Victoria Theater

Reviving Frogtown’s Victoria Theater for diverse community

Along the Green Line, just east of Victoria Street and University Avenue, stands a seemingly abandoned storefront with dark windows and a locked door. But to Denise Mwasyeba, a 25-year Frogtown resident and former chair of the Frogtown Neighborhood Association (FNA) board of directors, it’s the perfect chance to turn the forgotten, historical Victoria theater into a newly renovated center that represents a diverse community greatly evolving from its roots. Continue Reading

A Frogtown feast: Thousands gather to discuss food access in St. Paul

Not everyone thinks about their food as art, but one St. Paul artist is using art to spread awareness about food access issues in his neighborhood. When artist Seitu Jones looked out the window of his apartment in Frogtown, he noticed many people in his neighborhood were buying their groceries from the local convenience store. It was a revelation to him, and he decided he wanted to do something about it. On Sept. Continue Reading

Educating future nurses as a ticket out of poverty

Sometimes, an airplane ride can change your life. Rachelle Simmons was college visiting in Baltimore with her son, and mentally noted something unique. “Usually in the inner city, on every corner you see a liquor store or a church – every corner. And there (Baltimore), on every corner there was a clinic! Or there was a hospital! Continue Reading

How does E-Democracy work in Frogtown?

Frogtown “is a complete news desert. There’s a complete absence of access to local information,” said E-Democracy founder Steven Clift. With no local papers and limited coverage by regional publications, Frogtown residents struggle to find a way to connect. According to Clift, E-Democracy offers residents an opportunity for connection, providing an online forum for community conversation. “For no cost, someone can reach hundreds of people in Frogtown, who care about Frogtown, in minutes.”

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Rents rising in Frogtown as light rail opening day approaches

The Green Line’s opening is four months away, but the train has already brought rent increases for Frogtown renters.Organizations working closely with Frogtown have been worried about rent increases for years, and recent data from HousingLink shows that these fears may be justified.According to Minnesota Housing Link’s third quarter analysis, median rent listings for the “shadow market” in Frogtown — duplexes, condos, single-family housing, and townhomes — have risen remarkably in the last year. In 2011, the median rent was $807. In 2012 it rose to $850, and by 2013, the median rent had jumped to $995. Rent listings for multi-unit apartment buildings have remained unchanged.The rent increase for duplexes, condos, single-family housing, and townhomes is particularly significant for Frogtown. According to the Minnesota Housing Preservation Project (MHPP)’s Before the Train report, 43 percent of the housing in the Midway East area (which roughly corresponds to Frogtown) is single family or duplex housing. Continue Reading

Unify University celebrates neighborhoods in St. Paul

The August 17 Unify University parade featured organizations as diverse the community itself. Children from Heart and Soul Drum Academy sent the parade off to vibrant rhythmic beats. Giants puppets operated by youth from the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent towered overhead. Unifying University refers to University Avenue, which divides the neighborhoods of Frogtown and Rondo.”Unify University is about bringing this neighborhood together,” explained organizer John Slade, “…it’s about bringing the white community, the black community, the Hmong community, the Asian community, the immigrant community who live here, together.”Since this is an election year, campaign workers representing mayoral and city council races frequently darted from the parade to greet and apply stickers to spectators. The parade began at Maxfield School and concluded at the West Minnehaha Rec Center where an open microphone provided community residents the opportunity to share their unique talents. Continue Reading

Frogtown Farm plans move forward in St. Paul

Frogtown Park, the 12-acre space in the 900 block of Lafond Avenue is now one step closer to completion. The project, which is the fruit of years of organizing by Frogtown community members, will establish a five-acre urban demonstration farm on the site and retain other areas as a nature sanctuary and recreation area. This space once housed the Sisters of the Good Shepherd Convent and later belonged to the Wilder Foundation. Following the Frogtown Gardens community campaign, the Wilder Foundation made a deal with the Trust for Public Land in June 2012, agreeing to sell the land at a marked down price of $2.2 million.Rick Heydinger, acting chair of the Frogtown Farm board of directors described a three-step process:1) The Wilder Foundation now owns the land. In June 2012, Wilder agreed to sell sell twelve acres that will comprise Frogtown Park to the Trust for Public Land for $2.2 million. Continue Reading

Placemaking: loving where you live and why it matters

“What makes people love where they live, and why does it matter?” “What bonds residents to a city and how can a community foster those emotional ties to drive economic success?” Those are questions explored in the Soul of the Community Project, a major initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Gallup pollsters. They were also the focus of several presentations by Dr. Katherine Loflin during her Placemaking Residency in the Twin Cities in early May. Loflin was lead investigator for Soul of the Community while at Knight.                            Among the events held during Loflin’s residency were a presentation and workshop, “Measuring and Understanding Place,” held at the Wilder Foundation, and a walking tour of portions of St. Paul’s Frogtown and Summit-University neighborhoods, combined with a discussion and placemaking brainstorming session. Both took place on May 8. Katherine Loflin (l), Tim Griffin, St. Continue Reading