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Lake Street : Development News

8 Lake Street Articles | Page:

Minneapolis' C-TAP: Free Assistance for Co-Op Founders

The City of Minneapolis is launching a free technical assistance program for budding co-op founders, starting with a two-hour presentation on April 20th.
Dubbed C-TAP (Cooperative Technical Assistance Program), the initiative is an outgrowth of the city’s successful B-TAP (Business Technical Assistance Program) for aspiring small and midsize business owners. Like B-TAP, C-TAP is an immersive program designed to support co-op founders and supporters from ideation through opening—and, in some cases, beyond.
According to the City of Minneapolis, C-TAP will unfold over three years, in three steps.
Step one, happening this year, focuses on “co-op readiness planning” for “groups that are thinking of forming a Co-op…to get a clear picture of the legal, operational and organizational requirements.” It’s basically a crash course in what it means to start a co-op.
Step two, set for next year, will focus on “board member and organizational design.” That means training prospective board members in the basics (and nuances) of co-op governance, as well as “one-on-one technical assistance” for select co-ops that require guidance designing their organizational structures. Step two is available to not-yet-open co-ops and existing co-ops that want or need outside assistance.
Step three, set for 2018, will revolve around “sustainability [and] profitability.” In other words, setting and keeping newly opened co-ops on the path to stable, long-term profitability and prosperity.
C-TAP’s kickoff event, a two-hour presentation dubbed “The State of Co-ops in Minneapolis,” is scheduled for April 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Open Book in Downtown East. The presentation will discuss the city’s current “co-op inventory” and the industries supported by Minneapolis co-ops, introduce and explain C-TAP, and discuss next steps for co-op founders and principals interested in participating.
On May 11, Step one officially gets underway with an eight-week “co-op feasibility” course. Held at the City of Minneapolis Innovation Center in the Crown Roller Mill Building near City Hall, the course’s eight sessions will cover the basics of the co-op development process, co-op business plans, finances, cooperative governance, legalities and other topics. Registration is free and open to the public, but prospective co-op groups need to have at least two participants and have selected a product or service to offer prior to signing up.
The City of Minneapolis is no stranger to co-op support. According to city government, Minneapolis has plowed some $3.5 million into local co-ops through existing development and support initiatives, and has an additional $850,000 outstanding in loans to three in-development co-ops—including Wirth Cooperative Grocery, a first-of-its-kind grocery co-op in the city’s underserved Northside, slated to open later this year.

Sioux Chef brings indigenous cuisine to Minneapolis

Minneapolis-based chef and Oglala Lakota member Sean Sherman is about to open the Sioux Chef, a first-of-its-kind restaurant that will serve locally sourced “pre-colonization” cuisine. Sherman is in the final stages of selecting a space, most likely along Seward’s Franklin Avenue or along East Lake Street. He wants to be “as close as possible to the heart of the Twin Cities’ indigenous community,” he says.
Depending on the condition of the space, the Sioux Chef’s doors could be open as early as December, but the first quarter of 2015 is more likely. When the restaurant opens, Sioux Chef will be the first in the country to serve a menu comprised exclusively of regional indigenous dishes that only use ingredients available prior to first contact with European settlers.
Sherman’s approached means no wheat, soy or other staples we currently take for granted. In addition to bison, elk, duck, perch and other fish and game species—often dried or cooked over an open flame—Sherman will incorporate such native plants as wild rice, wild turnips, chokecherries and sumac berries.
His flavors and technique are pitch-perfect. Though indigenous populations were decimated during the 19th and 20th centuries, there remains a strong cultural memory among older Lakota, Ojibwe and others. “People constantly tell me that my dishes taste like what their grandparents made,” he says.
One concession to modern realities: The Sioux Chef won’t serve wild-caught game, says Sherman, due to a lack of available processing facilities capable of satisfying health authorities. The restaurant’s bison and elk, among other species, will come from nearby ranches.
Nor will Sherman be dogmatic in his approach. “First contact” is a blurrier concept than many realize, he says. For example, dandelions probably arrived on the Eastern Seaboard with the first wave of white explorers and spread across the continent within 50 years, far faster than the Europeans who brought them. So Native Americans may have cooked with them long before setting eyes on the first settler—and that’s good enough for Sherman.
The Sioux Chef concept arose accidentally, when Sherman—then La Bodega’s executive chef—decided to write a traditional Lakota cookbook. After some digging, he realized there was very little recorded information about what the Lakota ate before Europeans arrived. Most of the recipes he found were from the Southwest. Even those “were basically Tex-Mex with some Native influence,” he says. Supposedly authentic foods from the Upper Midwest, like fry bread, only appeared after the introduction of white flour and other European staples.
Traveling extensively across Minnesota and his native Dakotas, Sherman eventually pieced together an exhaustive list—“too many to count”—of native plants, fungi and game species used by pre-colonial populations. He also researched traditional preparation and preservation techniques, like meat dehydration.
Until the restaurant opens this winter, the Sioux Chef is a mobile catering and education unit. Sherman travels to food-, health- and Native American-themed events throughout the Twin Cities and the greater Midwest, serving locally sourced dishes (some of which may appear on the Sioux Chef’s restaurant menu) and explaining his approach to pre-colonization cooking. Recent appearances include a diabetes conference and traditional medicine gathering
So far, Sherman says, support for the Sioux Chef is beyond what he expected. He was in Ohio last weekend for Roots 2014, a major gathering of celebrity chefs and nutrition experts, and “a huge deal for the Sioux Chef’s exposure,” he says.
Public enthusiasm may lead to bigger things for the Sioux Chef. “After I get the restaurant going, my ultimate goal is to hone this business model and expand with additional locations under different names,” he says. Since naturally available ingredients vary so much from place to place—“even from here to the other side of Wisconsin, the availability is totally different,” he says—the food at pre-colonization restaurants would vary widely from city to city.
“It’s funny that you can get food from almost anywhere in the world [in the Twin Cities],” he adds. “The only food you can’t get yet is the food that came from right here.” Sioux Chef will change that.

Urban Forage seeking to start Midwest's first urban winery

Urban Forage Winery & Cider House is looking to join the abundance of local beverage startups in the Twin Cities. With the recent arrival of cider brewers and micro-distilleries, Urban Forage’s Jeff Zeitler is asking “Why not an urban winery?”
The answer is complicated due to national, state and city regulations. But Zeitler is forging ahead with renovations to the future home of the Midwest’s first urban winery, in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis.
Zeitler has been making wine, cider and mead with fruit and other ingredients foraged in the Twin Cities for two decades. Whether shaking mulberry trees in Como Park or plucking donated apples from a neighbor’s tree, his process leads to a product with the unmistakable terroir of the Twin Cities. His latest dandelion lilac wine was a big hit at his block’s National Night Out party, he says.
To scale the operation up to a commercial level (he wants to produce almost 6,000 gallons of product a year), he hopes to supplement what he can forage with produce past its shelf life—but still good for making wine—from local grocery stores and warehouses. He also plans to use surplus fruit from area orchards and farms. He’s going to have to clear some regulatory hurdles first, though.
To protect and promote Minnesota’s fledgling rural wine industry, the State Legislature passed the Farm Wineries Act in 2012. The statute gives farm wineries special status under Minnesota liquor laws, with a number of special allowances such as Sunday sales, self-distribution and the ability to operate a full restaurant.
The law also specifies farm wineries must be located on agricultural land—a sticking point for Zeitler’s “urban winery,” which would be located at 3016 East Lake Street in Minneapolis. He would be able to operate under a previous winery law still on the books, but wouldn’t have the many advantages allowed to farm wineries.
Zeitler spent the last year lobbying the State Legislature to even the playing field between farm and urban wineries. “Right now rural wineries have a lot of advantages…and I was trying to get urban wineries put on the same level, but there were a lot of people opposed,” he says.
If Zeitler were to mix a certain percentage of barley malt in with cider while brewing, as other cider makers in the area do, he could operate with a brewer’s license and enjoy the benefits offered to brewers under recent state and city legislative changes that have lead to the brew boom in the Twin Cities. But he’s unwilling to do so, which leaves him with a winery designation in the eyes of the federal government.
After hiring a lawyer to help interpret state statutes, Zeitler is now confident state law will allow him to sell onsite and operate the winery equivalent of a taproom. Current city regulations, however, would not.
So as things currently stand, Urban Forage Winery can produce onsite, distribute via a distributor and sell online. For now, Zeitler says, that’s enough. He will take the fight to the Minneapolis City Council.
Regardless, Zeitler plans to begin production in spring of 2015. “If nothing else, we will do production in the basement,” he says. “If we never get self-distribution or sales onsite, well, who knows how long we’ll make it? But we’re going to give it a shot.”

Lake Street utility boxes to be turned into works of art

The Lake Street Council hopes to spruce up Minneapolis's Lake Street by turning its utility boxes into objets d'art.

ZoeAna Martinez, who is the council’s outreach and services manager, explains that the project will help deter graffiti while also making “ugly boxes look better," as she puts it, adding, “We want to help our street look better."

The initiative is similar to ones in the Kingfield and Corcoran neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods used different methods to cover up the utility boxes; one way was to paint right on the surface of the structures. The boxes can also be covered with colorful shrink-wrap that has designs on it, Martinez explains.

To set the project in motion on Lake Street, Martinez is reaching out to local businesses. “We’re just trying to get feedback from businesses,” she says, adding that the council is hoping that the stakeholders will pitch in by sponsoring local boxes. 

The more utility boxes it can cover up, the better, she says, adding that sponsorship means a price break for the council as well.

Right now, the project's budget is still being determined. It’ll be based on how many boxes the council decides to do. “We’re still at the beginning of the process,” she says.  

The council is also working with the city on a project that’s titled Minneapolis Art Wrap, whose purpose is to make the process smoother for others who want to decorate their local utility boxes.

“In the last two years, the City of Minneapolis has seen increased interest by community groups in wrapping City-owned utility boxes with artistic designs,” council materials state.

Soon the city will be sending out a request for proposals to artists to design 12 pre-approved wrap covers to go on utility boxes all over the city.

It'll help streamline the city process, in that applicants won’t have to go through the art-related city committee to get designs approved. They can simply choose from one of the pre-approved designs, she says. “It makes it easier for groups to get city-owned utility boxes wrapped."   

Although the details are still up in the air at this point, the council hopes to complete it this year, Martinez says.

Source: ZoeAna Martinez, outreach and services manager, Lake Street Council
Writer: Anna Pratt

Benefit raises $10,000-plus for the preservation of historic Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery

The 1853 Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery in Minneapolis, where thousands of the city’s earliest settlers are buried, was the backdrop for a recent benefit concert.

It featured Jeremy Messersmith, a local musician whose 2010 album, “The Reluctant Graveyard,” has songs that are based on some of the cemetery’s historic figures. Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles also performed.  

The concert raised around $10,000 to help restore the cemetery’s steel and limestone pillar fence, which has long been in disrepair, according to Sue Hunter Weir, who chairs Friends of the Cemetery, which organized the event.  

It also drew a crowd of about 1,200 people, many of whom had never been to the cemetery before. “That kind of attention is good for us,” she says.  

Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery, which is the city’s oldest, is among the 25 historic preservation projects that are competing for dollars through the Partners in Preservation contest, which The Line covered here.

Through the competition, which closes this week, the public has a chance to help pick preservation projects that will get a portion of a $1 million grant that’s being offered jointly by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  

A couple of years ago the Friends group jumpstarted the $1.4 million preservation effort with an “Adopt a Picket” campaign. Of 3,510 pickets, nearly 700 have been adopted so far, according to Weir.

Since then, the gates lining Cedar Avenue and Lake Street, and parts of the fence have been restored, but much of it still needs fixing up, she explains.

The fence is a priority because it protects the cemetery. Despite its status on the National Register of Historic Places, the cemetery has been described as endangered. Only a few years ago, “Some sections [of the fence] were so bad that people could push it in with their hands,” she says.   

Source: Sue Hunter Weir, chair, Friends of the Cemetery
Writer: Anna Pratt

$150,000 historic project turns Lake Street into a walk-able museum

The idea for the Museum in the Streets: Lake Street project came to Joyce Wisdom, who heads the Lake Street Council, when she was on a trip to Connecticut a couple of years ago.

Taking a self-guided tour down certain streets in one town, she learned all kinds of interesting tidbits about the area’s history, according to Cara Letofsky, who is a project volunteer.

A number of plaques placed here and there along the street told of the town's development through words and pictures.

Wisdom contacted the Museum in the Streets company about the possibility of bringing the same kind of displays to Lake Street in Minneapolis.

It's something that piqued the interest of many other community members, and the council got to work on the project, Letofsky says.

So far, the council has raised about one-third of the $150,000 needed for the project, which will include 20 plaques along Lake Street.

Meanwhile, a dozen volunteers are in the process of researching sites to be highlighted on the tour. “We’re looking for sites that have a good story and are good for illustrations or photos,” she says.  

In the process, Letofsky is learning about such bygone places as the 1905 Wonderland Amusement Park, Minneapolis Harvester Works--a well-known farm equipment company--and the Nicollet Ballpark, where the Minneapolis Millers played from 1896 to 1955.

“We came across a photo of four members of the baseball team in new cars that were bought from a dealer on Lake Street,” she says.  

Other venerable places, such as Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian gift shop and the 1928-built Midtown Exchange building, are still around.

To help passersby make the connections, a brochure will outline the walking tours. “The series of panels that makes up each tour will invite people to discover Lake Street’s unique story at their own pace, over the course of an afternoon or on return visits.”  

Letofsky says that the group is interested in the project as a way to “build the vitality of Lake Street and its business community,” adding, “It’s an economic development tool.”  

The council plans to mount the displays next spring.

Source: Cara Letofsky, spokesperson for Museum in the Streets: Lake Street
Writer: Anna Pratt

Volunteers are up for the count of bicycles and pedestrians

For the fourth fall, volunteers are fanning out across town to count how many bicyclists and pedestrians pass by a given location over a two-hour period.

The Twin Cities is one of four places selected for a bike/walk program funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and measuring trends in bicycle and foot traffic is an important part of the project, says Tony Hull of Transit For Livable Communities, the nonprofit group working with local governments on "Bike/Walk Twin Cities." (The other places are less urban: Sheboygan, Wis.; Columbia, Mo.; and Marin County, Calif.)

Counts by humans with clipboards are needed because bikes and pedestrians are too light to trip the rubber strips that planners stretch across roads to count motor-vehicle traffic volume. The data lets transit advocates and city officials factor in all forms of transportation rather than focusing solely on the flow of cars and trucks.

Volunteers get training to ensure accuracy and consistency, then head out to 48 spots where people like to bike and walk. A few locations have seen a doubling or even tripling of bike and pedestrian traffic from 2007 to 2009. Most saw percentage-point increases in the double digits. An observer along a busy route can expect to see several hundred bicycles over two hours of counting.

(This year's count could still use a few good volunteers. If you can help, check out this link.)

By Hull's reckoning, the traffic levels of bikes and pedestrians are increasing at a rate that raises the question, "Do we need more capacity?" Bulking up the infrastructure dedicated to non-motorized traffic, like bike lanes and paths, may be needed, he says. Consider, for example, the Midtown Greenway, which has become so popular it can suffer crowded rush hours and near-traffic jams. In places like that, Hull says, the need for transit "starts getting to the next level."

Source: Tony Hull, Transit for Livable Communities
Writer: Chris Steller

Uptown's Walker Library to come up for air with $7 million rebuild

After nearly 30 years below ground, Walker Library in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood is getting ready to surface with a new $7 million building.

"A library that is highly visible" is the stated desire of a citizens advisory committee that issued a vision statement for a replacement structure earlier this year.

That will be a big change from the current, almost entirely subterranean library building at Hennepin and Lagoon avenues, where in lieu of a visible library at street level, person-sized steel letters spell out L-I-B-R-A-R-Y.

Envisioned is an above-ground building that announces itself as "Uptown's library, with a strong daytime and nighttime street presence." Designers don't have to look far to find an example of such a structure: the original Walker Library is still standing, just across the street.

Hennepin County's Designer Selection Committee has recommended an architect from among the 21 firms that responded to a request for proposals issued last spring, says Lois Lenroot-Ernt, capital projects manager for Hennepin County Library. The firm's name remains under wraps, however, until county commissioners act on the recommendation, perhaps this month or next.

Designer selection doesn't immediately lead to library construction in every case. A new building in north Minneapolis to replace Webber Park Library is on hold until the county acquires a site.

The county allocated more than $1 million in its 2010 budget to acquire land at a new Uptown site for the Walker library as well, but the RFP is for a $7 million structure to be built on the current site.

Source: Lois Lenroot-Ernt, Hennepin County Library
Writer: Chris Steller

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