Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hawthorne Receives Neighborhood Revitalization Award from MetLife!

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

Upon my return from a vacation in Tanzania, the very first work email I opened up gave me this tremendous news. The Hawthorne Neighborhood Council, in conjunction with many of our EcoVillage partners, received a Neighborhood Revitalization award from the MetLife Foundation. There were 720 applicants from across the country this year, and eleven were chosen as recipients. Hawthorne and our partners are proud of and grateful for this honor.

The difficulties and accomplishments in the EcoVillage have been documented by the USA Today, National and local Public Radio, in the Star Tribune, and even some odd ones, like a Japanese television station, and al-Jazeera. But the story of the EcoVillage has been most extensively detailed on a blog belonging to Hawthorne board member John Hoff.

We started with an area besieged by foreclosures and vacancies well before the housing crisis hit. Drug dealing and prostitution were so rampant on the corner of 31st Ave N and 6th St N that many drivers did not even come to a complete stop at the four-way stop sign. But EcoVillage and Hawthorne residents were vigilant, calling 911 incessantly and getting the attention of many at the city of Minneapolis who would be crucial in this fight against blight.

Hawthorne, the Northside Home Fund, and PPL sat down in the HNC office with just about every city department that deals with livability issues. We went house by house, issue by issue, and assigned tasks to various people and departments. As Inspector Mike Martin said, "Everybody did exactly what they were supposed to do. Even the bad guys went away."

There was pushback, as former board chair Peter Teachout had his truck set on fire, and a known drug dealer was suspected of arson at a property he lost to foreclosure. That house, and others, had to be demolished.

We worked at it.

Contributed photo above

And we celebrated, often with Polish sausage from EcoVillage resident Anders Golebiowski.

But our work is not nearly done. We are building our first new LEED-certified home.

President Carter is coming to the EcoVillage in October, and we need plenty of volunteers before then to pave the way. Mike Christenson of CPED said that the turnaround in this neighborhood happened faster than he's ever seen. Hawthorne owes a debt of gratitude to our partners in this venture, as we know that the momentum will keep us on this path to revitalization.

A formal presentation of the award from MetLife is being planned, and will be announced soon on the Hawthorne Voices blog.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Minnesota State Arts Board's Artist Initiative Grants!

The next application deadline for the Minnesota State Arts Board's Artist Initiative grant program will be Friday, August 27, 2010. 

Artist Initiative grants support and assist artists at various stages in their careers. The program encourages artistic development, nurtures artistic creativity, and recognizes the contributions individual artists make to the creative environment of the state of Minnesota.

Several things about the program are different this year:
  Artists, working in any discipline, are eligible to apply
  The grant range has been expanded; artists may request from $2,000 to $10,000
  Projects will need to include a community component
  Applicants will need to apply online, using the Arts Board's Web based forms

Many things about the program are the same as they have been in previous years:
  Artists, at any stages in their careers, may apply
  Grants must be used to fund a specific project that will enhance the applicant's artistic or career development
  Artists will have a one-year period to expend the grant funds.

Visit the Arts Board's Web site for more information about the program and how to apply:

A series of grant information sessions will be held in communities throughout the state, the schedule will be posted during the last week of July.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Agenda for the August Hawthorne Huddle

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

The following is an email announcement sent out by Sophie Winter of the General Mills Foundation.

July 29, 2010


To: Friends of the Hawthorne Huddle

As the Hawthorne Huddle looks ahead to its 13th anniversary (birthday!) this November, we’d like to engage the group in brief dialogue on where we’ve been, and where and how we’d like the Huddle to grow in its teen years. On Thursday, August 5th, General Mills Foundation staff will facilitate a 1-hour “reflection and ideation” session to get your thoughts on the Huddle’s biggest accomplishments and opportunities. We hope you can join us with your memories and motivations for future Hawthorne Huddle impact!

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, General Mills Foundation

  • Safety Update - Inspector Mike Martin, Minneapolis Police Department 4th Precinct

  • Main Program Topic - Looking Back, Looking Ahead, What's Next for the Hawthorne Huddle?
Come and be a part of the neighborhood dialogue in Hawthorne!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Video Footage from the Hard Hat Gala

Post by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council Housing Director. Video contributed by Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.

This spring, Habitat for Humanity came by and shot some footage of the EcoVillage in order to promote the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project at their annual Hard Hat Gala. Folks who saw the video at the gala kept on coming up to me, saying how passionate my acting was in the video. "That's because it wasn't acting," I said.

Interestingly enough, one of the first houses we went to was what the neighborhood has nicknamed "The Brick House," one we are hoping to save and rehab. As we were walking up to the place, I was telling the story about how excited I was in seeing all kinds of mortgage geeky paperwork that would get posted here. (Click here for a picture of that.) Frankly, I had to struggle to keep my composure when I saw the order to raze the building posted.

After shooting the footage, I went into high gear and contacted our partners at the city to ask that the raze order be removed. They complied by the end of that same day, a sign of how committed our partnership with them really is in the EcoVillage. But out of all the footage we shot, the ONE clip I had hoped WOULDN'T be used instead was put RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE VIDEO. I love the irony of it all.

Habitat House Near Farview Park Nears Completion!

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

What a difference a few weeks make! When I left for vacation in Tanzania, the exterior of the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity project at 610 29th Ave N was still being worked on, and I hadn't had a chance to see the interior. And now the house looks almost done. Several TCHH board members were volunteering today, practicing what they preach.

Work also started up this week on two of Habitat's rehab projects in and around the EcoVillage in preparation for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in October. Hawthorne and Habitat are looking for volunteers to contribute and help coordinate the rehab and new construction leading up to President Carter's visit. More information is on its way on how Hawthorne members, NoMi residents, and anyone who's willing can help.

In the meantime, Hawthorne thanks Habitat for their partnership!