River Rats serve up Star Wars family fun on the Northside

A running item in the Sunday Star Tribune is the “Names & Faces” in the variety section. I normally skip the self-congratulating who’s who at various galas, but several weeks ago something caught my eye. Normal people were profiled at the riverfront by West Broadway, attending a show by the Twin Cities River Rats. The kicker? It was a Star Wars-themed performance. Continue Reading

Fatal shooting stems from out of control bus route

Yesterday evening when my phone rang off the hook, with several people calling repeatedly but not leaving messages, I knew something was wrong. I called back, to find out that a man had been fatally shot after getting off of the 19 bus in front of my home. Thank the Lord for small favors, but no one in my house was harmed, my dog was okay, and my home appears to be unscathed–although shell casings or evidence of some kind was left by the trash can on my corner. Continue Reading

Ascension Church plans for demolition of 1707 Bryant Ave North

It came to my attention this week through the Old North Minneapolis Facebook page that Ascension church wants to demolish a property they own at 1707 Bryant Avenue North.  As one can see from the photos, this house is in wonderful shape.  Even if some work is needed, I have little doubt that the place could be successfully rehabbed.  So the unanswered question is why this house should be torn down at all? Continue Reading

Why I can’t get excited about Minneapolis banning styrofoam

Recently the city of Minneapolis proposed a ban on styrofoam containers. The logical part of my brain says this is a positive development and our council should be hailed for a move that will be great for the environment and put our city among the leaders in the nation around this issue. The illogical part of my brain, on the other hand… well that part of my brain looks out my front porch every day and sees a city-owned house at 2101 26th Avenue North. It’s tornado-damaged and by outward appearances looks to be a perfectly salvageable house. Or at least it WAS. The shredded blue tarp remnants on the roof indicate exactly how long the city has left this property to deteriorate. At this point, there’s no telling how much water damage has occurred in the year and a half that time, neglect, and a city that hasn’t sufficiently valued its housing stock have let this slide. Continue Reading

26th Avenue North is a bumpy embarrassment – which is why you should call 311 more often

To the credit of our city officials, 26th Avenue North has seen quite a few potholes filled, CM Yang and his staff have been incredibly responsive since I brought the issue forward, and the corridor is slated for a makeover beginning (finally!) next year. Its condition is still deplorable and worthy of mention to keep the pressure on our city to follow through with long-overdue repairs. Continue Reading

Looking a GIFT Cow in the mouth

I can’t say I entirely blame Kemps for taking down the GIFT facade improvement. After all, they want to tear down two buildings on West Broadway and it doesn’t help their position if people are actually excited about potential. Oh no, it’s much easier to keep the buildings looking like blight so people are more inclined to favor demolition. But it does show their true colors, in that they are willing to make a prominent section of West Broadway look worse in order to further their agenda. Continue Reading

West Broadway gets a G.I.F.T. (Guerilla Improvement Facade Team)

Towards the end of last year, I raised the alarm on this blog that Kemps had purchased two structures at 404 and 410 West Broadway with the likely intent of tearing them down for more surface parking. A discussion and extensive research followed on the Old North Minneapolis Facebook page (a site where more connections about northside history are being made every day). Late last month, we received the expected news that Kemps would apply for a demolition permit, and northsiders compiled our research to nominate the properties for historic designation. Continue Reading

Equity is more than just a buzzword

Invoking the word “equity” is a lot like talking about Heaven. Everyone likes to describe it, but nobody seems to do what it takes to get there. Or worse yet, the word gets tossed around with no meaning whatsoever. It’s become the trendy thing people have to say they want. And yet I struggle to find any meaningful incorporation of its principles into actual policy. When it does make its way into political decisions, equity seems to be applied only to giant, broad initiatives like raising the minimum wage or anti-bullying legislation. When the word is bandied about at community meetings, it doesn’t seem attached to any specific actions at all. Continue Reading