Photo album: Northfield Area Bike Initiative community meeting (Soup & Cycles)

Suzie NakasianLocal bicycling advocates got together last night at the Weitz Center for Soup and Cycles, billed as

“an information gathering and brainstorm for representatives of Northfield area bike clubs and bike-interested groups, community leaders and educators”

The text of Suzie Nakasian’s email invitation is below, along with her follow-up summary.

Play the large slideshow of my 62 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Greetings!

There’s been an exciting acceleration of bike-related activity in and around Northfield over the last few years— clubs, groups, rides, new businesses, and a full calendar of bike races, as well as the City’s Complete Streets Policy, Safe Routes to School Plan and regional collaboration on the Mill Towns Trail and other projects— all signaling Northfield’s potential to become a leading bike town and regional biking destination.

With so much happening on so many fronts, it would be beneficial to gather representatives of local bike groups, and bike-interested community leaders and educators, to share information and explore how we might work together on projects relating to bike education, infrastructure and bike/recreational tourism.

I am writing to invite you to Soup and Cycles, a meeting of representatives of Northfield area bike groups and stakeholders, Thursday, November 14, 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Carleton’s Weitz Center for Creativity. An invitation follows below. I hope you can attend. Representation from each of our area schools will be invaluable to our discussion of potential programs for area youth. The names included in the distribution list for this email were suggested to me by local bike leaders, and I encourage you to review that list, and consider forwarding this email invitation to teachers, PTO leaders and students who are interested in working to create a bike friendly Northfield.

So that we can prepare the right amount of soup, please RSVP by Tuesday, November 12 with a reply email to me at Suzienakasian@gmail.com. Thank you.

Looking forward,

Suzie Nakasian

507-301-6756

p.s. See information on the newest addition to Northfield’s bike event calendar, this weekend’s 1st Annual Minnesota State Gravel Road Racing Championship.

——–

Thursday, November 14, 2013, 5:00 – 8:00 pm
Weitz Center for Creativity, Larson Room, 2nd Floor, Carleton College

A light dinner of soup and salad will be provided courtesy of Rice County Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and Tandem Bagels.

Program:

5:00pm  Soup and socializing
5:30pm  Welcome and introductions
6:00pm  Small group discussions:

Bike Education: ideas for promoting bike safety & share the road principles

Infrastructure: needs relating to on-road, off-road trails and other bike amenities, and

Recreational Tourism: support for bike races and events, and recreational tourism

7:00pm  Reports from groups: identified needs, goals and strategies

7:30pm  Next steps: communication, leadership and follow-up

This meeting will adjourn by 8pm, in time to head to the GiveMN celebration at The Grand.

Participation is open to community members who are interested in helping to create a bike friendly Northfield.

RSVP Requested: Please reply to suzienakasian@gmail.com before the end of the day on Tuesday, November 12 so that we can get a soup count. Thank you.

——

Thanks to everyone who participated in last night’s Soup and Cycles bike gathering at the Weitz Center! Over 70 people participated including new and lifelong residents, business owners, cycling club members, teachers, and trail and bike enthusiasts from a mix of generations!  More than a dozen additional contacts could not attend but expressed an interest in participating as the project moves forward.

Our 3 brainstorming sessions yielded a rich trove of ideas relating to infrastructure, bike education and recreational tourism —-look for a summary of those ideas to follow on Monday.  Some projects are already getting underway, and we have the start of an excellent Steering Committee in a core group that has stepped forward . If you are interested to join that group, please let me know.

With so many promising ideas – much help is needed.  So please review the discussion notes when you receive them and let me know how you might want to participate. We will be working to set up a website and communication structure to facilitate that work, and to encourage a constellation of related projects which, together, will build a more bike friendly community.

Thank you for your interest and support of this initiative! Look for an email to follow on Monday.

With every best wish,
Suzie Nakasian
507-301-6756

p.s. A Facebook page is in the works. If you took photos at last night’s event, please forward them to me to post on that site once its launched.

Photo album: Northfield Area Family YMCA groundbreaking

Earlier this afternoon, the Northfield Area Family YMCA held its groundbreaking celebration for its new facility on Honey Locust Drive. From the press release:

2014 Board Chair Nate Jacobi and his sonWith construction plans for Phase I finalized, Northfield’s Y, which is expected to open in the fall of 2014, will feature an indoor aquatics center, group fitness studio, cardio and wellness floor, supervised children’s center, locker rooms, offices and multi-purpose community gathering space.

Plans for Phase II, featuring a full-size gym and walking track, are in the development stage.  The estimated project cost to complete both Phase I and Phase II together is in the $8 to $9 million range.

Play the large slideshow of 33 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Mill Towns Trail update from the DNR: Northfield citizens have a problem to solve

L to R: Dana Graham, Galen Malecha, Peggy Prowe, Courtland Nelson, David Bly, Joel Wagar, Steve HennessyL to R: Peggy Prowe, David Bly, Joel Wagar, Steve Hennessy, Glenn Switzer, Peter Hark, Dana Graham, Galen MalechaMill Towns Trail maps

Top officials from the Minnesota DNR Parks and Trails Division held a meeting for a group of local elected officials on Friday at Dundas City Hall to bring them up to speed on current and future developments with the Mill Towns Trail.

DNR Parks and Trails staff:

  • Courtland Nelson, Director
  • Peter Hark, Field Operations Manager
  • Steve Hennessy, Acquisition and Development Specialist
  • Joel Wagar, Area Supervisor

Local elected officials who were able to attend:

Local bike advocate Peggy Prowe also was there.

Among the many developments with the trail that the DNR staff shared were these, most relevant to Northfield and Dundas:

  1. Acquisition of a 6.5 mile railroad right-of-way is in progress to connect Faribault to Dundas
  2. The current Dundas to Northfield segment needs a complete rebuild, but a new route is bring pursued that would be more scenic and eliminate two railroad crossings
  3. Discussions with Union Pacific Railroad on acquiring right-of-way for the segment from Northfield to Lake Byllesby have not been successful; other possible routes are being explored including a combination of private land acquisition and road right-of-way.

I’m particularly intrigued about #2. If you want to know why, ask.  Likewise, if you have questions about what’s happening with the trail in the Faribault and Cannon Falls areas, as staff provided updates on developments with those cities, too.

What’s the big problem facing Northfield?

The City of Northfield currently has no plan to provide a visually significant route for Mill Towns Trail bicyclists to ride through Northfield.  Those are my words. I use the phrase ‘visually significant’ because DNR staff was unequivocal: a bike trail that appears to end as it enters a city is a giant disincentive for bikers. Yes, trail bikers like to stop in towns along the trail to eat and shop and sightsee. But without strong in-town trail visuals, people tend to not return. The trail itself as it goes through town needs to be memorable, not just the town.

Root River State Trail, downtown LanesboroRoot River State Trail, downtown Lanesboro

A good example is the visual impact of the Root River State Trail as it goes through downtown Lanesboro (screenshots above from the DNR’s cool virtual tour of the trail). Lanesboro is much smaller than Northfield, of course, so it’s not a perfect comparison. But the point is, once you’ve ridden through Lanesboro on the trail, you don’t forget it and you want to go back.

As I blogged back in March, there are other projects and developments here in Northfield that have a bicycle-component: the Northfield Depot; the East Cannon River Trail segment; the TIGER Trail (aka the Northfield Modal integration project); and the Cannon River Corridor recreational concept.

So the time is right for more citizens to get involved as bike advocates.  Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement.  In the meantime, see my three blog posts about the need for Northfield to get its bike act together, including the formation of a regional bike advocacy committee.

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:

The Mill Towns Trail between Northfield and Dundas is navigable, if you’re not a pussy

Armstrong Road between Northfield and Dundas is still closed from the July 13 flooding (Flooding wipes out Mill Towns Trail bridge, slices Armstrong Road, undermines railroad bed) and it could be months before it reopens.  Likewise, the Mill Towns Trail.

20130723_20515720130723_205430
But there’s a way around, as I discovered last night. From Northfield, just ride your bike through the compost facility

20130723_20554320130723_20563720130723_205801
all the way to the back till you arrive at the big rocks by the reconstructed railroad tracks. Then…

20130723_205831 copy20130723_210351 Danny Macaskill - Industrial Revolutions video
you can ride on the tracks a few yards till you get past Spring Creek. The small rocks in between the rails make it pretty level. Alternately, if you’ve got good balance like Danny MacAskill, you can just ride on one of the rails like he does here. Smooooooooth. Then…

20130723_20595420130723_21004120130723_210126

ride down the larger rocks (pick your line carefully) and you’ll see the trail a few yards away. Piece ‘o cake.

[Footnote: Does my blog title offend you?  It shouldn't. Remember when the word 'sucks' was offensive? If not, read this. Then see this Atlantic Wire article: Free Pussy Riot: When 'Vulgar' Words Become Acceptable.]

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.

Women farmland owners in southeast Minnesota invited to free conservation discussion and field tour July 23 in Northfield

Women Caring for the LandWomen who own or manage farmland in southeast Minnesota are invited to a free conservation discussion and field tour on Tuesday, July 23, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 500 3rd St. West, Northfield, MN. Coffee and registration begin at 8:30 a.m. A free lunch is provided. The program will end with wrap-up and dessert at 3:30 p.m.

RSVP ASAP to me, Beth Kallestad, Cannon River Watershed Partnership, at (507) 786-3913, or email me at beth@crwp.net.

Women, Food and Agriculture Network is sponsoring the meeting as part of its Women Caring for the Land series, in collaboration with the Land Stewardship Project, Cannon River Watershed Partnership, and the Center for Rural Affairs. Funding comes from a Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Women now own or co-own 25 to 50% of the farmland in the Midwest, and an increasing number of them are sole owners. “We have worked with women landowners for 15 years,” says Leigh Adcock, WFAN executive director. “They are some of the most dedicated conservationists in the region, but are typically overlooked with traditional conservation outreach, which is targeted at the tenant farmer.”

Women Caring for the Land meetings bring together women landowners in an informal, discussion-based learning format for a morning discussion, followed by a more in-depth look at the two or three topics of most interest. Female conservation professionals are on hand to answer questions and share resources. Following lunch, area conservationists lead a bus tour to view practices on the ground. Topics for discussion range from managing soil and water conservation, wildlife management and government cost-share programs, to how to talk with tenants about changing management practices.

“If I’d have known it would be so interesting, I would’ve brought a lot of friends along,” said one participant. Another said, “Thank you for explaining things in a way I could understand.”

For more conservation information from WFAN for women farmland owners, visit the program’s website, www.womencaringfortheland.org.

Seeds Farm CSA now offering shares, optional add-ons, and an experiential partnership with the Northfield Y

Becca Carlson, Seeds Farm

I blogged about the SEEDS Project (Social Entrepreneurship Environmental Design and Stewardship) back in July of 2010 so I was glad to get an update about it a couple weeks ago from Seeds Farm Manager Becca Carlson when she stopped by my corner office at GBM.

I asked her to send me a write-up about the recent changes and I’ve included it below.

The biggest developments under the SEEDS umbrella are the Seeds Farm ("A sustainable vegetable farm community project in Northfield Minnesota"), the Seeds Farm CSA, and its experiential partnership with the Northfield Area Family YMCA.

Seeds Farm  Northfield Area Family YMCA 

They released a new video yesterday:

Here’s Becca’s summary of the latest on the Seeds Farm:

There’s more to eating locally than just the vegetables…

To thrive and survive, humans need to eat every day. For those of us that eat three meals a day, that means each week we have 21 opportunities to make a decision on how we are going to fuel our bodies, what type of agricultural system we are going to support, and what we want our communities and the landscape of America to look like.

Because of this, we have the ability to make a huge impact solely with how we chose to buy and consume food. Here are some reasons why I think it’s important to use our purchasing power to support local and sustainably grown produce:

Excellent taste and freshness

Local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances from far away. Produce picked and eaten at the height of freshness tastes better.

Celebrate a healthy lifestyle!

You are what you eat-so fill your body with healthy, nutritious and wholesome.

Support our farming neighbors, local economy, & community

Buying locally helps ensure that our local farms keep in business so they can provide you with delicious and nutritious produce, keeps your dollars circulating in our community, and is an investment in healthy communities.

Help preserve the environment

One of the biggest ways we interact with our environment is through agriculture; i.e. how our food was grown. Support farmers that help nurture our resources so they are not depleted for future generations.

Pass on the environmental ethic

Practice what you preach and encourage others to do so as well! When you buy locally produced organic food you cannot help but raise the consciousness of your friends and family about how food buying decisions can make a difference in your life and the life of your community; and about how the basic act of eating is connected to larger issues.

At Seeds Farm, a four-acre diverse vegetable farm just one mile south of Northfield, we help make it possible to embody these ideas by providing a unique, experiential CSA in partnership the Northfield YMCA and Bon Appétit. This includes:

  • 16-18 weeks of a box full of local and sustainable fruits and vegetables grown by Seeds Farmers.  Full-shares & Half-shares are available
  • Weekly recipes included written by Bon Appétit chefs
  • Weekly newsletter will include stories from St. Olaf students involved at Seeds Farm.
  • A media component all about “Life on the Farm”!
  • “Food on the Farm” dinner at Seeds, prepared by Bon Appétit chefs with Seeds Farm ingredients.
  • Free admission to other Seeds Farm events, this includes our Spring/Summer Celebration, Children’s Garden Days, cooking demonstration by Bon Appetit Chefs, workshops, and more!
  • A discounted rate for the Budding Farmers program
  • …and so much more!

Cost for a Full-Share is $500 (~$30/wk) and Half-Share is $275 (~$16/wk)

  • Full-share is perfect for a family or group of four or more!. You will receive a large box full of seasonal fruits and vegetables each week.
  • Half-share is great for an individual or couple.

You also have the option to sign up for additional CSA “add-ons.” These include:

  • Flower share add-on: every other week you will receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers grown at Seeds Farm by Brad and Toni Easterson $70
  • Egg share add-on: a dozen eggs weekly from Seeds Farm chicken $95 (opportunity to start receiving eggs before CSA can be discussed)
  • A children’s educational program add-on: Budding Farmers, $50.  *Note, this is a discounted rate only available for Seeds Farm CSA members! (regular cost is $68)

And you can purchase pasture-raised Seeds Farm hogs and naturally raised Main Street Project chickens from us too! 

At Seeds Farm, we care about the health and well being of you, our community and the environment.

For more information, check out our website at seedsfarmproject.com, follow @seedsfarm on Twitter, like the Seeds Farm Facebook page, and watch our video: 

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Taste of Northfield is Thursday. Severe weather sirens are tuned up and on alert

NDDC's Ross CurrierTaste of Northfield 2013

NDDC head honcho Ross Currier stopped by my corner office at GBM this morning to remind me that Taste of Northfield 2013 is tomorrow.  As usual, he’s concerned about the weather since it’s a one-day event with a history of meteorological dramatics.

Trout stream feedback session

Rice Creek Trout SurveyOn June 4, Bridgewater Township invites the public to a feedback session on next steps to improve and protect Rice Creek (Spring Brook). The session will take place from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Town Hall, 500 Railway Street South, Dundas.

Rice Creek is the only trout stream in Rice County, but its health is threatened. The session will give you an opportunity to learn about the stream and provide input on plans to improve it. To spark your ideas, researchers will share findings from a two-year study of local brook trout, their habits and habitat.

How healthy is the trout population? Does their habitat need improvement? Where and when are pollutant levels highest? What is the source of cold water that trout prefer? What actions should we take and in what order? We will discuss these questions and more.

The Rice Creek Assessment Project is sponsored by Bridgewater Township, Cannon River Watershed Partnership, Saint Olaf College, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Trout Unlimited.  The project received a Clean Water Partnership grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  The Rice Creek Concerned Citizens Group, Rice County, and other groups and volunteers are participating.

Introduction to kayaking: free CRWP course on May 22

CRWP-kayaking-flyerSpring is finally here.  It’s time to get out and enjoy our wonderful watershed.  The Cannon River Watershed Partnership (CRWP) invites you to learn to kayak in a relaxed setting on May 22nd – 6 PM – 7:30 PM.

Instructors: Marshall Wright (ACA instructor) and Betsy Wright.

Where: 5351 Elkton Trail, Faribault, MN.

Cost: FREE to CRWP members.  To become a member go to the CRWP website.

If you are not a member of CRWP, the cost per person is $10. Please register through CRWP by emailing beth@crwp.net or (507) 786-3913.

Class size is limited to 16 participants.

Kayaking is a popular recreational activity for people of all ages. To enjoy kayaking safely you need knowledge, training and the ability to make informed decisions about wind, weather and waves. Proper boat selection based on the type of activity you wish to pursue in your kayak is an important consideration.

We will explain the different types of kayaks and terminology used to describe boat features and attributes. We will cover materials and boat “fit” and the different paddle designs available. We will have several kayaks for attendees to sit in to get the feel of the cockpit. And we will have a wide range of safety equipment–beyond life jackets (“pfds”).

We will also provide referrals to reputable sources for on-the-water training, outfitting and group touring. If time allows, Marshall will demonstrate a basic kayaking skill set on the water (if the ice is out on Cannon Lake and the air temperature is comfortable for class attendees) or in the pool.

Experiencing the water from the seat a of kayak is special. You are actually “in” the water, which is a unique point of view. Kayaking allows access to areas that can’t be reached by motorized craft or by hiking. It’s a silent sport that leaves a light footprint on the environment. Come learn about kayaking!

Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota‘s annual meeting makes it clear: the time is right for Northfield to get its bike act together

BikeMNIn late Feb, I attended the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota‘s (BikeMN) third annual Minnesota Bicycle Summit on Capitol Hill, noting that I was “trying to get smarter about the state of bike advocacy in Minnesota…” (Blog post here.)

A few weeks later, for the same reason, I attended the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota’s Day on the Hill which led to having lunch here in Northfield with Executive Director Brett Feldman and Northfield’s First Ward Councilor Suzie Nakasian in which we explored the pros and cons of forming a Northfield area regional bicycle council. (Blog post here.) Brett encouraged us to get in touch with BikeMN’s Executive Director Dorian Grilley.

Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota‘s annual meeting, 2013Park Tool's new headquarters in Oakdale, MNSo with that in mind, I attended BikeMN’s annual meeting yesterday at Park Tool’s new headquarters in Oakdale.

During the meeting, my eyes widened as we heard details from BikeMN staff and board members about the myriad of bike-related activities, projects, collaborations that they’re involved in.  (See the Education and Advocacy pages on their website for a glimpse.)

Dorian is well-connected and versed in national bicycle advocacy issues so I was pleased to hear some of the latest news, including the repercussions from Trek CEO John Burke’s speech last fall at Interbike (my blog post here).

Nick Mason, BikeMN's Education & Technical Assistance Program ManagerBikeMN's Executive Director Dorian GrilleyAfterwards, I did have a chance to talk with Dorian, as well as with Nick Mason, BikeMN’s Education & Technical Assistance Program Manager.  Both offered their help to get things rolling in Northfield with a start-up of a local bicycle advocacy group and hopefully, one or more of their Bicycle Friendly Programs. (March blog post: Bemidji has earned ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’ status. Why not Northfield?)

And as I wrote back in March:

There are other [Northfield area] projects and developments that have a bicycle-component: the Northfield Depot; the East Cannon River Trail segment; the TIGER Trail (aka the Northfield Modal integration project); Safe Routes to School; the Gateway Corridor Improvement Plan; Northfield Roundtable’s Framework Plan; and the Cannon River Corridor recreational concept.

MORC Board members Reed Smidt and Mark GavinI also put on my mountain biking hat (helmet?) and with MORC Board members Reed Smidt and Mark Gavin, chatted with Dorian about how BikeMN and MORC could work more closely together. One idea: give communities with mountain bike trails and pump/jump/BMX parks extra credit when they apply for Bicycle Friendly Community status.

You can keep up with all-things BikeMN via their blog, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. And consider becoming a member. These guys rock.

Click and scroll through the photos either one at a time or via a slideshow. (Memo to self: use a flash when taking photos with my smartphone of people indoors.)

Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota‘s annual meeting, 2013Ron Jackson, BikeMN BoardBill Armas, Director of Sales Marketing, Park Tool

Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota‘s annual meeting, 2013Libby Shea Hurley, BikeMN Board memberPeter Breyfogle, BikeMN Treasurer

Patty Soldner, BikeMN Membership, Marketing and Events ManagerCameraZOOM-20130504113853419Natalie Gille, BikeMN's Northern Region Bicycle Friendly Community Program Manager

Michelle Breidenbach, BikeMN's Safe Routes to School Education CoordinatorMN State Senator Jim Carlson, District 51 - EaganBikeMN's Dorian Grilley and Ron Jackson

Park Tool's new headquarters in Oakdale, MNPark Tool's new headquarters in Oakdale, MNPark Tool's new headquarters in Oakdale, MN

CRWP to offer rain barrel workshops

blue barrel-1RainBarrelWinnersSteeleFair_Aug2011-1Help clean up the Cannon River and collect free soft water for your flower gardens.  Join the Cannon River Watershed Partnership in learning about runoff and the benefits of rain barrels for water conservation and gardening.  Go home with a fully assembled 55-gallon plastic rain barrel and the knowledge that YOU are doing something for clean water.  

Northfield workshops will be held:

April 20th at 1:00 PM at First UCC Church, 300 Union Street as part of the Earth Day Celebration.  Register by emailing beth@crwp.net or call (507) 786-3913. Cost is $40.

April 30th at 7 PM at  the Northfield Community Resource Center, Room 225. Register through Northfield Community Services, #3275-W13A,  Cost is $45.

Space is limited so register soon!   For costs, dates and locations of workshops in other cities go to Cannon River Watershed Partnership or call (507) 786-8400.

Celebrate spring with the Cannon River Watershed Partnership

While it may not look much like spring today it’s coming soon – really!  Cannon River Watershed Partnership has some fabulous opportunities for you to get outdoors, explore the watershed and celebrate spring. 

Introduction to Kayaking – April 17th – 6 PM

Instructors: Marshall Wright (ACA instructor) and Betsy Wright.

Where: 5351 Elkton Trail, Faribault, MN.

Cost: FREE to CRWP members.  To become a member go to the CRWP website.

If you are not a member of CRWP, the cost per person is $10. Please register through CRWP by emailing beth@crwp.net or (507) 786-3913.

Class size is limited to 16 participants.

Details on the CRWP website Calendar.


Earth Day 5K Fun Run/Walk – April 20th

crwp-earth-day-5k-logo 1Time: 8:00 AM (registration), 9:00 AM (Run/Walk)

Registration: $15.00 by April 12, 2013, $18.00 after April 12th

Location: Sakatah Singing Hills Trail at Shager Park,

Faribault, MN. The park is located on Hwy 60 ~ 2 miles west of the Faribault city limits.

T-shirts: Will be available to the first 100 registrants

Registration: www.crwp.net/earth-day-5k/

A time clock will display times at finish, but no official times will be kept.

Proceeds benefit the Cannon River Watershed Partnership.

An invitation to bands: ‘Paradise Live at Grandpa Al’s – A Tribute To Johnny Cash’

549870_345495298901799_1695749899_nThis fall will mark ten years since the passing of Johnny Cash, one of the most beloved performers of all time. On Saturday, October 12th, the Paradise Center for the Arts (PCA) in Faribault will present Johnny Cash: A Tribute to the Man in Black. Eight selected bands and artists will perform songs written by and associated with Cash in a tribute to his enduring legacy.

To that end, the Paradise is sponsoring Paradise Live at Grandpa Al’s every Thursday night this summer, from June through August. Two to three bands will be invited to perform a 45 minute set at Grandpa Al’s in Faribault each week. They must play at least three Johnny Cash songs during their set, and are free to fill the rest of their time out however they choose. The best eight bands, selected by members of PCA’s music committee, will perform at the big show in October.

This is a call, then, to every musician in the state (and Wisconsin too, if need be). We need bands, we need solo performers, we need groups and combos. Come one, come all.  Whatever type of music you play, if you think you’d want to get involved, get in touch with us. Send us a YouTube link, or a link to your website, or Facebook page, or MySpace. Or send us a CD. We’ll take a look and then see about putting you on one of the Thursday night bills. Send us your information to info@paradisecenterforthearts.org.

Grandpa Al’s is one of the premier music venues in Southern Minnesota. Getting a gig there isn’t always the easiest thing to do. This is a rare opportunity to get some exposure on a great stage while paying tribute to an American legend at the same time. The scheduling begins in April, so we hope to hear from you soon.

For more, see Left-Handed Entertainment’s Facebook event page for Paradise Live at Grandpa Al’s – A Tribute To Johnny Cash.

The pros and cons of forming a regional bicycle council

I was in St. Paul yesterday morning for the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota’s Day on the Hill which their web site described as:

Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota… a great opportunity to network with other park and trail supporters from around the state, learn about the issues, and hear from park leaders and legislators. Whether you come as a member of a Friends group, a concerned citizen or a student looking to learn about the process, you’ll leave informed and your involvement strengthens our efforts to preserve and enhance Minnesota’s special places! The morning will equip you with the necessary tools to meet with your legislators.

MN Parks & Trails Executive Director Brett Feldman Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota's Day on the Hill 2013 Northfield area Mill Towns Trail delegation
I went primarily because of their involvement with mountain biking (see my post about that on my Mountain Bike Geezer blog) but there was so much more that caught my interest, especially the delegation of Mill Towns Trail supporters from Faribault, Northfield, and Cannon Falls. I’m kicking myself for not getting a good photo of them because Peggy Prowe had them all wearing Mill Towns Trail t-shirts (right photo above).

MN Parks & Trails Executive Director Brett Feldman, Northfield Councilor Suzie Nakasian I briefly met Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota Executive Director Brett Feldman who asked me to send him some of my photos.  When he thanked me via email on Friday, he mentioned that he was coming through Northfield later in the day as he had a meeting at Nerstrand Big-Woods State Park. He accepted my offer to meet for lunch at Chapati and since I’d already had a late-morning meeting scheduled with First Ward Councilor Suzie Nakasian, I invited her to join us.

At the end of my blog post last month (Bemidji has earned ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’ status. Why not Northfield?) after attending the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota‘s (BikeMN) third annual Minnesota Bicycle Summit on Capitol Hill, I wrote:

What’s not clear to me is what city board or commission would be best to consider taking this on. The City of Northfield created a Non Motorized Transportation Task Force (NMTTF) back in 2007 that I think sun-setted a couple years later. Might it be time to create something similar but specifically for bicycling?

Since then, it’s become apparent to me that there a number of other bicycle-related issues that need attention, some that are Northfield-specific but others that are regional.

And so the bulk of our conversation with Brett Feldman was related to whether the creation of a regional bicycle council (Northfield, Dundas, Waterford, Rice County, and surrounding townships)  would have significant advantages over a City of Northfield bicycle commission or task force. I was initially leaning towards the latter but came away from the lunch leaning towards the former.

Northfield’s intra-city trails and on-street bike routes are a big focus. But the importance of their connectivity to the Mill Towns Trail and the surrounding streets and county roads is increasingly important for bike-related recreation of area residents, recreational tourism, company wellness on the part of local employers, and the overall economic benefits of the establishment of the greater Northfield area as a  northern recreational hub for southern Minnesota. (We already have a good reputation with Northfield Rotary’s Jesse James Bike Tour, Milltown Cycles’ 4th of July Criterium, and the Saturday Morning Rides book by Bill Metz.)

There are other projects and developments that have a bicycle-component: the Northfield Depot; the East Cannon River Trail segment; the TIGER Trail (aka the Northfield Modal integration project); Safe Routes to School; the Gateway Corridor Improvement Plan; Northfield Roundtable’s Framework Plan; and the Cannon River Corridor recreational concept (May 1, 2012 PRAB meeting packet link).

As Suzie wrote in a subsequent email:

With so many related projects… and with so many people in town who “get” what bikes and trails mean for the community well-being including economic well-being, it does seem that all the spokes are coming together in a perfect way.

So let’s discuss the pros and cons of forming a regional bicycle council.

More of my photos of Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota’s Day on the Hill:

Parks and Trails Council Executive Director Brett Feldman Luke Skinner, Deputy Director of MnDNR Parks and Trails Division Erika Rivers, Assistant Commissioner of MnDNR
Brett Feldman, Parks and Trails Council Executive Director; Luke Skinner, Deputy Director of MnDNR Parks and Trails Division; Erika Rivers, Assistant Commissioner of MnDNR

Greg Mack, Director of Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Tom Ryan, Superintendent of Olmsted County Parks Greg Mack, Erika Rivers, Tom Ryan Rep. Alice Hausman, Chair of House Capital Investment Committee
Greg Mack, Director of Ramsey County Parks and Recreation; Tom Ryan, Superintendent of Olmsted County Parks; Rep. Alice Hausman, Chair of House Capital Investment Committee;

Rep. Leon Lillie, Assistant Majority Leader, Vice-Chair Legacy Committee Rep. Jean Wagenius, Chair of House Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee Jean Wagenius, Alice Hausman Sen. David Tomassoni, Chair of Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division
Rep. Leon Lillie, Assistant Majority Leader, Vice-Chair Legacy Committee; Rep. Jean Wagenius, Chair of House Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee; Sen. David Tomassoni, Chair of Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division.

Sen. Dan Sparks, member, Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division Rep. Phyllis Kahn, Chair of House Legacy Committee Rep. Denny McNamara, member, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee Joe Bagnoli, Government Relations Consultant for Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota
Sen. Dan Sparks, member, Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division; Rep. Phyllis Kahn, Chair of House Legacy Committee; Rep. Denny McNamara, member, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee; Joe Bagnoli, Government Relations Consultant for Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota.

Hayes is not foggy about this. He wants you at ‘Hops, Grapes & History’ tomorrow night at the Grand

Hayes Scriven

NHS ED Hayes Scriven stopped by my table at GBM on Wed. morning to promo the Hops, Grapes & History event at Grand Event Center on Saturday.

I didn’t realize till later that my smartphone camera lens had gunk on it, making for a foggy photo.

His blog post says:

The evening includes a beer and wine tasting from 6 to 8 p.m., featuring a hand-selected variety of Minnesota craft beers and wines; hors d’oeuvres; and a silent auction with a chance to bid on numerous goods and services from local businesses. Then from 9 to 11:30 p.m., the event concludes with a not-to-be-missed performance of “Guaranteed Cash,” a tribute to the songs and sounds of Johnny Cash, performed by legendary guitarist Bob Wootten (lead guitarist for Johnny Cash’s band for over thirty years) and country rockers, Six Mile Grove. (Continued)

Bemidji has earned ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’ status. Why not Northfield?

BikeMN   Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht
I attended the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota‘s (BikeMN) third annual Minnesota Bicycle Summit on Capitol Hill on Monday, as I’m trying to get smarter about the state of bike advocacy in Minnesota and who the players are.  I became a BikeMN member a couple weeks ago and am impressed with all that they’re doing and how well-organized Monday’s Summit was.

Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht (@BemidjiRita) was one of the featured speakers, talking about Bemidji’s new designation as a Bike Friendly Community. From the BikeMN blog in October:

The city of Bemidji was granted the bronze Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designation by the League of American Bicyclists(LAB) on Monday October 22, 2012. The award was the culmination of persistent efforts by many community leaders and advocates including Mayor Dave Larson, Parks & Recreation Director Marcia Larson as well as health, tourism, bicycling, law enforcement, transportation and environmental representatives from the community. BikeMN has been involved along the way and helped in preparing the BFC application.

I think the timing for mounting an effort to gain formal Bicycle Friendly Community designation is right:

Those two items are providing some incentive to figure out how Northfield’s downtown streets should be best managed for bicycling, part of the discussion going on this week on the Parking Management Plan blog.

What’s not clear to me is what city board or commission would be best to consider taking this on. The City of Northfield created a Non Motorized Transportation Task Force (NMTTF) back in 2007 that I think sun-setted a couple years later. Might it be time to create something similar but specifically for bicycling?

Suzie Nakasian wants you at the 7th Annual Northfield Winter Stomp this Friday

Cliff Martin, Suzie Nakasian

First Ward Councilor Suzie Nakasian stopped by my office at GBM yesterday to tell me about the upcoming 7th Annual Northfield Winter Stomp. (She hijacked Cliff Martin into the photo who was at a table nearby.)

All the fun is happening this Friday at the Northfield Armory where everyone will be dancing again to the music of Contratopia. Note that Northfield Contra Dance now has a Facebook page.

For more about contra dancing in Northfield, see this article in the Carletonian from last fall: Northfield Swings into Style at Harvest Stomp Dance.

See my photo album/large slideshow of the 2008 Winter Stomp Contra Dance, or this small slideshow:

Cannon River Watershed Partnership Winter Thaw event rescheduled

Cannon River WineryThe Cannon River Watershed Partnership’s annual Winter Thaw – Wine Tasting and Auction that was originally planned for January 27th has been rescheduled to February 17, 2013 from 3:00 – 6:00 PM at the Cannon River Winery, 421 Mill Street West in Cannon Falls.

Join us for a tantalizing wine tasting and auction experience. Enjoy a fabulous afternoon with friends sampling local wines from the Cannon River Winery and local foods from Thousand Hills Cattle Company and more, while bidding on fantastic auction items to support CRWP’s work for clean water.

Tickets are $30 each or two for $50. To purchase tickets contact Leslie at leslie@crwp.net or (507) 786-3915. Tickets will be available at the door as well.

Mill Towns Trail gets a boost from the Goodhue County Commissioners. Their online presence likewise needs a boost

20130125_06054320130125_060543 copy20130125_060640

The January 2013 issue of the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota newsletter, Special Places, features news of the Mill Towns State Trail on its front page. The article is on their website: Done deal for iconic addition to State Trail system: Supporters of Mill Towns State Trail celebrate last-minute County decision. An excerpt:

On December 18, a critical decision was made during a Goodhue County Commissioner’s meeting that sealed the deal for an iconic addition to our state trail system. The decision was followed by a celebration among supporters of the Mill Towns State Trail, who until then were fearful that a good year’s worth of collaboration might come undone.

The project entails a key parcel of land where three miles of the Mill Towns State Trail will run. This section of the trail is located along the scenic Cannon River and will offer a connection between two regional parks via a pedestrian bridge over the river and then connect to the popular Cannon Valley Trail. The Parks & Trails Council has been working with partners to ensure this critical land could be acquired for the trail…

Part of what made this parcel so critical to the trail development was its role in enabling the construction of an iconic pedestrian bridge over the Lake Byllesby Dam (on the Cannon River). With this land, the bridge design can be optimized and construction deadline stays on schedule to receive the $1.7 million matching grant from the federal government.

Nfld News, Dec. 20: Byllesby Park land purchase another part of Mill Towns State Trail puzzle

Peggy Prowe, advocates for the Mill Towns Trail and hundreds of bicyclists have a dream of one day being able to ride from Mankato to Red Wing utilizing the area’s various bike trails.

Cycling enthusiasts are one step closer to that dream as Goodhue County Commissioners voted 4-1 on Wednesday to purchase a piece of property adjacent to Byllesby Park in Cannon Falls. That land will enable the Mill Towns Trail to be connected to the Cannon Valley Trail at Lake Byllesby.

Mill Towns Trail banner
Got some website and social media skills to volunteer?  The Mill Towns Trail website is nearly always out of date (last update was last July) and the organization needs help in making use of social media to spread its message and connect to its supporters.

Northfield’s Convention and Visitors Bureau: What needs to be changed?

In today’s Northfield News – Promoting Northfield’s identity: Convention and Visitors Bureau presents strategic plan

In addition to approving the CVB’s budget at its Feb. 5 meeting, the council said it wants to direct the group to reexamine its bylaws and look at potential options for an increased downtown CVB presence. The council also brought up concerns on how the CVB plans to engage various stakeholders and how to hold the group accountable to those plans.

Visiting Northfield homepageThe article goes on to quote Councilors Jessica Peterson White and Suzie Nakasian, and notes how some councilors question the interconnectedness between the CVB (public website VisitingNorthfield.com) and the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce (NACC):

For example, the group’s policies and procedures currently state that those allowed to participate on the CVB advisory board must be members of the NACC, unless appointed by the mayor and city council. Some council members said that that strong overlap limits who can be on the CVB board, narrowing the pool of potential stakeholders involved.

See pages 3-28 of last night’s Council packet where the CVB was discussed in the work session.

The Spur is hosting a coworking ‘jelly’ on Wednesday, Jan. 16

I blogged about The Spur, the Northfield Enterprise Center‘s new coworking and incubator/accelerator facility, last July when it opened. I’ve been a regular there ever since.  If you’ve not been by yet, considering joining us on Wednesday for our first jelly (PDF flyer).

Griff Wigley, coworking guy at The Spur in NorthfieldJelly at the Spur 
What’s a coworking jelly?

JELLY: a casual coworking event, where freelancers, home workers and people running small businesses meet up in order to get out of their normal space, meet some new people and work together in a social environment.

chat booth at The Spur in Northfieldchat booth at The Spur in NorthfieldErica Zweifel, Amelia Schmelzer, Dale Gehring, Tami Enfield, Mega Tsui,
The latest addition to the facilities at The Spur is what we’re calling a ‘chat booth.’ It’s a small space where you can take/make phone calls without bothering others. And if you need to use your laptop to make calls or otherwise use it for audio, the booth has a flip-down table, too. I find the chat booth to be very handy, especially when some of Northfield’s movers and shakers stop by (right photo above) and keep bothering me and socialize a bit.

New shelving in this basement really is a big deal

Hayes Scriven, NHS Executive DirectorCathy Osterman, NHS curatorcompact shelving at NHScompact shelving at NHScompact shelving at NHS

Hayes Scriven, big cheese at the Northfield Historical Society, gave me a tour this morning of the new compact shelving being installed in the archives and collection rooms in the basement of the Scriver Building. Cathy Osterman, the new NHS curator, showed me the room where she has everything stacked neatly during construction.

Normally, new shelving is right up there with new waste paper baskets on my excitement meter. But while these shelves might not rock, they do roll (see the short video clip below) and you can understand why Hayes has been foaming at the mouth about them on the NHS Facebook page (photo albums here).

These movable shelving units cost several tens of thousands of dollars. Where did the money come from? The generosity of Minnesota’s taxpayers.  See this blog post: Northfield Historical Society awarded $79,000 grant to enhance archives.

Legacy Amendment logoThe Northfield Historical Society is pleased to announce that it has received a $79,000 Legacy [grant] from the Minnesota Historical Society’s Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant Program.

The grant will fund much-needed improvements to the society’s archival/collection facilities, including the installation of movable shelving that will better preserve the more than 15,000 historical artifacts in the society’s collection.

A lunch portends changes for LoGro

Tim Madigan, Ross Currier, Griff Wigley, Chris Heineman

I had lunch at Chapati last week with Northfield City Administrator Tim Madigan, NDDC Executive Director Ross Currier, and Chris Heineman, Northfield’s Director of Planning and Community Development. We were discussing the details of my proposed contract with the City to provide online citizen engagement services for two-month project starting Real Soon Now.

I’ve long contended that if I ever was appointed to one of the City’s boards or commissions, it would change the nature of my blogging about the City.  And I’ve recently written that this would also be true if I ever got a consulting contract with the City.  I think both situations demand that my relationships with the City’s leaders take priority over my public opinionating about them or the City.  And in the case of a contract, I’ll have a conflict of interest when it comes to opinionating on city-related matters.

If I blog about anything related to the City of Northfield 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 may stumble, as I’ve been freely opinionating about the City here on LoGro for seven years. If you catch me going over the line, speak up.

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