Mark your calendars for Tuesday, Sept.16 6:30-8pm, Olson Campus Center of Luther Seminary. That's when the St. Anthony Park Area Seniors (formerly known as the Block Nurse Program) will present the results of an in-depth and long-needed study to understand the preferences, aspirations and service needs of older residents in our neighborhood. Working with the Wilder Foundation, SAPAS conducted a series of focus groups in the district with post-50 yr old neighbors and the businesses/orgs that serve them. Wilder also provided a comprehensive demographic profile of our community based on the 2010 census that should bring numerical clarity to the issue of aging in place in St. Anthony Park.

As a leader of two of the focus groups, I can tell you (without stealing too much of SAPAS's thunder) that there is a large demographic group that will change the way our neighborhood operates as they age. We're already seeing greater concern for accessible buildings, and with a snowy winter predicted, a growing number of our neighbors will find it harder to leave their homes and traverse our often icy, snow-packed sidewalks and streets. I don't think it will surprise you to know that many neighbors want to age in place right here in St. Anthony Park and that means adjustments. Find out more on Sept. 16. Even if you are south of 50, you will be facing these challenges soon enough and I think we all want to keep our aging friends and family members around the Park long as we can.

News Flash - The Foundation's 15th Anniversary Bash is coming up on Friday, Sept. 19, 7-10 at the Urban Growler. Come for the music: Sweet Rhubarb and Lucy Michelle's Field Trip. Come for the fun: District-wide trivia contest with prizes. Come to find out who will win the $15,000 Grant Competition. Come to celebrate $1M in pledges to the endowment fund which will continue to provide support for St. Anthony Park...forever.

This morning I had the opportunity - thanks to neighbor Julie Causey from Western Bank who loves connecting neighbors and communities - to attend the Neighborhood Development Corporation's annual fundraising breakfast. For those not familiar with this amazing organization, it is a for-profit that helps local entrepreneurs develop businesses through training, consulting and loans. The stories told this morning by successful businesses are eye-opening. People of little means but big dreams proudly showing off their successful businesses, some that have expanded locally and are now looking into national franchises.

I sat at a table with Mbarek Lolo, a 28 year old Oromo Ethiopian immigrant who arrived in Minnesota with his family when he was 11. He graduated from St. Paul's Arlington (now Washington) High and went on to major in business at the U of M in Duluth. He now owns a grocery store at University & Dale, rents out stalls for 4 other vendors within that store and is expanding to fit in a couple more. He is leader and role model in his community and, in my humble opinion, on his way to becoming a city-wide and perhaps state-wide leader. He could go further. His is but one of many similar stories that have grown out of the NDC's 20 year history of community re-vitalization.

Before I move on, let me just share a few of their stats. Working in primarily ethnic and low-income neighborhoods, NDC has trained 4,250 entrepreneurs, given loans of $9.9M, provided 40,000 hours of consulting to 2,000 businesses, and developed community partnerships with 42 organizations. Their business incubators include Frogtown Entrepreneurial Center, Frogtown Center, Mercado Central, Midtown Global Market, Plaza Verde and the Swedish Bank Building. With the help of visionary leaders like Bill and Bob Sands, recently retired owners of Western Bank (and Murray alums, go Pilots!) - and many other community leaders who have funded, supported and provided counsel for this innovative organization - Founder and Director, Mike Tamali has built a launch pad for successful entrepreneurs and strong communities.

Oh, and the businesses the NDC has helped have generated $73M in returns for the TC Metro and $8.3M in taxes. Now that's a successful organization. Please consider a donation, every dollar spent returns $28. I also have to give a final shout out for neighbor, Emily Blodgett, the NDC's Director of External Communications who seemed to have a role in just about every phase of the event. It was wonderfully put together and delivered a very strong impact.

One of our neighborhood businesses, Micawber's, had a great turnout for author Kent Krueger, on Monday night. There must have been 75-80 people on hand to hear the very entertaining, Edgar-award winning, NYT best-selling, local mystery writer share stories about his technique and the industry. He started his talk by reminding attendees what a gem we have in Micawber's and how he hoped we knew that and were doing everything we can to support it. A good reminder for all our local businesses. Look for more author opportunities this fall and winter - and buy some books!

Go check out the new outdoor classroom/gathering space that has been built on the site of the much-revered Spider Tree that was taken down this spring. Designed by neighbor and son of the Park, Tryg Hansen, it uses pieces of the old basswood tree's trunks and boulders to form a wheel which is ideal for playing, learning or just huddling with your peeps to mull over the important issues confronting our elementary schoolers. Thanks to Tryg, the city, the school, and parents for putting it all together. It's a very neat space.

Chanson Voice & Music Academy in SSA on Raymond Ave is accepting students for its fall classes. There's an interesting selection to choose from including a youth choir so check out the options here.

Free showing of the film "Mud" at our Branch Library, tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 11, 1-3p...Monday Night Sing at the Olson Campus Center Sept. 15, 7-8:30p.

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