Category Archives: Life

Pickleball is coming to Northfield in 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melissa Bernhard pickleball orientation, Northfield Senior Center Paul Bernhard
I went to the orientation session at the Northfield Senior Center last week hosted by Melissa Bernhard, Recreation Coordinator for Northfield Public Schools Community Services and her husband Paul Bernhard, physical ed teacher at Bridgewater Elementary. They also talked about home care where the nurses will come to your house.

I’m sold.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dakota Pinnacle Birch

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

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

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

Helen Albers and her Red Maple tree on Bridge Square

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helen Albers tree in summer

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:

DSC02996DSC03030DSC02967

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

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:

Northfielder Bill Steele’s first love is not EcoTrans; it’s Bolder Options

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.

EcoTrans provides door-to-door serviceBill Steele and Amy Merritt arrive at Bolder Options HQLeft: Amy Merritt; right: Bill Steele
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 OptionsBolder 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.

Darrell Thompson and Bill SteeleDarrell Thompson and Bill SteeleBill Steele and George Thompson
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.

Some photos from the open house:

Bolder Options open house 2013Bolder Options open house 2013Bill Steele (center); Bolder Options open house 2013

Bolder Options Health & Wellness Coordinator Courtney GriffinBolder Options open house 2013Bolder Options open house 2013
Health & Wellness Coordinator Courtney Griffin ran the bean bag toss game, with many winners receiving a pair of tickets to Twins games.

Tour, Bolder Options open house 2013Tour, Bolder Options open house 2013Tour, Bolder Options open house 2013Tour, Bolder Options open house 2013
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.

FYI, Bill Steele received the "Making a Different Award" from the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative back in December 2010.