Community notebook :: Idea Open finalists

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May 10, 2010 // UPDATED 8:01 am - May 10, 2010
By: Gregory J. Scott
Gregory J. Scott

Idea Open finalists announced

When the Minnesota Community Foundation launched the first-ever Minnesota Idea Open, an online competition that asked everyday citizens to propose methods of combating obesity, it was a bit of an experiment. Organizers weren’t sure if they’d get three ideas or 300.

They ended up getting more than 400.

Just weeks after the competition launched, on March 18, the Idea Open website listed pages and pages of simple, grass roots proposals, from paying people to slim down to installing more exercise equipment in public parks. The Citizens League, a St. Paul-based civic group, oversaw the winnowing of the field to 20 ideas. And just last week, a panel of seven judges — comprised of experts in fitness and social policy fields, as well as a Wired Magazine editor — settled on three finalists.

They are Erik Warner, who proposed expanding a church-sponsored program that uses community gardens to grow fresh vegetables for food shelves; Christine Tubbs, who proposed a program that allows school children to work with community partners to create once-a-week active field days; and Amy Schroeder Ireland who proposed using libraries as hubs for community fitness education and events.

Through May 14, Minnesotans can register at to vote for their favorite idea. The winning idea will receive $15,000 in seed money.

Judge Chris Freytag, a Minneapolis-based author and fitness expert for KARE 11 and Prevent Magazine, said she was “completely engrossed” reading through the ideas.

“I was really delighted at the number of ideas that centered on growing local food and teaching people where food comes from,” she said. “As a fitness trainer, people are always like, ‘What food will get me skinny?’ You see people eating pre-packaged weight loss food, and there lies the problem.”

Freytag didn’t mind taking the decision making away from experts and putting it in the hands of everyday citizens. Group dynamics are very powerful when it comes to staying in shape, she said. Even on a micro level, a workout regimen that has a community component is usually more successful than an individual going it alone. And community involvement is a good deterrent to the temptation of fitness fads.

“The ideas that were selected were not crazy ideas,” she emphasized. “They were all creative, but it’s not rocket science. I always tell people, the secret is that there is no secret.”


Soap Factory to host (Anti)Wrecking Ball for state’s endangered historical places

What better place to honor Minnesota’s 10 most preservation-worthy historical sites than the Soap Factory?

The Soap Factory, a 127-year-old industrial factory now enjoying new life as an art gallery, is a sterling example of adaptive reuse and preservation-in-progress. And so it makes the perfect venue for the first (Anti)Wrecking Ball, a gala fundraiser for the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.

At the May 20 event, as part of National Preservation Month, the Alliance will make its annual announcement of the state’s 10 most endangered historical sites, which have been selected by a group of preservation professionals and advocates. Local supporters will present information on each site — this year’s list includes a 19th-century county courthouse, a rural bridge and a suburban Twin Cities ice-cream stand — and attendees will vote for the most preservation-worthy. The winning site will receive a $2,500 seed grant from the Alliance.

DJ Jake Rudh and the band Ezra & the Pounders will provide live music. Magic Bus Café and Cake Eater Bakery will have food for sale, and a local brewery has been invited to stock a cash bar.

The 10 Most Endangered Historical Places list has been in place for 17 years, and the Alliance claims that more than 140 historic sites have been recognized over the list’s history, two-thirds of which have been saved.

The (Anti)Wrecking Ball happens on May 20, from 6 –9 p.m.,  at the Soap Factory, 514 2nd St. SE. Tickets are $8 for Alliance members, $10 for nonmembers.


More Mauer statues Downtown

Love ’em or hate ‘em, Downtown Minneapolis has just gotten eight more Joe Mauer statues, life-size replicas of the star Twins catcher that each commemorate a year in the team’s history.

Team officials announced the release of the new statues on April 30. The total number of the Mauer replicas now stands at 11. The new statues can be viewed at the following locations:

— Peavey Plaza (Nicollet Mall & 11th Street) — Sponsored by Land O’Lakes, representing the 2008 season;

— Downtown Library (Nicollet Mall & 4th Street) — Sponsored by Mortenson Construction, representing the 1961 season;

— Convention Center Main Entrance — Sponsored by the Minneapolis Convention Center and Meet Minneapolis, representing the 2002 season;

— IDS (Nicollet Mall between 7th & 8th Street) — Sponsored by Splash, representing the 2005 season;

— Target Center (1st Avenue & 6th Street) — Sponsored by the Star Tribune, representing the 1987 season;

— Macy’s (Nicollet Mall & 8th Street) — Sponsored by Macy’s, representing the 1963 season;

— City Center (Nicollet Mall & 7th Street) — Sponsored by Brookfield Properties, representing the 2004 season; and

— Target Plaza (6th Street side) — Sponsored by the Minnesota Twins, representing the 2010 season.


American Swedish Institute to host Ikea design strategist

To cap off its 17 Swedish Designers exhibit, which showcased the top female contemporary designers currently working out of Sweden, the American Swedish Institute hosts a visit from IKEA’s product design strategist Mats Nilsson.

Nilsson has worked for IKEA since 1982, with a focus on product presentation and home furnishing for stores, the IKEA catalog, exhibits and advertising. He has worked in Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Italy and the U.S., and is currently part of a team of strategists leading the work of 50 product developers who create the IKEA product range.

A reception and presentation is scheduled for May 24 at 6 p.m. Admission is $7 ($5 for ASI members). The American Swedish Institute is located at 2600 Park Ave. in Minneapolis. For information call 871-4907 or visit


Downtown farmers markets open

With the May 8 opening of Mill City Market, all three Downtown farmers markets are now in business. The Lyndale Minneapolis Farmers Market and the Nicollet Mall Farmers Market both opened in late April.

And thanks to a recent city council ordinance, food carts can now get in on the action.

Longtime farmers market favorite Danny Tollefson will make his Tollefson Family Pork available on Nicollet Mall on Thursdays, selling sandwiches all day from a mobile sausage grill. Barrio reportedly has plans to roll out a burrito truck. Sonny’s Ice Cream makes its farmers market debut this year, selling six to eight seasonal flavors from its Mill City cart. Also at the Mill City location, restaurant Spoonriver has a crepe stand.


New deadline for public art award nominations

The deadline for the 2010 Minneapolis Arts Commission Awards, which honors organizations and individuals for their contributions to public art, has been extended to May 31.  

In July, the Minneapolis Arts Commission will announce winners of four awards: the award for community involvement in public art, the award for celebrating the city through public art, the award for integration of public art in private development and the special award for outstanding contribution to the arts and the community.

For more information, visit or call 673-2597.