A lot of news to report, let's start with the demise of the Spider Tree at the elementary school. For those who are in mourning, you have my condolences. For those to whom that means nothing, it was a favorite tree which was more than just a tree. It was a home, a clubhouse, a meeting spot, shelter and in some ways a dear old friend. One of the six limbs cracked off at the base exposing rot and making the rest of the tree a danger. As I write, it is being taken down, but thanks to the good folks at Park & Rec and Mark Hansen, the trunks & branches will be preserved for some future use.

Then there's the announcement of what I would consider to be one of the crowning achievements in our State Representative Alice Hausman's long and esteemed career, the relocation of the Bell Museum to our neighborhood. This is something that Alice has pursued for at least 10 years and maybe more. Twice the funding was included in a bonding bill only to be vetoed by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and last year it didn't make the final cut in the budget bill. This year, thanks to some clever work-arounds, the University will actually do the bonding and the state will repay the debt (a good amount has already been raised from private sources.) For clarification, here's a link to the full story from Rick Kupchella's "Bring Me the News" site. So, the SW corner of Larpenteur & Cleveland will house a beautiful new building and the soccer fields behind will become a natural park showcasing the different terrains of Minnesota - if the original plans are still the same. (No word on where the soccer fields will be moved, but the crop fields on the NE corner of that same intersection have been mentioned as a possible track & field venue, so maybe they could be part of that.) Way to go, Alice, job well done - it will be a wonderful addition to our community.

Last night was also a much awaited about school board meeting where a group of teachers presented a recommendation for some changes to the way the District's racial equity training is being handled. For those who haven't been following this, I will do my best to synthesize a very complicated issue. For the past few years, the district has been using an outside consulting group (Pacific Education Group) to provide racial equity training for its teachers. This challenging training has coincided with a push to mainstream more students with emotional and behavioral disabilities while limiting classroom expulsions and school suspensions, especially for black males. Some teachers feel this potent combo has made classrooms less safe and increased unacceptable behaviors. All of the teachers feel there needs to be more support for this important work to be successful, although some do question the value of the actual training itself.

My perspective based on the meeting (I was only there for the last half) and conversations I had after with a District administrator, a district principal, a district teacher and a friend who is very active in the African-American community in St. Paul (and a former student in the district) is that everyone agrees on these three points: first, racial equity has to be achieved. Second, the implementation was flawed, and third, the school community at some sites is in need of serious reconciliation. Although it's no doubt informative to understand how this breakdown happened, it's perhaps more important now to get all parties back together to figure out how to support what's working and fine tune or modify what isn't. We are asking a lot of our teachers to expect them to deal with all this without the necessary support in the classroom.

So, on a site basis, where these kinds of problems exist (and there were people at the meeting who testified to its success at their sites and for their kids) the school community needs to develop solutions to keep teachers and students safe while they transition to a different process for dealing with negative student behaviors. I think our community needs to be fully engaged in helping to create a new school "village" where racism is acknowledged and dealt with in a way that supports success for all students. This is an enormous, but necessary undertaking. It can't be done on hopes and dreams alone, it has to be supported fully with the necessary feet on the ground where they are needed. Superintendent Silva spoke afterwards about the need to address the staffing problems and bring the community back into the process. That starts by getting all site stakeholders to sit down across the table to rebuild the trust and relationships necessary to do justice to our children's futures. For more here's a link to the PiPress article which from my view does a pretty good job of telling the tale.

In a related story, Como High principal, Dan Mesick is moving on to another assignment in the district. The search is on for a replacement. Dan put together a great group of teachers at Como giving the next principal a strong staff to work with. We wish him the best in his new job.

Neighbor Looks to Help "Carpe Carp"
In a recent Star Tribune article, Peter Sorenson, neighbor and professor at the U's Aquatic Invasive Research Center on the St. Paul campus, talks about fighting the asian carp that are threatening to move up our rivers and destroy our fresh water ecologies as we know them. His team's latest approach has to do with using noise to deter the carp's upstream movement. Apparently, the asian carp abhor loud sounds as much as some human elders abhor loud rock music. Other species (probably younger) don't seem to even notice. Researchers theorize that's one of the reasons the carp jump out of the water when a motorboat approaches. So, with some money provided by the recent bonding bill, Sorenson and his band of noise merchants will put strategically placed speakers underwater in hopes of encouraging those cranky carp to swim back downstream and leave us alone. No mention was made of what type of noise works best, but I've got some old AC/DC albums I would be willing to donate.

VISTA Positions Available
There are openings that need to be filled for next year for some City of St. Paul Americorps VISTA jobs and many are at organizations on the Green Line. For more info, here's the link.

Former little wine shoppe Owner Getting Bigger
Jeff Huff, the former owner/operator of the little wine shoppe, is opening a new shop in Lowertown. It will be on the 2nd floor of the Pioneer Building and be called Revival Wine, Beer & Spirits. No word on an opening date, but if your'e down there, check it out. Best of luck to you, Jeff.

Rock Star Supply Rocking Media
A tutoring center that has recently moved to a new building on the corner of Raymond and University in the CEZ is making a splash in the local media. Director, Chad Kampe shared some links to articles telling the story of their mission and upcoming name change: The Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute. If that piques your interest read more here, here and here.

4th of July Stuffing Party
Tuesday, June 3 from 6:30 - 7:30 pm you will want to be where the action is - at the Langford Rec Center stuffing 4th info into envelopes for the community mailing. The more that show up the quicker it goes. See old friends, meet new neighbors, do a good deed for a great event.

Lake Monster Sighting
As part of my responsibilities to the neighborhood, I had a chance to meet with one of the owners of Lake Monster Brewing Company and taste their two beers, a pilsner and IPA (someone has to do these things.) This was necessary as they are considering a move into the Vandalia Tower building near 94. It's good beer and they would be welcome tenants for that rapidly evolving space which also looks to be the new home for IFP-Minnesota.

Green Line Launch Party
June 14, if it's not on your calendar, put it there and join us. Easy to get to as Sunrise Banks and the Foundation are sponsoring a trolley that will go from Sunrise Bank Como to Sunrise Bank University Ave. with stops at Raymond & Territorial, the Raymond Ave station and the brewtown homes of Urban Growler and Bang near the N/S bridge. From 9-3pm.

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