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July Arts and Culture: Floating, Reading, Feasting and Exploration

The Floating Library

Scene from the CEZ walking tour

Scene from Frogtown walking tour

Chefs Yia Vang and Daniel Klein

Farm-fresh produce, handmade books on a floating library, historic walking tours along the Green Line and feasting locally are our top picks for July arts and culture in MSP. 

The Floating Library
Saturdays and Sundays, July 16-August 7
1-7 p.m.
Lake Phalen, St. Paul
In 2013, artist, writer and arts administrator Sarah Peters initiated a summer reading program like no other: The Floating Library. If books on a raft on a lake sounds counterintuitive, well that’s part of The Floating Library’s charm. And not just any old book resides on the raft, which was designed by architect Molly Reichert. Peters sends out a call to artists every year to create beautiful handcrafted books for this unique library. This year’s call asked for works about, ahem, well yes, water, fishing, Lake Phalen and St. Paul’s immigrant history, and the environment and climate change.
“This project draws on the common past time of beach reading and the inventive thinking of artists working with the form of the book to provide context-appropriate and uncommon reading material to people who are already gathered on the water,” according to The Floating Library website. To reach the library, you’ll need a canoe, kayak, rowboat, paddleboard or other small watercraft. When you arrive, librarians will help you decide what to read and assist with your check out. Favorites from last year include Caitlin Warner’s mylar book and Martine Workman’s tribute Prince Food. New works commissioned for 2016 include Tou Yia Xiong’s animal flash cards and Aaron Johnson-Ortiz’s “his-story book” exploring racial identity, exile and solidarity.
Neighborhood Secrets Walking Tours
Saturday, July 16, 1-3 p.m.
Historic Rondo, St. Paul
In June, Twin Cities LISC and the Minnesota Historical Society launched the Neighborhood Secrets Walking Tour—first in Frogtown (which concluded at Frogtown Farm) and next in the Creative Enterprise Zone (which concluded with a story about the United States Bedding company—now Vandalia Towers). This month, the tours continue with an urban adventure in the Historic Rondo neighborhood. The goal of the walking tours, which occur in cultural districts along the Green Line in St. Paul, according to a statement, “is to introduce these lively and unique cultural and commercial districts to new audiences by exploring the neighborhoods' histories.” On August 13, the series continues with an exploration of Little Africa.
Eat Local Farm Tour
Saturday, July 16, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Farms in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin
MSP’s co-op groceries—including Seward Community Co-opLakewinds Food Co-op and Wedge Community Co-op—are sponsoring this year’s self-guided farm tour, during which kids and adults are invited to discover where their food comes from. Twenty-nine area farms are opening their barn doors during the Eat Local Farm Tour to show visitors just how food is grown, nurtured, produced and delivered to your co-op, with activities that blend learning with fun. The 2016 Eat Local Farm Tour Guide has all the info, as well as maps to guide you on your way.
BOOSTer Club Dinner with Daniel Klein and Yia Vang
Thursday, July 28, 6:30-9 p.m.
Birchwood Café, Minneapolis
Urban Roots, a nonprofit organization that cultivates vibrant and healthy communities through food, conservation and youth development, and the Birchwood Café have teamed up with guest chefs Daniel Klein (of the Perennial Plate, which specializes in sustainable food production and consumption) and Yia Vang (of the innovative Union Kitchen, which blends Hmong and American flavors) to create an evening of unforgettable cookery. Along with Birchwood chef Marshall Paulsen, the crew is using Urban Roots produce for a five-course meal of Hmong-inspired cuisine. Proceeds go toward Urban Roots’ programs. Tickets can be purchased here.
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