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Pioneer Press photographer's smartphone-made stop-animation film goes viral

Pioneer Press photographer Ben Garvin recently produced a stop motion video that went viral, hitting over 1.2 million views on YouTube within only a couple of days. Garvin’s short film, titled “Magic Beard,” which was recorded with a smartphone app, has since been featured on numerous morning shows, evening news broadcasts, and websites all over the globe, including the Huffington Post. The film goes to lengths, literally, to reveal the wonders of Garvin's  "magic beard." Besides the amount of time Garvin spent growing the beard, the film, which runs just a couple of minutes, took 15 hours to put together.   

The Huffington Post shout-out about the film reads, “Ben Garvin's glorious stop-motion film documenting the antics of his clearly out-of-control beard validates all of our fears about facial hair.” 

"Glee" actor coming to St. Paul to record radio show and podcast

Former “Glee” actor Stephen Tobolowsky is coming to St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater to tape his syndicated radio show and podcast,  "The Tobolowsky Files," live on Oct. 10, the Pioneer Press reports.   

In the hit TV series, Tobolowsky was the glee club teacher early on. He's also appeared in many other roles on-screen, but he might be most known for his part as “the memory-challenged character who provides a key to the mystery in "Memento,”” the Pioneer Press story states. 

As a part of "The Tobolowsky Files,” the actor recounts personal tales about Hollywood, life, and love, the story adds. 

Twin Cities named one of the country's healthiest, happiest hometowns

Health and wellness site Prevention.com identified the "25 Healthiest, Happiest Cities in America" and Minneapolis-St. Paul came in third on the list, just after San Jose and Salt Lake City.
To come up with the results, the site evaluated 100 of the nation's largest 48 cities, using measures that included farmers markets, access to green space, disease incidence, and unemployment rates.
The Twin Cities earned top scores for heart health, and abundant parks and lakes. A cardiologist at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing noted that "people have spent decades boosting heart health by making the area more bikeable, for example, and offering cholesterol and blood pressure screenings to everyone."
The article also added that of the top 25 cities, the Twin Cities have the highest per capital number of farmers markets and among the highest access to fresh produce.

Minneapolis-St. Paul on list of "most aspirational" cities in the U.S.

Online news and culture site The Daily Beast compiled a ranking of the "Top 15 Aspirational Cities" in the United States, and Minneapolis-St. Paul comes in at no. 10 on the list.
To determine America's aspirational hotspots, the report's authors focused on economic indicators, such as employment growth, per capita income, and unemployment. The authors also looked at demographic factors such as the movement of college-educated people into the area.
Finally, they considered quality-of-life factors like housing affordability, traffic congestion, and cultural highlights. The top three cities considered aspirational were Austin, New Orleans, and Houston.
"[G]iven current conditions and the most likely accrual of current trends, we can expect that most of the cities at the top of the aspirational rankings will remain there for some time to come," the authors note.

Major food mag names two local picks in its "best new restaurants" list

Food magazine Bon Appétit recently released its "Top 50 New Restaurants" list, and two Minneapolis eateries made the cut: World Street Kitchen and Borough.
Singled out for its cheese-grater light fixtures and mismatched flatware, Borough in the North Loop neighborhood got a nod for bringing together chefs from Travail for an eclectic menu. The magazine advised readers to opt for the cauliflower with pickled chilies and tempura-style oysters.
World Street Kitchen, near Uptown, was highlighted for its industrial look and casual style, matched with "straight-up fantastic international street food." Diners should go for the knockout rice bowls, burritos, and affordable prices.
Although neither restaurant made the magazine's subsequent Top 10 list, there were still plenty of raves for each eatery's signature dishes.

Forbes highlights Twin Cities in business feature

Business magazine Forbes notes that the U.S. economy is showing anemic wage growth and slow recovery from the recession, but the good news is that there are places with strong business climates that are fueled by low costs and educated labor forces.
With that in mind, Forbes singled out top locations in its annual list of the Best Places for Business and Careers.
Coming in at no. 23 is the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, including Bloomington. The article noted that the Twin Cities are rich with quaint neighborhoods, arts and culture, and natural resources. The median household income, the magazine notes, is about $63,000.
Duluth also got a nod, at no. 115 on the list, with a median household income of about $43,000.
Topping the list was Des Moines, Iowa, which was highlighted thanks to expansion there by major companies like Wells Fargo, Facebook, and Microsoft.

Twin Cities food trucks list grows to 103

As a testimony to local food trends, a database from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal has grown to include 103 food trucks and trailers. 

The database, which can be sorted by various attributes, including “most popular menu item,” also has information about food trucks’ presence on the street and on social media, a story from the Journal states. 

Food truck reporter Urmila Ramakrishnan put it together. “Besides profiling dozens of food trucks, Urmila broke food truck news and found innovators, interesting people and companies that support the industry as the mobile eateries fight turf wars with established brick-and-mortar restaurants and struggle with their own popularity,” the story states.

CNN series features local schools and educators

Recently, a CNN news crew spent quite a bit of time visiting local schools and talking with area educators and advocates about the racial achievement gap, according to Minnpost

It was for a CNN special, “Great Expectations,” which is part of the ongoing documentary series, “Black in America.” The program airs on Aug. 30. 

The project, led by Soledad O'Brien, looks specifically at the education of black boys, Minnpost reports.

O’Brien raises tough questions about whether charter schools re-segregate children.   

Chris Stewart, executive director of the African American Leadership Forum and a former MPS board member, who was interviewed for the show, sees the show as a way to connect people. “It’s like [O'Brien is] building this network of African-Americans nationwide who are seeing each other do good work,” he says in the piece. 

Fodor's highlights reasons to visit Minneapolis

Travel website and guidebook company Fodor's recently showcased the Twin Cities in its feature, "5 Reasons to Go to Minneapolis Now."
The author, Deb Hopewell, noted that the city is an ideal vacation spot thanks to its many parks, bicycling options, restaurant scene, proximity to St. Paul, and arts options.
She added that this is probably the best time of year to visit, when the summer heat starts to soften and fall is not far off (she wisely avoids mentioning winter at all).
Restaurants highlighted include The Bachelor Farmer, Piccolo, and Aster, and Hopewell points to the revitalized North Loop as a central hub for the robust local food scene. 

Twin Cities suburb named a top place to live

In its annual Best Places to Live feature, Money Magazine focused on 50 small U.S. towns that are thriving economically and benefit from strong communities, ample green space, and good schools.
Coming in at fourth on the list is Chanhassen, with a population of just over 23,000 and located about 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis.
"Chanhassen was affected by Minnesota's woes during the downturn, but the town is bouncing back and taking fresh steps to improve," the article noted, pointing out that the area school district recently rolled out Wi-Fi on school buses and increased classroom tech projects. The town also beefed up commuter options, the article added.
One perk of living so close to the Twin Cities, Money stated, is that residents of Chanhassen have access to 34 parks, 90 miles of trails, and proximity to the popular Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Even in the winter, residents know how to make the most of the area, Money added: "When below-zero wind chills set in, there's February Festival with ice-fishing contests, sledding, and cookouts."

Local Community Supported Art program gets a nod in the New York Times

Community-supported art, a takeoff on community-supported agriculture, provides locally made art to its members. 

Since its start with the St. Paul-based nonprofit organization Springboard for the Arts, in collaboration with the local artists behind mnartists.org, four years ago, the concept has caught on in a number of cities across the country, the New York Times reports.

It has also taken on new forms as it has sprung up in different places, the story reads.  

“The goal, borrowed from the world of small farms, is a deeper-than-commerce connection between people who make things and people who buy them,” the story reads. 

It helps that many people were already familiar with the CSA model, the story points out.  

Outside Magazine names local agency Haberman as a top workplace

For the second year in a row, Haberman, a Minneapolis-based full-service marketing agency, landed on Outside Magazine’s list of the top 100 workplaces nationwide, according to a prepared statement from the publication. 

Haberman, which came in 36th in the list, stands out for innovative and healthy work-life balance, the statement reads. 

Outside Magazine arrived at its results by looking at company benefits, compensation and policies, job satisfaction, environmental initiatives, and community outreach programs, the statement reads. 

The magazine celebrates companies that “enable employees to pursue active lifestyles while also supporting their social and environmental contributions.”

Minnesota a top state for income mobility, study says

The potential for a child born in the bottom one-fifth of households by income to rise into the upper one-fifth was the subject of a major Harvard University study, called The Equality of Opportunity Project.
Researchers looked at whether tax expenditures from policies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit were effective in reaching the goal of enabling children to rise out of poverty.
The results around the nation were very mixed, the researchers noted: "We find substantial variation in mobility across areas." Looking at other additional factors such as K-12 school quality, economic and racial segregation, income inequality, and intergenerational mobility, the researchers were able to create a map of the U.S. highlighting economic mobility by state and major metropolitan areas.
In some areas, such as much of the South, upward mobility is extremely unlikely, but Minnesota fared well, according to the map. Of the 100 largest U.S. cities, Minneapolis came in at no. 18 for upward mobility. Salt Lake City was in the top spot, while Memphis was last on the list.

Top foodie site singles out 18 Minneapolis restaurants

Food and restaurant site Eater.com recently ran a story about The 18 Essential Minneapolis Restaurants, calling the eateries a "highly elite group" that covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines, and satisfies all of a diner's restaurant needs.
The list is continually evolving, the site notes. For example, Sen Yai Sen Lek, Pizzeria Lola, and Fika were rotated off the list "simply because their time has come," according to Eater.com. New to the list this go-round are St. Paul's Meritage, the North Loop's Borough, and Sea Salt in Minnehaha Park.
The top three on the list are all south of downtown: Broders' Pasta Bar, Piccolo, and Tilia. There are plenty of Northeast favorites as well, like Brasa Premium Rotisserie and Masu Sushi & Robata.
Not surprisingly, the comments section already contains some lively opinions about what other restaurants should be included — and which ones deserved to be kicked off the list.

Wall Street Journal piece highlights the 'ultimate long weekend' in Minneapolis

“The Ultimate Long Weekend in Minneapolis” is the headline of a recent Wall Street Journal story that highlights the city’s attractions. 

The scenic city “may bring to mind parkas before parks, and Vikings before biking, but Minneapolis is as sweet in summer as it is frigid in winter,” with everything from outdoor activities to cultural offerings to take in, it reads. 

The story lays out a step-by-step itinerary for visitors who visit the city for a weekend. Local restaurants like Burch, Icehouse (also an entertainment venue) and Matt’s Bar get a shout-out. The American Swedish Institute, Forage Modern Workshop, and the Walker Art Center also get props, as do a number of theaters, shops, and parks.  

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