Kim Eslinger

David Tinjum

Susan Schaefer

Julie Craven

Joan Bennett

Claudia Kittock
Columnist / Non-Profits 

Doug Verdier

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Minneapolis Riverfront News

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


MacPhail Spotlight Series Presents: From the Balkans to the Holy Land - April 8

Via a March 6 e-newsletter from MacPhail Center for Music:


MacPhail Spotlight Series Presents: From the Balkans to the Holy Land - April 8

Using the passion and power of Eastern European and Jewish Folk music combined with the stunning theatrical dance ensemble that provides audiences “the opportunity to experience unexpected possibilities through [their] gentle, beautiful, rare, wild” work, MacPhail Center for Music will transport you from the Balkans to the Holy Land and back!

MacPhail Spotlight Series: From the Balkans to the Holy Land is an eclectic show that showcases the virtuosity of Paul Schoenfeld’s Klezmer-inspired trio, the transcendent Fantasy on a Yiddish Song by David Evan Thomas, old Ukrainian folk tunes passed on through generations and the beloved Hungarian Dances by Brahms. The show will feature the imaginative and kinetic theatre group Impossible Salt, who specialize in folk stories and mythology, and will perform the Hungarian Dances with their exotic gypsy flair.

Spotlight Series: From the Balkans to the Holy Land features pieces inspired by folk music from Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The program beautifully reflects the vivacious, poetic, and emotional streaks in each culture,” said Mischa Santora, artist director, MacPhail Spotlight Series. “It's also an impressive reminder that music is truly the universal language, transcending borders and languages, without losing any of its impact.”

Spotlight Series: From the Balkans to the Holy Land will take place on Saturday, April 8 at 8 p.m. in MacPhail Center for Music’s Antonello Hall, 501 South 2nd Street in Minneapolis. A pre-concert conversation discussing the musical direction of the concert will occur at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available for $25 for adults, $15 for seniors (ages 55 and older) as well as youth (ages 6 through 18), and can be purchased by phone at 612-767-5250 or by stopping by Student Services at MacPhail locations in Minneapolis, Chanhassen, Apple Valley or White Bear Lake.

The MacPhail Spotlight Series is MacPhail Center for Music’s premier performance event. This four-part concert series explores diverse musical themes performed by MacPhail Center for Music faculty and special guests – showcasing some of the finest musicians in the Twin Cities.

MacPhail Center for Music is a non-profit organization committed to transforming lives and enriching the community through exceptional music learning experiences. Each year, MacPhail opens its doors to more than 13,000 students offering programming for all ages, backgrounds and abilities, at locations in Minneapolis, White Bear Lake, Chanhassen, Golden Valley and Apple Valley, as well as 100 community partnerships across the Twin Cities and online at MacPhail Online. MacPhail has a 108-year history of excellence, promoting life-long learning and building long-term relationships between students and teachers. For more information, visit


Ironclad Hotel/Apartment Project Gains Approval from Planning Commission

The Ironclad project slated for the corner of Washington & Chicago was approved last week by the City Planning Commission.

Download the staff report (40MB)...


SITE DESCRIPTION AND PRESENT USE. The subject property is currently a surface parking lot located at Chicago Avenue and Washington Avenue South. The property was historically used by the Chicago, Milwaukee, and Saint Paul Railway as a connection into the rail facilities in the Mill District and was the site of a grain elevator. In 1884, the company built a viaduct to carry depot-bound trains over Washington Avenue near 8th Avenue South. The viaduct was demolished in 1984, but remnants of the stone wall that supported the viaduct remain along Washington and Chicago Avenues. The site is irregularly shaped due to the former location of the railroad.

SURROUNDING PROPERTIES AND NEIGHBORHOOD. The property is surrounded by a mix of uses, including residential units, restaurants, hotels, and offices. Surrounding zoning is mostly B4N Downtown Neighborhood District and C3A Community Activity Center District. There are several surface parking lots in the surrounding area, though some are currently being redeveloped. The site is about one block from the Downtown East light rail station and several bus routes serve the immediate area.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION. The applicant is proposing to construct a mixed use building including 171 dwelling units, a hotel with 148 rooms, approximately 8,000 square feet of retail space, and 388 parking spaces. Additionally, the applicant is proposing a second phase of residential development including approximately 38,000 square feet of additional space and 20 more dwelling units along 9th Avenue South. The initial residential portion would be 14 stories or 148 feet in height. The hotel would be 8 stories or 90 feet tall. The parking spaces would be incorporated in two levels of underground parking and two levels of above grade parking at the rear of the property. This area would be accessed by a curb cut on Chicago Avenue and another curb cut on 9th Avenue South. A valet drop-off would be incorporated at the ground level in the parking structure. Amenities for the hotel and residential uses are proposed above the parking structure at the third floor. The residential portion of the building would be located on the northeast portion of the site along Washington Avenue South and the hotel would be on the northwest side along Chicago Avenue.

The applicant is retaining a significant portion of the existing limestone retaining wall from the historic viaduct, though some deconstruction and reconstruction will be required to allow for construction activities for the building. About 300 linear feet of the wall currently wraps the perimeter of the site along the property lines at Chicago and Washington. Approximately 200 linear feet of the wall would be kept along Chicago and Washington with the proposed new construction. Additional limestone blocks will be utilized as decorative landscape pieces on the site and in the adjacent public right-of-way.

Removal of a portion of the wall allows for direct access from the public sidewalk to the retail spaces on Washington Avenue. The proposal also includes an 18 foot wide walkway along the northeast portion of the property that accesses an additional retail space and provides a pedestrian connection from 9th Avenue South to Washington Avenue. Additionally, the applicant is proposing significant improvements to the public realm along 9th Avenue South.


Northern Spark 2017 Will be Along the Green Line

Via a March e-newsletter from Northern

From sunset on June 10 to sunrise on June 11Northern Spark 2017 is a free all-night art festival exploring the effects of climate change through participatory projects happening in neighborhoods along Metro Transit’s Green Line.           

Northern Spark 2017 will illuminate and draw audiences to neighborhoods and public spaces all along the METRO Green Line, connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul. Experience the largest Northern Spark yet, with nearly 70 art projects organized around neighborhood nodes: Cedar Riverside/West Bank, Weisman Art Museum/East Bank, Little Africa/Snelling, Rondo/Lexington, and Little Mekong/Western. In downtown Minneapolis the festival moves from its usual river location to The Commons, the new green space at Portland and 5th, and culminates in Saint Paul at Union Depot, the Green Line terminus in Lowertown.

Northern Spark Launches Andrea Carlson’s Train Wrap In Partnership with Metro Transit

To kick off Northern Spark 2017, Northern and Metro Transit have partnered to commission a spectacular full-color train wrap created by artist Andrea Carlson, which will run through June 10. Carlson has taken as her theme a water panther on one side with the Dakota words Mni Wiconi (water is life). On the other side of the train is a thunderbird with the words Nibi gaa-bimaaji'iwemagak (water gives life) in Ojibwe.      

In an urban context, paved streets are like tributaries feeding rain and runoff into nearby rivers of the watershed. According to Northern Spark Co-Director Steve Dietz, “Carlson’s design is both a memorial to the power of water and a plea to honor it in all our uses, especially as human activities lead to increased risk of droughts, severe weather events, melting ice caps, sea level rise, and ocean acidification as just some of the water-related effects of climate change.” 

Carlson says of her design,"we have the tools to make sure that Dakota and Ojibwe don’t disappear... because that tool is our minds. Anyone can learn it, so we can save these languages. And I feel like the planet is in the same situation. We have the tools to make sure this doesn’t happen."              

Carlson is an internationally recognized painter and media artist who lives and works in Chicago, IL and Saint Paul, MN. Her Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), French and Scandinavian heritage provides a rich foundation for her investigations of cultural consumption, history and identity, and the intrinsic power of storytelling. Her work is in prominent collections including those of the Weisman Art Museum, the British Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada.                   

The train is a reflection not only of Northern Spark’s connection to the transitway but of Metro Transit’s commitment to sustainability.                

The Green Line construction project included several stormwater management features that help prevent runoff from entering the nearby Mississippi River, including tree trenches and rain gardens. The Green Line’s Operations and Maintenance Facility in Lowertown also has a stormwater capture system that helps provide water for irrigation and restrooms at CHS Field.                

“This partnership is a great opportunity to not only bring our community together but also to highlight our organization’s strong commitment to sustainability in all its forms,” General Manager Brian Lamb said.

Metro Transit is among just a few transit agencies to earn Gold Level certification through the American Public Transit Association’s Sustainability Program.

You can read more about Andrea Carlson’s train wrap design in her interview with NL’s Assistant Curator, Elle Thoni.

Free passes will be available to download for travel on Metro Transit the night of Northern Spark.


Join the First Covenant Church running group and be part of the 2017 Team World Vision team in the Oct 1 TC Marathon

Looking for a running group? First Covenant Church, 810 S 7th Street, invites you to join a group that will be running every Saturday morning. All runners are welcome, no matter the ability or pace. 

Some of the runners from First Covenant Church will also be running with the 2017 Team World Vision team in the October 1 Twin Cities Marathon. The planning team for the 2017 Team World Vision team for First Covenant Church meets every Monday evening, 7:00p - 8:00p at Common Roots Cafe, 2558 Lyndale Avenue S.  Anyone who is interested can attend.  This is a time for conversation, brainstorming and planning, for getting "organized", as well as getting acquainted with your fellow runners.

The official "launch" for First Covenant's Team - to encourage people to consider being part of the team - will be Sunday, March 26, at First Covenant.

Find additional information here: and

World Vision is the largest non-government provider of clean water in the world, and its mission is to create better lives for children in need.


Friends of the Mill District Singers Update

Article by Claudia Kittock, Photos by Rick Kittock
The Friends of the Mill District Singers are back! We had our first rehearsal of this session on Saturday, March 4th. 50 people were in attendance and the singing was enthusiastic and joyful.
If you have never heard of this group, we are neighbors representing every ethnicity, every socioeconomic group, every age, both males and females. We gather together to build community, to build relationships, and to foster understanding through the music we sing. We sing songs of hope and equality. Everyone is included.
There is no fee associated with our group, and no impediment. If you want to be part of our group and show up, you are welcomed and are included. We are directed by JD Steele, and accompanied by Fred Steele. Please join us on Saturdays, from 2:00p-3:30p on the 8th floor of the GuthrieIf you have any questions, please contact Claudia Kittock at

Nonprofit Spotlight: Joseph Desenclos, Livability Team Supervisor, Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID)

Article by Claudia Kittock

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

Joseph has become a cherished friend and my source for ALL things nonprofit.  I wouldn't be doing any of the work I do without him.

Joseph Desenclos

1) Tell us who you are and how you got to this position? 

I am the Livability Team Supervisor for the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID). I currently manage a staff off four Community Livability Engagement Workers. 

I advanced to the Livability Team Supervisor position as a result of my work with business stakeholders, community members and individuals experiencing homelessness when I was the Street Outreach Team Program Manager at St. Stephen’s Human Services. Additionally, I co-chair the Ending Street Homelessness Committee as part of the Minneapolis Downtown 2025 Plan.

2) What do you do in your current position?

In my current position I navigate three specific areas as it relates to the broad term of livability. On a daily basis, I collaborate with stakeholders, social service partners, law enforcement, and community residents on issues relating to public safety, environmental concerns, and human service resources.

Furthermore, I actively participate in the Minneapolis Public Health Advisory Committee, Minneapolis Police/Hennepin County Mental Health Roundtable, Minneapolis Downtown 100 Chronic Offenders Program, neighborhood safety meetings, and co-chair the Ending Street Homelessness Committee as part of the Minneapolis Downtown 2025 Plan. My involvement in these meetings greatly assists in building a robust network of public and private partners so that the MDID Livability Team can continue to be an instrumental partner in fostering a safe and hospitable city for everyone who works, lives or visits downtown Minneapolis.

"What has been most compelling
about my work is in the recognition
of the immeasurable level of compassion
that is thriving, sometimes quietly,
within our city on any given day
despite our unique differences."

3) What are you doing in your work that is working?

Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District has recently implemented the ISS/24-7 communication tool that has significantly impacted the communication between all of the homeless street outreach teams, MDID Fusion Center, and our MDID Livability Team. The introduction of this tool has assisted in streamlining service delivery to downtown stakeholders and community members by identifying the appropriate interventions for specific livability issues in real time.

Additionally, in my role I have the opportunity to reach out to the business stakeholders, community residents, and individuals experiencing homelessness in downtown Minneapolis. What has been most compelling about my work is in the recognition of the immeasurable level of compassion that is thriving, sometimes quietly, within our city on any given day despite our unique differences.

For example, over the summer there was a man who was experiencing homelessness and cycling in and out of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) on a weekly basis due to complex behavioral health issues. I was able to work closely with the HCMC’s Coordinated Care Clinic to identify what was needed to expedite services for positive change. The turning point came when we were able to elevate and include the concerned voices of several business stakeholders, other individuals experiencing homelessness, community residents, law enforcement, and MDID Ambassadors, human service providers who were requesting an immediate medical intervention that would honor and uphold this man’s human dignity.

Experiences like this truly offer us an opportunity to witness and embrace the soul of our city. We had an eclectic group of concerned citizens, who generally would not mix on a daily basis, all speaking with one empathetic voice to wrap the appropriate services around this man so that he may have one more chance at self-sufficiency and improved health.

4) What do you want the politicians of our city/county/state/country to know about the work you do? How can they help?

I would like our politicians, regardless of their level of governance, to know that their work greatly impacts the work that our team and I do on a daily basis in our city. In July of 2016, we conducted a livability survey and the findings reflected that, for the most part, despite our racial and economic differences, we agreed that public safety was our number one concern, followed by walkability, cleanliness, and access to services. These citizen-inspired concerns should be the pillars of our collective work in Minneapolis in 2017.

Individuals in public governance can help by doing the following:

· Work towards equality as it relates to building truly affordable new housing options in Minneapolis to prevent and end homelessness.
· Actively address the communities concerns for public safety in the spirit of equity where if an individual is committing a crime they are held accountable in a manner that is fair and just in adherence to our laws and constitution.
· Continue to highlight our city’s ability to build strong and diverse public/private partnerships to implement change.
· Move from focusing on systematic change to citizen-centered change in public service delivery to allow for governmental services to be delivered in a manner that is both efficient and consumer-based.

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

Questions or feedback for Joseph? You can reach him at the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, 917 5th Avenue S, or 612-418-1247.

Claudia can be reached at


2017 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) Early Titles Released


The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul released an early glimpse at the bold, exciting and moving works from emerging and veteran filmmakers from around the world to be included in the 2017 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF). The Festival returns April 13-29, bringing 250 new films representing 70+ countries to audiences throughout the region.

This year, MSPIFF—the largest international film event in the Midwest—expands to include select screenings at the Capri Theater in Minneapolis, in addition to screenings at its hub at the St. Anthony Main Theatre, the Uptown Theatre, Metropolitan State University's Film Space in St. Paul and the Marcus Wehrenberg 14 Theater in Rochester.

More Info


PRIME Productions debuts at Mixed Blood Theatre with Little Wars

PRIME Productions, a new professional theater company in the Twin Cities, recently announced their debut with the regional premiere of Little Wars by Steven Carl McCasland at Mixed Blood Theatre, May 5 – 21, 2017.  Reservations

It’s France, 1940. Tensions are high. The booze is flowing. War is coming. Little Wars features Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, Agatha Christie, Alice B. Toklas and Muriel Gardiner having the best what-if dinner party you can imagine. Together they’ll drink, scoff and face their demons. Everyone has a confession. Someone has a secret.

Directed by Shelli Place, the cast features Candace Barrett-Birk* (Guthrie, Old Log), Sue Scott* (Prairie Home Companion, Mixed Blood), Elizabeth Desotelle* (Chanhassen, Old Log), Laura Adams (Park Square, Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company), Vanessa Gamble (History Theater, Illusion), Alison Edwards* (Roundabout-NY, Alabama Shakespeare), and Miriam Schwartz (Guthrie, Workhouse Collective).                 * Member, Actors’ Equity Association

PRIME Productions, founded in 2016, is the newest professional theater to launch in the Minneapolis/St Paul region, focused on “Celebrating women in their second act.”  The mission is to highlight and give voice to underrepresented women of a certain age that society too often marginalizes or altogether eliminates from the collective narrative. The co-founders are Alison Edwards, Elena Giannetti and Shelli Place.

Alison Edwards, although new to the Twin Cities, has spent the last 40 years in New York acting in theatre, film, TV and, more recently, audio books. In New York City she performed at the Roundabout Theatre, the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Riverside Shakespeare Festival. She spent four years at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and understudied Judith Light on the national tour of WIT.  She holds a BFA from Boston University and attend the American Conservatory Theatre Training Program. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA. 

Elena Giannetti has been a part of the Twin Cities acting community for over 30 years, performing in front of the camera and on many local stages.  Her stage credits include work at the Guthrie Theater, Park Square Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, Mixed Blood and more. Elena is also a director and producer, most recently directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Park Square Theatre. She is a graduate of Macalester College with a BA in Dramatic Arts and is a member of SAG-AFTRA.

Shelli Place is a director of plays, musical revues & fashion shows and a producer of presentations, product launches & awards ceremonies for Fortune 500 companies.  She created a variety of shows for The Walt Disney Company and is an Executive Speech Coach. Minnesota credits include: direction/choreography for Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, Old Log Theater, Theater NOW, Theatre Unbound and Hennepin Theatre Trust. An experienced actress, she is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA & ATAS. Shelli has a BFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University.


“Real People, Real Conversations, Real Solutions” exhibit on display in Hennepin Gallery thru March 30

Community Mediation & Restorative Services, Inc. (CMRS) presents “Real People, Real Conversations, Real Solutions,” an exhibit highlighting the different service areas handled through mediation or restorative services. This exhibit will be on display in the Hennepin County Government Center, Hennepin Gallery, from March 2 through May 30, 2017.

Since 1983, CMRS has helped Hennepin County residents move from conflict to resolution and from harm to healing through mediation and restorative services. CMRS works to address a broad range of disputes including school, juvenile crime, housing, harassment, consumer, family, neighborhood, elder, and workplace conflicts.

CMRS continues to expand services for youth and schools and services that help individuals avoid the collateral consequences of court and police interactions. Additionally, through outreach and training, CMRS is spreading messages of hope and civility throughout our communities. This exhibit provides information about how to get involved through training and volunteering.

The public is invited to a reception on Thursday, March 23, 2017, 4:30-7:30 p.m., at the Hennepin Gallery to celebrate CMRS volunteers and the important work they do in our communities.

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 Street. The exhibit is sponsored by Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department.

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 South 6th Street, Minneapolis. The exhibit is a project of Hennepin County Communications.



New Truckstop Gallery on Nicollet Island to hold Opening Reception for Situation Normal on March 4

Truckstop Gallery is located at 20 Grove St #72 on Nicollet Island.  It is an art gallery created by artists, for artists, with the intention to showcase the highest caliber of work in an environment free of pretense.

Join them Saturday, March 4, 6 – 10 pm, for the opening reception of Situation Normal, a solo show by Minneapolis artist Russ White. Situation Normal is an exhibition of powerful, poignant, and political new drawings and sculptures.

This new body of work uses orange and white traffic barricades as a kind of mixed metaphor for our current national mood. In day-to-day life, these traffic cones and “Road Closed” signs stand in our way; they slow us down, they reroute our commute, they inconvenience us. But from another perspective, they are beneficial. They are signs of roads being fixed, of bridges being built, of infrastructure being strengthened. Of progress.

And now, as millions of people across the country have begun banding together to protest the initiatives of this new administration, the barricades in White’s work serve as a symbol for their resistance. Staunch and impassive, emblazoned with an American flag reworked in dirty white and safety orange, these barricades are a call to arms to resist the un-American initiatives of this administration and this Congress.

Featured in the exhibition will be large scale colored pencil drawings, sculptures, homemade flags, and a series of brightly colored portraits inspired by coins. Where the barricades are passive and impersonal reminders of the turmoil in our country, the faces of White’s subjects are striking reminders of our shared humanity. Playing off the idea of loose change, this series of colored pencil busts questions our traditional notions of worth and value, emphasizing the beauty in us all. These are not just pretty portraits; they reframe empathy against the backdrop of capital, asking the viewer to consider what truly makes us rich.

The show takes its name from the military acronym SNAFU, meaning “Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.” The work in this exhibition strives to remind viewers that this new political reality is, in fact, not normal at all.

A percentage of all sales will be donated to Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The gallery will be collecting donations for these organizations at the opening reception as well.

Situation Normal will be on exhibit March 4 – 19 (open during events and by appointment). There will be an Artist talk on Saturday, March 11 at 4 pm. The closing reception will be Sunday, March 19, 12 noon – 5 pm.

For an appointment or questions, please email


Voting now open for 2nd Annual FINNEGANS Chef Food Fight to Benefit Minnesota FoodShare


Breakfast, lunch, dinner- three words that typically bring people together. FINNEGANS Brew Co. and Minnesota FoodShare are uniting Twin Cities restaurants for a friendly cooking competition to raise funds and increase awareness about hunger in Minnesota. During the Minnesota FoodShare March Hunger Awareness Campaign, chefs are challenged with developing a menu item using FINNEGANS beer (Irish Amber, Dead Irish Poet Stout, or the Hoppy Shepherd) and selling it on their menus for the month of March. Each establishment will have a portion of the sales donated to MN FoodShare’s March campaign and customers will be asked to vote via social media for their favorite dish.

This year’s participants include:
Chef Sarah Master of Red Stag Supperclub
Chef Vincent Francoual of Cooper Pub
Chef Jose Sanchez of Morrissey’s Irish Pub
Chef Chris Oxley of McKinney Roe
Chef Bobby Juhnke of The Nook
Chef John Lambe of The Draft Horse
Chef Jeremy Lafond of Mission American Kitchen & Bar
Chef Chris Nelson of Crave

The top five chefs with the most votes toward the end of the month-long contest will be invited to showcase their dish at the first, Chef Food Fight Live at The Food Building benefiting the FINNEGANS Community Fund! The evening will gather 100+ local foodies and barstool philanthropists to name the 2017 Chef Food Fight Champion! Included in this ticketed event will be demos from the top 5 chefs, libations from 2Gingers and FINNEGANS as well as nosh from The Food Building’s partners, Red Table Meats, Baker’s Field Flour and The Draft Horse.

Online voting is open to the public from now until March 30.

Tickets for Chef Food Fight Live are available at

Founded in 2000 in Minneapolis, FINNEGANS is a self-sustaining and inspirational social business. Through the sale of its Irish Amber Ale, Hoppy Shepherd IPA, Dead Irish Poet Extra Stout and now the new Freckled Rooster Bière Blanc ale, FINNEGANS has created an innovative business model that allows the company to create community wealth. How? One hundred percent of the profits are donated to the FINNEGANS Community Fund (501c3) to support hunger alleviation programs in every market where FINNEGANS is sold. FINNEGANS has scaled its giving program to MN, WI, ND, SD and IA. Now, is there a better reason to raise a pint of FINNEGANS? For the latest information, find FINNEGANS on Twitter and Facebook or visit

The FOOD BUILDING is home to Red Table Meat Co. and Baker's Field Flour & Bread.  We value not only the foods themselves, but the methods and intention ushered in by each maker.  Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. The work we do challenges and is informed by current standards; and we seek what is possible, from the farmer to the maker to the eater. Each of our foods stands out in flavor as well as in sourcing. From production to distribution, we are building unparalleled levels of transparency in all steps of the process.  Collectively, we are building a better food present, and future.


Boom Island-Nicollet Island Bridge Repairs Update

Boom Island-Nicollet Island BridgeOriginally built as a railroad bridge in 1890, the Boom Island-Nicollet Island Bridge was acquired by the MPRB in the 1970s and installed in its current location in the early 1980s.

Project is being revised to reflect Heritage Preservation Commission findings

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is revising the Boom Island-Nicollet Island Bridge Repairs project after the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) denied an MPRB application for a certificate of appropriateness to allow rehabilitation and alterations to the bridge.

The original MPRB plan called for the removal of deteriorated steel stringers and timber ties rarely viewed by the general bridge user to save on capital and ongoing maintenance expenditures. The HPC found that the removal of the stringers and ties would significantly degrade the bridge’s historic integrity and denied the application.

The MPRB is in the process of revising the project scope to meet the HPC’s findings as well as the available project budget. At this point there is no timeline for construction.

In late 2013, the bridge was closed to emergency and maintenance vehicles after an inspection discovered significant deterioration. Emergency repairs were completed in July 2015 to replace the bearings on the north abutment and modify the ends of the stringers. The bridge was then reopened to emergency and maintenance vehicle traffic.


The Friends of the Mill District Singers Are Back!

Downtown Community Choir

We are Back!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Exploring the Upper River: Stormwater Park

Article by Kathleen Boe, Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership

Exploring the Upper River

A look at hidden gems along the Minneapolis Riverfront

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nonprofit Spotlight: ‘Big John’ and the Salvation Army

Article by Claudia Kittock, photos by Rick Kittock

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

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

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

Big John 

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can you help?

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

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

Claudia can be reached at


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

The Minneapolis Badass Dash tickets are available thru or


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

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

The Truth Bar:  Truth or BS Podcast

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

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

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

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

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