Community Notebook: Minnesota Idea Open challenges citizens to bridge cultures and faiths

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March 26, 2012
By: Jeremy Zoss and Michelle Bruch
Jeremy Zoss and Michelle Bruch
For the third year, the Minnesota Idea Open is asking Minnesotans for their thoughts on how to deal with a complex topic. After asking for ideas on how to combat obesity and how to conserve water, this year’s topic is how to create closer ties between different cultures and faiths.

Ideas submitted by the public will be narrowed down to a group of finalists, and those finalists will be voted on by the public. The top three ideas will receive $15,000 grants to make those ideas a reality.

Submissions had to be in by March 23, but the public will still have a chance to join the conversation through voting, which continues through May 25.

This year’s challenge is sponsored by One Nation, the national organization focused on connecting diverse communities. One Nation’s sponsorship allowed the Minnesota Idea Open to expand from one $15,000 grant to three and also allowed the organization to hold several awareness events, such as Habitat for Humanity builds.

“The Minnesota Idea Open is such a great match for Habitat,” said Habitat for Humanity Communications Manager Matt Haugen. “Our mission is a very big idea, and they’re looking for those big ideas, those big solutions.”

Naomi Pesky, director of marketing and communications for Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, said the response so far for this year’s challenge has been very strong.

“We’re getting great ideas,” said Pesky. “We’re really excited about it.”

For more information or to vote for your favorite idea, visit

May is Minnesota Museums Month

In conjunction with the American Association of Museums annual meeting in the Twin Cities at the beginning of the month, May has been declared Minnesota Museums Month, the first month-long celebration of museums anywhere in the country.

“Over the past decade, museums have made great strides in engaging their communities and becoming active partners in the civic life of their towns and regions,” said Minnesota Association of Museums Chair Lin Nelson-Mayson in a statement. “We hope that the comprehensive, statewide focus of Minnesota Museums Month will celebrate these engaged museums and
their communities.”

Minnesota has approximately 600 museums, twice as many per capita than the national average. During Minnesota Museum Month, museums around the state will hold special events and promotions. The Metropolitan Library Service Agency will give away a free membership to selected museums everyday throughout the month. To enter the drawing, visit

Minnesota Museums Month is intended to become an annual event. For more information, visit

NE might get another brewery

NORTHEAST PARK — Northeast could land another new brewery. The developer of The Broadway, the office building under renovation at 945 Broadway St. NE, is currently negotiating with a potential brewery tenant.

Even if the deal doesn’t pan out, leasing agents at The Broadway will look for a different brewery to occupy the space, said Mark Krogh, a leasing agent for Java Properties.

If a brewery does move in, the agents would like to land a restaurant as well, perhaps with rooftop seating.

Krogh said early interest in the building is coming from creative tenants, such as web designers.

“There seems to be real demand from the creative class,” he said.

Edison making strides in attendance rates

HOLLAND — A new Edison High School position aimed at improving student attendance is already seeing some success, reports Principal Carla Steinbach.

The new position targets a select group of kids and does whatever possible to make sure they get to class. That can mean knocking on a student’s door in the morning, meeting with parents or even providing an alarm clock.

Last year at this time, student attendance was 89.7 percent, Steinbach said, and today it’s 91.4 percent. The improvement is notable, she said, especially when research says it takes three years for a new program to bring about change.

The position was funded by a federal grant designed to improve Edison High School’s “turnaround school” status. The funding ends this summer, but Steinbach said she would like to find a way to retain the position.

“If something is working, we are going to look for a way to keep it,” she said.

New newsletter keeps pulse of NE art scene

The Northeast Arts District now boasts its own newsletter, written by one of its anchor artists.

Josh Blanc, tile artist and co-owner of Clay Squared to Infinity, recently put out the first edition.

“This has been on my mind for a while,” he said. “It needed to happen.”

He sees plenty of circulated information about job openings and events, but not much about the artists and their work. The arts district that once numbered 30–60 people is now up to 600, he said.

“You can’t grasp what is really happening,” he said. “You have to start with something.”

Blanc’s first email blast highlighted a photographer’s 16,0000-photo catalog of the Lowry Bridge construction and the “Paris Northeast” group, which is a new monthly gathering for artists.

To subscribe, visit

Got a news tip for The Journal? Contact Jeremy Zoss at and Michelle Bruch at