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

Soul of University: Walkability workshop focuses on St. Paul’s Frogtown, Summit-University neighborhoods

Placemaking Expert Dr. Katherine Loflin led a Walkability Workshop in St. Paul’s Little Mekong neighborhood through a light drizzle on May 8. Loflin is the lead consultant on the “Soul of the Community,” an investigation on why people love the places they live. Her appearance at the workshop was part of the 2nd Annual Placemaking Residency, and was presented by the District Councils Collaborative and Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation.In this video of the walk around the University/Western Green Line Light Rail station, Loflin speaks about the community’s assets, and how the small touches residents place in their environments signal the community’s hidden strengths. Related stories:• Soul of University: Walkability workshop focuses on St. Paul’s Frogtown, Summit-University neighborhoods• What’s up at Western and Dale? Continue Reading

OUR STORIES | Two St. Paul foreclosures

“I get to sleep again, not worrying about the sheriff coming to the door to evict me,” Caylin Crawford said. “It means being able to paint the walls again and hang up pictures because I know I’m gonna be there for a while. I’m excited to put up holiday decorations.”On February 13, Crawford finally ended a two-year battle over foreclosure of her Frogtown home with a compromise with the lenders. Although U.S. Bank and Freddie Mac won’t try to evict her anymore, she has lost official ownership of her home. FULL DISCLOSURE: Sarah Knispel is a friend of Caylin Crawford, and organizes for OccupyHomes.“I get to sleep again, not worrying about the sheriff coming to the door to evict me,” she said, “it means being able to paint the walls again and hang up pictures because I know I’m gonna be there for a while. I’m excited to put up holiday decorations.”Crawford said her fight against foreclosure has brought her much closer to her community. She has met many people who have been through the same process she went through, down to the same bank. Continue Reading

St. Paul Challenge: “Love the House. Hate the Neighborhood”

Wearing an oversized winter coat with his hood up and gloveless hands in his pockets Tim Goss stood on the front porch of the newly renovated house he calls home – for now.“I love the house. Hate the neighborhood.”The 37 year old Goss is referring to his rental duplex in Frogtown located at the intersection of University Avenue and Grotto Street. This specific home was one of seven known boarded and vacant homes recently developed by the Greater Frogtown Community Development Corporation to be rented out as affordable housing.Goss moved into his house May 14, 2012 and says he is very happy with the formerly vacant home. “The house itself is nice,” said Goss. “It’s roomy, the location is great, and there is a fenced yard for the kids.”Goss and his wife have two kids, ages 9 and 11, and despite his enthusiasm for his house, he is concerned Frogtown is the wrong environment to be raising kids. He worries for their safety and is concerned they will be exposed to crime and violence at a young age.Shaking his head and looking off in the distance Goss said, “This is not a safe area.” He pointed to the southeast corner of University Avenue and Grotto Street and said there had been two men shot in the parking lot the other day. Continue Reading

Frogtown Farm: One giant step closer to breaking ground

Frogtown Farm came one giant step closer to reality with the March 5 announcement that the Wilder Foundation will sell the site at 919 Lafond Avenue in St. Paul to the Trust for Public Land at a bargain-basement price of $2.2 million. The approximately 12-acre site was valued by Wilder at $4.5-4.4 million, but the press release said that, “The sale price is significantly reduced from the appraised value as Wilder’s contribution to the community, and to ensure the property will be used in a way consistent with the community’s vision to be of benefit to the community.”

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FREE SPEECH ZONE | The Coming Senior Housing Crunch is a Solvable Crisis

With the recent release of the US Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey and  results from the 2010 count imminent, we are poised to gain insight into how the demographics of our cities and neighborhoods are changing.  However, there is one demographic trend this data will likely show that should come as no surprise: seniors are making up a growing percentage of Minnesota’s population.   Unlike many societal shifts, this is a change that researchers have seen coming for quite some time.  With each passing life phase, this population cohort has left their mark on the landscape.  We built additional schools in the 1950s and 1960s to educate them.  We constructed additional houses and roads to reach them as they started families in the 1970s and 1980s.  Now, we must build once again as more and more of this generation transitions from work to retirement.  Chief among the concerns within the growing ranks of seniors is finding housing that both supports an independent lifestyle and is affordable on a fixed income.  While there are certainly new developments being created for those with ample financial resources, recently released data suggests that there is demand for a greater breadth of housing options. Five year estimates from 2005 to 2009 released by the US Census Bureau indicates that the rising cost of rental housing is a source of financial strain for many seniors across the state.  An analysis of this data performed by the Minnesota Housing Partnership shows that in 39 counties a majority of households headed by renters age 65 or older are spending 30 percent or more of their household income on housing.  Paying thirty percent of household income or more toward housing is the threshold used by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for defining a significant rent burden. Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Continue Reading