Rotary International and the Northfield Rotary Club‘s logo is a cogwheel (some background info here.) Northfield area bikers like me see more in it than that, especially when I ride across the Peggy Prowe Pedestrian Bridge to the Sechler Park Mountain Bike Trail, opened recently by CROCT (Cannon River Offroad Cycling & Trails) where I’m a board member. Thank you, Northfield Rotary, for all you do for bicycling in the area.
Local 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:
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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,
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.
With 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:
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.
- 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:
- David Bly, Representative, MN House, District 20B
- Dana Graham, Mayor, City of Northfield
- Galen Malecha, Commissioner, Rice County Board, District 2
- Glenn Switzer, Mayor, City of Dundas
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:
- Acquisition of a 6.5 mile railroad right-of-way is in progress to connect Faribault to Dundas
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
See my album of 56 photos from 2010 (large slideshow, recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
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.
But there’s a way around, as I discovered last night. From Northfield, just ride your bike through the compost facility…
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…
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.]
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.
Some photos from the open house:
Health & Wellness Coordinator Courtney Griffin ran the bean bag toss game, with many winners receiving a pair of tickets to Twins games.
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.
Women 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 email@example.com.
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.