Spokes for Folks
As we begin our holiday journey walking in other people’s shoes, we’ll clamp on a pair of silver Shimanos and reach out to our brothers and sisters of bicycle advocacy to salute a tremendous grassroots effort, Spokes: Bike Walk Connect. This program, a child of the Seward Neighborhood Group, is dedicated to promoting biking and walking for transit, recreation and exercise. Located on 19th Avenue and East 22nd Street, just south of East Franklin and Minnehaha, many of the neighbors Spokes serves are new Americans, largely from East Africa. The organization offers learn-to-ride programs, basic bike repair workshops, and earn-a-bike programs for those willing to spend extra time at Spokes. The group’s executive director, Sheldon Mains, can regale visitors for hours with scores of stories of timid souls who access the program full of trepidation and leave empowered with both new transportation and confidence. Spokes is always in need of used bikes, tools, parts and of course cash. So come on, bikers, put some of that inventory stacked in your garage back into good use. FFI www.spokesconnect.org.
Growing Clean and Green
Next we pull on a pair of Wellingtons to bring you on a very modern farm tour. Dave Roeser and his Garden Fresh Farms (GFF) continue to pull in the accolades both locally and nationally for their innovative aquaponic farming operation. In September GFF won its category in the MNCUP, Minnesota’s new venture competition. The award, a joint venture of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship and the University of Minnesota, not only provides visibility but includes a cash stipend to further research and development. This last week GFF accepted the National Sustainability Award at the CleanTech Open Global Forum in San Jose, California. Roeser and his team are working on their ambitious plan to grow a network of inner-city indoor hydroponic farms. The flagship Maplewood operation already has a new sibling in the form of GFF2 opened in St. Paul’s Midway district this fall.
Testing the Christmas Spirit
We unearthed a pair of mismatched Doc Martens—one brown, one black—at the Richfield ARC Value Village in order to view the coming Christmas season through the lens of avant-garde theater leaders Josh Cragun and Liz Neerland. Their theater company, nimbus, has eschewed “Miracle on 34th Street” in favor of “Morose on Central Avenue.” Nimbus’ last production in what has proven to be a successful year will be The Lower Depths. Its author, Maxim Gorky, made a career describing the lives of the lowest strata in the early years of Soviet Russia. Gorky’s base notes are always hardship, humiliation and brutalization. Think Dickens but instead of a happy ending complete with Christmas goose, think a cold bowl of goose detritus soup. We encourage those of you weary of yuletide cheer to take a look at humanity from Gorky’s bottom-up POV at nimbus this December (7-22). FFI www.nimbustheatre.com.
Finally, this coming Saturday* your editors will don a pair of Nike Airs and be strolling the back streets of Minneapolis and Sarasota looking for locally crafted gifts of the season. Good exercise, great people watching. Our goal is to publish the last 2013 issue two weeks hence, in plenty of time for shopping inspiration. So, Dear Reader, if you have a favorite shoppe or restaurant gift card suggestion, send it here. We will help you spread the good word. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!
* November 30 is Small Business Saturday sponsored by American Express. Register your eligible American Express Card and get a $10 statement credit when you make a purchase of $10 or more at a qualifying small business location. www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small.