| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Seward : Innovation + Job News

7 Seward Articles | Page:

Glaros Undertakes "Humans of Minneapolis" Project with Parks Foundation

Even if you’ve never been to the Big Apple, you’ve probably heard of Humans of New York — the wildly successful, ongoing photo essay that’s touched more than 20 countries and earned millions of social shares.
 
New York City has more than eight million inhabitants from all over the world, but it’s not the only place with a multitude of human-scale stories worth sharing. MSP has its very own analog: Humans of Minneapolis, Minneapolis-based photographer Stephanie Glaros’ often poignant look at the joys, sorrows and oddities of life in the urban North.
 
Glaros started Humans of Minneapolis as an occasional tumblr blog — a useful vehicle for her ample interactive talents. She’s since added a Facebook page and Instagram feed to bring her subjects to a wider audience. Last month, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation announced that Glaros would conduct a “summer-long portrait series profiling visitors to Minneapolis neighborhood parks,” showcased in Humans of Minneapolis’ digital ecosystem and the Park Foundation’s own social properties.
 
According to the Parks Foundation, Glaros will profile 15 park visitors in all. The portrait series aims to draw attention to Minneapolis’ 160-plus parks, which (per the Parks Foundation) attracted more than six million visitors last year. Shortly after the portrait series’ announcement, the Trust for Public Land announced that Minneapolis had once again earned the top spot in its closely watched urban U.S. park system rankings, continuing a dominant run that dates back to the early 2010s.
 
“Stephanie’s series will help us begin to tell the stories of the people who use our parks every day and show the multitude of ways people use and love our Minneapolis parks,” the Parks Foundation said in a release.
 
Some of the stories Glaros captures on the Humans of Minneapolis blog are challenging, to put it mildly. Interviews conducted immediately following Prince’s death were heartbreaking. More recently, she spoke with a young man whose ex-girlfriend’s brother had died violently the previous week; in the interview, he talked openly about his own mortality and agonized about carrying a firearm for protection.
 
It’s not yet clear whether Glaros’ park stories will hew toward the weighty, or whether they’ll focus on the lighter side of summer in MSP. No matter what the next few months bring, Glaros is excited to explore her beloved, snow-less home city and forge new connections with her fellow Minneapolitans.
 
“People are reserved here and they don’t want attention, so it can be a bit of a challenge to draw people out,” she told the Star Tribune in April. “I look at that as a challenge to get real and get outside of our shells and make a connection…[t]here’s something magical about connecting with a complete stranger.”
 
 

Beekeeping chocolatier grows hyper-local product with national placements

MSP’s rapidly growing pro-pollinator community is turning the region into an urban oasis for honeybees and other pollinating insects, raising the likelihood that future generations will know the joys of easily accessible fresh produce and biodiverse green spaces.
 
But plenty of intrepid pollinator entrepreneurs are focused on the here and now. Susan Brown of Mademoiselle Miel, a hyper-local sweet treats company based in downtown St. Paul, was an early evangelist for pollinator power—and continues to inspire a growing cohort of makers, chefs and educators who earn a living at the intersection of urban agriculture, environmental stewardship and old-fashioned craftiness.
 
Mademoiselle Miel is a “beekeeping chocolatier” specializing in rich chocolate honey bon-bons, many wrapped in edible 23 karat gold leaf—“a brilliant union of elegance and raw nature,” according to Brown’s website. The bon-bons come in several varieties, including a decadent Scotch infusion and various seasonal flavors.
 
The honey for Brown’s bon-bons comes from hives situated on rooftops throughout MSP—for instance, at Union Depot (near Brown’s downtown St. Paul headquarters) and atop Tiny Diner in Longfellow. The bees collect pollen from whatever flowers happen to be in bloom, providing Brown’s creations with an ever-changing array of local flavors.
 
Brown has been fascinated with bees and honey since she her youth. Ironically, though, she hasn’t always been a fan of honey’s taste. “I didn't actually like the taste of honey when I was young,” she told CityPages earlier this year. “I just started cooking with it because I was trying to eat in a way that made me feel good.”
 
In the intervening decades, Brown embarked on a successful cooking and catering career that found plenty of uses for the sticky substance. But she didn’t start making honey full-time until 2011, when she launched Mademoiselle Miel in St. Paul.
 
Hungry for a hyper-local alternative to sickly sweet candies and ho-hum storebought honey without a distinctive terroir, MSP foodies embraced Brown’s concept with gusto. Her creations quickly found their way into high-end cooking stores like Cooks of Crocus Hill and crunchy grocery outlets like Seward Co-op.
 
Brown’s products have since appeared in prominent hotel and restaurant properties around the area: high-end Minneapolis hotels like the Hyatt Regency, W Minneapolis and Le Meridien Chambers are customers, as is Surdyks Flights (at MSP International) and the Walker Art Center.
 
More exciting still, Mademoiselle Miel has lately joined a growing list of successful Minnesota exports. Brown’s sweet creations aren’t quite as well-known or widely available as SPAM and Post-it notes—yet —but they’re nevertheless available at select boutiques in New York City, Seattle and the Washington, D.C., area. More accounts could be in the works, though Brown’s production capacity is somewhat limited by bee, hive and rooftop counts.
 

Prohibition Kombucha: Hippie elixir to haute mixer

The latest craft brew to come out of Minneapolis-St. Paul isn’t made from barley and hops. It’s Prohibition Kombucha, a fermented beverage made from high-quality teas and fruit or floral flavorings.

The tasty product of a partnership between former Herkimer brewer Nathan Uri and Verdant Tea founder David Duckler, Prohibition is the region’s first homegrown kombucha. The company’s three kombucha flavors are available at about a dozen co-ops, coffee shops and farmers markets around the Twin Cities, including Mill City Farmers’ Market, Seward Co-op, Spyhouse and Kopplin’s Coffee.

Uri has bigger aspirations, though: He’s teaming up with Minneapolis-based Tree Fort Soda to build a larger kombucha brewery at a to-be-determined location in the Twin Cities.  Eventually, Uri envisions a product line available at cafes, restaurants and grocery stores throughout the country, plus satellite breweries on the East and West Coasts to supply customers in other regions.

Prohibition Kombucha’s creations are healthy -- really healthy. “Depending on the quality of tea and type of yeasts and bacteria used, there can be varying levels of amino acids like L-theanine, healthy sour acids like malic and acetic acid, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and other nutrients,” says Uri. “Our kombucha is also low in sugar and calories, slowing the glycemic load of a meal when consumed with food.”

According to Uri, all Prohibition Kombucha varieties have less than one gram of sugar per ounce and no more than 56 calories per pint.

Popular with the counterculture movement in the Southwest and West Coast, kombucha is novel concept in the Twin Cities. “Currently, the main reason people drink Kombucha is for the probiotic content,” explains Uri, “which can be as simple as one bacteria or as many as 20 beneficial yeasts and bacteria.”

The microbes ferment a mixture of tea, sugar and other natural ingredients, producing carbonation, crisp flavors and a trace, non-intoxicating amount of alcohol. A multi-organism fermenting base is called a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts, or SCOBY.

Kombucha doesn’t always taste great, though. Without naming names, Uri fingers “some other brands” that have a funky, sour, “sharkbite” flavor that’s too tangy to be pleasant. Prohibition uses high-quality black and oolong teas, plus carefully selected secondary ingredients, to achieve a “crisp, cider-like acid-sugar balance,” Uri says.

The fermenting process does produce trace amounts of alcohol -- less than 0.5% by volume. Though 0.5% isn’t intoxicating, Uri and Duckler are sensitive to sober customers’ concerns.

“We completely and unequivocally respect and support” those who avoid kombucha for any reason, says Uri. “That said, others in recovery enjoy our Kombucha without issue. It's a very personal choice and we want everyone to lead healthy and happy lives, so we label our product accordingly.”

In fact, Prohibition Kombucha probably wouldn’t exist if not for Uri’s temporary decision to quit drinking. In 2012, while living in Portland, he hankered for the sensory and aesthetic experience of a fine wine, great beer or perfect cocktail.” He tried his first “small batch craft” kombucha, loved it, and began brewing kombucha at home.

Soon realizing the importance of quality tea to quality kombucha -- many other kombucha producers use low-quality teas or “the bare minimum” of a higher-grade variety, he says -- Uri moved back to the Twin Cities and contacted Duckler, an old friend. Now, Uri exclusively uses Verdant Tea’s black and oolong teas in his kombuchas.

“Since [Duckler] sources the finest, freshest and highest quality Chinese teas available in the US, it’s a natural partnership,” he says. One that could soon bring a fermented, cocktail-quality and (almost) totally non-alcoholic beverage to your local coffee shop or grocery store shelf.

 

One Day on Earth gathers Twin Cities stories

Got big plans for April 26? Lu Lippold, the local producer for One Day on Earth’s “One Day in the Twin Cities,” has a suggestion: Grab whatever video recording device you can—cameraphones included—and record the audio-visual pulse of your neighborhood.

On the final Saturday of April, the Twin Cities and 10 other U.S. metros will host the fourth installment of One Day on Earth’s celebration of film, culture, and all-around placemaking. Founded by Los Angeles-based film producers Kyle Ruddick and Brandon Litman, One Day on Earth (ODOE) has a “goal of creating a unique worldwide media event where thousands of participants would simultaneously film over a 24-hour period,” according to its website.

The first event took place on October 10, 2010 (10-10-10); 11-11-11 and 12-12-12 followed. ODOE skipped 2013, but its organizers weren’t about to wait until 2101 for their next shot. Instead, they selected a spring Saturday—both to accommodate amateur filmmakers with 9-to-5 jobs, and to give participants in the Northern Hemisphere longer daylight hours to work with—for a bigger, bolder, slightly revamped version of the event.

For the first time, participants get 10 questions to inspire their creativity and guide their storytelling, from “What is the best thing happening in your city today?” to “Who is your city not serving?” The goal is to create a multi-frame snapshot of “cities in progress,” one that doesn’t simply answer the who-what-where of the places it covers.

As One Day in the Twin Cities’ point person, Lippold supervises local filmmakers and pitched the project to dozens of partner organizations, including the Science Museum of Minnesota and Springboard for the Arts to visual media companies like Cinequipt and Vimeo. (The McKnight Foundation and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative are the largest local sponsors.)

The upside? “[The event] is a great way to shine a light on all the hard work that our nonprofit community does,” says Lippold.

Lippold also works with a handful of local ambassadors, some of whom enjoy national acclaim. These include noted cinematographer Jeff Stonehouse, veteran documentarian Matt Ehling, and community-focused filmmaker D.A. Bullock. They’ll be contributing their talents—and stature—to One Day in the Twin Cities’ promotion and execution.

One Day in the Twin Cities could be seen well beyond Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Along with their counterparts from other participating cities, local filmmakers may see their work incorporated into a condensed, three-part series that Litman and Lichtbau will market to PBS affiliates around the country. No word on whether TPT will air the special, but TPT Rewire has agreed to publicize the event in the coming weeks.

The real stars of One Day in the Twin Cities, though, are its filmmakers. Even if you’ve never filmed anything in your life, says Lippold, you can contribute meaningful work. Thanks to an interactive map feature on ODOE’s main site, the work will visible to anyone who visits.

“If I were just starting out in video, I would see this as a huge opportunity,” says Lippold. Since all contributions are credited by name and location, each participant “instantly becomes a documentary filmmaker,” she adds.

Source: Lu Lippold
Writer: Brian Martucci


Free Geek moves to larger Minneapolis location, expands hours

Free Geek Twin Cities (FGTC) has a new home.

The Minneapolis-based non-profit, succeeding at its mission to "keep computers off the streets," outgrew its home in Powderhorn Park after about a year, according to a blog post.

Free Geek found a new spot at 2310 Snelling Ave. with the help of Seward Redesign, a community development corporation in the area.

The larger space should work better for FGTC's growing work. With the help of volunteers, the group collects old computers and other electronics, and either builds new computers with the parts or recycles them. (They do suggest a monetary donation along with your old junk…)

Free Geek either gives the computers to volunteers or sells them in their thrift store.

Parallel to this volunteer recycle/rebuild mission is another, related one: to bridge the digital divide and provide access, skills and knowledge about computers to those who don't have it.

Free Geek has expanded its hours since the move, as well:

Wednesday, noon–5 p.m.
Saturday noon–5 p.m.
Sunday, 2pm–7 p.m.

The move will not be a permanent one, writes FGTC on its blog; Seward Redesign has plans to redevelop the building in the next six months–two years, but the CDC will help FGTC find another new home.

Read more about FGTC's move and mission on their blog,

For a good sense of the Free Geek model, take a look at the below video about Free Geek Portland, where the movement began, and which served as a model for the Twin Cities version:



Source: Free Geek Twin CIties
Writer: Jeremy Stratton


 

Art show celebrates decade of work by UNO creative director Luis Fitch

Luis Fitch makes sure marketers' messages don't get lost in translation.

Fitch founded the UNO Hispanic branding agency in Minneapolis in 1999. A gallery exhibit opening Thursday at Metropolitan State University will celebrate a decade of his work.

The Mexican-born creative director previously worked for agencies including Fame, a division of Martin Williams, and John Ryan Group, which specializes in branding for banking.

Fitch started UNO after seeing U.S. Census figures that confirmed what he already knew: that the U.S. Hispanic population was surging in terms of size and purchasing power.

UNO does some work in Mexico and Latin America, but its focus is on the U.S. Hispanic market, which is incredibly diverse, as Fitch recently explained to a new client:

"They wanted to go after the Latino market, and we said, well, which Latino market?"

UNO uses a method called Filtros (or "filters") to better define who a client is seeking to target. The branding strategy will vary depending on things such as language, religion, and country of origin.

Much of the agency's work involves in-store retail displays or package design. It also helps local advertising agencies adapt their campaigns for Hispanic audiences.

The company has five employees, along with a circle of freelancers. Clients include local Fortune 500 companies such as Target, General Mills, and Nash Finch.

"Ten Years of Hispanic Posters by Luis Fitch of UNO Branding" opens with a reception 4-7pm, Oct. 14, at the Gordon Parks Gallery (645 E. 7th St., St. Paul).

Source: Luis Fitch, UNO Ltd.
Writer: Dan Haugen

Dero Bike Racks hopes to go tandem with David Byrne on product line

When musician David Byrne stopped in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago for a forum on bicycling, he mentioned on stage that he had a chance to visit local bike rack manufacturer, Dero Bike Racks.

We checked in with Dero co-owner Hans Steege last week to ask about getting a shout-out from Byrne, as well as how business has been lately.

The fifteen-year-old company has cruised through the recession. Steege said Dero hasn't had to lay off anyone from its Seward neighborhood shop, which has been busier than ever. He declined to share specific revenue numbers, only that they've averaged double-digit growth in recent years.

What are the factors behind its growth? "A big one, I think, is just kind of a sea change in the way that Americans are looking at bicycling as a form of transportation," says Steege.

As for Byrne, Dero's relationship with him predates the musician's most recent visit. Steege and others from Dero visited Byrne in New York last year to pitch manufacturing a line of Byrne-designed bicycle racks. "It's not a done deal yet, but we're hoping it works out," says Steege.

Even though it wasn't their first meeting, it was still a rush to have the former Talking Head pay a visit. "He's a really interesting, mild-mannered guy. Very humble and super creative. It was a lot of fun to have him walk around our shop, look at our stuff and give us his two cents."

Dero's customers include cities, schools, corporate campuses, and homeowners. It recently started rolling out a system it calls the Dero ZAP, a solar-powered check-in station for tracking and rewarding students or employees who commute by bicycle.

Source: Hans Steege, Dero Bike Racks
Writer: Dan Haugen
7 Seward Articles | Page:
Signup for Email Alerts