Kim Eslinger

David Tinjum

Susan Schaefer

Julie Craven

Joan Bennett

Claudia Kittock
Columnist / Non-Profits 

Doug Verdier

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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.


The Friends of the Mill District Singers Are Back!

Downtown Community Choir

We are Back!

The Friends of the Mill District Singers are back! We have been on a short hiatus, but rehearsals begin again on Saturday, March 4, from 2:00-3:30 on the 8th floor of the Guthrie, classrooms 1 and 2.

We are a group of neighbors, with a roster of over 140 members. Our mission is to be a choir that is open to all and embraces the true diversity of our neighborhood. There is no charge to sing with us, nor is there any talent requirement. Our director, JD Steele, will have you singing as you never have before.

Our goal is to perform at community events at least twice each session. The Guthrie, the American Academy of Neurology and First Covenant Church have already partnered with us to provide rehearsal space.

The choir has already performed at Holidazzle, the MacPhail Music Matters Luncheon, at the Guthrie before a performance of “A Christmas Carol” and sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at a Minnesota Twins game.

We welcome you to join us for one rehearsal or for everyone. However, be very careful. After one rehearsal, the chances of being ‘hooked’ are very high!!!


Kick Off National Nutrition Month® with the Mill City Farmers Market at the Arboretum on March 4

Via a February 24 Press Release from the Mill City Farmers Market:

As the country celebrates National Nutrition Month® this March, find your favorite healthy artisan foods and handcrafted gifts at the Mill City Farmers Market’s annual Arboretum Market!

March is National Nutrition Month®, and what better way to start the festivities than shopping for healthy food and other beautiful products from 40 local food artisans, farmers and artists? Vendors will have everything from microgreens to muesli, so bring your grocery list and get ready to eat some local, healthy and sustainable food! The market will be open march 4 from 9am to 1pm in the MacMillian Auditorium near the Arboretum’s stunning orchid exhibit in the Oswald Visitor Center.

You’ll find many grocery staples and unique gift items from Mill City Farmers Market vendors at the March 4th event, including: Birchberry (wild rice, native arts), Buffalo by Bike (bison meat), Crookedwood (wooden utensils), Ellie’s Whole Grains (flaxseed, fermented garlic, gluten-free flour), Fringe & Fettle (local ceramics), Kiss My Cabbage (sauerkraut, kimchi), Holistic Health Farms (aquaponic greens), Shepherd’s Way (sheep’s milk cheese), Urban Roots (winter produce, preserves) and Zula Juice. A full list of participating vendors can be found here.

Founded in 2006 by acclaimed local chef and restaurateur Brenda Langton and the Mill City Museum, Mill City Farmers Market is the Twin Cities’ trusted source for healthy, local and organic groceries, bringing a wide assortment of fresh food, cooking education and live entertainment to one beautiful place! Typically located in the Mill District of downtown Minneapolis, the Mill City Farmers Market has been traveling to the MN Landscape Arboretum every winter since 2012! The market’s regular winter season continues with indoor markets on the second and fourth Saturdays of March and April in the Mill City Museum and its outdoor season kicks off on May 6th and continues every Saturday through the end of October.

Need another reason to visit Mill City Farmer Market the Arboretum next Saturday? In addition to miles of woodland and prairie trails and acres of gardens, the Arboretum offers many activities for the whole family on March 4, including:

  • Orchids! Live display featuring more than 500 tropical orchids
  • Plant-Maker Studio: Look at plant parts under a microscope and start a plant to take home!
  • Ask a Master Gardener for all your spring garden maintenance questions
  • Arboretum Photographer’s Society annual show and sale

Find details and more Arboretum events at Please note: Admission to the Arboretum is $12 for adults and free for visitors under 12 years old, University of Minnesota students, and Arboretum Members. Visit for 2-for-1 admission vouchers! Nutrition tips, coloring sheets and more resources for National Nutrition Month® from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can be found at


Exploring the Upper River: Stormwater Park

Article by Kathleen Boe, Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership

Exploring the Upper River

A look at hidden gems along the Minneapolis Riverfront

As you come across the Lowry Bridge into Northeast, or drive north on Marshall, it’s easy to get caught up in looking at the bridge itself, especially if it’s lit up at night, or the Ferris Wheel outside Betty Danger’s Country Club. But the hidden gem I’m writing about this month would be right under your nose at that point, Stormwater Park at the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization’s facility, 2522 Marshall Street NE.

The Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership has had the privilege of having an office in this building over the past five years, and during that time, the building and the space around it have really come into their own.

One of the areas that is open and accessible to the public is the Stormwater Park itself. The area, off the Marshall street front, heads down behind the MWMO building and slopes down to the river. While this area is a park, it is also an active demonstration project using the many tools that MWMO recommends to ensure that stormwater run-off is as clean as it can possibly be when it reaches the river.

To start, if you can take your eyes away from the river, look down. You’ll see permeable pavers that allow water to be absorbed, rather than run off.

Continuing on, a wildflower garden borders the building and serves as a filtering system for stormwater coming off the street. In the spring, it blooms into the most incredible set of flowers. Under the flowers, the garden acts as a filtering system. The goal is for all of the stormwater to be captured and filtered on site.

This is one of the places where you can actually dip your toes in the river – in season, mind you. It’s not recommended after the recent return of cold weather. But there is a meandering path down to the water, with markers noting the high-water mark of various Mississippi River flood events in recent history. 

At river’s edge, there is a beach, and it’s not uncommon to see people launch canoes or kayaks from that spot. The Mississippi Parks Connection’s kayak sharing program placed one of its locations at MWMO and that’s a legitimate option for getting on the river this summer.

This is an area where every day the river looks different, depending on how cold it is, what the wind is like, the angle of the sun. As the sun sets, the Lowry Bridge will light up in the color scheme scheduled for that night.

While visiting, you can always stop by and have a Greenie at the historic Tony Jaros Rivergarden at the corner of Lowry and Marshall, or grab a tea at Betty Danger’s across the street. The Ferris Wheel has occasionally been in operation this winter, and commands a great view.

Meanwhile, it’s been a privilege to be part of this community at MWMO. While the first thing one notices is the light-filled space and unique design of this building, as you work here you also appreciate the community and staff who work here, how passionate they are about their mission, and how they care so deeply about the watershed that feeds the Mississippi River.

Kathleen Boe is Executive Director of the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership. She can be reached at via email, or on the web.


Nonprofit Spotlight: ‘Big John’ and the Salvation Army

Article by Claudia Kittock, photos by Rick Kittock

Editor's note - This is the second in a series of articles spotlighting people who are involved with local nonprofits.

Life is interesting. I never dreamed the places this column would take me and the people I would meet because of it.  When Dave Tinjum urged me to ‘tell the stories’, I agreed, thinking I had only a few things to write about. The more I write, the more I find. The more fascinating people I meet, the more hope I have for the future. It is truly an honor to do this work and to be nudged into work that is a blessing in my life.

Last fall at a meeting of the Task Force to End Street Homelessness, I met John, the Activities Coordinator and Chaplain at Harbor Lights at the Salvation Army. John had organized a group of men from the Salvation Army to work at the Ryder Cup, and talked about the endless possibilities he had for the people at Harbor Lights. He was intriguing, and this week I sat down to talk with him and to hear his story.

Big John 

As I walked across the street to enter Harbor Lights, several men were standing outside the building. They asked if they could help me and when I told them I was looking for John, the Chaplain, they all nodded and said, “Oh, you mean BIG John!” and I was escorted inside where John was waiting.

John grew up in a troubled home, and had many arrests and incarcerations that began when he was a young teenager. He spent 23 years in prison, and was still a young man when he got out. John found himself in front of a church and went in to sit down and rest. A man, who turned out to be the pastor, approached him with his hand out, welcoming him. They talked, and the pastor noticed that John looked very tired and offered him a bed so that he could take a nap. When John woke up from his much needed nap, the pastor told him that he had talked with his wife, and John should feel free to stay there for as long as he needed.  John stayed for a year, got clean and sober, and began the process of healing his body and his soul.

A year later, John packed two suitcases, and with $35 in his pocket left for Minneapolis. He walked into the Salvation Army looking for help, and has been there in one capacity or another ever since that day. John worked security for 5 years, and then was offered the job of Activities Coordinator and Chaplain.           

In his capacity as Activities Director/Chaplain, John creates the monthly calendar of activities which range from prayer breakfasts to coffee chats to bingo to job fairs to trips to the library, and much more.  John leads a relapse prevention class and offers help and support to anyone who needs it. As someone who has ‘been there’, John has a seemingly unending supply of compassion and wisdom.

The Harbor Light Center, 1010 Currie Avenue, Minneapolis, is a safe place for people to stabilize their lives and begin the process of healing. They offer a wide range of basic needs and rehabilitation services to anyone in need, without discrimination. The shelter is Minnesota’s largest homeless adult outreach facility and includes a clinical treatment program for men working to beat chemical dependency.

Harbor Lights can house as many as 300 single men and women every night. There are dorms that house as many as 30 men, as well as spaces for women. People can stay for one night or as long as they need. Some nights, there are so many people who need a place to sleep that the chapel is opened for an additional 50 people. The need is great, and while compassion is apparent everywhere, there are things that need your help to happen.

How can you help?

• Volunteers are needed, particularly for serving meals.
• Check out the calendar of events at
• The Bell Ringing Campaign is the biggest fundraiser and is used to fund programs and pay salaries. This year’s campaign was $100,000 below the goal.  Please donate
• Learn more about the services offered at

The Salvation Army and “Big John” are integral parts of our community. People in need can find a hot meal, a bed, and a kind and compassionate heart waiting to listen and to offer assistance. This is important work, and we are a stronger community because of the work done there.

Claudia can be reached at


Now Showing & Coming Soon to the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre*


Modist Brewing Announces "BEER SMARTS" - Monday Nights, March 6 - April 24

Ever wanted to impress all of your friends with your beer knowledge? Join Beer Smarts!

Beer Smarts is a beer appreciation program comprised of (6) 1-hour sessions held on Monday nights at Modist Brewing's taproom. Led by Education Specialist Paige Didora, each session will focus on a specific beer topic and will feature guest speakers, behind-the-scenes looks at brewing equipment and processes, and of course, tons of beer samples! Entry to the course is $50, with a choice of a class beginning at 6:15pm or 8pm (socializing time before and after each class). Also offered is an optional 7th session in the form of a 4 course Beer Dinner with Chef Ian Gray.

Here's a breakdown of the schedule - First class begins on March 6th!  

Session 1: Beer History and Water (3/6/17)
Learn about beer’s long and rich history and how it makes water properties (kind-of) exciting.

Session 2: Grains and malting (3/13/17)
Learn about malted grain/barley, what happens when water meets grain and go on a brewery tour!

Session 3: Hops (3/20/17)
Learn about what hops are, where and how they’re grown, how they’re used in beers, and sample some beers known for their hops.

Session 4: Fermentation (3/27/17)
Learn about the magic of yeast, review some significant yeast strains through history and by style, sample some beers famous for yeast, and learn about other methods of fermentation.

Session 5: Evaluating Beer (4/10/17)
Learn some tips to improve your palate to better evaluate and taste beer, and learn to recognize the off-flavors that can appear in beer.

Session 6: Food and Beer Pairing (4/24/17)
Learn about why pairing beer with food runs laps around wine, review our basic taste elements, learn about congruent vs complimentary pairings, and some pairing tips and tricks.

Session 7: (optional) Beer Dinner with Chef Ian Gray (5/1/17)
All participants in Beer Smarts will be invited to put their new level of beer appreciation into practice via a beer dinner with Chef Ian Grey! (additional charge applies)



Badass Dash® Makes its Minnesota Debut at US Bank Stadium in June

BADASS Dash™ is one of the world’s leading producers of Obstacle Course Challenges & Adventure Races. Making its debut in Minneapolis in 2017 will be the ultimate obstacle course challenge and endurance race for your everyday competitors. US Bank Stadium will host the world class obstacle course challenge Saturday, June 3. Competitors will compete on a 7k course using the entire stadium space, inside and out, including the football field.

The Minneapolis Badass Dash tickets are available thru or


The Truth Bar: Truth or BS Podcast - Twin Cities "Sibling Rivalry", February 22

Mayoral Candidates, Business Association Exec and Entrepreneurial Retailer Go Head to Head: Twin Cities "Sibling Rivalry"      

The Truth Bar:  Truth or BS Podcast

On February 22 there will be a live taping of the next episode of Truth or BS, a variety podcast where panelists, guests and entertainers discuss the topics of today—from politics and business to culture and society, both local and global news, there’s really only one rule:  No BS allowed.

Location: Truth Bar (KC Truth Advertising Agency)
310 S 4th Avenue, Flour Exchange Building, 1st Floor
Time: 3:30pm networking, 4:00pm-5:30pm podcast taping

Episode 5: Mpls vs. St. Paul will feature panelists representing both sides of the Mississippi River, with hosts Steve LeBeau of Minnesota Business, KC Truth Advertising and audience moderator John Sweeney, CEO, Brave New Workshop. Panelists include:

• Pat Harris – St. Paul Mayoral candidate, 12-year representative of Highland Park and Ward 3 on the St. Paul City Council, Senior Vice President at BMO Harris bank.
• Jacob Frey – Minneapolis Mayoral Candidate, Third Ward representative on the Minneapolis City Council, first annual recipient of the City of Minneapolis Martin Luther King Jr. award.
• Dan Collison – Minneapolis Downtown Council member, Director of Downtown Partnerships, Executive Director for East Town Business Partnership and 2020 Partners, Lead Pastor at First Covenant Church.
• Trisha McGovern – Owner of the soon-to-be opened Boomshack Market on West 7th, came up in a colorful family that has long ties to the MPR, Keys Restaurant and McGoverns to name a few, lover of all things in the “Saintly City”.


Environmental Assessment Worksheet for Restoration of Hall’s Island Open for Comments

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is proposing to restore Hall’s Island in the Mississippi River and establish an adjacent eight-acre riverfront park at the former Scherer Bros Lumber Company site, just upstream of the Plymouth Avenue Bridge in Northeast Minneapolis. Restoration of Hall’s Island will create new habitat within the Mississippi River channel in a portion of the North/Northeast Minneapolis urban environment dominated by industrial uses and limited access to natural areas.

This project is part of RiverFirst, a long-term vision for Mississippi Riverfront parks and trails that grew out of an international design competition in 2010. Development of the Scherer site and restoration of Hall’s Island are also included in the Above the Falls Master Plan, which outlines recommendations for land-use policy, park development and environmental stewardship along the Mississippi Riverfront in North and Northeast Minneapolis. An updated version of the Above the Falls Master Planwas approved by both the City of Minneapolis and the MPRB in 2013.

Due to the proposed project activities, a mandatory Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) is required per Minnesota Rules 4410.4300. The MPRB will accept written comments on the EAW during the 30-day public comment period, which commences on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 and concludes Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 4:30 pm.

Review and Comment

A paper copy of the EAW is available for public review at: 

  • MPRB Headquarters: 2117 West River Road Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55411
  • Minneapolis Central Library: Government Documents, 2nd Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55401-1992

An electronic copy of the EAW is available for public review on the MPRB website:

Hall's Island Environmental Assessment Worksheet

Additional copies can be requested by calling (612) 230-6400.

Submit written comments to: 

Jon Duesman
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411

Submit electronic/email comments to:

Jon Duesman,

If submitting comments electronically please include your name and mailing address.


A Murder of Crows! Fun Video Captures the Daily Movement of our Downtown Flock

Although it was shot three years ago, this video titled Murder of Crows - January 6, 2014 - MPLS, MN by Matt Koskinen of Koskinen Video Productions could have been this January. I witness these swarms nightly on the way home from work (fascinating, but a little spooky!). 

I wasn't aware that a flock of crows is known as a "murder". Maybe spending some time hanging out with ornithologists is in order.  :)


Nonprofit Spotlight: Edward Weibye, Street Outreach Worker at St. Stephen's Human Services 

Article by Claudia Kittock

Editor's note - Claudia posed a set of questions to local nonprofits, and this is the first in a series of articles spotlighting the responses she received.

Nonprofit Spotlight: Edward Weibye, Street Outreach Worker, St. Stephen's Human Services
What do you do in your current position?

As an Outreach worker, we provide direct services and engage with individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness. Some places where we locate people sleeping outside include in cars, abandoned buildings, parks, buses and trains, doorways and alleys, and under bridges. We do outreach all over Hennepin County but mainly our efforts are focused Downtown and throughout Minneapolis.

We don't judge, we don’t criticize, we don’t abandon. We serve a population of some of the most mentally ill and chemically dependent.  

Edward Weibye
What are you doing that is working?

Treating people with dignity and respect is important to building relationships with the population we serve. They need to feel that they can trust us, so when we offer our services they'll accept them. Outreach doesn’t shy away from men or women under the influence of drugs or alcohol, individuals that are dirty or have poor hygiene. We get right in there where they're at and sit and have conversations similar to the conversations you and I have with our peers, co-workers and family. We provide a safe place for them to come. They can vent and yell and scream, cuss and kick.

Outreach is here to serve the people who have been forgotten. It's not uncommon for an Outreach worker to give out basic needs items, such as hats or gloves. We also get people connected to services which many have a difficult time accessing and navigating, including: Homeless shelters, medical care and other supports. We help them fill out all the forms necessary to be completed for GA/Medical Benefits, housing applications, job applications, etc. Outreach is the first point of contact for the homeless. Our team knows about many available services, and if we don't know, we find out. We ask the questions that others don't. We get answers and we show results.

My primary focus is to get to know an individual and foster a supportive relationship, to be there to help them create goals and reach those goals. My hope is to one day see that person holding a set of keys to a home they can call theirs. We can't house everyone, but we house many. Outreach doesn’t give up on people like so many others may have. 
What do you want the politicians of our city/county/state/country to know about the work you do? How can they help?
The work that Outreach does is extremely important. It’s good for individuals, but also benefits the community. Outreach workers have the ability to find people that are homeless. We go where your average typical person does not go or even think to go. Being homeless is about being out in the open without being noticed, being in places that are not trafficked by the majority.
With the numbers of homeless that we are currently seeing on the streets of Minneapolis, we need more actual places for people to live. BRICKS AND MORTAR. There are so many barriers to individuals experiencing homelessness. All the systems we develop often create more barriers and make it even more difficult to house an already difficult population. Expecting three times the rent up-front to be even considered for an apartment is unrealistic, not just for the homeless population, but for many Minnesotans. Denying housing to individuals that have criminal records, some of which were committed years past, still haunt people and perpetuate homelessness. We don’t have enough affordable housing. We also have an inadequate amount of shelter beds. We have an increasing numbers of seniors unable to access housing. Public Housing...? What's that? Some of the clients we serve have been on that list for literally YEARS. We need service providers to loosen up their criteria to house folks. We want to END HOMELESSNESS, but the system continues to bog down our efforts. City, State, County and the Federal Government need to support agencies that are in the trenches, providing services to the homeless, so we can help serve more and bring effective change with lasting results. Right now it seriously feels like we are throwing Band-Aids at an already gaping wound.
Homelessness is not going to end overnight. I can't end it; you can't end it; the city can't end it; the state can't end it.


Claudia can be reached at


Obtaining a GED is a Crucial Step for YouthLink Clients Striving to Make a Better Life

Article by Claudia Kittock, photos Danae Hudson of YouthLink

I have been an educator for my entire adult life. It is the only profession I have ever practiced. I have been fortunate enough to teach preschool through Ph.D. level courses and have enjoyed all levels. During that time I, of course, was aware of the GED exam, but truly thought it was a bit silly to think a test would take the place of a high school education. I learned how very wrong I was when I began to volunteer at YouthLink, tutoring young people who were experiencing homelessness and working toward passing the GED exam. Do you think I am wrong? Try this question from a GED exam.

Sample question from GED:

Varicella is a virus that causes the disease chicken pox. Medications are used to treat the symptoms of fever and discomfort associated with chicken pox. In 1995, a varicella vaccine was made available to people in the United States.

This graph shows the number of chicken pox cases reported in four U.S. states from 1991 to 2007.

Which conclusion is supported by the data in the graph?

A. The varicella vaccine relieves chicken pox symptoms.
B. The varicella vaccine is effective in treating chicken pox.
C. The varicella vaccine is effective in preventing chicken pox.
D. The varicella vaccine has eliminated chicken pox from the United States.

Did you get the right answer? Did it ‘pop’ into your mind or did it require some thought? The GED exam is not easy by any measure and is designed to elicit problem-solving skills and higher level thinking. As a college professor teaching freshman level classes, I would welcome students who had passed the GED, confident they were ready to do the type of thinking needed in a general psychology course.

“None of my grandparents graduated from
high school, neither of my parents, none
of my aunts and uncles, and none of my
cousins. I’m the first, and my brother
has watched me do this and is now
working on his GED. Things get better
when you work hard.”

The first student I met at YouthLink as a tutor was Danny (all names used here are pseudonyms). He is a quiet, very smart young man who has been on and off the streets for 4 years. As with all the students I teach, he taught me far more than I have taught him. Danny explained what it was like to experience homelessness, which overpasses were ‘safest’ to sleep under, and how being on the street with a partner was essential. While one person slept, the other kept watch for dangers, and kept track of the time so that neither slept too long in the bitter cold.

When I asked Danny what he wanted to do with his life, he told me he wants to be a chef. He has always cooked for his family and loved the feeling of preparing good food for people he cares for. Every day when I left, I asked Danny if he had a warm and safe place to sleep. His response? "Don’t worry about me! You just get home safely.”

Above, tutors work with students

Every student begins the work of passing the GED exam by taking practice tests in each of the 4 subtest areas of science, mathematical reasoning, social studies, and reasoning through language arts. When the student finishes a practice test on the computer, they will get a printout with the score and what areas need more work. These printouts tell them the practice books to work on and the page numbers of the work they need to help them boost their score.

That’s where the work of the tutor begins. I always begin with a discussion about how each student learns best. There is a common thread with most of my students. At some point in their life as a student they learned that they were ‘dumb’, that learning would always be difficult for them, and that anything associated with learning is boring. We talk about their experiences while I attempt to explain that what happened to them was wrong.

My job with my students is to help them understand the skills they do possess and to use those skills for problem solving. Each of these students comes to YouthLink with problem solving skills. Most don’t realize that. Most don’t understand how smart they need to be to have managed to stay alive in truly horrible circumstances, and to somehow find their way to us.

Deciding to pass a GED test is a daunting prospect. Most of the students I work with have far more pressing matters that they must deal with, but each of them wants a future. Each of them wants more out of life, and have decided that GED is the first step.

Dr. Heather Huseby, Executive Director of YouthLink, taught me that the most important thing we do at YouthLink is to support youth in finding a path forward.  Many come with true despair about their lives, and gently supporting and nudging them forward is the centerpiece of the work done at YouthLink.

Last week, a young woman, LaToya, put a piece of paper in front of me, sat in the chair next to me and grinned from ear to ear. The paper was her certification of a completed GED. When the celebrating died down, I asked her how her family felt. She said, “None of my grandparents graduated from high school, neither of my parents, none of my aunts and uncles, and none of my cousins. I’m the first, and my brother has watched me do this and is now working on his GED. Things get better when you work hard.”

LaToya and Claudia

I go to tutor every week because I leave feeling more optimistic about the world. I meet people every week who are survivors, who refuse to let life’s obstacles stop them. I come home energized and upbeat about the future. I am honored by my work and association with the people of YouthLink.

If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of these young people, here are some suggestions: 

1. Sign up for the newsletter at
2. Learn more about youth homelessness at
3. Sign up for the Night of Hope at
4. Get involved at YouthLink at

Oh...did you get the right answer to the sample question??? I will leave that up to you to decide!

Claudia can be reached at


Mill City Summer Opera Announces 6th Season

Mill City Summer Opera’s Maria de Buenos Aires Infuses Tango Into An Entirely New Opera Experience
National cast includes renowned Catalina Cuervo as Maria

For its sixth season, the Mill City Summer Opera (MCSO) will perform an Argentinian opera, María de Buenos Aires, under the direction of returning MCSO artistic director David Lefkowich.

María de Buenos Aires, set in the 20th century in Buenos Aires, Argentina, will run July 14 (opening night), 16, 18, 19 and 20. “In Mill City Summer Opera fashion, the audience should be prepared to be delighted,” said Lefkowich. “Our goal is to creatively push and expand the definition of what opera can be so our audience will never experience the same thing twice.”

MCSO’s version of Maria de Buenos Aires, composed by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla with libretto by Horracio Ferrer, merges the elements of dance, vocals, narration and instruments. Maria will be performed by the soprano Catalina Cuervo, named as one of the most successful Colombian Sopranos in the opera world by the Ministry of Culture of Colombia. Miss Cuervo is considered the pre-eminent performer of the role of Maria and has performed the role with the opera companies of Atlanta, Cincinnati and Syracuse.

In light of the Mill City Museum's Ruins Courtyard’s extensive renovation throughout the Summer of 2017, MCSO is taking the opera across the Stone Arch Bridge for our sixth season. The shift in venue to the Pillsbury Machine Shop is temporary as restoration work continues in the Ruins Courtyard.


MacPhail Center for Music Teacher Profile: Jerry Rubino

Via an e-newsletter from MacPhail Center for Music:

Teacher Profile: Jerry Rubino

When teaching MacPhail Music for Life™ students, teaching artist Jerry Rubino likens his role to that of a coach. “’Coach’ implies giving you technique, so that you can practice, so that you can be better,” he says.

Jerry’s teaching philosophy is to help students discover an interest in singing, nurture them and give them a chance to offer their gift. His secret? He gives his students permission to not be perfect. He explains that adults over the age of 55 have spent their lives so driven to succeed that they may become frustrated when singing takes a bit more time to master.

Jerry sees that his students can often understand which choral concepts they’re having trouble grasping, but learning how to make those changes could take a day, a week, or even six months. “Like the commitment of going to the gym,” Jerry explains, “you have to be patient to say, ‘I'm going to reward myself one step at a time as I go.’"

Learn more about Jerry Rubino and the MacPhail Music for Life™ program.


Public Welcomed to Participate in Geo:Code 2017, a Free Open Data Forum

Participate in Geo:Code 2017, a free open data forum

Geo:Code, a community-generated conference connecting residents with Hennepin County and open data, has expanded for 2017. People with all backgrounds, skills and ideas are encouraged to register.

Event details: 

  • 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, March 4
  • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, March 5
  • Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central
  • 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
  • Breakfast and lunch will be served  

“For the third year, Geo:Code will be an opportunity to connect democracy with technology — and continue to have conversations with the community about what good open government data looks like and ways it can be put to use to serve residents,” Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene said.

The forum brings community members, geographers and technologists together to create solutions that improve public services, give residents better access to government data and make a difference in Twin Cities communities. 

“This year, we have expanded Geo:Code to engage even more residents. Everyone is welcome, whether or not they have technological expertise,” Andrew Rose, event coordinator, said. “The event is a time to brainstorm how to make public services more accessible and inclusive — that is why it is important for people with all interests and backgrounds to participate.”

New format for 2017

This year’s event will feature two tracks:

  • County Camp: Unconference, including presentations about open data, geography and civic engagement
  • Code Space: Code-a-thon to build an app or website that uses open data

Participants are welcome to partake in either or both tracks and to switch between tracks during the weekend. Space is limited, so organizers ask all attendees to register in advance.

Project examples

Over the past two years, discussions, sessions and projects covered topics as diverse as:

  • Service design
  • Accessibility
  • Recreation
  • Lo-fi prototyping
  • Usability
  • Transit and bicycle mapping
  • Ways to reach representatives
  • Ways to find public meeting spaces
  • Food access
  • Arts integration
  • Why data matters to non-technology community

Learn more and register for Geo:Code 2017.

This year’s event is hosted by Hennepin County with partners Open Twin Cities and Hennepin County Library.  


Guthrie Theater Announces WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT - Performances begin Feb. 21

Via an e-newsletter from the Guthrie Theater:

Find a seat. Any seat in the room. Watch carefully as an ensemble of six American actors -- three black and three white – begins to stage a presentation about a genocide in 1900s colonial Africa. As they earnestly (and comically) stumble through their artistic process, attempting to remain true to the events in the past, they unwittingly unpack a personal and political firestorm of racial dynamics in America in the present. And even the best intentions can’t save them. 

Part of the Level Nine Series, devoted to community dialogue about today’s most significant topics and questions.

We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915
by Jackie Sibblies Drury
directed by Taibi Magar
 Feb. 21 - Mar. 12

Tickets in the Dowling Studio are $9.


or call the Guthrie Box Office at 612.377.2224


Jeff Pert - A Cool Mill District Neighbor You Might Cross Paths With When Out For a Run

Article by Claudia Kittock, photos by Rick Kittock 

I grew up on a farm. Living in the country amongst farmers meant that I met a lot of ‘interesting’ men. As a group, they tend to be intelligent, blunt, and with an amazing philosophical sense of humor. If you make your living betting on nature, you need these traits. When I met Jeff Pert, he reminded me of these men I had grown up around. To say that Jeff is interesting is obvious. I am honored to call him my friend and because of our friendship, he agreed to let me write about him. When I asked him to let me write about him, he insisted it not be about this poor man who was homeless for a part of his life. Anyone who knows Jeff knows how ridiculous that characterization would be. Jeff is a strong, capable man who has lived life on his own terms and a small part of it was as a person experiencing homelessness. It doesn’t define Jeff, it is just part of his history.

Jeff and Claudia 

Jeff and I met on the first day of the Mile in My Shoes program at Emanuel housing. He immediately struck me with his intelligence and his wit. Running was not something he had done before, but he quickly became as obsessed as the rest of us. He wanted to go faster and longer, and soon a marathon was in his plans.

Jeff’s journey is fascinating and one that is as unique as the man himself. He graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in history, planning to teach. Because he had been in school since he was 5 years old, Jeff decided to do something between college and teaching and joined the Coast Guard where he served for 4 years. After his time in the Coast Guard, Jeff changed plans again and joined corporate America where he worked until the age of 48.

In 2004, he was laid off from a job that we hated, and Jeff decided that he had enough of working for corporations. He walked out of that job vowing, “Never again!” and began looking for what came next.

The next spring, Jeff moved to Northeast Minneapolis to help an older man stay in his home. Jeff spent the next 10 years living in a small shed on the older man’s property. He assisted him, read books and happily regarded himself as a Northeast version of Thoreau. It was a happy time.

When the old man died in 2014, Jeff needed a new place to live, but had been making plans. A few months earlier he went to the VA, found a wonderful caseworker, Heather, who opened a file for him and activated a plan. She helped Jeff get a bed at the shelter at St. Stephens, where he lived for the next 7 weeks.

Living in a shelter is not an optimal situation for anyone, but Jeff’s spirit is remarkable. As he told me, “I woke up every morning and asked, ‘What can I do to improve my situation today, even a little bit?’ insisting that ‘Life is an adventure. Never feel sorry for yourself!’ Within 7 weeks, Heather sent him to an interview at Emanuel Housing.

Hanna, a caseworker at Emanuel, interviewed Jeff, and within a matter of days, he moved in. That was the spring of 2015. He had just turned 59 and within a few days of moving in, heard about a running club called Mile in My Shoes that was just beginning at Emanuel. Jeff was there for the very first session, and I met my future friend.

Photo credit: Mile in My Shoes Facebook pageJeff has become a running mentor. He loves to befriend runners who appear to be struggling and to run alongside them. I have heard many of Jeff’s stories about runners he has helped to finish a race as they were about to quit. He is kind, patient, and endlessly funny and sweet, particularly with people who want to finish a race but seem physically spent.

One of the great delights of getting to know Jeff was letting him know things about the neighborhood. When I was a board member of the DMNA, Jeff asked endless questions, came to many meetings, and asked Jacob Frey numerous questions about the Third Ward. Jeff’s keen insights and political acumen make him invaluable as a neighbor and community member.

Why write about Jeff? Dave Tinjum asked me to profile some of the neighborhood’s most interesting people, and Jeff was the first person that came to mind. He exemplifies this neighborhood; intelligent, funny, and unique. Jeff lives his own journey, with great capacity for happiness in a life that hasn’t always been easy.

Part of the routine of Mile In My Shoes is to begin and end every run with hugs. Jeff was clear that he wasn’t a hugger, but I assured him he would get used to it. During his first marathon, a friend and I were waiting at mile 9 to cheer him on, and when he saw us, he turned around and ran back to us while we screamed, “No, no, keep going!” Jeff simply said, "Hey, look, I'm not gonna’ qualify for Boston anyway! If I can't take a minute to hug two of my good friends who came out to see me, what's the point of even doing this??"

Claudia can be reached at


Nominate Your Local Faves in the 2017 Best of the Twin Cities Reader's Choice Poll

Each year, the annual Best of the Twin Cities issue highlights all the best people to follow, the best things to do, and the best places to eat, drink, play, and party.

The first round of voting for the 2017 Best of the Twin Cities Reader's Choice Poll runs now until midnight on February 28. Then, from March 7 until midnight on March 28, you'll be able to vote on the top five nominees in each category. The Reader's Choice Poll results will appear in City Pages' annual Best of the Twin Cities issue, online and hitting newsstands April 19.

Note - if you participate in the Reader's Choice Poll, you will automatically be entered to win four V.I.P. tickets to the Best of the Twin Cities party on Thursday, April 27 at Orchestra Hall.


2017 Carnaval Brasileiro will be at the Cedar Cultural Center, March 4

Via a February 9 Press Release:

The most-attended and longest-running annual Brazilian festival in the Twin Cities teams up with the Cedar Cultural Center for the 15 annual Carnaval Brasileiro on Saturday, March 4, at one of the premier live music venues in Minneapolis, internationally respected for top quality world music events.  This year, the event brings the focus back to the sound quality of a smaller venue to provide a more enjoyable sonic experience for longtime attendees and newcomers, alike. Open to all-ages, the show will start at 8pm and go until midnight. Over 60 singers, drummers, samba dancers, and artisans will transform the Cedar Cultural Center into an authentically festive Brazilian cultural experience!

Guitarist/vocalist Robert Everest and his ten-piece group Beira Mar Brasil will host theCarnaval Brasileiro Masquerade Ball.  Everest, who also serves as Executive Director of Brazilfest, has been joyfully exploring Brazilian music and culture for over 25 years and brings us authentic Brazilian carnival flavor through various musical genres from around the country – Samba, Axé, Frevo, Baião, and other dance-inducing styles.  Joining Beira Mar Brasil for the eleventh straight year, direct from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil’s famous party-loving city, will be singer and samba dancer extraordinaire, Dandara Odara, who performs at over 50 carnival celebrations around the world each year in Europe, North America, and of course, Brazil. 

Other performers will include Brazilian percussion ensembles Batucada Do Norte and Drumheart, professional samba dancers Edilson Lima (who has been featured on Ellen DeGeneres) and Vanessa Luiz from São Paulo, Brazil, and Brazilian martial arts group Omulu Capoeira of Minnesota

Carnaval guests can participate in Brazilian dance lessons, purchase authentic carnival masks created by master Brazilian artisan Goretti Aamot, and have their face and body painted just like they do it in Rio!  

The annual Carnaval,celebrated throughout Brazil, lasts nearly a week and has roots dating back to the 1700s.  Like Mardi Gras, Carnaval is an all-out party with music, masks, dancing, food and drink - a final blowout before Lenten traditions kick in for the Easter season.  This Minneapolis edition of Carnaval takes place after it is celebrated in Brazil, allowing for many of the special guests to come to Minneapolis.

Carnaval Brasileiro Masquerade Ball 2017
DATE:  Saturday, March 4, 2017
TIME:  8 pm - 12 midnight (doors at 7 pm, All-ages)   
VENUE: Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454
TICKETS:  $20 in advance, $30 at the door. 
Tickets available now at Electric Fetus, Depth of Field and online at 

Carnaval Brasileriro features over 60 singers, drummers, samba dancers, and artisans who will transform the Cedar Cultural Center into an authentically festive Brazilian cultural experience. Hosted by Brazilian music veteran Robert Everest and his ten-piece band Beira Mar Brasil. With over 20 years of history, the group has performed at prestigious events, including the 15th Anniversary of the Sculpture Garden at the Walker, the Ordway and at the 2011 and 2016 Children’s Heartlink Galas.  Everest has toured throughout the world (including over a half-dozen trips to Brazil), has performed with Manhattan Samba in New York, and has appeared at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's annual gala in the Twin Cities.  Special guest Dandara Odara, who has been referred to as the "Brazilian Tina Turner," has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival and other premier events in cities including Los Angeles, Paris, Lyon, and London.  With over 1,500 attendees in 2016, Carnaval Brasileiro has become a very popular and appreciated mid-winter getaway!


Become a Seedster Club Member and Help Grow Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Native Seedlings


Via an e-newsletter from Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin:

Our national park, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area needs native seedlings and YOU can help grow them at home.

Join the Seedster Club next Thursday, February 16 from 6:00-8:00 PM. A $5 joining fee gets you a pack of native seeds sourced from park prairies, growing instructions, trays and other materials, and networking opportunities to meet people who are also helping our Park. Please RSVP

When you join you can keep some of your seedlings for your own yard or to share. Bring the rest of the seedlings back to the park for a prairie planting party in the spring!