Susan Wilkins - Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Susan Wilkins - Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Susan Wilkins runs The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, a free garden within expansive public parkland on the western boundary of the City of Minneapolis.  It is not a formal “garden” in the sense of rows of colorful snapdragons or petunias, but a nature-filled, quiet place that nonetheless requires hours and years of planning and pruning and planting to maintain.

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Mary Ritten & Kit Wilson - MIA

Mary Ritten & Kit Wilson - MIA

Like a second grader, art can sometimes be wiggly, and the path to embracing it can be equally winding.

Two generations of docents, Mary Ritten and Kit Wilson, came to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) along different paths, but with a similar purpose.  Each is a lover of art; one, a practicing artist.  Both women credit the power of art – and their experiences at MIA - for revealing their best selves and connecting them, in powerful ways, to community.

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Caren Dewar - Urban Land Institute Minnesota

Caren Dewar - Urban Land Institute Minnesota

Listen.  Do you hear that? 

Somewhere in Minneapolis someone is talking about development with a policy leader, a real estate broker, or land use expert.There is a good chance that the topic or the conversation is being curated by Caren Dewar or her colleagues at Urban Land Institute, Minnesota (ULI).There is a good chance they are talking about things that matter to you:housing, public open space, or the bustling commercial node where you can get a really good cup of coffee.

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Janne Flisrand - Neighbors for More Neighbors

Janne Flisrand - Neighbors for More Neighbors

“Eight is Enough” could never be the title of a show about Janne Flisrand’s life; “Cheaper by the Dozen?”  Now we’re talking.     

For Janne, more is more. She is a proponent of more residents calling Minneapolis home and heads a volunteer citizen group called Neighbors for More Neighbors.“We stand for those who want a place in this city,” she says.

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Coventry Cowens - MN African American Heritage Museum & Gallery

Coventry Cowens - MN African American Heritage Museum & Gallery

So far, being the “new kid” on the block has its appeal. 

The Minnesota African American Heritage Museum & Gallery (MAAHMG) in North Minneapolis is reveling in the “bump” that being new provides.The museum opened its doors just 5 months ago, in September 2018, and is the first African American museum in Minnesota.“There is definitely a ‘newness’ energy going,” admits Coventry Cowens, co-founder of the museum.

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Elizabeth Foy Larsen - 111 Places in the Twin Cities That You Must Not Miss

Elizabeth Foy Larsen - 111 Places in the Twin Cities That You Must Not Miss

Think of it like a gift you give yourself:  Elizabeth Foy Larsen’s 111 Places in the Twin Cities That You Must Not Miss is a collection of destinations, out-of-the-way places, oddities, cultural institutions, food emporia, architectural gems, and personal amusements that beguile you into being a tourist in your own home town.

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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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