I had the privilege of grabbing coffee at the Bistro with Julie Himmelstrup and the Escher String Quartet on Monday morning. The Quartet was in town to play the finale in what has been another successful Music in the Park Series season and they had just finished a mini-concert at the StAP Elementary school. Julie has always been committed to sharing these great musicians with the schools and Senior Home to maximize their impact on young and old lives. They also performed two shows with classical guitarist Jason Vieaux as part of MiP's Family Concert series.

The Quartet has a special connection to the neighborhood as its cello player, Dane Johansen, is the nephew of neighbors Ann Juergens and Jay Weiner. If you had problems finding tickets for this impressive group, it might have to do with the Juergens family reunion that accompanied the concert. (By the way, you can avoid these kinds of conflicts by getting season tickets or buying well in advance.) Anyway, back to the school concert, the kids had a good time, the Quartet had a good time and they also seemed to greatly enjoy the breakfast at the Bistro. I saw them there again today and they said they had eaten there on Tuesday as well before heading off to St. Olaf for a concert and master class. They are very talented and receiving national and international acclaim for their performances. They are also the kind of rising stars that Julie and MiP are so good and bringing to our attention. Obviously, the recent partnership with the Schubert Club is paying off in many wonderful ways for MiP, its audiences and our very fortunate neighborhood.

Now I have to clear up a little mystery engendered by an ad in this month's Bugle that simply suggested the idea of a StAP photo book with no contact info. The Foundation is responsible, more specifically, Josh Becerra of our marketing committee, who came up with the idea for a coffee table book of favorite StAP photos. There are a couple of unique twists to the project. First, we are asking the community to send in their favorite fotos over the years. Obviously, there will need to be some editing process, so a panel of local experts will make the final determination of what gets in the 100 pages or so of the final product. Secondly, we'll pay for it using a "crowd funding" platform. 

If you haven't heard of these, they basically allow you to pledge an amount on-line to the project payable upon completion of the funding goal. If that goal isn't reached, it all goes away and no money is spent. If it is, you pay and get your benefits, in our case everything from a listing of your name in the book ($10 donation) to multiple copies of the book and listings ($50-$5,000.) Our board was very excited about the idea and friends I've run it by are enthused as well. Look for more info in the June Bugle and in email blasts, posters, etc.

D12 - I attended a presentation by the city zoning committee on proposed changes to the industrial zoning code. There is a lot of work done by city planners that goes into maintaining the delicate balance of our residential, retail and industrial communities. These different segments contribute to our quality of life in many ways and tax revenue is just one of the important impacts. D12 has a high percentage of the available industrial land in St. Paul and so any changes to the zoning code will certainly affect our corner of the world. I couldn't stay for the whole meeting but I think the basic thrust of the changes presented by City Planner, Alan Torstenson (a StAP neighbor) have to do with preserving as much industrial land as possible by excluding non-industrial uses within those areas. For example, any new schools or churches - which can locate in many different zones - would be prevented from locating in heavily industrialized zones to keep the land dedicated to industrial use and therefor higher tax revenue. I'll have to ask around a bit more but it seems to make sense on the surface. The mixed use nature of our new urban environments gives me some pause as the notion of strictly industrial zone where no one would ever want to live seems to be diminishing with industry becomes cleaner and less noisy. Obviously, more investigation is needed on my part...The D12 council is looking for renters interested in short term leases in "Pop-up" sites along University Avenue. They are working with Starling, a group promoting viability along the corridor to fill vacant storefronts. Spaces are available from June through August, contact D12.

Schools - There's a plant sale tomorrow and Friday at the StAP Elementary School. Thursday is also the annual BBQ lunch for students and families and then Friday night is the annual School Carnival and book fair which everyone is invited to. Great fun for kids and adults and an important fundraiser for the school...Murray is having conferences this week, so I'm sure everyone is on their best behavior...Como HS is presenting I Hate Shakespeare this Thursday and Friday night at 7 pm. I'm sure it will be fun and feature some of our neighborhood thespians.

listserv - lots going on in the area, including ERG (Energy Resilience Group) Green on the Screen's May 8 offering of neighbor, Dina Kountoupus' film, Permaculture Gardening in the Desert and City. Dina will be there to talk about the film and answer questions. That's 7 pm at the United Methodist Church on Como & Hillside. The ERG will also be at the annual Mayday Parade May 6 at 1 pm in Powderhorn Park across the river...the Raptor Center is inviting everyone to their spring raptor release this Sat. May 5 at Hyland Lake Park Reserve, 10145 Bush Lake Rd in Bloomington...JOTP is looking for summer volunteers from high school and college who love soccer, kids and giving something back to the community. Check out this link to find out all about what's up at JOTP.

StAPnotes - last week, someone tried to visit a neighbor's house uninvited. The old knock on the door and then see if it's unlocked approach. It's getting warmer, so pay attention to people floating around the neighborhood and what they are up to. Keep your garage doors locked and don't underestimate the boldness of criminals, they'll walk right in your front while you're out back working on the garden and take whatever valuables they can grab.

Sorry to end on that happy note, but that's all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.