Tag Archives: Suzie Nakasian

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.

A Bikeable Community Workshop in Faribault indicates what Northfield should be doing

KYMN Anderson, President, Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and TourismBikeable Community Workshop BrochureBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MN
Northfield City Administrator and Faribault resident Tim Madigan alerted me to a Bikeable Community Workshop hosted by the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism last week.  I contacted Kymn Anderson, Chamber President, to see if there was room for any Northfielders and she graciously allowed me to attend. Northfield City Councilor Suzie Nakasian was there, too.

The Bikeable Community Workshop brochure (PDF) states:

A Bikeable Community Workshop trains local, county and regional staff, and advocates on how to plan and support more Bike Friendly Communities to encourage more people on bikes more often in Minnesota. Participants enjoy a short bike ride with the best bike locks to assess their community’s bicycle facilities to base an action plan on. Target audiences include engineers, law enforcement, planners, public health practitioners, school administrators, elected officials, and advocates. The course includes a short bicycle ride auditing your community.

Bikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MN
The workshop was presented by staff from the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation. These folks knew their stuff and presented it well.

Bikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MNBikeable Community Workshop, Faribault MN; photo by Rebecca Rodenborg, Faribault Daily News
After the morning session, we broke up into three groups for a bike audit ride around Faribault.

See the May 14 Faribault Daily News by reporter Rebecca Rodenborg (@FDNRebecca): Faribault leaders take on bikeability issue. Also see her earlier article on May 4: How bike-friendly is Faribault?

My take-away?  We need to begin working immediately with the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota to form a Northfield area bicycle advisory committee so we can begin tackling a myriad of bike-related issues. The City of Minneapolis’ Bicycle Advisory Committee page spells much of it out:

Advise the Mayor, City Council, and Park Board on bicycling related issues; help advance the state of bicycle infrastructure; encourage more people to bike; educate the public; work towards more compliance with traffic laws; help the City and Park Board make bicycle plans; work to increase equity between bicyclist and other modes of transportation; review and suggest legislative and policy changes; recommend priorities for the use of public funds on bicycle projects; help ensure Minneapolis keeps and improves its status as a bicycle friendly community; serve as a liaison between Mpls communities and the City and Park Board, coordinate between difference agencies that interact with bicyclists.

Props to Kymn Anderson at the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and the Faribault area bicycle advocates for hosting the session. It was inspiring.

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.

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:

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

Dam birds may have to find another perch to fish if Suzie Nakasian has her way

Ames Mill dam on the Cannon River, downtown Northfield Great Blue Heron on the Ames Mill dam Great Blue Heron on the Ames Mill dam 
On Saturday afternoon as the Riverwalk Market Fair was closing up, John Thomas  (AKA Mr. JST Technology) alerted me to a Great Blue Heron that was perched on the top of the Ames Mill dam. After a few minutes, a Mallard joined it. It’s moments like that that make most Northfielders love that dam and the visually pleasing pool of Cannon River water behind it.  But it could be much more.

There’s a resurgence of interest in planning for the Cannon River as it flows through downtown Northfield, especially if the dam is removed. See the discussion attached to my 2007 blog post: Tear down the Ames Mill dam.  And the Sept 2011 PRAB minutes included this:

Council Member Suzie Nakasian reported. The City of Reno Nevada was chosen as an example of how to maximize the river corridor in a city. The planning was done around the river, recreation, economic development, and flood mitigation. A slide show presentation showed the reconstruction of the river to an Olympic class kayak run. She presented this to the PRAB to inspire creativity and thinking of the Cannon River as a park. To create a corridor along the river as parkland.

I was at that PRAB meeting and saw Suzie’s slideshow. It’s pretty cool what they’ve done along the Truckee River in Reno. See the Reno Riverwalk District, the Truckee River Whitewater Park, the Reno River Festival and the Downtown Makeover page on Reno.

Imagine something like this (smaller, of course) in downtown Northfield:

DSC00728 DSC00729 renokayakparkro6 2478640677_907d140dd5 by RenoTahoe 529539_10151062507755575_2079489686_n

httpv://youtu.be/6Sg4XKsc3Eo 

Northfield Grassroots Transit Initiative launches Go! Northfield website

Go! Northfield

I noticed on Thursday that the back of the May NEG (not yet online) had a blurb about the new Go! Northfield website launched by the Northfield Grassroots Transit Initiative and hosted at Northfield.org.  The project got $1,500 from the EDA back in Feb:

Suzie Nakasian approached the EDA with a funding request from the Northfield Grassroots Transit Initiative. The group has created a collection site of all transportation options available for residents and visitors alike. The funds would be used to assist in public outreach/publicity campaign including the use of a Spanish language editor, brochure and poster printing in both English and Spanish, and radio and newspaper advertising.

Today’s Nfld News has more details, though once again (sigh), they don’t link to the new site (they don’t link to the new site in body of the article, but they do provide a link in the right sidebar): New website provides easy access to public transit options:

According to Northfield Grassroots Transit Initiative founding member Suzie Nakasian, the website helps fulfill some of the group’s goals, which include decreasing private vehicle usage and increasing mobility of the car-less. The Northfield Grassroots Transit Initiative was formed by Northfield community members in 2008 after a group of Carleton College students and the organization Growing Up Healthy simultaneously held events to raise awareness about transportation and poverty.

Update May 1, 6:15 am: I’ve corrected the text above, noting that the Northfield News article does link to the go.northfield.org site.  They don’t link to the new site in body of the article, but they do provide a link in the right sidebar. See this screenshot with arrows/notations (right-click and open in a new tab to view a full-size version of the screenshot).

screenshot-Northfield News article about go.northfield.org

4th Annual Earth Day Contra Dance at the Northfield Ballroom

Jim Bohnhoff and Suzie NakasianJim Bohnhoff and Suzie Nakasian were practicing their contra dance moves today on Bridge Square, in preparation for tonight’s 4th Annual Earth Day Contra Dance at the Northfield Ballroom, where everyone will be dancing to the music of Contratopia.

See this Northfield.org blog post for details: Celebrate the Season with the 4th Annual Northfield Earth Day Contra Dance.

What’s a contra dance all about?

See my album of the 2008 Winter Stomp Contra Dance, the large slideshow, or this small slideshow, and below, a one-minute video.