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First & First purchases, is ready to reactivate, historic Franklin Theater

First & First, the creative developer of such hotspots as Icehouse, Aria, and 612 Broadway, has purchased the former Franklin Theater in Minneapolis. The historic 10,000-square-foot building, most recently owned by Franklin Art Works as a contemporary-art exhibition space, still has its original plaster movie screen and proscenia. The building also has a brick façade with a 29-foot-long stained-glass window, 35-foot-long arched entry, and second-level open-air balcony facing Franklin Avenue.

“The Franklin is a significant theater in Minneapolis history,” says Peter Remes, founder of First & First. “I’ve always loved this fascinating building, especially what’s behind the exhibition space, which people haven’t seen for decades: the spectacular old theater.” The building also has a storied history.

Originally known as the New Franklin Theater, the building was designed by Lindstrom and Almars and constructed in 1916. After serving as a neighborhood silent-movie house for 60 years, the building was gutted in 1977 and turned— under the ignominious ownership of Ferris Alexander—into a three-screen adult movie theater. After the City of Minneapolis seized the building in 1990, the Franklin was a bike shop and site for under-the-radar performances.

Franklin Art Works purchased the building in 1999. With help from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, Franklin Art Works transformed the building into a contemporary art center. “They took a horrible mess and turned it into a well-respected art gallery that held numerous groundbreaking exhibitions by emerging artists,” Remes says.

First & First’s purchase signifies the company is moving into a new part of town and new type of building. “It is new for us,” Remes says. “We’re stretching our boundaries from where we typically focus or concentrate.”

“But the neighborhood, which is so culturally diverse, and the building, which on its own is gorgeous, are equally interesting,” he continues. “We just found the Franklin—a one-of-a-kind building waiting to be reactivated in an interesting way—to be a dynamic, unique project we’re intrigued by.”

Possible new uses for the building include an exhibition space with microbrewery, or “expanding the Aria concept here for smaller groups,” Remes says. “Because of the way the building sets up, it offers a lot of creative possibilities, which we also found compelling.”

In the next 60 days, activity will begin taking place in and around the building. “We would like to launch with unique and compelling programming that brings people from the community, and from outside of the neighborhood, into the building. We’re discussing internally how to find a balance of uses that creates that perfect harmony.”

Source: Peter Remes, First & First
Writer: Camille LeFevre

Five Watt Coffee will fill a void at 38th and Nicollet

A new coffee shop called Five Watt Coffee is in the works for 38th and Nicollet in Minneapolis. Five Watt aims to open within the next month, according to Lee Carter, who co-owns the place with Caleb Garn. The coffee shop’s name references an old record label called Five Watt Studios that Garn previously owned.

While scoping out possible locations, the pair looked all over the metro area before settling on the 1,100-square-foot space in the Kingfield neighborhood, Carter says. In terms of parking, visibility, accessibility, and construction costs, “It was the best spot by far,” he says. The space also has a full-sized basement that’s in good condition.

Initially, they’d overlooked this area of town due to nearby road construction. From what Carter can tell, some businesses didn’t outlast the road construction. “I’m just excited to re-use the corner and give the neighborhood something new,” he says. 
 
Plus, the neighborhood lacks a coffee shop. “We’re meeting the needs of the area and helping the intersection get back on its feet,” he says. “We’re really excited to have something in a familiar neighborhood for us.”   

Right now, the pair is wrapping up the build-out. Through the process, they’ve brought out some of the 1909 building’s original features, such as hardwood floors, an exposed brick wall, and a tin ceiling. “When we came in, there was drywall everywhere and a dropped ceiling,” he says. 

A garage door and new windows will help update the space, as well. Although they’re going for a modern aesthetic, “We don’t want to do something that’s sterile,” he says, but rather create a warm and inviting ambiance.  


Source: Lee Carter, co-owner, Five Watt Coffee
Writer: Anna Pratt 



Victoria Theater to become a cultural center, once again

Several years ago, Saint Paul’s historic Victoria Theater was nearly demolished. Now, after sitting vacant for 14 years, the place is getting a new lease on life. The Twin Cities Community Land Bank is closing on the purchase of the theater, according to Tyler Olson, the project coordinator. Olson is working with the volunteer-driven Victoria Theater Arts Initiative (VTAI), which will take over the building’s ownership in the future. 

Basically, the land bank is “holding” the property for the group. “The fear was that we would do the work upfront and the owner [of the theater] would get an offer that couldn’t be refused” from someone else, Olson says. 

A kickoff event, which includes building tours, begins at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, January 16.

VTAI, which began meeting a year ago, is comprised of representatives from various local organizations including the Frogtown Neighborhood Association, the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, Historic Saint Paul, Dangerous Productions, and the New Victoria Theater Project. “We started saying, ‘Let’s make something happen here. It feels like now is the time, especially with the light rail coming,’” he says.   

That kind of grassroots effort is typical in Frogtown, where a "trend of organic growth" has taken hold, he says, citing the development of the nearby Frogtown Farms. 

Together, the consortium “intends to revitalize the building, transforming it into a community-owned and -managed center for arts engagement, education and performance,” a prepared statement reads. Irrigate, Springboard for the Arts, and the City of Saint Paul helped to make the project happen.   

What are the next steps? As it is, the building is a shell that needs to be renovated. “We really need to figure out all of the things that need to happen to make it workable and usable,” he says. The group is also “getting out into the community,” to find out what people are interested in seeing happen at the theater, he says. “People are excited about its potential.”
 
The theater will be “a huge boon to the community, a landmark destination,” he says. “The hope is that people will come to see something here they wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else in the Twin Cities."  


Source: Tyler Olsen, project coordinator, Victoria Theater Arts Initiative 
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Peavey Plaza: A big win for preservationists

Last year, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM), together with The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), went to court to save Peavey Plaza, a historic landmark in downtown Minneapolis.

The City of Minneapolis had decided to scrap the aging plaza and build anew on the site. After suing the City to keep the place intact, PAM and TCLF came to a settlement agreement this past summer. The agreement stipulates that the plaza will be rehabbed. Recently, the National Trust for Historic Preservation called the Peavey outcome preservation's biggest win in 2013. 

Erin Hanafin Berg, a field representative for PAM, says she’s encouraged by the shout-out. “The fight to preserve Peavey put an enormous strain on our resources, so it is nice to be acknowledged for our efforts,” she says. 
  
The 1975-built modernist plaza was designed by M. Paul Friedberg + Partners. During the court proceedings, the preservation groups lined up historic designation for the plaza. “Often referred to by Friedberg as a 'park plaza,' this two-acre space is also described by him as 'a mixture of the American green space and the European hard space,'” the TCLF’s website reads.  

What’s next for the plaza? The alliance is working with partners, including TCLF, Preserve Minneapolis, Docomomo US MN, and the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, “to develop a strategy to lead a preservation solution,” Berg says. 

If the plaza is going to be successfully rehabilitated, she says, “Those of us who are interested in its preservation will have to marshal our resources and present both design and funding solutions."

The plaza needs a committed programming entity along with infrastructure and accessibility improvements, Berg says. “We’re inspired by the recent revitalization of Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square.”

Peavey is significant architecturally and historically. “We also think it is a really wonderful and unique public space that can and should be revived,” she says. “We like to think of it as everybody’s sunken living room — a place where a variety of year-round activities can take place for individuals, small groups, and crowds of people.”  

 
Source: Erin Hanafin Berg, field representative, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota 
Writer: Anna Pratt 







Sociable Cider Werks joins craft beer scene

For the owners of Sociable Cider Werks, a cider house and brewery in Northeast Minneapolis, it made sense to establish the business in an area characterized by a robust beer scene. Jim Watkins, who co-owns the cidery with Wade Thompson, also happens to live nearby.       

Sociable Cider Werks provides new inroads into the craft-beer movement by producing hard cider. “We can participate in the movement but do our own thing at the same time,” Watkins says. Sociable’s ciders, he adds, are for “people who have a palate for craft beer."   

Unlike the typical macro-cider house that produces sweet, middle-of-the-road-tasting ciders, Sociable is going for a bitter flavor, and mixes hops and grains into its concoctions. “We think ciders are supposed to be dry. They’re supposed to be bitter and torched. It’s a good representation of the apple,” Watkins says. 

The co-owners leased the cider house’s vintage industrial building just over a year ago.The place was a fixer-upper that gave the impression of a “junky warehouse” at the time. To make way for Sociable, the space was completely gutted and redone. Now, the cider house “has a cool aesthetic, with a lot of exposed brick and wood,” Watkins says.  

The 6,000-square-foot space is long and narrow, while the interior is open, giving visitors a feel for the whole operation, he says.  Already, the renovation has had a positive impact on the block. “I’ve heard from neighbors that they love having us here.”

Even though the taproom has only been open for a little over a month, the place already has regulars, which is a testament to the friendly beer community, hence the “Sociable” in Sociable Cider Werks, Watkins says. In “the craft beer scene in Minneapolis," he says, "everyone is willing to help each other.”
 
That generosity extends to the patronage, as many visitors go from one taproom to the next. “Northeast is a brewpub destination. It’s like Minnesota’s own little Fort Collins, Colorado," he says. "There’s a high percentage of breweries in a short distance and it’s walkable.”   


Source: Jim Watkins, Sociable Cider Werks
Writer: Anna Pratt 


A poetic showing of "arrivals and departures" at Saint Paul's Union Depot

Todd Boss is planning an ambitious public art installation at the historic Saint Paul Union Depot that explores themes of arrival and departure.

Boss, a local poet, public artist, and a co-founder of Motionpoems, intends to turn the landmark building into a 3D screen for various short films based on original poems. His project, titled, "Arrivals and Departures," will coincide with the Saint Paul Art Crawl in October 2014.     

Films will be projected onto the building’s façade every five minutes so the Depot appears to be moving along a rail line, he explains. "The idea is to inspire Minnesotans to think about the Depot and to attempt a poem about what it symbolizes,” he says. 

In the coming years, the recently renovated Depot will be a multimodal hub for various forms of transit. Boss's project celebrates the building's turnaround. “I want this to be a sort of reclamation of the space. I want it to be one way in which we give that space new meaning, and possess it again,” he says. 

The poetry that will inspire the films is emerging out of a statewide poetry contest for which The Loft Literary Center is a sponsor. The contest deadline is Jan. 15, the same day that the Kickstarter campaign ends. Boss is trying to raise $20,000 through Kickstarter. He hopes to remount the project annually over the next four years. He also wants to document the process through film.

Boss encourages contest entrants to think broadly about the theme, not literally. For him, the theme has to do with “second chances and opportunity and this melting pot nation that we have. All of the things that we associate with departure and arrival,” he says. 

Depending on how much funding the project secures, as many as 10 poems could move forward, he says. At that point, local filmmakers will be invited to interpret the poems in film. It’s all about “locally-sourced, community-making,” he says.

Boss credits his wife, Amy, for coming up with the original idea for the installation. One day last year, when they were working on a separate project, “She sat down at the kitchen table and said, ‘You know what would be cool?’ And she laid out a vision of a projected image of a landscape slowly going by, to make it look like the view out of a train car,” he says. “The poet part of my brain just recognized the poetic gesture of that.”  


Source: Todd Boss, Poetry in Motion 
Writer: Anna Pratt

Minnesota Honey Company opens in Fulton neighborhood

The Minnesota Honey Company, a store devoted to all things crafted from and with honey, opened in Minneapolis’s Fulton neighborhood this fall.  

Previously the 1,500-square-foot space at 49th and Xerxes housed a nail shop, according to Kelley Flanders, who co-owns the honey specialty place with his wife, Deborah. 

The store has an eye-catching center island that’s set up as a tasting bar. Customers can sample just about any honey product, with a few exceptions -- like soap, Flanders says. Luckily, the modern storefront, which is characterized by white walls and plenty of natural light, didn’t require too much build-out, he adds. 

The couple looked into various possible locations for the store. But Flanders says he's glad they landed in Fulton. Their business seems to complement other local shops, especially the nearby Vinaigrette. The area is “good for foot traffic. It’s a destination spot,” especially for foodies, he says. 

The Flanders' started out as beekeepers at Deborah’s parents’ honey farm. They’d also sold the farm’s products at the Minnesota State Fair. At the fair, customers are always asking about where to find honey products year-round, Flanders says. 

That’s what made him want to get into the retail business on a bigger scale. “We’re giving it a shot to see if we can make it work,” Flanders says. 

The Minnesota Honey Company offers honey, candles, soap, syrups, sauces, and more, for which honey is a key ingredient. “People forget how many things are made out of honey,” he says. 

For starters, honey is a natural sweetener that can be used as a sugar substitute. As such, it’s popular for cooking and brewing craft beers, he adds. 

The Minnesota Honey Company emphasizes local products. “We’ve been lucky,” Flanders says. “People seem to be liking what we’re doing.” 

“There’s been a huge resurgence with honey,” he adds, which is contributing to the store's popularity. People are rediscovering honey, in part, because of the “crisis of the bees dying off." Minnesota is also a national leader in honey production, Flanders says. 

Source: Kelley Flanders, co-owner, Minnesota Honey Company 
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Carter Averbeck transforms old into renewed at Omforme

Omforme, a Norwegian word meaning "to transform,” is the name of a new shop at 24th and Lyndale in Minneapolis. Omforme also describes the ways in which its owner, Carter Averbeck, who is part Norwegian, gives furniture and other home goods a new lease on life. 

The shop offers a mix of vintage and modern pieces that reflect every era, as well as original furnishings from local designers. Some pieces are restored to their former glory, while others get a modern update, Averbeck explains.   

The shop evolved out of Averbeck’s other business, Trompe Decorative Finishes, through which Averbeck creates murals and decorative finishes for commercial and residential spaces. Often, when clients stopped by the studio, Averbeck says, they would remark on the unique furniture in the space--often pieces that Averbeck had reconditioned.

Before opening Omforme, Averbeck experimented with several pop-up shops. Those were successful, so he was able to secure a permanent home for Omforme.  

From the beginning, Averbeck wanted to be near Uptown, an area that has an artistic, hip edge to it, he says. 

Lyndale seemed like an ideal location. “Lyndale is moving so fast into what Uptown used to be,” with many new retail shops, restaurants, and apartments, he says. “I got lucky. It was the right space at the right time.”  

Previously, the 1,100-square-foot space had been a Gothic-style hair salon. Although the place needed a lot of attention, “the building has great bones,” Averbeck says.

Averbeck took his design cues from the vintage building. Old World details blend with crisp modern shades of white and charcoal gray, while the colorful pieces for sale lend ambiance. “It’s like a high-class manner house,” in Europe, “a timeless space,” he says. “People say it’s like walking out of Minneapolis, into some place else.”  
 

Source: Carter Averbeck, owner, Omforme 
Writer: Anna Pratt 








Longfellow Offices fills a niche for wellness practitioners

Karen Linner, principal at Shenandoah Consulting, and Harvey McLain, of the Turtle Bread Company, teamed up to renovate Longfellow Offices at 36th and Lake in South Minneapolis. The new Longfellow Offices had its grand opening earlier this month. 

The vintage building previously housed an art gallery. The building's focus now is wellness, which Linner says is a “burgeoning market.” Longfellow Offices houses tenants that work in massage therapy, acupuncture, and Rolfing. A holistic diabetes group is also in the works.

Throughout the construction process, Linner and McLain sought to bring out the building’s best features.

“It’s a great building with great bones,” Linner says. 

The structure was gutted, then divided into 10 suites for practitioners. Tenants share a common hallway that’s equipped with a sink, plus a kitchenette and an accessible restroom.  

Linner and McLain added windows to allow for plenty of natural light, and they installed dimmable light fixtures, “which are convenient for practitioners,” she says.

They also paid attention to design details that preserve the building’s character. For example, hand-painted ceilings resemble old-fashioned pressed tin. Hardwood floors, high ceilings, subway tile, and wood trim add to the effect.  

Soundproofing in each suite was a priority. In wellness offices, Linner says, the “biggest complaints are about sound transmission. You don’t want to hear someone’s emotional release coming through the walls.”

Linner's  pleased with the way Longfellow Offices turned out. “People walk in and say, ‘This is such a nice building,' or 'It feels so calm in here,’” she says. 

On a broader level, “I hope we’ve created a community in the building,” she says, adding that the like-minded tenants “are part of a renaissance on East Lake Street.” 

Source: Karen Linner, principal, Shenandoah Consulting 
Writer: Anna Pratt 








Pharmacie celebrates grand opening on Lyndale

Pharmacie, a boutique at 28th and Lyndale in South Minneapolis, held its grand opening on Saturday, November 9.

The storefront space, which is part of the Greenleaf Apartments development, was previously a showroom for apartment rental, according to Sam Beberg, who co-owns Pharmacie with Roger Barrett. Beberg also owns and operates Hot Plate, a brunch spot in South Minneapolis, with Carrie Lewis.

For Beberg and Barrett, bringing Pharmacie to fruition has been a two-year endeavor. 

Pharmacie sells furniture, with a special emphasis on pieces made by independent designers from around the country, plus vintage items. Other household goods for sale include light fixtures, handmade pillows, glassware, cookbooks, toys, art, and gifts.  

The store’s aesthetic plays off of the French spelling of pharmacy. Apothecary items, candles, and beakers lend an authentic pharmacy feeling. A floor-to-ceiling graphic image of an old-fashioned pharmacy acts as a backdrop. The 1,400-square-foot space, which has tall ceilings, gets plenty of natural light through big windows.

With its reclaimed wood decor and modern fixtures, “Someone said [the shop] looks like an industrial farm, with the modern and rustic look,” Beberg says.   

Beberg and Barrett settled on the space in part for its proximity to Lyn-Lake and Uptown. 

The area is “like the new Hennepin,” Beberg says. “We feel like a lot of places are within walking distance, including bars and restaurants.” 

He hopes to see more shops fill in around the area, including the next-door space. Fortunately, the area gets plenty of foot traffic. “It would be nice to see more retail on the street,” he says. “Everyone wants more businesses so they can feed off of each other.”  


Source: Sam Beberg, co-owner, Pharmacie
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Spyhouse Coffee contributes to The Broadway redevelopment

Spyhouse Coffee expanded into Northeast Minneapolis this fall with a third location in The Broadway, a former warehouse at Central and Broadway redeveloped by Peter Remes of First and First

The warehouse building’s other tenants include 612 BrewSeventhsin (a creative agency), and the Steller Hair Co.

Christian Johnson, who owns the Spyhouse coffeehouses along with The Bad Waitress restaurant in South Minneapolis, scoped out plenty of other locations around town before settling on The Broadway, according to The Journal. At the time, the building was undergoing early renovation work, according to the story.

Today, old barn wood salvaged from an Amish farm in Wisconsin, and the warehouse's original flooring and thick beams lend a rustic feel to the place.

A variety of antiques, including an old-fashioned roaster and custom-made furniture, add character to the space, as well.

Johnson plans to turn the Northeast shop into a roastery that will provide coffee to the other locations, according to The Journal.   
 
Chris Bubser, an architect and community activist who lives nearby in the Windom neighborhood, says the place makes a nice impression from the street. “I think the outside of the building looks great, and I'm glad someone saved and repurposed another cool old Northeast building,” he says. 

He’s fond of the big floor-to-ceiling windows, which provide views of the interior from the outside. 

The renovation respects the building’s original architecture, and “changes the whole dynamic of what was a pretty unappealing corner," Bubser says. "Those kinds of improvements may seem small, but the more developers make such improvements, the more momentum is built." 

Source: Chris Bubser, community resident 
Writer: Anna Pratt 







An uplifting short film about North Minneapolis

"Welcome to North," a three-minute video created by Josh Chitwood and Morgan Jensen, highlights the positive aspects of life on the North Side of Minneapolis. 

Chitwood, who is studying media and communications at North Central University in the city’s Elliot Park neighborhood, set out to produce a film for the fourth annual RE/MAX Results City & Neighborhood Film Festival. The festival will take place on Nov. 14 at the Riverview Theater, according to the contest’s website. That day, the four top films along with an “audience choice”-award winner will receive cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $6,000, the website states. 

At the same time, Chitwood would like to see the film get more exposure, even beyond the film festival. 
 
Chitwood recently moved to the North Side, while Jensen, his girlfriend, was born and raised in this area of the city. That has given them an appreciation for an area they describe as “the most stereotyped side of the city.” “It gets so much of a bad rap but both of us just love North,” he says. As such, “We wanted to get something else out there that would show the good here. A lot of the news doesn’t do that. We wanted to show people the true side of North that people don’t normally see--give them a new perspective on it,” he adds. 

As they were putting together the short film last month, the couple roamed around the North Side, chatting up random strangers. They found a number of willing interviewees who had lots of good things to say about the area. All of the interviews featured in the mini-documentary came out of their meanderings. “The film is supposed to be what we love about North. Well, we know what we love but we wanted to use other people’s voices,” he says. 

Chitwood, who’s been making videos since he was a young child, has been surprised by the response so far. The film festival hasn’t happened yet, but already in just a handful of days, “Welcome to North,” which is posted online, has gotten over 4,000 views. The number of clicks has been increasing daily. “It’s cool to watch it grow,” he says. 

Chitwood plans to show the film around town in the coming weeks. “We’ve gotten a lot of amazing feedback. A lot of people have been saying that this is just what they’ve always tried to tell people about North,” he says. 

Ultimately, “I hope it just gets people to be really curious about coming and experiencing North,” he says. For those who live here, he adds, it affirms what they already know about North Minneapolis. “There’s so much community and so many families that live here. It’s a beautiful place. It’s beautifully diverse." 


Source: Josh Chitwood, filmmaker  
Writer: Anna Pratt 





Block E's "Made Here" exhibit highlights vibrant local arts scene

Artists in Storefronts began a several years ago as a grassroots project to highlight the possibilities for vacant storefronts in Minneapolis’s Whittier neighborhood.

A number of local artists working in diverse mediums created artistic window displays that turned the street into a kind of public gallery.

It went over well, and now Joan Vorderbruggen, the project’s driving force, is bringing the same concept to downtown Minneapolis with Made Here, a showcase of local artists in 40 windows that wrap around the Block E complex between 6th and 7th streets on Hennepin Avenue. The unconventional group show, which opened late last month, will be on view through early 2014. 

Besides re-imagining the shopping and entertainment mall that has emptied out in recent years, Made Here draws attention to the up-and-coming Hennepin Cultural District. Although the district is in early stages, it's already well known for the theaters that line the avenue, Vorderbruggen says. The Hennepin Theatre Trust, Artspace, Walker Art Center and the city are sponsors of the Block E project.    
    
Already, the artwork, which includes an eclectic mix of everything from wooden handicrafts to “light drawings,” has transformed the avenue, Vorderbruggen says. From the street, the window--of which are illuminated--are a striking display. They're also fun to look at close-up, she says, adding that she likes to people-watch as passersby encounter the work.  

One group of paintings and illustrations by Mary Jane Mansfield speaks to the importance of family, she says. Photographer Gina Dabrowski's snapshots predate the former Block E building’s razing. It just so happens that the image hangs in front of a rundown kitchen, which harkens back to the old Block E that's pictured in the photos, she says. 

Block E has its challenges, but the response to the artwork has been encouraging, Vorderbruggen says. For example, a downtown commuter told her the exhibition has improved the experience of waiting at the bus stop in front of Block E, which faces Hennepin Avenue. She’s heard from security guards that random strangers are striking up conversations about the art. One day Vorderbruggen watched two young children pretend to be in a forest against the backdrop of Ann Klefstad’s whimsical tar-on-plywood greenery.

Passersby can also read through historical information relating to the avenue’s early days; the Hennepin History Museum produced some documents from its archives for the show. Poetry mounted on the old movie theater’s marquee, provided by writers from The Loft Literary Center, is another nice touch. Besides the imagery and text on view 24/7, tunes by local musicians come through outdoor speakers.    

It was an ambitious endeavor, but Made Here came together in a mere six weeks, following smaller-scale seed projects. The exhibit lends itself nicely to the cultural district, which emphasizes the avenue as a playground for all types of art and cultural experiences, Vorderbruggen says. People can take in a Broadway show and then check out the public artwork on foot, or vice versa, she adds.  

It’s still early in the show’s run, but it's already a success on more than one level. “It was a whole city block in downtown that was dark. We illuminated it,” she says. “We’re injecting beauty there.”  

Source: Joan Vorderbruggen, artist coordinator, Made Here
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Frogtown Farm invites community to help with its design

Community members can get involved in the design process for the Frogtown Farm and Park at a workshop on Oct. 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Rondo Library

The 13-acre park in the works for St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood includes a recreation area, a nature preserve, and a demonstration farm. 

The upcoming workshop deals specifically with the design of the park's farm portion, which will take up nearly half of the site. Over the summer, the park pulled in the San Francisco-based Rebar Art and Design Studio to lead the farm's design process. 

The interdisciplinary agency, which works with numerous Twin Cities-based experts, was a good fit for the project because much of its work lies “at the intersection of art, design and ecology,” farm materials state. That includes experience with community farms and gardens.  
 
Betsy Schaefer Roob, a spokesperson for Frogtown Farm and Park, says next week's workshop will give community members a chance to share ideas and hear about the possibilities for the farm. That feedback will continue to drive several related meetings in the coming months. The idea is “to gather input and eventually responses to different concept designs,” she says, adding that the goal is to have a final design by early 2014.

Community members will consider how to facilitate programs at the farm centering on food production, education, and gardening, she says.  

After the design process wraps up, infrastructure will go in, while cover crops will be planted in 2014, she says. The farm will be up and running the following year.

The surrounding park is undergoing a separate community process. 

The idea for Frogtown Farm came from a handful of longtime neighborhood residents, and community involvement is something the farm aims to continue every step of the way. “Community is really the core of who we are and what we value,” Roob says.  

She hopes the result will be a “community place, a place to gather, to learn, to work, to play, and to share knowledge and, of course, food,” she says. “We really need the wisdom and diverse perspectives of the Frogtown community to build that place.”  

Source: Betsy Schaefer Roob, Frogtown Farm and Park 
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Alley Atlas project to put informal names on Minneapolis alleyways

Possum Trail, Vera’s Territory, and Linda’s Lane are just a few of the colorful names that people are giving their alleys through a public art project that began a soft launch this month. 

The exhibit, "Alley Atlas,” officially opens Oct. 17 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where it’ll run through the end of the year.  

Andy Sturdevant, a local artist and writer who is leading the project, has long been fascinated by the city’s latticework of alleys, which, taken together, are akin to a city in the shadows, he says: “When you go behind people’s houses and go into the alley, you see the neighborhood in a much more interesting way than in front,” he says, adding, “[The alley] is where they store their stuff, or they get to know their neighbors.” 

For example, one might stumble upon little motorboats, pet car projects, or flourishing backyard gardens in an alley. “These are places people know well, that are part of their everyday life,” Sturdevant says.  

Yet, alleys don’t have names, at least not officially. That’s where the project comes in: Community members are invited to name their alleys and contribute anecdotes about them in person at the museum, or they can submit online or through the mail. Sturdevant isn’t looking for names that are tied to developers or politicians. Instead, he wants to see names that reflect “experiences, memories, and stories."

The idea isn't to come up with a resolution to bring to City Hall, he says. Alleys will get their due on several oversized maps at the museum that are divided into the city’s north, central, and south portions. These artistic maps are relatively barebone images, picturing alleys along with parks, bodies of water, and various arterial streets and highways--and not much more. 

Sturdevant has reached out to the city’s 81 neighborhood associations about the project, and submissions have started rolling in. Many alleys are named for people who have made an impression on residents of a block, he says, adding that he's impressed with the collaboration he's observed thus far. People are checking in with their neighbors. “I get the sense people already have names for their alleys,” he adds. 

Sturdevant is also collecting alley-related stories for a catalog that will accompany the maps. People are telling  “really interesting stories about their lives,” which ought to be shared, he says. 

Source: Andy Sturdevant
Writer: Anna Pratt 











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