Neighborhood: West Seventh

People from around the world knit together the community we call West Seventh in Saint Paul. We are fortunate to have a co-op, specialty markets and restaurants, as well as many other independently owned small businesses.

Join me on a tour and come visit! I plan to continue my meander with more news from the neighborhood-

Mississippi Market   http://msmarket.coop/

Breathing Space   Massage Therapy

Theresa del Rosario is a Certified Massage Therapist whose home is also her business. She also works with special needs clients, such as elderly residents of the Sholom Home and Assisted Living Residence, right across the street! (Theresa’s son provided the artistic embellishment to her sign!)

For the past thirty years, Wendy and her family have owned Stransky’s Liquors. The neon yellow sign out front is even older and has no connection to the couple who came to Minnesota from Taiwan three decades ago. They proudly stock local micro brews and Minnesota wine.

School is in session!

Helping edit the children’s page of the Community Reporter  is a new, and wonderful experience. I have been writing profiles of neighbors in the news for over a year, but reading kid’s essays has been a particular treat. I would like to share a couple of essays that will be published in the December issue- these kids are 3rd graders…

http://communityreporter.com/

We hang up an ornament of a fat cat on Christmas. It represents my cat’s birthday. She died last year, but we still celebrate her birthday every Christmas. This is her first time spending Christmas with Jesus.

By Sophia

I go to my cousin’s house for Christmas. We eat different food from my country, Eritrea. But, what all the kids love are the presents; all shapes and sizes. We eat special bread called injera and we have a special sauce called berbere.

By Lidya

One Thanksgiving I ate some jalapenos and they set my mouth on fire and I went crazy. I ate guacamole to make it go away and I said, “make it stop!” I learned not to eat jalapenos again and found out I like guacamole.

By Keyonte

Practical Goods or The Shop Around the Corner: Update!!!

There is new stock at Practical Goods, so I updated pictures from the store!

PRACTICAL GOODS, owned by Wendi Ward, has been a local business fixture since 2002. An offshoot of her interest in historical reenactment and the fur trade, she amassed  a huge collection of trading post blankets and memorabilia and decided it was time to open a shop.

A holdout against the ever present threat of corporate land grabs and takeovers, Wendi remains a stalwart presence on Randolph Avenue in Saint Paul, MN. Her business sits near a busy intersection and has been the subject of a take-over, along with the other locally owned establishments on her block. For now, Wendi is secure, and the passer-by and shopper can take in the array of color and variety of objects for sale (or barter!).

PS: The Raggedy Ann Doll photo- the doll on the right is mine- brought her along for the picture (she is REALLY old!!)

Practical Goods or The Shop Around the Corner: Update

There is new stock at Practical Goods, so I updated pictures from the store!

PRACTICAL GOODS, owned by Wendi Ward, has been a local business fixture since 2002. An offshoot of her interest in historical reenactment and the fur trade, she amassed  a huge collection of trading post blankets and memorabilia and decided it was time to open a shop.

A holdout against the ever present threat of corporate land grabs and takeovers, Wendi remains a stalwart presence on Randolph Avenue in Saint Paul, MN. Her business sits near a busy intersection and has been the subject of a take-over, along with the other locally owned establishments on her block. For now, Wendi is secure, and the passer-by and shopper can take in the array of color and variety of objects for sale (or barter!).

PS: The Raggedy Ann Doll photo- the doll on the right is mine- brought her along for the picture (she is REALLY old!!)

WWII, Dad, MN History Center and Discovery

The plane seems to pitch and roll, noise fills the interior and the shouts of the men are deafening. Enemy fire tears holes in the cabin. We are hit! Flames leap past the windows. A green light guides them to their destiny. Jump! Jump now!

A voice covers a new silence, informing me that all but two perished that day.

I am sitting inside a replica of a WWII Douglas C-47 Skytrain. The faces and voices are real, the effect stunning and emotional. For me, this is the core experience of the Minnesota History Center exhibit, Minnesota’s Greatest Generation.

It resonates on a personal level; my father served in the 19th General Hospital (Rochester, NY) in the European Theater. I realize there are quite a few people like me; children of WWII vets, born later in life perhaps. We learn about our parents through family artifacts, books, letters and exhibits, such as the one at the History Center. My dad did not speak of his WWII.

Tragically, we lost touch when I was 28; his mind captured by a different sort of enemy: Alzheimer’s. I had not begun to formulate, or even imagine, the questions I would later want to ask.

The Minnesota History Center is perched on a hillside overlooking downtown St. Paul. Intersected by streets that also lead visitors to the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Minnesota State Capital, it provides sweeping panoramas from its expansive windows.

The Generations exhibit covers birth, the growing up years, the cultural influences of the times, and what society looked like after the war: the boomers…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Via the Minnesota Historical Society, a portal opens to over two dozen historic sites across the state. From the History Center to Split Rock Light House and Jeffers Petroglyphs, or living history at Oliver H Kelley Farm; the story of Minnesota unfolds.

For me, my visit inspires me to continue the project of reading and archiving my father’s letters and memorabilia. He and I have a great deal of catching up to do.

November 9, 2012

Golden Thyme Cafe, Bouquets by Carolyn: A Selby Avenue Ramble, St. Paul, MN

The 920 block of Selby Avenue, in St. Paul, MN, is the heart of a neighborhood. Golden Thyme Coffee Cafe , Bouquets by Carolyn, and Obama Campaign Headquarters comingle in this short stretch of brick and mortar between Milton and Chatsworth. “Mayor” Mychael Wright and wife Stephanie, owners of Golden Thyme are prominent figures in the community. The Café is a meeting place and unofficial headquarters for the Selby Avenue Jazz Fest, started in 2002. Mychael has partnered with local organizations, businesses, and schools, offering space at the Café for everything from toy giveaways at Christmas to political stump speeches and African-American-themed movie nights.

Today, there are customers at every table. Two self-proclaimed regulars, Patrick and Henry, are seated on high stools at the front window counter. “Everybody feels relaxed here,” comments Patrick, “it’s a corner of America that is mixed and molded..middle of the road.”

Bob and Mary, from neighboring St. Clements Episcopal, incorporate Golden Thyme into their weekly routine and also that of their church. “We hold meetings here and have started a social action community task force…we want to find more ways for St. Clements to be part of the neighborhood. At one time we were a ‘commuter church’, but that is just not the case anymore- a church should be at the heart of its community,” observes Mary.

At the next table over sits Minnesota Stevie, a musician specializing in everything from jazz and R&B to rap and funk.

There is a steady hum of conversation, business and pleasure. People meeting, people who are neighbors, and those just stopping by.

Bouquets By Carolyn, just across Selby, has been in the current location since 2002, but a business for 22 years. It is the first African-American woman owned floral business in Saint Paul. Carolyn takes time out from a busy morning to chat. She says business is good, better now than during the period of recession. Her grandson is in the shop, helping with orders. She is also the proud grandmother of Olivia Bruce, 17, a student at Duke Ellington School of Art in Washington, DC. Carolyn shows me a photo of Olivia and her mom with President and Mrs. Obama. It turns out that Olivia’s artwork was selected to appear in a White House holiday tour book!

Right next door to Carolyn’s establishment is the temporary home of the St. Paul Obama Campaign. The office manager tells me that they are gearing up for Election Day- clearing space for all the supporters expected to descend upon the office. Volunteer phone banks are in full swing and the volunteer receptionist is a testament to grace under pressure.

In the space of a couple of hours I met over a half-dozen people and heard about neighborhood, family, and community pride. Blogging is a GREAT way to explore community and share what you learn- many thanks to all!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Weekly Photo Challenge November 2, 2012

Fountain In The Sky

Saint Paul, MN developed a water themed park fronting the Mississippi a few years ago, featuring twin fountains. They look like giant arms atop stoney pillars; water flowing and splashing 20 feet to the earth below. On really hot days you can wade in the pool created beneath, or stand under the cascading stream!