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Getting creative: in 2011 developments demonstrated new ways to reach people

This year, a lot of local development projects got creative.

They innovated in community engagement, replacing the typical “request for proposals” with contests. Social media tools helped to keep the conversation going beyond the traditional town hall meeting. Artists and art-making were brought into the development process in fresh ways. And technology contributed to community-building via smartphones and QR codes.

For example, early in the year, the Mississippi Riverfront Design Competition attracted 55 proposals from around the globe.

In re-imagining a portion of the riverfront in Minneapolis, the idea was to emphasize parks as an “engine for sustainable recreational, cultural, and economic development along the riverfront,” according to project materials.

Today, the effort has evolved into the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (MRDI).

On Dec. 15, MRDI held a well-attended public meeting at the Mill City Museum to discuss the possibilities for a nearby ‘Water Works’ park along the river. In the past it was the site of the city’s first water supply and fire-fighting pumping stations.

Partners in Preservation

Partners in Preservation (PIP) from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation had a contest to award $1 million to 13 local preservation projects. The public got to help determine where the money went by voting on Facebook for their favorite projects.

Chris Morris from the National Trust for Historic Preservation said that the contest raised the profile of a number of local preservation projects. He celebrated “the impact it can have on sites that are meaningful to people in their neighborhoods.” Additionally, through creative open-house events, people “tried to involve the community and do good work.”

The Weisman Art Museum held a contest that for the redesign of the bike and pedestrian plaza outside its door, hosting public meetings with interdisciplinary design teams and exhibiting preliminary sketches and models.

Similarly, Architecture Minnesota magazine, which the American Institute of Architects Minnesota publishes, is undergoing its second annual round of Videotect, a video competition that asks participants to contemplate the built environment. The theme this time is sustainable transportation and its enhancement through design. It’ll wrap up with a screening of the videos, giving the audience a chance to weigh in.


Also on the transportation theme, Irrigate is a three-year place-making initiative that aims to connect artists to community development that will accompany the coming Central Corridor light rail transit line.  Springboard for the Arts, TC LISC and the city of St. Paul received $750,000 from the national funding group ArtPlace, to set it in motion.  

Laura Zabel, who heads Springboard, said, “We really see the Central Corridor and construction as an opportunity to engage artists in a really deep way."
Similarly, technology tools are helping to create a sense of community. Some recently released smartphone tours feature audio segments about local landmarks, like Ranger on Call, which touches on various aspects of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

Others, such as Saint Paul: Code Green put people on a kind of scavenger hunt in which they scan strategically placed QR codes to learn more or advance in the “game.”

Experience Southwest’s "shop local" marketing campaign in Southwest Minneapolis also takes advantage of QR codes to direct community members to area retailers.  
Going forward, I expect to see more experimentation of this kind in other areas--look for it in connection with locally trending topics like bicycling, solar power and urban farming.

Anna Pratt, Development Editor

U of M students turn campus plaza into a winter light show

A light spectacle set to music, called Aurora Digitalis, is transforming a plaza at the University of Minnesota’s civil engineering building on certain nights through Dec. 23. 

Mike Hepler, who is the vice president of the student-driven Nikola Tesla Patent Producers (NTP^2), which put it together, says its name “captures the spirit of these flashing lights and what it’s like to be up north.” 

The display includes more than 75,000 blue, green, white and red LED lights that are strewn about the trees, railings and other props in the plaza.  

As a part of the show, lights blink to the beat of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra song “Wizards in Winter” and the theme music to “2001: A Space Odyssey.” 

“It lights up more for more intense parts of the music,” speeding up or slowing down accordingly, he explains, adding, “It’s an immersive experience.” 

Hepler says that the idea for the project came from a student who is new to the group, Taylor Trimble. He'd seen footage of other light shows elsewhere and he wanted to try it out at the university. 

NTP^2 did a little historical digging, and the group believes this to be the university's first light show, he says. 

The U's College of Science and Engineering (CSE), Parsons Electric, and 3M backed the project, according to the Minnesota Daily.  

NTP^2 designed the circuits and soldered them together. “It was a lot of work,” Hepler says. “We designed and built it and put up all the lights,” except for those at the treetops. 

To pull it off under a tight deadline, “It took the full crew and all the people coming in between classes. It was inspirational to see that and be a part of it.” 

All in all, “It brings something unique to the campus,” Hepler says. “It’s something that represents the student presence and capabilities, especially within CSE.” 

Beyond that, it’s a way to “bring everyone together to create a vibrant communal base.”   

The group hopes to do a larger-scale light show next time, he says. 

Source: Michael Hepler, vice president, Nikola Tesla Patent Producers  
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Southwest Senior Center leads in creation of $11,900 mosaic at Bryant Avenue Market

A winter bicyclist, sledders, a roofline, bare trees, and snowflakes all appear in the 150-plus-square-foot mosaic that was unveiled on Nov. 19 at Bryant Avenue Market in Southwest Minneapolis.

The nearby Volunteers of America Southwest Senior Center, which does a lot of arts-related work, secured $11,900 earlier on from the city and the Calhoun Area Residents Action Group (CARAG) to pursue the mosaic, according to Mary Ann Schoenberger, who heads the center.

Such projects are "a really great way to get people working inter-generationally," she says, adding that by making certain building improvements, "We're also giving back to the community."  

The center worked closely with CARAG to pick out the site. Bryant Avenue Market is on a prominent corner, and it had been tagged numerous times, she says. "The neighborhood association was interested in doing building improvements [on the corner]," she says.    

To come up with the design, the center held a couple of brainstorming sessions with community members while also getting feedback from an online survey.

"A lot of people wanted a winter scene," she says. "There are a lot of things that celebrate summer. People thought, 'wouldn't it be neat to celebrate winter?'"

Another theme was the city's bike-friendliness. It helped that "Bryant Avenue has a major bike path," she says.

With the guidance of artist Sharra Frank, the center hosted numerous workshops with community members over six weeks to put together the mosaic.

The 185 all-ages volunteers came from the senior center, Clara Barton Open School, Walker Place, Bryant Square Park, Optum Health, and elsewhere.

Many of them worked on the 43 snowflakes that can be individually identified.

In a piece about the mosaic she wrote for Southwest Patch, Schoenberger states that each snowflake "is a work of art in itself and we were amazed at how seven patterns could result in such diverse creations."

She has high praise for the artist, who"remained calm and the final result is amazingly professional considering how many hands were involved in the project."

Source: Mary Ann Schoenberger, executive director, Southwest Senior Center
Writer: Anna Pratt

Common Good Books to move to Macalester College following $1.2 million renovation of the space

Prominent radio show personality Garrison Keillor is relocating his bookstore, Common Good Books, from Western Avenue North in St. Paul to a larger storefront space at nearby Macalester College.

To make way for the bookstore, this month Macalester began a $1.2 million renovation project at the 1923 Lampert Building, which will take about four months, according to Macalester’s newspaper, The Mac Weekly.

The bookstore will fill the first floor, while the college will sell textbooks on the second floor, according to David O’Neill, marketing director for the bookstore.

Previously, the building housed the Macalester Summit-Hill Seniors Living at Home Program, the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, and living space for retired faculty, The Mac Weekly reports.

At the existing space, “We’ve had a wonderful patronage; people come into the store and know the staff by name, and it’s a great neighborhood,” O'Neill says.

That being said, “We were landlocked as far as space. We needed a larger space.”

The bookstore will nearly double its space with 3,000 square feet. “It’ll allow us to have more titles and books,” with more shelf space.
Although the design is still coming together, the new bookstore will have a similar feel to the current space, with author quotes appearing here and there, and many of the current bookshelves making the move.  

“We’ll look at the floor plan and figure out how to lay it out, with places to read and hang out,” says O'Neill.

In contrast to Common Good's current basement-level location, the new place will have more natural light. The windows will also give passersby the opportunity to get a taste for what’s inside. “We encourage people to come in and spend some time there,” he says.     

Additionally, the bookstore will be able to host literary events in partnership with the school, which has lacked a trade bookstore since Ruminator Books closed in 2004, according to a prepared statement.
Keillor adds in the prepared statement, “It’s a good neighborhood, and with all those college students around, there’s a sense of high spirits in the air, and you need to inhale that if you’re in the book business.”
Source: David O’Neill, marketing director, Common Good Books
Writer: Anna Pratt

6 Words Minneapolis connects residents around the city

Ever since she read the book, “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure,” local librarian and writer Emily Lloyd has been enthralled with the idea of bringing the concept of miniature memoirs closer to home.

After trying it out at the library where she works, the idea of “6 Words Minneapolis” came to her.

It’s a public art project that gets Minneapolitans of all ages and walks of life “to tell their life stories–or something essential about who they are right now–in 6-word memoir form,” the website reads.

People can contribute to the project virtually or in person at a handful of places.

Right now, a mural of submissions is on exhibit at the Midtown Global Market, while the Blue Moon Coffee Café, 2nd Moon Coffee Café, Anodyne, and Seward Café are also featuring pieces of the project that invites audience interaction.  

Meanwhile, Lloyd is still looking for other neighborhood establishments, such as bookstores, salons, and hospitals, to “host” the project, either in mural form, or in a digital slideshow.

So far, over 500 people, including some area middle- and high-school students, have contributed writings that run the gamut from the funny to the poetic.   

Their scribblings are posted on Flickr, where they’re tagged by neighborhood and age.

“Knowing these are the memoirs of the people we pass on the Greenway or bump into at the library or while grocery shopping gives it a greater depth and resonance,” she says.

She plans to accept submissions through the spring and is considering compiling the work into a free e-book.

“I hope people stop, pause, think, and walk away filled with a deepened love and compassion for (or at least curiosity about) those they share space with, a neighborhood with, a city with.”

Source: Emily Lloyd, 6 Words Minneapolis
Writer: Anna Pratt

New 14-stop audio tour tells about public art in Minneapolis

A new audio tour created jointly by Minnesota Public Radio and the city of Minneapolis, called Sound Points, allows listeners to go behind the scenes of 14 recently commissioned public artworks.

Anyone who happens upon the sites, which are indicated with signs, can access the tour around the clock, either by making a phone call or by scanning a QR code with their smartphone.  

The Line recently featured a similar audio tour of the Mississippi River, called Ranger on Call, here.

While the cell phone tour is modeled after similar museum tours, it takes advantage of readily available technology, MPR producer Jeff Jones explains.

There's no need to check out equipment or stick to visiting hours and the artworks can be enjoyed in any order.

“You can just stumble upon these things now,” he says. “That’s what’s taking the tour outside the walls [of the museum]. It lets people find them on their own.”

And, unlike a video or a brochure, it doesn’t substitute for the experience. “It’s meant to enhance the experience of place,” he says.  

Many of the Sound Points can be found near bus stops, making it convenient for those who are already lingering.

For example, one part of the tour features the “Blossoms of Hope” bus shelter that artist Majorie Pitz created in conjunction with Catalyst Community Partners.

She turned the busy bus shelter at Penn and Broadway avenues in North Minneapolis into an oversized vase of flowers, with colorful petals that look like sails.  

After the July tornado that hit North Minneapolis, Jones says, “It became a rallying point for the community,” with services, food, and other assistance being handed out there.

“It was literally a bright spot. It’s a playful piece of art that can be seen from a long way off," says Jones.

Another of his favorite Sound Points centers on an artistically designed water fountain at 21st and Lake Street, titled “3 Forms: The Lake Street Bubbler.”

Water is the fountain’s theme, embodied grotto-style, so that “there are lots of tiny hidden objects and forms throughout the piece."

It’s one of the most satisfying aspects of an audio tour--to learn something that not everyone is privy to, he says.  

To take things a step further, the tour encourages people to respond, either with questions or personal anecdotes, in writing or verbally. 

Other tour highlights include Wing Young Huie’s “Lake Street USA,” which is displayed at the city’s Public Service Center downtown, the 35W Bridge Remembrance Garden, by landscape architect Tom Oslund, and “Enjoyment of Nature,” on Third and Nicollet, by artist Kinji Akagawa. 

Source: Jeff Jones, Sound Point Producer, MPR
Writer: Anna Pratt

$80,000 grant will help make CSPS Sokol Hall a year-round venue

As it approaches its 125th anniversary, the state’s oldest theater, CSPS Sokol Hall, is about to become usable year-round.

Sokol is a fitness organization that was originally founded in the Czech Republic, according to Joe Landsberger, who is a spokesperson for the hall.

He explains that the CSPS Sokol hall, which is run by the volunteer-driven Czech Slovak Sokol Minnesota, goes beyond that by offering everything from ethnic dinners to folk dancing.

The hall will soon be getting air-conditioning for its second-floor auditorium, thanks to an $80,000 grant from Partners in Preservation, a joint program of American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Partners in Preservation recently announced the results of a local competition to dole out $1 million to metro area preservation projects.

The cash infusion will be instrumental in doing more at the hall. “Our building was vacant in the summer because it got too hot,” says Landsberger. “This will enable us to expand programs into the summer months.”

The group of volunteers that runs the hall has been proactive in recent years in bringing the building up to current code standards.

It's all part of a long-range plan for the building, which has been undergoing incremental improvements for decades.

In the 1970s, the three-story commercial building was scheduled to be demolished, but the neighborhood and Sokol joined forces to get it historically designated.

Since then, Sokol has worked to raise funds for design work, heating and plumbing upgrades, a fire-protection sprinkler system, asbestos removal, floor repair, basement moisture remediation, and more, according to its website.

Because of the building’s historic status, “Everything has to fit without compromising the structure,” Landsberger says.

The work is necessary to “ensure the building has another 125 years of useful life with current standards,” he says.

Once the renovations are made, “We’ll put more energy into the programming side.”  

Source: Joe Landsberger, CSPS Sokol Hall
Writer: Anna Pratt

Intermedia Arts creates an ArtsHub space for coworking

When Peter Haakon Thompson stepped in as the curator and host for Intermedia Arts’ new coworking area, called ArtsHub, he focused on getting the place physically ready.  

He wanted to do away with its office look to create a more welcoming workplace for artists, organizers, and others who are interested in social change. “A big part of what I did was create a 'place' out of 'space',” he says.

ArtsHub, which opened last month following a September preview, is housed both within Intermedia and in a separate building behind it, which is referred to as ArtsHub West. Both spaces have conference rooms and a kitchen, although ArtsHub West is geared more for small groups. From either location, people can copy, print, and access the Internet. 

Inside Intermedia, the mezzanine-level ArtsHub has a warm, cozy feeling. With an exposed ceiling and a balcony, it feels like a boat, Thompson says. “I like the idea that it’s an enclosed space that overlooks the lobby.”

It’s furnished with vintage tables and chairs that come from the University of Minnesota’s ReUse Center. Some of the tables look like they came from a biology classroom. Each table has a desk lamp.

In setting it up, Thompson paid attention to light, and how the eclectic furniture works together. “I felt like a curator of desks and chairs,” he says, adding that he hopes people will find a favorite nook.

He also placed one table in the gallery area. How that table gets used is “going to develop as time goes on, when ArtsHub is more part of the building.”

ArtsHub West involved more construction. Thompson took down the walls to make one large open space and installed items for a kitchen. The space also got a new coat of paint--inside and out--which is accentuated by stencil work.  “It has a funky artistic look,” he says.

Artist Ethan Arnold, who painted the lime-green exterior, has artwork showing inside.   

Now, Thompson is focused on programming for the spaces with skill-shares, table tennis, “grant jam days,” happy hours, and more--to facilitate interaction. “We want to provide another way for people to feel like they’re part of a community of other creative types.”

Source: Peter Haakon Thompson, ArtsHub curator, Intermedia Arts
Writer: Anna Pratt

Minneapolis rebranded as a City by Nature

To help make the city of Minneapolis stand out to tourists and convention planners, it's being rebranded as a 'City by Nature.'

Meet Minneapolis introduced the tagline at an Oct. 27 press conference in the IDS Center's Crystal Court in downtown Minneapolis. 

Melvin Tennant, who is the CEO and president for Meet Minneapolis, a nonprofit organization that promotes the city (and is also a sponsor of The Line), says that the rebranding came about because “We need better positioning for the city and more consistent messaging to visitors.”

The tagline is accompanied by a broader brand position, ‘Metropolitan by Nature,’ along with a logo that depicts the city with a silhouette of skyscrapers and trees reflected on water.

Each aspect of the plan is deeply rooted in research that began in early 2011, he says.  

When researchers gathered feedback about the city, they found that adjectives such as “friendly, beautiful, and down-to-earth,” often came up, he says.  

Those are attributes that the marketing strategy will help the city to build on, he explains.

As it is, too few people see the city as a vacation destination, Mayor R.T. Rybak adds.

In a survey of top cities to visit, Minneapolis was under the radar for those who’d never been to the area, he says. But for people who had spent some quality time in the city, it shot near the top. “To know us is to love us,” Rybak concludes.

It’s a big deal, considering that 18 million visitors who arrive to the area every year spend $6 billion annually, he says.

The press event also kicked off a social-media-type “virtual destination tour” around town.

Using their smartphones, people can scan QR codes in and around such local landmarks as the IDS Center, Minneapolis Convention Center, Stone Arch Bridge, Guthrie Theater and Target Field, for informative videos and links, according to Meet Minneapolis information.

Source: R.T. Rybak, Minneapolis mayor, and Melvin Tennant, Meet Minneapolis president and CEO
Writer: Anna Pratt

Weisman Art Museum chooses a winning design for its pedestrian plaza

The Weisman Art Museum (WAM) in Minneapolis, which recently reopened with a new addition, wrapped up a design competition last month that re-imagines the plaza outside its front entrance.

A nine-member jury chose as its winner a proposal jointly from VJAA (Jennifer Yoos and Vincent James), HouMinn Practice (Marc Swackhammer and Blair Satterfield), and artist Diane Willow, according to WAM information.

The plaza, which overlooks the Mississippi River, stands on the eastern edge of the Washington Avenue Bridge, which links the east and west banks of the University of Minnesota campus.

Over 2,000 people cross the plaza daily, and with the completion of recent construction projects, including the Weisman expansion, that number is probably going to go up, according to museum information.

WAM spokesperson Erin Lauderman explains that the design competition was a way to “re-envision our front yard,” which, she adds, is important because “We’re the figureheads for people coming onto the campus as they cross the river.”

The idea is to make the busy plaza more of a gathering space where people will want to linger. “Right now it dumps you on the campus,” she says.

To address that, WAM's Target Studio for Creative Collaboration required that submissions come from interdisciplinary teams with experience designing public spaces.

She says that the winning team’s design helps redirect the flow of traffic to make it safer, keeping pedestrians and bicyclists separate.

It also makes way for an interactive public space with digital walls where passersby “can stop and interact, sort of like a call and response.”

For example, images of people walking across the bridge could appear on the digital walls.

The next phase involves public meetings. “It needs to be vetted for what’s realistic and what the community wants it to be,” Lauderman says.

Source: Erin Lauderman, spokesperson, Weisman Art Museum
Writer: Anna Pratt

$265,000 Latino veterans' memorial under construction on Harriet Island

For a decade, a memorial to honor Latino veterans in St. Paul has been in the works, and last month, it finally became a reality.

American Veterans Memorial--Plaza de Honor recently had its ground-breaking on Harriet Island Regional Park’s Great Lawn near the river walk.

The $265,000 memorial will feature a gathering area with several flagpoles around it.

“The design and construction of the memorial will tie into the recently completed renovations of the island,” a prepared statement about the memorial reads.

Brad Meyer, a spokesperson for St. Paul parks, says it helps that Harriet Island already has a smaller- scale flagpole memorial. “A new, larger memorial could use existing materials and space,” while also improving upon the original, he says.

The park was also an ideal setting for the memorial because of its high visibility, he says. Besides the thousands of visitors who come to events on the island, it receives plenty of “passive use” year-round.  

And nearby is the home of the American Veterans--Mexican American Post #5, which he says was instrumental in bringing the memorial to fruition.

With the help of the veterans' group, “We were able to secure the funds necessary to complete the project,” he says via email.

The city, along with the American Veterans--Mexican American Post #5 and U.S. Bank, contributed funds to the project, which secured both grants and private donations, according to city information.  

“A lot of thought has gone into this project, and we are very pleased with the final design and are looking forward to celebrating the grand opening” next spring, Meyer says.

Source: Brad Meyer, spokesperson, St. Paul Parks
Writer: Anna Pratt

New $8-$10 million redesign unveiled for Peavey Plaza

A new design for the aging Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneapolis incorporates everything from a 20-foot water wall to flexible performance spaces.

Tom Oslund, who is the principal of oslund.and.associates, a local landscape architecture firm that took into consideration all kinds of public feedback in coming up with the design, says it modernizes the plaza.

The existing plaza, which notable landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg designed in 1974, doesn't meet modern accessibility requirements. Also, too much water goes down the drain--literally--and the plaza lacks an efficient stormwater management plan, Oslund says.

More broadly, the plaza has evolved into a hub for outdoor performances over the past several decades. "There's a shortage of infrastructure to hold more sophisticated performances."

Additionally, the way the plaza recesses below-grade has posed numerous safety concerns.

The new design divides the plaza into several "rooms," at different elevations, including a street-level area and garden and performance space, all of which are accessible via a ramp.

It features a couple of pools with dancing fountains, a shady pergola, a sound garden, and green spaces, according to project information.

Seating can be configured according to the use, with shallow pools that can be turned off to make room for 1,500 chairs.

A video screen that a video artist will help program will broadcast Orchestra Hall performances.

Although the $8-$10 million project depends on fundraising, the ideal timeline is to have it reopen with the $50 million reconstruction of the adjacent Orchestra Hall. At this point, the groundbreaking is planned for the spring of 2012.   

He says that while change is hard for some people, the design has been well received.

"I think the new design is reflective of how 21st-century space should be articulated," he says. "There's a significant program component to it and a significant sustainable strategy," including economically.

Source: Tom Oslund, principal, oslund.and.associates
Writer: Anna Pratt

Videotect competition returns with sustainable transportation topic and $6,000 in prize money

Architecture Minnesota, which last year hosted a popular video contest that centered on skyway travel, is gearing up for another round of Videotect.

The topic this time is sustainable transportation and "its enhancement through quality design," according to Chris Hudson, who is the editor of Architecture Minnesota magazine.

Hudson says that the video competition was successful earlier this year, with over 1,600 people casting votes for their favorite videos online, and the Walker Art Center screening filling to capacity.

However, Hudson says. it was also a learning experience: "We knew what we wanted to improve on."

For this round, videos will be shorter, between 30 and 120 seconds as opposed to two minutes. Now, people also have three months to produce a video entry, compared to five weeks the first time. "Last time it was a crunch. We didn't want to stress people out like that," he says.

He's hoping that people will take advantage of the window of time to film before winter creeps in.

Another perk is that with the help of a couple of sponsors, Architecture Minnesota is able to offer more prize money, with $6,000 to be given out.

Through the contest, "We want to spark a public dialogue," about the built environment, he says, but adds that the contest is not limited to strictly architectural topics.  

Such is the case with the sustainable transportation theme, where design plays an important role. In considering possible topics, "We couldn't think of anything bigger or hotter," he says.

Right now there's all kinds of pressure to build highways "to keep things going," while light rail transit and bike amenities are also coming up a lot.

Everything from planes to bikes is fodder for the contest. "We want people to focus on what are the most sustainable forms of transportation, and conversely, to make some critiques of sustainable transportation options." 

The topic is open-ended "to allow people to approach it however they want."

Entries are due by Jan. 23, with online viewing and voting happening in early February.  

Source: Chris Hudson, editor, Architecture Minnesota magazine
Writer: Anna Pratt

Local Alliance Francaise planning for future building renovations

This summer, the Alliance Française in Minneapolis's Warehouse District spruced up its cobalt-blue façade.

Now, it's shifting its focus to some "much-needed renovations" inside, according to Christina Selander Bouzouina, who leads the Alliance.

As it is, guests have to ring the buzzer to enter the 1880s building. Although the buzzer is a security measure, "It's not the most welcoming introduction to the organization," she says.  

Once someone does get into the building, a large staircase confuses matters. "People aren't sure which way to go," she says. "It's kind of off-putting."

To address those issues, the Alliance wants to relocate the second-level reception area to the ground floor to greet people right away when they walk in, she explains.

However, this change means, "We'll lose the beautiful classroom that you can see from the sidewalk," which, she adds, is the only accessible classroom in the building.

As a result, the Alliance will need to install an elevator.

Other questions center on whether classrooms should be added to its existing 11, and, in particular, if more space should be devoted to its growing list of children's offerings.

A room that's equipped for cooking lessons is also under discussion.  

The renovations are part of a long-term strategic plan that goes back to when the Alliance bought the building in 1998.

Although the details are still up in the air, Bouzina estimates that the project will run around $500,000, for which a capital campaign is in planning stages.

The idea is to aim for a "goal that's achievable, that we're excited about and that meets our purposes," she says. "We want to be sure it's meeting our needs but that there's no empty space."   

Source: Christina Selander Bouzouina, executive director, Alliance Française of Minneapolis St Paul
Writer: Anna Pratt

Basilica of Saint Mary awarded $110,000 through Partners in Preservation competition

The Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis won $110,000 to restore part of its 1915 building through the Partners in Preservation (PIP) competition that wrapped up last week.

Twenty-four other local landmarks competed for grant money through the contest from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

It involved nearly 28,000 people, who weighed in on an online poll over a three-week period, according to contest information.

PIP, which started in 2006, has given out $5.5 million to 56 historic preservation projects nationwide. Another $10 million will be doled out through the program over the next handful of years, according to contest information.

At the basilica--the oldest in the country, which French architect Emmanuel Masqueray designed--the grant will help spruce up everything from decorative ceilings to paint and gold leaf throughout.  

Chris Morris, a spokesperson from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, says that the basilica hopes the upgrade will lead the way for additional building improvements. “It’s nice that we can act as a catalyst, giving confidence to tackle big projects in the future," she says. 

More broadly, she says, the contest successfully raised awareness about many area preservation projects and “the impact it can have on sites that are meaningful to people in their neighborhoods.”

Additionally, through creative open-house events, people “tried to involve the community and do good work.”

The Hennepin Center for the Arts, which has been renamed the Cowles Center for Dance & Performing Arts, for example, had some community members knit scarves for a performance art piece. (The scarves also related to “yarn bombing” actions around town.) Afterward, the scarves were donated to people in need. “It was a fabulous act of generosity,” Morris says.   

Also, Emerge Career and Technology Center had a barbeque that got people excited about its redevelopment project in North Minneapolis. “It’s a great way to make strong connections with people in their own community,” says Morris.  

Next, an advisory committee will meet in November to determine how the remaining $900,000 grant will be divvied up among the other 24 competing projects.  

Source: Chris Morris, representative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
Writer: Anna Pratt
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