The Dubliner Pub: A neighborhood bar at heart

[Editor’s note: This is part of a series on businesses along the Green Line, one year after opening. We profiled the Dubliner and other University Avenue businesses in 2014 as part of a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Fund grant. We’re returning after the opening of the light rail to see what’s changed.]

Story by Loren Green, video by Allison Herrera

“The clientele changed and then the business changed,” recalled Dubliner owner Tom Scanlon. He’s not talking about the impact the Green Line has had on his long-running University Avenue Irish pub, rather changes that the Avenue has seen since he first acquired the business in 1984. At the time, it was a trucking bar. Continue Reading

Identity is the heart of this new Saint Paul brewery

Pronounced “shee,” Sidhe are earthen mounds, which, in Irish folklore, house the Aos Sí, a fairy-like race. Sidhe Brewing, which opened in St. Paul this May, takes that lineage and ritual seriously. Head brewer Kathleen Culhane identifies most strongly with her Irish heritage, and the four owners’ pagan beliefs clearly influence the design and functionality of the brewhouse. With a logo that depicts the elements of beer and a taproom décor that subtly pays dues to key pagan symbols, it’s a unique stamp and is just one way that differentiates the brewers from their bearded brethren in the local microbrewing scene. Continue Reading

Botanical wilderness hides near I-394

Just minutes from Glenwood Avenue, Wirth Lake Beach and Interstate 394, there’s a sanctuary for plants, animals and people too. Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden was first established in 1907 as the first public wildflower garden in the United States. To this day it remains unique, displaying hundreds of flowers that offer a new experience each visit, ranging from the first spring blossoms, the Showy Lady Slippers in June to the colorful fall foliage. Embedded within the larger Theodore Wirth Park near the Minneapolis-Golden Valley border, the 15-acre wildflower garden culls a mixture of native plants with others from the Eastern US and even beyond of North America. In over 100 years the garden has expanded, but its mission at the start and present are nearly identical: to offer a botanical wilderness within the city. Continue Reading

Metro Blooms

Rain gardens have grown in popularity, but building one yourself is still a challenging task. The city of Minneapolis, along with other metro municipalities, have teamed up with Metro Blooms to make it easier. Throughout the summer Metro Blooms is hosting their Raingardens & Beyond class in various locations, including on May 7 at Luxton Park. Federal regulations require cities to work with the public on storm management education, and that initiative is the basis behind the class, a $15 option for the budget-minded do-it-yourselfer to learn about home landscaping. The program educates property owners on rain gardens, native plants, and offers one-on-one design assistance. Continue Reading

Got $25? Peace Coffee, Grow Ahead invite Minnesota micro-loans to Guatemalan coffee farmers

In an industry beset by unfair credit practices and delays, local roasters Peace Coffee and its parent organization, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), are offering an innovative new financing model.The groups are spearheading the Grow Ahead Foundation, an initiative where coffee drinkers can offer guaranteed loans to farmers and be paid back at the end of the season.While coffee is the second most traded global commodity (after oil), fair trade coffee is a small scale product. According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the farms that provide this product average less than eight acres per farm. Considering the nearly one-year delay between the blossoming of coffee flowers, the ripening, picking, and roasting of the fruit, and ultimately brewing coffee beans in your machine, the business plan for fair trade farmers is a complicated and risky endeavor that relies on loans to cover the start-to-finish process. Grow Ahead, which was formally launched in September, allows consumers to loan as little as $25 through their website and to later get that money back or reinvest it into the next growing season. If an investor gives $25 today, s/he will receive that money back in the fall of 2013 (without interest).For the farmers this provides guaranteed funds at the start of the season, rather than waiting nearly one year for a return on investment. With financing through Grow Ahead, the rates are more beneficial to farmers’ needs and a connection is forged between grower and consumer.“Bridging that gap from production to payday is one of the challenges that small-scale famers face,” explained Lee Wallace, CEO at Peace Coffee. Continue Reading

MN VOICES | University of Minnesota student Anna Kaminski connects education, trash collection and passion for human rights

University of Minnesota student Anna Kaminski jumped at the chance to teach classes to Iraqi citizens, and also helped to establish regular trash pick-up in her host city of Najaf. While basic utilities are taken for granted in the United States, destruction from the war has caused many important quality of life measurements to crumble in Iraq.

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Cash mob hits Minneapolis — and businesses can’t wait for more

Cash mobs are descending on Twin Cities stores. Unlike flash mobs, cash mobs are not spontaneous or disruptive. The group democratically selects a local business and, on a given day and time, participants visit the store, aiming to spend around $20 each. Cash mobs are a form of social activism, encouraging support for small businesses such as St. Paul Corner Drug, Harriet Brewing, Moss Envy, and Goddess of Glass. Continue Reading

Twin Cities furniture bank bridges gap from homelessness to home

Acquiring housing is only the first step toward making a home. Since 1987, Bridging has helped to supply nearly 60,000 clients with basic household supplies as they transition from homelessness. The Bloomington-based group offers goods ranging from simple blankets and pots and pans, to larger furniture items such as kitchen tables, mattress, and sofas to those who are re-acclimating to private living conditions.Founded by Fran Heitzman, the non-profit acts as a “bridge,” using existing social services to provide goods to those in need. With third party agencies assuming the task of client verification, Bridging is able to focus its energy on the collection and distribution of items. Bridging is currently the largest furniture bank in North America, with a second warehouse in Roseville. Clients walk through the facility with a shopping cart to make their selections. Continue Reading

Minneapolis expands community garden program

While space for private gardens may be hard to find, the city of Minneapolis currently has vacant lots available through its Homegrown program.  Established in 2010 by the Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support, the program offers garden plots to non-profit organizations. Community gardens can be used for individual plots or communal projects, ranging in focus from educational space to flower beds, green art space, and vegetable plots.  The non-profit organization must provide its own liability insurance.In its mission statement, Homegrown simply defines a community garden as “a lot where a group grows and maintains plants for food, for beauty, or both.  The lots offered through the Homegrown program have been deemed unfit for development, securing their use through the course of a one or three-year lease.  This means the gardeners can retain use year in and year out, instead of being pushed to the wayside when commercial interests knock at the door. Applications and site maps can be found on Homegrown’s website.Local non-profit Gardening Matters has documented more than 300 community gardens in the Twin Cities metro alone.  With such growth, the demand for plots has skyrocketed.   Minneapolis boasts one of the oldest and largest community gardens in the country in Dowling Community Garden. With 185 plots covering nearly four acres, demand is so high that Dowling has closed its waitlist. Community gardens are defined by their contributions to the entire neighborhood: not only do they offer much need green space, but they bring people together while presenting outlets for healthy eating, exercise, and sharing knowledge.  Members may join because of social concerns or simply because, as Jeffrey Loesch, Treasurer and Communications Coordinator at Dowling says, “Our home is beautifully landscaped, with no room for a vegetable garden.”  The emphasis on the group distinguishes community gardens from urban farms, which are typically run for profit—though both are often based on sustainable practices. The recent boom in interest has a number of causes.  The economic downturn has increased consumers’ need for affordable foods.  Separately, there has been a growing movement away from industrial convenience food in favor of more healthy, local alternatives.  Gardening serves both of these ends, as well as reconnecting growers to the soil and the ecosystem of which they are a part. As Margaret Shields, Education and Outreach Coordinator at Gardening Matters explains, community gardens aren’t simply a hobby, “[they] are a serious contributor to family food budgets, personal and community health, and so much more.”  The gardens bring neighbors together in their community while reducing both budget and carbon footprint. “It is great to get more people growing food and to have them participating in that process,” adds Homegrown’s June Mathiowetz.  “We know that community gardens are good for communities and developing social connections, and just getting people to eat more healthy food.” Continue Reading