And the rains came down...what a soaking, hope it's hitting our farmlands and comes in time to help increase their yields or at least prevent a further decrease. So far I think Minnesota farmers have not been affected like those to our south who are looking at total losses to their crops. Drought, forest fires, mudslides, tornadoes...the future will require some changes in the way we live and that will require a commitment to working together that has yet to emerge nationally. It would be nice if the campaign ads would reflect some leadership on that front but unfortunately, the parties are so diametrically opposed on almost all issues that the only way to get something done is to take firm control of the presidency and congress. Not sure that will happen, but however you feel, you cannot sit this one out, not on any level. Donate time, money and energy to support candidates you feel actually have a viable plan, 'cause we will need one to survive.

Park B4 Dark tomorrow night 5-8pm. Food, beverage, shopping and music! In-house artists selling their work at the Bibelot, Craft demos at Something New, foto fun with the Satori folks, wine-tasting at the little wine shoppe, delicious food from Muffuletta (Turkey Burgers & fries for $10), the Bistro, Colossal Cafe, Speedy Market and Simply Steve's food truck. Iced treats at Dunn Bros. Tea and treats at Lady Elegants plus 15% off merch, 15% off cool summer reads at Micawber's, stop by Complexions at Milton Square, get free samples and meet new owner, Maggie. Toys at Peapods, jewelry at Emil Gustafson's, glasses and pottery at eyedeals.  Hey, why not drop your car off at Neds and have it serviced while you enjoy the fun? Sidewalk sales, neighbors, visitors, HealthPartners handing out free fruit, great music on the Bistro patio and at Speedy (and their delicious ice cream.) Lots of other stuff. Are you getting the message? Come on down!

D12 - WARM Pop! as in Women's Art Resources Minnesota is having a spontaneous installation of member artwork in the Pop-up Gallery next to the Edge Coffeeehouse on University Avenue just west of Raymond July 18-21. The gallery hours vary, so go to the D12 website to get times and more info. Neighbor and artist, Linda Baudry has a piece in the exhibit so check it out and grab a coffee next door...this heat may have you thinking about an energy audit of your home, more info on how you can lower energy costs is available at the website as well...the Mayor is continuing on his informal coffee house conversation tour with the public regarding the city budget. I attended his first over at the Como Park Pavillion/Black Bear Crossing and it was a good sized and vocal crowd. The mayor has asked his staff to prepare budgets reflecting a 3% and 6% overall cut. Finding places to shrink is difficult, especially since many of the expenditures are part of grants from local and national entities which would go away as well. So, the amount of money stripped from a program or department can be tripled leading to much deeper cuts to services, etc. It's complicated, but I appreciate the Mayor making himself and his staff available for these open opportunities for citizens to share perspectives and give feedback. There are several more with dates/times listed on the D12 website.

listserv - a healthy conversation about  online discussion groups occurred last week when a new resident suggested a new online communication system for the neighborhood called NextDoor.com which is a membership network you can join if you have an address in the geographic area. It certainly has some enhancements over the current listserv but some challenges as well, namely inclusiveness for people who don't live in the area. There were some workarounds suggested, but coincidentally, someone repping e-democracy - another online discussion site - had just suggested that listserv could link with them and the back and forth got pretty hot and heavy quickly with concerns about commercialization, exclusion, access, splitting the community, etc. I ventured into the discussion to share my opinion that there is more than one way to skin a cat, but that wasn't necessarily met with open arms by the pro-single source folks. Ah well, vive la difference I say. We have choices in schools, news sources and just about everything else, it doesn't make sense to me to try to force everyone to use the same outlet for their differing needs. Sometimes people who think their system is inclusive aren't aware that they hold that notion because they are only serving people like them. I say let the marketplace determine success, it's the American way...we heard from the Raptor Center that staff members would be going down to the Galapagos Islands for a second year to try and help mitigate results of rat removal that might effect the hawk population. Very interesting story about how invasive rats and mice are jeopardizing the other animal populations and so the Center is helping protect the hawks during the large scale attempt to eradicate those destructive rodents. They actually rounded up the entire population of hawks on one of the islands and kept them for 7 weeks until the eradication effects were deemed safe. They released them without incident and will do it all over again on another of the 10 islands this summer.

StAPnotes - Next Tuesday, July 24 a St. Anthony Park Band concert and ice cream social at Alden Square from 7-9pm. The square is tucked in a neat little park just off Raymond by the BP Station. Head down Brewster or Gibbs toward the RR tracks and you'll run right into it. Nice neighborhood that got together to build the bandshell and landscape the park. It's a little jewel, stop by and enjoy!...the branch library released their August schedule of events, here's the link to the calendar to find out more. They also held a meeting to review the changes that were made to the art festival this year. Overall it seems like a very successful event with some tweaking needed in areas. There was general agreement the changes were necessary and appreciation for the hard work of the volunteers who took the transition on. Ken Chin-Purcell will head up the festival next year while Annie Yetter was chosen to head up the branch board. Everyone who helped with this process deserves our thanks...new trees have been planted on the boulevard in front of Ned's 76 Station. The city, the Foundation, Ned and the Garden Club all worked together on that with the Foundation paying for the trees, the city putting them in, the Garden Club watering them and Ned providing the water and hose. Thanks to all, they look great.

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