Community notebook: School year extended by four days

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April 9, 2012
By: Jeremy Zoss and Michelle Bruch
Jeremy Zoss and Michelle Bruch
The 2012–2013 school year calendar approved March 13 by the School Board adds four instructional days for students, bringing Minneapolis classroom time more in line with other metro-area school districts.

The 176-day calendar, developed by a district committee with feedback from staff, parents and students, shortens the Thanksgiving holiday break by one day and shrinks winter break to seven days from 10. Students will be in school next year on Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving, and will return from winter break immediately after New Years Day, on Jan. 2.

A presentation to the School Board in February noted Minneapolis’ current 172 instructional days were several fewer than other area districts like St. Paul and Richfield, which both have students in class 175 days, and far fewer than some successful charter schools, like Harvest Preparatory School in North Minneapolis, where students are in class 196 days.

Some objected to the longer school year, including Nathan Carroll, a Southwest High School freshman who collected several hundred signatures on a petition he presented to the board. Carroll said too few students and parents were involved in devising the new calendar.

Clare Housing drops plans for new NE project

Clare Housing, an organization that provides housing for people living with HIV/AIDS, has shelved plans for a development in an old mattress factory next to Calumet Lofts in Northeast.

Lee Lewis, executive director of Clare Housing, said the organization failed to meet deadlines for funding and tax credits for the project planned for 115 5th St. NE. The nonprofit was looking at renovating the building, a tax-forfeited property, for 22 units of affordable housing.  

“On this project, we ran out of time to build the partnerships we needed to have in place to complete the 22-unit project,” Lewis said. “We are disappointed because we felt this was a good site but we are prepared to move on to another project site.”

The Clare Housing proposal raised some red flags with residents at Calumet Lofts.

The board of directors for the condo association at Calumet Lofts, 127 5th St.NE, circulated a letter critical of the organization’s plans, raising concerns about safety, “structural issues” in the building slated for redevelopment and the project’s impact on neighborhood real estate values.

The board held a meeting April 4 — after this edition went to press — to discuss the future of the building and potential redevelopment opportunities.

Film festival features 250 films from around the world

EAST BANK — Films from more than 60 countries will be showcased during the three-week Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival at St. Anthony Main Theater, which runs April 12–May 3.

There will be 250 films showcased during the festival, appearances by filmmakers from around the globe and several parties and other events.

Highlights include a special Spotlight on Middle East program featuring films from Israel, North Africa, Turkey and other parts of the region, and a Minnesota-made program on locally made films.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the film festival, there will be a special bash April 21. Go to for more details.

Revised law makes Minneapolis more film friendly

The city is a friendlier place for film production, thanks to revised laws passed in March.

“It’s an industry the city has supported in the past,” said Council Member Kevin Reich (1st Ward), adding that he wants the city to be an easier partner for this part of the creative economy.

As a start, Reich rewrote city law to allow film, video and audio production in all commercial districts. Currently, film production requires special city approval.

The new law would expand the amount of space allowed for video production. It would still require soundproof walls, with the exception of industrial areas.

CSA program comes to Corner Coffee

NORTH LOOP — North Loop residents now have a new option for organic produce. The North Loop Neighborhood Association have partnered with Brainerd’s Farm of Plenty and its Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Those who are interested can sign up for a weekly share of organic heirloom vegetables that will be delivered weekly to Corner Coffee, 514 3rd. St N. Shares will be available on Mondays from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

CSA organizer Amy Crissman said she was prompted to bring the CSA program to North Loop because she was looking for an affordable way to bring organic foods to her family. Farm of Plenty’s summer CSA shares are priced at $450. The summer deliveries last for 12 weeks, which breaks down to $37.50 a week.

“I can’t buy conventional vegetables for that little,” Crissman said.

Crissman said Farm of Plenty is the perfect partner to bring more organic foods to North Loop. “The farmers are so passionate about organics,” she said. “They really want to educate people about their food and the value of knowing where it comes from.”

Farm of Plenty offers CSA shares year-round. For more information, visit

Marcy Arts Gala returns to Soap Factory

MARCY HOLMES — The 11th annual Marcy Arts Gala will be held at The Soap Factory on April 21 from 6–11 p.m. The Gala raises money for arts programming at Marcy Open School and funds artist residencies for the upcoming school year. Last year’s gala raised over $38,000 for the school.

Every year, the Gala features live and silent auctions of art by local artists, live music and other entertainment. This year’s Gala features music by The Brass Messengers and a performance by the Infiammati Fire Circus. The event will also features food from local restaurants such as Sen Yai Sen Lek, Brasa, Ginger Hop and drinks from Surly, Rock Bottom Brewery, Surdyk’s and more.

This year’s Gala will fund a wide variety of artist residencies at Marcy Open School, including a kindergarten folk dance program, a 5th grade program by the Children’s Theatre Company and many more. Marcy Arts Partnership coordinator Laura Cayere-King calls the residencies a great way to build student self-confidence through artistic expression.

Tickets for the Marcy Arts Gala are $40 in advance and can be purchased online at Tickets are $45 at the door. All artists who contribute a piece for the auction receive a free ticket.

Mini-Comics Day returns for second year

WASHINGTON AVENUE — On May 26, the second annual Mini-Comics Day will be held at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, 1011 Washington Ave. S. The event is intended to celebrate the art of cartooning and the creation of hand-made comic books.

On Mini-Comics Day, participants are challenged to completely create a hand-made comic, including writing, drawing, printing and binding. Anyone is welcome to participate, either as an individual or a team.

Mini-Comics Day was created by The International Cartoonist Conspiracy, a group of comic artists and cartoonists that was founded in Minneapolis in 2002 and has since spread around the world. The group’s tutorial on how to make a mini-comic and other information can be found at

Social Capital holding ‘Party with a Purpose’ on April 14

HENNEPIN AVENUE — Local philanthropy group Social Capital will hold its spring charitable event at the Burnet Art Gallery in Le Meridian Chambers Hotel on April 14. The party begins at 8 p.m. and will raise money for three local arts organizations: Art Buddies, Free Arts Minnesota and Youth Performance Company.

Social Capital is a Minneapolis-based group that works to overturn the perception that there are barriers to being philanthropic. It partners with Minnesota-based nonprofits and raises money for them through democratic distributions of funds. All attendees of the spring fundraiser will be able to choose how they want to allocate it to the three non-profits. One hundred percent of all donations go directly to the chosen organizations.

Art Buddies helps children from low-income families build their confidence and self-esteem through completing creative projects with adult mentors. Free Arts Minnesota is dedicated to bringing the healing properties of art to abused, at-risk and neglected children. Youth Performance Company works to empower young people through art classes, in-school residencies and leadership development.

Naturally, the spring fundraiser will also feature drinks, food and live music. “We want these events to be a fun Saturday night out with your friends,” said Social Capital director of marketing Emily Shannon. “We’re trying to demonstrate that philanthropy can be fun.”

A new club for NE arts lovers

Northeast is cultivating a little piece of Paris, in the form of a new artist gathering envisioned by painter Dougie Padilla.

“Paris Northeast” is a monthly gathering of 60 to 80 people at cafés, galleries and bars so that artists and other creative workers can connect and inspire each other.

“[It’s] dedicated to the re-enchantment of life here in our little corner of the world, a gathering without agenda, without committees or workloads,” Padilla said. “Solely dedicated to a glass of wine, a bite of food, good conversation, and the imaginations of all involved.”

Padilla said his inspiration for the group came from a 2005 show of his art in Paris. While on the trip he noticed Parisians making time for the delights of daily life.

“If I couldn’t live in Paris, I wanted to live in Paris where I lived: Northeast Minneapolis,” Padilla said.

“It’s a wonderful place, a world of its own. It has diversity, history, a small town feel, and it has the arts. And artists adore the imagination and the magic that emanates from its gifts.”

For notification of the next gathering, visit the “Paris Northeast” Facebook page.

New plan for Little Jack’s Steak House

MARSHALL TERRACE — The City Council approved a plan to sell the former Little Jack’s Steak House  to a local architect for redevelopment.

Hennepin County foreclosed on the property at the corner of Lowry and 2nd Street Northeast in 2010 for non-payment of taxes. Rather than put the site up for public auction, the city has negotiated a plan to sell the lot to Dean Dovolis, head of DJR Architecture. Dovolis plans to create new storefronts and eventually build market-rate apartments at the north end of the site.

As a condition of approval, the council members said the developer should not request certain government subsidies for the project.

Dylan Thomas and Sarah McKenzie contributed to this report.