In the rarified air of Wonkville, Minnesota, there is considerable buzz regarding a conference to discuss worldwide efforts to build partnerships among organizations, universities, businesses and others committed to finding sustainable solutions to the social, economic and environmental problems outlined in the World Business Council for Sustainable Developments Vision 2050. Partnership for Change (PFC), an NGO founded in Norway, is a key collaborator and has pledged support for the holistic approach of Vision 2050 by identifying major milestones in fulfilling this agenda. Minnesota 2015: Democracy in a Sustainable Future, is the first such milestone in the journey.
Okay, we know, we are so busted. Your editors would so rather be watching Blaine Boyer maintain his scoreless May streak than sustain a five minute conversation about the world in 2050. The “but” here is a big one: our fine friends and clients at HGA are hosting a prequel event this coming Wednesday, May 20 (as in tomorrow), in their beautiful reception/conference area in the Ford Center (450 Fifth Street North, 55401). Persons who are Vision 2050 curious or more to the point interested in learning how you or your company can support the conference are cordially invited to attend. The event begins at 5:30 and features Orlyn Kringstadt, the Executive Director of PFC USA, and Don Shelby (who has a far more sophisticated view of these matters than your editors—just ask him) along with co-chairs Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Walter Mondale. RSVP or FFI Ariane Laxo, firstname.lastname@example.org or Nick Koch, email@example.com.
Speaking of HGA (and indeed we just did) one of your editors got to tag along as Hennepin County and Minneapolis officials were given a tour of the newly renovated Gaviidae, which is now home to CenterPoint Energy Minnesota’s (CNP) headquarters. The company bought the former Neiman Marcus building two years ago and partnered with HGA’s Dave Paeper in repurposing a largely windowless department store configuration into a true model for a 21st century workplace. Invoking the Glenn Olson/Erich Mische rule, both HGA and CNP are clients and this is a bona fide “two-fer.” On the main level there is a painstakingly carefully curated history of the local natural gas franchise which previews the inspirational artwork that enhances work space throughout. Clever use of natural light and state-of-the-art technology combine to form pleasant surroundings in an energy-efficient textbook on display. Not only will this be new digs for CNP and almost 300 employees but in a couple months Meet Minneapolis (the convention and visitors bureau) will be opening its street level visitors’ center in what has to be the perfect location, Fifth and Nicollet, right across from the LRT station.
Sharper Pencils Meet Creative Thinking
Maybe it’s just because the issue is standing in the shadow of the Legislative session of late, but it also appears calmer minds are back in charge of the Southwest Light Rail project in the wake of the hysteria that followed a $300 million surprise in cost estimates. One thing for certain: the government agencies that are at the LRT wheel are going to have to retool their silo style planning process and involve the private sector in planning and possibly paying for stations around stops that are attractive for development. No doubt that there are stops potentially on the bean counters’ chopping block that could be saved with authentic partnership initiatives. Authentic means putting aside jealousy and prejudice. During a recent brainstorm session one development official commenting on the potential of housing around the stop on 21st Street on the Kenilworth Corridor declared point blank, “Those people would never cooperate.” Here’s a tip from “those people”: if you hadn’t treated them as “those people” from the onset the mess that is left to clean up would be considerably smaller. Soccer park or no we still believe that the Royalston stop and a Farmers Market district redevelopment offers the very best chance for a successful public-private partnership.
ROUND the LOOP
Last issue we featured the newly-opened clothes emporium Atmosfere and received word that several readers stopped in to check them out. Please don’t give us any credit for this recommendation; it will hurt more than help. That said we can’t say enough good things about Thursday nights at J.D. Hoyt’s on Third Avenue and Washington. Why Thursday? It’s because the legendary barkeep, comedian and former altar boy of the year Al Panzino holds court behind the two-tiered bar. On any given Thursday night you just may see UofM coach Jerry Kill exchanging barbs with his boss Norwood Teague or witness another football legend Ezell Jones celebrate another insurance conquest. Do stay for dinner; buy one chop or chicken breast and get the second for just a dollar more. Al will so not cheerfully box it up for you.
Where Are They Now?
We do love to report when our former interns do well, and we have two such reports this issue.
- Max Musicant, founder of the Musicant Group and an original N&O rodeo monkey, has announced an action-packed season at the Piazza on the Mall (1221 Nicollet). Music each and every Wednesday after work, free yoga every Saturday, along with daily doses of ping pong, bocce ball and giant checkers. The activity on the Piazza will be a welcome respite as Mall construction starts in earnest. FFI firstname.lastname@example.org or Piazza on the Mall on Facebook.
- As a wide-eyed ninth grader Sean Oyaas waded into the exciting world of public affairs, soliciting supporters for a new Twins ballpark at community festivals and bar stool to bar stool along First Avenue North. After graduating from the University of Minnesota Sean began a three year stint as Legislative Assistant to the incomparable (and we do mean that) State Senator Terri Bonoff. As this session winds to a close, hopefully by the time this issue gets delivered, Sean will have formally announced that he is leaving the Capitol to join the State Government Relations team at Cargill. His PR flack (and mother) Joan Oyaas explains that this is part of Cargill’s future CEO training program and notes that his first day of work, June 1, will go down in the books as important as the day ol’ W.W. Cargill moved his first load of grain 150 years ago. Both of Sean’s parents are extremely grateful for the mentoring (and nurturing) that Senator Bonoff extended to Sean during his time in her employ. They would tell you that there is genuine hope for leadership from the political center and encourage all of you out there to take heart: There are Terri Bonoffs over in Saint Paul and they can be effective in making sensible change in government. From your old pals at Online, “Way to be, Seanie!”