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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 

Travail to open pop-up restaurant on West Broadway

Travail Kitchen and Amusements, a Robbinsdale restaurant, is experimenting with a pop-up eatery called Umami in North Minneapolis. 

Umami, which is themed around Asian-style "comfort food," will occupy the space on West Broadway Avenue North for up to eight weeks, according to a prepared statement. The 45-seat restaurant is “the first tasting menu and takeout-driven pop-up restaurant in Minnesota,” the prepared statement reads. 

Travail collaborated with the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition (WBC) to open the place. 

The project fits in with the WBC’s ongoing effort to shine a light on assets in the West Broadway business district, according to Shaina Brassard, a spokesperson from the WBC. “We’re looking for ways to draw attention to vacant spaces on West Broadway,” she says. That includes pop-up galleries and retail shops in various spaces along the corridor. 

It helps that Travail, which is in the process of opening a couple of other local restaurants, has also been hosting pop-up events all over town this summer, she says. 

The space, which has sat vacant for a couple of years, features floor-to-ceiling windows, an open kitchen, a mural, and other art, plus long, community-style tables and more. Brassard is hopeful that Umami’s “presence there, which is beautiful and vibrant, will make people see the potential that the space has as a restaurant.” 

Although the WBC has long supported pop-up art events as a part of FLOW Northside Arts Crawl and other community initiatives, “It’s a strategy we’re working on this year in particular, as a part of our retail recruitment and business district revitalization,” she says. The pop-up idea encourages people to “think about space in a different way,” she adds.  

To help pull off the pop-up restaurant, the WBC negotiated a short-term lease for the space and it took advantage of grant money from the city’s Great Streets initiative.  

The place has already generated buzz. “The neighborhood is excited about having such a great sit-down restaurant in the area,” Brassard says. 

Source: Shaina Brassard, West Broadway Coalition
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Adding public art to the new Lowertown ballpark

Recently, the city of St. Paul put out a request for qualifications (RFQ) for the public art that will go into the new Saints stadium in Lowertown. 

The city and the baseball team enlisted Julie Snow Architects, AECOM, and Ryan Companies to come up with a main concept for the 7,000-seat facility, which includes everything from public plazas to a dog park, according to the RFQ. 

Jody Martinez, who works for the city’s parks and recreation department, is leading the charge. She explains that at this early stage, artist entrants probably won’t have a “super-fleshed out idea,” for their ballpark contributions. Rather, the RFQ, which has a Sept. 16 deadline, is more about “what the artists hope to accomplish,” she says.   

That’s what a committee composed of city workers, art professionals, and other stakeholders will be looking at when they select the artists for the job, she says. 

Public art will add another dimension to the ballpark, which is replacing the 30-year-old Midway Stadium.

She says the ballpark’s artwork could take just about any form. For example, public art might tie in to the area’s history or the arts district. It might also incorporate “new-age electric art,” she says, adding, “It’s really open. We didn’t want to be prescriptive in any way.”  

That said, the Saints are known for a lot of quirky things, and the art should reflect that. “We’re looking for something quirky or out of the box, that speaks to the Saints and what they’ve stood for,” she says. Additionally, the public art should be within plain view so “that you [don't] have to search for it. It should be front and center."  

The committee encourages established and emerging artists to collaborate. “We’re hoping to get some interesting teams of artists who can combine forces and come up with unique ideas,” Martinez says. 

The timeframe for the public art will be tied to the stadium’s construction, which is planned to begin next spring, she adds.  

Source: Jody Martinez, St. Paul Parks and Recreation 
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Community members to help plan Take the Field event

The Corcoran Neighborhood Organization (CNO) wants to encourage community participation in the planning of an ambitious event it's hosting this fall called Take the Field

The Oct. 11 event, which will take place at Minneapolis's South High School's athletic field, will be a block party-style get-together with a special artistic project, a picnic, a movie screening, and more. 

Tonight, people will gather at the intersection of 21st Avenue South and 31st Street to brainstorm for the event. 

Besides the community-building aspect, Take the Field aims to spark a dialogue about neighborhood traffic issues and possible solutions, according to CNO community organizer Ross Joy.

The event was inspired in part by the school district's decision to phase out yellow school bus service to the city's public high schools, he explains. Starting this fall, students will walk, bike or take public transit to South High, or more cars might be on the road, according to CNO.  

In response, the neighborhood group wants to lead a discussion about how 21st Avenue and 32nd Streets could become major corridors for pedestrians and cyclists. CNO hopes to jumpstart that conversation at the meeting this week, which is open to anyone. Attendees will help flesh out event details, as well, Joy says. 

The neighborhood group is collaborating with the artistic trio Janaki Ranpura, Andrea Steudel, and Meena Mangalvedhekar, known collectively as JAM, on the event's main attraction, in which huge projections and sound will turn the field into an interactive art space. Attendees can join in the visualization, or they can take in the spectacle from the bleachers.  

Joy hopes the public art project will “engage the community about the big ideas of scale, time and space.” That's important as the neighborhood considers how walkers, bicyclists and car drivers fit together, physically. 

These are issues that have been building in the neighborhood for some time. Last spring, South High students led a petition asking local government leaders to improve 21st Ave S and 32nd Street for cyclists. “Most students live east of Hiawatha highway 55 and thus major crossing like at 32nd Street are often dangerous and discourages bicycle use,” Joy explains. 

Furthermore, the event dovetails with other planning efforts in the neighborhood, including its small area plan and the Urban Planning vision for East Lake Street, he says. 

“One of the big outcomes we are seeking is for the wider community to embrace a new identity for the South High Athletic Field,” Joy says. 

That identity should be “high-use and diverse, engaging for pedestrians, and safe for cyclists,” he adds.  

Source: Ross Joy, lead organizer, CNO  
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Photos wrap around vacant North Side building as a part of FLOW Art Crawl

Last weekend, a vacant building at 1001 West Broadway Avenue in North Minneapolis was turned into a large-scale work of art. 

A bold vinyl wrap featuring photographic images from the neighborhood wraps around two sides of the three-story building. 
The project kicks off the FLOW Art Crawl, an annual event since 2006 that’s running this weekend with more offerings than in previous years. 

Many different galleries, studios, theaters, and other spaces are a part of the art crawl, which stretches down West Broadway, from the Mississippi River to Penn Avenue North, according to art crawl materials. This includes a Caribbean cultural "masquerade parade" and a mini-Open Streets event in partnership with the Minneapolis Bike Coalition. Open Streets allows for bicyclists and pedestrians to freely wander North 2nd Street.  

Dudley Voigt, FLOW’s artistic director, says that each year during the event, “We have made a piece of public art that lasted beyond the event.”   

The three-story building can’t be occupied at this time, “but that doesn’t mean it can’t be showcased,” she says.  

FLOW, along with the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, collaborated with the city, which owns the building, to “figure out a way to wrap it, to use art on a larger scale and amplify what we’ve been doing for a long time,” she says. 

The project expands on the city’s façade improvement efforts and the coalition’s work around business recruitment, corridor marketing and creative placemaking, a prepared statement from the city reads.  

The guerilla-style photos that characterize the vinyl wrap, which Armour Photography, owned by Jake Armour, shot in June, feature area business owners, organization leaders, artists, architectural elements of the corridor and more. 

“What’s great about this is that you can drive by it and see it anytime. It’s a celebration of the great things happening on the North Side everyday,” she says.

A number of other North Side buildings have also gotten an artistic makeover. “Public art makes any space look good,” on both the inside and outside, Voigt says. At times, this type of public artwork has even led to a building or another space being rented or purchased. “We see that story playing out over and over again, the intersection of art and commerce,” she says. 

Meanwhile, the vinyl wrap is expected to last several years. “The city and the community want to see the building occupied before the banner fades,” says Voigt.  

Source: Dudley Voigt, artistic director, FLOW 
Writer: Anna Pratt

Minnesota Beer Activists to start up a community hops garden

The Minnesota Beer Activists group is planning a community garden centered exclusively on hops, which are used to flavor beer.  

Andrew Schmitt, the group’s executive director, saw a need for fresh, locally sourced hops. “I thought, ‘why not have a garden dedicated to just hops, which the community can use?’” he says. “We have a great community of home brewers in Minnesota and this is one way we can help with that.”  

He knows of no other community hops gardens in the country. The Minnesota Beer Activists worked with Hennepin County to find a spot for the garden. They setled on a lot at the corner of East 38th Street and Dight Avenue in Minneapolis’s Longfellow neighborhood.  

Besides turning a vacant space into a productive one, the garden dovetails with several local breweries. “It brings neighbors together and they can share something they have in common,” he says.   

The Minnesota Beer Activists plans to run the hops garden cooperatively. People can sign up to take part in much the same way that they would in any other community garden, collectively maintaining it, he says.

To help get it up and running, Hippity Hop Farms in Forest Lake is donating hop plants and trellises, which cuts down on the group’s overhead costs, he says. Schmitt hopes to track down some rain barrels as well.

The garden will start out by planting Cascade hops, which are “great all around for making beer, in terms of taste and aroma,” he says, adding, “As things progress, we may look at some other styles.”

Schmitt plans to edge the garden with wheat and barley. He also wants to set up a bench to create a park-like feel, he says.  
By October, the garden should have its first harvest. The hops will be good for home brewers and cooking enthusiasts alike.

He hopes to make the garden the “leading edge of what could be a movement,” inspiring other community hops gardens in the area, and beyond.

Source: Andrew Schmitt, executive director, Minnesota Beer Activists
Writer: Anna Pratt

St. Paul skyway mural invites introspection

A mural in a skyway at downtown St. Paul’s Alliance Bank Center is encouraging all kinds of personal and profound reactions. 

The mural, which spans a 36-foot-long construction barricade, has been designed to appear like an oversized chalkboard. Over and over, it contains the line, “Before I die I want to…” with space for 168 people to fill in the blanks.  

Shawn Wiski, the property manager for the building, had seen a headline about New Orleans-based artist Candy Chang’s original project. It had to do with how the words, “Before I die I want to….” changed her life, she says. 

Chang came up with the project after losing a close friend who’d been a mother figure to her. “She started reflecting on the rest of her life and what she wanted to do,” she says.  

The artist took that line of thought and she wound up stenciling it on the exterior of a vacant, boarded-up house in New Orleans. “The response was phenomenal, so it’s been duplicated,” in cities all over the globe, she says. 

Wiski thought about the skyway, where the “huge white construction wall calls out for something to be decorating it. It was an opportunity for something to go there that benefits others.”

St. Paul's "Before I die" mural is in an ideal spot, with plenty of pedestrian traffic. “It’s gone over far better than I could have expected. It’s had an overwhelming response,” Wiski says. 

Within several hours of the mural’s unveiling in the skyway on July 8, the slots had been completely filled out. Since then, the answers have been erased and already it’s chock-full of answers once again. “It’s been cool to watch the people gather by it, read it, take pictures and write on it,” she says. 

The mural will be up for a total of six weeks, as was another art project that came before it. “I just hope it’s an inspiration to all, that it helps everyone reflect on their life and the importance of what they can contribute,” she says. 

The mural also offers a community-building exercise. “It teaches us about our fellow businessperson, resident, visitor, and more,” she says. 

Many of the responses defy stereotypes, she says. People are “divulging a little bit of their inner self. So it’s personal.”  

Source: Shawn Wiski, property manager, Alliance Bank Center 
Writer: Anna Pratt 

A photo contest connecting design principles and the life of the street

To flesh out its in-progress street design manual that’s part of a broader plan, St. Paul is holding a photo contest of “street elements" that can be found throughout the city.

The manual will provide "a clear framework for street design processes,” according to city information. Community members can help add to the manual with snapshots of “street elements,” which include sidewalks, benches, crosswalks, bike racks and lanes, boulevard trees, outdoor cafes, and more.

The contest, which has an Aug. 1 deadline, is open to anyone, from the amateur to the professional photographer, according to Anton Jerve, a city official who is leading the charge. Contest rules, along with a lengthy list of “street elements,” sample photos and image requirements can be found on the city’s website. Some people may even be able to use their smartphones, depending on how good their cameras are, he says.  

The contest is a creative way to get the public involved in the digital manual, which will see plenty of use from city planners, he says. “This is an opportunity for people to go out and take photos and help us customize the manual,” he says, adding, “It showcases the good things we’re already doing.”         

This will contribute to the city's Complete Streets Plan, which is all about street design that takes into consideration “the needs of all street users, of all ages and abilities,” city materials state. The manual will “talk about how we can bring the street elements all together to design a complete or balanced street,” Jerve says.            

Part of what makes it helpful is that “People will take photos of places they like. It gets people out and about and thinking about the streets, and the relationship between what we’re calling something in the manual and how it’s functioning,” he says.  
Source: Anton Jerve, city of St. Paul
Writer: Anna Pratt

Heyday to reimagine a vacant space in Uptown

Heyday, a new restaurant coming to Minneapolis's Uptown neighborhood, has big plans to transform the space once occupied by the former Sunny Side Up Café and an adjacent Laundromat.    

Lorin Zinter, a principal of Heyday whose partner is chef Jim Christiansen, says the pair scouted out lots of restaurant spaces all over the city for several years before settling on this location. They’re fans of Uptown, which is ideally situated “so close to single-family homes, condos, apartments and other great businesses. It was a great fit for us.”

To make way for Heyday, the concept for which they’re still developing, the pair is planning a dramatic renovation of the space. The building will take on a whole new look and feel, he says.

For starters, they’ll be removing the exterior siding and installing new windows and doors, while the interior will be brought down to the floorboards and studs. “We’ll start from scratch and it’ll be open, extending up to the ceiling,” he says, adding, “I love the original exposed hardwood ceilings.”

Natural materials will characterize the place, while local artist Terrence Payne, founder of the Rosalux Gallery, will create an original piece that will lend plenty of personality to one interior wall. “We’re excited to work with him. He’s immensely talented. We want to use local artists, so visitors can see and feel the impact of people in Minneapolis within the restaurant,” Zinter says.

A bar and lounge will take up close to half of the space, while the restaurant portion will fill out the remainder of the nearly 4,600-square-foot area, he says.  

Even though Zinter and Christiansen have a background in fine dining, “We don’t want it to be only a special-occasion place. We want it to be a place in the neighborhood where people feel free to walk down anytime.”

Construction will start in mid-July, while the restaurant aims to open in December.  

“I think there’s such a great food scene already on Lyndale, and it’s building nicely. We want to contribute to that and make this part of the city that much more fun and enjoyable,” he says.

Source: Lorin Zinter, co-owner, Heyday
Writer: Anna Pratt

Thistle store brings vintage wares to Milton Square

Thistle, an occasional shop that offers repurposed vintage furniture and other home accessories, opened in the historical Milton Square in St. Paul in May.

The space has had a variety of uses through the years, according to shop owner Heather O’Malley.
She describes the place as a “nice complement to the quirky building,” which dates back to 1909. It has a European feeling, with old-fashioned steps that lead down to the store. People can “overlook it from the street and down into my doorway. People love to peek over,” she says.

Although O’Malley made some cosmetic changes to the 800-square-foot space, “My type of furniture, quirky repurposed things, fits in well with this,” she says. To flesh that out a little more, she took away layers to expose old pipes and radiators.  

O’Malley, who also has a set-design business, had always wanted to have a shop like this and she likes the neighborhood. As far as work goes, “I love to find things and change them up and make them into something else, give them a new life,” she says, adding, “I felt it was time for me to have a retail spot for it.”  

So, when this space opened up, “It was the perfect opportunity,” and it makes sense for the neighborhood, too, which is characterized by older homes, she says.

Since the shop is only open for a limited time over the course of a month, “It’s not like a typical gift shop. It’s constantly changing,” with different merchandise all the time. “People feel like they’re on a scavenger hunt to find something no one else has discovered yet.”  

The shop’s next sale dates go from July 11 to 14. (Check the website for further details.) “People get excited about seeing what comes next,” O'Malley says, adding, “There’s been some really interesting comments and good feedback so far.”

Source: Heather O’Malley, owner, Thistle
Writer: Anna Pratt

French Corner Bistro & Bakery fills void for baked goods on Nicollet Mall

A new French-style bakery and bistro on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis is hosting its grand opening this Thursday.
The French Corner Bistro & Bakery, which had a soft opening earlier this month, offers a wide variety of baked goods, sandwiches, soups and salads, and wine.
Nadia Storchak, a co-owner of the place along with Vladimir Storchak and Chrystel Klein, says the bistro’s concept is comparable to that of the former Pardon My French restaurants. “It has a similar menu,” she says, adding, We have a French chef from France. So, it’s not only in the name. We have real French foods.”   
The bistro, which has 40 seats inside along with sidewal-café seating, brought about a dramatic makeover of the space, which once housed a bank. “We demolished everything that was here before and started again. It was a big project,” Storchak says.
Inside, the bistro has a French-inspired ambience, with an eye-catching chandelier and granite countertops. “It’s a transitional modern look,” she says.
The place fills a unique niche in the area. “It’s a big need for people living or working downtown. There are a lot of coffee shops, but no place to buy pastries,” she says. Already, the place has been busy. “It’s a great place just to spend time and hang out with friends,” Storchak says, adding, “We have the best macaroons in town. Everyone is saying they’re the best.”
French Corner Bistro & Bakery also helps bring business to the adjacent Dahl Pharmacy, which the Storchaks and Klein also own, she says.  
In the future, the bistro hopes to add catering services along with boxed lunches. “We’re looking forward to seeing more customers,” says Storchak.
Source: Nadia Storchak, co-owner, French Corner Bistro & Bakery
Writer: Anna Pratt

courageous heARTS center brings youth together through art

As a survivor of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007, Lindsay Walz, a youth worker, turned to art for healing.  
“I found myself through the artistic process and creativity. I could tell my story to myself in a different way,” she says.  

That experience led her to open courageous heARTS, an arts-focused youth center at 4164 Cedar Ave. S. in Minneapolis. As a part of a soft launch this summer, the center has special drop-in hours for open studio use. The center is also helping plan community art projects in conjunction with the Standish Ericsson Neighborhood Association (SENA).

Walz, who has long wanted to open a youth center of her own, says courageous heARTS is a “space that’s safe, where youth can express themselves and get the gunk out,” adding, “It’s better if those feelings come out on paper or with words, whatever the case may be.”

The center is a place to explore those possibilities. “Maybe someone is an untapped writer or a dancer or a musician,” she says. “It’s not about being good at it, just doing it.”

Also, youth can learn from each other. “They don’t have to separate themselves,” and they can develop leadership skills through the youth advisory board and other opportunities, she says.

The space, formerly a convenience store that had sat vacant for some time, is an ideal location, according to Walz. She wanted to find a space in the neighborhood, where she lives, “so it would be community-based in the true sense of it,” she says. Plus, the neighborhood doesn’t have a lot of youth programming. “It was about making art and space accessible."

The center will probably occupy the 1,800-square-foot space for a couple of years and then move to another location, since the landlord has other plans for the building in the longer term. “I felt like it would be a good window to get the center off the ground,” Walz says.

At this time, she’s still looking for partners and volunteers to help make the place a success, while an Aug. 1 fundraiser includes a screening of the documentary “Inocente” at the Riverview Theatre.

“Anyone that’s interested we’d love to hear from,” whether that has to do with art or office work or another skill, she says. “We need a lot of helping hands to get off the ground. We want to be around for a long time. That’s the goal.”

Source: Lindsay Walz, courageous heARTS
Writer: Anna Pratt

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