It's turning more wintery and frankly, it's about time. It's not just the plants and animals that are confused by the spring-like weather, it screws up humans as well - or at least this human. I don't know about you, but I need those cold, stay indoors months to focus my attention on starting the year. Spring is a different vibe for my internal clock and brings its own set of activities and outcomes which will now need to be repressed while the foundational aspects of the year are addressed. Don't want to get a head of myself.

Speaking of foundational activities, I have been a part of a conversation with the St. Anthony Park Area Seniors (SAPAS, formerly the Block Nurse Program) on how best to grow their organization to address the increasing needs of their clients, our senior citizens. Their immediate goal is needs assessment and then to put together a strategy for creating a sustainable structure to address those needs. 
They have a great board and staff willing to take on this task and the Foundation is excited to be a part of the process. 

We've been assisting our local non-profits in similar discussions over the last several years as part of an effort to secure the viability of our critical institutions. Obviously, the schools are an ongoing concern, as is the Creative Enterprise Zone, Como Avenue and the linkage across D12. Music in the Park Series affiliation with the Schubert Club last year has put that organization's future on more solid ground which is good news for our neighborhood and the larger musical community. But the growing population of seniors and the impact their aging will have on us is a huge issue that needs thoughtful consideration and creative solutions. We're lucky to have the folks at SAPAS leading the planning required to make St. Anthony Park a place where our seniors can age in place while continuing to contribute to the richness of our community life.

Another great organization is our booster club. If you don't have a kid involved in sports, this group may pass under your radar, but the work they do building community in our younger families is critical to every other organization. That and the schools are certainly where I cut my teeth on community involvement and I know my experience is not unusual. My immediate friend group is still anchored by those early relationships and if you aren't convinced, all you had to do was drive by Langford Park this past weekend during the Annual Langford Classic to see true community at work. Scott Hamilton, Eric Williams et al brought a large group of neighbors out for this one-of-a-kind basketball/hockey kickstart to the year. The gym was filled with hoopsters and three rinks were filled with skaters of all ages surrounded by hundreds of family and friends over the 4-day tourney. They even had skyboxes alongside the rink featuring loungers & sleeping bags for those willing to donate some extra dough for the cozy view. The chili was tasty and the slapshot (ice cream on a brownie with chocolate syrup) is not to be missed. Thanks to all the volunteers who made it possible. What a great way to spend an afternoon - watching kids and families enjoying inclusive, friendly sporting events.

This seems like an excellent time to thank everyone for their generous contributions to our community over the past year. These organizations could not exist, and do the good work they do, without that support. The Foundation in particular is a unique creation grown out of the incredible commitment our community has to its people and future. There isn't another neighborhood in the state that has what we have: an endowed non-profit with a staff dedicated to monitoring, convening, partnering and supporting those assets that make this the place we all love. So, thanks to everyone for the part they play and keep up the good work!

D12 - Met with the CEZ leadership team this morning to further that organization's emerging structure. The goal is to form a partnership with an existing 501(c)3 and implement a 3-5 year plan to grow the opportunities and support for creative enterprises. As the geographic and industrial hub of the metro, our University & Raymond neighborhood is attracting interest from many sectors. The small creative businesses that are already an important economic and social piece of that area need to know there is a continuing role for them in the post-light rail universe. The CEZ group seeks to build a vibrant and successful community by leveraging the industrial and creative strengths of neghborhood stakeholders. To do that everyone needs to see the worth of the vision and that is sometimes challenging. It's always easier to say it's working for me right now so don't mess with it, but light rail is messing with everything and if you don't plan for that change, you lose an enormous opportunity to create longterm sustainability along the corridor...there are low interest home improvement loans available on a first come/first serve basis, check 'em out along with other items of interest on the D12 website.

Schools - No word yet on how the environmental education component of StAP Elementary School will play out during the transition years. As I mentioned previously after our Foundation's November board presentation by the principals of Murray and StAP Elementary, our schools and their administrations are well into discussions about the transition and how best to make it work. While there are those who still have questions about the overall plan, it is the new reality and everyone is pulling together to make it happen. It will definitely bring our area schools closer together. The District Action Teams (parents, community members, staff & admin) made their recommendations to the Superintendent on Dec. 17 and her preliminary response to the school board will come in February so we'll have our first look at the plan with some operational meat on its bones.

listserv - some musings about the lack of streetlight illumination along 280 north of Energy Park Drive, drilling rigs in Langford Park and off 280 at Como and the overhead structure between Snelling and Cretin over 94. The responses ranged from the helpful to the fantastic, the latter having to do with a theory about the shift in the earth's polarity supplied by our very own mad philosopher/scientist/mirthmaker, Mike O'Connor. The drilling ops are sewer related, the overhead structures are for Smart signs alerting motorists to traffic conditions but I have no idea what's up with the street lights nor seemingly do the other listservers...new hours at the libraryMonday 12 noon to 8 pm, Tuesday 10 am to 5:30 pm, Wednesday 12 noon to 8 pm, Thursday and Friday: 10 am to 5:30 pm, Saturday 11:30 am to 5 pm, Sunday Closed.

StAPnotes - Abu Nader's has closed for good, unfortunately. Apparently, it is final, their equipment is being sold. It was a great restaurant with good food and will be missed. I don't know the particulars, but do know the owners Bishara and Isabella had been trying to sell the building for over a year and had grown tired of the grinding hours. No one can make baklava like Isabella and their pita was to die for, not to mention other delicious menu items. Hopefully, the building might be re-imagined as something else or at least interest another restaurant in taking over. I wish the past owners the best and thank them for the years of good food they served us all...who said there's no room to build new houses in north StAP? Three new ones are being built, one on Keston, one on Dudley and one to replace the house lost to fire on Folwell. 

That's all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.