Monday, September 29, 2008

A Year Of Progress: The Speech Of Chair Peter Teachout, September 25, 2008

Photo By Pam Patrek

Here is the written text of the speech of Chairman Peter Teachout, delivered September 25.

Teachout was dressed in formal attire, of course, but this photo from a Rebuilding Together event is a better likeness of the real Peter we know and love: a man who digs in and gets his hands dirty to improve the neighborhood.
Hello, I’m Peter Teachout, Chair of the Hawthorne Area Community Council. I haven’t held that position very long, so you’re in luck, that probably means a shorter speech.

I do have a year’s worth of progress to highlight and share with you, but consider for a moment why we are all here. We’re here because this neighborhood is important to us. But, really, isn’t a neighborhood only important because, underlying everything, is the fact that each of us needs a place to feel safe and call home?

So let me tell you about something that happened in my home on Monday.

My daughter, McKenna, is just learning how to walk, and took four whole steps by herself. And the way it happened was I said, “Come to Daddy.” And that didn’t really interest her. But when I held out my cell phone, McKenna was suddenly willing to walk. Actually, she almost ran.

I think our neighborhood is like my daughter who is just starting to walk. Even though there are many in this room who have lived in Hawthorne for decades, in some ways this time is the very beginning of what our neighborhood will become.

We have many empty houses. Who comes to own these houses, who comes to live in them, whether the houses are renovated or pretty much left as they are or knocked down…these next few years will determine the character of our neighborhood for a long time.

The way I look at this community could be the way my daughter looks at walking. We can’t see this neighborhood as full of obstacles. We have to look at Hawthorne as full of opportunity. We have the opportunity to change the neighborhood we live in for the better by capitalizing on our diversity and affordability.

Here in Hawthorne, we take our steps and make our progress through committees. I’m going to tell you about the progress which our four main committees have made.

This year, our Housing Committee has helped Hawthorne establish many new relationships with various city and county departments, the Northside Home Fund, the Housing Preservation Project, and many partner organizations that form the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition.

Hawthorne is a founding member of the NCRC, which has been engaging banks and financial institutions around the issue of the foreclosure crisis. (Would any Housing Committee members who are here please stand and be recognized?)

You hear about the foreclosure crisis all the time. And it is indeed a crisis as people are in danger of losing their homes. Hawthorne has worked through its partnership with NCRC to prevent foreclosures.

The tireless and passionate work of Housing Director Jeff Skrenes must be credited, here. Jeff is constantly plotting even more ways to reach out to people and prevent foreclosure, and keep people in Hawthorne from losing their property. When you’re talking to Jeff, even casual conversations often turn to in-depth discussion of mortgage issues.

Jeff lives, breathes, eats and sleeps mortgages and our neighborhood has benefited from that kind of focus. National publications like USA TODAY have taken note of Jeff’s work in conjunction with the CitiMortgage lawsuit.

I’ll be saying a bit at the end about that lawsuit. The good news is we sued and we got a settlement and people all over the nation took notice.

I’d like to take a moment to ask Jeff to stand up and be recognized for his heroic efforts on behalf of the Hawthorne neighborhood. Also, Mark Ireland, would you please stand? Mark is the attorney who helped us bring about this victory. (Editor's note: During the actual speech, Teachout made note of the fact Ireland was not present, but acknowledged Ireland along with Skrenes)

I look back on this year and I can hardly believe all this happened in the span of just one year.

In the last year, the Crime and Safety Committee worked with the Police Buy Back Program to help place more police where they are needed. This committee worked to coordinate National Night Out efforts and the Mobile Block Party to help neighbors connect and discuss their concerns for the development of the neighborhood.

All those in the Crime and Safety Committee? Would you please stand and be

This year, we helped shut down open air drug markets at certain intersections. We have much work left to do and need help from our city officials. They’ve been helping us and we are very thankful. All those who work for the City of Minneapolis, if you could please stand and be

The Crime and Safety Committee is also committed to providing support to community activities and projects like the Hawthorne Clean Sweep. Another innovative project has been the Hawthorne Can-Do Bookaway. This program gives away free books to children and families to nourish and strengthen the young minds in our community.

Bryan Thoa Worra has been a driving force behind this endeavor. Bryan? Could you please stand?

Moving on from the Crime and Safety Committee…and I know it’s hard to move on from that, since these issues are so often on the front burner.

But focusing now on the Environment Committee, this committee continued to do work to promote bike lanes and rainwater gardens and encourage high standards for Hawthorne’s environmental safety for residents. Could the members of the Environmental Committee stand?

This is an extremely active committee. They’re very active with Clean Sweep.

I hope every time I say the words “clean sweep,” people are filled a desire to take charge of cleaning up their block. Clean Sweep is a lot of fun. How often can you take a trophy photo with a blown out tire and some yellow bags of litter?

Of course, one way to be an environmentalist is to use a home that’s already built, instead of going out and building another one. This year, several old and existing homes in our neighborhood were part of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Home Tours, and were promoted as examples of the best in Minneapolis.

Here in Hawthorne, we have houses. We have affordable housing stock everywhere. Tell all your friends. Get them to look around Hawthorne and buy into our neighborhood.

But we have some troublesome properties. Fortunately, this year Hawthorne was able to arrange for the demolition of some of those.

The role of business is essential to our progress. This year, the Hawthorne Business Committee has worked to build connections with the business leaders of the Hawthorne Neighborhood.

We plan to bring more regional and national attention to many of the amazing businesses we have, ranging from the world’s largest lutefisk factory to companies such as Kemps and Diamond Vogel paints and emerging businesses such as Taylor Sound that are working to revitalize our

The Business Committee has worked hard to establish a new fa├žade improvement program to assist our businesses in providing a great impression for visitors and residents. (Would the member of the Business Committee please stand?)

The Hawthorne Neighborhood Council has continued to support key efforts such as the Hawthorne Huddle with partners like General Mills. We love our partner, General Mills. I have three children and they love their breakfast cereal, and General Mills makes a lot of that stuff. General Mills brings you products like Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Wheaties. When you’re shopping in the store, please remember who our corporate friends are.

Another of our valuable friends is Farview Park. We are enjoying their facilities right now, as we enjoy them many times a year. These facilities help us connect residents and community leaders with each other, where we can discuss issues ranging from education to youth mentoring, to working with the media to the role of the arts and emergency preparedness.

Paul Jaeger has been the force that keeps Farview Park such a useful
resource. Thank you, Paul Jaeger.

While you work and play and enjoy your homes, your Hawthorne Neighborhood Council represents you at key meetings and events, such as the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition—including the West Broadway Alive! Program—and the Northside Marketing Task Force and testimony before the Third Ward CARE meetings and the Minneapolis City Council on key issues ranging from problem properties to the effectiveness of the neighborhood revitalization program.

None of the things I’ve highlighted would have been possible this year, or any other year, without the support of amazing volunteers and community members like those in the audience tonight. Whether this is your first Hawthorne neighborhood event, or your 400th, we need your continued support as we face the challenges ahead.

In closing, I’d like to highlight a challenge we overcome. We filed a lawsuit against CitiMortgage for predatory lending. The lawsuit was unique in the nation. But it was based on established legal precedent about negligent lending.

The suit was recently settled and, as the Star Tribune said on Monday, we made CitiMortgage eat a $200,000 mortgage and we got a piece of property needed for the Eco-Village development for just $18,500, basically the cost of the lot.

I want to point out CitiMortgage has admitted no wrongdoing. But draw your own conclusions about who came out on top.

The Hawthorne Neighborhood took a few baby steps, and a scary giant fled in fear. Can you imagine what our future holds? We could become the place everybody wants to move, and people will wish they had bought property here when prices were so low.

We can do it, working together. This is only the beginning. We are still growing.

It is an honor to be your chair, and to present the highlights of the progress we have made together in the last year.

And now I’d like to introduce Laban Ohito.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Place To Call "Home" And Feel Safe

Photos By John Hoff

Chairman Peter Teachout put it this way in his annual report: Neighborhoods are only important because, underlying everything, is the need for people to have a place to call "home" and feel safe.

Recognition For Housing Director Jeff Skrenes And Attorney Mark Ireland (We Settled With CitiMortgage! YEAH!!!!!)

Photo By John Hoff

During his Annual Report, HNA Chairman Peter Teachout gave special recognition the the efforts of Jeff Skrenes and Mark Ireland (not pictured) for their work on the lawsuit with CitiMortgage. News regarding a settlement of the mortgage hit the StarTribune a few days before the meeting.

As a result of the settlement, the whole annual meeting had a celebratory and historical feeling. Here is a link to an article about the lawsuit in none other than USA TODAY, click here. This action in the courts was on the radar of the nation, a unique lawsuit based on "predatory lending."

What battles will be next for Skrenes and Ireland? Only time will tell.

The Great Hawthorne CanDo Bookaway!

Photo By John Hoff

Here, Peter Teachout, Jr., age 6, selects a book from the Great Hawthorne CanDo Bookaway! Childcare was provided during the meeting.

More Scenes From The Hawthorne Annual Meeting

Photos By John Hoff

More scenes from the Annual Meeting.

Music To Meet And Greet By

Photo By John Hoff

Music at the Annual Meeting was provided by Steve Haskins and Julie Johnson. They also kindly donated one of their CDs to the door prizes.

Here is Julie's website, click here.

For All That We Have Achieved (The Speech Of Executive Director Laban Ohito

Photo By Pam Patrek

At the Annual Meeting our new Executive Director, Laban Ohito, delivered his speech in formal attire, of course! But the photo above shows him as we so often see him...digging into the messy details, pitching in, not afraid to get his hands dirty. This photo was taken by Pam Patrek during a "Rebuilding Together" event in the Eco-Village.

Here is the text of Director Ohito's prepared remarks delivered September 25.

I want to welcome you all to our Annual Dinner for the year 2008. This is a time for us to celebrate the achievements we have made for the last one year.

For all that we have achieved, we are indebted to all those individuals who dedicated themselves to improving the lives of people who reside in our neighborhood and bettering our community.

They deserve recognition and our lasting thanks for the contribution they made toward improving life for all of us right from the day of our organization's inception. Our special gratitude goes to:

* The City of Minneapolis for funding us through NRP.

* General Mills for continuous assistance.

* Home Depot.

* The McKnight Foundation.

It is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity to let you know that we have a plan to unveil a new strategy for developing the Hawthorne community. The four major goals identified by our Board include:

Affordable Housing--Maintain and expand the supply of safe, affordable housing throughout the community.

Business Development--Help businesses grow in ways which create employment opportunities for lower income persons.

Environmental Conservation.

Safety and Security of the Neighborhood--Help law enforcement agencies in their spirited fight to reduce crime.

Strengthening the Hawthorne Neighborhood is our ultimate objective. We want to continue to expand opportunities that promote neighborhood cohesion, stability, and sustainable development.

Our community development strategy has five inter-related core elements:

* Redevelopment of pivotal properties in target areas within the neighborhood.

* Increasing home ownership: Investing in first time home buyers.

* Strengthening neighborhood organizations. Developing leadership and empowering the neighborhood residents.

* Forging strategic partnerships.

* Making the neighborhood green. Developing pathways and bicycle routes to ensure the safety of our road users.

To achieve these objectives we need to restructure our organization to respond to the current community needs. We are in the process of making the necessary structural changes in the organization.

We have advertised the job of Assistant Director of Community Affairs. Specific Duties and Responsibilities will include:

* Assessing and evaluating community assets and strengths.

* Designing and developing community participation processes.

We want a qualified individual who understands community organizing as a bigger picture, i.e. as a practice that refers to the entire process of organizing relationships, identifying issues, mobilizing around those issues, and maintaining an enduring organization.

Enforcing the law is a tedious process. But enforcing the law in North Minneapolis is a daunting task. In this community, we are lucky to have Inspector Martin who not only loves what he does in the community but is also very passionate about his duties and responsibilities.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our guest speaker tonight: Inspector Martin.

Hawthorne Neighborhood Association Annual Meeting Had GREAT FOOD!

Photos By John Hoff

Though the September 25 event was billed as the "Annual Meeting," the food almost stole the show. In fact, the food would have easily stolen the show if not for the fact there was such an exciting and participatory election.

But let's get back to the food. A lot of the food was provided by For All Occasions Catering. ("Considerate People...Considerate Service...Consider It Done.") Their baked chicken was so delicious that Executive Director Laban Ohito expressed an interest in getting the recipe.

Other great food was provided by Bangkok Market, located in our own neighborhood. Some of their food included an exotic "shredded papaya salad" which was delicious. The owner of Bangkok Market is in the bottom picture.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Rebuilding Together" In The Eco-Village

Photos Contributed By An Eco-Village Resident

Many of the faces at Saturday's event were familiar, but there were lots of new volunteers as well. Every worker was welcome, and everybody worked hard.

"Rebuilding Together" In The Eco-Village

Photos Contributed By An Eco-Village Resident

Here are some photos from Saturday's "Rebuilding Together" event in the Eco-Village. It was hard work, but everybody had a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Exciting Progress In The Eco-Village

Photos By John Hoff

Yesterday, a surveying crew was in the Eco-Village near 415 31st Ave. N. They were working for CPED and said they had six properties on their list, one of which was "415."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hawthorne Business Committee Meeting: 9/19

Join us on Friday, September 19th at 8:30 AM at US Bank, 1030 W. Broadway, for a special session of the Hawthorne Business Committee.

We'd love to update you on several special issues coming up including:

Our upcoming annual dinner of the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council on September 25th at Farview Park that's open to you and your employees.

We'd like to talk with you about the open positions on our board of directors, where we're looking for skilled leaders with an interest in helping to transform our neighborhood into a great place to live, work, learn and play. We could really use your help identifying great people to represent our business community.

We also have updates on the reimbursements for the Step Up Achieve program for the interns many of you hosted, and other news.

If you have the time available this Friday morning we'd love to see you. And if you can't make it, but are still interested in learning more, please let us know by calling (612) 529-6033 or e-mailing our committee chair, Jim Wentzell at and he'll be happy to share more with you.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Interested in becoming a board member?

Help us make a difference in our city and join the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Board.

Board Members:
Attend monthly board meetings
Attend all board trainings
Attend special events and functions of the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council
Serve on one or more committee or sub-committee of the organization.
Serve as a representative of HNC when designated by the board.
This takes ca. 5-8 hours a month.

Board members are elected during the Hawthorne Annual meeting for 1 or 2 year terms. This year there are 8 seats that are available to residents and representatives of businesses, non-profits and youth working in the Hawthorne neighborhood.

To have your name formally on the ballot, please contact us by September 19th by 5PM, although it is possible to nominate yourself during the Annual dinner as well. For more details: (612) 529-6033 or

Residential representative of the Hawthorne Neighborhood must live within the borders of the Hawthorne Neighborhood:
East of Emerson Ave. N, West of the Mississippi River, South of Lowry Avenue N. and North of West Broadway Ave. N.

Non-profit organization and business representatives of the Hawthorne Neighborhood must be with businesses or organizations with a physical presence in the Hawthorne neighborhood. Youth organization representatives must belong to organizations that conduct at least 60% of their activities with youth.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Call for Volunteers: Pedestrian/Bike Counts

On Tuesday, September 9th, and Wednesday, September 10th Minneapolis Public Works will be conducting bicycle and pedestrian counts, and we need your help! Volunteers will be asked to count the number of cyclists and pedestrians at several locations around Minneapolis , in 2-hour shifts around the clock. We are in need of volunteers at the following times on each day. We are in particular need of volunteers during the afternoon rush hour, between 4:00 and 6:00 pm :

Tuesday, September 9th

12:00 to 2:00 am

2:00 to 4:00 am

4:00 to 6:00 am

6:00 to 8:00 am

8:00 to 10:00 am

10:00 to 12:00 noon

12:00 to 2:00 pm

2:00 to 4:00 pm

4:00 to 6:00 pm

6:00 to 8:00 pm

8:00 to 10:00 pm

10:00 to 12:00 midnight

Wednesday, September 10th

4:00 to 6:00 pm

Those interested in volunteering may contact Shaun Murphy at or 612.275.5128. Please leave your e-mail address, phone number, a preferred day and time slot, and if desired, a neighborhood where you would like to volunteer. Since these counts are city-wide, we will do our best to place volunteers in convenient locations. Public Works can use up to 100 volunteers, so please pass this e-mail along to friends and family who may be interested in helping.

Background: This is the second annual city-wide count. These important counts will begin to establish trend lines showing the impact of biking and walking on Minneapolis streets and trails. The counts will also measure the impact of several bike lane and path improvements. View our report on last year’s city-wide bicycle and pedestrian count (pdf) to learn more. These counts will include a rare 24-hour manual count at up to two locations. 24-hour counts will help to establish new knowledge about non-motorized travel during the evening and nighttime hours. Minneapolis Public Works is partnering with Transit for Livable Communities (TLC), which will be organizing similar counts on the same day. If you have received a solicitation from TLC as well, please choose the organization for which you will volunteer.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Housing Committee Moved to HNC Offices for Sept. 3rd

As a reminder: due to the park closure until September 12th, this month's housing committee meeting on September 3rd is at the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Office at 2944 Emerson Avenue North. The meeting takes place from 7 to 9PM. We look forward to seeing you there!