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Bikeverywhere.com to offer interactive bike maps

Bikeverywhere.com, a new interactive mapping website, encourages people to venture out by bike.

The website, which will help people map bicycle routes across the Upper Midwest, will launch later this month, according to its creator Doug Shidell, a Minneapolis resident.

Shidell, an avid bicyclist, has long produced bicycle maps and other kinds of guide books through Little Transport Press.

This project came about because “What I realized was, I wanted to do more. I wanted to cover more area, get more information for people,” he says, adding that a digital format seemed ideal.

He’s targeting bicyclists who are “more of an explorer or trying to get some place,” not hardcore athletes who often take the same routes over and over.

On the website, people can plan their routes by looking at practical issues or they can look for picnic areas, public art or Nice Ride bike-sharing docking stations.

“It’s more about the experience of exploring the area by bike, to see the city and rural areas in ways that people don’t normally see it,” he says. “People can start seeing what the city has to offer.”  

Shidell is working with several developer teams that are helping to generate the sophisticated maps.

He’s also collected information from bicycle clubs, advocacy groups and even individual riders, to make the maps as comprehensive as possible.

Right now, the website is in the testing phase but when it's ready, those who sign up as Bikeverywhere members can print or save or share maps, he says. 

Shidell also has an $8,000 Indiegogo fundraising campaign for the project going to help complete certain mapping features.

Ultimately, Shidell is trying to answer a question he hears a lot. That is, “Where can I ride my bike? My focus is on helping you get around.

The goal is to get more people to ride bikes and hopefully use it for transportation.”

Source: Doug Shidell, creator, Bikeverywhere
Writer: Anna Pratt

Veronique Wantz Gallery settles in North Loop

Veronique Wantz, a French-born veteran of the art business who studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre and worked as a curator and antiques dealer in Paris for a decade and as an art consultant and gallery director here for fourteen years, recently decided it was time to start an art gallery of her own.

As she was scouting out possible locations, it seemed serendipitous when an 855-square-foot space in a vintage brick building in Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood opened up. Wantz jumped at it, opening the Veronique Wantz Gallery on Jan. 15.

The gallery focuses on work from emerging and well-known national and international artists whose work hasn’t been seen in the Twin Cities before.

This includes a range of artists working in different mediums and styles. “I want it to be fresh and different from what you can find in other places,” she says.  

Wantz plans to do six or seven shows a year, including a mix of solo and group exhibits, depending on how large an artist’s body of work is. “My idea is to establish relationships with fewer artists. It’s more about quality than quantity,” she says, adding, “I want to commit to artists and give visibility.”   

Previously, the space had been used as a shipping area for a software company. Although the space needed “a vision for what it could become,” she made mainly cosmetic changes. For example, she upgraded the lighting, cleaned up the floors and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

Already, the space had plenty of character, with exposed brick, hardwood floors, and high ceilings and old wooden beams, she says. Behind some boards that she removed, she found beautiful original windows intact. “I wanted the same integrity, to keep it the way it is,” just with added polish, she says. “It was really interesting to see how things fell into place.”  

More broadly, she’s glad to be situated in North Loop, which she calls the little SoHo of Minneapolis, with all kinds of upscale and up-and-coming restaurants, retail shops and galleries. “I think it fits the neighborhood really well. I am very optimistic about it,” she says.
Source: Veronique Wantz, gallery owner
Writer: Anna Pratt

Northern Spark to take over Lowertown this year

Northern Spark, an all-night art festival that’s in its third year, recently announced that in 2013, it’ll take over St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood.

The free festival, which is planned for the evening of June 8, continuing into the wee morning hours, offers a wide variety of performances, visual art, projected images, interactive media, and participatory events, according to Northern Spark materials.     

Last year, the festival took place in Minneapolis only, though in 2011 it hosted activities in both cities, including Lowertown. The location has jumped around based on scheduling needs and other factors, according to a post from Knight Arts.
Steve Dietz, who is the president and artistic director of Northern Lights.mn, which organizes the festival, says Lowertown is an ideal location because it “has a significant history as a vital center for artists and arts organizations.”  

Recently, the area has seen the reopening of the historic Union Depot, the development of an experimental project space for the Minnesota Museum of American Art and a new venue for the Bedlam Theatre. The coming Central Corridor Light Rail Transit and a new St. Paul Saints stadium will add to the momentum, he says.

The festival has a “unique opportunity to engage with an amazing history, remarkable architecture, creative ferment,” he says.

“We’d like Northern Spark to be an integral part of the exciting future of the area” and to show the neighborhood in a new light, he says.

Ultimately, the festival is about building community. It gets thousands of people “wandering purposely aimlessly at odd hours participating in a shared experience,” he says. “It is a way to not just imagine but participate in creating the place where we’d like to live.”

Recently, the organization put out a call for 10 projects, which can be in any medium. The deadline is March 4.

“The types of experiences range from spectacular to intimate to surprising to thought-provoking,” he says, adding that the most memorable works are interactive in some way.  

Although Northern Spark won’t disclose the lineup until March 12, more than 75 projects from 45 organizations will also be showcased at the festival, according to Dietz.

Source: Steve Dietz, president and artistic director, Northern Lights.Mn
Writer: Anna Pratt

Parka opens on East Lake Street

Parka, a new café that opened on January 23 on East Lake Street and 40th Avenue South in Minneapolis, has already generated a buzz.

Victory 44 chef Erick Harcey joined forces with Dogwood Coffee and Rustica Bakery to open the restaurant, which shares space with Forage Modern Workshop, a furniture and home goods store.

Spencer Agnew, who works for the Longfellow Community Council, says the neighborhood welcomes the new business. "People are very excited about Forage Modern Workshop and Parka because of the creative energy they are bringing to East Lake Street," he says, adding, "We are thrilled to see entrepreneurs renovate and bring new life to retail spaces" in this area of Longfellow.

The place carries on the design aesthetic of Forage, which features local designers, with clean, spare lines, big wooden booths, and funky artwork.

The result is "a loving tribute to Minnesota and the far North, with its wooden deer-head wall hangings, the ceramic white squirrel perched on the countertop, and the elaborate Bear Fox Chalk rendition of a 1928 portrait of a bundled-up Inuit family," a story in the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger reads.

“The challenge, but also the most exciting part of this project was to create a space that both Forage Modern Workshop and Parka felt was seamless but was very functional,” the restaurant’s Facebook page states.  

Turning around the old carpenter’s union hall involved getting rid of cubicles, partition walls and a dropped ceiling, “to expose the beautiful mid-century industrial architecture,” it adds.

Parka also features some items that the next-door shop sells.

The café, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, has a casual yet upscale feel, the Heavy Table blog notes.

It’s part of a new foodie trend in the neighborhood, emphasizing artisan-quality, locally-sourced fare that Heavy Table says started with Peace Coffee shop in 2010 and has continued since then with Harriet Brewing, Mosaic Café, the Minneapolis location of The Blue Door Pub, and Parka.   

Source: Spencer Agnew, Longfellow Community Council
Writer: Anna Pratt

An effort to recognize prominent black Minnesotans at significant locations in St. Paul

St. Paul’s Heritage Preservation Commission is looking at the possibility of putting up several “Old Rondo” street signs in the city’s neighborhood of the same name.  

Frank White, a lifelong St. Paul resident and a history buff, put forward the proposal as a way to symbolically recognize the neighborhood’s history, particularly as it relates to some high-achieving black Minnesotans, according to the Pioneer Press.

White has worked to set in motion several other initiatives in this same vein. For starters, he wants to get more name recognition for Toni Stone Field, a baseball stadium in the Dunning Athletic Complex. This includes mounting a related plaque and sign at the stadium, according to a story from the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

He’s working on similar projects to get more name recognition for Toni Stone, one of the first female players in Negro league baseball, athlete Jimmy Lee, for which the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center is named, and Dred Scott, a slave who famously argued for freedom in a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.  

The Heritage Preservation Commission adopted a resolution on February 14 supporting the effort to add and correct the "Old Rondo Avenue" signage, "as it will be a more accurate reflection of Rondo Avenue and allow for greater interpretation of the impacts of the construction of Interstate 94 to this neighborhood," information from the body reads.  

Next, White's proposal will go before the City Council, though the timeline for that is yet to be determined, according to Amy Spong, a St. Paul official who works with the commission.

City Council member Melvin Carter III says, “It went further than what we’ve acknowledged publicly so far to honor the community that exists here in St. Paul. It’s a good thoughtful approach to making sure that we honor our past while building our future together.

“I think Frank has done some important work,” he adds. “It’s always important to understand what history holds.”

It’s about getting a better handle on the future, says Carter, “so young folks who’ve grown up in this community can be aware of the rich set of accomplishments of others and can factor that in as they calculate the prospects for their future.”

Reflecting on White’s hard work, he says, “I appreciate everything he’s done,” adding, “I wish more people were as thoughtful and would look around and come up with ideas to make the city a better place.”

Sources: Amy Spong, City of Saint Paul; Melvin Carter, III, St. Paul City Council
Writer: Anna Pratt

Breaking Ice performance delves into neighborhood development past and present

In its latest show, a long-running theater troupe at Pillsbury House + Theatre in South Minneapolis called Breaking Ice is tackling big questions about community development in the area.

The show, which runs through February 26, responds to comments that come up in all types of community forums, online and in person, according to Alan Berks, a spokesperson for the theater company.     

Through its performance and a facilitated conversation that follows, Breaking Ice explores questions relating to a major question: “How can neighborhoods evolve in economically stable and sustainable ways?” according to event materials.

This show is part of the Arts on Chicago placemaking initiative, which includes 20 art happenings. Pillsbury House + Theatre is leading the charge with the help of a number of community partners. (See The Line story about the project here.) 

Often, the improvisational-style troupe performs for companies that are having difficulties in the workplace with communication--difficulties that frequently are rooted in cultural conflicts.

“What we get from it is a multifaceted perspective on the issue, with lots of people’s points of view,” Berks says, adding, “It starts to create a more direct conversation about the issues.”

Basically, it breaks the ice on these tough topics, hence the group’s name, he says.

The show delves into thorny questions related to community development, gentrification, and the displacement of longtime residents, questions that touch on race, economics, and culture. “There’s some tension among different sectors of the neighborhood," he says.

The company addresses these issues in a personal way, “from the perspective of people in the neighborhood,” he says, adding, “It’s about showing the human effects, what people are experiencing.”
The idea is to “create more conversations among communities in the neighborhood.”  

At different times in history, the neighborhood has seen a large concentration of Scandinavians, African Americans, and Latinos. Historically, a lot of people have moved through, Berks says, adding, “It’s one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the state.”

Despite the culture shock that often entails, the neighborhood seems to “have a lot of ability to embrace differences,” he says, adding, “I think a high concentration of artists helps.” Artists are social connectors who help bridge the gap, he says.

Source: Alan Berks, spokesperson, Pillsbury House Theatre
Writer: Anna Pratt

Making Hennepin Avenue even more of a cultural destination

A two-mile swath of Hennepin Avenue that runs through downtown Minneapolis is becoming a cultural district.

On Friday, the City Council approved a plan that lays out a vision for the cultural district, with specific goals for the next decade. The planning document came together through a yearlong process called Plan-It Hennepin, which was a collaboration of the Hennepin Theatre Trust, which owns four area theaters, the Walker Art Center, the artist-minded developer, Artspace, and the city.

Plan-It Hennepin drew over 1,500 people to its workshops and meetings, according to project information.  

An “Our Town” creative placemaking grant in 2011 from the National Endowment for the Arts helped make it happen.

Tom Hoch, the president and CEO of the Hennepin Theatre Trust, says it was a robust process. “We’re really trying to think of Hennepin for the next generation,” a younger, more diverse group coming up, he says.

The partners will form a Cultural District Alliance to carry out the multilayered plan, which aims to make the avenue green, creative, safe, and pedestrian-friendly. This will contribute to the Minneapolis Downtown Council’s 2025 Plan, as well.

Basically, the plan centers on how “Arts and culture are playing a role in the connective tissue up and down the avenue,” he says.  

For example, walking from the Walker Art Center to the Mississippi River, “You could have a series of wonderful experiences,” he says.

The alliance hopes to expand on that with greater coordination and consistent branding. “We want to have people come to the cultural district, love it and not want to leave,” Hoch says.

Part of the plan is already underway. A storefront project called “Made Here,” is in the works in the former Witt Mitchell building at 7th and Hennepin. It features work from local artists who design furniture. “The idea is to use storefronts that may be in transition and to showcase Minnesota artists,” he says.

Already he's found that many people have "an affinity for the street," he says, adding, “We have a lot of positive momentum behind what we’re doing here."

Source: Tom Hoch, CEO and president, Hennepin Theatre Trust
Writer: Anna Pratt  

Lite-Brite public art to start off the Forever Saint Paul Challenge

A large mural composed of 600,000 multicolored Lite-Brite pegs will light up St. Paul’s Union Depot on Saturday.  

The 12-foot-by-24-foot mural, designed by local artist Ta-coumba T. Aiken, will set the Guinness World Record for the “Largest Picture Made of Lite-Brite,” according to Laura Mylan, project manager for the Forever Saint Paul Challenge. It’s the number of pegs that go into a mural, not its physical dimensions, which determine the size, she explains.

The record Lite-Brite mural at this time has 513,000 pegs, so the St. Paul mural will “easily defeat the record and set a new one,” she says.

The project jumpstarts the Forever Saint Paul Challenge, a contest sponsored by The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Idea Open, to draw out original ideas for improving St. Paul.   

On Saturday, the festivities begin at 3 p.m. with live music, oversized board games, food and more, while the lighting ceremony will happen at 7 p.m.

“We’re doing this to inspire big, bold creative ideas for the future,” Mylan says, adding, “We want ideas from everyone, from all walks of life, from across the state. What better way to do that than to create a big, bright public art installation that is truly of the community?”

In keeping with that, the abstract mural has the words “Forever Saint Paul” embedded in it.

Already, hundreds of volunteers have turned out to lend a hand on the mural. “It inspires people. It makes them smile,” she says, adding that most volunteers have found out about the project through social media and word of mouth.

The idea is to engage people in a creative process from the get-go, she says.

Since Jan. 12, people have helped hand-sort the pegs by color and started filling in the giant frame. “We’ve been so thrilled by the volunteer involvement. It’s been amazing.”

It made sense to hire the internationally known Aiken to design the mural because “He happens to work with points of color,” she says. He’s also accustomed to doing large-scale public artworks to which “He brings a great, welcoming presence,” she says.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Carleen Rhodes, the president and CEO of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, and a Guinness World Record judge will all be on hand at the event.

The mural will be displayed at the depot through the end of the month.

“It has created a great community spirit and people are having so much fun with it,” she says.

Source: Laura Mylan, project manager, Forever Saint Paul Challenge
Writer: Anna Pratt

HiFi Hair salon fills a unique niche in Loring Park

As its name suggests, HiFi Hair, a salon in Minneapolis's Loring Park, has a musical bent.

The salon is approaching its one-year anniversary in the space that was once the lobby of the old Loring Playhouse. Olson advertising company, which moved to the Ford Center downtown, previously occupied the 600-square-foot storefront space along with other parts of the historic Loring Corners building.

Salon owner Jonny Clifford (a.k.a. Jonny Zygomatic) says the theme was inspired by the fact that “The biggest influence fashion has always had is music,” adding, “Why not meld the two?”

A vintage jukebox, from which customers can choose songs, helps set the tone, while artwork in the salon is music-related. One wall is even dedicated to local music memorabilia. “Local music is a rich thing in this city and we would like to pay homage to it,” he says.  

Additionally, the salon, which sponsors The Current radio station, hosted a honky-tonk party last Saturday, which brought in around 125 people.

“The jukebox was filled with music that you would expect to hear in an old-school West Texas honky-tonk joint,” he says, adding that the salon “threw peanut shells on the floor and served pulled pork and keg beer.”

It wasn’t what one would expect from a traditional salon, he says.  

This speaks to HiFi’s mission. A hair salon like this is a gathering place, he says. “It has a relaxed vibe. It’s a place where people can hang out.”  

He stresses “good service and not a lot of attitude,” he says, adding, “Everyone should feel welcome.”

To create that kind of laid-back atmosphere, the place is furnished with salvaged antiques and comfortable chairs. Old dressers, doors, mirrors, and bookcases have been repurposed, resulting in unique hairdresser stations, he says.  

The eclectic look fits in with the Loring Park neighborhood, “a wonderful bohemia in the middle of Minneapolis.”

For Clifford, a veteran in the industry, “This is one of the most fun projects I’ve ever had in my career.” He also hopes that the salon helps to breathe new life into Loring Park.

In a space that has long been used for offices, not retail, “I thought it would be nice to bring more traffic to the area here during the day,” he says.

Source: Jonny Clifford, owner, HiFi Hair
Writer: Anna Pratt

Gastrotruck setting up a farmhouse-like restaurant

Gastrotruck, a food truck that specializes in “artisanal street cuisine,” is expanding with a straight-up restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis. Its brick-and-mortar counterpart will go by another name, though that hasn’t been publicized yet, according to City Pages.  
The food truck will continue to circulate between Minneapolis and St. Paul in the warmer months.

Catherine Eckert, who owns the food truck, describes the changes that are underway at the building it purchased at 2400 University Avenue N.E. as a “complete property renovation.” In general, sustainability is a guiding principal for the restaurant, both in terms of construction and its offerings.   

For starters, the restaurant is going for LEED certification, which has benchmarks for green building, the City Pages story reads.

Also, Gastrotruck intends to grow as much as half of its food on the restaurant’s grounds. This will happen in part through vertical grow walls, a green roof and a greenhouse, the story adds. Recycled water runoff will play into that system.

In terms of the restaurant’s interior look, “I am striving for a farmhouse chic feel,” Eckert says.This dovetails with the food truck’s emphasis on products from local farms and companies and handcrafted ingredients.  

Gastrotruck, which plans to open the restaurant in the fall, is “all about respecting food and the environment in which it comes from,” its website states. Eckert has high hopes that the restaurant will fill a unique niche in the neighborhood: “We are super excited to offer our neighbors a restaurant that serves sustainable modern Midwestern cuisine that is approachable and affordable,” she says.  

Source: Catherine Eckert, owner, Gastrotruck
Writer: Anna Pratt

"The Community Meal" to move forward with Joyce Award

As its name suggests, The Community Meal, a public art project from St. Paul artist Seitu Jones, centers on a huge feast.

In this case, the meal, for which Jones is working with Public Art Saint Paul, will span up to three-quarters of a mile along the Central Corridor light rail transit line. It will happen in September of 2014. Jones wants to see the project's table make it into the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest.

The project recently received a Joyce Award for $50,000. “It has a lot of different layers to it,” he says. “It’s more than just a meal, though the meal will be the high point.” The meal will follow a yearlong “listening project that explores traditions, attitudes, and the presentation of food, with a specific focus on the Central Corridor,” he says.

This year, he’ll visit homes, restaurants, urban farms, and various gathering places along the line to hear people’s food stories.  

“What started me thinking about this was just being blown away by the urban agriculture initiatives happening along the Central Corridor,” including urban farms and community gardens, he says. He wants to celebrate these green ventures. “I thought of a meal that could be prepared from the bounty from the city,” to get people thinking about making healthy food choices.

The idea is also an outgrowth of a food assessment that Afro-Eco, an environmental group he belongs to, helped produce. It found that many people feel intimidated by the topic of healthy eating.  

To help show people how to cook and eat better, he came up with mobile kitchens that could be pulled by bike or pushed on a cart, which could be set up in parking lots, parks, and other community sites.
This naturally led to the idea of providing one big meal, using mobile kitchens. “One legacy that will be left behind are these mobile kitchens,” Jones says.

The table and its place settings will also be works of art, while spoken word artists will perform during the meal, he adds.

Jones hopes the project gives people “the tools to begin to place themselves in the food system and do interventions in their food." On top of that, “This is an awesome opportunity for 2,000 to 3,000 people to sit down and break bread together at a common table and talk about issues that generally drive dinnertime conversations,” he says.

Source: Seitu Jones, artist
Writer: Anna Pratt

Groundswell Coffee plans $150,000 expansion with help from the community

 Groundswell Coffee in St. Paul is looking to create a groundswell of ideas.

Its co-owners, Seth McCoy and Tim Gilbert, want to get the community involved in the coffee shop’s expansion.

McCoy and Gilbert, who bought the neighborhood cafe in 2009, have been able to make the business break even, but in the economic downturn, “It’s been limping along,” McCoy says.  

To turn it around, they've tried to restore “the feeling of a neighborhood place," which it had when it first opened. But their efforts thus far "have not been enough,” he says.

After giving it some serious thought, “We agreed that being on that corner was important and we needed to find ways to accentuate that,” he says. That, they knew, would take some creative problem solving.

That’s when they learned that the next-door Borealis Yarn shop was closing. They got the idea to take over the space to create a full-service kitchen, beer and wine bar, along with an art consignment shop. Today they’re trying to secure financing for the $150,000 project.

To raise up to half of that, they’re looking at crowdfunding or community-based capital.

Crowdfunding allows community members to purchase a small stake in the company, he explains. At Northbound Smokehouse in Minneapolis, for example, “At a certain investment level, people could get free beer for life,” he says.

Similarly, Groundswell wants to offer a founders’ club membership for $1,000 apiece. A founding member could then get a free drink every day, he says.  

In line with the owners' community values, the place will serve locally sourced food and drink and highlight artists and musicians from the area. “The Twin Cities has a vibrant local economy and we want to tap into that wherever we can,” McCoy says.

With the coming Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line, and in the absence of many commercial buildings of this sort in the neighborhood, “We hope to be a place where neighbors can get together,” one that’s also family-friendly, he says.

Groundswell plans to have a grand opening in May.

Source: Seth McCoy, co-owner, Groundswell Coffee  
Writer: Anna Pratt

Handsome Cycles to open retail space alongside One on One bicycle shop

Handsome Cycles, a Minneapolis-based bicycle manufacturer founded in 2008, has long had a national presence, with merchandise in 53 retail stores throughout the country.

The online business found its first dealers in the city, with One on One Bicycle Studio and Go Coffee and The Alt bicycle shop, according to Handsome co-owner, Jesse Erickson.

At the same time, “We always wanted a retail space” close to home, so when the storefront space beside One on One opened up, Erickson and his partner, Ben Morrison, jumped at it.

“We saw the opportunity to partner with someone who knows cycling culture and what’s needed on the clothing side,” Erickson says.  

Previously, a music store occupied the space.

Erickson and Morrison tore down a wall between the two spaces, both of which are roughly 2,500 square feet, so that customers can go back and forth freely between the shops. “Our side will be more of a lifestyle store in the front half,” while the back area will serve as a showroom and build studio for Handsome’s custom-built bikes.

Beyond that, the Handsome space required little buildout, he says.

In terms of aesthetics, the space boasts exposed brick, hardwood floors, and wide open spaces.

He and Morrison are creating a modular setup that can be rearranged for different purposes. All in all, the place will have an industrial look “that’s raw and clean.” To achieve that, “We’re using a lot of reclaimed stuff,” especially wood from demolished barns and abandoned buildings, while metal piping runs throughout, he says.

Handsome will collaborate with One on One in hosting art shows, film festivals, and other events. “One on One has done a good job,” on this front, he says, adding, “It’s not just a bike retail store. It’s also a destination for the cycling culture.”

The store plans to open in March.

Source: Jesse Erickson, co-owner, Handsome Cycles
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Honeyshine plans move to Linden Hills

Honeyshine, a gift and home décor store that also offers interior design services, is growing. 

As such, the shop, which opened in Minneapolis's Bryn Mawr neighborhood in 2011, plans to move to 2720 W. 43rd Street. Honeyshine will take the spot of a longtime yarn shop, next-door to the Wild Rumpus bookstore in Linden Hills, according to Adam Braun, who co-owns the shop with Daisy Mitchell.  

The store, which sells decorative accessories, tabletop entertaining items, jewelry, furniture, art, vintage items, and more, aims to open on May 8. 

Fortunately, the space won’t require too much of a makeover, according to Braun. Mainly, Braun and Mitchell will be redoing the floors and the lighting. “We’re going for something warmer,” he says.  

Besides offering more room for the business, this is a “proven retail space,” close to a number of restaurants and shops. That’s a boon for the growing Honeyshine. “Linden Hills will do a tremendous amount for our business, being an area with so many great restaurants and stores,” he says. “Having that much foot traffic will be great.”

The aesthetic of the new space, however, will stay the same. Braun describes the place as having a “modern scrappy feel, with clean lines and a lot of different cool objects,” he says. “It’s a mixture of new or modern with vintage things that we find.”

In terms of the design services, the space “is a good example of what we offer and the creativity behind our store.”
With so much to look at, “A lot of people come back to soak in everything,” he says.  

That relates to the whole idea behind the shop. “We’re always trying to offer things that you can’t find anywhere else in Minneapolis,” he says.

Source: Adam Braun, co-owner, Honeyshine
Writer: Anna Pratt

ProjectAl emphasizes the importance of a community-oriented place

Al’s Bar, a half-century-old bar in St. Louis Park that was demolished in 2009 to make way for a housing development, inspired ProjectAl.

The charitable T-shirt business, which is run out of the basement of co-owner Charley Holden’s home, launched in November 2012.   

Holden and his business partner, Derek Hood, who had been regulars at the bar, saw how Al’s gave money to local sports teams, National Night Out, and many other community-oriented events and initiatives. “It had a strong sense of community,” he says.

On a more informal level, many of its regulars knew one another. “They liked the history the place had,” he says. It was frustrating for people “to see their favorite neighborhood establishment, which had been around longer than they had, go.” Its demolishing was a community event. “A lot of regulars loved going there,” Holden says.

When the Uptown Bar in Minneapolis closed, it was the same story, he adds.  

Holden and Hood wanted to create a project that would speak to those sentiments. “We want to give back to the community,” Holden says. “We thought that going through charities and local artists would be a great way to do it as well.” Proceeds of shirt sales go to the businesses represented on the shirts, to the artists who design them, and to a charity of the buyer's choice.

Holden rescued the old sign that once hung above Al’s, and employed it as a motif for the company. Whenever friends see it, the expressions on their faces are priceless, he says, adding, “Many remember it and still talk about it.”

“We want to draw attention to and celebrate local landmarks and businesses and recognize the importance those places have to our neighborhoods,” he says. “We want to keep them in our neighborhoods.”

Already, the business has gotten plenty of positive feedback. The company has even received random orders from people outside of Minnesota. “I’m assuming these are from people who have emotional ties to those places. It’s their way of representing them,” he says. “That’s what we get excited about.”

Source: Charley Holden
Writer: Anna Pratt

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