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Tuesday December 11th 2018

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Food obsession: Gingerbread

By Jane Thomson

Note: “Food Obsession” will be a column written by Jane Thomson often, if not regularly, in The Alley.

I am not a “foodie”, but I like to eat and am also a constant dieter – thus the obsession. I welcome anyone else’s sending in his own food article, perhaps focusing on informed healthy eating or on world hunger (as related to neighborhood action), subjects which I am not exceptionally well informed about.
Focus on gingerbread: Such a recipe calls for ingredients that are often already on hand, so you can make it on impulse. “Gingerbread” is also the word used to describe the wooden trim often seen on Victorian houses in the Phillips neighborhood.

The first recipe is for a classic gingerbread. Clipped awhile ago from The Star Tribune, it is called “Gingerbread from 1930”. When you make it, you should be wearing a cotton housedress, an apron, thick cotton stockings, and tie shoes with Cuban heels – all well worn and mended. I do not necessarily recommend this costume for male cooks.

1/3 cup of butter, softened – (it helps to have all ingredients at room temperature)
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
½ cup of molasses
2 ½ cups of flour
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon; ginger; nutmeg; cloves; baking powder; baking soda

Grease and flour a 9” x 13” pan and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together. Mix together eggs, milk and molasses. Sift all dry ingredients together. Add to creamed mixture alternately with liquids. Bake in pan for about 35 minutes, testing to see if the cake is firm and done in the middle. Gingerbread is good with lemon sauce. Would you like cream cheese with that? Thin the cheese with cream or milk. Or you could have a wholesome dessert by topping the cake with lemon or vanilla fat-free yoghurt.

Blueberry Gingerbread is somewhat like a pudding.
1 box of gingerbread mix
water
1 pint of fresh blueberries (I suggest substituting mulberries. More about that another time.)

Thoroughly grease two coffee cans. Make gingerbread mix as instructed on the box, omitting eggs. Fold in blueberries. Spoon the batter into the cans. Put the cans on top of small racks or cookie cutters in a very large pan. Put water in the pan high enough to submerge the bottom of the cans. Bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat; cover the pan and simmer for two hours. Be sure the water does not boil away. When the gingerbreads are done and cool enough to handle, either turn them out onto plates, or just serve from the cans. This is good enough for a holiday dessert. For topping see above; or have ice cream or whipped cream.

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Thinking Ahead Connecting a Midtown Greenway Streetcar to Lake Street

by Joyce Wisdom

Thinking ahead to what the results would be of a new Streetcar system in the Midtown Greenway and envisioning strategies to meet those results before it becomes reality was the topic of a study by four CURA students from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.

Blending Midtown Greenway Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Streetcar Traffic with existing Lake Street businesses, traffic and culture

Jeremy Jones, Simon Blenski, Nicole Doran, and Kyle Weimann presented the results of their study recently to a combined meeting of the Boards of the Midtown Greenway Coalition and the Lake Street Council. Here are their recommendations on connecting a new Midtown Greenway streetcar line with the existing Lake Street and vicinity business community and activity:

  • Small businesses must be actively engaged
  • to ensure the business ecosystem is not disrupted
  • so that businesses are not priced out of the market.
  • Encourage and support more commerce in the Greenway trench, such as the Freewheel Bike Center.
  • Consider implementing a larger Greenway-Lake Street Improvement District
  • to assist with maintenance and
  • consistent branding.

Development at Streetcar Stations
At the various stations, they recommended:

  • branding with icons to reinforce identity and memory
  • preserving the Greenway character,
  • a business node presence,
  • and connections to various transit, biking, and pedestrian options clearly marked.

Uptown Station; land use that is mixed use, mixed density, and transit oriented. Buildings should be aligned to engage the Greenway.

Chicago Ave. Station; be placed for close connection to the Midtown Greenway stairs up to Lake Street. Chicago & Lake already has several positive attributes for a streetcar connection, including a mix of local & regional destinations and the Chicago-Lake Transit Station.

Bloomington Ave. Station; a transformation into an interactive neighborhood space. The connection to and from Lake Street could be enhanced with lighting and public art. They also suggested creating a neighborhood destination near this Greenway streetcar stop, such as an amphitheater.
The students briefly touched on recommendations for other streetcar stations as well, including wayfinding, pedestrian, and aesthetic considerations, and redevelopment of Nicollet Ave.

The students ended with recommendations for the future:

  • ensure plans are compatible with the Greenway Corridor rezoning,
  • develop strategies for small businesses,
  • engage stakeholders,
  • and work toward a vision of a cohesive Midtown corridor that includes both the Greenway and Lake Street.
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East Phillips Improvement Coalition Policy Statement Summary in Opposition to Xcel Hiawatha Powerline Proposal

At the request of the EPIC Board, Carol Pass, Board President, submitted a 35 Page Position Statement to the State Of Minnesota Office Of Administrative Hearings For The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) expressing the community’s strong opposition to these Overhead High Voltage Electrical Transmission Lines.
The brief focused on three issues:
Health:

  • The U.S. National Academy of Science, National Research Council report (1997) stated that the link between power line wire-code rating and childhood leukemia “is statistically significant (unlikely to have arisen from chance) and is robust”.
  • While the risk to human health at the current state of research appears to be small, the statistical significance of health study findings is that there IS a risk.
  • The Children of Phillips are already at risk from multiple sources and issues, of which we are well aware, especially since the education we all received in facing down the Midtown Burner.

Economic Issues:

  • Dean Dovolis of DJR Architects,  architect and developer stated: “I am convinced through work with these and other developers …. that overhead high voltage power lines will severely damage future prospects for development investments anywhere nearby. In addition, such power lines could undo much of the valuable work that has already gone on. The increased risk of loss of market value and probable insurability problems would be enough to cause developers to put their future investment elsewhere.”
  • “It should also be considered that those who own homes, businesses and rental property would undoubtedly suffer a serious economic loss in potential resale value. The area as a whole would suffer long term damage resulting from the loss of future transit-oriented and other development,” Dean Dovolis reported.

Ethical Issues:

  • The ethical issues involve the subjection of this ethnically diverse and economically challenged community to the probability of more health and economic threats for the purpose of allowing Xcel Energy the cheapest way of providing power to its largest electrical customers.
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March 2010 Dave’s Dumpster

March 2010 Dave's Dumpster

March 2010 Dave's Dumpster

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Guacamole Dip

by Peter Molenaar

With considerable frequency, the convenient Lake Street Latin food offerings prevail as the most satisfying answer as to what to eat next. A fat burrito with a side of guacamole does the trick. Invariably, it is observed, a corn chip with a lush dollop of the guacamole enters the mouth first. Savored with eyes closed, it is said to be a short cut to heaven.

The naïve person will google guacamole for the recipe only to find hundreds of variations. The ripe avocado shall be extended with some ratio of mayonnaise, and or sour cream, cream cheese, or even yoghurt. For flavor bits, one might add diced tomatoes, chile peppers, onions, garlic, pimentos, black olives, grated cheese, or even a hard boiled egg. Lemon or lime juice? Cilantro, coriander, cumin, salt, sugar, red or black pepper? Okay.

But what? During Superbowl 44, most of us were racing to the bottom of our guacamole dip while transcending “the grudge” to become Who-Dat-Nation fans. This we did even as another race to the bottom went unnoticed. I am referring to the ongoing worldwide race to the bottom on wages and working conditions.

Two days before the Super Bowl, a global workers’ rights advocate and watchdog group issued a report about the sweatshop in El Salvador where the $80 Peyton Manning jerseys were sewn. The workforce there, about 80 percent women, are paid the equivalent of 10 cents an hour. They are in essence forced to work over 60 hours a week with no overtime pay.

A workers’ spokesperson stated: “When we were making these jerseys we didn’t even have time to go to the bathroom, nor to drink water. Sometimes we didn’t even leave for our breaks so as not to fall behind in the work. The factory is very hot. By afternoon we are dead tired.”

Such is the logic of capitalism, especially the de-regulated “free trade” variety favored by the dominant wing of “our” capitalists. Meanwhile, the U.S. based garment industry has been closing plants for decades. It is said that working people everywhere will be sucked into this “endless spiral to the bottom”. Or, will we?

For centuries the capitalist ruling class has extolled the raptures of their own super bowl of guacamole dip. The chosen few have had their moment in heaven. I suggest that an “explosion from below” will inevitably blow the top off. This too is the logic.

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SPORTS TALK: March 2010

By Ray Jay and Young Dex
Sunday January 22, 2010, 9:28 P.M.,
The strings on my heart are being pulled with such force, that I felt compelled to immediately begin writing the March edition of Sports Talk. What I and Dex had just witnessed in the NFC Championship game, our Minnesota Vikings vs. The New Orleans Saints, was nothing short of a triple dosage of DISGUST. Mind you, I go back to the days of the Purple People Eaters, if you know what I mean?

Disgust 1: Our Vikings had, in the past three hours, turned the ball over 5 times; two of those took place in that area of almost guaranteed scoring, deemed the red zone, which resulted in a forfeiture of at least six points, as the Vikings went on to lose this game. A game the Vikings seemed to not want to win and a game the Saints seemed to not be able to win!

Disgust 2: Million dollar quarterback, Brett Favre’s, decision to throw the ball, instead of running through a hole so large, that even I could have limped through it for 6 or 7 yards, which would have put the Vikings well within kicker Ryan Longwell’s range to attempt to win the game in regulation time. The throw resulting in an interception, instead of a forty something yard field goal attempt.

Disgust 3: The Vikings having 12 men in the huddle, which resulted in a five yard penalty on the play before the interception.

Disgust 4: Well, I guess there were more than three disgusting moments, in that the referees made three very questionable calls, all against the Vikings, on the Saints overtime, opening winning drive. That resulted in a forty yard field goal made by the Saints rookie kicker.
Excuse me for a moment, I feel like I’m gonna throw-up. I will finish this episode of Sports Talk in a couple of weeks.

February 7, 2010.
I feel much better. The Super Bowl has just been completed, matching the New Orleans Saints against The Indianapolis Colts. We decided early on to support our President Obama in this year’s Super Bowl prognostication. Both Young Dex and I totally agree with the Prez, in that we would love to see the Saints win it all, but The Indianapolis, Peyton Manning led, Colts, appear to be too powerful. A pick that covers all bases, no matter who wins. The 2009-2010 Super Bowl final score, New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17; what a game!!! So that’s it for this NFL season, we don’t know about you, but we just don’t know if our Vikings will get another chance. Guess it all depends on who shows up to training camp; Brett Childress, or Brad Favre!

Other sports news includes, or actually we conclude, that the MN Wild are not very good. They remain in the lower tier of the NHL and just somehow always manage to lose the close ones. As for our MN Timberwolves, they are playing their best basketball of the year. Having won four straight, including victories over play-off bound Dallas and Memphis during that streak, they look promising. Now it’s up to management to keep this group together and realize that championship[p teams do not appear overnight. Champions come out of the same group playing together for several years. So Timberwolves management’ do not look at free agents, stick to a 2-3 player draft in June. Evaluate the most immediate needs, then go for them! In closing, we still believe the the MN Lynx have the best chance to represent MN as champions. That thought was greatly enhanced through obtaining former Gophers star, Lindsey Whalen, during the off season.

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1st Anniversary of the Backyard Initiative

Update on the Backyard Initiative

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center
1st Anniversary of the Backyard Initiative
Community residents celebrated the first year of the BYI at the Cultural Wellness Center (CWC) on January 30th. Atum Azzahir, CWC Executive Director and facilitator of BYI community meetings, reviewed the progress that has been made:

  1. A community-authored definition of health
  2. A set of guiding principles for BYI work in the community
  3. An understanding of community dynamics before and after engagement
  4. Attention paid to the history and culture of the people in the Backyard
  5. The formation and development of Citizen Health Action Teams that have been working on designing projects to improve health
  6. The work of the Assessment and Analysis Teams that has transformed conventional assessment into a community-owned process, and
  7. The concept of a Community Commission on Health was developed and the formation of the Commission was approved by community members.

Participants left with a written report on results of the Listening Circles, a process in which community residents developed questions, were trained in facilitation and note-taking, recruited people for the Listening Circles, facilitated the discussion and took the notes, analyzed the notes using qualitative methods, and approved the report.

Since the BYI began, close to 300 residents have been involved in ongoing BYI meetings hosted by the Center. In addition, approximately 250 residents, participated in the Listening Circles that were held in the community. In the BYI Walk Around, more than 650 residents were interviewed, either in person or via telephone.

Quotes from people who have participated in the BYI throughout 2009:
“There is more than meets the eye in the people on the street, in the stores, and in the cars passing by.”
“The big institution is just people who have to be encouraged to come outside.”
“People want to work together but don’t know how.”
“We have more than we know, we know more than we say, we say more than you hear. Talking must be accompanied by listening.”
“The food was great! I love listening to different cultures speak of their experience.”
“Money is needed because it tells us we have done something worthwhile.”
“We don’t really need more money; we need more linkages to each other.”
“Help us to transform historical relationships between groups into working relationships which create and produce health. Please!”

The BYI Community Commission on Health is Launched
On February 16 the first official meeting of the BYI Community Commission on Health was convened at the Cultural Wellness Center with 25 people in attendance. They are members of the Backyard Initiative who have participated, struggled, and built a vision in the first year of the BYI and are committed to improving the health and healthcare of residents in the area. The Community Commission of Health will consist of about 35 members, drawn from the following:

1. The Allina BYI Citizen Health Action Teams (CHATs)

  • Rebirthing Community: Bringing Elders & Youth Together
  • Establishing Anchor Families for children, youth and families
  • Mapping/Community History & Profiles
  • Alternative/Traditional Cultural Health Practices
  • Dakota/Lakota Language Revival
  • Assessment/Analysis Work Group
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (GLBTQ)
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Organizational Coalition Building
  • Environmental Health

2. Members of the Backyard Cultural Communities
3. Elders & Youth
4. Allina Staff: 3-5 seats, including SEIU
5. Media: The Alley and others as invited
6. Gretchen Musicant, Commissioner of Health
7. Minneapolis Department of Community Planning & Economic Development (CPED)

The Backyard Community Commission of Health will have the following purpose:
1. To protect and build the partnership and to assure the work of community is valued.
2. To monitor the health of the community.
3. To listen to the people in the community about their health concerns; to keep in touch with the pulse of the community.
4. To establish a “report card” to inform the community about the quality of services and outcomes of organization serving Backyard residents.
5. To educate people in the community about issues and available resources.
6. To build community capacity for taking responsibility for its own health.
7. To research, study and produce knowledge about conditions in the community and design solutions to change them.

All residents of the Backyard area (East Phillips, Midtown Phillips, Ventura Village, Phillips West, Central, Powderhorn Park, and Corcoran) are welcome to attend BYI meetings. It is never too late to join a CHAT team. Contact the Cultural Wellness Center (612-721-5745) for more information.

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High Voltage Lines Public Meeting Feb. 10 “Draft” Environmental Impact Statement is Released

by Midtown Greenway Coalition

The Minnesota Department of Commerce released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on January 8, 2010 regarding Xcel Energy’s proposed high voltage transmission lines and two new substations along the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis. The 463-page document will inform proceedings by an Administrative Law Judge and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regarding a route permit for the transmission lines. The Midtown Greenway Coalition is pleased that an underground route, as compared to an overhead route on 70 to 115-foot-tall towers, was identified as a potential mitigation measure for impacts related to land use, structures, safety and health, recreation and tourism, aesthetics, utilities systems, and transportation. On the other hand, these potential mitigation strategies are not stated in the form of recommendations and many steps remain before a route is determined. Furthermore, a route now under consideration is underneath the cycling and walking trails which the Coalition is evaluating at this time.

To be part of the process and comment on the DEIS, attend the upcoming public meeting where representatives from the OES and Xcel Energy will be available to answer questions about the permitting process and the proposed project. Individuals on the Coalition’s email list for Xcel updates will be sent talking points as the meeting approaches.
To be added to this list, email
Public Meeting
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 – 6:00 p.m.
Plaza Verde
1516 East Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 550407
612-724-5332
Also be sure to check the Coalition’s website for updates as the process continues, and keep your calendar marked for the hearings on April 5th and 6th, location TBA.

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Xcel Energy Letter to South Minneapolis State to Hold Public Hearing on Hiawatha Project

Power lines before…

…and proposed after according to Xcel visualization

By Betty Mirzayi, Hiawatha Project Manager

The Hiawatha Project is entering another regulatory phase and, once again, we are asking you to get involved. Recently you and your neighbors received a postcard about upcoming meetings involving this project. We encourage you to participate and offer your input on this very important investment in your community’s electric infrastructure.

On Wednesday, February 10, the Office of Energy Security will hold a public meeting and comment session on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The statement can be viewed at the following Web site:

For information about the public meeting and how you can submit your comments in writing visit.
The need for the Hiawatha Project is driven by increases in population, increased use of consumer electronics and other electrical devices, and economic growth in south Minneapolis. The existing infrastructure that serves these homes and businesses is not adequate to meet the current and projected demand for electricity in the area. We are committed to serving these customers in a manner that considers the needs, concerns and priorities of our community.

Xcel Energy proposes to construct two new 115-kilovolt transmission lines and two new substations in the Midtown area. Our route permit application proposed four separate route alternatives and five design options. Options included both underground and overhead designs.

We respect the preference of some residents to locate the proposed transmission lines underground and we continue to talk with city and county officials to identify ways to pay for the costs of burying the lines and to mitigate the impact of the other route options and design alternatives.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will review all of the information it receives during the environmental review process and contested case proceeding to make a decision regarding the route and whether it will be underground or overhead.

We encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to share your views and concerns about the Hiawatha Project. Working together, we can find the solution that will benefit South Minneapolis now and in the future.

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Health Assessment Leads to Health Action Teams

By Janice Barbee, Cultural Wellness Center

Thank you to all the residents who participated in the Listening Circles and the Walk-Around door-to-door or telephone interviews.
Gracias a todos los residentes que participaron en los grupos de pláticas y en la encuesta, en persona o por teléfono.
Waxaan u mahadcelineynaa dhamaan dadki kasoo qeyb galeen fikrad isweydaarsigi iyo wareysi xaafadaha oo ka dhacay xaafadaha kamid ah Phillips, Powderhorn Park , Central iyo Corcoran.
BYI Assessment Completed

The implementation of the health assessment of Backyard residents is now complete. The Listening Circles were completed in September and the Walk-around, where community residents hired by Wilder Research interviewed community residents about their health, was completed in January. Over 650 interviews were completed, in person or by phone.

In accordance with one of the principles that guide the Backyard Initiative community engagement, “Any assessment of needs or assets, strengths or weaknesses, must be done by residents or with residents,” the assessment process has been planned, guided by, and implemented from start to finish by residents of the Backyard area. For the residents who were involved in conducting the door to door and telephone interviews the process has been engaging and full of insight. Stories from this process and the information from both the Listening Circles and the Walk-around will be shared in upcoming reports.
Read the rest of this entry »

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