First up, the Arts Festival! This Saturday, 10-5pm, don't miss it. There will be a lot of talent on display, food, activities and fun. Great chance to see your neighbors and get your entire list of high school & wedding presents all in one place. The library will have their book sale in the lower level. The music stage - relocated to the library lawn - will have the usual eclectic mix of wonderful musicians, and Speedy will rock the west end with their outdoor garden, grill and rock 'n roll. The Foundation tent in front of Micawber's will be featuring giant puppet heads made by the elementary school kids as part of the Heart of the Beast residency (with funding by the Foundation) - they are big and colorful. Tell your friends, tell acquaintances, tell complete strangers, but by all means tell yourself to come on down.

Next, the Green Line Launch on June 14. There is a large party planned for the Raymond Ave station featuring local music, dance, exhibits, food, and info about the Creative Enterprise Zone, a neighborhood that is getting a lot of buzz in the local media (see following story.) Where to park? Don't worry! If you live in north St. Anthony Park you can pick up the free trolley sponsored by the Sunrise Banks, Foundation and Como merchants. It will leave from the Como Sunrise on the hour starting at 9am and return from the University Ave Sunrise on the half hour. Travel down Raymond to the launch party and back by way of our new brew plaza (Bang & Urban Growler) just south of the RR tracks. The Green Line will be free both Saturday and Sunday, so you can get just about anywhere you want and experience all the stops. The official kick-off starts at 9:30am at the Raymond Ave Station.

While you're in the area, check out the Alec Soth photo displayed on the billboard across from the Dubliner. Soth is an internationally renowned photographer who has his studio in the Zone and this is the first time he has ever had a photo on a billboard. It's big and cool, literally. The reveal was held yesterday at the Dubliner with press from around the metro attending. The event also featured a ping-pong match between Soth and Ward 4 councilman, Russ Ward...because everything goes better with ping-pong, right? So check out the billboard, stop into the Dubliner for some Bang beer, now on tap. Is this a cool neighborhood or what?

The St. Anthony Park Area Seniors (SAPAS) has just completed a series of focus groups to discern the state of the 55+ crowd in our community. With the help of Wilder's training, 8 groups met to talk about changing needs and services to support aging in place in the community. The final results will be shared at a public meeting in September and will help to shape the organization's future goals. By the way, SAPAS volunteer coordinator, Katharine Tondra, is looking for help delivering hot meals to seniors. Call 651-642-9052 for more info.

Read the Bugle. The June issue is out and it contains stories on the Green Line Launch and Arts Fest, as well as the usual collection of interesting and well-written articles about our area. Editor Kristal Leebrick got some deserved respect from the MN Society of Professional Journalists with Page One Awards for headline writing (1st Place) and her editorial entitled "Uncle" (2nd Place.) Bugle writer Judy Woodward won a 3rd Place for her reporting on local artist Julie Buffalohead. Congratulations to Kristal and Judy and everyone at the Bugle for their stellar work. How great to have that newspaper in our neighborhood.

St. Anthony Park Elementary School has decided to maintain a position for coordinating volunteer tutors. It has been staffed by a VISTA volunteer, but that is ending this semester and the school community felt strongly that this was an important program to keep up and running. About 100 tutors help the school annually.

There is also a neat plan being considered to take the trunks and limbs saved from the Spider Tree (which was recently cut down) and turn them into a small park/playground.

The traffic calming efforts along the Como Avenue patrol routes are progressing. Look for the crosswalk at Commonwealth & Como to be moved back to the west side (Emily Program) of Commonwealth. New striping, bump-outs and lowered speed limits are also being discussed as well as a longer parking bay on Knapp near the school to allow the buses to move forward and clear the crosswalk leading up the hill to Como. Also, next year their will be a paid adult at the Scudder-Como crosswalk.

Murray Middle School held a year-end Round Table to give the school community a chance to express concerns, share info and celebrate successes. As most members of Murray community know, this first year of the transition from Jr. High to middle school had some challenges. Principal Theien-Collins heard from a list of what was and wasn't working and the group came up with a corresponding list of solutions to the concerns raised. Many of these issues are being addressed at district level (i.e., rescheduling to offer more electives) but there is some room for sites to promote initiatives that help or address needs unique to them. All district middle school principals have faced big and varied challenges. Ms.Theien-Collins strikes me as someone who has learned from her first year and has the capacity to do what needs to be done to shorten the list of problems and lengthen the list of achievements. I believe rebuilding the school community is key to that outcome.

Murray's band and orchestra took top honors in a regional music competition in St. Louis. The band placed 1st and the orchestra 2nd with Maggie Lerien receiving an award for Outstanding Soloist.

Como High School has a new principal. Theresa Neal is replacing Dan Mesick who has accepted another position in the district. Ms. Neal was an assistant Principal at Como a few years back and has an impressive resume of educational experience. She most recently served at Journeys secondary school where she helped students become active members of the community through volunteer and paid positions. The transition from academic success to job success is critical, especially for those who will enter the work force after high school. I am hopeful she will be able to provide support for college and career bound together. It's all about pathways.

Como students are featured in a neat article about their Future Educator Club, the first of its kind in the district. This club is an effort by the Teacher's Union to bring diversity to our future teacher pool by engaging students in teaching opportunities like the one mentioned in the article: a session with kindergartners at St. Anthony Park Elementary showing them how to respond to emergency situations.

Driftwood Community Arts is moving on to other adventures. The gallery served as a spot for a variety of artistic endeavors over the past two years and partnered with Avalon School and others to promote the arts. Their members are pursuing other opportunities and thank the community for their support.

The Library Garden needs some sprucing up before the Art Fest. If you have the time, stop down this Friday from 9-10am and help Alice Duggan and the other volunteers out. 

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