Category Archives: Volunteerism

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.

On Jan. 25, Rob Schanilec wants you to step out for Mr. Northfield, Dan Freeman

Rob SchanilecDan Freeman benefit posterDan Freeman

Rob Schanilec (By All Means Graphics) stopped by my office at the Spur last week with a copy of the January Entertainment Guide. He showed me his full-page ad on page 23 for the Jan. 25 fundraiser at the Grand Event Center that he’s helping to organize. The text from the Guide’s calendar:

A tribute to and fundraiser for Danny Freeman, aka Mr. Northfield. Silent and live auction, raffle, toast-and-roast and, of course, a lot of fun and hijinx – we are talking about Danny, after all.

I blogged about Dan’s health problems back in October. Rob wrote in his email:

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:

Dana ‘Darth Vader’ Graham raises $800 for LBSA with a snow shovel

Laura Baker Services Association annual Gala fundraiser 2012Laura Baker Services Association annual Gala fundraiser 2012

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:

Dana GrahamSidewalk Shoveling donation by Dana Graham

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.

Northfield Gives! You can leverage GiveMN’s Give to the Max Day this Thursday, Nov. 15

Planning meeting: 2012 Northfield Gives Planning meeting: 2012 Northfield Gives Planning meeting: 2012 Northfield Gives
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:

Betsy Spethmann, Northfield Area United Way Candy Taylor, 5th Bridge Jane Fenton, Laura Baker Services Hayes Scriven, Northfield Historical Society Beth Kallestad, Cannon River Watershed Partnership Sandy Vesledahl, Prairie's Edge Humane Society

It was cool to see the level of collaboration for what they’re calling Northfield Gives. Key word: leverage!

From the 5th Bridge Northfield Gives page:

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.

Northfield 2012 Give to the Max dayIn 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.

The participating organizations:

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.

Downtown’s new recycling bins are a win for taxpayers and a lesson on collaboration, persistence, and civic problem-solving

Front: Arlo Cristofaro-Hark, Helen Forsythe, Antonia Cristofaro-Hark, Cliff Martin student welders Eco Gardens co-owner Howie Holt, welding coach student welder student welder

Last week, members of Northfield Transition Youth/YES (Youth Energy Summit) who worked on welding downtown’s new combination recycling/trash bins stopped by my corner office at GBM for a photo.  And they brought a few photos of themselves welding the bins with Eco Gardens co-owner Howie Holt.

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. 

Back in July, I blogged about the arrival of the combination recycling/trash bins downtown.  Three commenters to that post told the story of how the project came to be. Northfield Councilor Betsey Buckheit wrote:

Betsey BuckheitNorthfield 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.

NDDC’s Ross Currier wrote:

Ross CurrierBetsey, 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.

City of Northfield Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) member George Kinney wrote:

George KinneyWell 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).

Happy to have had a hand in it.

In August, Jordan Osterman at the Northfield News did a story: Northfield youth group leads the way on recycling in parks, downtown

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.

In October, high school student Logan Regnier produced a video about the project and it’s up on Northfield Patch: Youth, City Collaborate on New Recycling Bins

Recycling bin video by Logan Regnier

Prairie’s Edge Humane Society is one of 15 sites for the Great Northfield Rummage Raid for Charity

5th Bridge is having their annual Goods for Good garage sale today and tomorrow.

goods-logoGoods 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.

Prairie's Edge Humane Society rummage sale Prairie's Edge Humane Society rummage sale PEHS staffers

Among the 15 sites participating: Prairie’s Edge Humane Society. See that book Sandy Vesledahl is holding? No barnyard jokes, please.

You can call me Coach. Northfield will soon have a high school mountain bike racing team

The Minnesota High School Cycling League held their first Leaders’ Summit last weekend. I attended both days (Head and Assistant Coach licensing) along with Northfielder Sue Welch, Community Coordinator for the Cannon Valley Velo Club.

Gary Sjoquist Austin McInerny Michael Hayes Sue Welch, Michael Hayes, Griff Wigley, Austin McInerny

Gary Sjoquist, QBP’s Advocacy Director, organized and hosted the event at their Bloomington headquarters.  Austin McInerny, (NorCal High School Cycling League, Berkeley High School Mountain Bike Team) did the classroom instruction on Saturday. Michael Hayes, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, conducted the skills training (in the classroom and on the bike) on Sunday.

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.

See my album of 27 photos (large slideshow recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Northfield artists donate their work for this week’s Big Ring 2nd Gear Art Auction at the Angry Catfish

Angry Catfish Bicycle and Coffee Bar Joshua Klauck and Ben Rogowski Angry Catfish Bicycle and Coffee Bar
Big Ring: 2nd Gear Art Auction 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.