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.

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.

Forza! is hosting an ‘Original Strength’ workshop on June 22-23

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:

Gretchen Falck - Original Strength workshopForza! 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.

(continued)

Do you live in/near downtown Northfield? Does the school calendar matter to you? Then your input is needed

Some news on the two Northfield-related citizen engagement projects that I’m working on:

NDDC's Ross Currier, making the roundsSchool Calendar Straw Poll
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.

Right: a screenshot of the Northfield School Calendar Conversation straw poll that’s now live. Details here.

A new blog reflects a shift in my consulting business: Engage Citizens

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.

What’s up?

Engage Citizens - Vertical - 185wI’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.

I’ve been doing online citizen engagement as a citizen since the early 90′s in my work with Northfield.org and continuing here on Locally Grown Northfield since 2006.

Grandview-Development-Framework-finalGriff Wigley, Scott NealBut it was my consulting contract with City Manager Scott Neal and the City of Edina back in April of 2011 when we created the Edina Citizen Engagement project that helped me see how other local units of government could benefit from something similar.

The Grandview District Development Framework project in particular was enlightening because of how the online tools complemented the face-to-face work of the steering committee, consultants, and city staff over the course of 9 months.

Griff Wigley at  League of MN Cities annual conference, 2012Tim Madigan at  League of MN Cities annual conference, 2012Last summer, I presented and facilitated a session for the League of MN Cities annual conference about my work with the City of Edina titled Government 2.0: New Strategies for Engaging the Public.

One of the people in the audience that day was Northfield City Administrator Tim Madigan who, a few months later as most of you LoGro readers are aware, hired me to manage the online engagement for a Developing a parking management plan for downtown.

Chris Richardson, Griff Wigley, Matt HillmanShortly thereafter, when I heard that the Northfield Public Schools District had a calendar project in the works, I approached Superintendent Chris Richardson and HR/Technology Director Matt Hillman about adding an online citizen engagement component. I just finished up the Transformational Technology project for them and last week started another online engagement project with them titled A school calendar conversation with the Northfield community.

I’ll continue to post client updates on my Wigley and Associates blog but most of my consulting-related blogging energy will be devoted to the Engage Citizens blog. I’ve also changed my Griff Wigley Twitter username to @EngageCitizens. I’ll tweet all my new Engage Citizens blog posts but you can also subscribe to Engage Citizens via email or RSS.

Now that I’ve got all this in place, I’ll get back to posting more regularly here on LoGro. I’m scheming on a new doodad for y’all.

Photo albums: engaged citizens and the Northfield Public School District

Back in mid-January, I took photos of people speaking at open mic at the Northfield Board of Education meeting about the proposed calendar (blog post here).  This week, I took photos of people attending the calendar conversation meeting at the High School (blog post here).  I had my consulting hat on for both events but I thought I’d blog the photos here on LoGro, adding to my collection of 15,000+ photos of Northfield-related events and scenes since 2003.

See the large slideshow (recommended) of 38 photos from the Jan. 14 meeting, or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

See the large slideshow (recommended) of 32 photos from the Mar. 7 meeting, or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

A school calendar conversation with the Northfield community: back to square one

Back in early January, I blogged here on LoGro that Northfield Public Schools Superintendent Chris Richardson had hired me (with my Wigley and Associates consultant hat on) to manage the online engagement for the  ‘balanced calendar’ that was being proposed.   It never happened. Chris later wrote:

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.

Northfield Schools Calendar ConversationI’ve now been hired by the District to manage the online portion of a community discussion about school calendars.

I’ve got the project blogsite up and tonight, the District is hosting the first in a series of three community meetings led by Mary Grace Hanson, Director of Teaching and Learning.

(The other dates are April 2 and April 30. All meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the high school upper cafeteria.)

School Board Member Rob Hardy has been writing about school calendars on his Learning Curve blog.

And here’s a Feb. 27 Northfield Patch video by Supt. Chris Richardson talking about the calendar conversation:

Parking management for downtown: Focused blog discussions all week

For the next week (and maybe longer), I’m moderating three focused blog discussion threads on the Parking Management for Downtown blog.

Downtown building owners mtg at RuebDowntown bike commuters mtg at GBMDowntown pedestrian commuters mtg at HideAway

Although each one addresses the concerns of the particular stakeholder group (F2F meeting photos above), the discussions are open to all. Here are the links to each blog post:

Among the many issues raised by the three groups:

  • parking meters
  • enforcement
  • diagonal vehicle parking
  • painting center lines and sharrows
  • crosswalk safety
  • walking routes to downtown

Meetings and straw polls and chat, oh my

It’s not been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon Northfield for me.

bicycle commuters - stakeholders group meetingbuilding owners - stakeholders group meetingcommunity meeting - Transformational Technology proposal

live chat replay webinar archive transformationaltech staw poll

The face-to-face meetings and online engagement activities for both the  City of Northfield’s Downtown Parking Management plan and the Northfield School District’s Transformational Technology proposal have kept me busy this week.

Gillian Wigley, January, 2013crashed Toyota Gilly Wigley recovering at home

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)

An online engagement project for the Northfield Public Schools: getting feedback on the Transformational Technology proposal

The day after the ‘balanced calendar’ online engagement project for the Northfield Public Schools that I blogged about back in early January got postponed, I put my Wigley and Associates consultant hat back on and had a meeting at the Northfield Public Schools District office with Superintendent Chris Richardson and Matt Hillmann, Director of Human Resources and Technology.

Chris and Matt decided to use my online engagement services instead to get additional public feedback on the Transformational Technology proposal that’s now being considered by the School Board.

It’s happening on a blog that’s part of the District’s WordPress Multiuser platform:

Transformational Technology for Northfield Public Schools, ISD #659

Transformational Technology - Northfield Public Schools

 

Matt has been blogging about the project for nearly a year on Blogger and so we’ve imported all those posts into this new blog.  He presented the final draft of the proposal to the School Board earlier this week and the Board will likely vote on it at one of their February meetings.

Rob HardyRob Hardy has a comprehensive overview of the project with lots of links in a Northfield.org blog post titled Local Issue: iPads in the Schools.

Rob has also a post on his Learning Curve blog (“The Education of a Northfield School Board Member“) titled Transformational Technology Proposal: Paying for iPads.

And like the downtown parking management plan for the City of Northfield that I’m working on, this project with the District won’t happen here on LoGro.  So I’ve turned off comments here. If you’ve got questions about how it’s all going to work, see my blog post: How is the online engagement part of this project going to work?

Ole alum/explorer Eric Larsen sets a record in an attempt to ride a fat bike to the South Pole

I’m doing some Wigley and Associates blogging/social media work on the Fat Bike Summit and Festival. One of the event’s sponsors is MN-based Surly Bikes. Back on December 21, Gern Blanston posted to the Surly Bikes blog, The Craziest Man I Know:

Explorer Eric Larsen on a Surly MoonlanderEric 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.

I checked Eric’s journal this morning. Unfortunately, he had to call it quits. See his entry for December 28, 2012 – Day 10: A Tough Decision. Eric made it back home last Saturday, Jan. 12.

The good news? He set a record. See this SF Gate article via PRweb: Polar Adventurer Eric Larsen Sets Antarctic Distance Record by Traveling the Farthest on a Bike toward the South Pole.

Outside Magazine Online featured Eric’s expedition back in November: Expedition Watch: Riding a Fat Bike to the South Pole. It included this video, with his Surly Moonlander featured:

Coincidental sidenote #1:

Eric Larsen graduated from St. Olaf College in 1993 and has friends here in Northfield. Back in Feb. of 2005, he and fellow explorer Lonnie Dupre did a presentation at Froggy Bottoms, raising money for their summer expedition across the Arctic Ocean. See this St. Olaf press release for more. I was there and took these photos:

Eric Larsen and Lonnie Dupre at Froggy BottomsEric Larsen and Lonnie Dupre at Froggy BottomsEric Larsen and Lonnie Dupre at Froggy Bottoms

Coincidental sidenote #2:

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.

Next up in the local online engagement department: a project with the Northfield Public Schools

Chris Richardson, Griff Wigley, Matt HillmannYesterday morning, I put on my Wigley and Associates consultant hat and had a meeting at the Northfield Public Schools District office with Superintendent Chris Richardson and Matt Hillmann, Director of Human Resources and Technology.

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.

Northfield Public SchoolsSo they hired me to help add an online engagement component to the public meetings planned this month for the proposed ‘modified balanced calendar.’   And like the development of a downtown parking management plan for the City of Northfield, this project with the District won’t happen here on LoGro. As soon as we have the blog site for it set up, I will announce it here.

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.

Time to get engaged: help develop a parking management plan for downtown Northfield

Parking Management Downtown Northfield

I warned y’all in my December 10 blog post, A lunch portends changes for LoGro. It’s now happening. I’ve got a contract with the City of Northfield, wearing my Wigley and Associates consulting hat, to create and manage the online platform for a City project: Developing a parking management plan for downtown.

That’s a link to the new blogsite for the project where all the activity will occur (not here on LoGro, which is why I’ve got comments turned off for this blog post.)

I’ll be teaming up with Ross Currier, Executive Director of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation (NDDC).

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.

See you over there!

Dale Ness says to apply now for both Northfield Area Foundation and Grace Whittier Fund grants

Dale Ness NAF grant app ad
Dale Ness, board member for the Northfield Area Foundation (NAF), stopped by my corner office at the GBM this morning to get his photo taken, one of the three ways to get an announcement posted on Locally Grown.

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’ve been helping the NAF update their WordPress-based website and I’m happy to announce that the new online application forms for both Northfield Area Foundation grants and Grace Whittier Fund grants are ready.

If you prefer the traditional method of printing out the PDF application forms, we still have those available, too (NAF application PDF here, GWF application PDF here).

Deadline for both grant applications is October 15.

Archer House gets a big new sign in back. I think it’s going to read: ‘You can relieve yourself here anytime’

Jim Bohnhoff, Bohnhoff Design, with Archer House sign In May of 2011, I blogged that the Archer House had finally installed an external sign that let people know there were public restrooms inside, upper and lower levels.  (I had been complaining about the lack of signage for the $100,000 public toilets, paid for by taxpayers.)

I was still unhappy that the sign was so tiny. See the photo of Jim Bohnhoff, Bohnhoff Design, pointing to it.

Archer House, west sideThis morning, Ray Cox of Northfield Construction, stopped by my corner office at GBM to let me know that they were working with Jim to install a huge new sign on the back of the Archer House.

I took a photo but as you can see, the sign was not visible yet. 

I’m hopeful that the new sign addresses my concerns.  If they’re reluctant to use direct language (eg, ‘public toilets here’) then maybe a euphemism like:

Anyone have better suggestions?

Update 9/2, 11:15 am:

Alas, no such wording. But the sign looks terrific, day and night (apologies for the crappy night photo, taken with my smartphone):

Archer House sign, west side Archer House sign, west side Archer House sign, west side

Jim Spaulding has a new sealcoating business, a division of The HideAway

Jim Spaulding, Spaulding Sealcoating Spaulding Sealcoating Spaulding SealcoatingSpaulding Sealcoating
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.

Sidewalk dining in Northfield: Why is The HideAway still the only one?

Jim Spaulding at The HideAwayAs far as I know, the HideAway Coffeehouse and Wine Bar is still the only eating and drinking establishment in downtown Northfield to offer sidewalk dining, including serving wine and beer.

I stopped by to chat with co-owner Jim Spaulding earlier today and I asked him why others had not tried it. The ordinance has been on the books since 2008. He didn’t  know and neither do I.

See all the sidewalk dining-related blog posts going back to 2006.

Art plus exercise: Gretchen Falck is having a Forza! open house on Nov. 8

Forza! studio, Northfield MN

Gretchen Falck, Forza!I get regular updates on Gretchen Falck’s Forza! studio (on Professional Drive behind Casey’s). Why?

My wife Robbie is a ‘Forzite,’ hooked since March, 2010, doing everything from kettlebells, TRX Suspension training, and resistance stretching to a whole variety of body weight exercises. (That’s Robbie in the foreground of the photo on the right, swinging a kettlebell.)  She just loves it.

Gretchen is hosting a Forza! open house tomorrow, Wed. Nov. 9, 5-7:30 pm.  She’s mixing in exercise with the arts by unveiling a new mural:

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:

DSC01736 DSC03097 DSC03140 DSC03174

DSC01397 copy DSC01568 DSC01655 DSC01721

How many red light bulbs does it take to light up a heart on Bridge Square?

 LBSA campaign board on Bridge Square LBSA capital campaign 2011 - The Case

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.

See the Making the Case (PDF) document for more details and the four videos by Cheryl Buck, Bob Bonner, Sandi Gerdes and Eric Stratton about the campaign.

New blog site for Countryside Animal Hospital & Kennels

Countryside Animal Hospital and Kennels

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.

Dr. Rich has begun to blog, along with staffer Jess Renderos.  You can also visit the Countryside Animal Hospital & Kennels Facebook page and follow Dr. Rich Lorang on Twitter.

These guys didn’t have an appointment. I let it go this time.

Steve Grove and Ray Cox at GBMRay 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.

NDDC issues proclamation for days of prayer for sun in Northfield for the Taste of Northfield 2011

Ross Currier praying at the Church of the Blue Monday Taste of Northfield banner 
NDDC‘s Ross Currier has taken a cue from Governor Rick Perry’s Proclamation for Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas to issue a similar but opposite proclamation for Northfield this week. I took the photo of him on his knees this morning at the Church of the Blue Monday where we both attend religiously.

He wants sunny skies for the Sixth Annual Taste of Northfield (blog post here, full event info/schedule here), held tomorrow and Friday in downtown Northfield on Bridge Square.

Last year’s Taste was memorable; Day 1/Thursday night was a bust (photos) in part because of a botched triggering of severe weather sirens; Day 2/Friday night was spectacular (photos).

See all Locally Grown’s archived Taste of Northfield blog posts and photos for more.

Here’s the transcript of Ross’ adapted prayer for fair weather:

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.

Gridlock, extremes, partisanship at the Capitol? Unintended consequences of what Northfield’s liberal voters asked for

Star Tribune reporter Richard Meryhew at the Goodbye Blue Monday Coffeehouse in NorthfieldStarTribune reporter Richard Meryhew paid a visit to Northfield and a few other towns in District 25B last week, asking citizens their reaction to the state budget battle at the Capitol.  His story appeared in yesterday’s paper: Voters say: Enough Already.  In politically diverse House District 25B, folks wonder how compromise became a four-letter word at the Capitol.

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:

Ray CoxIn 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?

Tom Neuville, Al Quie, Ray CoxWayne Cox, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for Tax Justice, had a commentary in last week’s Strib titled The state’s GOP has lost its way – and many party veterans know it. He criticized the GOP for being "Not Your Mother’s Republican Party" because the voices of moderate Republicans like Arne Carlson, Duane Benson, Dave Jennings, Al Quie, and Dave Durenberger were no longer being heard by the GOP. 

Were he writing about Rice County, he’d likely name Ray Cox and Tom Neuville.

The HideAway turns 5

Joan Spaulding, HideAway Coffeehouse and Winebar

I prompted HideAway Coffeehouse and Winebar proprietor Joan Spaulding earlier this week to hold up the issue of the May issue of the NEG.

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.

HideAway in May 2011 NEGOccupying 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?

Continue reading The HideAway turns 5

Leif Knecht turns 60; loses it. Get a free tree and a cupcake, then run.

Leif Knecht goes apeshit on his 60th birthday Leif Knecht goes apeshit on his 60th birthday Leif Knecht goes apeshit on his 60th birthday 
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.

(L) Hans Ostergaard and (R) Dan Bailey, Bailey Nurseries, with Leif Knecht Bailey Nurseries, complementary red oaks Bailey Nurseries, complementary red oaks
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.

Sign Leif's birthday card Wanna do some Antacid? H'about some Joint medication?
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.

FYI, it’s not the first time that Leif and his many faces have graced this blog. See: Leif Knecht re-elected to Bridgewater Board of Supervisors.

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