Central Corridor Related - Twin Cities News
Rain or shine, this year's Rock the Garden on Saturday, June 15 made it happen in both. Here's a sampling of tweets from the event.MORE »
Rain or shine, this year's Rock the Garden on Saturday, June 15 made it happen in both. Here's a sampling of tweets from the event.[&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="//storify.com/mhalaska/rock-the-garden-2013" target="_blank"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;View the story "Rock the Garden 2013" on Storify&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;] ©2013
The Los Angeles Indie Pop band Fitz and the Tantrums performed their soul-inspired jams for two back-to-back sold-out shows this week in Minneapolis. Out in support of their new album More Than Just a Dream, the high energy dance party entertained established and new fans and provided a good workout as well on Monday, June 17. Their unique sound which features horns and keyboards in place of guitar (that’s right, no guitar) has caught the attention of a diverse group of listeners.MORE »
The Los Angeles Indie Pop band Fitz and the Tantrums performed their soul-inspired jams for two back-to-back sold-out shows this week in Minneapolis. Out in support of their new album More Than Just a Dream, the high energy dance party entertained established and new fans and provided a good workout as well on Monday, June 17. Their unique sound which features horns and keyboards in place of guitar (that’s right, no guitar) has caught the attention of a diverse group of listeners.
Fitz and the Tantrums are led by the vocals of Michael Fitzpatrick (Fitz) and Noelle Scaggs. The rest of the talented Tantrums include James King (horns), Joseph Karnes (Bass), John Wicks (drums) and Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards and beats).
Saints of Valory is an interesting group of great players with a sound that has come out of influences from all over the world considering each member is from a different country. They played a set of music that was easy to enjoy without even needing to know the tunes.
Ivy Levan (The Dame) has a unique look and sound and put on an entertaining set of music she refers to as “swamp hop”.
A group of people in line before the show were discussing how they were first introduced to Fitz and the Tantrums at Basilica Block Party. They were so excited to have gotten tickets for this show at the Varsity Theater knowing it would be such a fun place to see the band. We are lucky to have Sue Mclean and Associates lining up these memorable shows in the right rooms. The stage setup for Fitz included a backdrop of light bars that provided a disco feel which helped get the crowd dancing. The room sounded right with a comfortable mix that had a good amount of punch for the beat heavy material.
Fitz chose a fun tune off the new album “Keeping Our Eye’s Out” to start with and set the tone for their set. Some of the big songs off the first album were standouts like “Breakin’ the Chains of Love” and especially the title track; the Motown influenced “Pickin’ Up the Pieces.” A great rendition of Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams” fit into their style so well; it could have been mistaken for one of their own. Noelle called out, “If you think you’re sexy in this house make some noise” leading into the new single “Out of My League.” One of the signature traits of this band is the infectious tonal harmonies between Fitz and Scaggs, which really sounded flawless on “6am.” The crowd helped get “Dear Mr. President” rocking by singing along with the “Hey – Woo” intro. The hour long set ended in full swing with everyone waving their hands and dancing to “L.O.V.” while even the chandelier lights were flashing for added effect.
Keeping the intensity at its max, the Tantrums returned to the stage and dove into their biggest hit “Money Grabber.” In addition to “The Walker,” great crowd appreciation earned an extra song to close out the 4 song 20 minute encore with “News 4 U.”
Fitz and Noelle have boundless energy and did an exceptional job of connecting with the audience. Fitz said he was humbled to be able to play two special shows in Minneapolis and several times made sure to thank the crowd for being real people and real music fans supporting their efforts. They even made that extra effort to spend time with fans in the lobby after the show to sign autographs and take pictures.
Saints of Valory
Fits and the Tantrums
Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. ©2013 Patrick Dunn
¿El exterior de su casa necesita pintura nueva? Mientras que hay proviciónes, el vecendario Corcoran ofrece pintura y la pintura base gratis para el exterior de la casa a los dueños de propiedades en Corcoran (usted puede estar rentando o dueño de casa) gracias a una donación de Valspar Foundation. Una “rueda” de colores están disponibles para que usted puede pegar con los colores que ya tienen o seleccionar un color nuevo. Hay un límite de 5 galónes a cada propiedad para 2013.MORE »
¿El exterior de su casa necesita pintura nueva? Mientras que hay proviciónes, el vecendario Corcoran ofrece pintura y la pintura base gratis para el exterior de la casa a los dueños de propiedades en Corcoran (usted puede estar rentando o dueño de casa) gracias a una donación de Valspar Foundation. Una “rueda” de colores están disponibles para que usted puede pegar con los colores que ya tienen o seleccionar un color nuevo. Hay un límite de 5 galónes a cada propiedad para 2013.
Los dueños de propiedades pueden pedir la pintura por manera de email a eric [at] corcoranneighborhood [dot] org con su nombre, dirección de la propiedad que quiere pintar, una descripción corta de su proyecto, y la cantidad de galónes que necesita (depende de la textura, planee que un galón cubre 400 metros cuadrados). Tambíen, incluya el nombre y numero de color para cada color que quiere (o diga “Todavía necesito escoger colores”). Los participantes recogerán su pintura en una ubicación de Valspar en San Pablo. El tiempo desde que pide la pintura y recoge la pintura será 1-2 semanas.
Si no tiene aceso a correo electronico, mande la información en una carta a CNO, 3451 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407.
>De nuevo Corcoran está ofreciendo un programa de comida a los jóvenes. Niños de los edades 0-18 pueden venir y recibir una merienda a las 3:00 a 3:45 y una comida a las 5:00 a 5:45 diario. El programa empieza lunes el 10 de junio y continua lunes a viernes hasta el 16 de agosto. El programa es gratis a todos los niños. Juntamos en las mesas de picnic cerca el recreo y piscina si el clima nos deja. Si el tiempo es malo, nos reuniremos en el edificio. La comida viene por Minneapolis Public Schools Nutrition Center y hay reglas que tenemos que seguir. Todos los niños tienen que comer la comida en el sitio designada y no pueden traer la comida a casa. No podemos dar comida a personas que son mayor de edad (arriba de 19 años). La comida será nutritiva y no contiene productos de puerco. Si tiene preguntas sobre este programa, por favor llame a Corcoran Park.MORE »
>De nuevo Corcoran está ofreciendo un programa de comida a los jóvenes. Niños de los edades 0-18 pueden venir y recibir una merienda a las 3:00 a 3:45 y una comida a las 5:00 a 5:45 diario. El programa empieza lunes el 10 de junio y continua lunes a viernes hasta el 16 de agosto. El programa es gratis a todos los niños. Juntamos en las mesas de picnic cerca el recreo y piscina si el clima nos deja. Si el tiempo es malo, nos reuniremos en el edificio. La comida viene por Minneapolis Public Schools Nutrition Center y hay reglas que tenemos que seguir. Todos los niños tienen que comer la comida en el sitio designada y no pueden traer la comida a casa. No podemos dar comida a personas que son mayor de edad (arriba de 19 años). La comida será nutritiva y no contiene productos de puerco. Si tiene preguntas sobre este programa, por favor llame a Corcoran Park.
sabado, 15 de junio de 9:00 de la mañana a 3:00 de la tardeMORE »
sabado, 15 de junio de 9:00 de la mañana a 3:00 de la tarde
¡Empiece a limpiar ahora en preparación para la venta de garaje de vecendario más grande en Minneapolis! El undécimo año de venta de garaje en los vecendarios de Standish, Ericsson, y Corcoran será el 15 de junio. El año pasado incluyeron más que 150 casas, trajeron aproximadamente $30,000 a los vencendarios, y reciclaron miles de artículos.
Mapas serán disponibles GRATIS para todos el 15 de junio. Se llevará acabo, sin importar las condiciónes del tiempo.
A pesar de unas semanas difíciles de clima al comienzo de la temporada, las cosas están comenzando a entrar en calor en el Mercado Granjero de Midtown. Venga este mes de junio al mercado y vea lo que tienen para ofrecer nuestros fabulosos vendedores ambulantes: espárragos, espinacas, col, lechugas, cebollas verdes, rábanos, chicharos, brotes, ruibarbo, fresas, una variedad de carnes, huevos, queso, mantequilla, yogurt, miel, pan artesanal, alimentos cocinados, conserva, café, artes y manualidades y una gran variedad de deliciosas comidas; desayuno y almuerzo, para disfrutar en el mercado.MORE »
A pesar de unas semanas difíciles de clima al comienzo de la temporada, las cosas están comenzando a entrar en calor en el Mercado Granjero de Midtown. Venga este mes de junio al mercado y vea lo que tienen para ofrecer nuestros fabulosos vendedores ambulantes: espárragos, espinacas, col, lechugas, cebollas verdes, rábanos, chicharos, brotes, ruibarbo, fresas, una variedad de carnes, huevos, queso, mantequilla, yogurt, miel, pan artesanal, alimentos cocinados, conserva, café, artes y manualidades y una gran variedad de deliciosas comidas; desayuno y almuerzo, para disfrutar en el mercado.
También durante el mes de junio asegúrese de asistir a la Campaña de Donación de Sangre, el sábado 1 de junio, administrada por los Centros Memorial Blood, el centro de sangre comunitaria, sin fines de lucro e independiente, más grande de Minnesota. La campaña de donación será de 8:30am a 1:30pm y los primeros 25 donantes recibirán una playera gratis, y todos los donantes que participen entrarán a un sorteo para ganar de 1 a 20 pares de boletos para ver a los Minnesota Twins. ¡Por favor venga y done! El mercado también será anfitrión de dos días marcados y titulados, durante junio, incluyendo Dirt Day el sábado 15 de junio y Bike Day el sábado 29 de junio. Dirt Day incluirá una variedad de grandiosas actividades en torno a compostaje y condición de la tierra. También, tendremos jardineros maestros y fertilizantes a la mano para contestar a sus preguntas sobre jardinería y compostaje. Para el Bike Day, este año ofreceremos revisiones de seguridad; desde talleres de bicicletas del área, tours de estaciones de NiceRide, servicios de valet para bicicletas y la oportunidad de ganar una variedad de grandiosos regalos cuando usted traiga su casco al puesto de información del mercado para entrar al sorteo. Acompáñenos a todo lo que el mercado tiene para ofrecer este mes de junio. ¡Esperamos verle por ahí!
El Mercado Granjero de Midtown se encuentra ubicado en la esquina de East Lake Street y 22nd Avenue South y ofrece comidas locales y frescas cada sábado de 8 de la mañana a 1 de la tarde, de mayo a junio; y, martes de 3 a 7 de la noche, de junio a octubre.© 2013 Corcoran News
Favor de LLAMAR AL 911 inmediatamente, para reportar un crimen o si observa actividades sospechosas.MORE »
Favor de LLAMAR AL 911 inmediatamente, para reportar un crimen o si observa actividades sospechosas.
Lo que usted puede hacer:
- Sea extremadamente cuidadoso de su entorno. Confíe en sus instintos. Tome en consideración a los extraños que deambulan por su área.
- Sea especialmente consciente de su entorno cuando saque la basura o al dirigirse a su auto de noche. Si alguien está deambulando en el área, llame al 911.
- Evite las distracciones. Los celulares, iPhones y otros aparatos electrónicos, pueden ser una distracción para usted y podrían llamar la atención de alguien que quiera adueñarse de ellos.
- Esté atento. La policía quiere que usted llame al 9-1-1 para reportar cualquier actividad sospechosa: extraños caminando en las yardas o entre las casas, el sonido vidrios rompiéndose o golpes fuertes, camiones desconocidos o camionetas que perduran mucho tiempo en su callejón. Hable con sus vecinos acerca de estos eventos y le pedimos que esté alerta ante cualquier actividad sospechosa. Necesitamos la ayuda de todos.
- Si usted es víctima de robo repórtelo inmediatamente, llamando al 911. Trate de recordar cuanta información le sea posible, al momento de estar hablando al 911.
¡Gracias por su ayuda!
Departamento de la Policía de Minneapolis
Reduzca la posibilidad de que su casa sea vulnerable a la entrada forzada, programe una inspección de seguridad que ofrece la Unidad SAFE del Departamento de Policía de Minneapolis. Para más información, contacte a John Reed (612-673-5579; John [dot] reed [at] minneapolismn [dot] gov).MORE »
Reduzca la posibilidad de que su casa sea vulnerable a la entrada forzada, programe una inspección de seguridad que ofrece la Unidad SAFE del Departamento de Policía de Minneapolis. Para más información, contacte a John Reed (612-673-5579; John [dot] reed [at] minneapolismn [dot] gov).
Does your home’s siding or trim need a new coat of paint? While supplies last, the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization offers free exterior primer and paint to any Corcoran property owner (rental or owner-occupied) thanks to a generous grant from the Valspar Foundation. A "fan deck" of colors is available so that you can match an existing color or select a new one. Limit 5 gallons per property for 2013.MORE »
Does your home’s siding or trim need a new coat of paint? While supplies last, the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization offers free exterior primer and paint to any Corcoran property owner (rental or owner-occupied) thanks to a generous grant from the Valspar Foundation. A "fan deck" of colors is available so that you can match an existing color or select a new one. Limit 5 gallons per property for 2013.
Property owners may request paint by sending an e-mail to eric [at] corcoranneighborhood [dot] org with name, address of the property to be painted, a short description of the project, and number of gallons needed (figure 400 square feet per gallon depending on texture). Also include the Valspar name and number for each color (or say, "I still need to select colors"). Participants will pick up their paint at a Valspar location in St. Paul. Time from request to pick up will be 1-2 weeks.
If you don't have access to e-mail, send the above information in a letter to CNO, 3451 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407.
The deal is off: Developer for 2225 East Lake is out, and it's back to square one for the Midtown Farmers Market site
Everything seemed to be on track. After three years, much negotiation and a series of neighborhood meetings, developers L&H Station group presented a preliminary construction schedule last March. Phase 1 groundbreaking was supposed to happen this spring. So where are the bulldozers? Well, don’t look for them any time soon.MORE »
Everything seemed to be on track. After three years, much negotiation and a series of neighborhood meetings, developers L&H Station group presented a preliminary construction schedule last March. Phase 1 groundbreaking was supposed to happen this spring. So where are the bulldozers? Well, don’t look for them any time soon.
In April, Minneapolis Public Schools suddenly announced that they were terminating their involvement with L&H Station Group. To date, no explanation has been provided.
Why? Perhaps they were impatient with the lengthy process. Maybe they were still smarting from the outcry over their expensive and politically unpopular new headquarters in north Minneapolis. Ultimately, they are not giving any explanations. In a recent article in Finance & Commerce, Chief Administrative Officer Mark Bollinger would only say, “my mission is to maximize the return for the district’s real estate assets.” This suggests they already have another buyer who can deliver more development value per square foot of land.
So, what will happen on the site? In the short term, nothing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, at least as far as most residents are concerned. We will have a site for our beloved Farmer’s Market. The existing building will still be used for Adult Basic Education. The popular parking spaces for YWCA members, market-goers and light rail users will remain.
The future remains uncertain. Presumably, MPS still wants to sell the land. Certainly the City of Minneapolis hopes to see transit-oriented development in that high-profile location. Hennepin County is currently moving their Human Services and Public Health Department out of downtown to several neighborhood hubs, and has expressed interest in locating one hub in a future development at the site. And Corcoran wants a development that will make our neighborhood more vibrant and livable.
Hopefully the next developers can satisfy everyone.
Healthy living in CorcoranMORE »
Healthy living in Corcoran
Just over the border of the Corcoran Neighborhood there sits a dance studio full of life, activity and joy. We recently caught up with a Corcoran Resident who frequents the studio to ask her about this fun way to exercise your body and your mind in a very social way. Corcoran Resident Martha Bird discovered a love of dancing 14 years ago but then stopped abruptly for a number of reasons. After taking a break for several a marriage ending, she regained the confidence to return to dancing. Her first ever class at the Social Dance studio, the Ballroom Waltz, brought a smile to her face and a deep feeling of joy. She was back on the dance floor for good.
Martha’s primary dancing experience occurred at age 16 when she was taught by a family member to “feel the motion of the other person’s body” and follow their movements. Since then, she has learned numerous dance steps through frequent classes at the Social Dance Studio and has become a genuine dancer. She now dances 3-5 times a week, for up to 7 hours at a time. She practices a variety of styles including Swing, Salsa, cumbia, Hambo, 2-step, waltz, rumba, and many more! Dancing fulfills her need for cardio, balance, core, and weightlifting, providing her with a well-rounded work out, all while doing something she loves!
One of the best parts about going to the Social Dance Studio is the dance etiquette. Everyone asks everyone to dance and they are constantly rotating partners so everyone dances with everyone. She encourages all to try it. “Go for it! Take a risk, take the challenge. You may love it!” Your first class is free and the teachers are always welcoming of newcomers. Attend a class, meet people then check out one of their dances! And if you don’t want to do it alone, email Martha mbirdthatflies [at] gmail [dot] com and she will share her love of dancing with all who desire to learn by going with you to your first lesson!
For more information about the Social Dance Studio, call 612-353-4445 or visit www.socialdancestudio.com.
Your garden can help fight hunger when you plant an extra row of produce to donate to food shelves. By donating garden-grown produce to your local food shelf, you are contributing to the health of your community by providing nutritious food for people in need. By sharing part of your garden harvest with a local food shelf, you win too, by ensuring that none of your gardening efforts go to waste.MORE »
Your garden can help fight hunger when you plant an extra row of produce to donate to food shelves. By donating garden-grown produce to your local food shelf, you are contributing to the health of your community by providing nutritious food for people in need. By sharing part of your garden harvest with a local food shelf, you win too, by ensuring that none of your gardening efforts go to waste.
Interested in participating? Getting started is easy!
Connect: Visit www.healthyfoodshelves.org/plant_a_row.html to find a food shelf near you that would like to receive fresh produce donations.
Plan: Talk to your local food shelf to find out what types of fresh produce they would most like to receive. ( You can also find a suggested donations list on www.healthyfoodshelves.org)
Plant: Buy seeds at your local garden supply store for as little as $1 or join your Local Food Resource Hubs to get access to low-cost seeds, seedlings, and other gardening resources. Then, start planting!
Share: When it’s time to harvest, share the best of what you’ve grown with people in need. Food shelves appreciate receiving fresh, high quality produce at the peak of ripeness and nutritional value.
Gardeners who sign up to Plant an Extra Row and donate produce to a local food shelf will be eligible for free seed packets, a canvas tote bag, and the chance to win other gardening-related prizes.
For more information, visit www.healthyfoodshelves.org/plant_a_row.html or email SHIP [at] minneapolismn [dot] gov
My name is Rosa Escobar and I’m so happy to be starting my position as the new Midtown Farmers Market SNAP-EBT Outreach Coordinator. My goal is to continue to increase the usage of SNAP-EBT (food stamps) at the market and I hope to reach as many members of the community as possible.MORE »
My name is Rosa Escobar and I’m so happy to be starting my position as the new Midtown Farmers Market SNAP-EBT Outreach Coordinator. My goal is to continue to increase the usage of SNAP-EBT (food stamps) at the market and I hope to reach as many members of the community as possible.
I’m currently working for Bloomington Public Health as a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. I work for a Mother-to-Mother support program helping pregnant and breastfeeding moms and their babies to reach their goals. This summer, I will also be doing food demos at the Bloomington Farmers Market that reflect the cultural heritage of our community. I look forward to meeting and working with members of the Corcoran and surrounding communities of South Minneapolis.
Art, music, bikes, and a giant catapult - what more could you ask for?MORE »
Art, music, bikes, and a giant catapult - what more could you ask for?
Join us for the second annual Greenway Glow: Illuminated Art Festival and Night Bike Ride on June 22. The Greenway Glow is two events in one: a free art festival and a fundraising bike ride. All money raised will be used to protect and enhance the Midtown Greenway.
To register for the fundraising bike ride, simply go to www.greenwayglow.kintera.org. Riders will enjoy free food from Bar Louie, drinks from New Belgium Brewing, glow-in-the-dark t-shirts and much more!
You are also invited to join us for the free art festival on the Greenway, starting at 6 p.m. and lasting until midnight. There will be something for everyone – live music, 3-minute plays, mobile karaoke, and even a giant catapult that launches magnetic LED lights onto a metal target.
Registration for the bike ride is $25 by June 3rd ($30 after/at the event), and adult riders must also raise at least $75 in pledges for the Greenway (youth under 18 are not required to raise funds).
The art festival is free, with no registration required. A full schedule and more information will be posted to midtowngreenway.org in June.
See you on June 22!
The bottom line is, you must be organized to achieve your goals, and resource development planning is what gets you organized. A total of eleven Kenyan professionals did just that on a recent tour of Minneapolis. The Eldoret delegates were from government agencies, the medical field, business and municipalities. In case you are wondering why Minneapolis out of the more than 19,000 cities in the U.S, Minneapolis is a ‘sister city’ to Eldoret.MORE »
The bottom line is, you must be organized to achieve your goals, and resource development planning is what gets you organized. A total of eleven Kenyan professionals did just that on a recent tour of Minneapolis. The Eldoret delegates were from government agencies, the medical field, business and municipalities. In case you are wondering why Minneapolis out of the more than 19,000 cities in the U.S, Minneapolis is a ‘sister city’ to Eldoret.
For the curious mind, Sister Cities is a program centered on dedication of friendship and understanding between people of different cultures and personalities. These relationships are established based on cultural, educational, information and trade exchanges and are supported and implemented by citizen groups around the U.S. “The aim of the program is to have exchanges between two cities in order to learn best practices” said Mr. Daniel Kiprotich, Deputy Governor of Uasin Gishu County. Mr. Kiprotich stated that Minneapolis assisted Eldoret in overcoming challenges and aiding with projects because Minneapolis is well equipped.
In 2011, Eldoret fire fighters performed Hands On training with Minneapolis Fire Department trainers. According to Mr. Kiprotich, Eldoret is the most equipped town with the award of a fire truck, ambulance and an additional ambulance expected next year. “It is a good relationship. We came to widen up the scope and see other areas we can tap into”. Some of these areas include better methods of managing the environment as it relates to cleaning and recycling and ways to deal with challenges of involving the community in the process.
The delegation arrived in Minneapolis on May 4 ready for a 10 day rollercoaster schedule consisting of facilities tours, training workshops, meetings, benchmarking sessions and connections with local citizen group affiliations and Kenyans in the Diaspora. I was honored to meet the delegation of shrewd, dedicated and intellectual leaders passionate about the welfare of the people of Eldoret. The agenda consisted of the promotion of systemic development, encouraging sustenance and rational growth of local programs and projects, capacity building, benchmarking and replication of best practices. Offices visited included The Mayo Clinic, Hennepin Medical Center, the University of Minnesota, and the department of Public Works.
Dr. John Kibosia, Director of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) and Dr. Wilson Aruasa, Deputy Director of Clinical Services both emphasized the importance of training medical staff and equipping the hospital with supplies and machines to enhance patient care and experience. During their visit in 2012, not only did the doctors engage in a productive and promising discussion, Dr. Kibosia and Dr. Aruasa observed day to day operation of the cardiac, pediatric and, Intensive Care Units (ICU) of Mayo Clinic and Hennepin County Medical Center. Of particular interest was the cleanliness of the facilities and the electronic systems of paper reduction. “When we went back home, these were things we tried to replicate,” said Dr. Kibosia. The MTRH leader also mentioned how training can give a new perspective of looking at things. “We realize here that smiling is a must and is good for customer relations. We are also putting it across”.
Accomplishments of this trip include a request for proposal (RFP) award from Mayo Clinic in which MTRH will receive a doctor, nurse practitioner and medical engineer in July to train the medical staff particularly in cardiology area. Upon completion of the training, Mayo Clinic is slated to equip the cardiology unit in expansion efforts. Currently, there are four beds in this unit and the hope is that after training and receipt of equipment an additional 6 beds will be installed to increase heart disease services. “Mayo Clinic will come to Eldoret to host a conference on cardiology and we hope this will excite passion in cardiology.” said Dr. Aruasi.
Additionally, the Kenyan doctors entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Minnesota medical school in order to provide training and exchange of skills to MTRH staff. Kenyan doctors working at Hennepin County Medical Center’s pediatrics and ICU units were also willing to travel to Eldoret to train MTRH staff. “We are not only interested in material donations per say but more importantly in the transfer of skills back home.” said Dr. Aruasi.
The Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company (ELDOWAS) which is largely owned by Eldoret Municipal Council were represented by the ELDOWAS Managing Director, Mr. Reuben Tuei. ELDOWAS, which has been around for 13 years, essentially provides drinking water and the treatment of waste water to the City of Eldoret.
Mr. Tuei’s principal focus on the trip was technological management and maintenance of water and sewer. Mr. Tuei pointed out the need for equipment such as jet trucks and back trucks that are efficient in the management of sewer spills and blockage. “We do not have these trucks back home and therefore the work is done manually and it can be dangerous”. He stated. “ We are in talks with the City of Minneapolis and although talks are at the initial stage we are hoping to get assistance with the trucks”. Water management in general is crucial to each city. For instance, in cases of emergencies such as infernos, the city needs to have adequate water pressure to overcome such fires and ensure the water hydrants are well labeled. Other areas ELDOWAS will benchmark includes recycling and conserving water in areas such as roof catchments and generation of power from water for use in plants.
In 2000, the International Leadership Institute (ILI) in collaboration with Peter Ole-Sabai, a Kenyan citizen, presented a proposal to the City of Minneapolis requesting the city become an International Sister Cities’ member with Eldoret. The proposal was accepted by the Mayor and City Council and the relationship began with a visit to Minneapolis by the then Eldoret Mayor. A visit to Eldoret by ILI’s Youth Council laid the foundation for future sustainable projects. The ILI and Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church have continued to be supportive of projects that provide resources for the continued education and skills building of local Kenyans in the Eldoret communities and region.
Other affiliates that play crucial roles in the success of the delegations include natives of Uasin Gishu who have formed associations in Minnesota. These groups have collaborated to facilitate acquisition of various donations, secured appointments with local offices on behalf of the delegates, assisted with preparation of RFPs and helped interrogate management system issues. “These groups have contributed to helping us be robust, which has led to better accountability and management of resources”. Stated Dr. Aruasi.
Sister Cities International, located in Washington D.C, is the parent organization of sister cities programs around the U.S. Partnerships are with over 2,000 cities in over 140 countries worldwide. Established at the white house conference on citizen diplomacy in 1956, the aim was to create lasting friendships between people of different cities around the world in order to promote peace and prosperity.
Officials of Scottsdale are set to go to Eldoret in August 2013 on a fact finding mission after the Eldoret delegation paid them a visit. A total of six cities in Kenya are registered as members of Sister Cities International and partnered as follows:
- Mombasa – Long Beach, Honolulu and Seattle
- Kisumu- Boulder and Roanoke
- Nairobi- Denver and Raleigh
- Thika- Dixon
- Eldoret- Minneapolis
- Bura- Newbury Port
Gillian Onyango is a Mshale staff writer based in Minneapolis.© 2013 Mshale
Take away USDA Rural Development dollars and you start taking away small town assets, such as nursing homes, hospital expansions, access to affordable housing, wastewater infrastructure, and business development. Minnesota 2020’s latest report, Blueprints for Rural Progress highlights the importance of these community development programs in sustaining a strong rural way of life.MORE »
Take away USDA Rural Development dollars and you start taking away small town assets, such as nursing homes, hospital expansions, access to affordable housing, wastewater infrastructure, and business development. Minnesota 2020’s latest report, Blueprints for Rural Progress highlights the importance of these community development programs in sustaining a strong rural way of life.
Congress is currently rewriting the farm bill, which includes rural development funding, in a climate of sequester-induced, across-the-board federal budget cuts. Depending on how deep Rural Development cuts are in the next farm bill, Minnesota communities will have a tougher time financing these programs.
Potential cuts come after a decade of already dwindling USDA Rural Development resources. Annual appropriation slashes and sequester have reduced Minnesota development staff by one-third (32 percent) from FY 2003 to FY 2013.
Minnesota’s annual federal development dollars fluctuate greatly, depending on state needs, funding availability, and a number of other factors. Here’s some perspective, however. The state receives in the neighborhood of $630 million to $760 million in annual grants and loans, according to Minnesota’s USDA Rural Development office. Dollars typically fund the state’s smallest communities, most of which lack the tax base and population to afford infrastructure upgrades and development projects on their own. Funds cover programs in seven categories: business assistance, energy, housing, community facilities, water and sewer, utilities, and community/regional development.
These dollars aren’t handouts, but investments in rural communities that return dividends in the form of business growth, expanded access to health services, and population stability.
Blueprints for Rural Progress makes the following policy recommendations:
- Policymakers should consider the value USDA Rural Development programs produce for rural economies when evaluating farm bill funding.
- Rural communities should prepare for cuts and work with congressional officials to reduce their impact.
- State policymakers must prepare to counteract looming federal cuts by increasing capital bonding in the 2014 legislative session, with particular attention to Greater Minnesota projects.
A contentious, 12-hour convention Saturday failed to endorse a DFL candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis, increasing the significance of the role that Ranked Choice Voting will play in the November 5 election and giving a crowded field of candidates more room for maneuver.MORE »
A contentious, 12-hour convention Saturday failed to endorse a DFL candidate for Mayor of Minneapolis, increasing the significance of the role that Ranked Choice Voting will play in the November 5 election and giving a crowded field of candidates more room for maneuver.
Left: Candidate Betsy Hodges, with support from Gary Schiff's campaign, blocked endorsement for Mark Andrew. (Photo courtesy Terry Gydesen, of terrygydesen.com)
More than 1,400 delegates attended the all-day convention which — like all but one of the previous three such events — did not succeed at giving the party’s endorsement to one candidate. The convention dissipated in confusion after four ballots when supporters of progressive candidate Betsy Hodges left the Minneapolis Convention Center, joined by supporters of fellow progressive candidate Gary Schiff. Schiff had withdrawn his name from contention after the second ballot and urged his supporters to join forces with Hodges. The joint tactics by the two City Council members were aimed at blocking an endorsement for former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew, who was the favorite of many “old-guard” DFLers and came the closest to winning the 60-percent support necessary for endorsement.
On the fourth ballot, Andrew had about half of the votes, with Hodges trailing behind, at 44 percent. It seemed like a long slog to endorsing Andrew might be under way. But at that point, Hodges and her supporters decamped, supposedly invited to eat pizza outside the convention center, never to return. Their walkout echoed a 2001 walkout led by R.T. Rybak, who blocked an endorsement for incumbent Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton and went on to win three terms as mayor (Rybak is not seeking re-election this year). The walkout also appeared to deprive the convention of a quorum, frustrating the Andrew campaign’s efforts to push towards endorsement and causing bitter Andrew supporters to attack the Hodges-Schiff faction which, in combination, outnumbered the Andrew forces. On the second ballot of the day, Hodges and Schiff had a combined 56 percent of the delegate strength, while Andrew had 42 percent. Three other candidates — Don Samuels, Jim Thomas and Jackie Cherryhomes — were dropped from contention after the first ballot when they failed to gain enough support to stay in the race according to the convention rules.
Right: Mayoral candidate Gary Schiff asked supporters to vote for Betsy Hodges, with the tactic helping keep Mark Andrew from winning DFL endorsement. (Photo courtesy Terry Gydesen of terrygydesen.com)
The convention rules committee decided not to use Ranked Choice Voting in the balloting, a decision embraced by all of the candidates, especially Mark Andrew, whose supporters include prominent opponents of the reformed voting method who have said they want to repeal the system — sometimes called Instant Runoff Voting — which was adopted by the city before the 2009 election. RCV didn’t have much impact in that election, with Rybak seeking a third term without strong opposition, and a low voter turnout at the polls.
But with no endorsement in the DFL. a plethora of candidates, including Independent Cam Winton, and a number of other potential candidates waiting in the wings, Ranked Choice Voting now looms large. After making no splash in 2009, the 2013 Minneapolis election may prove to be one of the biggest tests for RCV in the country.
Party endorsements have been losing traction (Gov. Mark Dayton defeated the endorsed DFL candidate for governor in 2010), especially in Minneapolis, where progressive and more conservative factions have clashed for years, often blocking endorsement. Given that background, many DFLers left Saturday’s convention arguing that it was just another ugly DFL brawl and that RCV had not affected the outcome.
But RCV has fundamentally changed the landscape and energized the campaigns of candidates with only an outsider’s chance. Even if RCV had no impact on Saturday’s outcome, it is likely to have a huge impact going forward from the deadlocked convention. RCV means there will be no primary election and that there could be a dozen or more candidates on the non-partisan election ballot in November — meaning it might take vote transfers from among the top three or four finishers before a winner emerges with a majority of preferences. In some ways, RCV meant a DFL endorsement Saturday was theoretically more important than ever. But RCV also helped make it more unlikely than ever.
The top three candidates, Andrew, Hodges and Schiff, all pledged to abide by an endorsement and to drop out if the party endorsed one of the other candidates. But pledging to abide by an endorsement is easy if you don’t believe there will be one. When Schiff threw his support to Hodges after the second ballot (he didn’t have enough votes to go on to the third ballot under convention rules), he made clear to his supporters and to the media that he was not withdrawing from the mayor’s race, but would live to fight for the job through the resurrecting powers of RCV.
Allying his campaign with Hodges’ was a clever tactic, one driven by the two candidates’ mutual admiration for each other (Schiff’s forces distributed a flyer at the convention showing that he and Hodges stood together on progressive issues). But it also reflected the increased importance — in an RCV campaign environment — of preventing Andrew from getting an endorsement. There might have been no endorsement Saturday even if RCV wasn’t on tap. But Saturday showed the development of political alliances, and tactical vote-preference targeting, of the kind that RCV is supposed to produce — the kind of political change that holds a promise of reducing extreme partisanship, fostering consensus-building, and giving voters a wider spectrum of choices.
On those fronts, RCV already can be seen to be making a difference in Minneapolis.
“If the party was united — which it’s not — then endorsement might be important,” says Jeanne Massey, executive director of FairVote Minnesota, which has led the push for RCV. “But it wasn’t realistic (to expect) there’d be an endorsement. That’s not been happening for many cycles.”
Massey, who served on the rules committee of the convention, says RCV helped bring more candidates into the race, which brought a wider base of delegates, and that many of those delegates — aware that RCV will bring more choices to the November ballot — didn’t want to see the convention reduce those choices. “What’s the point of allowing more choice if we’re going to cut it off now,” Massey says was the attitude of some delegates.
She also cited the “conversion” to RCV of candidate Jackie Cherryhomes, a former City Council member who was eliminated after the first ballot Saturday, but intends to continue her campaign and embraced RCV in her speech to the delegates: With RCV, Cherryhomes said, the candidates have a chance not to run against each other, but to run “for” the people of Minneapolis.
A lot of pizza and politics was still to come after Cherryhomes endorsed RCV and, in the end, the DFL Party of Minneapolis went home as it often does, pissed off and pointing fingers. But concentrating on the party’s failure to endorse misses the big picture:
Ranked Choice Voting is going to get a real test this November, and it already seems to be making a difference.
“Minneapolis is preparing to showcase RCV,” Massey says. “The real show is just beginning.
“Here we go.”
Frontrunner Mark Andrew had the lead but couldn't capture the endorsement. (Photo courtesy of Terry Gydesen, terrygydesen.com)
Video by Hlee Lee, story by Nick Coleman© 2013 The Uptake
When I was growing up, my one and only dream was to stay in the house and do nothing. This was mainly because I hated school, but I also felt at an early age that freedom from school meant the freedom to engage the world without restrictions. In my adolescent mind, this meant sitting in front of the TV all day eating junk food and watching old VH1 documentaries (this was back before VH1 became a reality show cesspool).MORE »
When I was growing up, my one and only dream was to stay in the house and do nothing. This was mainly because I hated school, but I also felt at an early age that freedom from school meant the freedom to engage the world without restrictions. In my adolescent mind, this meant sitting in front of the TV all day eating junk food and watching old VH1 documentaries (this was back before VH1 became a reality show cesspool).
After 15 years total of schooling and plenty of hard work and luck since then my dream came true, albeit in a perverse sort of way. The one thing I didn’t anticipate was that while working from home there are a million opportunities to relax but no time to do so: because you’re the only one making sure you stay on top of things, you have to work all the time to prevent the ball you willfully hold from dropping. Because of this, my dream of being a lazy teenage butthole has morphed into the warped reality of a shut-in with a paint brush and poorly developed social skills.
The sad truth is that I spend more time in the house than outside, I spend more time watching my dogs vomit on the couch then I do with friends that are the same species as me, and I spend more time painting flowers than actually smelling them. And then there are the times when working means leaving the house which is both a welcomed change and slightly nerve-racking.
This past Friday I attended the Paper Darts Volume 5 launch party after spending the entire day beside myself over what to wear. I was a contributor for the issue and was really excited to get a free copy and learn more about the magazine I’m currently working for. That night the ladies at Paper Darts had packed the SooLOCAL space to the ceiling and as usual I felt like the smallest person in the room. I like to think that my social awkwardness is a haphazard characteristic of my personality that people find endearing and occasionally adorable. I’m not intimidating and I really just want people to be nice to me so that I can be nice to them in return. Because I don’t want my lack of social grace to contaminate others like some form of smallpox, I do these things to make surrounding myself with people less traumatizing.
Tip 1: BRING A FRIEND. One of the most important things I do when I go to events in the city is bring a very personable and talkative friend with me to break the ice and guarantee that there is someone for me to talk to. This time I brought my friend Angel, who may be one of the nicest and most genuine people I know. Her ability to create comfort in others by talking to them encourages me to open up, but also means that I have a loyal friend that won’t abandon me in the middle of a social minefield.
Tip 2: EAT FIRST. Lucky for us, Pat’s Tap is right next door to the Paper Darts Pop-Up space. It was busy that night, as is to be expected on a Friday night with a party next door, and I got that burger where they cook the bacon inside the beef (and you can totally taste the bacon). There is nothing worse than trying to be socially present on an empty stomach and if you’re like me you’d be distracted, tired, and cranky…really, really cranky.
Tip 3: DON’T BE AFRAID TO STEP OUTSIDE. Sometimes the noise is too loud and the space is too packed; it’s hot and sweaty and maybe the walls are closing in a little bit. Black Diet were playing at the launch party, and even though they are a fantastic band, I get really anxious during loud music performances. So, before they started their set Angel and I went outside to sit at a little table on the other side of the storefront window. We could still hear the band well, but the window dulled some of the sound out so that it wasn’t overwhelming; it was also nice just to get some fresh air.
Tip 4: WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. Most gallery spaces have flat concrete floors that are a pain to stand on for too long, but most events at galleries have very few, if any, chairs to sit on. So it helps to wear shoes that you’re okay with standing in for long stretches of time. Most of the women that night were wearing beautiful heels that towered them over me in my little flats and my feet were still sore. I can imagine how their feet must have felt at the end of the night.
Tip 5: GO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW. If you see any familiar faces, gravitate to them first. The people you know will be your social buffer between you and that feeling of being out of place; they might even introduce you to new people. That night I was introduced to a very large, very friendly cat that lives in the neighborhood and comes to visit the SooLocal space every once in a while. I pet him for a moment and then he suddenly disappeared without a trace. He reminded me of Muta from Hayao Miyazaki’s The Cat Returns and a photographer from City Pages took photos of us.
Angel said the pictures made me look innocent and nubile, which in my mind made me think I looked like some sort of sexy toddler or something. I’m pretty sure I was just being a self-deprecating drama queen, but either way I’m getting a lot better at the whole socializing business. I might have to make it a regular thing, but I can’t make any promises.©2013 Amina Harper
“I thought that some day either someone needs to do a film about me, or I have to write about this,” said Phil Vandervaart. He was explaining how his work as a sign painter has been for love, rather than for money.MORE »
“I thought that some day either someone needs to do a film about me, or I have to write about this,” said Phil Vandervaart. He was explaining how his work as a sign painter has been for love, rather than for money.
The two are featured in the recently-published book Sign Painters by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, as well as a film by the same name.
If you live in the Twin Cities, you’ve seen the work of Phil and Forrest. Many of the iconic images and shop signs you’ll find around town are their work, including the portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald on the Fitzgerald Theater.
Phil has painted signs for 500 storefronts, done 25 Hollywood movies, and hundreds of rock videos. His hand can be found all over the West Bank. He said, “I did everything on the West Bank for 20 years, and I did 50 signs there and there are only 20 buildings, I used to just do them over and over again.” Forrest has been a sign painter for ten years, and has painted other notable places such as The Blue Door Longfellow, Forage, and the May Day Cafe.
E’s Emporium is one of the many signs that Phil has painted for businesses along Minnehaha Avenue. His portfolio includes the signs for Junket, Amazing Things, and Moon Palace, among others.
Helping Small Business
Painting signs for small businesses is what Phil and Forrest love to do. Phil explained, “I was deeply affected by the hippie [culture], I still am. A lot of that was not hating society, but hating the industrialization, the pollution.” But, he had a daughter and had to find a way to make a living. So he began to use his work to help small business owners. “I find myself really supporting the system where before originally I spent my whole life escaping, but now I’m kind of almost looking at myself as holding the line in a way.”
“You have to buy the world you want to see, and we strongly believe in free market, but that’s not capitalism,” said Forrest. “We support free market, we aid in purchasing the world we want to see…. We want to see the world a fun, successful, happy, small business and family-oriented place, and we’re working hard on that versus just disliking things.”
Phil agreed, “Yeah, I’m part of it, free enterprise. And my constituents to me are small business people, and I want to put them on the map. I want them to succeed. I want my sign to stay, but I really do want them to succeed.”
The Public Artist
Making a living as a sign painter can be done, but as Phil explains, he also considers it public art. “I always felt I never really got the real money for it [sign painting] that it’s actually worth,” he said. “If I came in and worked one week, it would be thousands of dollars.”
He continued, “So I always rationalized it this way – this is half my living, and half public art…. I am proud of the fact that all of these things are up, all of these pieces are up.”
“There’s a certain responsibility for sign painting that you come accept when you invest a lot of years in sign painting, which is that you’re often not working for success,” said Forrest. “You’re working for a dream to be successful.”
He added, “And when you accept that responsibility, it becomes really beautiful. Like [the shop] Dear Jupiter. A young mother with a small little vision to have a craft resource in the small town of Cambridge – Cambridge isn’t a small town, but there was no place for a person to go buy thread or any craft supplies without going directly to Walmart. So she had this small little vision she rents this small little storefront from her aunt, she pulls together $500, and I tell her this sign is going to cost $850 and she goes, ‘I have $500.’ And we say, ‘That’s fine, you’ve got to drop it off and pick it up.’ We basically give her store soul, for $500, so half of that wealth and value cannot be registered because of what we have done to help her have a place to fulfill her vision.”
From left, Phil Vandervaart and Forrest Wozniak hang out in the studio space in Phil’s backyard. After so many years of working together, they finish each others’ sentences, and their stories are mostly punctuated by laughter.
The Salesman and the Oracle
Forrest started sign painting in Olympia, Washington with a folk art style that he described as “undereducated but charming.” He added, “It had a little soul.”
Phil asked, “Naive Americana?”
Forrest answered, “Yeah, naive Americana, but people liked it.”
After moving back to Minneapolis, Forrest met an internationally-known metal sculptor with a studio near the Grain Belt Brewery who let him and his friends use the studio for painting. He recalled, “We were just these young punk kids, this guy is famous he has this studio … and we’re like ‘sweet, let us sign paint here,’ and we took all of his sculptures and stacked ‘em up in the corner. He’s world famous, and we just were like, ‘let’s scoot these out of the way,’ because we were so dumb…. I need to remember his name, he opened his doors to us, and that was priceless…and I want to give him credit for that.”
Forrest met Phil in the late 90s, and they hung out over coffee and the New York Times, but didn’t begin to work together until Forrest showed Phil a sign for the May Day Cafe that he was working on.
Forrest said, “I was showing Phil what I was doing, and he was like, ‘Well, that’s really ugly, bring it over and we’ll paint over it, and I’ll teach you a few things.’ So then we [Forrest and his friend Sven Lynch] brought it over and we had real sign painter hoedown where Phil really gave us some basic block letter tutorials. I consider the May Day sign the birth of our sign painting relationship.”
The two make a good pair. Forrest, by the way he describes it, can sell sand to the beach. Phil, with a background in drafting and a focus on design, was his mentor, the “oracle, the chief in the cave.” Forrest said, “We executed a really good product. So I was really then selling a good product. I was really coming through with my word. I was telling you I could paint you a really good sign, and I’d come to the oracle, the chief in the cave, and paint a really good sign.”
“Yeah, yeah, the oracle,” responded Phil.
Forrest said, “That’s what I call him. So the birth was like I’m the salesman and he’s the chief, you know? And that was the birth of our relationship.”
Forrest recently painted the signs on the Blue Door Longfellow. The primary Blue Door image was a rendering of the restaurant’s logo, but the sign on the side door that asked customers to “Enter in Front” was his own creation.
There’s always a lot of prep work to be done before painting can start. The two will power wash the surface to be painted and do any needed repairs, whether that is fixing the cement or stucco, installing a drip edge underneath the flashing or tuck-pointing brick and masonry.
Prepping the surface of the Fitzgerald Theater took a significant amount of work. Phil said, “When we did the Fitzgerald, that surface is actually the inside wall of the building that used to be next to it…”
“Yeah, it’s the inside brick of a torn down building,” said Forrest.
“And inside brick corrodes,” said Phil.
The two power washed the brick, cleaned it with TSP, sealed it, and fixed the brick that was crumbling off of the wall. They wanted to make sure the work lasted, because, as they said, they had to live with seeing it. “Every time I go over there I think, ‘oh, just one chip,’” said Phil. One chip, and Fitzgerald could lose his nose, a tooth, an eye.
Prepping the surface is one thing, breathing life into a work is a whole other skill. “It’s one thing to render something correctly, but then there’s this moment in which you capture it,” said Forrest. “Rendering a man and his face is one thing, capturing a personality, you know exactly when that happens. So you can render and you know it’s accurate and you know what you’re doing, and we’re pretty well versed in our trade so we know what we’re doing, but there’s a moment in which you capture his personality, and you know when that moment is. And we would be like, ‘Put the dot, the light of the eye, there.’ And Phil would be like – boop [with the paintbrush]. And then we’d get in the [lift] and be like – bssssp.”
“Haha, go down,” laughed Phil.
Forrest continued, “And go all the way down, and then walk down to the street, walk over to the parking ramp, press eighth floor on the parking ramp – bsssp- , walk over, look through the fence, and say, ‘No, it’s got to be over two inches.’”
“Yeah, he looks cross eyed, move it over,” said Phil.
“Two inches, two inches, remember two inches to the left,” said Forrest.
The up and down in the lift and elevator continued until they got the painting just to their liking.
What Keeps You Going?
With so many years of working on the craft of sign painting, I had one question: “What keeps you going?”
Phil answered, “Every job I do, I like to improve. I’ve recently been proud of the Amazing Things sign.” He added, “I could do whatever I want, because this guy trusts me. So I did this letter style, Tuscan, that we’ve been developing.”
Forrest responded, “So, you would say you’re constantly improving on design, because design is what keeps you going. You read these books, and they say you can’t design fonts for 25 years. You can finally, for the last 10 years, you are overqualified to design, which you don’t face until you’re 20 years in the game.”
“It just flows out of me,” said Phil. “I don’t even care if I paint it, I just want to design it.”
Forrest responded, “I had no preexising qualifications to be a sign painter, it found me, and it helped me be of value and have value and purpose in my life. I owe it my life. I’ve got two beautiful daughters, I’ve got a beautiful wife, I own a home, I owe it. It saved me.”
The sign for the Trylon Microcinema is another one of Phil’s works.
Sign Painters is showing tonight and tomorrow at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Trylon Microcinema.
The Sign Painters book by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon is available at local bookstores and online.
See more of Phil and Forrest’s work online at
© 2013 My Broadsheet
Elsa's House of Sleep, the Twin Cities' oldest Black-owned furniture business, has survived light rail construction and its share of economic downturns, but despite it all, the business has excelled and has since expanded into Minneapolis.MORE »
Elsa's House of Sleep, the Twin Cities' oldest Black-owned furniture business, has survived light rail construction and its share of economic downturns, but despite it all, the business has excelled and has since expanded into Minneapolis.
Tetra Constantino, owner, said that 2013 marks 17 years that his family has operated the original outlet, 1441 University Ave. W. in the Midway area of Saint Paul. The name comes from founder, Elsa Rezene, the mother of Constantino, who came to Minnesota in 1966 from Asmara, Eritrea. Rezene was an entrepreneurial spirited woman who started her first business in 1971 just after high school when she began selling beads, oil, incense, jewelry, and hand-made clothing. In 1997 that transformed into furniture, unique rugs, artwork, and lamps, which Elsa's still offers to this day.
Tetra attests that Rezene's legacy can still be found in the customer experience at Elsa's House of Sleep. Up until the time when Rezene lost her battle to cancer in 2004, customers would find her smiling, connecting with people, assisting customers, and making furniture deliveries. The family keeps her legacy alive today by treating customers like extended family. Constantino said most of Elsa's clientele is the result of repeat business, and at Elsa's the best advertising is word of mouth. Elsa's staff has neither forgotten the outstanding service its namesake offered, nor the warm feeling she always left with her customers.
Subsequently, 10 family members, including Elsa's three children and her sister have all held key positions within the company and have been important to its success. Most of the sales, customer service and delivery team have been part of the Elsa family for many years and makes work enjoyable, according to Constantino.
From left to right: Merary Montes, Raymond Ledesma, Patrick Davis, Ermias Tekle, Tetra Constantino, El Constantino, and Belainesh Tekle (Photo credit: Travis Lee)
The original real estate that the store sits on today was found by Rezene and later purchased by Constantino. Constantino credits the current success and direction of the business to his mother's vision.
"Under her leadership I was inspired to do the things that have been done and many more that have yet to be accomplished," said Constantino. "We have purchased the real estate at our current location at 1441 University Avenue and expanded to our second location at 3540 East Lake Street."
In conjunction with steady business growth, Elsa's has maintained a consistent focus on meeting the needs of customers on a budget. In recent years it began allowing customers to put items on layaway for up to six months without additional fees and it offers different financing options.
"We don't have a huge showroom, so we allow customers to see our offerings in online catalogs. Because we keep our overhead low we pass those savings on to (the customer)," said Constantino. "The only thing we ask in return is repeat business if we've earned it. And tell your friends about us, as well."
Constantino went on to comment that he looks forward to the next 17 years and beyond and that he is thankful to the customers that keep coming back and referring others.
When asked about how tough it was to run his mom's store after her passing, Constantino said that it was very difficult for his family and those who knew her, but the family looks to her legacy for motivation and strength when things get tough. Constantino credits Elsa's survival to a commitment to community. Many stores have come and gone in the Midway area of Saint Paul, but Elsa's is still going strong thanks to its community-based clientele.
"We didn't have to cut costs and quality when competition moved in because our customers, know – expect and anticipate – that we will provide the best price for the same furniture and even better customer service," said Constantino.
The Saint Paul location is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The Minneapolis store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday but closed on Sundays.
For more on Elsa's visit www.elsasfurniture.com or call (651) 647-0225 or (612) 367-8941.© 2013 Insight News