Jeremy Cohen - The Playwrights' Center

Jeremy Cohen - The Playwrights' Center

This is Minnesota, and today it’s snowing to beat the band.  Beauty is all around, the spectacle, sweeping.  Take a minute to notice details:  there are footprints here and there, tiny and undaunted; eventually, a wide path through the snow.  Who is first to make those tracks?  How soon do others join in, and how many follow?

Jeremy Cohen, Artistic Director of the Playwrights’ Center, is a path maker.

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Josh Janos - Brew for Good

Josh Janos - Brew for Good

Drink up, it’s good for you! 

In Japan, green tea is said to reduce infection and boost cognitive function.  Kombucha - fermented, tart and naturally effervescent - is thought to improve human gut bacteria and aid digestion.  Yak’s milk, a Tibetan favorite, contains heaps of calories and (as a side benefit) heals chapped lips. 

Beer, at least how Josh Janos brews it, is good for community.   

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Victoria Lauing - Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center

Victoria Lauing - Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center

When it comes to defining her work at Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center (CAFAC), Victoria Lauing has heard it all:  “We’re not IN Chicago, but ON Chicago,” she says. “And it’s not fire ANTS.  Or FINE arts.  It’s ‘Chicago Avenue FIRE. ARTS. Center.’” 

Given the juxtaposition of FIRE to ART, the center’s title pricks the imagination of anyone who has ever created, or destroyed, something with heat, spark or open flame.  “Our mission is not dainty,” Victoria demurs.  Then, sitting tall, she declares, “But hard-core and dangerous!”

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Brandon Boat and Tane Danger - Theater of Public Policy

Brandon Boat and Tane Danger - Theater of Public Policy

“A horse walks into a bar....” is one way to start an evening of comedy.

“A Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner walks into a bar...” is one way The Theater of Public Policy starts an evening of comedy. 

Masterminds Tane Danger (“My real name”) and Brandon Boat (“MY real name”) created Danger Boat Productions and within that, The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2). The combination of “Danger” and “Boat” should alert you that what they concoct is both safe container and something potentially quite tipsy.

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Jaton White - Northside Achievement Zone

Jaton White - Northside Achievement Zone

Jaton White once was a computer engineer.  Before that, her mother engineered a process to make sure Jaton would go to college, and beyond. 

When Jaton was just 6 years old, her mother brought home a Commodore 64 computer and gave it to her daughter.  Jaton took the computer apart and, given a little space and support, “mostly got it back together.” 

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Bruce Chamberlain - Iteration in Design

Bruce Chamberlain - Iteration in Design

Bruce Chamberlain appreciates deep roots and the elements that nourish them.  

From his farm boy days, the land, and the people who tend it, have shaped him.When his parents chose to go organic for their dairy production, Bruce noticed big and small changes, saying, “Animal health improved, smells evolved, insects returned.Roots grew, and a more complex ecosystem emerged.”

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Sarah Tschida & Nick Ray Olson - Open Streets MPLS

Sarah Tschida & Nick Ray Olson - Open Streets MPLS

“At some point every day, we are all pedestrians.” 

Sarah Tschida, Board Member at Our Streets Mpls, reminds us that no matter the mode of transportation any of us takes to or from work or school, we all spend some time on our feet.

Her fellow pedestrian, Nick Ray Olson, is the staff Events and Programming Director for Our Streets Mpls. He coordinates the buzz around the eight Open Street events that happen across Minneapolis each year.

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Joe Skifter - Open Book

Joe Skifter - Open Book

The history of the building at 1011 Washington Avenue South in Minneapolis reads like a palimpsest.   Vestiges of early tenants of the building can be seen by looking at the walls of the place:  Jacob Stoft Hardware once operated here; Kerr’s Millinery was here, too.  A newspaper advertisement from Kerr’s, dated 1904, enticed customers to come in because “My girls speak German, Dutch, French, and all the Scandinavian languages so everyone is welcome at my hat shop.” 

Joe Skifter, the general manager of the space, now home to Open Book, celebrates that variety and Kerr’s spirit of inclusivity by welcoming patrons of all backgrounds and influences to the building.

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Kirsten Delegard - Mapping Prejudice

Kirsten Delegard - Mapping Prejudice

What started as a sweetheart’s pledge has become a labor of love for Kirsten Delegard.

“I married a New Yorker,” Kirsten says. “I dragged him to various parts of the world” while earning a PhD in history, researching and writing. “We came back to Minneapolis to raise our children.”Her husband had two requests: “If I’m going to be a Minnesotan, you have to take me dogsledding, and I need the history of Minneapolis so I feel like a resident.”

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Max Musicant - Magic at the Margins

Max Musicant - Magic at the Margins

Max Musicant really just wants small, good things to happen. 

He drills down to details: mobile seating, flowerpots, tables for an indoor public market or Ping Pong.

As a placemaker for hire, Max thrills to enliven places where the public and private meet.  “My personal theory of change,” he offers, “is to create more humane and inviting spaces for all.”

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Peter Vang - Youth Farm

Peter Vang - Youth Farm

It’s November, and most gardens in the northland are slowing down and shutting down.   Frost has shriveled the tender plants.  Gardeners are putting away their tools, ready to straighten up, breathe, and rest until spring.

For Peter Vang, slowing down sounds good, but it is a pace unfamiliar to the young leader.  He has the big picture in mind, and a process that takes planning, preparation, adaptation, and hustle – year round.  If there is time left (and he makes sure there is) then there is time to celebrate.

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Syd Beane - Documentarian of Place

Syd Beane - Documentarian of Place

Syd Beane (Flandreau Santee Sioux) lives the storytelling element of placemaking.

He is a filmmaker, historian, documentarian and Dakota elder in the Twin Cities. Central to his story is Mni Sota, the place the Dakota call the “Land Where the Water Reflects the Clouds.” As a storyteller, Syd draws the energy of his Dakota ancestors and explores how place elicits individual and collective value.

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John Pederson - 612 Sauna Society

John Pederson - 612 Sauna Society

For someone who spends a lot of time thinking about heat, John Pederson is a pretty chill guy. 

If you have the chance to join him for a few rounds of sauna, you just might succumb to that calm and well-being yourself. 

Some of us have experienced sauna at some point in our lives: maybe at a spa, or alongside a hotel pool deck, or in lodge with a Scandinavian sounding name in the north woods. For most of us, it is not a common occurrence; not something we consider part of a daily regimen of self-care, like brushing our teeth or taking our morning coffee.

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Morgan Luzier - LynLake Vision Keepers

Morgan Luzier - LynLake Vision Keepers

Wrestling the public realm is not easy exercise.  Just ask Morgan Luzier

A busy entrepreneur, running a fitness studio and keeping her clients healthy and on the move, Morgan had a thousand reasons NOT to get involved in the fate of a parking lot at the LynLake intersection.  “Think of everything you could spend your time on – feeding the hungry, wage equality, police relations.  Why this?” 

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