Kim Eslinger

David Tinjum

Ryan Ojard
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Claudia Kittock
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Merle Minda
Small Business Columnist
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Michael Rainville Jr.
History Columnist
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Brianna Ojard

Meg Forney

Doug Verdier

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Covering life, work, and play in the Historic Mill District and Downtown Minneapolis Riverfront neighborhoods. Have an opinion, local news or events to share?  Contact us.


Absentee Voting for 2018 Primary Election Begins June 29

Via a June 21 e-newsletter from Hennepin County:

Vote early through August 13

All eligible voters in Hennepin County can vote absentee - either in-person or by mail - beginning Friday, June 29.  

Vote early in person

In-person absentee voting will be available June 29 through August 13 at city halls across Hennepin County and at the Early Vote Center in downtown Minneapolis at 217 S. Third Street. Each city location can accommodate voters who live in that particular city.

Voters who live anywhere in Hennepin County can in-person absentee vote at the Hennepin County Government Center – 300 S. Sixth Street, Minneapolis – skyway level. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Learn more about absentee voting in person

View a sample ballot from the Secretary of State’s website.

Vote early by mail 

Voters must fill out an application online or on paper to receive a ballot. Paper applications are available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese, Lao, Oromo, Khmer and Amharic.

Voters do not need to be registered to vote to apply to vote absentee. To make the process easier, voters may want to register or ensure you are registered before applying for an absentee ballot.

Ballots will be mailed to voters within one to two days of receiving the application. 

Completed ballots must be received on or before Primary Election Day, August 14. Voters can return ballots by mail or in person.

Learn more about absentee voting by mail.

Election judges still needed for Primary Election Day, August 14

Cities throughout Hennepin County are looking for election judges to handle all aspects of voting at the polling place during the 2018 elections. Training occurs during the summer, so interested community members should sign up now.

Watch the election judge recruiting video (1:07).

Many cities are particularly looking for multilingual election judges who speak English and Spanish, Somali, Hmong, Vietnamese or other languages.

Residents who are eligible to vote are eligible to be election judges. Students who are 16 or 17 years old and who are in good academic standing are also eligible.

Judges should be available for one paid training for a few hours plus a paid shift on Primary Election Day, August 14, and/or Election Day, November 6. Pay and shift lengths vary by city.

Interested residents can contact election officials in any city, or use Hennepin County’s online form. Hennepin County elections staff will forward all completed forms to local election officials. Residents may be election judges in cities other than where they live.

Sign up to be an election judge in Hennepin County.

For more information about elections in Hennepin County, visit


“Hennepin History Museum: Celebrating 80 Years” on Display in Hennepin Gallery thru August 16

Via a June 21 Hennepin County e-newsletter:

The Hennepin Gallery exhibit of photos, artifacts, and archival items, from the Hennepin History Museum’s collection, shows the diverse history of Hennepin County. All seven county districts are represented, such as a Robbinsdale mail stamp box, Hopkins Minneapolis Moline booklet, Excelsior Gideon Farm bell, Champlin brochure, Bloomington Mall of America grand opening poster, Northrup King lawn spreader, Foshay Tower sheet music, pharmacy bottles, a coffee roaster, and more.

History of the museum:

On April 11, 1938, a group of residents interested in the preservation of local history gathered in the Hennepin County Commissioners’ chambers to discuss the creation of a new organization. “One of the main objects of the proposed society should,” they agreed, “be to obtain pioneer specimens now as the pioneers of Hennepin County were rapidly passing away.” The Hennepin County Board was happy to help; the County had been given a $60,000 Works Progress Administration (WPA) grant for the specific purpose of collecting historical material, and the Commissioners supported using the funds to staff the new historic society and museum. (Hennepin County still supports the museum; the County provides approximately 45% of the annual operating budget, with individuals, corporations, and foundations providing the bulk of the remainder.)

In addition to collecting historic items relating to Hennepin County’s past, the museum’s early leaders focused on sharing history with the public. “From the beginning the Society has endeavored to make the Museum an educational force,” says one of earliest brochures. Shortly after opening, the museum published Bohemian Flats, written by WPA writers and sponsored by the museum. This book is still in print today.

In 1938, the new Hennepin County Historical Society opened in one large “display room” on the second floor of Oak Hill School in St. Louis Park. Within months, the museum had taken over the entire second floor. Historic treasures from the county’s past flowed into to the newly formed museum, and in 1939 organizers reported that the collection “cannot be adequately shown to the public on account of lack of space and proper display conditions.” In 1944, the museum moved to a new home, this time located at 1516 Harmon Place in Loring Park.  In 1958, the museum moved into its current home. 2303 Third Avenue South, the former residence of philanthropist Carolyn McKnight Christian, was selected for its size, its fire-resistant materials, and adequate parking.

The museum’s first magazine, then a quarterly bulletin, was published in April 1941, and today is one of the longest continuing historic publications in the state. Hennepin History has published articles on hundreds of local history topics. A commitment to telling the full story of Hennepin County has long been part of the museum’s mission. In 1991, for example, the museum became one of (and possibly the) first local history organizations in the nation to publish an article about local LGBTQ history.

That same year, following extensive community research, Hennepin County Historical Society changed its name to Hennepin History Museum. While the name may have changed, the commitment to preserving and sharing the history of Hennepin County remained the same.

2018 museum programming:

For 2018, the museum selected “why do people collect?” for its anniversary theme. Throughout the year, the museum is delving deep into this theme through a year’s worth of programs and exhibitions, including a behind-the-scenes “visible storage” laboratory-turned-gallery. Here, visitors can watch as museum volunteers and staff conduct an exhaustive inventory of its collection, and observe as tens of thousands of historic artifacts are recorded, photographed, and entered into a searchable database.

Exhibit hours:

The Hennepin Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Hennepin County Government Center, A-level, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis.

The exhibit is sponsored by and the gallery is a project of Hennepin County Communications. 


American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 7th Annual Bike Helmet Giveaway this Saturday, June 23

Excerpts from a recent American Academy of Neurology News Release:

For the seventh consecutive year, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) will be giving away 1,000 bike helmets to children and adults on Saturday, June 23, at the AAN headquarters and in conjunction with the Mill City Farmers Market themed day focusing on healthy brain foods. The free bike helmet giveaway is designed to raise awareness of and help prevent head injuries in Minnesota. It will take place between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early as quantities are limited.

“The AAN Bike Helmet Giveaway is an important way to support our local community and help prevent head injuries,” said Catherine M. Rydell, CAE, Executive Director and CEO of the American Academy of Neurology. “We want to encourage everyone to protect their brain as they enjoy their favorite recreational activities this summer.”

In acknowledgement of the day, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has proclaimed Saturday, June 23, 2018, Brain Health Awareness Day in the city.

Attendees will be able to sign up for a free subscription to the American Academy of Neurology’s popular magazine, Brain & LifeTM. The magazine and website are excellent resources for people with neurologic disorders, caregivers, and anyone interested in brain health.

Rounding out the fun, the AAN is hosting a piano through Pianos on Parade, a summer program from the Minneapolis Downtown Council. Uniquely designed pianos are placed throughout downtown in June, offering residents and visitors the opportunity to take part in impromptu concerts. Music is sometimes used as supplemental therapy along with traditional treatments for neurologic disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia. The piano is placed in the sensory garden area in front of the AAN headquarters for the public to play every day from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. until June 30, 2018.

To extend its impact on Minnesotans’ brain health, the AAN has donated an additional 1,000 helmets to the Minneapolis Police Department Bike Cops for Kids, St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health, Extended Learning Summer School/MPS, Nice Ride, Brain Injury Alliance Minnesota and Hennepin County Health Care for the Homeless.

Learn more about concussion and brain health at, the American Academy of Neurology’s patient and caregiver website and online home of Brain & Life, a free magazine focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health.

About the American Academy of Neurology

The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 34,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

The American Academy of Neurology headquarters is located at Chicago Avenue and 2nd Street, across from the Mill City Farmers Market.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit or find us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and YouTube.


Help Restore Habitat on Nicollet Island - Attend June 25 Meeting for More Info

Grassy lot on Nicollet Island. 

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) is partnering with Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) to help restore natural areas on Nicollet Island, and we need your help!

On Monday, June 25, FMR will be hosting a kickoff informational session at DaLaSalle High School from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Attendees can learn more about the project timeline, what to expect during the restoration process, and how they can get involved. All are welcome!

More info


City Announces June 28 Viewing Event for the Hennepin Avenue Reconstruction Project

Via an e-newsletter from the City of Minneapolis:

Project Gallery - Hennepin Avenue Reconstruction Project

Please stop by Thursday, June 28 for a gallery-style viewing of the Hennepin Avenue Reconstruction Project proposed roadway layout and vision for streetscape enhancements.

The City of Minneapolis is designing the reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue between 12th Street and Washington Avenue. We are excited to show the results of months of public input, stakeholder coordination, and technical analysis on the project. The project will be presented to the Transportation and Public Works Committee and City Council in July 2018, but we want YOU to have a first look.

Stop by for a gallery-style viewing to see how public comment has influenced the proposed roadway layout and vision for streetscape enhancements. City Council approval of the layout in July will set the curb lines and be the base for further design refinement in coming months. The proposed vision for streetscape enhancements sets the stage for continued discussion with property owners to determine the level of investment. See what your input has helped create!

Hennepin Theatre Trust, 900 Hennepin Avenue

Thursday, June 28, anytime between Noon and 5 pm

Construction details including timing and potential closures are not known at this time, but that information will be available by the end of the year.

Visit the project website at (Gallery materials will be posted Friday, June 29.)
Contact the project at or call 844-887-8330.


Scenes from Northern Spark 2018

Article by Brianna Ojard, Photos by Ryan Ojard

Northern Spark 2018

The theme of this year’s Northern Spark, an all-night art festival that lights up Minneapolis with art installations, was “commonality”. A fitting theme for a time in our country that would make you believe that we have more that divides us than we have in common.  But one thing all Minnesotans have in common, whether you are brand new to the state or have lived here your entire life, is an appreciation for nice weather.  And that commonality was evident by the thousands of area residents that came out this weekend to take in a multitude of art exhibits and support our local art scene.

Northern Spark 2018

As a first time attendee I wasn’t expecting the experience to be so interactive.  (Northern Spark started in 2011, I can’t believe it took me this long!) Many of the exhibits had some way to interact with the art, but it was still enjoyable for the person that likes to hang back and take things in.  Another thing I wasn’t expecting was how beautiful it was.  I loved the performance of “Smart Wars: Mni Wiconi Alliance” by Wakemup Productions as the sun went down, and then watching the lights of the art exhibits begin to glow as the darkness settled in.  It was also beautiful to see the mix of people all enjoying a shared experience.

Northern Spark 2018

I’m glad I finally made it out to Northern Spark.  My first experience definitely won’t be my last.  If you’ve been meaning to partake but haven’t yet, put it on your to-do list for the summer of 2019.

Northern Spark 2018

Northern Spark 2018

Northern Spark 2018

Northern Spark 2018


Local Theater Teaching Talent Elevates Mill City Players' Summer 2018 Production

Article by Claudia Kittock

The Mill City Players' third session will begin on June 19th. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have been very fortunate to be able to offer this program three times in less than a year, and the young actors who are part of this group are excited to begin. There have been a number of additions to this session that we are anxious to share.

James A. WilliamsCreated and supported by the Friends of the Mill District, we have hired our first Artistic Director, James A. Williams. Also known a JayyDubb, he has been a mainstay of the Twin Cities theater scene since 1976. He is a founding member of Penumbra Theatre Company, where he helped create new works with noted playwrights Carlyle Brown and Charles Smith. His work at Penumbra also laid the foundation for life-long relationships with celebrated director Marion McClinton and playwright August Wilson. Williams’ collaborative contributions were essential to the development of several Illusion Theatre touring shows: For Adults Only, Family and Amazing Grace. These productions covered a wide variety of social justice issues (including sexual violence prevention, building stronger families and one of the first HIV/Aids education pieces in the country) and allowed for the creation of main stage work with Steven Dietz, Matthew McGuire and Ping Chong.

Patricia BrownPatricia Brown will be teaching dance to the Mill City actors. For the last 24 years she has been an active member of the Twin Cities arts community as a dancer, instructor, performer and choreographer. Patricia is an African-based movement instructor whose fusion style is rooted in dance of West Africa and other regions, the Caribbean, and the Americas. She is a teaching artist who works with students of all ages, in a wide variety of settings, including primary and secondary schools, juvenile detention facilities, summer programs, dance studios and community centers. Additionally, she works with dance groups, choirs, and organizations such as Arts-Us, Penumbra Theatre Company’s Summer Institute, and the VocalEssence WITNESS School Program. Patricia is an adjunct faculty member in the Theatre Arts and Dance departments at both Macalester College, and the University of Minnesota, where she received the 2004 College of Continuing Education Distinguished Teaching Award, and the 2007 Century Council Diverse Community Award. In 2013, Penumbra Summer Institute created the Patricia A. Brown scholarship in her honor. She was also nominated for a 2013 Sage Award in the category of “Outstanding Dance Educator,” and in 2015, Arts-Us presented her with the Legacy Arts Recognition Award for excellence, leadership and legacy in and through the arts.

Ahanti YoungAhanti Young has been hired to teach drumming. He has been a professional performer for over twenty years. A seasoned actor, musician, spoken word artist, choreographer, and teaching artist, Ahanti is also a company member at Penumbra Theatre. Most recent credits include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Two Trains Running, Zooman and the Sign, and Jitney. An international artist, Ahanti has appeared at The Guthrie Theater, Ten Thousand Things, History Theatre, The Fitzgerald Theater, The Illusion Theater, Intermedia Arts,  Walker Art Center, Round House Theatre (MD), Alchemy Theatre (NY), Arizona Theatre Company, Herberger Theater (AZ), Paramount Theatre (CA), and Patinoire Saint-Léonard (Switzerland). As a musician, Ahanti has toured internationally with Edupoetic Enterbrainment (spoken word band), producing three albums. He was most recently seen in Pillsbury House Theatre’s The Brothers Size. His pioneering work with such groups as Sirius B (black male performance artist collective), African Perfection (drill team), In Da Belly (social change theater), Royal Guard (drum and bugle corps), and his work as a teaching artist at Walker West Music Academy, VocalEssence, SteppingStone Theatre, and many more have made Ahanti Young a recognizable face within the national arts community.

The actors will be rehearsing at Common Table in the Cedar Riverside community from June 19-July 19, and we will hold the remaining rehearsals at YouthLink from July 24-August 25. We are asking the community for help with lunches. Each rehearsal will be held from 1:30-3:30P, with lunches provided from 12:30-1:30P. Ask anyone who has done this during the past two sessions, and you will find it is a great joy. Talking to a group of teens who are acting and inhaling their doesn’t get much better than that!

The performances will take place in Antonello Hall at MacPhail Center for Music on August 21st at 7:00P, in Pohlad Hall at the Central Library on August 25th at 1:30P, and at CedarFest on September 16 (time to be determined). Mark your calendars now. All performances are sponsored by the Friends of the Mill District and are free.

If you want to become involved, there are a number of ways you can help:
• Contact Claudia Kittock at to bring lunches.
• Donate to Friends of the Mill District. Every program we sponsor is offered at no cost to participants. We provide our labor on a volunteer basis and our expenses include hiring the best professionals we can find.  Donations can be sent to Claudia Kittock, 210 10th Avenue S, Apt. 102, Minneapolis, MN 55415.
• Mark your calendars for the performances and bring a friend, a neighbor, and anyone you know who would enjoy watching this vibrant group of talented young people.

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).



June 15 Boom Island-Nicollet Island Bridge Repairs Update

Boom Isand-Nicollet Island BridgeThe Boom Island-Nicollet Island Bridge opened as a railroad bridge in 1901. It was converted into a pedestrian bridge in the early 1980s.

Bridge on schedule to reopen this fall; Onsite work slows for steel fabrication

The Boom Island-Nicollet Island Bridge rehabilitation project is making good progress and the bridge is expected to reopen this fall. 

Onsite work will slow for a few weeks while steel necessary for structural repairs is fabricated offsite. Please continue to follow the posted pedestrian and bike detours and stay out of the construction area.

The Mississippi River East Channel below the bridge is closed to all boat traffic until the bridge reopens, so the Paddle Share kayak return station has been relocated to the Boom Island Boat Launch.

Please read the Discussion Item submitted to the Heritage Preservation Commission last spring for more information on the updated design of the bridge rehabilitation.

Project page


Weekend Road Closures for Stone Arch Bridge Festival and Ugly Tie 5K

Stone Arch Bridge Festival 
June 15 - June 17
Main Street - From Hennepin Avenue to 6th Avenue SE
Sunday, June 17 - Star Tribune Ugly Tie 5K
8am - 11:30am
West River Parkway - N 4th Avenue to 22nd Avenue S



First Covenant Church Seeks Volunteers to Assist with Expanded Year-Round Services

Editor's note - This is a submitted community request from First Covenant Church:
Since 2010, First Covenant Church has been pleased to host a 50-bed emergency homeless shelter in partnership with Hennepin County and, most recently, St. Stephen’s Human Services.
This year, we've shifted from a 6-month, winter overflow shelter to a year-round operation, giving priority to adult women experiencing homelessness. Our partnership with St. Stephens has also brought significantly more client resources to the space. We are excited for all of the ways that these changes have better served our guests in attaining their goals of finding sustainable permanent housing! That said, the shift from 6-month to year-round operations requires greater community engagement to provide basic hospitality for our guests, particularly in regard to our evening meals. We are looking for individuals and groups (4-6 people) to help fill the gap as we enter our first summer of operation.  Would you consider gathering a few friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers to purchase, prepare and serve a meal at the First Covenant Shelter? Here’s how you can help:  
  • Gather a small group (4-8 people) to serve
  • Choose an open date from our online calendar at  
  • Contact our Shelter Volunteer Coordinator to schedule your meal (see below)  
  • Plan a meal and purchase the food for 50 shelter guests
  • Prepare the meal either at home or on-site at First Covenant
  • Serve and clean up after the meal - Approximate time frame is 5:30-7:45pm, dinner served at 6:30pm
For more information or to sign up for a meal, contact our Shelter Volunteer Coordinator at

New Nature Play Areas and Interpretive Exhibits Coming to North Mississippi Regional Park

Via a June 12 e-newsletter from Minneapolis Parks and Rec Board:

Superintendent Mary Merrill announced a series of recently awarded grants from local, state and national nonprofits and government agencies at last week's meeting of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB). Totaling more than $700,000, the grants will fund major new features at North Mississippi Regional Park, situated on the Mississippi River in North Minneapolis, and the park's Carl W. Kroening Interpretive Center.

 interactive nature play trail

Nature play area and adventure trail

A new nature play area and adventure trail are planned for sites in the park adjacent to the interpretive center. Using materials like logs, sticks, rocks and water, nature play areas are designed to foster imaginative play and a deeper connection to the natural world; the park's adventure trail will feature dynamic components to entice children of all ages and adults to climb, hop, run, swing, and jump their way through the park. Both features will be designed with input from local communities in North and Northeast Minneapolis, and were made possible through two grants:

  • $35,000 from People for Parks. This grant, the largest in the Minneapolis nonprofit's 41-year history, made the project eligible for matching funds through the Meet Me at the Park program.

"Nature play areas provide a wonderful way to promote discovery, creativity and imagination through outdoor experiences,” said Superintendent Merrill. “We’re excited about diversifying outdoor play opportunities at Minneapolis parks and grateful for partners like People for Parks to help make that happen.” 

The Minneapolis park system welcomed its first nature play area near the Lake Nokomis Community Center in south Minneapolis last summer, and additional nature play areas are included in plans for a range of other parks as part of MPRB's master plans for the city’s neighborhood park system

"Nature in the City" interactive exhibits

The existing exhibits at Kroening Interpretive Center, which date back to the building's opening in 2002, have been partially dismantled due to safety concerns. Thanks to the funders listed below, they'll be replaced with new, hands-on "Nature in the City" exhibits that incorporate citizen science and themes including water (Shingle Creek runs into the Mississippi River at the park's south end); native plants and pollinators; wildlife such as coyotes, crows and beavers and its adaptation to city life; and flight (dragonflies, Mississippi flyway, migration). The project has received final approval and funding from the the following sources:

logo lockup


Guthrie Theater Presents “West Side Story”

Article and photos by Merle Minda

Guthrie Theater Presents “West Side Story”

Theater event of the summer opens June 22nd


Show logo of red and white roses on a chain-link fence. Photo: Guthrie Theater 

The Guthrie Theater musical this year presents one of the great classics of Broadway and the American Theater: “West Side Story”, which first opened in 1957 and set the Broadway world alight with its originality, gorgeous music by Leonard Bernstein, spectacular choreography and the heart-rending story of two lovers divided by race and background. Using the basic story of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, the star-crossed lovers are, not unexpectedly, doomed by divisions of race and prejudice.

Mia Pinero plays Maria, Photo: Guthrie TheaterThe Sharks and the Jets will be exploding on the Guthrie stage, carrying with them the great acclaim garnered by the stage production, which ran for 700 performances, and the subsequent film, which won 10 Academy Awards. Bernstein’s beloved score includes such great classics as “Maria”, “Tonight”, “Somewhere” and “I Feel Pretty.” In addition to Bernstein’s score, the original production features the heralded lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, a book (script) by Arthur Laurents and is based on a conception of famed choreographer/director Jerome Robbins.

Mark Koeck plays Tony, Photo: Guthrie TheaterThe Guthrie’s production will be directed by its artistic director Joseph Haj, who said, “It has long been a dream of mine to direct “West Side Story” and I couldn’t be more excited to embark on this journey with a dream team of collaborators.”

Leading the cast as the two tragic lovers are Mark Koeck, as Tony, and Mia Pinero, playing the role of Maria. Both are making their Guthrie debuts; both have long listings of performance credits in this show and others and should be spectacular in these roles. There is a huge cast with many who are new to Guthrie but others who have been seen on the Guthrie stage often, such as Bill McCallum as Officer Krupke. Ana Isabelle, also making her debut here, plays the pivotal role of Anita, played in 1957 by the now legendary Chita Rivera. Chita’s role as the firebrand Anita in the original production made her a star.

In addition to a huge cast, many of whom are performing at Guthrie for the first time, the show features original choreography by Maija Garcia who noted, “It is 2018 now and the idea of what it means to be an American has changed as our relationship with race and immigration has evolved. So how do these kids move? The answers led us to a more grounded gritty style of movement.”

Joseph Haj, artistic director of Guthrie Theater and director of "West Side Story" Photo: Guthrie TheaterJoe Haj also shared: “When I think of “West Side Story” I think of immigration tensions and a community divided in a brutal and violent world. I also think of love, dreams and ambitions, and my own family’s journey to become ‘American'.” What could be more relevant today, accompanied by one of the greatest and soaring musical scores in Broadway history.

A final word: Get your tickets now. Although previews begin on June 16, these previews are entirely sold out. The first few weeks after opening are close to sold out as well – so get online fast at and order.

Shop Guthrie Store’s “West Side Story” collection.

Kay McGuire, director of Retail for the Guthrie Store, holds a logo purse mirror.Kay McGuire, director of retail for the Guthrie Store, has pulled together a wonderful collection of West Side Story paraphernalia to buy as keepsakes of the production. From logo’ed pocket mirrors to T-shirts, books and cuff bracelets, there’s something for every taste. The show’s logo of the juxtaposition of red and white roses on a background of a chain-link fence is particularly striking. From Sharks and Jets socks, to Sharks and Jets gummy packs, there is a terrific collection on hand. I particularly like the “I Feel Pretty” T-shirt and I am going back for one for myself.

T-shirt from the collection.

From the West Side Story collection in the Guthrie Store.

One of the many books in the special West Side Story collection.Wonderfully, the shop is filled with an assortment of books about the production, lyrics from Sondheim, a book about working with Leonard Bernstein, CDs and more.

Stop in here either before or after your performance or during intermission – there’s so much to choose from. 



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About Merle Minda

Journalist and free-lance writer Merle Minda writes about travel, business, people profiles and other subjects for a number of national and regional publications, including Delta SKY, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Business, Star Tribune, Twin Cities Statement, Minnesota Monthly, and now Mill City Times. She can be reached at or on the web.


In the News - Downtown & the Riverfront Neighborhoods

Our weekly digest of stories about Downtown Minneapolis and the Central Riverfront neighborhoods:

WEEK OF JUNE 11, 2018


Traffic mayhem expected, Minneapolis motorists brace for nightmarish commute
Office workers, restaurant servers, business owners, and city officials, among others, are busy preparing alternate plans to avoid what are shaping up to be epic traffic jams through the summer.

First traffic snarls form on northbound I-35W in Minneapolis
A third lane was unavailable for drivers Monday. MnDOT hopes to add it Monday night.

Construction on I-35W will bring major changes to your commute downtown
Motorists will be dealing with closures for 4 months.

Downtown Minneapolis gets final closeups from 24th St. bridge
A photographers' favorite vantage point for downtown Mpls. skyline is being replaced.

Click to read more ...


The Week Ahead in Mill City


Local Boxer Joe Amouta - a Force for Good

Article by Claudia Kittock

How many of you grew up watching the Cavalcade of Sports on Friday nights? I did. I have 3 sisters, so watching something like this with my Dad was a great treat because my sisters thought it was terrible. I have to admit I didn’t get it, nor even like it very much, but it was time alone with my Dad and I treasured it. As I grew up I came to understand the discipline, the strategy, the problem solving, and incredible physical skill it takes to be a boxer.

Joe (right) in a training session. Photo credit Pioneer Press, John Autey

Joe Amouta is the man I just described. He is ranked #1 in his weight class in Minnesota and #43 in the country. His journey to Minneapolis and to this point in his career is far from typical and is a story worth telling.

I met Joe through Dave Tinjum, who trains with him. Dave told Joe about the Friends of the Mill District and the programs we are sponsoring with teenagers from the Cedar Riverside neighborhood and YouthLink. Joe asked if he could help, particularly if he could teach these young people to box. We were thrilled and began a fascinating conversation.

Joe was born in American Samoa, and lived there until he emigrated to California at the age of 13. He arrived here with no English skills and was promptly enrolled in school. Imagine being placed in a junior high school thousands of miles from your home and you can’t speak the language. Joe learned English with no formal instruction, just picking it up from everything around him. He became the first person in his family to graduate from high school.

After high school, Joe wanted to get away from home, so he just left. He found himself in Albuquerque, then on to Texas, and eventually ended up in Minneapolis because he had coffee with an intriguing young woman, who would become his wife. A job followed, but two car accidents slowed his ability to save money. He took a job at the Northside Boxing Club in North Minneapolis where he quickly became a lead coach while continuing to hone his boxing skills.

Joe began studying boxing in California and went to the nationals in 2009 as the Champion from California.  He turned pro in 2010 and joined Manny Pacquiao’s camp shortly after.

Today, Joe is a self-employed boxing instructor and teaches students privately and in classes in St. Louis Park and the Seward neighborhood. His generosity and joy are apparent in the work that he does and the ways he wants to help those whose lives can only get better through the discipline of boxing.

On June 27th Joe will instruct a free 9 a.m. boxing class in Gold Medal Park, sponsored by the Friends of the Mill District. Participats should wear comfortable workout clothes and bring water. That’s it. Show up! When I asked Joe what happens after this, he said, “ be continued.”

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).



The Oldest House in the City

Article by Michael Rainville, Jr.

When the first wave of settlers came to the St. Anthony Falls area, they had the always challenging task of establishing a successful city. In 1849, the village of St. Anthony was made official, and with that, more people flocked to the area. One of the more prominent citizens who helped make St. Anthony a desirable place to live was Ard Godfrey. Doing all that he could for the area and its businesses, the mark he left on the city can still be seen in Chute Square where his house, the oldest in the city, stands today.

The house in its current location, with the Industrial Exopsition Building in the background from 1936.

A modern picture from the same vantage point.

When Godfrey and his family first arrived in St. Anthony in April of 1849, they did not have to wait long to move into their new house, which was funded by his colleague, Franklin Steele. With one-and-a-half stories of living space and a one-story kitchen extension, the Godfrey’s lived in a modest Greek Revival styled house. It features a wooden shingled gabled roof and two redbrick chimneys, and it served the family for roughly four years. While they did not dwell very long at this house, the time period was vital for the city as it saw Ard Godfrey rise to prominence. Shortly after moving in, he became the first millwright in the area when he built the first dam and saw mill on the east side of the waterfall. He was also the first Postmaster of St. Anthony, and chairman of the Ramsey County Commissioners Board, as Hennepin County did not include the east side until Minneapolis absorbed St. Anthony in 1872.

The decades following the Godfrey’s departure from the house saw it fall into disrepair. However, their descendants and other local groups saw the importance of the house and did what they could to save it. In 1905, the Hennepin County Territorial Pioneer's Association purchased the house with intentions of preserving it, however, they could not raise the funds need to do a proper restoration. This effort caught the attention of the Minneapolis Park Board, and in 1909, they purchased the land that is now Chute Square on Central and University in order to move the house there, restore it, and open it as the City’s first house museum. From the time the Godfreys moved out to the present day, the house itself has moved four times. Its original location was Prince Street and 2nd Avenue SE, then moved to 2nd Avenue SE and Central, 109 Prince Street, Ortman Street and Bank Street, and finally, to its current location in Chute Square. It was closed to the public in 1943, and stayed that way until the late 70’s when the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis completed the last major restoration of the house.

The house as it once stood at 109 Prince Street.

As one of the few remaining original structures from the early days of Minneapolis, the Ard Godfrey House serves as a reminder of a time when our beloved city of almost half a million people consisted of only a few thousand. With East Hennepin growing by the day, it’s hard to imagine what the area was like in 1849 when Ard Godfrey first came to the city, but there’s no questioning that he and his family would be proud of the growth the neighborhood and city has seen since their time. It may not standout among the more modern tall buildings and condominiums, but the quaint little Ard Godfrey House is here to stay. 

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About Michael Rainville, Jr.

A 6th generation Minneapolitan, Michael Rainville Jr. received his B.A. in History from the University of St. Thomas, and is currently enrolled in their M.A. in Art History and Certificate in Museum Studies programs.

Michael is also a lead guide at Mobile Entertainment LLC, giving Segway tours of the Minneapolis riverfront for 5+ years.

He can be reached at


Tools for Planning Your 2 Nights 'til 2am at Northern Spark! (June 15 & 16)

2018 Northern Spark!

Scene at Northern Spark 2017. Photo by Bethany Birnie 

Many people like to wander and discover at Northern Spark. If you’re the              planning type, we have several tools for you to make the most of your nights.               Get ready for 2 nights of Northern Spark until 2 am June 15 & 16

First stop: Visit our art and events page to learn more about each of the 28          dynamic art projects exploring the theme Commonality. 

Second stop: My Night. Customize your list of art projects to see, including             times and locations, with the My Night feature. Click on My Night in the sidebar        menu and simply log in with your email address to start building your schedule.          (And remember, the Northern Spark website is mobile ready and holds all the  information you need on the go.)

Third stop: Maps. Find Northern Spark art, food, info tents, and bathrooms                   on our interactive map.

Fourth stop: Plan your transportation. 
This year’s Northern Spark takes place entirely in downtown Minneapolis at the Minneapolis Central Library, Nicollet Mall and The Commons park. Travel to the     festival by train, bus, bike, or foot and then walk or bike between venues.                Some travel notes: 

  • Don’t let major freeway closures stop you, take Metro Transit for                          free to Northern Spark! Download a free pass for Metro Transit.
  • Note: The Blue Line is closed for maintenance during Northern                 Spark but Metro transit will run shuttles. 
  • Find temporary bike racks are on Portland Ave. at The Commons.                          All bikes must be removed from temporary racks by 3 am each                        festival night.

  • Find Nice Ride stations near downtown Minneapolis


Check​ out our Planning Your Night page for more tips including accessibility       resources and our Getting Around page for more info including parking and               street closures.  

Lastly, follow social media for up-to-the-minute updates during the festival.

Twitter:  @nl_mn

Summer bites at the party of the year! 

A taste of what's in store at Art on the Rooftop: A Party to Benefit Northern Spark 

Art on the Rooftop: a Party to Benefit Northern Spark On June 16, from 7-10p,   Northern Spark will delight guests with savory local food and drinks from the               Twin Cities' best!

Every year we are excited to work with excellent dining establishments to               provide bites at the party. This year, we’ll enjoy food and dessert from Mercy, Hyacinth, Mill Valley Kitchen, DR49, and Rain Ate My Cake.             Hyacinth, a new restaurant opening in Saint Paul, says their party dish is               inspired by “the restaurant’s Italian roots. And we are working with amazing                local farmers for the freshest produce.” 

The night will also sizzle with our special Northern Spark cocktail by                      Crooked Water Spirits. Their take on a classic, the Crooked Moscow Mule          combines L'eau Grand Vodka, lime juice, Ginger Bitters and FeverTree Ginger            beer for a refreshing taste. Guests may quench their thirst with Minneapolis’s            finest brewery, Fulton Beer. Coffee will be provided by Parallel Cafe. The bar            inside the rooftop lounge at Le Meridien Chambers Hotel will remain open for        service.

Join us for a night of wonderment, art, fun and support for Northern                 Spark by purchasing your $50 tickets here.

Still hungry? 

Vegan tacos from Reverie Mobile Kitchen 

There's more than art at Northern Spark. On both nights you'll also find English pasties,                Laotian red curry, wild rice burgers, egg rolls, fancy grilled cheese, chicken adobo tacos,             frybread tacos, vegan tacos, even cheese curd tacos! And fresh squeezed lemonade to                   wash it down, and homemade ice cream to finish it off.  Plan your Northern Spark eating too! 


June 14 Art Opening at the Bridgewater Lofts

RE/MAX Results and Bridgewater Neighbors and Friends of the Arts invite you to the next art opening at the Bridgewater:

Energetic | Sense
Thursday, June 14, 2018
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Bridgewater Lobby
Art, Wine, Appetizers and Live Acoustical Guitar Music

All residents and their guests are welcome. The Bridgewater is located at 215 10th Avenue S, across from Gold Medal Park. Please RSVP to

This FREE event is generously sponsored by RE/MAX Results, the largest RE/MAX franchise in the U.S. for closed transaction volume in 2017. RE/MAX Results is proud to say the RE/MAX brand was number one in market share for total closed sales in the 55415 zip code last year. For that, we thank you for your business and are honored to be a part of this special occasion.


Tree-planting update: Beauty, blight, and building a better urban forest

Via a June 7 e-newsletter from the Minneapolis Park and Rec Board:

How - and why - a veritable rainbow of tree types has developed along Minneapolis streets.

A lone elm at Spring and Quincy streets in Northeast Minneapolis in 1976 (image courtesy Hennpin County Library)

Magnificent monoculture: the reign of the elm

Did you know that elms once counted for more than nine of 10 street trees in the Twin Cities? It's easy to understand elm appeal: streets lined with these trees, their branches arched high overhead, have been compared to cathedrals: sun-dappled green in summer; snow-frosted in winter.

Elms also offered considerable environmental benefits by virtue of their sheer size, a situation that became all too apparent in the aftermath of Dutch elm disease (DED). More than 400,000 elms resided in Minneapolis in 1963, when the first of them succumbed to the disease; more than half of those were public trees. The almost-total devastation unfolded over a couple of decades: In 1977 alone, some 31,475 public elms were tagged for removal because of DED. 

Designed diversity: the Minneapolis Boulevard Reforestation Plan

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), historic steward of the city's street trees, was planting replacement trees by 1970. Its 1978 Minneapolis Boulevard Reforestation Plan provided neighborhood-based designs with several dozen tree types (species and cultivars) to replace lost elms. As most neighborhoods offered a virtually blank slate, the plan preserved the elm era’s consistent design aesthetic: A single type lined stretches of a neighborhood for five, 10 or even 15 blocks. Various types of ash, linden, honeylocust and maple tree categories (or genera) were the most popular, together making up over 70% of the street trees in the plan.

This system of “designed diversity” carried Minneapolis into the 21st century, long enough for these trees to reach maturity. In 2009, the emerald ash borer (EAB) arrived in St. Paul, just seven years after its discovery in Michigan. EAB has caused far less devastation than DED (which took some four decades to reach the Twin Cities); still, the rapid infestation helped prompt a whole new approach to building a better urban forest.

Prescribed diversity: the right tree for the right spot

MPRB’s current street-tree diversity guidelines differ dramatically from its 1978 reforestation plan. Thanks to the digital revolution, GIS mapping, advancements in urban forestry and its own ongoing trials, MPRB “prescribes” diversity based on a wide range of measurements, data and science-based decisions.

In addition to increasing the tree canopy by planting the largest-maturing trees possible, the guidelines aim to develop diversity on three levels:

Citywide: The next generational leap in diversity means selecting hundreds of tree types from dozens of categories: oak, elm, locust, linden and more. Besides making for more colorful tree category charts, this wider range creates resilience against the next disease or invasive pest that may target a whole category.

Neighborhood: Ten percent is the neighborhood limit for any tree category. This means for the most part that MPRB is not planting maples, which make up 30% of the trees in some areas. On the flip side, look for more coffeetrees, catalpas, birch and other categories that have less than a 10% presence in any given neighborhood. (Many of 2018's most-planted species were profiled in the last tree-planting update.)

Block-by-block: At least three to five different tree categories are prescribed for an individual city block, which prevents a disease or pest from totally wiping out a large swath of trees.

The bright side of blight: We might mourn those areas that lost stretches of exclusive, mature ash trees from the late ‘70s and ‘80s - just as the giant elms that preceded them were mourned by previous generations. But looking on the bright side, these places are also at the forefront of MPRB's efforts to develop a healthy urban forest for the next century.

Next update: Reporting on 2018's new trees

For the season's final update, we'll share figures related to the trees planted and examples of places where the new, resilient urban forest is taking hold.

In the meantime: 

• Remember that a newly planted tree is a thirsty tree! Please water all trees, especially young ones

• Find out more about MPRB's park care and maintenance and its stewardship of the urban forest and park trees


Best Places for Locally-Roasted Coffee in Minneapolis

Article submitted by Kathy Gallo, a freelance writer 

Minneapolis is famed as one of the centers in the US for the brewing of craft beers – however, in the world of coffee, the city has also been undergoing a quiet revolution and is now home to a number of commendable small roasteries as well as coffee shops serving specialty coffees.

Here’s our guide to the best places in town to buy and drink locally-roasted coffee.

What’s in the roast?

Before recommending local roasters and coffee shops that brew their beans, let’s think about why you should prefer locally-roasted beans.

Roasting is what creates all the delicious flavors and aromas we love so much, but right after roasting, the beans are not yet ready to brew since they are filled with carbon dioxide.

After roasting, they begin releasing CO2 immediately, and after a couple of days, enough has dissipated for oxidization to begin. At this point, they are ready for brewing, but once oxidization starts, there is very little you can do to prolong their freshness.

At only about two weeks after roasting, beans will already be past their best.

If you buy from local roasters, you will know the exact date of roasting (often the day you order the beans) and you will also be given much more information about their origin, the elevation they were grown at and so on – all of which will allow you to appreciate the coffee more.

Local artisanal roasters also know how to coax the best flavors from their beans. Many large-scale roasters tend to heavily over-roast their beans – Starbucks is notorious for this.

However, a delicate specialty coffee often benefits from a much lighter roast since this will allow all the subtle flavors and notes to be present when the coffee is brewed. Local roasters are experts in this.

1. Driven Coffee
Driven Coffee is a craft coffee roaster located in the city suburbs. It is run by a small team who pride themselves on sourcing the best specialty coffees, roasting them on site in small batches and brewing them with the utmost care and attention. For the moment, they focus on selling roasted beans rather than selling brewed coffee at the roastery; their beans can be ordered online.

2. Peace Coffee Shop
Having been around for over 20 years, Peace Coffee is a veteran of the specialty coffee game. They are a small co-operative roaster focusing on importing only fair trade, organic beans from co-operative farmers to ensure that everyone along the line is rewarded equitably for the work that goes into coffee production. The coffee shop itself boasts bright and colorful décor and welcoming surroundings, making it an ideal place to go for some downtime over a cup of top-quality, locally-roasted coffee.

3. Spyhouse Coffee
This roastery opened in 2013, replacing the older coffee establishment that previously occupied the same site. Spyhouse looks to work with small, independent farmers around the world, and this is the place to head if you want to sample some of the best coffee in town against a quirky old-style industrial backdrop. The equipment used for roasting is also quite something to see.

4. Café Palmira
Café Palmira is a Minneapolis-based business that imports high-quality Guatemalan arabica beans direct from their own family farm. The beans are shade-grown at high altitudes of around 1000-1500m in one of Guatemala’s most famous coffee-growing areas – they produce a delicious full-bodied brew with a smooth finish. After arriving in Minneapolis, the beans are roasted locally and can be found at local farmers markets such as the Mill City Farmers Market. They can also be bought online from the company’s website.

5. Blackeye Roasting
Blackeye Roasting specialize in roasting their own beans for use in their unique nitro cold brew product which they make in three different flavors, regular, white chocolate and cocoa. The company started in a basement but now has two city coffee shops of their own as well as the roastery itself. Their nitro brew drinks are also sold in over 1000 locations throughout the Midwest, either on tap or in cans. This is their only product, they don’t sell regular brewed coffee and their beans are not available to buy.

6. Claddagh
When Claddagh opened its doors in 2011, it was the realization of the dream of owner Mary Hogan-Bard who had always wanted to bring lovingly-selected and locally-roasted specialty coffee to the area. The café offers some interesting brews from around the world as well as a selection of pastries and small snacks. The special welcoming atmosphere you will find there defines the place as much as the coffee.

7. Dogwood Coffee Bar
Located in Uptown, Dogwood is another local specialty coffee roaster that specializes in sourcing the best beans and roasting them to perfection. The Dogwood roastery is not open to the public, but they have opened several popular coffee bars around the city where you can taste their meticulously roasted coffees brewed on site or buy a bag of beans to take away and enjoy at home.

8. UP Coffee Roasters
Originally known as Flamenco Organic Coffee Company before it was rebranded as UP Coffee Roasters in 2014, this local roaster carved out a niche for itself in a highly competitive market by being one of the earliest to focus exclusively on organic coffee. This was at a time when organic was really taking off across North America and further afield, and this gave the company an edge over some of the other roasters that were appearing at the time. From small beginnings, UP has grown into a major player in local coffee roasting in Minneapolis. They also roast coffee for Café Palmira.

Many places to find great coffee

As you can see, whether you are looking to buy coffee that has been freshly roasted locally or whether you want to sit down to enjoy a cup of specialty coffee in comfortable surroundings, Minneapolis has a wealth of options. Maybe the most difficult part is choosing which to try first!