Tag Archives: Rhonda Pownell

My ten-year love affair with Winter Walk

councilors in the Winter Walk parade 2008Northfield’s Winter Walk has been near and dear to my Northfield-related blogging, photography and podcasting for ten years (this year is the 14th Annual Winter Walk):

A year ago, I blogged two of my favorite Winter Walk photos. I’ve included another favorite with this blog post: Council members Rhonda Pownell and Betsey Buckheit with Mayor Mary Rossing in the Winter Walk 2008 parade with the NDDC’s cow, Patty Cash.

See y’all downtown on Thursday.

Transformation Northfield and the election campaigns of Rhonda Pownell, Jeff Quinnell, and Dan Cupersmith

In Feb. of 2011, I published a post titled What is Transformation Northfield’s public agenda? that detailed my concerns about the local public officials who were involved with the group.

Two of the local political leaders I featured in that piece were At-large Northfield City Councilor Rhonda Pownell and Northfield School board member Jeff Quinnell.  Rhonda is running for mayor of Northfield; if she loses, she’ll retain her At-Large seat. Jeff has decided to not run again for the School Board and instead, is running for Rice County Commissioner, District 2.

New on the local political scene is Dan Cupersmith who’s running for Northfield School Board. Dan is a member of Transformation Northfield and Rejoice! Church.

1. Rhonda Pownell

Rhonda Pownell (2)I spoke with Rhonda after one of the election forums at the Cow and told her that while I was initially concerned about her connection to Transformation Northfield (TN) and Rejoice!, I was no longer worried.  Yes, she abstained on the marriage amendment vote and was the only council member to vote against the domestic partner registry ordinance this summer and I disagree with her on those issues. But those votes in my mind have been outweighed by her overall performance as a councilor and to my knowledge, she’s never spoken or acted in a way that would convey she believes God or Pastor Dan Clites are telling her what’s best for Northfield.

Am I voting for Rhonda or Dana Graham for mayor? I’m still undecided.

2. Jeff Quinnell

Jeff Quinnell (2)I haven’t followed the School Board very closely in the past four years and I have no specifics, pro or con, to say about Jeff’s performance.

It does bother me, however, that on one of his campaign websites he links to his personal Facebook profile where, if you become his ‘friend,’ you’ll see that he regularly posts Bible verses to his Wall, as well as, at times, questionable quotes for a school board member, for example:

"Education is useless without the Bible." — Noah Webster

So Jeff is still a concern to me. I’ll be voting for Galen Malecha.

3. Dan Cupersmith

Dan CupersmithDan and his wife Karianne just returned from the 23rd annual Harvest Evangelism conference in Hawaii with Dan Clites, Brett Reese (co-leaders of Transformation Northfield) and a dozen or more other Northfielders.  You can hear their testimonies in the Oct. 14, 2012 "Aloha to Transformation!" podcast, listed on the Rejoice! Weekly Sermon/Podcast page. A partial quote from Dan Cupersmith:

This is starting with the youth. One of the examples/testimonies that we saw was Valley Christian School in California, a school that was really on the down and out [garbled] and possibly being closed and now has turned around to be one of the top schools in the nation and it was all led through prayer evangelism.

Dan ClitesBrett ReeseThat may not seem like much but it’s worrisome to me, especially when you hear Brett Reese predicting that "Northfield will become a city of God" and Dan Clites proclaiming, "If you really want to change the world, you have to change the marketplace. You gotta change the atmosphere of the government, you gotta change the atmosphere of the education system…"

I will not be voting for Dan Cupersmith for Northfield School Board. I will be voting for Rob Hardy, Ellen Iverson, and Anne Maple.

Northfield coworking gathering is Tuesday, Jan. 31

Northfield Coworking gathering

The Northfield Enterprise Center is hosting a Coworking Incubator/Accelerator Community Brainstorming Session on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2-4 pm in the Archer House lower level conference room.

In related news, according to Megan Tsui, NEC’s executive director, "the EDA approved the NEC’s request for $20,000 in matching funds for a grant from SMIF (also $20,000)" for the "design and development of an Incubator/Accelerator (I/A) space in Northfield. The NEC will use a Co-working model with a membership structure to help make the project sustainable for the long-term." See pages 7-14 of last week’s EDA mtg packet.

And last Friday, "Councilwoman Rhonda Pownell and several NEC Board members took a tour of CoCo Minneapolis," according to this post on the NEC Facebook Wall.

If you’re new to coworking, see all the blog posts about it here.

NEC convenes coworking group; photos of CoCo MSP’s new Mpls space show what’s possible

Northfield, MN Coworking group meeting, Dec. 5, 2011 Northfield, MN Coworking group meeting, Dec. 5, 2011 Northfield, MN Coworking group meeting, Dec. 5, 2011 Northfield, MN Coworking group meeting, Dec. 5, 2011 
Yesterday afternoon, Megan Allen Tsui, Executive Director of the Northfield Enterprise Center (NEC), convened a meeting of possible stakeholders and other people interested in creating a coworking/incubator/accelerator space in Northfield (background blog post here). We met in a conference room at the Neuger Communications Group.

Other attendees: Ross Currier (NDDC), Tami Enfield, Rick Estenson (First National Bank Northfield, NEC, Chamber), Kathy Feldbrugge (Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce), Jody Gunderson (City of Northfield), Beth Kallestad (CRWP), Julie Kildahl, Dave Neuger (Neuger Communications Group, Chamber), Rhonda Pownell (Northfield City Council), Donna Rae Scheffert, Mary Schmelzer (Northfield Enterprise Center),  Justin Volling (St. Olaf student), and Erica Zweifel (Northfield City Council).

Tentative next steps include a community awareness meeting in January, as well as a couple of coworking jellies.

After the meeting, I attended an event at CoCo MSP’s new space in the Grain Exchange Building in downtown Minneapolis.

Here are some photos of what it now looks like, with its:

CoCo MSP Minneapolis CoCo MSP Minneapolis
large event space;

CoCo MSP Minneapolis CoCo MSP Minneapolis CoCo MSP Minneapolis
open tables;

CoCo MSP Minneapolis CoCo MSP Minneapolis CoCo MSP Minneapolis CoCo MSP Minneapolis
and dedicated desk and ‘campsite’ spaces.

What are the most important considerations to keep in mind when making tough choices about cities, services and funding?

Northfield "community conversations" with the League of MN Cities  Northfield "community conversations" with the League of MN Cities  Northfield "community conversations" with the League of MN Cities  Northfield "community conversations" with the League of MN Cities  Mary-Margaret Zindren, Director Communications & Strategic Initiatives, League of MN Cities
That’s the question that staff from the League of MN Cities put to a group of Northfielders last night, part of a series of "community conversations" that it’s holding around the state for its Cities, Services & Funding Initiative. Northfield City Councilor Rhonda Pownell, who sits on the League’s Board of Directors and its Board of Trustees, sent out a press release on the meeting, posted on Northfield.org.

The League’s overview:

Northfield "community conversations" with the League of MN Cities The entire approach to city services and funding needs to be rethought; a broader discussion begins NOW.

The League has launched an effort that has the potential to help shape the future of Minnesota cities—the services you provide, how those services are delivered, and how they are paid for.

Fighting for more funding for LGA, for local option sales taxes, and for more local revenue options is no longer enough. We need to shape a new way forward for Minnesota’s cities.

A similar meeting was held in St. James, MN last week and Minnesota Public Radio reporter Dave Peters wrote about it the MPR Ground Level blog in a post titled Glimmers of change emerge from St. James conversations.

League staffer Don Reeder has also posted to his Cities Matter blog about the project in a post titled City residents share ideas, concerns in series of community conversations.

Cities Services Funding
The League has set up a special statewide Community Conversations website where citizens can chime in.

See this video that introduces the project, featuring cartoonist David Gillette:

What is Transformation Northfield’s public agenda?

Agenda, Feb 10, 2011 Northfield Marketplace MinistryTransformation Northfield: Praise and Worship breakfastI attended Transformation Northfield‘s monthly Praise and Worship breakfast (called Northfield Marketplace Ministry) Thursday morning in the lower level of the Archer House. (I requested and was given permission to attend as an observer.)

I’m  interested in the group because part of their mission involves local public institutions (cities, public schools). But it’s not clear to me what that mission exactly entails and how they go about trying to achieve it.

See my concerns at the bottom of this post.

Local public officials who have acknowledged (there may be others) their involvement with Transformation Northfield (TN)  include:

Jack Hoschouer Rhonda Pownell Jeff Quinnell

Dan Clites Brett Reese
Leadership of TN is coming from Rejoice! Lutheran Church pastor Dan Clites and Northfield businessman Brett Reese (Archer House, Rebound Enterprises, Northfield Automation Systems, Northfield Real Estate Fund).

In January, Rejoice! Lutheran Church pastor Dan Clites wrote a column for the Alliance of Renewal Churches titled God’s Heart for City-Nation Transformation. Citing the city of Elk River, MN, Clites wrote:

Marketplace miracles, like those in Elk River, are occurring every day all around the world. Focused on Jesus’ calling to “make disciples of all nations…” the heart of Harvest Evangelism is birthed from Jesus’ instructions in Luke 10. He is instructing his followers how to effectively evangelize a city and a nation with the biblical purposes and principles of God…

From this core group who share a heart for Northfield, we have invited various other marketplace folks from around town to join us in a Bible study created by Greg Pagh, the lead pastor of Christ Church in Otsego, MN. The study is called “Faith Beyond Belief.” I have used it as a small group teaching tool for both my congregation and for local business people, government servants and school officials outside my congregation!

The goal of TN, according to its page on the Rejoice! website, is:

To see the cities of Northfield-Dundas serving the kingdom of God! That’s the goal of Transformation Northfield! Inspired by the movement of the Holy Spirit in Elk River, Minnesota, and other cities around the globe, a group of Northfield Christians are coming together on a weekly basis for a movement of the Great Commission. The biblical goal is to constantly pray over the city in order to bring the transforming faith of Jesus Christ into all corners of the marketplace (our schools, government, businesses, homes and neighborhoods)…

Is it working? Indeed, we are already seeing the fruit of marketplace ministers serving in their various spheres of daily influence. People are getting excited about living their faith like never before. They are establishing and taking responsibility to lead all sorts of new kingdom ministries; everything from prayer walking the neighborhood streets, to building playground equipment on the school grounds, to running for various local government and school leadership offices, to one business owner dedicating his business as a “kingdom company” for the Lord’s work.

TN is part of a larger movement, according to Clites:

I am now networking with Ed Silvoso and Harvest Evangelism, attending both the international and North American conferences. I didn’t go by myself, though, instead I have taken dozens from Northfield with me so we can all catch and grow into the vision!

Ed SilvosoHarvest Evangelism founder and president Ed Silvoso was the featured speaker at the annual Northfield Prayer Breakfast in April, 2007.  Silvoso also heads up the International Transformation Network (ITN).

Transformation - Change the Marketplace and Change the WorldIn his book, Transformation: Change the Marketplace and You Change the World, Silvoso tells the story (p. 165-170) of  how a Filipino taxi driver named Joey, after attending a seminar on transformation, intervenes in the life of the manager of a bar who “… was a homosexual who doubled up as the pimp for 35 prostitutes. He was also a drug user and a drug dealer, the latter a practical necessity to subsidize the former.”  After many days of Joey’s ministering to and praying for the manager, “the manager invited Jesus into his heart.”

Consequently he took his new convert to the beach and immersed him three times, once for each person of the Trinity since he had also ready that it had to be done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

As soon as the now ex-gay man came up from the waters, he was struck by the power of God, evicting the demonic forces that had controlled him for so long and rewiring his psyche correctly to enable him to feel like a man again.

This YouTube video shows Silvoso telling this story at a conference. In a letter to the editor of Honolulu Civil Beat, he states that the bar manager “… is married and a pillar in his community.”

My take

Since the 2007 incident when some TN members were allowed to pray in the office of then City Administrator Al Roder, I’m not aware of anything that TN members have publicly said or done that in my judgment, is inappropriate.  I’ve engaged with Jack, Rhonda, Jeff and Brett in a variety of civic and business-oriented activities over the years and they seem to be as community-minded as I am.

But my radar is up on TN for three reasons:

1. Public policy problem-solving and decision-making

Stephanie Klinzing, former mayor of Elk River, MN wrote on the Harvest Evangelism site back in 2004 (the article has since been removed but she’s quoted here and here):

We have also discovered that I have spiritual authority in the city as well as civic authority. I have stood, in the spirit, against things that I believe God does not want in my city, and I have also opened, in the spirit, the city gates to things that I believe God wants in the city. This has had powerful results.

It seems to me that for a public official to assume that he or she knows what God wants and doesn’t want for a city, it makes it less likely that they’ll be open to other points of view, be willing to negotiate, be willing to admit mistakes.

If Jack, Rhonda or Jeff have beliefs similar to Klinzing’s, they need to be confronted if and when those beliefs get in the way of constructive public policy problem-solving and decision-making.  (Klinzing was defeated in her bid for re-election last fall and is now blogging here.)

2.  Rejoice! Pastor Dan Clites

Clites had this to say about those who opposed Rejoice! Church’s plan to move the Cleland family graves as part of their expansion plans:

As mentioned in our December 5th worship service, we have recently come against principalities of opposition (Ephesians 6:12).  Why should we expect anything less?  When a church serves in the Light of the Holy Spirit, darkness will not like it.

Most of the opposition has come from a local family that doesn’t want us moving the Cleland grave site 50-feet and into the northend cemetery.  They believe it is disrespectful to the dead. Our Building Team believes the most respectful and historic thing to do is gracefully move the remains and the headstones so they are not in the way of our important expansion.

Clites puts his actions above reproach because his “church serves in the Light of the Holy Spirit,” whereas those who disagree are labeled “principalities of opposition” and “darkness,” clear references to the devil. (See my Dec. 14, 2010 blog post and subsequent discussion for more.)

This tactic, if deployed in the public sphere, can be even more polarizing and disruptive to constructive public policy problem-solving and decision-making.

3. LGBT issues

For TN to be connected to Ed Silvoso and his organization is ominous.

Any message, direct or indirect, that homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals are somehow under the influence of demonic forces, is not only hurtful and destructive but dangerous.  It can have a corrosive effect on the morale of LGBT employees who work for the city and school district.

And for any LGBT youth in our schools who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual identity, it can exacerbate their pain, lead to depression, or worse.

It concerns me that some teachers and coaches who are members of TN might convey this belief to the youth they work with. And it concerns me that some of the youth involved with TN, who are urged to live their calling in the marketplace of school, could fall into demonizing other youth.


Jack, Rhonda, Jeff and Brett: I applaud your civic engagement.  Please be on the alert for how elements of TN might be inadvertently detrimental to the Northfield community that I know you love.

Aug. 10 Northfield City Council primary election: what do we know about the candidates?

Aug. 10 primary ballotsThe primary election for two Northfield City Council seats is one month away: August 10. 


  • Norman Butler
  • Steve Engler
  • Rhonda Pownell (incumbent)

Ward 4

  • Jon Denison (incumbent)
  • Patrick Ganey
  • Dale Gehring

I was hoping there’d be some information online about or by the candidates by now but alas, I can’t find any other than the City’s Absentee Voting info page/PDF and the Ward/Precinct Map:

WTF! Haven’t the candidates heard about the intertubes? Social media anyone? Hello? This is 2010, not 1999.

I guess we’re going to have either make stuff up about them or flush them out into the e-open.

Update 7/30: Here are photos I took at the League of Women Voters candidates forum on 7/28:

League of Women Voters candidates forum on 7/29 League of Women Voters candidates forum on 7/28 Norman Butler, Rhonda Pownell, Steve Engler Dale Gehring, Jon Denison, Patrick Ganey

Councilor Jon Denison’s Ward 4 meeting

Councilor Jon Denison’s Ward 4 meeting at Tyler ParkNorthfield City Councilor Jon Denison held a Ward 4 meeting on Saturday morning at 9 am in Tyler Park.  Over the course of the 90 minutes, 7 citizens attended. In addition, Councilor Kris Vohs was there at the beginning for 20 minutes or so. Councilor Rhonda Pownell came at about 9:30 and stayed till the end. City Administrator Joel Walinski was there for the entire meeting, as was League of Women Voters City Hall observer Jane McWilliams.