on Sundays, 10a-5pm, Memorial Day weekend through October.

Per Tony Jones, Twin City Tolleys General Manager, stops along the route will include (but are not limited to) St. Anthony Main, Stone Arch Bridge, Mill City Museum, Nicollet Mall, Hennepin Avenue, Loring Park and the Sculpture Gardens.

For over 15 years, Twin City Trolley Tours have been providing sightseeing tours, which they refer to as "Transportainment", highlighting the best of Minneapolis.   It's a fun, relaxing way to spend a lazy Sunday enjoying more of the area that would normally be too far to walk, or inconvenient for parking.  You can board, ride for a while, hop off for lunch or to visit an attraction, and reboard for more sights.

Tickets ($25 Adult, $23 Children 2-12 and Seniors 65+) can be purchased direct from the driver, or from miscellaneous outlets.  Please call their office for more information, 612-876-4489, or email


Tonight - George Rabasa reading from his latest novel Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb at The Loft

Time: 7:00pm

Location: Target Performance Hall, The Loft, 1011 Washington Avenue South

The Loft presents novelist George Rabasa reading from his latest novel Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb. George Rabasa is the author of the novels The Wonder Singer and Floating Kingdom, which received the Minnesota Book Award for Fiction. His collection of short stories, Glass Houses, received The Writer’s Voice Capricorn Award for Excellence in Fiction and the Minnesota Book Award for Short Stories. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Glimmer Train, The MacGuffin, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and elsewhere. Rabasa was born in Maine, raised in Mexico, and now lives in Minnesota. Free