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American Public Media (APM) Podcasts: Open Call for Pitches

Do you have an idea for a new podcast? American Public Media (APM), a division of Minnesota Public Radio (“MPR”), is launching an open call for podcast pitches. They’re seeking storytellers, producers and new talent from all backgrounds to join them in entertaining, educating and connecting with people in new ways.

They're looking for two to three new show ideas to develop into pilots and potentially full seasons of at least six episodes. If selected for a full season, APM will also provide marketing and PR support, underwriting/sales and membership opportunities, and the opportunity to collaborate, cross-promote and learn from other APM Podcast teams.

Find out the details here!


The Stone Arch Bridge: A Minneapolis Icon

Article by Michael Rainville, Jr.

I know, I know, I’m surprised it took me eleven months to finally write about the Stone Arch Bridge too, but alas, the time has come. This grandiose railroad bridge is one of Minneapolis’ most iconic destinations, and the second oldest continually used bridge on the entire Mississippi River. It is featured on postcards, t-shirts, hats, posters, and everything in between. Not only does the bridge provide emblematic imagery, but it is an essential component of this city’s history as it has contributed to the successful milling and railroad operations in the area as well as the revitalization of the riverfront.

The 1870s was the first of many booming decades Minneapolis has seen. Both sides of the Mississippi River were united under one city, lumber mills were hitting their stride, and flour mills were starting to turn some heads. Local business owners quickly noted that having only one way to bring goods and commerce across the river, the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, was starting to hold the city back. During this time, railroads were also becoming vital to the growth of the United States, and the majority of tracks in the Twin Cities were on the east side of the river. These local business owners came together in 1881 and decided to work with James J. Hill, a local railroad owner, to construct a bridge to cross the Mighty Mississippi that would then lead trains to a brand-new Minneapolis Union Depot.

"Mill Pond at Minneapolis" by Alexis Jean Fournier, which is a part of MIA's collection.

The bridge from 1900

Acquiring land on both sides of the river was not as easy as first thought. While building a railroad bridge received mostly positive praise, the mill owners along the river had a hard time parting with their land, which no one can blame them for. In a perfect world, the new bridge would have crossed perpendicular to the river, because it would take less time and materials to complete. However, this land issue forced the bridge to be build diagonally across the river heading upstream on the west side. James J. Hill and Co. used this to their advantage and built the Minneapolis Union Depot about a third of a mile upstream from the bridge, which allowed the trains to roll right into the depot instead of having to use a roundhouse. At the end of the day, it worked out for everyone.

The Sauk Rapids granite and Mankato limestone bridge contributed an unthinkable amount to the industrial growth of Minneapolis, and eventually the northern and western parts of the United States. Once the Stone Arch Bridge was up and running, James J. Hill rapidly continued his pursuit to expand his railroad empire. Throughout the next decades his railroad acquisitions would become the Great Northern Railway, famous for connecting Chicago to the Pacific Northwest which contributed to the speedy development of the American frontier. While Hill is almost always overshadowed by his empire builder colleagues, such as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and Carnegie, he is just as important, especially in the land west of the Mississippi River as his legacy has shown.

One of the more major renovations of the Stone Arch Bridge came between 1961 and 1963 when the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam was built. Everything was going according to plan up until the inaugural barge attempted to make its way into the lock. Unfortunately, it took about three hours for that to happen, because it had to maneuver around the arches. To fix this, the railroad company offered to tear down the bridge and build a new one. Even though Urban Renewal was very popular in Downtown Minneapolis, the city was not going to let this historic and iconic bridge be torn down, so there was a compromise. If the city could fix the problem without disrupting the bridge’s train traffic, the bridge could stay. What ended up happening was that a 200-foot metal truss was prefabricated up in Northeast Minneapolis. When the first train of the day crossed the bridge, two of the twenty-three arches were blown out, the truss was lowered in, secured, and about six hours later, the next train crossed the bridge with no problems. When that train approached, a few thousand people gathered on a hill on the west bank of the river to see if the new addition would hold up. I don’t know what they were hoping for, but I’ll be honest, it would be kind of cool to see a train plummet into the river. How many people would get to see they’ve seen that? It’d be like a real-life movie!

As the milling industry left Minneapolis, the amount of trains crossing the bridge quickly decreased, and in 1978, the bridge officially stopped all railroad operations. During the next decade it became apparent that the vacant bridge was a safety hazard, so in 1989 the Hennepin County commissioners, led by John Derus who also established the Merriam Street Bridge, purchased the bridge and began the process of restoring it for future use.

Contemporary photo of the bridge. Photo credit

In 1994, the old railroad bridge was converted into a pedestrian bridge, and for twenty-four years, millions of residents and tourists have enjoyed the bridge. From artists and photographers to joggers and people enjoying a fabulously narrated Segway tour, generations have appreciated what the Stone Arch Bridge has done for our city and riverfront, and hopefully we can cherish this ambitious and monumental bridge for years to come. Thank you to Governor Dayton for ensuring it will happen, as reported in this Minnesota Daily article.

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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


Shake Up Your Winter with Fresh Ideas and Fun at the Minneapolis Convention Center

Via a January 15 e-announcement from Meet Minneapolis:

More than a dozen shows open to all ages and featuring outdoor adventures, wedding planning, fun on two wheels or four, and much more

Whether you are planning a wedding, itching to get back on the water, dreaming of hitting the road or in the market for a new, two- or four-wheeled vehicle, winter is the perfect time to head to the Minneapolis Convention Center. More than a dozen interactive events, open to the public, will fill exhibit halls between now and the end of March, including the Minneapolis Boat Show, Twin Cities Auto Show, Healthy Life Expo, E-bike Challenge Minneapolis, and more.

In addition to exploring new cars, boats, bikes, gardens and healthy lifestyle trends, indulge in freshly roasted coffee at the in-house Dunn Brothers Coffee. Or head to the second floor for something from the grill and a variety of classic Minnesota craft beers at the Craft Bar and Lounge. Spend the day or make it a weekend getaway for a winter “Minne-vacation.”

* * * * * Public Shows by Month * * * * *


  • The Wedding Fair – Jan. 20: Find everything you need to plan the perfect wedding, and don’t miss the bridal fashion shows at 12:30 and 3 p.m.
  • Minneapolis Boat Show – Jan. 24-27: See the newest boat models and be transported to a warmer climate thanks to the “island experience.” Plus, kids can explore with the discover-a-boat map, and you can try your luck in the Baggo tournament with a Sea-Doo Spark as the grand prize.


  • Minneapolis Progressive International Motorcycle Show – Feb. 1-3: Enjoy an indoor riding course for first-time riders or test your wheelie skills, play in the kid zone, or check out the world’s largest motorcycle builder competition.
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul RV Vacation and Camping Show – Feb. 7-10: Includes seminars on how to select and care for your RV, nearly 100 exhibitors plus RV’s from $4,500 to $600,000.
  • 2019 Minnesota Golf Show – Feb 8-10: Brush up on your swing at the indoor driving range or flaunt your short game with a chance to qualify for the $100,000 Pontoon Putt at this all ages show.
  • Health Life Expo – Feb. 9-10: Recommit to that New Year’s fitness resolution with demos, seminars, and nutrition tips, plus learn about fitness clubs, personal trainers and in-home equipment.
  • Lake Home and Cabin Show – Feb. 15-17: If cabin fever strikes early, this is the place to be, whether you are searching for the perfect cabin, building it, or improving it.
  • Unveiled! – Feb. 17: The Wedding Guys’ one-stop shop for wedding planning, including tasting bars, vendors and a fashion show where you might discover your ultimate dream dress.
  • Home & Garden Show – Feb. 22-24 and March 1-3: Reworking or planning a garden? From new plants to “She Sheds,” you’ll find your ticket to spring fun, including a presentation by “The Property Brothers,” interactive DIY projects, and the latest garden décor.


  • Twin City Twisters Gymnastics Northern Light Classics – March 1-3: See the region’s top young gymnasts in an event that features the stars of tomorrow.
  • Twin Cities Auto Show – March 9-17: Get your first look at this year’s “Car of the Year,” see the finalists for the “project car” contest, experience Camp Jeep, and “Ride and Drive,” plus climb inside the “Raminator” – a 10-ft tall, 12-ft wide Dodge Ram monster truck. There will be more than 600 vehicles on display and a special Military appreciation night on March 12.
  • Northwest Sportshow – March 21-24: Try your hand at fly fishing or hook your kids on the sport of fishing at the catch-and-release trout pond, plus enjoy seminars, new technology, turkey call making, pick up your hunting or fishing license or take aim at the air gun range for kids.
  • E-bike Challenge Minneapolis – March 23-24: Learn all about electric bikes and see the latest models, test out e-bikes on the indoor test track, plus learn about great biking and hiking locations.
  • The Wedding Fair – March 31: Whether you need to book a limo, secure a photographer or you want to check out dresses and tuxes on the runway, this bridal and wedding show has it all.

All shows are open to the public. The full 2019 Minneapolis Convention Center public calendar including show links can be found here.

The Minneapolis Convention Center (MCC) is owned by the City of Minneapolis and marketed through Meet Minneapolis. The 1.6 million square foot facility features 475,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 3,400 fixed-seat auditorium, 87 meeting rooms and two ballrooms. The MCC is both LEED and GMIC certified and works to serve its constituencies and stakeholders as the face of Minneapolis to visitors. Through its efforts, the MCC helps sustain nearly 7,500 jobs in the community.

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.


New Exhibition at Minnesota Center for Book Arts Combines Ceramics with Storytelling

Image Credit: Into the Fire by Jennifer Rose Wolken

Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) presents Chronicled in Clay: Ceramics and the Art of the Story, an exhibition that brings together ceramics and contemporary book arts. Chronicled in Clay is presented in conjunction with Claytopia, the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts’ (NCECA) 53rd Annual Conference, which explores “the human imagination as a vehicle of restless yearning for a more livable, just, and meaningful world.”

Chronicled in Clay: Ceramics and the Art of the Story examines how contemporary artists express narratives in clay through text, imagery, multiples, and sequence. The jurors, Tetsuya Yamada (artist and faculty at the University of Minnesota), Monica Edwards Larson (MCBA Board member and artist / proprietress of Sister Black Press), and Torey Erin (MCBA Exhibitions and Artist Programs Manager), have composed an exhibition that provokes new perspectives and challenges traditional ideas of narrative and linear storytelling through clay form, including notebook tablets, book vessels, a wall installation of wave-like ceramic pages, and more. 

Participating artists include: 

Eileen Cohen, Minneapolis, MN
Corie J. Cole, Colorado Springs, CO
Paula McCartney, Minneapolis, MN
Stefana McClure, Newburgh, NY
Teri Power, Amery, WI
Derek Prescott, Columbia Heights, MN
Nicole Roberts Hoiland, Saint Paul, MN
Jennifer Rose Wolken, Springfield, MO
Molly Streiff, Missoula, MT

The exhibition will be on view and open to the public February 8 through April 28 in MCBA’s Main Gallery, with an opening reception on Friday, March 28, 6-9pm.

Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) is a visual arts nonprofit organization that supports creative expression through traditional and contemporary book arts, including papermaking, bookbinding, and letterpress printing. MCBA’s philosophy and artistic vision challenges its artist community to think beyond the traditional notion of “book.” Today, books can be bound and unbound, fabricated into sculptures, interpreted as metaphor, experienced as installation or performance, and interacted with virtually. What unites this varied work is a focus on the interdisciplinary expression of narrative. To learn more, visit our website.


New Project Will Improve Conditions at Father Hennepin Bluff Park

A scene from at the annual Owámni Falling Water Festival at Father Hennepin Bluff Park

$1 million project aims to improve park circulation and connections to surrounding neighborhood

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) just launched a new project aimed at improving park conditions in Father Hennepin Bluff Park.

Father Hennepin Bluff Park contains the land next to the east end of Stone Arch Bridge. It's split into two distinct sections: An upper section that contains a band shell, paths and picnic facilities; and a lower section that has stairs and natural trails leading to Hennepin Island. This project is focused on the upper section.

Father Hennepin Bluff Park is part of Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park, which had a new master plan approved in 2016. According to the master plan, the overall goals for the upper section of Father Hennepin Bluff Park are to improve circulation and park function while opening up the park edge to the street and surrounding neighborhoods. 

A lot of ideas to achieve those goals are outlined in the master plan:

  • Realign pedestrian and bicycle trails to meander close to the bluff edge in a manner that does not interfere with the band shell function.
  • Build a new band shell away from the sensitive bluff edge in a manner that still maintains the open space of the park.
  • Clarify and emphasize pedestrian and bike circulation at the junction of the Stone Arch Bridge and 6th Avenue SE in a manner that reinforces the historic connection to the rail alignment. This could also include:
    • Provide a signature entry experience.
    • Extend 6th Avenue Greenway design and create a programmable convertible street between the 6th Avenue and Main Street intersection.
    • Interpret the historic railroad alignment to promote wayfinding.
    • Eliminate the utilitarian experience of the existing cul-de-sac.
    • Provide a safe, accessible surface for bicyclists and pedestrians while still maintaining the historic cobblestones.
  • Add a restroom facility and/or visitor orientation center.
  • Remove berming along the Main Street edge where appropriate.
  • Manage deciduous trees and remove invasive or degraded vegetation to maintain an overstory canopy in a manner that frames views to the river.

View the Father Hennepin Bluff Park Master Plan [PDF] or visit the project page for full details.

Take the online survey

* * * * * Student Input Meeting * * * * *

Date: Thursday Jan. 24, 6:30 pm

Location: First Congregational Church, 500 8th Ave. SE

Topic: Students share ideas and input. Hot soup provided.

* * * * * Native American Listening Session and Walk * * * * *

Date: Saturday Jan. 26, 1-3 pm

Location: Father Hennepin Bluff Park, 420 Main St. SE

Topic: More details coming soon.

* * * Environment and Sustainable Landscapes Meeting * * *

Date: Tuesday Jan. 29, 6:30 pm

Location: Pillsbury A Mill, 315 SE Main St.

Topic: Give ideas on environmental improvements for the park. Warm beverages and cookies provided.

* * * * * Biking and Walking Meeting * * * * *

Date: Saturday Feb. 2, 10-11 am

Location: Pillsbury A Mill, 315 SE Main St.

Topic: Meeting begins at Pillsbury A Mill, followed by short walk around park to observe biking and walking activity and brainstorm improvements. Refreshments provided.

* * * * * Neighboring Residents Meeting * * * * *

Date: Saturday Feb. 2, 11 am-noon

Location: Pillsbury A Mill, 315 SE Main St.

Topic: Meeting for residents who live near Father Hennepin Bluff Park to provide ideas on changes and improvements they would like to see. Co-hosted by Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association. Refreshments provided.

About this project

The Upper Father Hennepin Bluff Park Improvement project will improve circulation and park function while opening up the park edge to the street and surrounding neighborhoods.



The Great Northern 2019 Schedule

Via a January 11 Press Release:


The Great Northern Presented by Target rings in its third year of bringing together premier events with its 10-day wintry event lineup

With lakes, river valleys, some of the top parks in the nation, and a culture that embraces see-your-breath fun on cold winter days, the area leads the world in year-round outdoor activities. The Great Northern Presented by Target is once again asking locals and visitors to raise a mitten in celebration of winter in Minneapolis and St. Paul as it returns from Jan. 24 – Feb. 3, 2019 with 10 days of events in Minneapolis and St. Paul, designed to get people outside, active, and embracing winter.

The Great Northern brings together three legacy winter festivals, including the City of Lakes Loppet, which has a new home in 2019 at The Trailhead in Theodore Wirth Regional Park; the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, that for more than 130 years has brought family-friendly events and community pride to Saint Paul and the Twin Cities metro area; and the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, where hockey enthusiasts from around the world show off their skills on Lake Nokomis and champions go down in history with their names etched into the Golden Shovel or Silver Scoop. 

These three legacy events are complemented by a flurry of all-new original programming, including film and music events with a uniquely Northern flavor.
“The Great Northern is all about celebrating our incredible winters and rallying our community to get outside and experience the season,” said Cat Beltmann, Executive Director of The Great Northern. “We’re excited to showcase the new programming and partnerships we’ve developed this year and look forward to making Winter 2019 our best yet.”
“Our founding partners have proud legacies of embracing winter in the North, and working together we’ve established The Great Northern as a signature celebration for Minnesotans and visitors alike.” said Eric Dayton, Board Chair of The Great Northern. “We’re excited to build on that momentum this year and beyond, and to add exciting new programming alongside cherished traditions so that everyone can find a reason to get outside.”
The Great Northern 2019 event highlights include:
Original programming includes:
  • FrogFest Curling Event
  • Surly & MN United Boot Soccer Tournament
  • Minnesota Tech – State of the State presented by Beta.MN
  • An evening screening documentaries “Lure of the North” and “Finding Hygge”
  • A concert event on Nicollet Mall

Most events are free, open to the public and will take place in and around Saint Paul and Minneapolis. For a full calendar of events, please visit:

For more information about The Great Northern and its partnering organizations and to sign up for updates, visit Connect with The Great Northern on Facebook and Instagram @TheGreatNorthernFestival, and on Twitter @GreatNorthern.

About The Great Northern

The Great Northern presented by Target is an annual 10-day winter celebration in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. We bring together longstanding festivals like the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, and the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships along with original programming, all highlighting Minnesota at its wintry best. We promote a positive winter mindset and a healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle.

FINNEGANS Releasing 8 New Beers Celebrating Darkest Week of the Year

Via a recent Press Release from FINNEGANS Brew Co.:

FINNEGANS Brew Co., long known as the first beer company to donate 100 percent of profits back to the community, is hosting Dark Week, a week-long spectacle wherein the brewery will release a new dark beer every day, starting on Sunday, January 13. Dark Week will culminate on Saturday, January 19 with an epic bottle release party for three of the dark beers. 

Since joining the team as Head Brewer last year, Ryan Mihm has greatly expanded the FINNEGANS beer lineup. From easy drinking ales to barrel-aged brews with complex flavor profiles, Mihm and Assistant Brewer Logan McLean are showing Midwestern beer drinkers that FINNEGANS is more than an Irish Ale. Since opening their first-ever brewery in March 2018, Mihm and McLean have brewed more than 65 new varieties. 

"We feel so lucky to have Ryan and Logan on the team. These guys clearly love what they do and have been exploring new flavors and brewing techniques since we opened," says Jacquie Berglund, Founder of FINNEGANS. "It’s post-holiday, the coldest, darkest, bleakest time of year. We wanted to do something to continue the brewing explorations while also breaking the cabin fever and encouraging Minnesotans to get out and have some fun." 

The lineup of limited-release dark brews is varied and aims to please the palates of beer connoisseurs and casual sippers alike:

• Sunday 1/13: Smoked Baltic Porter – 6.5% ABV

Oak-smoked malt gives this beer a slight smoky flavor meshed with notes of chocolate and dark cocoa. This brew has a traditional lager mouthfeel with its fluffy body and creamy texture.

• Monday 1/14: Dark Rage Milk Stout – 6.66% ABV

This chocolate-forward milk stout was brewed with lactose sugar giving the beer a creamy silk-like mouthfeel and a smooth, slightly sweet finish.

• Tuesday 1/15: Black Tartan Scottish Stout – 8.5% ABV

This Scottish-influenced stout is brewed with maple syrup and hints of peat smoke, toffee and chocolate.

• Wednesday 1/16: Red Lodge Oatmeal Spruce Tips Porter – 6.9% ABV

Oatmeal porter brewed with Red Lodge, Montana blue spruce tips. Hints of lemon, orange, and two types of oats round out this porter to create a distinct yet subtle spruce flavor.

• Thursday 1/17: Dark Chocolate Mint Stout – 6.2% ABV

American stout brewed with dark cocoa nibs and mint leaves. This beer has hints of chocolate, mint, and roasted malt giving you a full-bodied dark beer option with a little something extra.

• Friday 1/18: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dead Irish Poet Extra Stout – 8.2% ABV

This is a smooth extra stout with hints of dark chocolate and stone fruit notes. Bourbon barrels impart oak, barrel vanilla, and a boozy finish.

• Saturday 1/19 – Two new dark brews:

Caorthannach Russian Imperial Stout – 9% ABV

Caorthannach is the name of the beast that St. Patrick defeated to get the snakes out of Ireland (and also the name of Satan’s mother!). This burly Russian Imperial stout is a full-bodied brew with complex malt, mild smoke and fruit notes. 

Pinot Noir & Whiskey Barrel-Aged Caorthannach  – 10.3% ABV

This Imperial stout was aged for 6 months in former pinot noir barrels that were then used for a 10-year-old whiskey. 

“We’re always trying new things and dreaming up the next concoction,” says Mihm, who recently brewed a brown stout in an actual 1,600 pound gourd. “We typically turn to local farmers to source ingredients that go into our beers, but sometimes inspiration strikes when you’re on vacation! Logan foraged 9 pounds of spruce tips while in Montana this summer, which we used in our Red Lodge Oatmeal Spruce Tips Porter.” 

Dark Week will feature a loyalty card of sorts, encouraging patrons to visit the brewery every day of the week to try each new dark beer. Beer drinkers with a punch for every beer will get a free 10 oz glass of Caorthannach Russian Imperial Stout on the final day of Dark Week – and the ability to hop to the front of the line to purchase bottles of the limited-release brews.

Partygoers attending the bottle release event on Saturday 1/19 can enjoy live music starting at 3:30 pm and will have a chance to meet the brewing team. In addition to the Dark Week beer offerings, FINNEGANS will have their core 3 beers (Irish Ale, Tile Factory Mosaic IPA and East Town Pilsner) on tap and tasty snack pairings available during the event. 

FINNEGANS Brew Co. is located at 817 S 5th Ave in Minneapolis. Brewery hours are 2 pm-10 pm Sunday – Thursday and 12 pm-12 am Friday and Saturday, with the exception of Saturday 1/19 when they’ll open at 11 am for guests anxious to try the mighty Caorthannach. 

About FINNEGANS Brew Co. 

FINNEGANS – Turning beer into food. Founded in 2000 in Minneapolis, FINNEGANS is a self-sustaining and inspirational social business. Through sales of its ever-expanding roster of beers, FINNEGANS has created an innovative business model driving the company to create community wealth through the donation of all of its profits to the FINNEGANS Community Fund (501c3). The Fund supports hunger alleviation programs in every market where FINNEGANS is sold, which includes MN, WI, ND, SD and IA. Now, is there a better reason to raise a pint of FINNEGANS?


Look for "Mirror" by 23-year-old Minneapolitan Sam Karpeh - Coming Soon to Amazon

Article by Claudia Kittock

I met Sam at YouthLink. He is tall and muscular and can have a fierce visage, but when Sam smiles his entire being changes. I bring homemade chocolate chip cookies every week, and Sam said, “Give me one.” When I told him “no”, he asked why he couldn’t. I told him to ask me nicely. He immediately smiled that wonderful Sam smile and asked if he could PLEASE have a cookie. I gave him two and he followed that by asking “What’s wrong with you?” When I quit laughing I told him there were too many things to start a list.  Sam really couldn’t understand why I was interested in him. I have never been able to understand anyone who isn’t fascinated with Sam and his story. When I look at Sam, I see a highly intelligent young man with a kind, gentle, and fierce soul with that amazing smile.

Sam KarpehThe story of Sam Karpeh is a fascinating one, filled with twists and turns, sadness and ultimate triumph. In fact, if you read this as a fictional story, you might find it difficult to believe. However, it is true, and Sam has written a book about his life, entitled Mirror, Mirror. At 23, it seems difficult to imagine enough life to warrant an entire book. You would be wrong.

Sam and his father migrated to America from Liberia when Sam was very young. Liberia was in the midst of a civil war, and Sam doesn’t remember very much about Liberia, and has always considered himself an American kid. His mother didn’t come with them, and because he was so young, Sam was never sure if she was alive or had died.

His early life was chaotic, and by the time Sam was 13 he was no longer living at home. He spent time at friends’ homes and attending school, interspersed with some time not going at all. Sam eventually ended up at an alternative school, and one day after school, another student asked if he wanted to ‘come over’. Sam did, met his parents, and that very night was asked if he wanted to stay with them until high school ended.  He lived there for 4 months and graduated at the top of his class and gave the valedictory address.

While in high school, an English teacher took a special interest in Sam and wouldn’t let him give up on himself or on his education. She urged him to write his story and to keep working on what he had to say. Sam will never forget her, nor her belief in him. He found writing to be a powerful outlet.

Sam spent two years living with a cousin in Fargo after he finished high school. He worked full time and spent time trying to decide what would come next in his life. After a nearly fatal stabbing, Sam decided he needed to come home to Minneapolis. 

In 2013, Sam again survived a nearly fatal accident, having fallen asleep while driving home from work. He was driving nearly 80 mph, hit a tree, and was able to climb out the window, relatively unscathed.

Sam and I met each other at YouthLink and shortly after we met, I asked him to be part of the very first class of the Mill City Players. I had no idea if he would show up, but show up he did. The second night Sam showed up I told him how pleased I was he was there again. He turned to me with a slightly puzzled look on his face and said simply, “I promised you I would.”

Sam is an incredibly talented actor, writer, poet, and leader. When Sam speaks, people listen. At one production, Sam read Charles Bukowski’s poem, There’s a Bluebird in my Heart. The poem begins, "There is a bluebird in my heart, but I’m too angry to let it out." It was a powerful moment of theater, and an even more powerful moment for Sam and the audience who heard him.

Sam has had a piece of my heart since I met him. My day is always better when I get to see Sam and talk with him. I am in awe of his strength. I know I would not have survived what this amazing young man has survived. Sam has survived and somehow has found a way to use that early chaos to become this incredible man.

Sam is an aspiring chef. He has worked at a number of restaurants and now works at Green + The Grain. A measure of this man is how valued he is there. His employer is nudging Sam toward culinary jobs with more creativity as he sees the potential in Sam that is so apparent.

Sam’s book Mirror, Mirror is available on Amazon. As he tells me, it's only the first part of his story. I can’t wait to read more about this remarkable man who occupies such an important part of my heart. Knowing Sam has changed me and I am so grateful for our friendship.

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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).



December by the Numbers

Downtown real estate market update from Cynthia Froid Group:


The Mill Yard at Stonebridge Lofts Art Exhibit announces new exhibit, “The Nature of Things”

Opening Reception Saturday, January 26, 3:00-6:00PM            with complimentary wine, sparkling water and sweet drinks

Exhibition dates January 26 - March 30, 2019
The Mill Yard presents a new show, “The Nature of Things”
A Veronique Wantz Gallery Pop-Up at The Mill Yard

The new exhibit showcases a collection of works that offers space to consider the times in which we live.

Our world is in constant flux. We ride the ebb and flow, sifting through layers of complexity in search of a clarity that we can anchor onto. From inward we look out, observing that what goes up, doesn’t always come down. We seek solace in our connections, to tame the currents swirling around us, and find solid ground, for a while. It’s the nature of things.

The Mill City. Residents celebrate our area’s industrial heritage of the mighty Mississippi River and the mills. Today, what we see are the most recognizable Minneapolis landmarks. However, this is only part of the story. Rail lines were key to Minneapolis’ growth, and were particularly integral to the Mill District, bringing in wheat and timber and shipping out flour and lumber. We also honor the history of the mills, the reason for the rail yard’s existence.  The Mill Yard aims to be both a gathering place for art and artists and a conduit by which art can be shared with and disseminated into the wider community. Contact us at:  More Info: Facebook  Twitter

The Mill Yard at Stonebridge Lofts is located at 1120 S 2nd Street (next ot Izzy's)

Special thanks Luke Kleckner, Condo Development and Sales, for his generous sponsorship.


Jack Dale

Natural Echo, oil on canvas

Jack Dale was born in St. Paul, MN and has made his home here for all but 3 years. He grew up in St. Paul and attended the University of Minnesota on a hockey scholarship. He played on the 1968 U.S. Olympic Hockey team and three years as a professional before suffering a career-ending knee injury. He turned his attention to art, which he had studied in college, and has been a painter for over 40 years. He was a member of Groveland Gallery in the early eighties when he was doing mostly landscape work and is very pleased to be represented by the Veronique Wantz Gallery today. Jack has had numerous solo and group shows and his paintings have been collected all over the country. His abstract expressionistic paintings are known not for the images that are represented, but for the emotions that they evoke. It is in this sensorial space where intuition takes over, and the viewer finds a place to engage on a deeply personal and powerful level. “As a mark-maker the paint carries me on a journey of understanding: allowing me to make sense of the world around me and vocalizing feelings that can’t always be easily explained.”

Allison Johanson

Big Lake Swells, acrylic on canvas

Allison Johanson is a contemporary painter from Saint Paul. She grew up near the north shore of Lake Superior and enjoys referencing the vastness of the lake and sky as well as the nostalgia she feels about her rural upbringing. Allison’s abstract landscapes are rooted in the beauty found in the natural world, and they speak about the mystery found in distant horizons. Her intuitive painting style yields soft and immersive works that create feelings of connectedness.  “I love to create paintings that subtly engage and communicate a quiet mood yet provide interest upon closer observation. Seeing the artist in the textures, brush strokes and mark making is what excites me most about original art.”  Instagram: @allisonjohansonart

Samuel Johnson

Vessels, wood fired stoneware

Samuel Johnson was born on the Eastern prairie of the Red River Valley. He studied painting and ceramics at the University of Minnesota at Morris, serving an apprenticeship in pottery under Richard Bresnahan. He has been a guest of Denmark’s Design School in Copenhagen, worked in a studio in New York, and traveled to Japan as a guest of Koie Ryoji. In 2005, Johnson earned graduate degrees in fine art from the University of Iowa. He is currently an Associate Professor of Art at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Central Minnesota. Johnson’s work reflects today’s malleable socio-political climate through both the process of shaping wet clay and its transformation through fire. As raw unglazed vessels are fired in a kiln, each are marked by wood, heat, melting ash and charcoal resulting in a somber patina of natural hues and irregular textures. The work is intended to be mysterious and enigmatic in ways that feel familiar.  “My work strikes a balance between the wild and mysterious character of ourselves and that part of our psyche that sets us apart from it, containing contradictory elements that provoke a sense of mystery and gravitas and suggest those aspects of our nature that is just on the other side of consciousness.”  Facebook, Instagram: @samueljohnsonpottery

Eleanor McGough

Perilous Passage, acrylic on board

Eleanor McGough grew up in the Pacific Northwest and graduated from Kansas City Art Institute. She also studied at the Polytechnic in Brighton, England. She is the recipient of two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants and a Bemis Foundation residency. McGough’s paintings explore our fleeting place in the vast patterns of weather, migrations, and time. Imagined life forms inhabit terrestrial, aquatic, or atmospheric spaces, revealing fragile and tenuous relationships within these complex systems. She is influenced by the research of high altitude entomology that details the astonishing fact that billions of insects are carried in air currents through the layers of our atmosphere. This idea serves as a visual metaphor to the broader context that all life is transitory and swept up in immense patterns of energy.  “I am drawn to insects for their metamorphosis and find hope in the idea that transformation is an enduring possibility and cause for optimism as life on our planet evolves.”  Instagram: @eleanormcgough

Wendy Westlake

Set A Guard Over My Mouth, acrylic on canvas

Wendy Westlake was born in Washington state. She earned an Associate Degree in Applied Art from Pima College in Tuscon AZ, where she studied a wide range of media including oils, printmaking and ceramics. Upon moving back to MN in 1992, Wendy connected with the watercolor community in the Twin Cities area. She became a Board Member of the Minnesota Watercolor Society in 2012 eventually becoming MNWS President from 2014-2016. A desire to work on a larger scale than paper would allow pulled Wendy back to her earlier training with acrylic and oils. Her work is influenced by her background in watercolor as well as the tradition of American Abstract Expressionism.  Wendy’s poignant graphical forms bring order within a place of chaos: shapes overlap and interconnect, with redacted and transparent elements changing our view. Her paintings expand on the idea that everything is connected and questions the way in which we read the truth. “I begin by flinging paint on canvas with great abandon and then search for order in the chaos, highlighting some shapes while losing others, defining and editing, pushing toward resolution.”  Facebook  Instagram: @wendywestlakestudio


Upcoming Opportunities to Meet with 3rd Ward Council Member Fletcher

Council Member Fletcher holds regular open office hours on Wednesday evenings for constituents to drop by, ask questions and raise any community-related issues. These events rotate through the different quadrants of Ward 3, and everyone is welcome at any of them. If you would like to discuss a specific issue, contact his office at 612-673-2203 to have it added to the agenda.

Upcoming Coffees with Your Council Member are scheduled for the following dates and locations:


Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Launches New Instagram Account


Follow @minneapolisparks for beautiful images captured at Minneapolis parks and recreation centers

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is kicking off the new year with a new way to follow and enjoy parks and recreation in the city of Minneapolis.

The MPRB just launched an Instagram account where it will post images depicting the activities, events and everyday beauty that make Minneapolis parks and recreation centers great.

Follow the MPRB on Instagram @minneapolisparks or check out the feed at

Stay up-to-date on all MPRB news by subscribing to the other social media accounts linked below:

Facebook: @MinneapolisParks

Twitter: @MplsParkBoard

LinkedIn: Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board


$800,000 Grant to Help Reduce Pollution in Northeast Minneapolis


Columbia Golf Course project will protect local neighborhoods, Mississippi River

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) announced today that it has been awarded $800,000 from the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR) to address water quality and flooding issues in Northeast Minneapolis.

The funds, which come from the state’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, will be used to install a series of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) at the Columbia Golf Course in Northeast Minneapolis. The improvements will capture and treat stormwater from 600 acres that drain to and through the golf course, protecting the nearby Mississippi River from polluted runoff. In combination with other improvements planned for the area, the practices will also help to mitigate flooding.

“A large portion of Northeast Minneapolis drains through the Columbia Golf Course, and this new green infrastructure will benefit the entire community,” said MWMO Executive Director Doug Snyder. “The project will help protect the golf course and the surrounding neighborhoods from flooding, as well as reduce pollutant loading to the Mississippi River and improve habitat by adding native vegetation.”

The golf course improvements are part of a larger Northeast Stormwater Management Initiative being led jointly by the MWMO, the City of Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The initiative will address local stormwater issues by modifying the city’s stormwater infrastructure, adding regional stormwater BMPs, and integrating new green infrastructure in portions of Northeast Minneapolis and Columbia Heights.

The golf course BMPs have the potential to remove an estimated average of 100 pounds of total phosphorus (TP) and 20 tons of total suspended solids (TSS) each year, keeping these pollutants out of the Mississippi River. Up to 6.7 million cubic feet of stormwater could be infiltrated.

The golf course improvements are expected to begin construction in mid-2020. More information can be found at, where residents can also sign up to receive email updates.

About the Minnesota Clean Water Fund

Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008 to:

  • protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat;
  • preserve arts and cultural heritage;
  • support parks and trails; and
  • protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater         

The Clean Water Fund receives 33 percent of the sales tax revenue generated by the Legacy Amendment. More information about the Clean Water Fund is available here.


January 1 Newsletter from Green Minneapolis

Via a January 1 e-newsletter from Green Minneapolis:

It is remarkable to look back on 2018 and see how much we have transformed downtown, together. 

Now in its second year, annual attendance at THE COMMONS has grown to over 600,000. Green Minneapolis hosted 103 free public events throughout the year, from our farmers market and movie series to extraordinary performances by the Minnesota Orchestra and MN Sinfonia. The Commons is knitting together the new neighborhood of East Town. It is your downtown oasis – an exciting place to connect with nature, and community.

In downtown west, Green Minneapolis anchors the public-private partnership that transformed the HENNEPIN-LYNDALE CROSSROADS, adding plantings and greenery to the busy intersection and making it more welcoming to pedestrians.

We also spearheaded the $12 million fundraising campaign to revitalize PEAVEY PLAZA. With contributions from the City, State and many private donors, the project is officially underway. The new Peavey will reopen in Summer 2019, complete with beautiful flowing fountains, a vibrant tree canopy, live music and other special events.

Through GREENING LAB, we provided supplemental watering and maintenance for hundreds of young trees downtown, supporting a crucial phase in trees’ growth cycle. Every successful tree planted helps us grow our downtown forest and transform downtown from gray to green.

Never afraid to think big, we also partnered with the University of Minnesota’s College of Design to envision how the POST OFFICE at 1st Street and Marquette Avenue could take on new life and better connect downtown to the riverfront.

These projects are just the beginning! Every time you get out and experience your downtown, you help us achieve our vision of the green and vibrant downtown Minneapolis of tomorrow.

See you there, in 2019.


January and February programming at the Kroening Interpretive Center and North Mississippi Regional Park

The Minneapolis Park and Rec Board invites you to enjoy the great outdoors with these January and February offerings at the Kroening Interpretive Center and North Mississippi Regional Park.

* * * * * * * * * * January Events * * * * * * * * * *

Snowshoeing: Get some wonderful exercise while recreating in nature by checking out a pair of snowshoes to explore the park! Please wear winter boots for use with snowshoes. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required.

SATURDAY  11-3pm

SUNDAY   1-3pm

Jan 5      Activity #93933

Jan 6      Activity #93941

Jan 12    Activity #93934

Jan 13    Activity #93942

Jan 19    Activity #93935

Jan 20    Activity #93943

Jan 26    Activity #93936

Jan 27    Activity #93944


Winter Break Camp: Frozen Planet January 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  Ages 6-12  Activity #93993

Day camp will be based out of Kroening Interpretive Center. Every day please: Bring a lunch and snack and dress for a mess and outdoor adventure (winter coat, boots, snow pants, hat and gloves).

Bird Watching: Winter Woodpeckers - Saturday January 5, 4-5:30pm

Winter is a wonderful time to be on the lookout for the bright flashes of woodpeckers on the bare trees. Join us for a walk in the park to seek out and learn about Minnesota’s winter woodpeckers. Binoculars provided if needed. FREE  Ages 8 & up  Activity #93949

Snowshoeing: New Year Resolutions Hike - Saturday January 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! - Please wear winter boots for use with snowshoes. FREE  All Ages  Activity #93959

Family Funday: Winter Arts & Animals - Sunday January 13 1-3pm

Come learn about our neighborhood native species. Meet some MN animals up-close, then let nature inspire your creation of winter-themed artwork to take home. FREE  All Ages  Activity #93963

Homeschool Day: Clues from Nature - Thursday January 17 1-3pm

Learn how to become a nature detective by uncovering the clues that animals leave behind. Investigate animal tracks, scat and other markings to better understand animal behaviors and decipher the story they tell. Registration Fee $5  Ages 5-13  Activity #93988

Nature Art: Candle Making – Saturday January 19  2-3pm

Craft the warm, comforting glow of your own candle with a nature twist to use on cold winter nights. Use your creativity to choose the scents colors and designs you like best! Registration Fee $5  All Ages  Activity #93968

School Release Day: Winter Fun & Games January 25  8am-4pm

Get ready for snow filled fun! Build shelters, snowmen and other creations outside. Hike through the park and play games on snowshoes. Make art, toss snowballs, and warm up inside with hot cocoa. Ice cube boat races.  Registration Fee $25  Ages 6-12  Activity #93994

Day camp will be based out of Kroening Interpretive Center. Every day please: Bring a lunch and snack, and dress for a mess and outdoor adventure (winter coat, boots, snow pants, hat and gloves)

Outdoors: Winter Survival Challenge - Saturday January 26  1-3pm

Assemble your team of family or friends and practice your winter skills in the park through nature challenges! Build shelters, maneuver through obstacles, and seek out hidden clues in the wild while discovering strategies Minnesota animals use to survive the winter. Then enjoy hot cocoa and a treat by a cozy bonfire.  FREE  All Ages  Activity #93974

* * * * * * * * * * * February Events * * * * * * * * * * *

Snowshoeing: Get some wonderful exercise while recreating in nature by checking out a pair of snowshoes to explore the park! Please wear winter boots for use with snowshoes. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required.

SATURDAY  11-3pm

SUNDAY   1-3pm

Feb 2     Activity #93937

Feb 3     Activity #93945

Feb 9     Activity #93938

Feb 10    Activity #93946

Feb 16   Activity #93939

Feb 17   Activity #93947

Feb 23   Activity #93940

Feb 24   Activity #93948

Event: Groundhog Day Celebration – Saturday February 2

Can a groundhog really predict the coming season? Will it be an early spring or six more weeks of winter? Come celebrate a day of weather forecasting woodchucks with art, games and activities. Hike the park with a naturalist to see if our resident woodchucks have been out to make their own predictions.  FREE  All Ages Activity #93984

Bird Watching: Birding on Snowshoes - Saturday February 2  4-5:30pm

Looking to try something different and develop new skills? Then come birding on snowshoes with a naturalist along our prairie, woodland, and river trails! We’ll enjoy the winter scenery while keeping our eyes and ears open for our feathered friends. Please wear winter boots for use with snowshoes. Binoculars provided if needed. FREE Ages 8 & up  Activity #93950

Senses in the Season Hike – Friday February 8  4-5:00pm

After the hustle and bustle of the week, take a peaceful walk through the park to realign your senses with nature. Discover how each season peaks our senses in different ways. Reset your mind and body from overstimulation and become grounded in nature while appreciating the nuances each season offers. FREE  All Ages Activity #93997

Nature Art: Colors and Ice February 9 1:30-2:30pm

Make colorfully cold creations! Make a mural outside with the snow as your canvas, create beautiful mini ice castles, and use colored ice to make pictures to take home.  FREE  All Ages  Activity #93969

Valentine’s Day Fireside Snowshoeing - Thursday February 14 7-8:30pm

Brrrr! Baby its cold outside! This Valentine’s Day get warmed up on a snowshoe hike along the river, then cozy up around a bonfire while sipping hot cocoa and try your hand at crafting a candle to bring home. Please wear winter boots for use with snowshoes.  Registration Fee $7.50  Ages 18+  Activity #93962

Snowshoeing: Over & Under the Snow Hike – Saturday February 16  2-3:30pm

Take a hike on snowshoes as we look for tracks and signs of life in the snow. Discover the animals that have been hiding out below all winter. Who’s active and who’s hibernating and how do they make it through the long winter.  FREE   All Ages  Activity #93961

Homeschool Day: Birds of Prey - Thursday February 21  1-3pm

Raptors, the predatory birds of the sky. Examine the adaptations that make them superior hunters, dissect an owl pellet to understand what and how they eat, and go on a bird watching expedition to look for these majestic predators.  Registration Fee $5   Ages 5-13  Activity #93989

Family Funday: Owls - What a Hoot!  - Sunday February 24 1-3pm

This time of year owls are already nesting! Examine the adaptations that make them superb nighttime hunters, dissect an owl pellet and find out how to look for owls in your neighborhood.  FREE  All Ages   Activity #93964

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Kroening Interpretive Center at North Mississippi Regional Park
4900 Mississippi Court, Minneapolis, MN 55430

CCX Media Series on the Hennepin County Library

The Hennepin County Library started as a horse-drawn book wagon in the 1920s and has grown to 41 locations with more than three quarters of a million check-outs of more than 15 million items. While it might seem like physical libraries would be obsolete in this high tech age, they are thankfully creating new ways to stay relevant and important. In Part 1 (below), CCX Media examines in-person classes and opportunities to learn from what’s offered at the Hennepin County Library.

Editor's Note:

We posted a recap of a guided tour we took of the Central Library back in 2010. It is truely a treasure! Check out all the programming offered via this link.


A Holidazzle History

Article by Michael Rainville, Jr.

The holiday season in Downtown Minneapolis is a magical time of year. Colorful lights line the streets, the shops and restaurants play Christmas music, and the familiar jingle of Salvation Army bell ringers can be heard throughout the skyway system. There are many ways to celebrate this time of year, and one of the most fun ways to do so is attending the Holidazzle. It’s hard to imagine a holiday season without the joy and good tidings that fill the city when the Holidazzle takes place every year.

In the grand scheme of things, the Holidazzle is rather new. In the summer of 1992 a group of businesses in Downtown Minneapolis were worried that the small national recession the year earlier, combined with the opening of the Mall of America coming up in October, would be disastrous for them during the holiday shopping season. A plan needed to be made to keep shoppers in Downtown. Brookfield Development and Dayton’s each put down $200,000 to get things started, and when the City of Minneapolis saw this ambition, they contributed $1,000,000.

The Circus Train float   Photo:

As different ideas were being tossed around, they finally settled on hosting a parade. Inspired by the daily extravagant parades at Walt Disney World, the new Holidazzle parade would run four nights a week from the Friday after Thanksgiving to Christmas along Nicollet Mall, which oddly enough was made to counter the opening of the Southdale Mall. The first year saw only eight floats, but it was an instant success. Shops were full, the sidewalks were packed, and everyone was happy.

The City would also advertise other events going on during this time that would make coming into town worth your while, like these first-year events such as the Guthrie Theater’s A Christmas Carol, Sesame Street Live at the Target Center, the Lovely Liebowitz Sisters’ A Krakatoa Holiday music show, and Puss in Boots at the Dayton’s 8th Floor Auditorium. Metro Transit also offered the “Holidazzle Express” for those who didn’t want to deal with busy downtown driving. The shuttle service went from five metro Park & Ride locations, Brooklyn Park, Minnetonka, Richfield, South Minneapolis, and St. Paul, to Downtown Minneapolis. The parade became so popular it even made an appearance in the all-time classic Twin Cities Christmas movie Jingle All the Way when Arnold Schwarzenegger participated in a fictionalized version of the parade.

Michael Rainville, Jr. (left) in the circus seal costume with a friend.

The eight floats in the parade quickly grew to twelve, and the parade featured over 350,000 lights and 300 volunteers in costumes. For the 2000 edition, an almost 6-year-old Michael Jr. had the opportunity to sit next to Santa in his sleigh one night as he closed out the parade. However, little Michael was far too nervous to sit next to such a legend and ended up watching the parade from the sidelines with his parents. It was scary, okay? I did get my redemption the next week though. My father, Michael Sr., learned from his past mistake and this time pulled some strings to get two spots for myself and my friend Josiah to be seals in the Circus Train float. It took us about ten minutes to fit the costume over our bulky winter jackets and snow pants, but we had the time of our life and even made friends with the elephant and giraffe.

Fireworks over Loring Park Photo: Holidazzle website

In 2013, the organizers announced the biggest change the Holidazzle has seen when they decided to discontinue the parade and instead host a European-esque holiday village in Peavey Plaza. The Holidazzle Village would have live music, fireworks, great food, and vendors from around the world. Fortunately, the big change did not jeopardize the Holidazzle and they eventually moved to the even more spacious Loring Park.

From a magical holiday light parade to a festive village, the Holidazzle has been a Minneapolis and Twin Cites staple. While it has evolved over time, it has brought holiday cheer to the Twin Cities for almost thirty years, and hopefully many more. Happy holidays!

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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


Balls Cabaret Celebrates its 25th Anniversary at The Southern

BALLS Cabaret, the longest-running weekly midnight cabaret in human history, will present the best of BALLS during PRIME TIME BALLS, at The Southern Theater, January 10, 11, and 12 at 7:30pm.

PRIME TIME BALLS will present the best of BALLS with three talent filled evenings of dance, music, comedy, poetry, magic, and storytelling - January 10, 11 and 12, 7:30pm at The Southern Theater. Each night will be a different show featuring BALLS alumni performers including: Mary Jo Pehl, Ben San Del, Norah Long, Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan, Ari Hoptman, Kaleena Miller, and more exciting reveals to come! If you have ever wondered what happens at BALLS Cabaret’s every Saturday at The Southern Theater, now is your chance to experience it before the clock strikes midnight. Tickets are a suggested $35 donation (or ARTshare membership) available at All proceeds from this event will support the historic Southern Theater, the home of BALLS Cabaret.

"The Southern is the perfect home for what we're doing," says BALLS founder Leslie Ball. "We encourage artists to take healthy risks, to stretch, and deepen and grow. And that's what the Southern has been doing for artists - and for audiences - for over a century! We're so lucky to have been here for a quarter of that century." Over the decades, BALLS has welcomed seasoned professionals, aspiring students, and complete neophytes - nurturing careers of countless successful performers including Frank Conniff, Maria Bamford, Nick Swardson, Derek Hughes, and Tay Zonday.

Performances are Thursday Jan 10 through Saturday Jan 12 at 7:30pm at The Southern Theater, 1420 S. Washington Avenue, Minneapolis. Tickets are a suggested donation of $35.00 and can be purchased online at

About BALLS Cabaret

BALLS Cabaret, the longest-running weekly midnight cabaret in recorded human history began on August 3, 1991 at the old Jungle Theater before settling into its current Prime Time Balls Celebrates 25 years at The Southern Theater Page 2 The Southern Theater • 1420 S. Washington Avenue • Minneapolis, MN 55454 • • 612-340-0155 home at The Southern Theater. BALLS is for artists of any and all disciplines - at any and all levels of experience – each given seven minutes to showcase their talents. Founder Leslie Ball views the cabaret as a ministry to promote community and creativity. Ball has fostered a place where community flourishes, lifetime friendships form, artistic cross-pollination and collaborations blossom. Follow us on Facebook @ballscabaret

About The Southern Theater

The Southern Theater opened its doors on March 1, 1910 and remains one of the Twin Cities most active historic theater venues. Each year The Southern Theater is host to an outstanding season of programing including dance, theater, music, live concert performances, film, spoken word and mixed media, all highlighting a celebration of local artistry under the historic arch. Follow us @SouthernTheater on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Those interested in presenting at The Southern can send inquiries to Tickets or an ARTshare membership to The Southern can be purchased at


Alfred Bangoura, New Superintendent of Minneapolis Parks, Takes Over January 20, 2019

Via a December 19 announcement from the Minneapolis Park and Rec Board:

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s (MPRB) next Superintendent, Alfred Bangoura, will take over leading the nationally acclaimed park system on January 20, 2019.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a three-year contract with Bangoura at tonight’s Board meeting. He will succeed Superintendent Emeritus Mary Merrill, who has served as interim superintendent and has been leading the organization since February. 

Alfred Bangoura“Mr. Bangoura stood out from a national pool of candidates as having the unique skills needed for our Superintendent. Al believes our parks are for everyone and he’s ready to advance this Board's mandate of increasing our investment in youth and building an even better park system for our guests and everyone who calls Minneapolis their home,” said Brad Bourn, President of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. “His knowledge of Minneapolis and our parks coupled with his unique professional skills will provide cohesiveness and inspire collaboration.”

“I am honored to lead Minneapolis Park and Recreation, the premier park system in the country,” said Al Bangoura. “For 19 years, I had the privilege of serving Minneapolis residents and working with passionate communities. I am excited to reconnect with internal staff and the community. I intend to be the voice on how we build communities, deliver meaningful services and meet the diverse needs of Minneapolis residents. Thank you and I look forward to coming back home!”

Next month it is anticipated Commissioners will vote on a separate resolution related to leasing Bangoura a portion of the Theodore Wirth Home and Administration Building, located in Lyndale Farmstead Park. The lease will be based on fair market rental value and will take into consideration ongoing scheduled public access to portions of the home.

Bangoura is currently the Recreation Superintendent of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, which includes Charlotte, NC and serves more than 1.1 million people. Bangoura currently oversees community and recreation services for the county’s 17 recreation facilities and three senior and active adult facilities. He is a Certified Park and Recreational Professional (CPRP) and prior to joining Mecklenburg County, Bangoura served as the Director of Recreation Centers and Programs for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. From 2001 – 2015, Bangoura held a variety of progressive recreation leadership positions with the MPRB.

The MPRB Superintendent provides day-to-day leadership for the 6,811 acre nationally recognized park system. The Superintendent manages an annual operating and capital budget of almost $125 million and oversees the work of approximately 570 full-time and 1,170 temporary Minneapolis Parks employees who deliver programs, services and facilities that are responsive to the diverse needs of City residents and all segments of the community.

Former MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller resigned from the Park Board in February 2018 to take a position leading a public-private parks conservancy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Superintendent Emeritus Mary Merrill was unanimously selected by the Board to fulfill Miller’s contract and to assist in the search process for the next superintendent.


Metro Transit Holiday Service Schedule

Holiday service will be in effect on December 25 & January 1, 2019. 

Metro Transit buses and METRO Blue and Green lines will follow Holiday schedules on Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25, and on New Year’s Day, Tuesday, January 1. The METRO Red Line will follow weekend/Holiday schedules those days. There is no Northstar service on either day. Metro Transit Service Centers, Customer Relations and Lost & Found will be closed both days. The Transit Information Center is closed December 25, but will be open from 8am to 5pm on January 1.

. . . . . . .

Reduced service on Monday, December 24

. . . . . . .

Due to decreased demand on Christmas Eve, Metro Transit and regional transit providers will reduce service on Monday, December 24. Weekend fares will be charged (except where noted). Northstar will follow a reduced schedule on December 24 and charge standard weekday pricing.

The Transit Information Center will be open 6:30am to 9pm on December 24. The Minneapolis Service Center will be open 7:30-10:30am (the St. Paul Service Center will be closed). Customer Relations and Lost & Found will be open 7:30am to noon.

Routes will follow SATURDAY schedules unless noted here. Some routes will follow Saturday schedules with additional trips. If your route does not have a schedule for Saturday service and is not listed here, it will not operate on December 24.

See the full schedule for Monday, December 24.

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