New Year’s Resolution: Close the Achievement Gap, one student at a time

Searching for a way to give back this year? Think about volunteering as tutor. Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation and Volunteer MPS are just two partnership organizations that will help match your volunteer preferences with a tutoring program in either Saint Paul or Minneapolis. Each year, about 500 new volunteers are matched with a program through Volunteer in MPS. With a new term starting, both these organizations are searching for reliable people to join these rewarding programs.Each of our interns in the last semester (Fall 2012) had volunteered in a tutoring program. Continue Reading

Homelessness in Minneapolis: Discussion on menu at Breakfast with Gary

In his invitation to October’s Breakfast with Gary, Councilmember Gary Schiff said: “After a decade-long recession and foreclosure epidemic, tent cities are emerging in the United States. Homelessness is an issue that touches everyone, and disproportionally affects children, our military veterans, and victims of domestic violence. It’s time to sound the alarm. Nobody deserves to be homeless.”Each monthly meeting addresses a particular issue, and in November about 40 people gathered at Mercado Central for a panel, including Monica Nilsson, Director of Community Engagement for St. Stephen’s Human Services and Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman, to discuss homelessness in Hennepin County. Continue Reading

Minnesota prison phones: High rates, dropped calls, privatization and profits

Shelly Martin handed her cell phone to her 9-year-old niece. On the other end was her father, who had been waiting in line to use the only available phone. They greeted each other and began to talk — perhaps he asked how school was and she asked when she would see him next. Then conversation ended abruptly. Her niece cried, “Why did daddy hang up on me? Continue Reading

On assignment—what to do when the story doesn’t happen

When I braved the cold weather to cover a story about the Amen Corner in Peavey Park, I expected to find what their press release promised: people registering to vote. Following Google Maps directions, I found myself at the intersection of a highway entrance and a glum-looking parking lot with no prospective voters, and no gathering at all. Now what? I tried, unsuccessfully, to reach my editor, and finally turned my bike back up Franklin toward home, cold and disappointed under a darkening sky. Then I heard it: loud music and a man’s voice chanting “Can I get an Amen” through speakers. Continue Reading

Wacky Wheelers liven up Central Corridor in St. Paul

Drizzling rain didn’t stop the dozen smiling faces on funky contraptions as they paraded down University Avenue in St. Paul on October 13 displaying decorative bicycle art. Wacky Wheelers, a family-friendly project of artists Mitchell Dose and Alicia Dvorak, invited bike enthusiasts, young and old, to decorate their bikes at Cycles for Change. The community bike ride that followed was organized with intent to liven up the prolonged construction on the Central Corridor.The Wacky Wheelers event took place in a parking lot outside Cycles for Change. Customized bicycles were displayed and available to ride.According to its Facebook page, “Wacky Wheelers is supported by Irrigate, an artist-led creative place-making initiative spanning the Central Corridor in St. Continue Reading

Bikes, cars, pedestrians: Crashes and safety on Franklin Ave discussed at public meeting in Minneapolis

“We have a safety problem on this corridor. This corridor gets higher than normal motor vehicle crash rates, almost two and a half times what the base line should be,” said Bill Schultheiss, a senior engineer for Toole Design Group, during the third public meeting addressing prospective biking and walking improvements on Franklin Avenue.

“It’s a city, it’s a built environment. We’re not going to tear down buildings and widen things and move people away and spend hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Schultheiss as many questions about new street arrangements came up. The discussion was fueled mainly by bicyclists concerned about safely and mobility on Franklin Avenue, a corridor that currently has no bike lanes and narrow sidewalks which poses big issues for the hundreds of bikers and pedestrians who use it daily.

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Beer, brats, and Oktoberfest in Minneapolis and St. Paul

While there are a handful of lively Oktoberfest celebrations in the Twin Cities, the Black Forest Inn hosts, perhaps, the most distinctive festivities, with a ten day celebration that kicks off on September 28. If you’re in search of a weekend celebration, Gasthof’s on University Avenue offers a full bar and polka dancing over the next three weekends. The celebration started on September 21 and continues until October 13. Mill City Museum will host an event-packed celebration with lots of family friendly activities on Saturday, September 28, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Festivities include a farmer’s market, local beer sampling, a barrel-making demonstration, and live music and dancers. There will also be a beer garden featuring local breweries and plenty of German foods to sample.

Across the river in St. Paul, festivities include Twin Cities Oktoberfest at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds October 5-6 at a pricey $25 per person — but there’s a $10 off coupon here.  The following weekend, Octobe r12-13, the KlubHaus on Rice Street celebrates, with festivities including dachshund races and bed races, as well as beer and bands. (Here’s a list of even more Oktoberfest celebrations in the Twin Cities and across Minnesota.)

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