Right On Lake Street Comes to the MN History Center


A collaboration between Macalester College and Lake Street communities highlights the past and present. This jazzman was warming up at In the Heart of the Beast Theatre, waiting for his big debut at the History Center

Have you heard success breeds success? I’d say that everyone, locally, city-wide and regionally, will benefit from Lake Street’s recent successes. What’s my evidence? Look back at the impact of Lake Street’s early successes. You’ll be able to do a bit of that at this exciting new exhibit coming to the MN History Center.

What you are going to see began with a new student orientation tour to the MN History Center by Macalester College students in Fall ’04. Staff at the Minnesota History Center and Macalester College saw an opportunity to expand the shared vision both organizations had to more actively engage as a part of the community. The students saw “Open House” which was the story of one house and its role within its community over time. This got everyone thinking about shared-stories projects that would intersect boundaries and educate about our local environment. What has become Right On Lake Street began as a grassroots history project that is expected to empower all of us to “do” history.

The connection to Lake Street quickly became an obvious one because of the number of Macalester College students, faculty and alumni already involved in this community, living, working and interning here. The project really got a push following the Fall ’05 faculty training on urban engagement and ’05 marked the first public results, an exhibit at the Blue Moon and a performance at Patrick’s Cabaret. Over the course of this project, Mac students have repeatedly said that this opportunity to connect to the people and their stories on Lake Street has given them an increased feeling of “being at home” in this community. It’s the opposite of the old saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” Students working with one person, one idea were able to open the door that allowed them to see the entire community. Maybe you need to care about the tree before you can understand the forest.

What’s it going to take to bring these stories to life at the MN History Center? MN History Center exhibit development staff wisely chose to bring In The Heart Of The Beast Theatre into the development of Right On Lake Street. What will you see, touch and feel at Right On Lake Street? It’s not a comprehensive story, but rather a beginning point. One of the many ideas on which this project is founded is that it encourage us to share stories. It has certainly encouraged a growing number of smart, caring students to engage in our community.

The project has been and continues to be organic, growing and changing as new students and other community members are connected to it. Paul Schadewald, Mac Associate Director of Civic Engagement says he’s now losing sleep as the project grows nearer to its public opening. He should sleep soundly. The results of this project will bring increased pride to Lake Street residents, our business community, Macalester and the History Center.

When it’s ready there will be a website launched that will provide even more interactive opportunities. Watch for a link on the Minnesota Historical Society website. The exhibit opens with an evening gala September 18 and will continue through March 9. Don’t miss it!