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.
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’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.
Some news on the two Northfield-related citizen engagement projects that I’m working on:
Left: my photo of the NDDC’s Ross Currier, navigating icy sidewalks last week to distribute invitations to residents who live near downtown, inviting them to a residential stakeholders meeting this Thursday, 8 pm at the Northfield Public Library. Details here.
I’ve been a bit of a laggard here on LoGro lately. For years, I’ve had something new on the blog everyday but in the last month, I’ve only had a few new posts/week and have not been very active in the comment threads.
I’ve created a new blog called Engage Citizens as I’m shifting more of my Wigley and Associates consulting work to helping local units of government (state, cities, counties, townships, school districts) use online tools and services to—you guessed it—engage citizens.
At the Jan. 14, 2013 Northfield Board of Education meeting, 26 parents, students and community members spoke with concern about the proposed change to the school district calendar structure for 2013-14. The board voted unanimously to stop consideration of a more balanced calendar for the 2013-14 school year. They directed the administration to recommend a 2013-14 calendar in an upcoming meeting based on the traditional academic year with an after-Labor Day start. In addition, the board requested that administration develop a plan to more deeply engage our community in a discussion about what kind of academic calendar will most benefit students in the future.
Instead, I worked with the District to manage the online engagement for the Transformational Technology proposal which was approved by the Board on Feb. 12.
I’ve now been hired by the District to manage the online portion of a community discussion about school calendars.
And to top it off, my daughter Gilly was in a serious car accident in Minneapolis earlier this week so I’ve been making daily treks to the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) all week. As of this morning, she’s doing much better: no apparent complications from a concussion and a lacerated liver, and she doesn’t have to have surgery for her fractured pelvis. She’s moving over to the adjacent Knapp Rehabilitation Center later today. If you know her, contact/follow her on Facebook.
Update 2/15: Gilly is now recovering at our house, camped in a bed in our living room (right photo)
Eric Larsen is a truly insane man. He came to Surly a while ago with a plan to ride a bike to the South Pole. From the edge of Antarctica directly into the heart of its warn chewy center, he will ride a Surly Moonlander, through 750 miles of ice, snow and the never-ending blaze of the sun…
He’s spent a great deal of time training and preparing for the trip. You can read all about his preparations, exploits, the specifics of each leg of his journey and even follow along with him here.
Lonnie Dupre is currently attempting the first solo ascent of Denali (Mt. McKinley) in January. See the One World Endeavors Expedition page for more. According to posts on the expedition Facebook page, he’s been restricted to his snow cave at 8,700 feet the past few days because of many feet of snow and high winds.
I told them to get their hair done for the meeting and that we’d also be practicing to use our index fingers for tablet use. As you can see from the photo, my coaching was more than marginally effective.
And like I blogged back in December about my contract with the City of Northfield, this contract will change the nature of my blogging here on LoGro about the School District, i.e., my relationships with the District’s leaders take priority over my public opinionating about them or the District. And I now have a conflict of interest when it comes to opinionating on District-related matters.
If I blog about anything related to the District or its leaders, the tone of my blog post will be along the lines of “Here’s something interesting. What do y’all think?” Essentially, my role will be more of a moderator. The opinionating (praise or criticism) will have to come from all of you.
I’m pretty excited about doing this, actually. I hope you Northfielders who follow things here on LoGro will participate there, not only to help create a downtown parking management plan but to help me and the City get better at managing public projects which need a significant amount of genuine citizen engagement.
Every fall at this time, the NAF accepts grant applications from area organizations. But this year there’s another option because at the August 21, 2012 Northfield City Council meeting, the Council approved a “fund administration service contract with the Northfield Area Foundation for soliciting and awarding grants for youth recreational activities from the Grace Whittier Fund…”
I noticed that Jim Spaulding was sporting a new hat last week. As co-owner, he’s created a division of the HideAway Coffeehouse & Winebar called Spaulding Sealcoating that also includes, according to the wording on the side of the van, crack repair, pot hole repair, and striping.
I’m not sure of the connection between coffee, wine, and sealcoating but I’m sure Jim can tell you.
Other Forzites [including Robbie] will be on hand to answer questions and demonstrate some of the tools of the trade. Look for them in their black Forza! t-shirts. Come see this beautiful mural, enjoy some healthy snacks and the company of some truly great people!
I’ve stopped the studio a few times in the past few weeks to take photos of her classes for her website. Here are a few:
Laura Baker Services Association (LBSA) now has a big fundraising board on Bridge Square. The light bulbs in the shape of a heart change from white to red as the "Inspiring Possibilities, Realizing Dreams" campaign gets closer to the goal of $1,300,000. They’re currently at about 82% there.
Jane Fenton, LBSA’s Director of Community Relations, and Paul Krause, fundraising consultant, were overseeing the high-tech installation process (take bulb out of box; screw it in; repeat as necessary) at around noon today.
What’s the plan?
Our goal is to construct two new cottages, just like Wright Cottage and to renovate Elwell and Baker Halls. Once the new cottages are built, the aged Margaret Graves Hall will be razed and a beautiful Recognition Garden created in its place.
More fundamentally, we are creating homes for our Oak Street clients, a place where they can dream and be inspired and where the staff can work with them in ways not possible today. To date, we have already completed the restoration and Elwell and Baker and now move forward to make the new cottages a reality. Please help make this dream come true, for our clients, for Laura Baker Services and for our entire community.
I’ve been working with veterinarian Dr. Rich Lorang and his wife Virginia Lorang to revamp the website for Countryside Animal Hospital & Kennels. The vet clinic and newly acquired kennel operation serve the cities of Dundas and Northfield as well as the surrounding Rice County area.
Ray Cox stopped by unannounced at my morning office at GBM yesterday morning to talk politics, business, and web stuff for NCC.
And then former Northfielder Steve Grove (Twitter acct link) barged in, all the way from his Manhattan office where he’s head of News and Politics for YouTube. He’s in town for a few days for a wedding.
Note to self: gray t-shirts are evidently the hip attire these days.
Almighty Lord God, who for the sin of man didst once drown all the world, except eight persons, and afterward of thy great mercy didst promise never to destroy it so again; We humbly beseech thee, that although we for our iniquities have worthily deserved a plague of rain and waters, yet upon our true repentance thou wilt send us such weather for the Taste of Northfield, that we may receive the fruits of the earth in due season; and learn both by thy punishment to amend our lives, and for thy clemency to give thee praise and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Among the Northfielders he interviewed: Chuck DeMann, Peggy Prowe, Sue Lloyd, Al Linder, Jim Johnson, and me.
Sue Lloyd was quoted: "How we’ve come to such extremes I don’t know… Are there middle [ground] people? I don’t know anymore."
Sue, we had a "middle ground" legislator not too long ago: Ray Cox, a moderate Republican by most measures. Back in 2007, Ray got a measly 26% score from the Taxpayers League, was at times branded at RINO by some in the GOP, and received the endorsement from the Star Tribune. Ray wrote in a Jan. 2008 blog post after he lost the special Senate election to Kevin Dahle:
In the recent Senate Special election I was honored to receive the endorsement of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. That meant a lot to me. The editors and writers there conducted a thorough review of my voting record. They conducted a comprehensive interview about current issues. While they were careful to keep partisan politics out of their discussion, the editors are well aware of the environment that the legislature must conduct its work. They noted my ability to work in a bipartisan manner on state issues in an attempt to resolve some of the more pressing concerns.
Northfield’s liberal voters rejected this moderate Republican and instead voted for Dahle in large numbers. Likewise, Cox was not enough of a social conservative for a large number of voters in the western part of the district and so they didn’t vote in large enough numbers to offset the liberal vote in Northfield.
Northfield’s liberals won the battle of 2008 but they lost the war in 2010 when the Republicans fielded much more conservative candidates in Al DeKruif and Kelby Woodard who were able to get out the D-25 conservative vote in big numbers.
So for 25B voters to now complain about extremes, partisanship, and gridlock seems a little disingenuous. Al and Kelby and the rest of the freshman Republicans know who and what got them there. Why compromise with Gov. Dayton until you have to?
It has a feature (page 40) by Felicia Crosby on the HideAway which is celebrating its 5th anniversary this month
Here’s the full text:
The pictures on the long hall of the HideAway say it all. Three large sepia-toned portraits of the Spaulding family – Jim, Joan and their six offspring – illustrate what makes the HideAway such an irresistible destination for a light meal, a glass of wine, or a mid-morning muffin. This very family business feels like home, and when you’re there you’re part of the family.
Occupying a light and bright space once part of Jacobsen’s Department Store, the HideAway boasts soaring tin ceilings, period moldings and fixtures, and tall windows that overlook busy Division Street. Walls are painted in warm shades of honey and saffron, the furniture is comfortable enough to curl up into, and the nook and cranny eating spaces create the most delightfully intimate places to talk, work and read. Celebrating its fifth birthday in May, the HideAway is convivial and unhurried, exuding a breezy welcome that makes it easy to fantasize about owning this little spot of gastronomic heaven; how hard could it be to own something so fun to be in?
This morning I got a call from one of my sources that Leif Knecht, co-owner of Knecht’s Nurseries and Landscaping, was going apeshit while celebrating his 60th birthday today. ‘Tis pretty much true, as you can see from the above photos of Leif dressed up as Elmer Fudd in his normal spring attire, but there’s more to the story.
He was actually just excited about the complementary Northern Red Oak trees that the boys from Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul, (L) Hans Ostergaard and (R) Dan Bailey, were making available to anyone who stops by today in honor of Leif’s BD.
If you get out there, grab some free coffee and a cupcake while you sign the big birthday card in the retail greenhouse. In the meantime, mouseover the ‘child of the ’60s’ card for a special message, given to Leif by one their long time employees, Heidi Brosseau.