Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lawmakers say "No" to Neighborhood cuts proposed by Mayor, City Council

Media release from the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization, image from www.nrp.org.  Editorial note:  This post is the press release, largely unedited, from before last night's council meeting.  Results of that meeting may differ slightly from some claims made below.

Emergency meeting draws 65 including 9 lawmakers, 2 City Council members
Find video and plicy analysis by the University of Minnesota further below

Minneapolis MN - 65 people including neighborhood leaders, 9 state lawmakers, and 2 City Council members from Minneapolis turned out to a meeting at Corcoran Park on Sunday, Dec. 12, despite a weekend snowstorm that buried cars, crippled transit, and collapsed the Metrodome.

The meeting was called to discuss a recent proposal by Mayor R. T. Rybak and the City Council to re-purpose Neighborhood Revitalization funds as "tax relief," a move that would require approval by the Legislature.  The City Council voted on the proposal on Monday, Dec. 13, less than one week after the proposal was first made known to the  public by an article in the Star Tribune.

Senator Ken Kelash, Chair of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) policy board, explained that while past mayors and city councils have tried to take control of Neighborhood funding, "this is the first time we've been ambushed, aand that's what this is--it's an ambush."  Representative Joe Mullery called the City's proposal "improper and illegal," adding...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

PPL Needs EcoVillage Volunteers This Week!

Post by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director, photo contributed by PPL.

PPL Building Project-Hawthorne EcoVillage
Support efforts in North Minneapolis to build and renovate affordable housing for those in need in the community in response to the foreclosure crisis. PPL’s Housing Development dept. is renovating a house at 3023 N. 4th St. as part of the Hawthorne EcoVillage project. Volunteers needed! Construction/carpentry experience welcome but not required.

Where: 3023 N. 4th St., Minneapolis
When: Thursday 11/4, 9-5
Friday 11/5, 9-5
Saturday 11/6, 9-1

Construction experience is welcome but not required. Skilled supervision, tools, materials and snacks provided. Volunteers are asked to bring a bag lunch and work gloves.

For more information or to sign up, please contact Julie Huck, PPL Volunteer Mgr., at 612-455-5111 or email Julie Huck.

Agenda for the November Hawthorne Huddle

October 28, 2010


To: Friends of the Hawthorne Huddle

At this month’s Hawthorne Huddle, we will learn about local youth development projects that get young people involved in urban farming/gardening, from the planning stages to managing its growth, harvesting and marketing the produce. These programs not only educate youth about the source of our food; more importantly, they provide development opportunities that can open up new avenues for their future. Representatives from local organizations will tell us about the programs they offer to the youth of our community and how we can become involved. Please join in the discussion; we welcome and encourage your input and ideas.

The Hawthorne Huddle will be held from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. in the Multipurpose Room at Farview Park, located at 621 29th Avenue North. A continental breakfast will be available at 7:15 a.m.


Ellen Luger


  • WELCOME Ellen Luger
  • SAFETY UPDATE Representative, Minneapolis Police Department 4th Precinct

  • Amanda Stoelb, West Side Program Director, Youth Farm and Market Project
  • Marilu Thomas, Executive Director, Redeemer Center for Life
  • Representative, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photos from President Carter's Visit to Hawthorne

Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council housing director.  Group photo above taken by Pat Carney.

More photos from the day of President Carter's visit to Hawthorne after the jump...

Photos from Day 1 of Habitat Week

The first volunteers of the week!
At the beginning of the week, there was only a foundation at 430 30th Ave N.
Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council housing director.

A technical, editorial note:  Blogger is acting up and only allowing one photo at a time to upload.  Posts therefore are coming in more slowly than I'd like due to time constraints with other job duties.

More photos after the jump...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Photos from the Habitat Week Opening Ceremony

Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council housing director.

More photos after the jump...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Video Footage from Habitat Week Closing Ceremonies

Post and videos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council housing director; videos with Jeff Skrenes in them contributed by Habitat staff or volunteers.

With such an extraordinary month, capped off by thousands of volunteers and a visit from  President Carter, Hawthorne still has photos and videos to share from the events of the Habitat week.  Above are several videos from the final day of work.

Former HNC board chair Peter Teachout asked for a statement of his to be read at one of the final events, and I obliged.  Some people have said that the sound quality on that video makes it difficult to hear.  In response, I've posted Peter's speech after the jump.  Peter said...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Press Coverage from Habitat Week in the EcoVillage

Post by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council housing director.  Photo by Pat Carney.

After the rousing success of last week, and the spotlight that President Carter's visit has shined on the Hawthorne EcoVillage, I thought I'd try and collect as much of the media coverage we received and put it all in one place so that Hawthorne members, NoMi residents, and others can easily access these terrific stories.  I've tried to be as complete as possible, but have excluded some items.  For instance, TV stations and newspapers in Duluth, Fargo, and LaCrosse all picked up this story but only published brief blurbs that offer no new material.  The same goes for newspapers, TV stations, and websites/blogs in other cities where Habitat and the Carters did work last week.  They may have mentioned Minneapolis or the EcoVillage, but only in passing.

NoMi photographer extraordinaire Pat Carney took the above photo, although a similar one may be available on the Habitat website in the near future.  Pat also has an excellent photo album of the Carters' visit on his website.

The other media coverage we've received is listed after the jump...

Star Tribune





Pioneer Press







fox 9


City of Minneapolis





Twin Cities Daily Planet




The Uptake


Kare 11


Irving Inquisition


Minnesota Daily


If readers have other links that we've missed, please use the comment section or email me at jskrenes@hawthorneneighborhoodcouncil.org.

Sondra Samuels, Keynote Speaker for HNC Annual Dinner

Post by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director. Video by Megan Goodmundson/NoMi Passenger.

At the Hawthorne Neighborhood annual dinner on September 30, 2010, we were honored to have Sondra Samuels as our keynote speaker. Her excellent comments about what it means to live in community with one another were truly appreciated, and we thank Sondra for all she does for north Minneapolis.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Habitat Luncheon with President Carter in the EcoVillage (part 3 of video footage)

Post and videos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director

There will be time to explain in more detail the events of the week, but for now, we want to make the video footage available to everyone. Two things should be pointed out, however. First, President Carter once again praised Hawthorne for being the best neighborhood he's worked in. And second, a slight slip of the tongue by our Mayor needs to be corrected. He accidentally called Valeria, a long-term resident of the EcoVillage "Russian." Valeria is POLISH and darn proud of it. We're grateful for the commitment and hard work of Rybak, but for the sake of Valeria's Polish pride, we have to make that correction here.

President Carter: "We've Never Worked in a Nicer Neighborhood" (part 2 of video footage)

Post and videos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director

There are two things that stand out about these press conference videos. First, President Carter described the view from Farview Park and lauded our historic housing stock, then stated, "We've never worked in a nicer neighborhood than this one." Granted, this could be like a proud parent who tells their child, "I love you all the same," or a rock singer who whispers to his bandmates, "Which city are we in?" before stepping to the mic and declaring Minneapolis to be awesome. Still, Jimmy Carter said that Hawthorne was the nicest neighborhood he's worked in, and we get to brag about that.

Secondly, Carter is not the bragging type. Knowing that the media (and even the community) tends to focus on the star power of an ex-President, he kept on deflecting and asking if there were questions about Habitat or bringing the focus back to our community or Habitat's work. Here's a man we can admire.

Oh, and he said Hawthorne was the best. Did I mention that?

Videos of Habitat Week in Hawthorne! (part 1)

Post and videos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director

This has been a tremendous week for the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council, as we've had the honor of President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale working together on a Habitat project for the very first time in 27 years of Habitat for Humanity housing work done by the President and his wife.  Plenty of other media have been doing an excellent job covering the success of the EcoVillage, Hawthorne community members, and the countless volunteers who have descended upon our neighborhood.

Here at the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council, we've been so busy that we haven't had a chance to sift through all the great photos, videos, and stories of the week.  As things settle down, we'll be sure to add more content on this blog.  In the meantime, here is the first of several video posts.  The footage above is from the opening ceremonies at the Mall of America.  Senator Franken spoke and we had excellent music from the angelic Ashleigh Still and the always racuous Belfast Cowboys.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hawthorne Neighborhood Honored by the City!

Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director.  Videos by Jeff Skrenes except where noted otherwise.

Based on the neighborhood's award-winning success in and around the EcoVillage, and in celebration of Habitat for Humanity's and former President Jimmy Carter's partnership in bringing several new families to our community, the Minneapolis city council recognized the tremendous accomplishments of Hawthorne, PPL, and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity at today's full council meeting.

Videos are after the jump as well, and the resolution reads...

Friday, September 17, 2010

MetLife Award Presented for Progress in EcoVillage

Post, photos, and video by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director.

The MetLife Foundation yesterday awarded Project for Pride in Living and the Minneapolis Police Department for their work in conjunction with the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council and many other partners in the EcoVillage.  Out of 720 applicants from across 48 states, we were one of only eleven recipients this year.  Steve Cramer of PPL said in his remarks that they had trouble putting together a design for the press release because there are so many partners that we weren't sure how to fit them all on one page.

Many of them are pictured here.
 After the presentation, the first new construction of the EcoVillage, 400 31st Avenue North, was ready for its open house...(more pictures after the jump)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Meet the New Homeowners! (Yes, ALL of Them)

A few weeks ago, I met some of the folks who will be new homeowners in and around the EcoVillage thanks to Habitat for Humanity.  They were amazing people and we'll be blessed to have them in our community.  Then, last week, I received paper copies of the neighbors' profiles and stories.  Today, I learned they were posted on the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity website.

Halima Abdi, Abdul Wali, and family
For Halima Abdi and Abu Wali, life is about balance. With three energetic young boys and their teenage niece at home, it can be hard for these working parents to find time for their own careers. And for the next few months...(click here for the rest of their story)

Hamza Ahmed, Abdulazize Hamza & family
A room, no larger than a small office, houses four mats, four pillows, and a TV on a stand. Abdulazize, his father Hamza and two younger brothers share these four walls, which hold all of their possessions. “It’s a room to sleep,” Abdulazize says. The family of four, all boys...(click here for the rest of their story)

Drakeima Ingram, Robbie Loyde Jr., and family
Drakeima Ingram moved her family from Chicago to Minneapolis in 1995, hoping to find a better life. Since then, they have been at the mercy of bad landlords, dealing with...(click here for the rest of their story)

Nina Kimmons and family
When Nina heard that she had been selected for a Habitat home, she shouted with joy and then fell silent, stunned by the good news. As she hung up the phone, Nina’s children stared at her in surprise. “Mom,” they asked, “Are you okay?” (click here for the rest of her story)

Melo Lawson and family
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Melo Lawson and her family are an incredible reminder of these powerful words. Since coming to the United States from Togo in 2003, (click here for the rest of their story)

Donjia McDonald
Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Donjia McDonald is a friendly, busy, and proud mother of three. She currently works as an overnight counselor at a group home. She had worked at a bank for four years, but she lost that job when the recession deepened...(click here for the rest of her story)

Kitessa Nigere, Ebise Bayisa, and family
By the time their home in North Minneapolis is ready, Kitessa and Ebise’s family of three will become four. Kitessa and Ebise, both from Ethiopia, are expecting a second child at the end of July. For this young and growing family...(click here for the rest of their story)

Just reading these stories and finding out about the new residents we'll have in Hawthorne gives me goosebumps.  I never imagined that we'd be adding this many people to the EcoVillage and surrounding blocks all at once.  Now, if you're like me, you're probably wondering, "How do I volunteer during the first week of October for this completely transformative event?"  (That IS what you're wondering, right?  RIGHT?!)

Well, I'm glad you asked.  Click here to sign up for various tasks; we still need plenty of help.  Or you can email Andy Barnett or Trista Matacastillo.

Once again, thanks a million to Habitat and President Carter, and to all of our new residents, welcome to the neighborhood!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Agenda for the September Hawthorne Huddle

Mike Christenson greets Valeria (aka "The Polish Lady" at the EcoVillage Groundbreaking
Drive by the house at 400 31st Ave N on your way to the Huddle.  You'll hardly BELIEVE what it looks like now!

Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director


To: Friends of the Hawthorne Huddle

At this month’s Hawthorne Huddle, we’ll hear about the Hawthorne EcoVillage, a commitment to the community that is both ecologically friendly and economically affordable. The EcoVillage development represents a shared vision among neighborhood residents and leaders, community agencies and the City of Minneapolis. The goal of the project is to create and maintain a neighborhood that is a model of sustainability. Our panelists will tell us about this neighborhood-driven project which will preserve existing homes, build new single family homes, include mixed-income living opportunities, and create a healthy and sustainable urban community. Please join in the discussion about this great collaborative project. We welcome and encourage your input and ideas.

The Hawthorne Huddle will be held from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. in the Multipurpose Room at Farview Park, located at 621 29th Avenue North. A continental breakfast will be available at 7:15 a.m.

WELCOME Ellen Luger
SAFETY UPDATE Inspector Mike Martin, Minneapolis Police Department 4th Precinct
IDEATION RECAP Jeff Peterson, General Mills Community Action
Introduction: The Honorable R. T. Rybak, Mayor of Minneapolis
Diane Hofstede, Council Member, City of Minneapolis
Bev Scherrer, Chair, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Committee,
Chris Wilson, Director of Real Estate Development, Project for Pride in Living (PPL)
Susan Haigh, President, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
Andy Barnett, Director, Construction, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

Next meeting: Thursday, October 7, 2010

South Hawthornites Raise Concerns

This dumpster has been left on 2228 4th St N, vacant land owned by Hennepin County.
311 and MnDot have been informed of the broken sound wall.

Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director

Residents in the southeastern section of Hawthorne have brought up areas of concern along the 2200 block of 4th St N. Sometimes, as shown above with the retaining wall, those problems spill over to 3rd St - or even, technically, several feet beyond.

Drug dealing, dog fighting, and other illicit activities have been reported along this block, with a notable drug arrest reported by a neighbor at 2210 4th St N. This property is owned by Mohammed Moghul, presumably a relative of Bashir Moghul. Mohammed uses a contact address in Roseville that Bashir and other Moghul relatives have used in the past. And the place is at least $8,100 behind on taxes.

In the first picture above, the vacant lot brought back some fond memories. Once again, someone is misusing Hennepin County land. I called this in to 311, Hennepin County Property Services, Commissioner Stenglein's office, and even Veit Disposal. We'll see which one alleviates this nuisance first.

The other incidents described by residents were not occurring during my visit to the area, but the information has been passed on to our councilperson and the 4th Precinct. We watch, we call.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Habitat Spurs Progress in EcoVillage!

Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director

As we gear up towards the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter visit in October, I strolled through the EcoVillage this week. Pictured above is 430 30th Ave N. When I went by one day, it was a normal vacant lot with a Habitat sign and some markers on it. The following day, ground was being broken here, as well as at 416 30th Ave N. I also had the chance to meet two of the families who will be living at 430 30th and 419 30th. They're wonderful people who will be excellent additions to the neighborhood.

Just south of the EcoVillage boundaries is another Habitat rehab at 2917 6th St N.

And while the new LEED home at 400 31st is a PPL project and not Habitat, it's still coming along nicely. The garage, being worked on in the photo below, is likely complete by now.

Mike Christenson of CPED has been fond of saying, "When things are done in the EcoVillage you're not going to belive it." Well, we're only in the infancy of building anew, and the future is already so bright. Here's what I believe: I believe that in several years, we'll put the finishing touches on this project. And when that happens, we'll tell all the newbies about how rough it was here for a while. When that happens, things will have been so good for so long that THEY'LL be the ones who don't believe us.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Purchases Office Space!

Post and photo by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director

The Hawthorne Neighborhood Council is now the proud owner of 2944 Emerson Ave N, closing on our long-standing office space in July. With an exciting new beginning also came a bittersweet end; the transaction marked the final works of the Bethel Lutheran Church Dissolution Committee.

Originally, the house was a structure associated with the church building to the north of the site. It was used as the church parsonage from its construction until 1958. For the next thirty years, Bethel Lutheran Church held Sunday school in the building and used it as their church office space. Shortly afterward, the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council (then called the Hawthorne Area Community Council) began renting office space from Bethel. As attendance and membership at Bethel Lutheran Church declined, the church was sold to New Bethel Baptist and the lots were divided to create two separate properties.

Prior to closing on the house, HNC first went to the city of Minneapolis for a zoning variance, which was approved. The city's findings and recommendations can be found here.

Hawthorne is grateful for the hard work of our board members, staff, and other colleagues who helped guide us through the zoning and acquisition processes, including the advice from Project for Pride in Living regarding energy-efficient and environmentally friendly ways we can begin to rehab our new home. We are now owners of our own office space at a fraction of our previous rental costs.

In the coming months, HNC will begin the work of improving the property through a new roof and refurbished windows, as well as landscaping and other changes. Hawthorne and NoMi neighbors are encouraged to stop by and see our "new" home!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wafana's - Going, Going, Gone!

Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director.

The Wafana's store at 24th and Lyndale once logged over 1,400 911 calls in a 12-month period and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in city resources. At the 3rd Ward CARE meeting this week, I heard the news it was demolished. Already, as shown above, new trees have been planted along the property.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

EcoVillage LEED House Ready for Showing!

Post by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director. Image contributed by Banneker Realty.

The first new construction of the Hawthorne EcoVillage is ready for sale! For more information on this exciting new home, which is expected to be LEED-certified upon completion, go to its official website. From there, you can contact our excellent listing agents at Banneker Realty. From all the wonderful neighbors in Hawthorne, welcome to the EcoVillage!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Rehab Begins at 915 22nd Ave N!

Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director

Rehab work is in full swing at 915 22nd Ave N, making it impossible for no-accounts to use the spot as a place to come and deal or use drugs. Neighbors are happy to see the progress, and we hope the house will be sold to a good owner-occupant in the near future!