We are back to mushroom-growing weather after a few days of sun. Luckily, one of those days was last Saturday, which greatly benefitted our Art Festival. Outdoor events are absolutely frightening since all the hard work and money spent can go for naught if the weather does not cooperate. This is the third year we have managed to have nice weather for most of the festival day and it makes a huge difference.

And it was a great festival. Beautiful art from some master artists, especially the potter entries. I am slowly learning about pottery and how it all comes together, or doesn’t. Amazing that even potters who have been at it for years can still be surprised by what comes out of the kiln. 

And even though it isn’t a music festival, there was great music. Lutist extraordinaire Phil Rukavina put together a line-up of wonderful string musicians up on the seminary lawn, Speedy Market hosted a roots/rock band, while local folk acts populated the Carter Ave stage. 

I like the new layout, although it will probably take some getting used to for long-time patrons. Having the non-profits between the Bistro and Milton Square alongside the kids’ art spaces seems to make sense, kind of a community corner.  I wonder if there isn’t something they can come up with for the younger kids now that the petting zoo has decided not to travel anymore. Maybe a bouncy tent? 

Anyway, Ken Chin-Purcell, who heads up the festival for the Library deserves a lot of credit, along with Martha Russell, library board chair Ann Yetter, and everyone who was a part of making this event happen. I heard raves from artists and attendees about the atmosphere, the quality of the art and experience, the beautiful website, helpful maps & signage. It really is something in which our neighborhood can take great pride. Kudos and thanks all around. 

And thanks to those neighbors like Luther Sem for providing their lawn for not only the art festival but for the Ice Cream Social, which for me is the true start of the weekend. The local 4H always comes up with delicious pies and our community band kicks the whole thing off with a lively concert. There’s a great mix of neighbors young and old enjoying each other’s company and the treats.

Speaking of the Sem, I’ve been talking to folks there about continuing efforts to stabilize their financial situation. I’m sure most of you know they have put some of their houses up for sale recently with no doubt more to come. Their housing needs have changed dramatically as their population has returned to a younger single or married couple demographic. There are also fewer sem students nationally and that has an impact. 

What should be reassuring for our community is the Sem’s strong commitment to staying here and their concern about neighborhood impact in all of their decision-making toward that end.  Their dream is still to develop a master plan that is inclusive of, and open to, the entire community. Obviously, financial considerations will play a role in dictating how that all comes together, but in my mind, their property is still the best space available for creating the kind of housing options we currently lack, especially for the rapidly increasing senior and empty nester population that finds itself faced with limited options for staying in the Park. We can’t afford to lose their expertise, energy and investment in this neighborhood. If we can’t find housing for them, we will lose them and that will have a tremendously negative effect on much of what we hold dear. Finding places for neighbors to downsize and age in place will also open up houses to new neighbors and that is critical to the viability of many of our institutions, including our schools. 

As ideas are considered and implemented, we all need to keep these bigger perspectives in mind. Nothing is ever seamless and change is not always perfect. I remain thankful that the people who are trying to figure these things out care deeply about this neighborhood and are working hard to understand and identify solutions that serve our common goals.

D12 – Development buzz is also percolating over in the Creative Enterprise Zone as light rail becomes more of a reality. Real estate speculation, properties in transition and creative ideas for new and existing spaces are bouncing around publicly and privately. Our two new breweries are in the works, a building has been selected to try to house creative enterprises nearby and the art train idea (buying used rail cars to put on the tracks behind the Wright building across from the Lyric on Charles for artist studios and a café) made the final 30 entries for the St. Paul Million Dollar Challenge. The land south of the Raymond Ave station is certainly a prime spot for some kind of development. How about a boutique hotel? How about some additional retail? How about an art gallery and performance space? How about all of that housed in a unique architectural building wrapped around a central plaza where live events, farmer’s markets, etc. can be held? The conversation continues…

Listserv – I have to start out this section by talking about the monkey. I debated starting out the whole blog with this item, but decided there were larger issues that needed to lead. So, here it is: a neighbor on Chelmsford reported a monkey in her backyard. Pretty decent sized as well, more like a cat than a squirrel. Then someone provided a link to a video of someone walking around Como Lake with a chimp-sized monkey on his back (in shorts and shirt) wondering if it was that monkey. Apparently, that one was too big. Further research determined that the Como Zoo was not missing any monkeys, but if you know someone who is, the monkey is still on the loose as far as I know. There’s no telling where it will show up next or what it will be wearing, but you might want to be careful about setting fresh-baked banana bread out on your sill to cool. 

StAPnotes – Rick Beeson, U of M regent and Sunrise Bank exec, was named to Minnesota Business Magazine’s “Real Power 50 List” of people who make things happen in the metro area. Congrats, Rick, now use that power to get the Gophs in the Final Four…I managed to catch local bass hero, Ted Olsen, at a concert in the Aster over at St. Anthony Main. He is appearing at various venues this summer with a rotating cast of musicians. He’s doing a number of Monday nights at the Artist’s Quarter in downtown St. Paul. He is a very talented player and if you like jazz, go to the AQ website and check him out. His group Headspace is appearing there June 10, 17 and 24 – no cover. He’s the real deal…The Raptor Center has some cool summer camp offerings starting soon. Check out those opportunities and more here http://www.raptor.cvm.umn.edu/ …Northern Spark’s all night party is coming to St. Paul this Saturday, June 8. There are all sorts of arts events happening well into Sunday morning around town. Check it out here.

Calendar

·        Northern Spark, June 8

·        Chanson Voice and Music Academy Grand Opening - Sunday, June 9th, 2013, 1-5 pm. 795 Raymond Avenue

·        StAP Transportation Expo - Monday, June 17, 6:30-8pm at the Langford Park Rec Center

·        Open Eye Puppet Theater presents Molly and the Magic Boot, Thursday, June 27th, 7 pm at 2259 Carter Ave

·        St. Anthony Park Garden Tour scheduled for Saturday, June 29 10am-4pm


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