I had a busy night last Thursday, jumping back and forth between two important neighborhood events, the Creative Enterprise Zone’s Give & Take and the second Transition Towns get-together. 

The Give & Take is basically an interactive opportunity to get to know the creative enterprises at work in the University Avenue area of our district. It was held at the University Enterprise Laboratories tucked back in the Westgate complex just west of 280. UEL is a collaborative research center with a mission “To facilitate the growth of Minnesota’s next generation of fortune 500 bioscience companies.” 

I was there early and late, but managed to meet one of the presenters, Dr. Henry Larmie, President of ChRi Laboratiories, which provides testing services to medical device companies and Jeremy Lenz, host and board member of the University Enterprise Laboratories site. Dr. Larmie, after spending a number of years with 3M, Medtronic and Boston Scientific, started his own company and though the initial sledding has been challenging, he is enthusiastic about the future. UEL Board member Lenz, is a very energetic and engaging ambassador for the organization.  He mentioned the potential – with some additional state funding – to create a center for the burgeoning robotics industry at the current site, something that would have a lot of economic impact for our area, the region and the state. 

In between, I made it over to the Seminary campus for the energy conversation sponsored by the District 12 Community Council. I got there just in time to peel off into the discussion/action groups that formed around the various areas that contribute to the energy situation we find ourselves in today. Mine was transportation, so we talked about ways our neighborhood could reduce our carbon footprint like consolidating trash haulers (something the city is already contemplating,) encouraging non-motorized transit, finding ways to consolidate personal transit, and ways to support mass-transit, in particular, light rail. Each group was tasked with coming up with at least one action and ours was to come up with some energy impact metrics around our specific daily behaviors in District 12. I had to leave before the small groups reconvened to pursue next steps, but the plan was for all the groups to discuss how best to make the actions happen. It was very clear that the group is acutely aware that the time for just talk is past. One of the comments made before we broke into the smaller groups that I felt was particularly important came from Grant Abbott, who made a strong case for making sure whatever we came up with should have an impact beyond the demographic group represented at the meeting. Amen. 

D12 – In addition to sponsoring both of the events listed above, there was a nice article in the March Bugle about the Creative Enterprise Zone’s progress toward an official recognition from the city. Amy Sparks and Catherine Day have been doing some very good work promoting the area and building community…the Farm House fraternity is looking to do some remodeling in a few years. The first look at their plans was met with general enthusiasm from the D12 Land Use Committee. The committee encouraged them to keep neighbors in the loop. 

SCHOOLS – The StAP Elementary School 5th & 6th graders sang at the annual Minnesota Music Educators clinic in Minneapolis last week. Reports are they sounded terrific!...the 3rd grade Destination Imagination team is promoting the Adopt-a-Hydrant program. For more information, please go to their blog and then visit here to sign up…I was one of the judges at the Murray History Day competition last week. My category was computer presentations of historical events around the theme Turning Points in History. I was very impressed with the students’ work and understanding of their topics. They should do well in the next level of competition… Tickets are on sale online now through March 17 for Murray’s spring musical, Beauty and the Beast - go here and click on Murray Jr High. Performance dates are Friday March 15 and Saturday, March 16 at 7PM and a Sunday matinee on March 17 at 2 PM…at Como High, students are racking up some nice honors: Abbey Smith won this year's Athena Award. This award goes annually to a "top Senior" female athlete. Nate Schermerhorn, Ellen Purdy, Isabella Ensz, and Ritchie Gulner placed in the state's top 30 in the Minnesota Brain Bee this year. The Brain Bee is a competition fostering interest in neuroscience among teenagers. Marshal Landrum is the recipient of the 2013 Excel Award given out to juniors who excel both academically and Athletically.  He is one of 32 statewide who received this award and the only one from St. Paul or Minneapolis. Dorothy O'Berry won the prestigious Beat the Odds Scholarship. This award is given yearly to a deserving senior who has overcome adversity and trials, and Paulina Vang won the Horatio Alger Scholarship. 

LISTSERV - Artist applications are now being accepted online for the 44th annual St. Anthony Park Arts Festival. The deadline for submissions is March 15, and the festival is on Saturday, June 1, 2013. The Featured Artists are an impressive bunch: Patti Berg, Bob Carls, Guillermo Cuellar and Margaret Dittrich. Last year’s changes have brought new artists and a new energy. Kudos to Ann Yetter and the Branch Library board for their willingness to find ways to enhance a wonderful annual event…The City of Saint Paul is starting a community-wide assessment project called Recycle it Forward. The city is looking for feedback re waste management programs and services such as recycling, composting, bulky waste, litter and garbage issues.  Information collected through this process will help determine the direction of the program and services into the next decade and beyond. Click to register your opinion…the St. Paul Public library is offering the chance to read magazines such as Time, Mens Health, Consumer Reports, Newsweek, Oprah’s Magazine, and Esquire online. Register online. 

ST.AP-NOTES - a benefit recital next Sunday, March 3 at 4pm at St Anthony Park Lutheran Church will showcase some of the talented singers and instrumentalists who call SAP home. From Palestrina to Broadway and Moberg to McFerrin, the program includes something for everyone. A free-will donation will be collected to help offset planned audio system improvements at the church…Opening Friday at Gremlin Theatre is the play Six Characters in Search of an Author. It will run from March 1 – 24 and has an updated spin set in a reality Television show. Should be good. On a slightly sadder note, the Theater is looking for a new space. The building owner can’t commit to a long-term lease so the CEZ group is trying to find them a new space along the avenue. Let’s hope we’ll be successful, I’d hate to lose them…

Three local adult LEGO builders are having a free display at the St Anthony Park Library on Saturday March 2, 2013 from 2pm till 4pm. Jennifer Heaton and Nathan Stohlmann will be displaying their miniature city, and Peter Hoh will be showing some of the models and sets he uses to teach science and engineering. 

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