Thursday, October 2, 2014

March 2011: Transformations in Phillips, the Central Corridor, in Bridges, Parks, and People

We <3 Yr ’Hood

Smith Avenue Bridge, St. Paul, 1891.
Smith Avenue Bridge, St. Paul, 1891. From the Ramsey County Historical Society, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

We <3 Yr ’Hood is a roundup of community newspapers throughout the Twin Cities. Generally, included stories are directly related to community affairs in Minneapolis and St. Paul and of potential interest to residents of the whole metro area, rather than just a neighborhood. We include items that reflect ongoing news, rather than profiles of local businesses or past community events.

And are you wondering what this symbol—<3—means? It’s internet speak for “heart” (turn it sideways, like a :) except the other way.) We don’t like it much either, so we’re still looking for clever suggestions for naming this column, if you’re into naming things. If you come up with a name we like, you’ll get free admission to three Twin Cities Runoff events in 2011 (yes, we will have at least three events).

This is a work in progress, so if you have any suggestions, send them along.

Our local streets and sidewalks lie wrecked from the weather, sure, but this March, Twin Cities community newspapers were abound with stories of human- and municipally instigated destruction. Phillips’ Alley Newspaper lamented the loss of major neighborhood environmental organizations: the Green Institute, the Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center, and (as previously reported) the ReUse Center. Annie Young, one of the founders of the Green Institute, applies Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ stages of mourning to the environmental initiatives, which had been a part of Phillips for 17 years:

The Institute was founded in the Phillips neighborhood as a result of the political struggle with Hennepin County about building a garbage transfer station. Winning that struggle and founding both The Institute and the ReUse Center were great medals of Honor for the community—sure signs of victory and bringing jobs and services to the community.
Another branch of the ReUse Center remains open in Maplewood.

The city of St. Paul—as you may have noticed—is dealing with its growing pains as it attempts to construct a public transportation spine in the least painless way possible. The Central Corridor is the central issue in both this month’s Villager and Monitor. The tireless Jane McClure, who wrote seven different stories on the Central Corridor and light rail construction between the two papers, reports that several business owners along University Avenue have relocated (Monitor), that the city is looking to use vacant properties along University for off-street parking (potential sites include the former Midway Chevrolet and Kim Huoy Chor restaurant—Villager), that many bus stops have been discontinued along the Central Corridor amid the construction (Monitor), and that plans for future light rail stations have been reviewed by the St. Paul Planning Commission (Villager). Residents from Skyline Tower, a high rise in St. Paul that is home to many immigrants and elderly, raised access concerns at the Planning Commission’s hearings. Articles in both the Villager and the Monitor discussed a February 17 protest from University Avenue Betterment Association at a hearing of the Metropolitan Council and the Federal Transit Administration. Finally, McClure outlines the challenges of getting around during the construction on the Central Corridor in Access Press.

More hearings on the Central Corridor began this morning at 8:00 a.m. at Lao Family Community of Minnesota and are scheduled for this evening at 6:00 p.m. at Goodwill-Easter Seals. Neither the Villager nor the Monitor is currently available online, but Java Train in St. Paul carries both papers, as do many of St. Paul’s public libraries. (If you’re really interested and can’t find the papers, email me.)

Despite the torn sidewalks and threatened businesses, there is that thing about how destruction that leads to creation, and developments in both cities point to the hope of new construction in the future. The Asian American Press celebrates the visit of U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan to the future site of Frogtown Square on University and Dale, the Downtown St. Paul Voice describes the refurbishing of the Union Depot, the Southwest Journal considers the potential Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) stations along 35W, and a hearing about future Snelling Avenue construction addressed the need for a better north-south bike corridor in that city (Monitor—not yet online). The Alley Newspaper suggests that Phillips make 24th Street the center of community spirit as the Wellness Corridor, which would be supported by Dallas Johnson’s Bridging Minneapolis project. Johnson (winner of the most recent FEAST—congratulations!) aims to paint murals on the 24th Street bridge over 35W.

Apart from neighborhood construction, there are the kinds of bridges that people build. Jason Croonenberghs at the Circle reports on the first year and a half of the Native American Somali Friendship Committee, which focuses on youth connections between the two communities. Although finding funding has been challenging, the intentions of the committee remain strong:

The board has heard suggestions of bringing Somali youth out to Minnesota’s lakes and rivers and showing them the wild rice harvest, or involving them in making maple sugar. “We have many tribes which we can [learn from] in Minnesota,” [Wade] Keezer [an Ojibwe activist] said…

[Ahmed Saleh, a Somali community organizer] is quick to describe some of the possibilities her Somali culture can share with others. “We have talked at our past meetings about bringing our elders in and showing the Native youth how to draw with henna, a plant used for ink and hair dyes.”

Croonenberghs adds, “NASFC encourages people interested in the Native and Somali communities to attend their meetings.” Read the story for more information.

Out in Uptown Minneapolis, Ward 10 City Council Member Meg Tuthill has been making some news with alcohol zoning: liquor stores are now required to be 300 feet from a school or church’s property line (as opposed to its front door). Additionally, drinking on outdoor patios and bars may soon be restricted. According to the Uptown Neighborhood News and the Southwest Journal, the latter proposal is undergoing revisions.

Considering alcohol: tomorrow’s festivities of Irish heritage are rapidly approaching, and for those of you who have already begun copious whiskey consumption, we suggest you pick up a copy of the Irish Gazette. In addition to Irish news and a biography of St. Patrick, this month’s paper includes a brief history of America’s St. Patrick’s Day parades, a list of local Irish pub specials, and brief paragraphs composed by the candidates for St. Paul’s Miss Shamrock. Our money’s on Natalie Neuville, who writes, “Everyone has an interesting story to tell so why not listen, right?”

If you think that St. Paddy’s Day is for amateurs, then you probably know that Purim is for professionals. This year’s of both Purim and the Persian New Year, Norwuz, is being celebrated in Minneapolis with Voices of Sepharad’s “A Night in Persia.” Erin Elliott Bryan at American Jewish World writes more on the history of this holiday.

Only a few millennia younger than ancient Persia, the city of Minneapolis also contains a rich history, as evidenced in our community newspapers: The LHENA Wedge announced that the oldest continually lived-in house in Minneapolis is for sale and provided a history of one of its inhabitants, Roswell P. Russell. (He may have been the father of the first white child born in the Minnesota Territory!) The Hill and Lake Press wrote a detailed history of the City of Lakes Luminary Loppett. (It’s “the first urban ski race in a major city in the U.S.”!) The Feb. 23 Northeaster considered Giacomo Constantino Beltrami. (Before exploring Minnesota, he was “friends” with Giulia Spada dei Medici and “is responsible for the discovery of the only existing texts to provide Latinate translations from the Aztec language”!) The Alley Newspaper revered Squire Borden, historical local bridge-tender. (He named his son “Admiral”!)

And, finally, we can all look forward to spending future springs and summers in new park land. St. Paul’s Community Reporter explores the planning of the Great River Park, and North News and the Camden Reporter describe the winners of Minneapolis’s Riverfront Design Competition. If you can’t wait for those, the Journal suggests Central Park in Woodbury, or just tour the Minneapolis Institute of Arts with a Rogue Docent.

We <3 Yr ’Hood was inspired by friend and reader Meagan Manning and runs the third week of every month.

We <3 Yr ’Hood was inspired by friend and reader Meagan Manning and runs the third week of every month.

Deborah Carver is the editor and publisher of Twin Cities Runoff. Here is a picture of her office floor.