A slightly different Locally Grown Northfield is emerging this spring

Grandpa Griff WigleyLoGro has mostly been dormant since early 2013 as I’ve focused on other things, mainly my blogging at Mountain Bike Geezer and CROCT (Cannon River Offroad Cycling & Trails).

But it’s back, with a slightly different focus.

I’ll continue to feature my photography of people, scenes, and events around Northfield. I’ll probably add more videos.

But I won’t be featuring my Northfield-related opinions related to local government (City, School District, County) as my consulting work (here and here) makes that a conflict of interest. I probably will shine a neutral light on current issues as a moderator of live web conferences with community leaders.  And I’m open to having opinionated guess bloggers.

So I’ll be experimenting. Contact me if you’ve got ideas, feedback, or an interest in contributing an issue-related guest blog post.

LoGro on Twitter LoGro on Facebook LoGro Email Newsletter

Follow @logronfld on Twitter and like the LoGro Facebook page as I publish all new blog posts on both. And subscribe to the weekly LoGro enewsletter, which includes all new blog posts and occasionally some extras. If you’re on Facebook and interested in my non-LoGro activities, see my personal Facebook profile.

And about those Google AdSense ads on the sidebars of the individual blog posts, Categories, and Archives?  I’m also experimenting. In the meantime, the measly revenue helps to support my local economic development activity at local pubs, coffeehouses, and bicycle shops.

So move along now. Click any of the images in the grid above to see the most recent blog posts. You can attach comments via several ways, including via your Facebook account if you’re logged in.

Pickleball is coming to Northfield in 2014

Pickleball photo, StarTribuneI’ve been hearing about the sport of pickleball from a high school buddy in the Twin Cities for a couple of years and I’ve been more curious lately since I’ve not played racquetball since Northfield Athletic Club/Olympus closed.

So when I read an article in the StarTribune a month ago titled Pickleball continues to gain fans as a year-round sport for all ages in the south metro area, I decided to see what might be available in the area.

It turns out I was slightly behind the curve, as Northfield Public Schools Community Services had already announced a pickleball class for this spring. It starts this week at Bridgewater Elementary. You can register online or just show up with cash in hand:

Adult-Rec-Pickleball-LeagueJoin the fastest growing sport around! Much like badminton, tennis and ping pong, pickleball is a game that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy. Created during the summer of 1965, pickleball is played on a badminton court with the net lowered to 34 inches, and uses a perforated plastic ball (similar to a whiffle ball) and wood or composite paddle.

Then kick-off pickleball in Northfield with the Southwest Metro Pickleball Club on Thursday April 3, at Bridgewater Elementary from 6 – 8 pm! Get basic instruction on how to play and enjoy a little open play. Pickleball paddles and balls are provided. Offered in partnership with the Northfield Senior Center.

There’s also going to be an outdoor pickleball class this summer at the Northfield Middle School tennis courts. Registration for that opens on April 18.

Melissa Bernhard pickleball orientation, Northfield Senior Center Paul Bernhard
I went to the orientation session at the Northfield Senior Center last week hosted by Melissa Bernhard, Recreation Coordinator for Northfield Public Schools Community Services and her husband Paul Bernhard, physical ed teacher at Bridgewater Elementary.

I’m sold.

 

The lesson of a Dakota Pinnacle Birch: Why blogs, tags, and linking continue to rule for search engine results

I became a member of the Board of Minnesota Offroad Cyclists (MORC) back in January. At a meeting last weekend, a couple of board members who are avid mountain bikers told me that whenever they Google themselves, the search results return blog posts and photos from my blog, Mountain Bike Geezer

A few days later, I got an email from a Northfield area webmaster wondering what my secret was here on Locally Grown Northfield, as he noticed that search results for Northfield-related issues and people seemed to frequently link to blog posts and images here.

I told them that it’s partly because I use lots of relevant tag word and phrases in my blog posts, including first and last names. And I also take the time to label/tag photos.  But I also include a lot of links in my blog posts. Not only do Google and other search engines love links, but so do the people I link to — and they increases the likelihood that others will at some point link back to something here on LoGro. Search results are still largely dependent on having other sites link to you.  The more the better. And the higher the PageRank of those who link to you, the better. PageRank is partly why Google’s Larry Page is a billionaire.

Knecht's Nurseries and LandscapingI was explaining this to Deb Knecht this weekend, since Knecht’s Nurseries and Landscaping has been a longtime client and I’ve been helping them revamp their WordPress-based site to make it Responsive, something that all websites these days need to be since so much web traffic comes from a variety of mobile devices (tablets, smartphones, etc).

I’m also working with Deb to spruce up (heh) their archive of nearly 1,000 blog posts dating back to Feb. of 2004. While most of their blog posts have been assigned Categories, most need the addition of Tag words and phrases. Categories help when browsing a blog; Tags help with both browsing and searching. Here on LoGro we have a few dozen Categories but over 3,000 Tag words and phrases.

wordpress permalinksWhile reading up about search engine optimization (SEO) strategies recently, I learned that permalinks (the URL of a blog post) are more search engine friendly if they use words from the title of the blog post rather than a number with a generic term like ‘post’ or ‘article.’

So I’ve been converting a few of my own blogs over to this permalink naming convention.  A blog post I authored yesterday is titled Mountain biking’s sweet spot for seniors: high impact for bone density, low impact for joints and if you hover your cursor over that link, you’ll see the permalink is a long URL: http://mountainbikegeezer.com/mountain-bikings-sweet-spot-for-seniors-high-impact-bone-density-low-impact-joints/. Previously, the URL might have been http://mountainbikegeezer.com/?p=4821 or other variation using ‘blog’ or ‘archives’ or ‘post’ with a number like I’ve been using here on LoGro for years.

Dakota Pinnacle Birch

At Knecht’s, we’ve been using permalinks with the naming convention /weblog/post/# which is an indication of how old their blog is. Back in 2004, ‘weblog’ was a commonly used term.  Not any more. So when I was revamping their site a month or so ago, I changed the permalink names to search engine friendly names, assuming the WordPress database would automatically redirect anyone who tried to link to a old permalink URL to the updated one. Doing this on my mountain bike blog worked, so full steam ahead! Wrong. It only works for the default permalink, not others.  I should have used a special plugin. Ouch.  The bounce rate has skyrocketed and search engine results for popular trees and plants have plummeted.

But rather than going back to the old permalink style, we’re sticking with the change, and updating the blog posts with tags.  So for example, back in October of 2010, Leif Knecht blogged about a popular shade tree called a Dakota Pinnacle Birch.  There’ve been other posts about the tree, too, so we’ve tagged them all, which means all the posts can be retrieved with the URL http://knechts.net/tag/dakota-pinnacle-birch/ and from there, you can click on the blog post headlines or titles of each for more.

My upcoming task for LoGro will be to convert all 4,000+ blog posts to a new permalink structure. Gulp. In the meantime, however, Google will have to live with http://locallygrownnorthfield.org/post/29632.

City of Northfield seeks input on Sixth St. reconstruction project: cul-de-sac, sidewalks, bike lanes and more

Sixth St. engagement blogIt’s a big week for the City of Northfield’s Sixth St. reconstruction project:

Helen Albers and her Red Maple tree on Bridge Square

Last week in a discussion thread on the Bridge Square project blog about the Civil War monument there, Northfielder Helen Albers wrote:

I want the beautiful Red Maple tree, which I planted years ago, to remain where it is. It is a perfect tree. How fortunate I have been to enjoy our Bridge Square for eighty years!

I told her I wanted to take her photo with the tree and asked her for more details on how it happened.

Hi Griff, Believe I am a regular “Johnny Appleseed.” Being a tree-lover, I plant them about town. When my husband Lowell died, I planted an English Columnar Oak in the UCC garden as a memorial. Then, I planted two Red Maple trees along the Central Park sidewalk, followed by a beautiful Red Maple tree on south side of our Middle School (now Weitz Center) which has inspired our schools to do more plantings. To beautify Bridge Square, I decided to plant the very beautiful Red Maple, which is now shining brightly with Christmas lights for all to enjoy.

Helen Albers & the Red Maple she planted on Bridge SquareHelen Albers & the Red Maple she planted on Bridge SquareHelen Albers & the Red Maple she planted on Bridge Square

I took these photos of Helen Albers last night with her Red Maple tree at the start of Winter Walk.

When I got home, I looked through my gallery of Northfield photos and found two photos that show Helen’s tree in the summer:

The Helen Albers Red Maple on Bridge SquareThe Helen Albers Red Maple on Bridge Square

Left: May 24, 2008; Right: June 18, 2009.

Update Jan 8, 2014:  Helen sent me a photo of the tree, taken last summer:

Helen Albers tree in summer

Register/attend the Bridge Square live web conference, Wed. Dec. 11, 7 pm

Registration: Web conference, Bridge Square Open House, Dec. 11, 7 pm

I’m putting on my citizen engagement consultant hat to alert y’all that tonight at 7 pm, we’re hosting a live web conference that’s intended to replicate some of the Dec. 9 Bridge Square Open House. To participate (comment or ask questions), you’ll need to register.

And if you miss the event, we’ll have a video of the presentation archived on the blog within a day.

Got questions?  Contact me.

Take the Bridge Square straw poll; attend the Dec. 9th Open House or the Dec. 11 web conference

Northfield Bridge Square straw poll

I’m putting on my citizen engagement consultant hat to alert y’all that the Northfield Bridge Square straw poll is ready. It only takes 5 minutes to complete, unless of course, you choose to include comments with it.

For rationale and background, see the Nov. 20 blog post: Help design the Bridge Square straw poll.

Bridge Square Open House, Oct. 23, 2013Bridge Square Open House, Oct. 23, 2013Bridge Square Open House, Oct. 23, 2013

And be sure to either attend the Dec. 9th Open House or the Dec. 11 web conference next week. Consultant John Slack:

At the next open house on December 9th, attendees will have the opportunity to help define a vision for the future of Bridge Square.  Those in attendance will also get to voice, write and even draw, their ideas for improvement of this well-loved public space. Please bring your thoughts, concerns and best ideas to share!

The people, scenes & events around Northfield, MN