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Fish Tank & Repo Man

Fish Tank

by Howard McQuitter

Fish Tank (2009)
****

Lagoon
Drama
Running time: 123 minutes
Director: Andrea Arnold
Unrated

The movie starts rather slowly, but the plot becomes more clear as the main character Mia (Katie Jarvis) waddles through meaning her life at age 15. She feels trapped by her environment in the projects in an English city. Her mother Joanne (Kiersten Wareino), is a blond busty woman who loves to party and dance.

Mia’s little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffins) plays around the tenement though she would often prefer following Mia around. Joanne’s boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender of “Inglorious Basterds” and “Hunger”) seems okay, a happy-go-lucky guy with a job at a factory.

The film is seen through the eyes of Misa, a school drop out, teased by boys in the neighborhood and she’s a loner. She often uses a vacant apartment above her own to practice break-dancing while watching break-dance videos. She tries to free a horse but is physically confronted by gypsy boys. Much like Mike Leigh’s films on English working class alienation, Arnold’s “Fish Tank” depicts the alienation of Mia in particular, but the characters in general.

“Fish Tank” won the jury prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Andrea Arnold (“Red Road) won an Oscar for her 2003 short “Wasp”. She picks a cockney Katie Jarvis, her debut, for “Fish Tank” a mesmerizing performance by the 18 year old.

The sexual undertones by Connor toward Mia are very, very subtle. Connor’s fetish is a case of Euphebophilia, not pedophila. “Fish Tank” can be said to be a much milder version of “Precious” with the characters being Caucasians.

Repo Man (2010)
*
Rosedale 8
Drama
Running time: 111 minutes
Director: Miguel Sapachnik
Rated: R

Oh, how wonderful it is for friends to endure to the end of the film in spite of differences along the way? What is not wonderful but very stinky is the move “Repo Man”, morbidly crass, cinematically dull, and filled with vapid dialogue.
Jake (Forest Whitaker) and Remy (Jude Law) work for a med-tech giant called “The Union” run by Frank (Liv Schreider) who provides artificial organs at the low cost with 17.9% interest. But if the customers default their payments, the grim reaper Remy or Jake come take back the organs, leaving the recipients dead. This ludicrous science fiction has the temerity to steal from far better crafts – Terry Gillian’s “Brazil” (1985) and Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (1982) and some futuristic films decisively mediocre but still above the ugly duckling “Repo Men”.

The films is a waste certainly for Forest Whitaker and a downer for Jude Law who is coming off an average (if not miscast) character of Dr. John Watson in “Sherlock Holmes”. As for Liv Schreider, a script full of pidgin English is enough for an insomniac to go to sleep.

“Repo Man” is based on a science fiction novel by Eric Garcia (I haven’t read the novel) which spawns Sapachnik’s ill-conceived dystopian film that begs the question, “Why was it ever made”?

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Dave’s Dumpster May 2010

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“Thoughts From Powderhorn Lake”

by Peter Molenaar

At every mid-month, contributors to The Alley are pressed into duty (or are otherwise moved by a profound love). Consequently, this writer missed ice-out day at Powderhorn—so be it. Now, at mid-April, a nice start towards a summer tan has been achieved thanks to the early spring warm-up.

Folks who descend each year to feed ducks and geese are greeted as well by the raucous demands of visiting gulls—intelligent birds who speak directly. Having satisfied them, a small group formed next to me upon the concrete ledge which holds the shore line. I was awe-struck. Gulls are utterly handsome and exquisitely evolved birds. Sensing my new-found admiration, in unison they turned to display the V formed by their black trim tail feathers. I had been invited to join the flock.
Question: Does an early spring coupled with a cold winter mean that the global warming disbelievers club can have its cake and eat it too?

It was supposed to have been a warm El Nino winter. Right? What happened to the associated upper air current which normally then restricts the Arctic air mass to the north of us? Contrary to expectations, we endured the usual infusions of cold air which press south across mid-continent all the way to Texas. Hey, it felt like global cooling to me.

Actually, no one wants to believe in global warming. However, the El Nino effect, associated with the upwelling of warm Pacific water at the equator, has been over-ruled by a new phenomenon induced by global warming (sorry). Specifically, the body of North Pacific water found west of Alaska has begun to heat up. The resulting updraft of warm air will now constrict the annual accumulation of winter Arctic air such that it must spread out to the south across land. Hence, El Nino will be over-powered.

The kicker is this: Given the fact of global warming, our Arctic air when pressed to southern latitudes will heat more rapidly thus hastening the arrival of spring—not all immediately bad for the inhabitants of the North American continent it would seem. But don’t sing “God Bless America” too loudly, please.

We shall assume that our “disbelievers” are familiar with the projected consequences, including the economic and ecological interconnections for which there is no immunity. They simply reject the underlying premise (sorry, once again).

Will we begin a sustained attack on global warming or remain in a fossil fuel/carbon based economy (forever!)? I suggest, dear people, that the solution will require a significant fiscal expansion (not contraction and market forces) coupled with radically redefined priorities.
Meanwhile, the CEO of UnitedHealth, the Minnetonka based health insurer, received a $102 million “compensation” in 2009. Sure am glad we had people rioting in the streets on behalf of Stephen Hemsley’s freedom. Which is to say, I might yet decide to join that flock of gulls.

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Kudos: Little Earth Urban Farm

Little Earth Urban Farm

By Harvey Winje
The May 2010 KUDOS is the Little Earth of United Tribe Urban Farm Project for its ambitious conversion of vacant land into many raised beds for growing food locally.

Last year a busload of people went to Milwaukee to see Will Allen’s farm project. The group came back excited about the possibilities for growing food, developing jobs and even preserving traditional culture.

Last year 40 residents of Little Earth of United Tribes signed up as did 25 people from other organizations. This year on Earth Day the Little Earth Urban Farm project began the growing season by clearing stones and unwanted objects from the very large plot between the Hiawatha sound wall and the road east of Little Earth. People of all ages hauled wood chips, mixed in compost, and thus made rich one-foot beds of soil. They also planted lilacs along the wall and other plants and seeds in the beds.

A sign of pure enthusiasm and optimism was carried in on the shoulders of several adults; a wooden picnic table brightly painted by pre-school students and placed beneath a nearby tree ready for the first harvest picnic.

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2010 Minnesota American Indian Month Kickoff Parade and Celebration Friday, April 30th 9 AM

Minnesota American Indian month began as American Indian week in 1969 as a way to educate the broader community about American Indian people and cultures. More than 40 years later, south Minneapolis continues to be an important neighborhood in the urban American Indian community.

The 2010 Minnesota American Indian Month Kickoff celebrates the special role American Indians have played in south Minneapolis and throughout Minnesota.

Over 1,000 participants will be involved from around the metro, state, and region in the largest Indian Month celebration in the state.

The Banner Unveiling is of newly designed banners to be installed from Chicago Avenue to 16th Ave. The banners were a joint project between Native American Community Development Institute, Ventura Village, and Franklin Avenue Business Association.

9:00 AM Gather/Opening Ceremony

Cedar Field – Little Earth of United Tribes, Cedar Ave. and 25th St.

10:00 AM Parade of Nations Community Walk

Cedar Field to Minneapolis American Indian Center/Wakiagun Lawn

11:00 AM American Indian Cultural Corridor Banner Unveiling

E. Franklin Ave. and 11th St.

11:30 AM Veterans and Warriors Dedication

Minneapolis American Indian Center/Wakiagun Lawn

12:00 PM Community Photo

Minneapolis American Indian Center/Wakiagun Lawn

12:30 PM Feast/Live Music

Minneapolis American Indian Center/Wakiagun Lawn

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Phillips Unites on Pool and Gym Use & Defeat of MPRB Burying Pool under Concrete

Olympic size pool built with Model City money in 1974 that’s future is in the throes of budgetary/politico squalor. The question remains; “Will it all be money down the drain?”.

A Commentary by Robert Albee

Two words went out over the internet the evening of March 25th: “We won!” The truth of the matter is that the Phillips Community has only secured a delay in the destruction of the swimming pool at the Phillips Community Center. The April 1st “destruction day” was announced earlier in a telephone call from Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) Commissioner Scott Vreeland. He confirmed a March 11th email sent from Park Board staff member Andrew Lesch to a Mid Town Phillips resident and neighborhood association board member.

In that email, Lesch wrote: “I’m the project manager for the current renovations at Phillips Community Center. This phase involves replacement of the heating, cooling and ventilation system with new roof top units, roof replacement of the upper roof and in fill of the former pool shell for re-use in the future.”

Those were the words that began a cascade of emails and telephone calls to the MPRB from Phillips Community residents and others upset with that decision. Some of the emails are included in this edition of in this edition of The Alley and see others on website www.alleynews.org.

Most importantly, Phillips people came through by voicing their concerns and outrages regarding the process that led to the MPRB decision to destroy the pool. Contractors speculated as to why the MPRB would go so far to actually destroy the pool when a simple, safe covering or enclosure over the pool would temporarily suffice. Apparently they had thought they already had made a permanent decision within a building that they already own. End of discussion…for them!

MPRB Commissioner Annie Young made clear in an email to Crystal Trutnau, Executive Director of Phillips West Neighborhood Organization, that the Park Board never operated that swimming pool; it was open only during the tenancy of the Boys and Girls Club in the PCC facility. Her thinking, presumably, was with all the liability issues associated with a swimming pool, why would the Park Board want to get itself involved in a potentially litigious situation, at the very time they are facing unbelievable operating fund deficits? Thus filling in the pool and making an indoor playground for children seemed a very good alternative! Not so fast, Annie, was the response of many emailers.

Many Phillips Community supporters expressed outrage at the lack of clear communication and respect toward the neighborhoods by MPRB staff and commissioners, only to be met with a snarky response from Commissioner Young that apparently the right persons in Phillips were not consulted. And so the back and forth began, with some very harsh letters from Ventura Village’s Jim Graham and East Phillip’s Carol Pass. But this story is not about a couple of grenades tossed over MPRB’s fence. Other emails less focused on personalities or past Park Board failures, demanded a halt long enough for the Phillips Community stakeholders to weigh in on the decision. To some, that would be a delay in announced actions; for others a demand for a complete aquatic park on adjacent land as a trade for the loss of the current pool.

MPRB staff member Dick Mammen attended a March 17th event entitled “Connecting The Dots…” held at the Center For Changing Lives. That meeting was an opportunity for Phillips residents and stakeholders to voice their positive ideas about future uses of the Phillips Community Center building, including the swimming pool. In direct conversation with me, Mammen asked why we would support fixing up a pool that’s like a “47 Chevy” instead of fighting for a new one. My response was, “I’d rather have a 47 Chevy than no wheels at all!”

I hope that is the sentiment of others in Phillips even though I would agree with the basic idea of a separate facility on adjacent land that can involve what East Phillip’s resident Hannah Lieder described as a complete swimming and diving complex. As part of her organization called Minneapolis Swims, youth such as those here in Phillips should be taught basic swimming and aquatic survival and encouraged to become lifeguards and competitive athletes in a facility that would support such efforts.

Just hours before I learned that the April 1st destruction deadline had been averted, I received an email from Dr. Sally Lieberman from the University of Minnesota. She reported that the therapeutic pool at Fairview-University Hospital had just been closed and no other pools except for the overly-busy Abbott-Northwestern Wasie pool is available in Minneapolis. This forces bus riders such as Dr. Lierberman to mount an expedition to the suburbs—to Courage Center in Golden Valley or another site in Eden Prairie for her/their physical well-being. She and seventy-five others planned to write letters to the MPRB asking them to reconsider. Within an hour of my encouraging Dr. Lieberman and associates to commence writing and sending, word came from Minneapolis’ Sixth Ward Alderman Robert Lilligren that MPRB had announced a halt order on the swimming pool. We’ve won a battle, but not the war!
Here’s where that leaves us: We’d better put up or shut up! We’ve secured a delay and now we must come to a conclusion regarding what we want to have happen as a result. It is clear that the MPRB has never—nor never will—operate a swimming pool in Phillips. So let’s not waste valuable time asking or demanding that from them. It is clear to me that our Phillips Community supporters and trusted bedfellows must secure that building on a twenty year lease for $1 per year from MPRB; pay them honestly and reasonably as landlords for the daily operations and appropriate upkeep of the building. That also means that we must secure tenancy and use of the building that includes paying for the operations of that facility, based on actually billings to the MPRB.
We must never allow what happened with the Boys and Girls Club to happen again—leaving a big mess behind and MPRB accepting a $40,000 pittance or “shut-up money” as one Phillips resident put it. Jim Graham is right! Somebody owes the Phillips Community millions of dollars from that last fiasco; but it should also be clear that even if we never legally recover a nickel from that period, we must move forward and demonstrate to all that we are much better stewards of this community’s resources than some of our predecessors.

If you wish to join this community effort to transform the vacant Phillips Community Center and it’s swimming pool into a facility that works effectively for all the residents and stakeholders of Phillips, contact me at ralbee4045@aol.com. My telephone number is 612.812.2429.

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“For little fellers, not the Rockefellers…the improvement of people’s lives…the cause of peace and justice.” –Paul Wellstone

Gera Pobuda artist, teacher and organizer created this acrylic paint enhanced screen print of Senator Paul Wellstone and donated it to be hung in the Community Center of Hope Community on the NE corner of the Franklin and Portland Avenues intersection.

“I’m for the little fellers, not the Rockefellers. Politics is not about power. Politics is not about money. Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives. It’s about advancing the cause of peace and justice in our country and the world. Politics is about doing well for the people.” Paul Wellstone’s voice and life that spoke and lived those words was silenced seven and one-half years ago in a plane crash that killed him, Sheila, his wife, Marcia, his daughter, and five others.*

On Friday, March 19th, Gera Pobuda, artist, organizer, and teacher, unveiled the stunning screen-print portrait she had made of him and is donating to Hope Community. It will be hung on the wall of the Community Center in their newest building on the northeast corner of Franklin and Portland and named for Sheila and Paul Wellstone.

Fittingly, she seems to have been “commissioned” to paint this as a grassroots organizer would be so inspired to do. She found a scrap of wind-blown paper with Wellstone’s photo on it outside of the Elmer L. Andersen archives at the University of Minnesota while on her way to her screen-printing class. With the photo as a “model,” Gera etched the screen fabric in the likeness of Paul, made the print, and then enhanced the image by hand-tinting with acrylic paints.
Pobuda is a local artist, a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, and an organizer of Bohemian Flats Day along the Mississippi River . One of her other paintings is currently on display in the “Foot in the Door” exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Pobuda is interested in getting in touch with her Bohemian spirit and using the double meaning as a theme in her art. Many of her paintings feature the relationship between Bohemian Flats and her ancestors’ home in the Czech Republic.

The appropriateness of her choice of where this could be displayed is obvious: the Wellstone Building on a corner that just years ago did, indeed, seem hopeless to many. She had seen the new building as it was being built passing it often when biking down Franklin Avenue to her tutoring commitment at the Franklin Avenue Library. Learning it would be named “The Wellstone” confirmed for her the serendipity of it all. William Delaney, a Hope Community staff member, accepted the portrait on behalf of the organization.

It is also appropriate that Hope Community would name one of their three buildings at that intersection, “The Wellstone,” because they, too, “advance the cause of peace and justice” as they address the total wellness of that area of Phillips Community and because they, too, are there “for the little fellers.”
* Five others were also killed; three campaign workers and two pilots.

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SEARCHING – a Serial Novelle CHAPTER 13: Stories in the Storeroom

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

How long Angel and Luz sat in the storerooms of masks and puppets no one knows. No daylight entered their hiding place, just a few small bulbs in the ceiling lit the long hallway. It did not matter to them. They told stories of their youth: growing up amid the mangoes and papayas and alamos of their little villages in Mexico, discovering that they had been in some of the same Holy Week processions and harvest festivals. Angel laughed at some of Luz’s stories, and realized he hadn’t laughed in a long, long time.

As the night came on, their talk became deeper and sadder. In that crowded space, they shared—as if bread—the story of the death of Luz’ mother in a desert crossing, the estrangement Angel felt from his father multiplied recently by Angel’s absence, the wandering spirits both of them held like a stolen treasure deep within.

Angel told Luz all he knew about the owl, the strange words, the healing of his body, the slender knowledge—cut short by the immigration raid still coursing beneath them on the street—of his ancestry. The strange lineage of the Hidalgos, how he was coming to believe that it was the ghost of Mateo Hidalgo talking to him, that he himself—Angel Augusto Cruz Rojas—was descendant of Spanish nobles and Irish mercenaries, and Aztec warriors, all rolled up in his 19 years of walking on the earth

They talked of their dreams and their defeats, their vision of the future, and the pain of today.     As their stories inched closer and closer to each other, so did their bodies. First brushing each other’s shoulders, then hands, then their fingers began to play upon each others, as you would softly soothe the keys of a piano.

“Do you think I’m crazy?” Angel asked her.

“No. You’re not crazy at all. But it seems like you are starting to wear your wounds on the outside of your skin.”

“What do you mean by that?” he asked.

“I mean that your face—it’s changed from the last time I saw you. Quieter somehow, but stronger. The scars of your search have taken away your fear.”

Angel thought for a moment what in the world Luz was talking about. Not to mention that she was starting to talk like Mother Light, like Mr. Bussey, like the world around him. He could almost feel her words like a wind to his face, and it felt like blessing. He sat for a long time, breathing.

“Do you know who is trying to kill me?” he finally asked, his voice shaking.

Luz sat for a moment, her hands forming a cup in her lap.

“I don’t think it’s just you” she said. “I think they’re trying to kill us all.” And then she began to cry. And cry.

Between her sobs, she told how she thought her uncle Jaime had been taken by the Migra. How they burst into the bakery and grabbed two customers and wrestled them to the floor. When Jaime came from the back room, armed with a rolling pin, the agents pulled out the mace, spraying wildly. As Luz ran out the back door, she heard the sound of display cases breaking, of trays of bolillos and cuernos falling to the floor, of cursing in English and Spanish.

“He’s the only family I have, and what if he’s gone?” she said and looked at Angel with eyes, open now the part of the spirit most wounded, and most whole.

“We have to go look for him”, Angel said.

“How?” she asked.

“I have friends out there who might be able to help” Angel replied.

“Who are they?” Luz asked.

“I don’t know. I haven’t met them yet. But I know we have to find them.”

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Endorsements of Minnesota as “Exceedingly Bracing” and “ An Asylum for Invalids,” Inspired Hopes to Cure Tuberculosis

By the middle of the nineteenth century, tuberculosis caused one in five deaths in the United States. Not surprisingly, the first burial in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery (Layman’s Cemetery) was Carlton Keith Cressey, a ten-month old boy, who died in 1853 from what was then called “consumption.” Six of the 30 people who were buried in Layman’s in the 1850s died from consumption. The cause of death for 11 others in that group was not recorded so the number may have been even higher. This tombstone marks the gravesite of Andrew Berggren, one of 1300 people buried in the cemetery, who died from tuberculosis. He died on February 4, 1908, age 39 years old.

By Sue Hunter Weir

Now that winter is almost over and it’s still a little too soon for us to start worrying about mosquitoes and humidity, we can take a short break from complaining about the weather. Complaining about the weather is part and parcel of living in Minnesota, but that wasn’t always the case. There was a time when Minnesota’s weather was considered one of the state’s major attractions. After visiting Fort Snelling in the 1820s, President Zachary Taylor, endorsed our “exceedingly bracing” weather and wrote that the area was “probably the healthiest in the nation.” Four decades later, civic boosters wrote pamphlets encouraging people from the East Coast and Europe to move here because of our invigorating weather. Minnesota was, they claimed, an “asylum for invalids,” the perfect place to recover from tuberculosis.

Cemetery’s first burial was due to death from tuberculosis: a disease without cure and contagion unknown.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, tuberculosis caused one in five deaths in the United States. Not surprisingly, the first burial in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery (Layman’s Cemetery) was Carlton Keith Cressey, a ten-month old boy, who died in 1853 from what was then called “consumption.” Six of the 30 people who were buried in Layman’s in the 1850s died from consumption. The cause of death for 11 others in that group was not recorded so the number may have been even higher.

Although claims that a change in climate had curative powers were overstated, there were no other effective treatments at the time. Doctors did not know that tuberculosis was a contagious disease and had little to offer their patients except advice, including advice to travel to healthier parts of the country. That advice, well intentioned though it may have been, helped spread the disease.

Henry David Thoreau and Horace Mann, Jr. sought a “cure” in Minnesota.
One of those who followed his doctor’s advice and came to Minnesota was Henry David Thoreau. He and his traveling partner, Horace Mann, Jr., spent two months here in 1861. Thoreau spent his time pursuing his interests in botany and zoology and visiting St. Anthony and Minnehaha Falls before taking a short excursion up the Minnesota River. Although his traveling partner, Horace Mann Jr., wrote favorably about their experience, if there were any health benefits for Thoreau, they were short-lived. He died less than a year after returning home to Concord, Massachusetts.

Findings of Cause, Contagion, and Cure of the “White Plague” were slow as it affected immigrant families heavily.

As early as 1873, Minnesota’s Board of Health began investigating the effects of Minnesota weather on “diseases of the lung and air passages.” About ten years later there was a major breakthrough in identifying, if not yet treating the disease, when a German physician, Dr. Robert Koch, isolated the tubercle bacillus. Eight years later, in 1890, he produced the first tuberculin.

Yet progress in treating the disease was slow. As urban areas became more crowded, the disease spread so rapidly that it became known as the “White Plague.” Thousands of Minnesotans died from tuberculosis, including over 1,300 who are buried in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery. The number of people buried there for whom tuberculosis was a secondary, or contributing factor, is unknown.

The disease hit immigrant families and those who lived in crowded houses and apartments particularly hard. While the effects of clean air as a cure for tuberculosis were grossly overstated, there is no doubt that crowded living conditions and poor nutrition contributed to the spread of the disease. At a time when health insurance didn’t exist and paid sick time was unheard of, many who suffered from tuberculosis were forced to keep working (and spreading the disease) because their families needed the income.

Minnesota pioneered early treatment.

By the early twentieth century, it was well understood that tuberculosis was a contagious disease and several hospitals were built in Minneapolis that specialized in treating it. The first was Thomas Hospital which opened in 1908; over 100 people buried in the cemetery died at the Thomas Hospital between 1908, the year that the hospital opened, and 1919, the year that the cemetery was closed to new burials. The majority of those who died were young adults between the ages of 20 and 40. Although the number of deaths attributed to tuberculosis began to decline between 1910 and 1920, it remained a major health concern for several decades. Glen Lake Sanatorium, the last local hospital dedicated to serving those with tuberculosis, closed its doors in 1961.

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Lake Street Council Annual Meeting

Joyce Wisdom LSC Executive Director congratulates John Meegan owner of Top Shelf and organizer of Lyn-Lake Days on his Award for Community Responsibility

by Joyce Wisdom and Chris Oien

We had a great annual meeting on Tuesday March 16th! One of our favorite activities at this event is recognizing some of the many businesses and individuals who help make Lake Street great. This year we gave out six awards. Community Responsibility Awards went too Gandhi Mahal, Top Shelf, and Kathee Foran from In the Heart of the Beast Theatre. Capacity Building Awards went to Highpoint Center for Printmaking and Midtown Global Market’s Taste Bud Tart. And our Startup & Innovation Award went to Sauce Spirits & Soundbar. Congratulations to all our awardees!
Six people were elected to the Lake Street Council board. Council Member Gary Schiff, Marty Shimko from US Bank, and Debbie Tucker from Hennepin County were all re-elected for three year terms. Nubberd Gonzalez from Goodwill Easter Seals, Joe Gilpin from Wells Fargo, and and Trung Pham from Pham’s Deli were newly elected to the board.

To close, we featured a panel on Building Our Community’s Economic Future, with Ron Price from LISC, Morgan Zehner from Zehner Consulting, and Tony Hull from Transit for Liveable Communities. They shared their insights on a variety of topics, such as what makes Lake Street unique, the strengths it can offer during an economic downturn, how to approach business recruitment, and how to best design a roadside so that it works best for businesses and customers using all forms of transportation. The panelists concluded by agreeing that a bright future for Lake Street starts with supporting the hopes, dreams, and lives of the area’s residents.
Throughout the event we had opportunities to reflect on past successes and our path ahead, including the debut of our Action Plan for the next 5 years. Thank you to everyone who attended!

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