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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.


News from the Northrup King Building

Via a December 4 e-newsletter from the Northrup King Building:

First Thursday, Complementary Hot Chocolate, Indoor Ice Luminary Walk, Santa Claus and more

Holiday Open Studio Saturday - Noon - 4:00 PM

We are open for Holiday Saturdays, December 8th, 15th and 22nd.   

Stop by this Saturday, December 8th for a complementary hot chocolate and stroll the studios.  You'll find art for your home and thousands of gift items including jewelry, ceramics, glass, textiles, wearable art, leather bags, paintings and mixed media pieces of varying sizes and so much more.  

Be sure to visit the Indoor Ice Luminary Walk in the Third Floor Gallery (#332).

The Northeast Minneapolis Arts District will be hopping this Saturday with a number of buildings hosting their holiday shopping shows.

Indoor Ice Luminary Walk

We are excited to celebrate the release of Jennifer Shea Hedberg's new book titled Ice Luminary Magic. To celebrate, Wintercraft will be hosting an indoor ice luminary walk in the darkness of the Third Floor Gallery (#332). This is a free event. Come experience the magic of the glowing luminaries and see all the textures and colors of the ice luminaries.  

The book is available for purchase and Jennifer is available to answer questions. Pictured here is a sample of the ice luminaries you can make.

First Thursday at the Northrup King Building

Beat the crowds and stroll the studios for 4 floors of unique gifts and local art.  

We've got you covered for a warm and cheery experience finding art for your home or gift giving needs.

Meet us at the Main Entrance for a complementary hot chocolate before you start strolling the studios.

Karin Jacobson Winner of MJSA's Online Design Challenge

Karin Jacobson of Karin Jacobson Design is the winner of MJSA's 2018 "A Mission in Life" Online Design Challenge.

MJSA is the trade alliance dedicated to professional excellence in jewelry making and design.

You can find more of Karin's exquisite jewelry at

¡Bon Appetit!

Holidays are a time to feast and you can save calories by feasting your eyes on the food paintings in this juried exhibition. See the juried show and award winning paintings at Studio Pintura Fine Art Gallery (#293) or browse and shop the online gallery


Cynthia Froid Group's Office is a Donation Drop Off for PSP and YouthLink

During the holiday season, the Cynthia Froid Group, 709 2nd Street S, will be a Donation Drop-Off Site for People Serving People and YouthLink. (Their office is undergoing some construction, so please call before you plan to stop by to ensure one of their staff will be there to receive, 612-279-8215.) Alternatively, you can purchase a Target gift card or donate online for either organization (links below). Please have your Holiday donations in by December 13th.
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Holiday items most needed: 
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People Serving People: 
- Toys, baby wipes, mittens and gloves
- Target gift cards:
- Target gift cards:
- New or gently used warm clothing (sweatshirts, coats, hats, gloves), dish sets, sheet sets
- Holiday youth gift bags (300 of each needed): 
  * Bus pass $10
  * Hoodie sweatshirt
  * Earbuds
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Thank you for considering giving generously to our area families and youth who need extra help at this time of year!

Nimbus Theatre presents THE RIVER BECOMES SEA

THE RIVER BECOMES SEA runs thru December 16

In THE RIVER BECOMES SEA, Nimbus Theatre, 2303 Kennedy Street NE, explores the turbulent world of Reconstruction Era New Orleans. Inspired by Euripides’ The Bacchae, playwright Josh Cragun has populated the Crescent City with a complex collection of ambitious, passionate people. When an exiled scion of Cornelius’ prosperous and respectable dynasty returns, the secret she carries could tear the family apart. Pride, racism, resentment and ambition flow together like a river to the sea. Playwright Cragun has been nurturing the idea of a play loosely based on Euripides’ tragedy.

Every family has its secrets. Cornelius Aloysius Gaines and his daughters are no exception.

Inspired by Euripides’ The Bacchae and set in Reconstruction era New Orleans, playwright Josh Cragun has populated the Crescent City with a complex collection of ambitious, passionate people. When an exiled scion of Cornelius’ prosperous and respectable dynasty returns, the secret she carries could tear the family apart. Pride, racism, resentment and ambition flow together like a river to the sea. And the water is rising.

Celebration of Hmong Culture in Hennepin Gallery, December 3 thru January 24

Via a December 3 e-newsletter from Hennepin County:

Forecast Public Art and the Hennepin County Multicultural Arts Committee announce “Sib Pauv Zog: A Hmong Cultural Harvest,” an exhibit in the Hennepin Gallery created by artists from ArtCrop and curated by Oskar Ly.

The exhibit includes the work and stories of Hmong artists and farmers reimagining Hmong existence and making way for new cultural traditions. Featuring items from fridges to recipe diaries, handwoven hemp to handmade couture, the display rethinks where creativity and inspiration live, what makes a cultural practice, and what a harvest can be.

Sib pauv zog refers to the reciprocal exchange of labor that supports the well-being of one another – an utmost responsibility in Hmong culture. Hmong people have always sib pauv zog, having long cultivated mountainous lands to grow their own food. Along with this, they express their identities through various forms of craft making, storytelling and cultural rituals. While there is no Hmong word for art, creativity exists throughout these cultural practices. Artists as farmers. Farmers as artists.

ArtCrop is the sister model to CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) partnering with artists and farmers to bring art + food culture together.

Learn more at; Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter: @helloartcrop.

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Special event:

“Sib Pauv Zog – A Talk with ArtCrop” Brown Bag Talk

Oskar Ly, Hmong French American multi-disciplinary artist, organizer and creative cultural producer

January 10, 2019, noon - 1 p.m.

Hennepin County Government Center Auditorium, A-level

ArtCrop will present on their work to highlight how art and agriculture are a core part of Hmong culture. The group will discuss their work using the CSA model (community supported agriculture/art), the artist residency on the HAFA farm, and public art exhibits. The session will include an interactive group discussion.

This exhibition and corresponding events are supported by the Hennepin County Multicultural Arts Committee (MCAC), which is receiving support from Forecast Public Art, a non-profit arts organization that activates people, networks and proven practices to advance the transformational power of arts in public life.

The Hennepin Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Hennepin County Government Center, A-level, 300. S. Sixth St., Minneapolis. The exhibit is sponsored by Hennepin County Communications.

The Gallery is a project of Hennepin County Communications.


Minnesota Historical Society shares the story of the Christmas Pyramid

Via a November 30 e-newsletter from the Minnesota Historical Society:

Christmas pyramid today and decorated in the Johnson home

New artifact offers a glimpse into holiday decor and folk art of the 1930s 

In the 1930s, Virgil and Helen Johnson purchased a handmade Christmas tree for their family from a Swedish carpenter’s union in Minneapolis. Over the years, the family continued to decorate the tree during over during the holidays, and nearly 90 years later, the artifact is now part of the Minnesota Historical Society’s collections.

This unique style of tree, called a Christmas pyramid, has its roots in German folk tradition, and some historians considered it a precursor to the Christmas trees we know today. The pyramid has several shelves where the Johnsons could place holiday ornaments and figurines.

It’s topped by a wheel of rotating fan blades, and when candles are lit on the pyramid, the resulting heat causes the fan and shelves to spin. For preservation reasons, MNHS curators won’t light candles on our pyramid, but here’s a video of another Christmas pyramid in action:

“The tree and its decorations are great complements to other holiday decor, folk art, and union-made material in our collections,” said Sondra Reierson, 3D objects curator and interim head of collections management.

The tree’s owner also has a unique Minnesota story. Virgil Johnson was a noted hockey player in his day, playing for local minor league teams like the Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints as well as on the 1938 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. Johnson became a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1974.

In addition to the tree, MNHS acquired Johnson's collection of 100+ family photographs and slides chronicling three generations of the family in Minnesota, dating back to his grandparents’ arrival from Sweden in 1881. 

Digitization of collections items for online access is made possible by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.


New for Holiday Shoppers: Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center Partners with Minnesota Makers

Via a November 29 announcement from Meet Minneapolis:

On December 6, shop and enjoy free refreshments at the December ‘First Thursdays’ event from 9 to 11 a.m.

The Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center on Nicollet and 5th Street is pleased to announce a new retail partnership with Minnesota Makers. Highlighting Minnesota artists, new merchandise and gifts will be available beginning Monday, December 3. To provide a warm welcome to its new retailer and encourage holiday shopping, the Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center’s “First Thursdays” event on Dec. 6 will include free Cardigan Donuts and coffee for customers.

“The Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center, along with our building partner CenterPoint Energy, has always had a vision of activating this prominent downtown corner to engage visitors and locals with more of our great city,” said Meet Minneapolis President and CEO Melvin Tennant. “We are excited that our new retail partner, Minnesota Makers, will help us highlight locally made products and skilled artisans year-round.”

Minnesota Makers features the work of more than 100 Minnesota artists from all over the state, including Minneapolis-centric items like prints, clothing and wood products. Guests shopping at the Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center also will find illustrations by Adam Turman, screen prints by Brian Giehl of Dogfish Media and cutting boards and games by Al Walker of Savanna Woods available for purchase.

“We are thrilled to be working with Meet Minneapolis and to be selected as the retail partner at the Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center on Nicollet,” said co-owners of Minnesota Makers, Christa Kalk and Jay Kalk. “We are passionate about connecting customers to the artists and their stories – and we’ll now be able to reach a wider audience with this new location.”

First Thursdays are held each month to encourage residents, employees of downtown businesses and visitors to learn more about the free services available at the Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center and discover local Minnesota Makers, as well as highlight partners, community organizations and events. For more information and daily hours, visit


As part of Meet Minneapolis, Convention and Visitor Association, the Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center is the official visitor center for Minneapolis, located in the CenterPoint Energy building on Nicollet and 5th Street. Staff is available to answer questions, share visitor maps and resources about things to do in Minneapolis and the surrounding area. The Visitor Information Center in the Minneapolis Convention Center also is available to provide similar information to visitors and convention attendees.

Meet Minneapolis is a private, not-for-profit, member-based association. It actively promotes and sells the Minneapolis area as a destination for conventions and meetings, works to maximize the visitor experience and markets the city as a desirable tourist destination to maximize the economic benefit to the greater Minneapolis area. Meet Minneapolis is accredited by the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) of Destinations International.


Minnesota Makers, with locations in downtown Minneapolis and Robbinsdale, features the work of over 100 Minnesota artists, from near the Canadian border to south of Rochester and New Ulm and everywhere between. It strives to create an experience where the customer will learn more about the featured artists, their work, and the ever-present talent in the state of Minnesota. Shopping at Minnesota Makers is like shopping with more than 100 local small businesses in one. Support local, support artists, shop Minnesota Makers.


Minneapolis Park & Rec Board Invites you to the December 1 Minneapolis International Festival

Join community members from across the city to learn about the many amazing cultures that make Minneapolis such a wonderful place to live.
Saturday, December 1, 1-5 pm
Central Gym, 3400 Fourth Avenue S

The Minneapolis International Festival will be celebrating the different cultures in the City of Minneapolis and surrounding communities with music, dance, art, cultural learning booths, exhibits demonstrations, food AND MORE. Learn about all the many amazing cultures that make Minneapolis such a wonderful place to live.

Some of the groups featured that day will include: Mehandi Henna, Rince na Chroi Irish Dancers, Russian Museum of Art, Kuyayki Peru, Keefer Court Bakery & Café, The Greek Dancers of Minnesota and Green Card Voices.

The Minneapolis International Festival is FREE and open to the public. The event will take place on Saturday, December 1 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm at Central Gym in Minneapolis, 3400 Fourth Avenue S. This is an indoor event. Questions? Call 612-230-6400 or visit the Event on Facebook.

The Minneapolis International Festival is FREE and open to the public, and presented by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.


Our Lady of Lourdes & the City

Article by Michael Rainville, Jr.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church has stood tall along the Mississippi riverfront for over 140 years. It has seen Minneapolis grow from a quaint milling village to one of the most prosperous cities in the United States. When the original Church building was constructed in 1855 by the Universalists, it was located in the Village of St. Anthony, which itself was founded in 1849. In 1872 both the Village of St. Anthony and the City of Minneapolis merged, and five years later, the local French Catholics founded Our Lady of Lourdes. The prosperity of both the Church and city has been intermingled ever since.

The heart of the church building was constructed by the First Universalist Church in 1855 and became the first stone Universalist church in the city. It was a rectangular Greek Revival style building measuring 67 by 44 feet, built of native limestone from just a few blocks away along the Mississippi River. This style reflected the "temple of reason" which was significant to Universalist teachings. The waning numbers of the congregation could not support the upkeep of the building, so they abandoned the structure in 1866.

The building when it housed the First Universalist Church, 1857.

While all of this was taking place, the French-Canadian population of modern-day Northeast Minneapolis was worshipping roughly three fourths of a mile away at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. Initially, most immigrants to the Village of St. Anthony were French-Canadian, and by 1855 they made up roughly half of the village’s population. Around this time, immigrants from different European nations found their way to the area, and the population of the diocese rose from 8,000 Catholics in 1853 to over 50,000 by 1858. This caused a problem to arise at St. Anthony of Padua. The French speaking priests had a very hard time keeping the peace between the many different languages within the church. This resulted in a few of the cultures breaking away and establishing their own churches, such as the Germans did with St. Boniface, and the Polish with All Saints.

The two tenants that stayed were the French and the Irish, and in 1860, an Irish priest was assigned to the parish. To no one’s surprise, this move did not ease tensions. As the next few years passed, the French congregation of St. Anthony of Padua decided they wanted to keep true to their roots, and the only way they could accomplish this was to find a new home. They needed to raise a fair amount of money and find a suitable location that was still close enough for their congregation to be able to reach, and in 1877, things finally went their way when the First Universalist Church building went up for sale. The French congregation acted quickly and purchased the land and building, and officially named their new parish Notre Dame de Lourdes after the Marian apparition that happened merely 19 years earlier.

The building when it was vacant, but still owned by the Universalists, taken in 1872.

The small Greek Revival building did not meet the immediate needs of the Church, so once more money was raised, and they transformed their house of worship into one that looked like a proper Catholic church. From 1880-1883, most of the major changes occurred that would make the church into a very small version of a French Gothic cathedral. The church was enlarged to 135 by 65 feet, a higher-pitched wooden roof was put over the flatter Greek Revival roof, a sacristy was added to the east side, and doorways were installed in the northwest and southwest corners of the church with curved stone staircases leading up to them.

During the latter portion of the 19th century, the English Protestants of Canada were alienating the French Catholics, which saw a mass immigration of those French-Canadians to the United States. With 3,700,000 new immigrants coming to the U.S., many of them sought a familiar setting, and Minneapolis provided just that with their saw and flour mills and openness to new cultures and traditions. Because of this, Our Lady of Lourdes saw a massive increase in membership. In 1882, the parish had 350 families from Canada alone, and in 1900, that jumped to 400.

As the City of Minneapolis was growing, so was the Church. They both welcomed with open arms those who were looking for a new place to raise their families, and it was this positive and accepting nature of the Church and City that made both what they are today. With the Church and City seeing immediate success, the future was looking bright. 

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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 6+ years.

He can be reached at


SteppingStone Theatre Announces their production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, November 30-December 22

Bring your family together for a performance of this beloved classic, featuring live jazz pianist Sean Turner, at the SteppingStone Theatre. This charming performance will delight everyone on your Christmas list! 

What is A Charlie Brown Christmas about, again? 
All of Charlie Brown’s friends are brimming with holiday cheer, but he’s having trouble getting in the spirit. Can directing a Christmas play help him kick the Yuletide Blues? Discover the true meaning of Christmas and the place where you belong with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole Peanuts gang!

Who is the ideal audience? 
This hour-long performance will be a marvelous experience for Peanuts lovers of all ages! 

When are your Accessible Performances?
December 2: 3:00 PM Pay-As-You’re Able
December 7 : 7:00 PM Audio Described
December 9: 3:00 PM ASL Interpreted

NEW with this show - choose your seats when you purchase Tickets.


Entrance Fees to All 75 Minnesota State Parks and Recreation Areas will be Waived on Friday, November 23

Via a November 21 e-newsletter from the Office of Governor Mark Dayton:
Governor Mark Dayton today announced “Free Park Friday” in Minnesota, highlighting that entrance fees to all Minnesota state parks and recreation areas will be waived on Friday, November 23, 2018. Governor Dayton encourages all Minnesotans to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends on the day after Thanksgiving.
“I wish everyone in Minnesota a very happy Thanksgiving, and recommend visiting one of Minnesota's beautiful state parks — for free — on Friday,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “Like sharing a meal, going for a walk can be a great way to spend quality time with family and friends.”
Research shows that spending time outdoors benefits children and adults, including improving mood, enhancing creative thinking and problem solving, promoting a conservation ethic, and improving physical fitness. On Thanksgiving Day, the average American consumes around 4,500 calories. A brisk walk can burn about 300 calories in one hour.
“Holidays can be stressful, but Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are open year-round to provide places to unwind and relax, surrounded by natural beauty,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota State Parks and Trails. “We hope that visitors who go to a state park for the first time on Free Park Friday will have fun, feel refreshed, and want to come back.”
Although most state park offices and visitor centers will be unstaffed or minimally staffed on Free Park Friday, a variety of on-site and online resources available for visitors:
• Find directions to the parks on the individual park Web pages at
• Look for the self-orientation signs near the park entrance for suggestions on what to see and do during your visit.
• Additional hike recommendations can be found online at the Free Park Friday page. 
• Pick up a hard-copy map at the park office or, better yet, download one of the new GeoPDF maps that show you where you are based on your mobile device’s built-in GPS receiver. Internet access is needed to install the app and map files, but once they are installed, they do not need Internet access or cell phone service to function.
A few Minnesota state parks will offer special programs. Examples include:
Feeling Full Hike – 10-11:30 a.m. at Sibley State Park in New London. Join a naturalist on a hike to Mt. Tom, with some stops along the way to learn about our feathered friend: the turkey. Meet at the Interpretive Center.
Turkey Hike – 1-2 p.m. at Whitewater State Park near Winona. Learn the fascinating history of the wild turkey in the Whitewater Valley! Meet at the visitor center for a brief introduction, then take a hike to look for signs of wild turkeys.
Bison Tales – 1-2 p.m. at Blue Mounds State Park in Luverne. Join a naturalist to learn more about efforts to conserve bison throughout the state. Touch real pieces of bison, practice your bison communication skills, and make a bison storybook of your very own to take home. Meet at the picnic shelter in the cart-in campsite area. 
For additional resources on things to do and places to stay across the state, visit, and share your sights this season on social media using #OnlyinMN.

The Boom Island-Nicollet Island Bridge is open!

The freshly repaired Boom Island-Nicollet Island Bridge

Via a November 21 announcement from Minneapolis Park and Rec Board:

Historic bridge reopens after six-month repair project

The Boom Island-Nicollet Island Bridge is open for trail users after a six-month repair project!

Minor followup work, including site restoration and seeding, concrete abutment surface repair, and paint touch-ups, will be performed next spring. A Grand Opening Celebration is scheduled next year as well; details will be determined in the spring. 

The trail connection between Boom Island Park and Nicollet Island was originally built in 1901 as a railroad bridge. In the 1970s, the rail yard it served was cleared and the bridge was given to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), which converted it to a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in the 1980s.

In late 2013, the bridge was closed to emergency and maintenance vehicles after significant deterioration was discovered during an inspection. Emergency repairs were completed in July 2015 and permanent repairs were performed May-November 2018.

The MPRB appreciates everyone's patience while the bridge was closed.

Project page


MPRB Seeks Residents Interested in Serving on a Community Advisory Committee

Via a November 20 e-newsletter from the Minneapolis Park and Rec Board:

Three advisory committees are now accepting applications
Applications for 2019 appointments are due Tuesday, December 4

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Board of Commissioners is seeking applications for appointments to five ongoing community advisory committees:

  • Saint Anthony Falls Heritage Board – One Appointment
  • Minneapolis Tree Advisory Commission – Four Appointments
  • Park Police Advisory Council – Six Appointments

Service commitment may vary based upon needs, expectations and policy goals. However, most advisory committee members can expect to approximately 10-15 hours of work per month. Most terms are two years and all board and commission members are not subject to term limits.

Some Boards/Commissions have a need for specialized skills, but most people will find a Board or Commission that is a great fit for their knowledge base. Public members of Board and Commissions are people who may not have regular, ongoing experience in a specific topic area, but have a general interest in a Board or Commission’s work area. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about an area of interest and contribute a perspective that is fresh and unique to the service area.

Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m., Tuesday, December 4, 2018.  Following submission, applicants will receive an email confirming receipt of the application and describing the general process for appointment. Appointments for open positions will be made at the January 2, 2019 business meeting of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. For a full description of each committee and to complete the application please visit:

Applicants with questions about the appointments process should email their questions to or contact Radious Guess at 612-230-6419.

Please click here to sign up to be notified of all advisory committee opportunities.


Twin Cities Live segment on the Thank You for Shopping Exhibit at Mill City Museum

The next time you visit the Mill City Museum, check out the latest photo exhibit, based on the book Thank You for Shopping: The Golden Age of Minnesota Department Stores by Kristal Leebrick. The exhibit of framed photographs and a slideshow, including many unpublished photos, is located in the museum's central Mill Commons and is free and open to the public during regular museum hours thru February 24, 2019. The book is available in the museum gift shop.

Here's a recent Twin Cities Live segment shot at the Museum, featuring Leebrick:


Event Parkway Closures Nov 22 and 24

Note the following temporary road closures for November 22 and 24 race events:
Thursday, November 22

West River Parkway - N 4th Ave to 11th Ave S
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Saturday, November 24

Main Street - 6th Ave SE to Plymouth Ave
West River Parkway - Plymouth Ave to E 38th St
Stone Arch Bridge

Downtown Living: Phoenix on the River

Phoenix on the River prime floor plan! Corner location flooded with morning light & panoramic views. Floor plan features 2 bedrooms and den, 2 bathrooms, open layout, private balcony, loads of custom storage & walls of glass. Perfect eye-level view of the recently renovated Pillsbury Flour sign & illuminated water tank atop the Pillsbury A-Mill. Walking distance to U of M campus, groceries, movies, great restaurants & bars, nature & best of riverfront festivals.

2 bed | 2 bath |2 parking | 2,100 sf | $1,150,000

Listing by Cynthia Froid Group

Click for more details, photos...


Key North, Beloved Northeast Minneapolis Boutique, is “Retiring the Brand”

Article and photos by Merle Minda

Key North, Beloved Northeast Minneapolis Boutique, is “Retiring the Brand”
Markdowns begin Monday, November 19; 13-year run comes to an end

Beloved Northeast Minneapolis women’s clothing boutique Key North will close its location at 515 1st Avenue NE as of January 31, 2019. Markdowns on all new fall and winter merchandise will begin at 30 percent off starting Monday, November 19. Further reductions to come. Key North has been in the forefront of carrying top quality and unique fashion design for its devoted customers; merchandise carefully selected in markets from Milan to Paris, New York City and Los Angeles.

Owners and partners of Key North are, left: Katie Greene and, right, Gwen Engelbert

Owners and partners Katie Greene and Gwen Engelbert are sad to see their ‘bricks and mortar’ location come to an end, but will be pursuing other innovative plans to carry their unique perspectives and dedication forward.

Partner Katie Greene noted, “The current retail climate conflicts with our mission of working directly with clients who value quality and original design. Retail now depends so heavily on social media and e-commerce marketing/discounting – that is not what we are about.” She continued, “We are deeply grateful for the relationships and loyalty we have enjoyed with our customers over the years; stay tuned for our next chapter!" 

Throughout its time, Key North maintained an ethical model of quality goods made by well-paid people. “No sweatshops for our goods,” stated partner Gwen Engelbert.

Front window of Key North

The imminent closing of Key North comes as a double whammy to the Northeast Business District, following the recently announced closing of Bibelot in the same neighborhood, leaving the retail scene here fairly desolate.

Some quotes from their treasured customers:

• “Fought the good fight! Such a lovely thing to have their store; their attention to detail and quality goods was from their heart.” Clareyse N.

• “My go-to place for brands I can’t find elsewhere. Everyone asks me where I shop.” Mary T.

• “Makes me sad.” Heather D.

• “Love the store and their product choices.” Merle M.

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About Merle Minda

Journalist and free-lance writer Merle Minda writes about travel, business, people profiles and other subjects for a number of national and regional publications, including Delta SKY, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Business, Star Tribune, Twin Cities Statement, Minnesota Monthly, and now Mill City Times. She can be reached at or on the web.


What Happens When Rivers Merge?

One of the articles in the most recent e-newsletter from Friends of the Mississippi River (Special Places: Confluences where great rivers merge) includes aerial shots of the Mississippi River merging with other rivers. It's interesting to see how different the water quality can be between two rivers. We witnessed this first hand during a pontoon ride with forest rangers a few years ago, but it's even more stunning to see from above:

It's an informative article - please click on the link to read about it and view additional pictures.



Article by Claudia Kittock 

I have always loved Thanksgiving. When I was a little girl growing up on the farm it meant days of cooking and baking, scrubbing our home from top to bottom, and then being inundated with relatives. It was chaotic, fragrant, and filled with love and chaos, not to mention the leftovers!

Our Thanksgivings have changed, as is true for all of us. They are still filled with love and chaos, but maybe a bit quieter and that is good, too. What remains the same is that it is a wonderful moment to pause and remember everything in life that we need to acknowledge with hearts filled with thankfulness.

Almost 4 years ago, a group of friends decided to start a charity, Friends of the Mill District. We wanted to be an active part of creating a community for everyone, and found out that the blessings we have received by doing this work is beyond anything any of us could have imagined. I want to pause in my life for a few moments and tell you about just a few of those blessings, and remember how incredibly thankful we all are.

The Guthrie Theater Education department helped us begin a group called Mill City Players. We brought together a group of potential actors from YouthLink and from Cedar Riverside. After two successful productions with the Guthrie, we all decided that we needed to grow in a different way. We were so very blessed by the relationship with the Guthrie and so grateful that they continue to provide our young people with tickets to Guthrie plays. They also donate a rehearsal space for the Mill City Singers every week. How lucky are we to have the Guthrie as our partner?

In the late spring, we hired James A. Williams as our Artistic Director. He brought with him Patricia Brown and Ahanti Young. Each of these artists brings incredible artistry to our actors and are highly skilled teachers. What isn’t included in their job descriptions is how much each has come to care about the young people. Every actor comes into a safe space for every rehearsal and learns how to be a stronger and better person. They are fed every day and leave with hugs and with messages about their power.

The Mill City Singers, founded in 2015, has grown from 29 singers to 268. If you are a ‘friend’ of the Mill District, we want you to be a singer. 2018 was an incredible season with performances at the Bold Hope in the North Super Bowl event, at Orchestra Hall, at the Ordway, and at the Loring Park Music Festival, just to name a few. We are a unique group of friends. The singing, led by the incredible JD Steele and Fred Steele, is why we come together, but the sense of community and friendship helps us stay.

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) continues to support us with grants to help us do our work.  It is no small thing to start each year with seed money from MRAC. We wouldn’t be the Friends without MRAC.

Our community supports us in surprising ways, most of it without asking. In the past year we have been contacted by Minnesota Orchestra, the Ordway, the Guthrie, the Mill City Museum, ESPN, McKinney Roe, the Hennepin County Library, MacPhail Center for Music, Bobby and Steve’s, Izzy’s, Trader Joe’s, Enso Taiko, YouthLink, 10,000 Things, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), and the Minnesota Twins. Each group wanted to help us and did. If you had told me this would happen when we began the Friends, I would have been sure you were wrong.

Our individual donors are incredible. We are only 3 years old, and when the Friends began, I was told by more experienced people that no one would take a chance on us for at least the first 4 years. Well, our group of donors hadn’t heard that. Every year our mission has grown and our donors have continued to support us with more and more funding to help us do more.

I know that my heart has grown 3 sizes since I began this work. I am honored by the experiences I continue to have. I am reminded every day that people are incredibly good. I am reminded that people want to help, often just needing someone to show them where they are needed.

Thank you, donors. Thank you, artistic staff - JD Steele, Fred Steele, James A. Williams, Patricia Brown, and Ahanti Young. Thank you, actors. You make me anxious to get up every day and so very grateful at the end of the day that I got to spend time with each of you. Thank you, community. We are stronger together. As Paul Wellstone so famously said, “We all do better when we all do better.”

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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).

Witnessing Waves, Featuring Local Artist Alison Price, on MN Original, November 17

Witnessing Waves on MNOriginal
Alison Price's Witnessing Waves series is featured on MN Original, Saturday, November 19, 6pm on TPT2 - PBS.  Price shares, "The Mississippi River Gorge and her wealth of heritage trees have always intrigued me. This series pays respect to the gentle witnesses of migration and settlement along our mighty river, these magnificent, steadfast, and welcoming trees. The trees acknowledge the contribution of all of our respective backgrounds and ancestries. Our families have all traveled to this place, the Twin Cities. It is our collective heritage that makes our community a culturally rich and diverse place to call home." 
. . . . . . .
The Witnessing Waves series is currently at two Minneapolis locations:
Tres Leches Art Gallery in the Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson Street NE
Vinaigrette, 5006 Xerxes Avenue S

North Mississippi Regional Park sample programming for November, December and January

Winter Break Day Camps for Kids

Register kids ages 6-12 for naturalist-led day camps on no school days throughout the year! Explore outdoors, get messy and learn by doing. Spend days off in nature's classroom while having fun playing in the park at North Mississippi.

WILD WINTER SURVIVAL W-F  December 26-28  8am-4pm

Develop your wilderness skills by learning to trek through snow on snowshoes, craft survival shelters, track animal signs and more. We'll explore outdoors, play games and make art. Do you have what it takes to survive in the wild winter world? Registration Fee $90.  Activity #87904

FROZEN PLANET  W-F  December 2-4  8am-4pm

Are you curious about the wonders of the cosmos? Then, embark on an adventure through the cold depths of outer space...with the help of your imagination. Learn about amazing astronomical phenomena, complete missions with your crew and conduct experiments for extreme environments. Sign up to be the ultimate space explorer! Registration Fee $90.  Activity #93993

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.

Special Events

  • Nature’s Black Friday Fun - Nov 23  11am-3pm   Ditch the mall crawl and opt outside this year! We’ll have naturalist programming and self-guided nature exploration activities. Hike the park, build a fort, go on a scavenger hunt, play games and more! Activities will be based out of Kroening Interpretive Center. FREE for All Ages. Activity #87899
  • Winter Solstice Celebration -  Friday Dec 21  5:30-7:30pm  Rejoice the coming of longer days with an evening of celestial fun. Make a luminary and enjoy the warm glow of a bonfire while sipping hot spiced cider! Learn why the amount of light changes throughout the year and which winter constellations to look for in the sky. Plus grab a winter phenology bingo card to play throughout the season. Get bingo and bring it back to the Nature Center for a prize!  All Ages. $5 – Kids under 13 free.  Activity #87900

Nature Nuts Play Group Wednesdays

Come with your little one to play and have fun in nature with other children and parents/guardians. During this four week series each day will be different, but will have nature themes involving plants, animals, and seasons. Enjoy the fall together! For kids up to age 5 with an adult. Registration Fee $16 (for 4 weeks of classes)

Nov 28 - Dec 19  10:45 - 11:45am   Activity #87896

 Jan 16 - Feb 6  10:45 - 11:45am   Activity #93925

Nature Programs

Bird Watching

Join us for a morning of bird watching! We’ll hike through prairie, woodland and along the river while keeping our eyes and ears open for our feathered friends. First Saturday Each Month. Binoculars provided.

  • Winter Birds - Dec 1   9-10:30am   Discover the winter bird cast of characters. Activity #87877
  • Winter Woodpeckers - Jan 5    4-5:30pm   Go on the lookout for the bright flashes of woodpeckers on the bare trees. Ages 8 & up. Activity #93949

Outdoor Exploration & Nature Art

  • Ginger-bird Houses - Dec 8 1:30-3pm   Invite birds into your backyard this winter by crafting an edible snack house for them. These feeders are a lovely decoration and a great food source for our bird friends that brave the cold.  $10 all supplies included. Kids under 13 free.  Activity #87891
  • Fur, Tracks and Scat - Dec 29  1-2:30pm
  • New Year Resolutions Hike - Jan 5  1-2:30pm   Do you have a New Year’s Resolution to be more active, to go outside more, or try new things? Take the first step on a naturalist-led snowshoe hike along our prairie, woodland, and river trails and start the year off right!  Activity #93959
  • Sleep, Flee, Freeze  Dec 16  1:30-3pm    
  • Winter Arts & Animals - Jan 13  1-3pm   

Family Funday Sundays

  • Turkey Time -  Nov 25  1:30-3pm  Get ready for goofy gobbles as we discover more about turkeys! Play games and have fun investigating feathers, tail fans, snoods and feet to learn more about these big birds.  Activity#87880

Public programs are FREE for all ages

Unless otherwise noted. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a registered adult

Free Snowshoeing each Weekend

Beginning December 22*, get some wonderful exercise while recreating in nature by checking out a pair of snowshoes to explore the park! Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required.

Saturdays 11am-1pm  /  Sundays 1-3pm

*Depending on snow conditions: at least 6 inches of snow on the ground is needed

More Ways to Enjoy the Park

Stop by the front desk to check out binoculars, nature activity packs and nature guides.
Talk with a naturalist to meet and learn about our education animals.
Celebrate your birthday with us!

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

Winter Building Hours:
9am - 4pm Tues & Thurs
10am - 4pm Wed, Fri & Sat
12pm - 4pm Sunday
Closed Monday


Contact Info: Kroening Interpretive Center at North Mississippi Regional Park, 4900 Mississippi Court; Phone: 612-370-4844, Email: