High school senior expands self-made soda company in Seward

It’s not every day a 17-year-old creates her own soda company. Especially right before her first semester of college.Eva Duckler started Tree Fort Soda in May 2014 with her brother, David Duckler, who owns Verdant Tea in Minneapolis’ Seward neighborhood. The root beer has sold so well at the tea shop that the two are planning to expand the business to local shops such as Seward Co-op and Kopplin’s Coffee.“I never saw myself starting a business but it just sort of happened,” said Eva Duckler, “It’s a blessing.”And the blessings continue: Roughly two months after Eva developed a business plan, Tree Fort Soda became an LLC and was picked up by Classic Provisions, a local distributing company that specializes in artisan foods. In mid-August, Tree Fort Soda is planning to move the brewing operation from the commercial kitchen at Verdant Tea to its own warehouse, which will allow the business to produce roughly 15 barrels of root beer per week as opposed to its current 1,000 bottles.Eva and David come from an entrepreneurial family. Their father, Max Duckler, started CaptionMax, a closed captioning and subtitles service that also operates out of Seward. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Hmong families tour Minneapolis bikeways, vote to keep streets as is

 To learn more about the possible impact of the proposed North Minneapolis Bikeway, On May 16, North Minneapolis Hmong families packed a van and went on a tour of Minneapolis bikeways.All the participants live on one of the proposed routes for the North Minneapolis Bikeway.The Hmong families toured four Minneapolis bikeways: Milwaukee Ave., Midtown Greenway, Bryant Ave. S., and 37th Ave. N.During their tour, the families saw all three major types of bikeways as described by the city of Minneapolis:Bike boulevard. Bicycle symbols and traffic calming features, parking and street remain. Seen by Hmong families at Bryant Ave. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | You really don’t want to meet the Dicks at Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America

I’m not one to cry. Truth is, I rarely cry, but during a visit to Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America I was literally reduced to tears! The bartender was abusive, abrasive, and mean as HELL. I wasn’t sure why he was in a bad mood, but later found out that it is their “niche” to be mean as spitfire. Were they really trained to treat people like this, to the point of harassment? Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | The Big E sizes up MN GOP candidates

The Big E, confessing to Minnesita Progressive Project (MPP) readers and contributers, recently wrote that his heart no longer pines to hose down right wing sparkle ponies like Michele Bachmann or even review books by the likes of a Keith Ellison.  The Big E (known to his Minneapolis neighbors as Eric Pusey), is the founding scold of the MPP lefty sentry post and appears on the current edition of Democratic Visions as he retires from political blogging. After a moment of posing as a weary blogosphere elder  (as if blogging was old enough to earn elders), the smart, liberal confederate, prompted by an actual DFL elder,  Tim O’Brien, shines with bemused and bewildered takes on the current state of the Minnesota Republican Party and its clownish, hopeful State and Congressional candidates.   Mr. Pusey, who has splashed gleefully in the rushing stream of blogs, Tweets, Facebook twerking and probably Skype, does quite well in the “legacy” medium of television where I operate.  Fox Nine News knew that and for a while put him on from time-to-time.  But the Fox 9 News producers didn’t have the cojones to make him a regular pundit.   Too bad.  Mr. Pusey has good chemistry. This ten-minute Eric and Tim segment is yours to consider.  Its “tagged” (the TV producer’s sense of the word) with an homage to the late, great, populist troubadour Pete Seeger and Twin Cities activism thanks to the air guitar wonders -The Junk Yard Democrats, a peoples’ anthem, and creative editing.  Enjoy!  Enjoy!  Democratic Visions February Segments Ex-blogger Eric Pusey and Tim O’Brien on senate and gubernatorial hopefuls.Jon Spayde as a clinically depressed motivational speaker with advice for Republican hopefuls.I report on the DFL 48 Precinct Caucuses and present an award winning short film making change. Democratic Visions is handcrafted by Eden Prairie, Edina and Minnetonka volunteer Democrats at the Bloomington Community Access Television studio by arrangement with the Southwest Suburban Cable Commission. Democratic Visions Cable ScheduleMinneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m.; Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Eden Prairie – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. The entire Feburary program and 183 archived Dem Vis segments can be seen on the Democratic Visions Channel on YouTube. Democratic Visions has become the  liveliest political issues show in Minnesota.   I know.  I produce the darned thing.   Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | Freddy Votel and Davu Seru Drum Duet with Paul Metzger and Transitional Species at Seward Café

Saturday night the Seward Café was abuzz with locally blended experimental and improvisational music. Earlier last month I saw another show of the same genre at the Seward and my only complaint was a small audience. I think word is getting out. There were more people last night, who braved record cold temperatures to see these guys.To set the stage, music at the Seward has a beatnik coffeehouse feel – although they do serve beer and wine. Each artist performed for about 15-30 minutes and played one song. Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | Paul Metzger, Suzuki Junzo, Jesse Peterson and Forgotten Works at Seward Café: Secret gem of a concert

Sunday night I saw a show that should have been standing room only in almost any venue. As it was there was plenty of room at the back of the Seward Café for four stellar, yet unconventional, musicians. Headline was Suzuki Junzo on tour from Tokyo. Apparently this was his second time to Minneapolis. Last time he played, it was more of a noise set; this time is was an eerie set of love songs. Continue Reading

A fond farewell to the Twin Cities Daily Planet

In November 2007, I joined the Twin Cities Daily Planet as assistant editor. I asked Daily Planet editor Mary Turck if I could also be arts editor—since, after all, there were only two of us—and she said something along the lines of, “Sure, why not?”Six years—and 1,435 articles and blog posts—later, my time with the Daily Planet is coming to a close. On October 14, I’ll be making the move from the Daily Planet’s Seward headquarters to American Public Media, in what Garrison Keillor refers to as “hustling, bustling downtown St. Paul.” There, I’ll be joining the digital music team, working as an editor and writer on the websites of The Current and Classical Minnesota Public Radio.I’m excited for this new opportunity and very much looking forward to working with my talented new colleagues, but of course it’s hard to say goodbye to the Daily Planet, where I’ve had what feels less like a job than an odyssey. 2007 wasn’t that long ago, but when I started at the Daily Planet, MinnPost didn’t exist, METRO was a promising new monthly, and The Onion’s local A.V. Club didn’t even have a website. Continue Reading

Women of color who ride bikes in the Twin Cities

On a rainy Saturday morning two women are at bike work stations receiving hands-on learning about the ins and outs of bicycle mechanics. These two women are not white or Lycra clad, nor would you confuse them with the “creative class” that is associated with the biking community. They are learning bike maintenance skills at SPOKES Bike-Walk Connections (1915 E. 22nd Street) in the Seward Minneapolis neighborhood. According to their bulletin, this organization is an innovative community bike and walking center with a goal of getting more people biking and walking for transportation and exercise. On their wall is a picture of bicycle parts written in Amharic, Eritrean, Ojibwa, and Oromo translations.Fatima Omer, a thirty-something Somali woman, is one of the two women working on a donated but still in good condition bike. Continue Reading