Spring is a time for new possibilities. Even if we can’t see much of that reflected in nature yet, that energy is certainly evident around the Foundation with the arrival of our annual grant cycle. This year we have our largest grant request total in our 13 years of awards, $68,000 from 23 applications. Those requests have come from well-known non-profits like our schools, D12, St. Anthony Park Area Seniors, Music in the Park Series, etc. They have come from larger, established orgs like Big Brothers & Sisters, Store-to-Door and Keystone. They have also come from smaller non-profits you may not have heard about like Urban Boat Builders, a charter school that teaches high school kids the crafts necessary to build canoes and kayaks. 

What does the volume of requests mean? It certainly means the level of need is high. It also means this period of annual government budget cuts has spawned more and more groups trying to provide the services no longer covered by the state and city. I’d also think it reflects the concern, creativity and energy that scores of neighbors are bringing to the problems we see all around us. That all makes deciding who gets grant awards a very difficult task. 

The Foundation Grants Committee spent time last week winnowing the large group down to a smaller group of especially deserving projects and initiatives, balancing the needs of big ideas with those of smaller but still critical initiatives. Their recommendations will now go to the full board next week for final approval. That means a representative group of 23 neighbors (24 including me,) with their diverse skills, varied interests and unique perspectives, will have considered all of the requests and done their best to support the ones that will have the most important impact on our area.  Stay tuned… 

D12 – This Saturday is Earth Day and to help celebrate you can stroll over to the Kasota Ponds to help with the annual clean-up (donuts, coffee and juice will be provided) from 9-11am. Then grab some lunch and head to the StAP Lutheran Church for the big Transition Towns event from 1-4pm. There are kids activities, music and info, lots of it, on ways we can become involved in using less energy. 

SCHOOLS - Organizers at StAP Elementary School are still looking for about 90 volunteers to help with this year's Spring Carnival on May 3. This is a big fundraiser and lots of fun. Email Beth Commers…Also, their annual Flower Sale is Wed. May 8, and Thurs. May 9, 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Support the school while sprucing up your garden. If you want to volunteer, please contact Cristy Gaffney…I got chance to meet some of the students and their parents from the Murray-Wolfridge Environmental class last Saturday. They were finding out about what their 2-week stay at Wolfridge this summer was going to be like. Lots of research and lots of fun, they were told by the staff. As part of their scholarships, each student was given contact info for senior services in their neighborhood by Mary Hayes, head of the St. Anthony Park Area Seniors, so they can find out how to give back. The Foundation is really excited to be a part of this innovative program….at Como Park HS the Booster Club is hosting a Spaghetti dinner on Fri, April 26 from 4:30-8:00 pm at Como Park Lutheran Church. The Booster Club supports the arts, sports programs and club activities. For more info, contact Jill Kottke

LISTSERV – The UMC Nursery School will continue to collect your old laptops/notebooks and cell phones, ipods and digital cameras (in working order or not – they do NOT need the chargers), ink jet printer cartridges, and any gold, silver and platinum jewelry through April 21. You can drop them off at 2200 Hillside Avenue. The large purple bin in front of the Saint Anthony Park United Methodist Church office doors remains for collections…there will be a Neighborhood Sing on Mon. May 6 from 7-8:30pm at Luther Seminary’s Olson Student Center, 1490 Fulham, 2nd level. The event is free; a hat will be passed for guest musicians, Dan Chouinard & Ann Reed who will lead the singing of great American songs and requests. No experience or trained voice needed. Co-sponsored by St. Anthony Park Community Council. 

StAPNOTES – Gremlin Theater on University Avenue in the CEZ (Creative Enterprise Zone) has found a potential space in the area to move their award-winning organization. Artistic Director, Peter Hansen, showed me some preliminary drawings for a location within a few blocks of their current space.  It isn’t final yet, but keeping this wonderful theater in our neighborhood would be a coup. I’ll keep you posted…I had a chance to chat with Tanya Bell last week. Tanya has been an important part of the Wellington Management Company for a number of years and has recently decided to move out on her own as a consultant. She still offices part-time out of Wellington’s HQ and will continue to work on projects with them. She is a really gifted person and has been very helpful in the CEZ. Having Tanya continue to work in the area and provide her perspective is a big plus for our neighborhood and the city…Just saw a segment on KARE-TV about the Emily Program “Taking the Pledge” with recycling. They shot the piece at their Como Avenue offices. Way to go, Emily’s!