Photo album: Northfield Area Bike Initiative community meeting (Soup & Cycles)

Suzie NakasianLocal bicycling advocates got together last night at the Weitz Center for Soup and Cycles, billed as

“an information gathering and brainstorm for representatives of Northfield area bike clubs and bike-interested groups, community leaders and educators”

The text of Suzie Nakasian’s email invitation is below, along with her follow-up summary.

Play the large slideshow of my 62 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Greetings!

There’s been an exciting acceleration of bike-related activity in and around Northfield over the last few years— clubs, groups, rides, new businesses, and a full calendar of bike races, as well as the City’s Complete Streets Policy, Safe Routes to School Plan and regional collaboration on the Mill Towns Trail and other projects— all signaling Northfield’s potential to become a leading bike town and regional biking destination.

With so much happening on so many fronts, it would be beneficial to gather representatives of local bike groups, and bike-interested community leaders and educators, to share information and explore how we might work together on projects relating to bike education, infrastructure and bike/recreational tourism.

I am writing to invite you to Soup and Cycles, a meeting of representatives of Northfield area bike groups and stakeholders, Thursday, November 14, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Carleton’s Weitz Center for Creativity. An invitation follows below. I hope you can attend. Representation from each of our area schools will be invaluable to our discussion of potential programs for area youth. The names included in the distribution list for this email were suggested to me by local bike leaders, and I encourage you to review that list, and consider forwarding this email invitation to teachers, PTO leaders and students who are interested in working to create a bike friendly Northfield.

So that we can prepare the right amount of soup, please RSVP by Tuesday, November 12 with a reply email to me at Suzienakasian@gmail.com. Thank you.

Looking forward,

Suzie Nakasian

507-301-6756

p.s. See information on the newest addition to Northfield’s bike event calendar, this weekend’s 1st Annual Minnesota State Gravel Road Racing Championship.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013, 5:00 – 8:00 pm
Weitz Center for Creativity, Larson Room, 2nd Floor, Carleton College

A light dinner of soup and salad will be provided courtesy of Rice County Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and Tandem Bagels.

Program:

5:00pm  Soup and socializing
5:30pm  Welcome and introductions
6:00pm  Small group discussions:

Bike Education: ideas for promoting bike safety & share the road principles

Infrastructure: needs relating to on-road, off-road trails and other bike amenities, and

Recreational Tourism: support for bike races and events, and recreational tourism

7:00pm  Reports from groups: identified needs, goals and strategies

7:30pm  Next steps: communication, leadership and follow-up

This meeting will adjourn by 8pm, in time to head to the GiveMN celebration at The Grand.

Participation is open to community members who are interested in helping to create a bike friendly Northfield.

RSVP Requested: Please reply to suzienakasian@gmail.com before the end of the day on Tuesday, November 12 so that we can get a soup count. Thank you.

——

Thanks to everyone who participated in last night’s Soup and Cycles bike gathering at the Weitz Center! Over 70 people participated including new and lifelong residents, business owners, cycling club members, teachers, and trail and bike enthusiasts from a mix of generations!  More than a dozen additional contacts could not attend but expressed an interest in participating as the project moves forward.

Our 3 brainstorming sessions yielded a rich trove of ideas relating to infrastructure, bike education and recreational tourism —-look for a summary of those ideas to follow on Monday.  Some projects are already getting underway, and we have the start of an excellent Steering Committee in a core group that has stepped forward . If you are interested to join that group, please let me know.

With so many promising ideas – much help is needed.  So please review the discussion notes when you receive them and let me know how you might want to participate. We will be working to set up a website and communication structure to facilitate that work, and to encourage a constellation of related projects which, together, will build a more bike friendly community.

Thank you for your interest and support of this initiative! Look for an email to follow on Monday.

With every best wish,
Suzie Nakasian
507-301-6756

p.s. A Facebook page is in the works. If you took photos at last night’s event, please forward them to me to post on that site once its launched.

Photo album: Northfield Area Family YMCA groundbreaking

Earlier this afternoon, the Northfield Area Family YMCA held its groundbreaking celebration for its new facility on Honey Locust Drive. From the press release:

2014 Board Chair Nate Jacobi and his sonWith construction plans for Phase I finalized, Northfield’s Y, which is expected to open in the fall of 2014, will feature an indoor aquatics center, group fitness studio, cardio and wellness floor, supervised children’s center, locker rooms, offices and multi-purpose community gathering space.

Plans for Phase II, featuring a full-size gym and walking track, are in the development stage.  The estimated project cost to complete both Phase I and Phase II together is in the $8 to $9 million range.

Play the large slideshow of 33 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Bridge Square is Northfield’s living room. The public process for planning its future begins Oct. 23

Bridge Square Blog Site Bridge Square press release Oct 18 2013

Last week, the City of Northfield announced on its website and via an emailed press release (PDF) that the public process for creating a master planning update for Bridge Square begins this Wednesday with an open house at the Archer House, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

There’s now a Bridge Square Blog Site. Yes, you can see my fingerprints on it, as I’ve been hired as a contractor (with my Wigley and Associates hat) by the City to handle the online engagement for the project, teaming up with the lead consultant, Stantec Consulting’s John Slack.

Locally Grown - aggregated Bridge Square RSS feed

Here on LoGro, the headlines for all the recent Bridge Square project blog posts will appear in the upper right sidebar.  But like I did when I posted updates on the recently completed Downtown Parking Management Plan, comments are turned off here because the discussion happens there.

I will attach a comment to this blog post whenever there’s a significant update to the project, just as a way of drawing additional attention to it.  There are better ways to stay informed, however. See my post titled Tools for keeping updated on the Bridge Square planning process.

Mill Towns Trail update from the DNR: Northfield citizens have a problem to solve

L to R: Dana Graham, Galen Malecha, Peggy Prowe, Courtland Nelson, David Bly, Joel Wagar, Steve HennessyL to R: Peggy Prowe, David Bly, Joel Wagar, Steve Hennessy, Glenn Switzer, Peter Hark, Dana Graham, Galen MalechaMill Towns Trail maps

Top officials from the Minnesota DNR Parks and Trails Division held a meeting for a group of local elected officials on Friday at Dundas City Hall to bring them up to speed on current and future developments with the Mill Towns Trail.

DNR Parks and Trails staff:

  • Courtland Nelson, Director
  • Peter Hark, Field Operations Manager
  • Steve Hennessy, Acquisition and Development Specialist
  • Joel Wagar, Area Supervisor

Local elected officials who were able to attend:

Local bike advocate Peggy Prowe also was there.

Among the many developments with the trail that the DNR staff shared were these, most relevant to Northfield and Dundas:

  1. Acquisition of a 6.5 mile railroad right-of-way is in progress to connect Faribault to Dundas
  2. The current Dundas to Northfield segment needs a complete rebuild, but a new route is bring pursued that would be more scenic and eliminate two railroad crossings
  3. Discussions with Union Pacific Railroad on acquiring right-of-way for the segment from Northfield to Lake Byllesby have not been successful; other possible routes are being explored including a combination of private land acquisition and road right-of-way.

I’m particularly intrigued about #2. If you want to know why, ask.  Likewise, if you have questions about what’s happening with the trail in the Faribault and Cannon Falls areas, as staff provided updates on developments with those cities, too.

What’s the big problem facing Northfield?

The City of Northfield currently has no plan to provide a visually significant route for Mill Towns Trail bicyclists to ride through Northfield.  Those are my words. I use the phrase ‘visually significant’ because DNR staff was unequivocal: a bike trail that appears to end as it enters a city is a giant disincentive for bikers. Yes, trail bikers like to stop in towns along the trail to eat and shop and sightsee. But without strong in-town trail visuals, people tend to not return. The trail itself as it goes through town needs to be memorable, not just the town.

Root River State Trail, downtown LanesboroRoot River State Trail, downtown Lanesboro

A good example is the visual impact of the Root River State Trail as it goes through downtown Lanesboro (screenshots above from the DNR’s cool virtual tour of the trail). Lanesboro is much smaller than Northfield, of course, so it’s not a perfect comparison. But the point is, once you’ve ridden through Lanesboro on the trail, you don’t forget it and you want to go back.

As I blogged back in March, there are other projects and developments here in Northfield that have a bicycle-component: the Northfield Depot; the East Cannon River Trail segment; the TIGER Trail (aka the Northfield Modal integration project); and the Cannon River Corridor recreational concept.

So the time is right for more citizens to get involved as bike advocates.  Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement.  In the meantime, see my three blog posts about the need for Northfield to get its bike act together, including the formation of a regional bike advocacy committee.

My Northfield photo exhibit opens with a reception on Sept. 9 at the Northfield Senior Center

Griff Wigley, Northfield Senior Center Gallery Exhibit, 2013 Patsy DewCard-FrancisWigley

My Northfield photography exhibit (Near-Far Northfield) opens in the Northfield Senior Center Gallery next Monday, September 9 with a reception from 5-7 pm.  The exhibit runs through Oct. 13.

(Naturally, I have a new Northfield Photos blog and a @NfldMNPhotos Twitter feed.)

Senior Center Assistant Director Patsy Dew (who has her own Patsy Dew Pix photography website) asked me to submit a blurb for the show. I wrote:

Fall colors Bridge Square, Northfield. © Griff WigleyI started taking photos of Northfield and its community events in 2003 and publishing them on the Northfield.org and Locally Grown Northfield website. My online gallery has over 300 albums with 15,000+ photos. For this exhibit, I have selected images that feature close-ups of various objects with identifiable scenes of Northfield in the background.

All but one of the photos in the exhibit are Northfield-themed macros, hence the show title Near-Far Northfield. The photo above of the flower on Bridge Square with the First National Bank of Northfield in the background is one that Patsy selected for the show’s publicity post cards.  And yes, the photos in the show will be for sale.

For the reception and month-long show, I’m teamed up with friend and Northfield artist Joyce Francis. The blurb on her work:

Joyce Francis - Northfield Patch photoJoyce Francis is an artist with a passion for a newly discovered medium: gel printing. She writes, “I got hooked in early June and have spent the entire summer totally obsessed with gel-plate printing. This mono printing process is full of magical surprises. Even though the artist has control over the design idea one never knows for sure what will be revealed when the paper is pulled off the plate. The possibilities are endless. “ Francis will be demonstrating this process at the opening reception on Sept 9.

I blogged about Joyce on my Locally Grown Northfield blog back in May 2007 when she displayed her calligraphy at the HideAway. Northfield Patch had an article about her artisan bookmaking back in January of 2012.

At last, a photo of sex al fresco right here in Northfield

vitamn-sexalfresco-cover-tn sex al fresco in Northfield, MNHidden Valley Park, Northfield

Ever since I first blogged about Sex al fresco in Northfield back in 2007, I’m been waiting to get my own photo of it happening so I didn’t have to keep using Vita.mn’s Summer Love cover image.

A week or so ago, I took the photo of the two bugs going at it on the milkweed pod in the wildflower prairie that surrounds the pond in Hidden Valley Park, right behind our house.

More critter photos from that day:

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Photo album, video: Arlo Cristofaro at the NAG

Arlo CristofaroThe Great Glass JarArlo Cristofaro at the NAG, Aug 23, 2013

I first blogged about Arlo Cristofaro-Hark back in 2011 when I took photos of him inside a greenhouse at ARTech (now called Arcadia Charter School).  He graduated last spring and after attending McNally Smith College of Music courtesy of PSO, he’s become a musician with a new CD release this past week, The Great Glass Jar. He performed at the Upstairs NAG last night.

See the video below, my large slideshow of 20 photos (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

httpv://vimeo.com/73019148

Three game tables soon to be installed on Bridge Square

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EQC member George Kinney stopped by my corner office at GBM this morning and asked me if I knew what was going on with the concrete truck on Bridge Square. I went to investigate and learned from Streets & Parks Supervisor TJ Heinricy and Councilor Dave DeLong that the three concrete pads will soon have game tables on them.

After a visit to NYC a year ago, I suggested here on LoGro that the City should put some game tables in downtown Northfield, and that the money should come from the Streetscape Taskforce.  I have no idea if A) anyone paid attention to my suggestion; B) where the money for the tables came from; and C) how much the project costs.

But I’m guessing someone will enlighten us.

Update 9/14:

The three picnic  tables were installed yesterday. Each has an inlaid backgammon and chess/checkerboard.

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Photo redux: Vintage Band Festival 2010

Paul NiemestoVintage Band Festival program guide 2013The 2013 Vintage Band Festival begins tomorrow and runs through the weekend. Paul Niemisto has done it again.

Rob Hardy has a blog post on Northfield.org titled Northfeld in the News: Vintage Band Festival 2013 that links to all the media coverage.

You can follow the @vintagebandfest Twitter feed for all the latest updates.

The Vintage Band Festival 2013 Program guide is available in print format all around town as well as online here.

See my album of 56 photos from 2010 (large slideshow, recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

The people, scenes & events around Northfield, MN