It is so hot and sticky…sorry, just wanted to be able to say that after the recent ice age manifestation. It is nice to see the kids walk by in shorts and t-shirts after watching the parkas of just last week. Happy Summer! 

Spent the morning listening to requests for STAR grant money. For new readers, this money comes from a city-wide tax and is meant to support capitol projects that benefit St. Paul, usually by creating jobs or business opportunities. There were two applications so far from people in our neck of the woods, Gremlin Theater and Urban Growler Brewery. 

Gremlin is looking for help to move their theater from University Avenue SW of Raymond to just off University Ave NE of Raymond in the Anodyne Gallery building. The property is owned by PLACE, a company that helps develop space for artists, and they have plans to go up a few stories with housing for the disabled artists that use the gallery and facility. Gremlin is talking about providing theater space for Anodyne to expand their artistic offerings so it would be a great partnership. 

Urban Growler is setting up shop in Update’s old Roundhouse building just south of the RR tracks across the Raymond Ave bridge next to Bang Brewery. They hope to be serving beer by this August and have an 80-seat beer garden planned as well. Hurry up, I say. The owners hope to get produce locally to use in their unique varietals. I wish both of these ventures luck on their grant awards. As usual, there are many good ones and not enough money to go around. 

One very interesting joint venture is happening over at the old Hamm’s Brewery on the East Side. There’s a brewery, a hydroponic garden and a distillery that all are planning to locate there and share waste products in a very synergistic recycling operation. Big ideas. Also small ones, like a nail shop on Rice Street or a handicap accessible addition to a restaurant or a new floor for a coffee shop/community center. It’s always fun to see what’s happening around the city, but I still wish there was a way to be more methodical about creating capacity in communities and supporting a larger vision for sustainable businesses. Ah well… 

Big news from the city was 1st Ward Councilman, Melvin Carter’s impending move to a State job in education. Melvin has been a friend of our community, often spending the 4th of July with us and various combinations of his family members (including his darling daughters.) Hope he will continue to come around and also that he can use his considerable talents and energy to promote better education strategies for our kids state-wide. An interim council member will be appointed in his place until the fall election. 

D12 – I had a really good discussion with Nina Axelson, our former D12 community organizer and current Director of Public Relations for Ever-Green Energy, about the state of solar energy in the metro. She was involved in putting an array of solar panels on the roof of the River Centre which, if I’m not mistaken, is still the largest solar thermal project in the Midwest. Lots of good insight and suggestions for our community solar approach…it looks like the Hampden Park project is going to gain approval for CIB money to make it nicer, safer and greener. It will be done in conjunction with a storm water sewer project.

SCHOOLS – These are the hardest days of the whole school year. I remember staring outside at the emerging greenery, feeling the warm breezes rustle through the classroom, the teacher’s voice reduced to a barely audible hum as I planned after-school activities and summer outings. I don’t imagine it’s changed much, but maybe the kids are more focused these days than I was. In any event, the next four weeks are going to be long ones. Which doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had! The Elementary School spring carnival was a big success, thanks in no small part to Beth Commers and her uncanny ability to move people into positions of service. Then there is the school picnic, the Plant Sale today and tomorrow from 8-4pm. Veggies, plants and flowers are on sale to support the school. Go get ‘em!...Murray meanwhile is getting ready for its annual talent show on May 9 and then the annual spring concert on May 23 at 7pm. They also have a spring newsletter that is chock full of info about everything going on there, so check that out here…Como High is proud to announce 5 juniors who met requirements to enter the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program: Jacob Cohen, Jasmine Hyder, Zach Lee, Elliot Moormann and Stryker Thompson. Congrats, students, that is quite an honor! Spring also means graduation and grad parties. We got our first invite of that season yesterday. Exciting to see those kids ready to go off on new adventures. 

LISTSERV – the Great River Gathering this year is focusing on Placemaking and is hosting a plethora of chats and talks about it all over St. Paul. Here’s a link to find out more.

StAPnotes – Neighbor PJ Pofahl was honored by the Neighborhood House as their Volunteer of the Year. PJ is a passionate tutor, board member and effective fundraiser for this great organization based in the Wellstone Center in West St. Paul…meanwhile, her husband, Charlie Nauen was in court delivering a victory for Ramsey County Sheriff, Matt Bostrom, in a case involving disgruntled former county employees. Nauen’s successful team included neighbor Brian Clark…I had a great time visiting with one of the featured potters at this year’s art festival, Guillermo Cuellar, at his home and studio near Marine St. Croix. What lovely pottery and what a great guy. I am getting very excited for June 1. Ken Chin-Purcell and Martha Russell of the Art Festival steering committee organized the visit. Visit the festival website to see some of the other wonderful art and activities planned for the annual community artstravaganza. Then put it on your calendar! 

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