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.
Dan’s had some health setbacks of late that drew several of us together to organize a fundraiser for him. Please mark the date of January 25 and spread the word. We’ll be gathering at the Grand to honor and support our friend whose done so much to support Northfield over the years. There is no admission charge, but a silent auction, a live auction, and “donations” of storytelling at the microphone will bring in money to make his life easier this coming year.
Please consider giving an auction item — anything from merchandise to creative dinner offers to tickets for games or entertainment venues, gift certificates, to whatever you can think of — as well as bidding on and buying an auction item that evening. Susy Immel is the contact for auction items; she can take them right now or right up to the last minute: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robbie and I were among the small army of volunteers at last night’s Laura Baker Services Association annual Gala fundraiser at the Carleton’s Weitz Center last night, marching to orders by master organizer Mary Closner (Queen/Owner/Heavy Hitter/Decision Maker/Slave Girl at Swag). Like last year, Bridgette Hallcock volunteered her photography services and her photos of the evening should be posted to her Bridgette Hallcock Photography Facebook page in a few days. I took a few photos with my crappy smartphone camera, among them:
Northfield Mayor-elect Dana Graham donated sidewalk snow shoveling for the live auction ("your home or business one time during the 2012-2012 winter season"). He helped auctioneer Kevin Dahle get the crowd revved up for bidding by donning a Darth Vader-type winter coat, complete with a light sabre coming out of the hood, as my photo above clearly shows. The winning bid of $800 was by Brett Reese who owns many buildings in the area, many with sidewalks (eg, the Archer House). I’m sure Brett will be praying for a heavy wet snowfall Real Soon Now. Hopefully, Dana will be have some leverage with his teenaged sons when the time comes.
A couple weeks ago I visited one of the planning meetings at LBSA by Northfield area non-profit leaders who were working on how to best position their organizations for this week’s Give to the Max Day by GiveMN. Some of the participants:
It was cool to see the level of collaboration for what they’re calling Northfield Gives. Key word: leverage!
On November 15th, 2012, your on-line donation of $10 or more to your favorite participating charity or school, could win that organization one of 5 local “golden ticket” grants of up to $1000, one of 24 statewide $1000 “golden ticket” grants, one statewide “Super Golden Ticket” worth $10,000 and could possibly put that organization on the Give MN Leader board earning them additional grants up to $15,000.
In addition, many organizations have challenge grants which could further amplify your gift. So you could say that Give to the Max Day is your chance to Give for the Max, because your gift could become so much more.
To encourage donors in the Northfield area, local sponsors are offering 5 “golden ticket” grants of up to $1000, to participating local organizations (listed below). Drawings will be held at noon and 8pm on November 15th (winning donations will be posted on the 5th Bridge website, 5th Bridge Facebook page and announced on available local media sources). So give generously and give often to increase the chances of your organization winning. “Friend” 5th Bridge on Facebook for exciting updates throughout the day and for ongoing notices of volunteer opportunities.
Of course, there are many other area non-profit organizations, projects, fundraisers and teams participating in GiveMN’s Give to the Max Day. Just go to their website and search for ‘Northfield’ or ‘55057’ and you’ll see them.
In the photo on the left (L to R) are high schoolers Arlo Cristofaro-Hark, Helen Forsythe, Antonia Cristofaro-Hark, and Cliff Martin. Not pictured: Avery Swearer. Behind them are two of the many adults who were involved in the project: George Kinney and Mary Jo Cristofaro.
Northfield Transition Youth/YES developed the project to build recycling bins for downtown because, as Griff has complained, the plastic wheelie bins chained to the trash receptacles weren’t very attractive (and then they disappeared) and to encourage recycling. I believe they had a design competition, but their first design made of wood did not pass muster with the HPC. George Kinney was helping develop the project in its design/initial attempt, but I believe this was as a private citizen and not an EQC project.
The Downtown Streetscape Task Force was moving ahead to buy receptacles much like what has been created, but they cost $1500 apiece. Streetscape was willing, but that’s when Howie stepped in to say — Hey, we can do this cheaper here. I can teach kids to weld, we can cut apart old trash containers and “stretch” them with similar-looking slats. A bit more back and forth on this — keeping recycling dry is a big deal because wet paper, according to Joe Stapf, spoils the lot, so ensuring there were lids on the containers was critical. TJ Heinricy helped by providing old trash receptacles for creating a prototype. Streetscape Task Force worked out the details and is paying for the containers.
And, now they’re beginning to appear on the street. I understand from Howie that he’s got some great youth welding talent, too. The Transition youth, Mary Jo Cristafaro (another adult assistant), and Howie deserve a round of applause for their idea, persistence, and execution. Looks great; saves money.
Betsey, in addition to the much-deserving Joe Stapf and T. J. Heinricy, I think thanks, by name, are due to Bob Will, Chair of the Streetscape Task Force, Steve Edwins, Member of the Heritage Preservation Commission, and Betsey Buckheit, Second Ward Councilor, for walking down to Eco Gardens and checking out Howie’s prototype. They all went the extra mile (okay, maybe it was only half a mile) to give the local option a chance.
Although having a decision-making rubric is a great idea (it can promote fairness and efficiency), it would appear that sometimes it’s a good idea to add a little “common sense” or, for a lack of a better term, subjective valuation to the decision-making process. The decision had been made according to the proper policy/procedure and the process/organization was moving toward timely implementation when Howie basically asked, “Could you give it another minute or so?” and Joe, T. J., Bob, Steve, and Betsey said, “We can give it another minute or so”.
Understandably, it would be a challenge to municipal efficiency (in terms of time and, sometimes, money), if we essentially second-guessed every decision made by a public sector group or entity. However, in this particular example of a sometimes stumbling (or seemingly inefficient), and admittedly stop and go process, reviewing the decision, particularly double-checking both the explicit and implicit values likely to be used by the community to judge the results, before taking irreversible steps to implement the plan, resulted in a better outcome.
Well deserved credit goes to the stalwarts of Transition Youth/YES, Mary Jo, and Mera Colling, who worked on quite a few designs over the past year and a half or more — lots of prototypes, many false starts, and I think we are so happy that the final design received everyone’s approval. TJ and Howie really came through for the group — helping to find solutions and getting the process moving. It wouldn’t have happened without their help. The group received additional support and encouragement from Northfield in Bloom and Curt Saffle of Waste Management.
As far as the EQC is concerned, we’ve been pushing for permanent downtown recycling options for probably close to 10 years, with Suzie Nakasian being the champion for several years on EQC (and then Planning Commission).
Thanks to the leadership of a group of Northfield High School and Arcadia Charter School students, along with the help of the community, city workers are now in the process of installing what will eventually be 28 new recycling/garbage bin combos in the downtown area and parks where no recycling bins were previously available.
Goods for Good is a community rummage sale event to raise money for various charities (chosen by each site host) that let’s anyone be a philanthropist. Sale hosts can convert unwanted household items into cash for their favorite cause without impacting their regular budget and non-profit organizations (clubs, schools, churches, etc…) can focus on their fundraising without worrying about the event promotion.
Austin and Michael were impressive instructors: very thorough, great storytellers, well-organized, interesting, and funny. Gary treated us royally with breakfast, lunch and even dinner on Saturday, with ample snacks throughout each day and happy hours at day’s end. The only disappointment: it rained all day Saturday and on and off on Sunday so the end-of-the-day-rides had to be cancelled.
I’m pretty enthused about all this. Sue and I will soon host a community info night in Northfield for interested student athletes and parents.
Three weeks ago, I stopped by the Angry Catfish Bicycle and Coffee Bar in south Mpls on my way to the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout. I wanted to take some photos so that I could promote this week’s Big Ring: 2nd Gear Art Auction that’s hosted there. The event, a benefit for SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education), features many Northfield-area artists among the 17 and is being organized by Northfielder Bill Metz.
I met the owner, Joshua Klauck, and the general manager, Ben Rogowski, who graciously posed for a photo with the poster for the event.
You can see some of the artwork that’s been donated by the artists on the event’s Facebook page where Bill has been busy posting updates and photos.