I’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.
Join 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.
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.
I 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.
While 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.’
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.
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.
I took these photos of Helen Albers last night with her Red Maple tree at the start of Winter Walk.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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,
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.
With 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.
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.
Among the many developments with the trail that the DNR staff shared were these, most relevant to Northfield and Dundas:
Acquisition of a 6.5 mile railroad right-of-way is in progress to connect Faribault to Dundas
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
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.
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.
I 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 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.
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.
The three picnic tables were installed yesterday. Each has an inlaid backgammon and chess/checkerboard.
But there’s a way around, as I discovered last night. From Northfield, just ride your bike through the compost facility…
all the way to the back till you arrive at the big rocks by the reconstructed railroad tracks. Then…
you can ride on the tracks a few yards till you get past Spring Creek. The small rocks in between the rails make it pretty level. Alternately, if you’ve got good balance like Danny MacAskill, you can just ride on one of the rails like he does here. Smooooooooth. Then…
ride down the larger rocks (pick your line carefully) and you’ll see the trail a few yards away. Piece ‘o cake.
Bill Steele—one of at least three Northfielders by that name—is not just the owner of EcoTrans but has been involved with a non-profit organization in the Twin Cities called Bolder Options since its inception.
Bill invited me to their open house last Thursday and gave me a ride up in a new EcoTrans Prius (he’s got another that’s closing in on 400,000 miles). Former Northfield Union of Youth Executive Director Amy Merritt, now working with EcoTrans, joined us. From the Bolder Options mission/vision page:
Bolder Options is an innovative organization focusing on healthy youth development. The comprehensive mentoring program, wellness activities, and leadership opportunities coordinate family, community, school, and county resources in a united effort to support youth who are at-risk for dropping out of school or becoming involved in delinquent or unhealthy behaviors.
Bill has been so supportive of Bolder Options for such a long time that they’ve named a conference room after him in their headquarters near downtown Minneapolis. With Bill above (left and center) is Bolder Options President Director Darrell Thompson. (For you non-football types, Darrell is University of Minnesota’s all-time rushing leader and a former Green Bay Packer—first round draft pick in 1990.) On the right: Bill with Darrell’s dad, George Thompson.
Darrell gave us a tour of the facility. I was particularly interested in their use of bicycles, part of their Bolder V3 program which includes youth competing in triathlons – swimming, biking, and running.
But converting the land will neither easy nor cheap. A giant mound of dirt lies on the north part of the land, which not only makes for a poor view, but also causes a lot of problems for the homes in the neighborhood. County engineer Dennis Luebbe estimated it could cost up to $280,000 just to move the dirt.
The type of dirt used to build the features for these parks matters, as the jumps, berms and rollers deteriorate quickly if it’s not hard-pack dirt. I’m guessing that mound of dirt at Fargaze is black dirt.
Griff, I don’t know what the dirt is but I think there must be more than black dirt. If it was most likely there would have been greater erosion. Amateur opinion. The quietness and growing popularity [of bike parks] along with the age range of participation does intrigue me. Thanks for the links and following up.
Last night while riding my around-town bike in the area, I decided to take a closer look. I was shocked to not see black dirt. So today I went back, took photos, and dug (heh) a little deeper. It appears that Councilor DeLong’s amateur opinion was correct.
First, some perspective:
The mound of dirt looking west, south, and north. Far right: looking north from atop the mound.
Left: My markup of the Google Earth view of the Fargaze parcel. Right: satellite view of the neighborhood with the pond and the mound.
Left and center: two of several dirt cuts/washout areas that indicate that the mound is not made of black dirt. Right: the dirt cuts/washout areas viewable from Google Earth’s satellite.
Primary access to the dirt mound is at the corner of Ford St E and Brogan Dr. (left). Once on top, it appears that the mound is big enough to locate a significant portion of a bike park on top of it. The dirt could easily be moved to build the bike park adjacent to / south of where the mound is. Or both.
While I was there, a couple of thugs helpful staffers from the City of Northfield’s Public Works Department pulled up in a city truck to inform me that I was trespassing. I politely thanked them and profusely apologized, promising to never do it again. (Consider this paragraph to be one of these.)
As for the type of dirt needed for a bike park, a guy I know who’s working on the bike park in Cottage Grove wrote to me:
You want to be able to make a dirt ball, like a snow ball out of it. If it holds together, maybe bounce it a little to see how it holds up. If it does, that’s good. Also look for that reddish brown color. That is mineral soil.
I scraped some some dirt from the side of the dirt cut, brought it home, mixed it with some water and made a ball. It split apart when I dropped it from a height of about a foot so it may not be perfect. I put it in the sun and it was baked into a hard rock by day’s end. So it’s definitely promising and probably worth the money to have a company drill soil samples of the dirt mound.
Once the community was ready to develop the park, they reached out to Alpine Bike Parks to develop the full-service public bike park facility. Mechanized construction included slopestyle downhill trails, skills development areas, and competitive mountain cross and dual slalom courses. These trails raised the public profile of the project and assisted in developing capital for future project phases, including additional skills areas, and competitive BMX and mountain bike race courses.
Duration of Construction: Two months
Scope: Master planning, trail design, trail construction, community outreach.
Methods: Excavators, tracked loaders and skid steers, hand shaping
Client: City of Eagle, Idaho
Curious as to what a pump track is all about? Like swinging higher and higher on a swing with no one pushing you, it’s going around and around the track on your bike without pedaling, a foundational skill that makes mountain biking even more fun. Watch this video of instruction for a high school mountain bike team:
Lastly, I realize that neighbors in the area may have concerns about having a bike park adjacent to their property. If you’re a neighbor and reading this, please attach a comment or contact me.
I’m writing today because you’re a source in our Public Insight Network and you’ve told us that you live in Northfield. We’re working on a series of stories that we think you might be able to help us with.
MPR News is been doing a series of stories called “Get Out There,” in which we profile Minnesota towns (you can see them here). We want to find the places, eateries, and activities that might be hidden gems. So we’re coming to you to see what you think people should see, do or eat when they’re in Northfield. If friends were visiting from out-of-town, where would you take them? Please tell us here.
Molly heard from 35 Northfielders and graciously let me follow her around yesterday while she visited some of the recommended "hidden gems."
Her first stop was the Northfield Historical Society where Chip DeMann, Hayes Scriven and Brad Ness tried to impress her with, what else, lots of old stuff.
After a quick couple of photos at the NAG, she bought a cupcake at CakeWalk and forced me to eat half of it.
She chatted with Catherine Dominguez at GBM and took a photo of Nathan Nelson reading newspapers there, a quaint activity that they probably don’t see much of any more in the public media empire. After a visit to the Weitz Center (alas, closed for the summer), she had lunch at Chapati, and then ventured–no further stalking by me–to the Brick Oven Bakery and the Northfield Farmer’s Market in Riverside Park.
She also was witness to how much I get abused by the citizenry on a daily basis, courtesy of Victor Summa and Paul Hager.
Her story should appear on the Get Out There blog on Thursday, at which point, I invite y’all to chime in here with your suggestions on the other places/hidden gems of Northfield that she should also have profiled.
Another (100-year?) rainfall ‘event’ has brought me out of my blogging hiatus.
I took these photos early this afternoon on Armstrong Road near the Northfield compost facility where runoff from this morning’s torrential rainfall cut through the road, washed away the Mill Towns Trail bridge, and completely undermined the railroad bed.
More photos to come? Probably.
Update 7 am, July 14:
More photos to show the size of the washout on Armstrong Road.
A construction crew evidently arrived yesterday and has begun work on the railroad bridge.
I blogged about the SEEDS Project (Social Entrepreneurship Environmental Design and Stewardship) back in July of 2010 so I was glad to get an update about it a couple weeks ago from Seeds Farm Manager Becca Carlson when she stopped by my corner office at GBM.
I asked her to send me a write-up about the recent changes and I’ve included it below.
Here’s Becca’s summary of the latest on the Seeds Farm:
There’s more to eating locally than just the vegetables…
To thrive and survive, humans need to eat every day. For those of us that eat three meals a day, that means each week we have 21 opportunities to make a decision on how we are going to fuel our bodies, what type of agricultural system we are going to support, and what we want our communities and the landscape of America to look like.
Because of this, we have the ability to make a huge impact solely with how we chose to buy and consume food. Here are some reasons why I think it’s important to use our purchasing power to support local and sustainably grown produce:
Excellent taste and freshness
Local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances from far away. Produce picked and eaten at the height of freshness tastes better.
Celebrate a healthy lifestyle!
You are what you eat-so fill your body with healthy, nutritious and wholesome.
Support our farming neighbors, local economy, & community
Buying locally helps ensure that our local farms keep in business so they can provide you with delicious and nutritious produce, keeps your dollars circulating in our community, and is an investment in healthy communities.
Help preserve the environment
One of the biggest ways we interact with our environment is through agriculture; i.e. how our food was grown. Support farmers that help nurture our resources so they are not depleted for future generations.
Pass on the environmental ethic
Practice what you preach and encourage others to do so as well! When you buy locally produced organic food you cannot help but raise the consciousness of your friends and family about how food buying decisions can make a difference in your life and the life of your community; and about how the basic act of eating is connected to larger issues.
I’ve been using kettlebells ever since Gretchen Falck opened her Forza! studio here in Northfield back in 2008. And my wife Robbie has been a regular at her classes for 3+ years. So when Gretchen is excited about something new, we pay attention. What’s new? See her blog post titled Resiliency! Excerpt:
Forza! is hosting an “Original Strength” workshop on June 22 & 23, 2013 with “Original Strength: Regaining the Body You Were Meant to Have” authors Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert. Their passion is helping people like you regain your original strength through a simple, and unique way to “reset” your body and overcome movement compensations, dysfunctions, and injuries.
I’m so excited to have these two amazing men come to Forza! and share what they’ve learned about being resilient and regaining our original strength. During this one and a half day workshop, you will learn all of the resets they’ve discovered (rediscovered?) plus determine which resets work for you. While at the “Becoming Bulletproof” workshop I attended last fall, the resets I learned that work for me helped me go from having a difficult time staying in a squat position without falling over to being able to drop into a squat with ease. I found out it had nothing to do with my ankles being tight (which is what if felt like to me), and everything to do with reflexive core stability, which is what these resets will help you get back.
A Bikeable Community Workshop trains local, county and regional staff, and advocates on how to plan and support more Bike Friendly Communities to encourage more people on bikes more often in Minnesota. Participants enjoy a short bike ride to assess their community’s bicycle facilities to base an action plan on. Target audiences include engineers, law enforcement, planners, public health practitioners, school administrators, elected officials, and advocates. The course includes a short bicycle ride auditing your community.
Advise the Mayor, City Council, and Park Board on bicycling related issues; help advance the state of bicycle infrastructure; encourage more people to bike; educate the public; work towards more compliance with traffic laws; help the City and Park Board make bicycle plans; work to increase equity between bicyclist and other modes of transportation; review and suggest legislative and policy changes; recommend priorities for the use of public funds on bicycle projects; help ensure Minneapolis keeps and improves its status as a bicycle friendly community; serve as a liaison between Mpls communities and the City and Park Board, coordinate between difference agencies that interact with bicyclists.