JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019
STOPPED BY COPS? CLARENCE CASTILE HAS ADVICE — P. 3
What's the Big Secret?
Our district council shows neighbors the door
I got kicked out of a Frogtown Neighborhood Association
(FNA) meeting again in December. This time it was at the
end of a meeting of its board, when the chairperson
announced that the meeting was now closed, and the two of
us visiting neighborhood residents would have to leave.
Why? Well, no one bothered with a
reason. We were just directed toward
Is this how the city's district councils
— the FNA is one of 1 7 in St. Paul —
are intended to operate? The answer is
no. According to the city, which funded the FNA with
$67,000 of government money in 201 8, the organization is
supposed to be “totally accessible including open, widely
publicized meetings, where the greatest possible degree of
community participation is encouraged and maintained.”
Having been booted from a previous FNA meeting — this
one an organizing session with residents at Wilder Square
Town Homes fighting against an offer to buy out their co-op
apartments — I wasn’t entirely surprised to get kicked out
again. After that eviction I appeared at an FNA board
meeting to suggest that the organization needs a policy on
when its meeting are public and when they aren’t. That
request came to nothing.
I called around to some of the city’s other district councils,
to see when they bolt the door on their constituents. The
answer to that: just about never. Said Chuck Repke,
director of the District Two district council, “All of our
meetings are open except if we’re discussing personnel
Whether the FNA likes it or not, it is a participant in
representative democracy. It might not be the same as being
elected to the US Senate, but if you're elected to the FNA
board you've agreed to accept the
responsibilities that come with
democratic institutions. You've
got to identify yourself so the
people you represent know who
you are. You've got to provide an
easy way for your consitituents to
contact you with their ideas and concerns. You've got to let
people know what you've done. And your meetings have got
to be open to the people you represent. You can't show them
the door on a whim.
There are plenty of issues the FNA can take on. Gun
violence, affordable housing, job training, youth
development: it's a long list. But its work really begins with
recognizing why it exists in the first place. Again, according
to the city, that's to “create opportunities for residents to learn
about what is happening in their neighborhoods and
collaborate with one another and city government to maintain
and improve the quality of life in neighborhoods.”
The way you start on that is to operate like a public body.
You keep your meetings open to the light of day. You
welcome the people who walk in the door. If later you're
kicking them out the same door, it ought to be for a carefully
considered and very rarely invoked reason. — Tony Schmitz
takes home the
trophy — P. 3
Get Help to
Max Out Your
Free prep assistance
can put you in the
money — P. 3
She's Got a Plan
Top jobs for new
— P. 2
New Commissioner's Got Priorities
Here's what's at the top ofthe list for newly-elected Trista MatasCastillo
After winning the election for the County
Board seat long held by Janice Rettman,
Trista MatasCastillo will be sworn into
office on January 8. Now that she’s got
the position, what does she intend to do
with it? Here’s what she says are the big
jobs she wants to get done.
DALE STREET: On Dale Street, how do
we create a street that accommodates cars
and pedestrians and bikers and still make
it safe? In my mind that can only happen
if we have some kind of road diet to slow
traffic down. I want to make sure that
Dale Street is pedestrian accessible and
friendly, that bikes can maneuver, that
people can cross the street safely, and that
allows the commercial area to prosper
again. Most people using Dale are
commuters. That doesn’t help businesses,
and it certainly isn’t safe for the people
who live here.
I know people freak out about road diets.
They say, no, it’s going to make my
commute longer. But what we have seen
time and time again is that when the road
is safer to drive on, commutes are
actually quicker. It actually helps traffic
flow more efficiently. I’ll work with
community members and with people
who live on Dale, so that we have a
consensus on what is the right approach.
People don’t want to feel they’re just told
what’s going to happen.
COUNTY SERVICES: We need to make
county social services more accessible.
We’ve got a ton of paperwork and
bureaucracy. We’ve been really good at
I just did my annual review for my son,
who is disabled. So I’m in this meeting
with the social worker, the caseworker,
the group home, the financial worker, six
people all in a room. I introduced myself
— “Hi, I’m Hunter’s mom.” They’re all
new. They’ve never worked on this case
before. The pack of paperwork was a
half-inch thick. I signed more documents
than when I bought my house. Of course I
signed blindly; I couldn’t read them all.
This is ridiculous. Everyone on the team
agreed. And it was just one team meeting.
Next week we have to do another annual
review to certify that he’s still disabled.
And then in December we have to do an
annual meeting with the case manager.
We could have done it all at once.
So I’m thinking, how we can improve
that process to do what’s required, but
also to make it accessible? And this
was in a situation where we were all
English speakers. What happens if
someone doesn’t speak English?
HOUSING: It’s clear we have a
housing crisis. We have to
make sure we have housing
that’s affordable and
accessible to everyone. We
need to think about how
transportation plays a part
I hope we’re not still
trying to convince
people that we’ve got
a problem. I think
we’re all there. But
it’s also identifying
opportunities and places where it
makes the most sense to partner. St. Paul
has its own Housing and Redevelopment
Authority (HRA) that works in the city.
The county has its HRA that works in the
suburbs. For me the question is, how do we
get on the same page? Where do we each
have priorities? Where can they overlap?
I’m focused in on
our district, which as
lacked development for a really
long time and has critical needs. We have
to think about what we need in Frogtown.
— Continued, Page 14
PAGE 2 JANUARY/FEBRUARY JULY / AUGUST 2019
Meet the New Greens King and Queen
adding a few tablespoons of coconut
aminos (a low-salt, gluten free soy sauce
alternative), and a scoop of broth left
over from the pressure cooker.
Greens Queen KaZoua Berry
The third annual Greens Cook-Off held
Dec. 1 at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church left
the neighborhood with new greens royalty
— St. Paul Western District cop Ron
Townsend and Frogtown personal trainer
KaZoua Berry. Townsend won in the
People’s Choice category, while Berry
took home the traveling greens kettle
trophy awarded by a panel of judges.
What are their secrets? There are
similarities — smoked turkey and a
pressure cooker — and also some
For Berry, it all starts with making a broth
from smoked turkey neck bones, ginger,
lemon grass, a garlic bulb cut in half and
onions that she carmelizes before adding
them to the other ingredients in a pressure
cooker. After 45 minutes of cooking, she
strains everything out of the broth,
including the meat. Phase two of her
cooking is to add a pile of collard and
mustard greens to the broth, and put the
broth and greens back in the pressure
cooker for 30 minutes. Phase three: get
out the wok, add sunflower oil, minced
garlic, ginger and grated onion and a
lemon grass puree, sautée over low heat,
then quickly stir fry the strained greens,
Townsend starts out with smoked turkey
wings and legs that he hits in a pressure
cooker with chicken broth for about 30
minutes. He then removes the bones,
tendons, fat and skin, and pulls apart the
now-tender turkey meat. He sautés
onions, garlic, thyme, a bay leaf and red
pepper flakes (“For a little bite, but
you’ve got to be careful,” he warns) in
butter or olive oil. Then he puts the meat
and strained broth in the pressure cooker
again with a pile of greens and cooks for
30 minutes. Because raw greens cook
down to just about nothing, if he has a
crowd to feed he’ll open the pressure
cooker, stuff it with greens again and
cook for another 30 minutes.
As in past years, the cook-off, sponsored
by the Urban Farm and Garden Alliance,
drew a mob of neighbors. It also featured
performances by the Heart and Soul
Drumming Academy and the spoken
word troupe, Irreducible Grace. Missed
it? Nothing but bitter tears until next
year, when you can make sure to get this
on your calendar.
People's Choice: Ron Townsend
Stopped by Cops? Learn What to Do
You're invited to a community workshop on the use of force, organized by Frogtown
resident and police reserve officer Clarence Castile. Castile, the uncle of Philando
Castile and a member of the state board for Peace Officers Standards and Training, will
speak about the safest response when drivers are pulled
over by the police.
The workshop's aim is larger than teaching simple selfprotection,
Castile explains. "The purpose of this
conversation is to empower the community on how they
can use these particular terms and best practices to their
best ability, whenever they meet a negative force in their
lives," he says.
Castile will be joined by speakers from Metro State
University, clergy and law enforcement who will weigh in
on related topics, including implicit and explicit bias,
procedural justice and the use of force continuum. The free
session runs from 1 2:1 5 to 3:30 pm on Feb. 23, at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church,
501 Lawson Ave. For more information, call 61 2-282-4338.
COPS CONNECT KIDS WITH GIFTS: Police officers and neighborhood kids
shared a moment during the annual Western District “Shop With Cops” event in
December. Police escorted 21 2 excited kids to the Target store across the street
and helped them pick out Christmas gifts for family members, according to
Outreach Coordinator Patty Lammers.
Get Your Taxes Done the Easy Way,
While Snagging Refunds You Deserve
Tough luck: it’s tax season. If that
thought makes you cringe, you’re not
alone: 56 percent ofAmericans dislike
doing their taxes, according to a 201 3
Pew Research Center study. Asked why,
31 percent said the process was “too
complicated,” and 24 percent found it
“inconvenient” and “time-consuming.”
The good news? For many Frogtowners,
tax time is a payday when your refund
rolls in. And getting your taxes done
doesn’t have to be complicated. In my
work as a volunteer tax preparer for the
local organization Prepare + Prosper, I’ve
helped dozens of folks file their taxes in
two hours or less. All you have to do is
bring in your paperwork (check
prepareandprosper.org to get a list).
You’ll leave with a fully filed return. At
Prepare + Prosper, you can even open a
checking or savings account where you
can direct your refund.
Several organizations in the Twin Cities
metro area offer free tax preparation
services between mid-January and tax
day on April 1 5. The Minnesota
Department of Revenue maintains a list
of more than 220 free tax preparation
across the state on their website. You can
also search for sites by zip code at
The closest sites for Frogtown residents
are Prepare + Prosper (261 0 University
Ave. W. #450, St. Paul) and the
University of Minnesota’s Volunteer
Tax Assistance Program (300
Washington Ave. SE, #1 03a,
Minneapolis). Call in advance to
set up your appointment, as these
sites get busier the closer it gets
to April 1 5.
Tax Credits Put Money in Your Pocket
Many Frogtown residents are eligible for
multiple tax credits – specific
opportunities to get more money back in
a tax refund. Trained preparers at free tax
prep sites are focused on finding credits
that will boost your refund or lower the
taxes you owe. You may be eligible for
one or all of the credits listed below:
• the Earned Income Tax Credit, for low
to moderate income families.
• the Child Tax Credit Credit, for parents
or guardians of children.
• the American Opportunity and
Lifetime Learning Credits, for postsecondary
• the Renter’s Rebate, a Minnesotaspecific
benefit for tenants.
Nailing down these credits is worth the
trouble. For a family with three or more
kids, the Earned Income Tax Credit alone
can be worth more than $6,000,
depending on your family size and
income. — Dolores
Photo courtesy SPPD.
Under Construction: A Flurry of New
Neighborhood Plans, Development
On Rice St., a Dialysis Center
Here’s another one for the markers-ofchange
file: the lot on Como and Rice St.,
that for decades held the Stahl House
bowling alley and later the Mexicanthemed
bar El Tejano, is now slated to
hold a kidney dialysis unit owned by
Fresenius Medical Care.
The 9,000 square foot building will also
have retail space, though a tenant has yet
to be found for that, says Steve Miller of
MSP Commercial, the project developer.
Fresnius Medical Care runs 25 similar
locations throughout the metro area.
“This is a nice project that will add
vitality to that corner,” said Miller. “It’s
quality stone and glass — not just some
cheap building that’s going up.” The
requirements of a dialysis unit make it a
complex project, with back-up electricity
generation, storage batteries, and detailed
heating and cooling requirements.
The building is scheduled to open in
August, 201 9, Miller said.
More Work on Victoria Theater
Progress on the Victoria Theater Arts
Center isn’t necessarily visible, but it’s
Director Julie Adams-Gerth says the
latest work on the historic theater at 825
University is stabilization of the building,
funded by a $200,000 grant from the City
of St. Paul. Included is work on the roof
and brick work on the facade. Bricks —
which are now only loosely attached to
the structure — will be temporarily
removed and stored, then used again in
the building’s renovation. Come spring,
contractors will work to hook up
downspouts to the storm sewer system.
Inadequate drainage now is causing
damage to the alley side of the building.
To come late in December: the Vic’s
board will choose an architect from
among three firms vying for the job.
Housing, Retail at Dale, University
A remake of the corner of Dale and
University is underway as the
Neighborhood Development Center
continues planning for a retail and
housing project in space now filled by
Big Daddy’s BBQ and other businesses.
The latest plans call for retail on the
ground level, NDC office, training and
co-work space on floors two and three,
and 40 housing units — a mix of studio,
one, two and three bedroom apartments,
owned by Wellington Management — on
floors two through five. The subsidized
apartments will be available at 40 to 60
percent of the area median income. Shop
space will be aimed at local
entrepreneurs. The developers say they
also intend to search for a way to move
current Frogtowners to the front of the
line for the new housing. A possible
groundbreaking date for the $22 million
project is spring 2020, says NDC CEO
Local artist Seitu Jones is part of the team
that will emphasize a green theme for the
building exterior. Among the greenrelated
issues in the development:
remediating pollution left over from
when a dry cleaning operation occupied a
portion of the site.
On Track at the Rec Center
Formerly Known as 'Scheffer'
Construction on Frogtown Community
Center (the new name for the old
Scheffer Recreation Center) remains on
schedule, according to St. Paul parks
planner Christopher Stark.
In December the exterior was finished,
including installation of metal panels on
the second floor. “Most of the work after
the new year will shift to the interior of
the building until the ground thaws and
work can begin on Phase II, including
new fields on the southern half of the
site,” Stark says.
The new building will include a full
range of spaces, including a gym, teen
room, a walking track and a kitchen.
Work is scheduled to be complete by
September of 201 9.
Meanwhile programming continues at the
old Scheffer Rec Center building, which
will “remain open until May. After that,
we will become a roaming rec center for
the summer,” says Center director Torria
Randall. “We’ll be going to
neighborhood schools, fields and
apartment buildings to offer
programming through June, July and
Here's what's in store on the site of the former Scheffer Rec Center.
PAGE 4 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019
From Cops, Tips to
55 inch TV,” said Community Outreach
coordinator Patty Lammers. The dumpster
will be available in the parking lot,
through January 8th.
THE NEW ENTREPRENEURS
Greening Frogtown attends the monthly
community meetings of the Police
Department’s Western District. Meetings
are open to the public, held on the fourth
Tuesday of every month, at 9:30 AM and
6:30 PM at 389 North Hamline Avenue,
and led by Senior Commander Steve
Anderson. Below, observations and tips
from cops, taken from the November and
Foil car thieves this winter
Changes in the weather bring changes in
crime patterns and statistics.
Opportunistic car thefts have spiked
sharply upward now that winter is here.
Don’t leave your car unattended to warm
it up, even for “just a minute.”
Car thefts of Hondas and Toyotas made
before 2001 are particularly frequent,
because similar keys can be used to open
multiple vehicles. If you own one of these
cars, consider a steering wheel lock.
Dump your cardboard
A recycling dumpster in the Western
District parking lot will be available for
large cardboard recycling; police view
this as a potential theft deterrent. “We
don’t want a huge cardboard box in your
recycling bin to alert thieves to your new
Change of Guard
at Wilder Hi‐Rise?
Changes afoot at the 1 36-unit Wilder
Square high-rise apartment building at
750 Milton could put the property in the
hands of CommonBond Communities, a
St. Paul-based housing nonprofit with
nearly 50 years of experience.
The current owner, Real Estate Equities,
is selling, it says, to funnel sale money to
its other projects, such as the 1 44 units of
affordable downtown St. Paul housing it
currently has under development.
In a November meeting at the high-rise,
William Bisanz of REE noted that in its
negotiations with CommonBond, the
nonprofit indicated it would continue to
participate in Section 8 programs that
keep rents at the high rise affordable.
Currently 54 units are covered by
subsidies attached to the building that
keep rents at 30 percent of the tenant’s
income. Another 44 units are occupied by
tenants with Section 8 vouchers that travel
with them. All rents are currently
considered affordable to those earning
below 60 percent of the area median
income, which is figured as $56,580 for a
SISTERS SELL WARES AT POP-UP SHOP: Sisters Ola and Tayo Mafe were among
the vendors at a holiday pop-up shop sponsored by Springboard for the Arts. Tayo
sews shower curtains, quilts and other home items using traditional Nigerian
prints. Ola concentrates on handmade shoes, featuring the same bright prints and
patterns. Springboard for the Arts offers resources for artists of all disciplines to
thrive, as well as ways for communities to connect to artists.
The organization, newly installed in their “SpringBOX," at 262 University Avenue,
plans more sales and events, including another vendor fair tentatively scheduled
for “right before Valentine’s Day,” according to organizer Caroline Taiwo. Info at
family of four. By that standard, a twobedroom
apartment pegged at $1 ,273 is
CommonBond has a reputation for
offering more than housing at the 6,000
affordable rental apartments and
townhomes it runs in Minnesota,
Wisconsin and Iowa. It commonly offers
reading and homework help for kids and
promotes high school graduation at its
properties. For adults there are job
training and placement, financial literacy
and eviction prevention programs. Alicia
Cordes-Mayo of CommonBond says that
specific services at Wilder Square have
yet to be determined.
At a December meeting that drew about
— Continued Next Page
A THOUSAND TURKEYS LAND IN FROGTOWN: What happens when you drop off
1 ,000 turkeys in Frogtown’s City School gym two days before Thanksgiving? The
answer: they fly out the door. Two and a half hours after the school doors opened,
all the turkeys were gone, given away to Frogtowners and others who heard via
the grapevine, or through notices published in 11 area church bulletins.
The turkeys were a gift from Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, center, above. Land O’
Lakes chipped in with two bags of prepared macaroni and cheese, plus two
pounds of butter per customer. The 25-year old Diggs, who has a birthday right
around the corner from Thanksgiving, said, “I picked that as one of the holidays
where I always want to pay it forward and share a lot of love around that time.”
Diggs’s turkey blast was done in conjunction with Feeding Frogtown, the every-
Friday food give-away at City School. Feeding Frogtown coordinator Delinia Parris
was a strong Diggs booster after the event.
“He’s a sweet kid, and it’s great that he’s giving something back," said Parris. "He
interacted with the kids in a really positive way, and gave them lots of attention.”
— Wilder Hi-Rise, Continued
30 residents, CommonBond staff
described their plans and heard resident
feedback. For tenants, the big concerns
were building security — the old problem
of people holding the door open for nontenants
— and whether they could expect
a rent hike. Rents, they were told, will
By late December, the prospective sale
was still undergoing CommonBond’s
“due diligence” exam, in which the
nonprofit dives deep into the details of a
deal before committing.
For Ward 1 Seat,
It's Another Race
You might think we just got done with an
election, but as always, there’s another
one just around the corner. Candidates are
already gearing up to run for the Ward
One city council seat now held by Dai
First out of the gate is Summit-U resident
Liz De La Torre, who got up a Facebook
page and website to promote her
candidacy. De La Torre works in the
Sexual Violence Services division of St.
Paul-Ramsey Public Health, and
previously worked both in the office and
on the campaigns of US Rep. Betty
The top issues that prompted her to get
into the campaign? Criminal justice
reform, particularly in the area of sexual
violence, she says, plus the need to
provide more affordable housing. The
housing crisis, she notes, spills over into
issues such as sexual violence. “There’s
nowhere to put victims and survivors,”
De La Torre notes. The lack of
transitional housing and individual
Section 8 vouchers that subsidize rents
for low-income families means that
people confronting violence have fewer
options when looking for a way to escape
the situation in their home.
De La Torre plans to make a run for the
DFL endorsement, and then march on to
the November election, which will be
decided by ranked choice voting.
“People,” she says, “are ready for a new
face in this office. They want to put
action behind the rhetoric.”
Also pondering a place in this race is
long-time neighborhood activist Robert
McClain. McClain sits on the board of the
Neighborhood Justice Center and St. Paul
Children’s Collaborative, and formerly
served on the staff of the St.Paul Urban
League. For the past 1 5 years he’s worked
as the manager of an adult group home.
— Continued, Page 14
LIVES OF THE SPIRITS
The Reluctant Shaman
Inside Chad Lee’s modest tan rambler, the
living room floor is polished and
immaculate. Along one long wall, floorto-ceiling
shelves are lined with silver foil
and draped with elegant appliqué cloths.
Brass shakers tied to bright red ribbons
hang from the edges.
Chad takes a shaker down and waggles it,
making a rhythmic ching-ching. It’s a
sound that’s familiar to anyone who has
walked Frogtown’s streets. “If you hear
this, you know there is a shaman inside
the house.” Chad says. It could be him.
Born and baptized a Lutheran, employed
at a local non-profit, Chad Lee is a
reluctant shaman. “I didn’t want to do it. I
was chosen,” he says. It’s an unpaid role
that keeps him busy for hours a week.
Round and bespectacled, with a ready
laugh that shakes his whole body, Lee
seems cheerful and relaxed. It wasn't
always that way. “In 201 0 I was
diagnosed with colon cancer. Stage four. I
had lots of surgeries, a colostomy bag. I
was in a coma for 21 days. During that
time, I visited heaven twice,” he says.
In heaven, spirits offered him many
temptations, including a new self. “I said
‘You mean I can get a whole new body,
so I won’t be short and have glasses and a
hearing aid? Sounds great!’ He laughs
merrily. “But after thinking about it, I
decided no. I wanted to come back to my
family.” He shakes his head at the thought
of what he passed up.
But then his illness brought more
troubling symptoms. “The spirits were
talking to me all the time,” he says. “I
saw things no one else could see. I was so
scared. I worried that I was going crazy.”
Chad was a modern guy, not an animist
like his great-grandparents. “I said to
myself, ‘Hey, this is the 21 st century.
Shamanism is something from back in the
1 3th century. Normal people don’t see
these things.’ I tried to ignore it.”
Matters got worse. “I was not in control.
My family was terrified. My boys put the
couches in front of the door because they
were afraid I'd run out into the street in
the middle of the night. I was so scared of
what I might do. I even told my wife, “If I
threaten you or the kids, call the police.”
Finally, Chad and his wife visited a
shaman, who told Chad, “You are a
shaman, too. You are a chosen one. The
cancer was a sign. If you keep ignoring
the spirits, you won’t get better. You need
to accept their terms.” Chad was still
hesitant, but finally he struck a deal.
“I said to the angels, ‘Keep me quiet and
calm and I will do what you want.’ It took
me three years but I learned how to
control all the voices and take care of
myself. I didn’t take any psychiatric
drugs. Even though there are still times
when I think I would rather take pills. It
would be a lot simpler!” He laughs again.
Frogtown’s places ofworship are vital parts ofthe
neighborhood, but their role in residents’ lives is often
overlooked. From Dakota sweat lodges that pre-dated
European settlement, to today’s many chapels, mosques,
temples, churches and sanctuaries, our neighborhood’s
places ofworship have long offered spiritual sustenance, a
sense ofcommunity, crucial social services, and refuge.
In this special section ofGreening Frogtown, writers and
photographers with Bethel University’s community
journalism program helped to explore some ofour
neighborhood’s many ways and places ofworship.
Above: Shaman Chad Lee with family. Below: St. Paul Fellowship pastors
Scott Gin (L) and Frank Stewart.
of spirits,” he asserts. “People come to
me who have illness or pain that won’t go
away. Even if they go to the doctor or the
hospital. Tests don’t show anything.
Nothing works. They decide it might be a
spirit. They come to me. I help analyze
and see if there are unknown spirits. If it
is, I have to negotiate with the spirit. I say
‘What do you want? How can you be
happy? What do you need?’ They might
say that they want the human’s life, but I
say no. So they say, ‘If I can’t have a
human life, can I have a pig?’
Chad makes house calls. “If someone has
a house that is haunted, they might hear
noises, feel cold all the time. These are all
signs caused by a spirit. If they stay in the
house, they might become weak.” Or he
might help a pregnant mother ensure that
the soul of her unborn baby stays in her
body. “Pregnancy is a difficult time. The
mom’s soul and the baby’s soul can get
separated. A month or two before the
baby is ready to be delivered, before the
mom goes to the hospital, we do a ritual
to protect them both.”
There are rituals for weddings, child
blessings, and funerals. He doesn’t charge
a regular fee, but sometimes people make
Shamanism is not formally taught.
“Anyone can be a shaman,” Chad
explains. He gestures at his 5 year old
niece, who is spinning in broad, happy
circles on the polished floor. “Even a little
kid like her. There are hundreds, maybe
thousands of them in St Paul.”
The shaman’s role is evolving from a
single practice. Chad himself mentors
several younger shamans and his own
sons. “Several of them are in Minnesota,
but one is in Australia, and one is in
He tells them what he knows, and
consults on difficult cases. “It’s not
always a spirit problem,” he cautions.
“Sometimes we just ate the wrong food,
or it’s an allergy!” Another laugh.
He’s happy in his role as a shaman, but
it’s still a struggle, Chad says. “I have to
make sure the spirits don’t control me.
Some people never overcome the
struggle. They don’t get rid of the evil
ones. That’s what I hate the most, when I
see people going through what I went
through, but they don’t get better.
"My son said, ‘If you don’t know exactly
what you are doing, you become
accursed.' If you know exactly what you
are doing, you can become a good
— Patricia Ohmans
BUILDING A DIVERSE CHURCH
Two Ministers Called
to Take a Leap ofFaith
Frank Stewart was scared. He owned a
successful printing business with three
locations. His business was thriving. But
Stewart thought he heard God calling him
into ministry. He was full of doubt. His
printing business was a safety net that
Today Chad feels an obligation to help
provided him with a comfortable life. Did
others whose lives have spun out of
he dare to give it up?
control. “Half of mental illness is because
— Continued, Next Page
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 PAGE 7
— Diverse Church, Continued
Finally he made a decision. He sold one
shop, then another, then the last
remaining shop. His safety net was gone.
With nothing to fall back on, Stewart had
to find a way to answer the call he heard.
At the same time, Jim Hoffman, pastor of
St. Paul Fellowship at Victoria and
Sherburne, was retiring. His church
needed a new community pastor. The
church search committee learned that
Stewart had a ministry degree from
Bethel University and asked him to put
together a resume.
That was 1 8 months ago — a time during
which some of Stewart’s expectations
about the struggle to create a diverse
church got realigned.
Scott Gin was a big jock. He’d been
playing sports since he could walk. A life
without sports was unimaginable to him.
That changed right before Gin started his
freshman year at Northwestern College
(now University of Northwestern, St.
Paul), when he went on a mission trip to
Southeast Asia for six weeks.
As a white suburban kid from Minnesota,
he had to push through the initial culture
shock. He became quiet and shy. After a
few days he was ready to go home. But
then came a unexpected resolution: he
decided to give up sports.
“I don’t know exactly what it was, but I
feel like it was the first time in my life
where I heard God speaking to me in a
way that said, ‘Here’s what I want you to
do, and here’s what I don’t want you to
do any longer,’” Gin said.
Gin said that this is when his eyes opened
to actually seeing people who are
different from him.
Gin and Stewart now share the role of
lead pastor at St. Paul Fellowship. Their
vision is for the church to reflect
Frogtown. It’s been a predominantly
white church, and the congregation
remains small. Their goal is to build a
church that mirrors the neighborhood's
Along the way they’ve had to confront
their own preconceptions. As an African
American, Stewart said, he had trouble
trusting Gin, a suburban white male.
Stewart had experienced too many
instances in his church work where
Caucasian pastors had belittled him. He
expected Gin to do the same. As a result,
he put up walls that kept him from
trusting Gin. He anticipated attacks that
“He stayed in this calming manner of
talking to me, and it was like he talked
me off the ledge,” Stewart said. “We may
see things slightly different at times, but
our mission and goal is the same —
saving the lost in a dying world, changing
the community one person at a time.”
The two pastors formed a bond that
encompasses many differences. “I like
both sides of our relationship — the
FAITH IN FROGTOWN
At St. Stephanus, work locally and abroad. Above, Andy and Lynn Thompson.
professional and the personal,” Stewart
said. “It feels right and I know it’s what
God is calling me to do.”
When they aren’t in church doing
business, they are together in the
neighborhood — getting coffee at Golden
Thyme or talking a walk. They can talk
for hours, or just hang out at Gin’s house
with his family.
Their work at the church is a reflection of
how they feel about each other. “We feel
like the mission of the church is to make
disciples of all nations,” Gin said. “Here
is Frogtown, we would like to become a
church that reflects different ethnicities,
different backgrounds, different classes.”
— Jared Martinson and Jasmine Johnson
FAITH OUT IN THE WORLD
At St. Stephanus, Good
Works Locally, Abroad
Frogtown proves there are lots of ways to
run a church. At the landmark local
Catholic Church, St. Agnes, for example,
there are spectacular music and services,
sometimes in the traditional Latin.
At St. Stephanus Lutheran Church at
Lafond and Grotto, the focus is on
connecting with the neighborhood and
international community through
programs that include a food pantry, posthurricane
work in Puerto Rico, and
partnerships with groups that provide a
sober house and shelter for asylum
people who have
gifts with people
who have a need is
always a goal for
me,” says Lynn
Thompson, wife of
Thompson. “I love to
see unlikely relationships
built and barriers of
language, status, culture,
history torn down through
acts of kindness.”
Started in 1 890 as a church and school,
the current church has been a
neighborhood fixture for 1 27 years.
Under the Thompson’s leadership —
along with youth and family director
Megan Huff, and administrative assistant
Clarice Anderson — the church continued
to step up to address local needs.
After Frogtown’s Sharing Korners food
shelf closed, St. Stephanus offered its
parking lot as a spot for a replacement
food give-away starting in 201 6. This past
summer volunteers — many of them St.
Stephanus congregants — distributed free
produce on Tuesdays from the parking lot
location, bolstering the larger Friday
give-away that had since relocated to the
City School gym Lafond and Western.
The church also provides space for a
sober house in a nearby residence it owns,
where addicts get an chance to work
toward recovery. And it offers a home to
Jonathan House, which provides living
space and support to asylum seekers
escaping persecution in other countries.
“The mission of Jonathan House is
something that we believe in very
strongly,” said Thompson. “The Bible
speaks very clearly about the
responsibility of Christ followers to give
aid and shelter to the foreigner and the
stranger. Every time we welcome
someone in who is on the ‘outside’ we
communicate that no one is a stranger or
a foreigner to God.”
In addition to its work right outside the
church doors, St. Stephanus has recently
sent a youth group to Puerto Rico to help
with recovery efforts there after
Hurricane Maria. Fourteen kids and six
adults partnered with the organization
Praying Pelican to scrape and paint an
apartment, clean a playground area, and
serve food to the homeless.
“We had to deal with a lot of language
barriers,” Thompson said. “Not a lot of us
spoke very much Spanish. We wanted to
take kids out of their comfort zone, and
allow them to live out their faith in
another way and in another place.”
In Thompson’s view, the Puerto Rico trip,
the food give-away and other work within
the community is a key part of what the
church is about. “We take love of God
and share it with others. If we keep grace
to ourselves, then it’s a wasted gift that
God has given us.”
— Alicia Dahl and Abby Pautz
WHERE THE DOORS NEVER CLOSE
The 24-7 Church,
Never Closed, But
Ten years ago, when William Hanson was
released from prison for assaault and
burglary charges, he needed a place to
live. He didn’t have much luck finding a
house or apartment. But he did eventually
find a vacated church.
Hanson came across what had once been
a Norwegian immigrants’ church at the
corner of Farrington and Sherburne. Built
in 1 902 and largely unchanged since then,
the City of St. Paul had declared it a
Category Two property, a designation
reserved for buildings that are condemned
or have multiple housing violations and
are unfit for occupancy.
— Continued Next Page
Above: The former Norwegian immigrant Lutheran church at Farrington and
Sherburne is now the 24/7 sanctuary dubbed CHURCH. Left, William Hanson.
Photos by Maddie Christy, Sam Johnson
PAGE 8 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019
CHURCH — Continued
Hanson said God had some words for him
regarding the building. “Take the names
off the church and call it CHURCH.
Remove the locks on the church and be
open 24-7 as I am. And do not collect
money where you pray and worship our
With help from Brett Grosklags, a
Burnswille business owner, Hanson
bought the church and undertook a fix-up.
Now the church at 51 5 Farrington, once
known as Trinity Norwegian Lutheran, is
called CHURCH. It's open 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, every day of the year.
Anyone is free to enter the permanently
Open the first set of doors, and the
entrance holds the rules for the church,
free Bibles, a donation box, the certificate
of occupancy, and Hanson’s ordination
certificate. Take one more step inside and
you’ll encounter CHURCH– the oftenempty
sanctuary, carpeted in red, flanked
by the original stained glass windows and
pews. You'll hear the low rumble of a
looped audio track reading scripture.
But where are the people?
William Hanson might be in the
basement. Hanson, who legally lives in a
basement apartment, and his co-leader,
Brenda Staats, run the daily operations of
CHURCH. On any day and at any time,
Hanson and Staats are most likely inside
the church worshiping, praying, reading
scripture, sleeping or waiting.
They are waiting to minister. Sometimes
kids from the neighborhood appear.
Sometimes it's a homeless guy. Everyone
There are no weekly services at
CHURCH. It isn’t part of a denomination.
There are no elders, members, or worship
team. “Our goal is to minister to the
community,” Hanson said. “And
ministering is just showing up.”
According to some neighbors, however,
CHURCH has been more of a disruption
than a ministry. The original cause of the
Hanson got into a dispute with neighbors
Brian Thompson and Kabo Yang that
resulted in both sides filing restraining
orders against each other. The trouble
started with a truck of crated chickens that
Yang said she parked outside her mother’s
house on Farrington when Yang stopped
by to check on her. Hanson reported the
couple to Animal Control, saying that the
chickens smelled and attracted vermin.
FAITH IN FROGTOWN
Above: Sanctuary at St. Adalbert's Catholic Church.
Right: Multilingual Father Joseph Vu Xuan Minh.
to God. “God continues to sustain it,”
Hanson said. “The main thing is to be
obedient to God.”
— Maddie Christy and Sam Johnson
CHANGING FACE OF THE CHURCH
Polish to Vietnamese, a
Groups of children hop up along the mats
of the fellowship hall, and parents line up
for coffee as the 1 0:30 Vietnamese service
at St. Adalbert’s Catholic Church
concludes. A youth leader blows his
whistle to gather students for catechism
classes. The majority of the church
congregation bustling out of the pews and
into the gathering space is Vietnamese.
St. Adalbert’s hasn’t always been this way.
When it was built in 1 911 , it served Polish
immigrants — most of whom worked in
Frogtown’s railroad yards. Since then, the
congregation has reflected the changes in
When Father Joseph Vu Xuan Minh
arrived in 2001 , he led mass in three
languages: English, Vietnamese and
Spanish. “There were many longtime
Spanish families in the parish,” Minh said.
The first group of Vietnamese immigrants
came to St. Adalbert’s in 1 990. Father
Tim Kernan, the priest at the time,
sponsored two Vietnamese families that
traveled to Minnesota to begin a new life.
Kernan passed away in 2001 . Minh
wasn’t expecting to be appointed priest of
St. Adalbert’s, but a classmate suggested
he talk to the bishop about taking the
position. St. Adalbert’s was struggling
financially and likely couldn’t afford
multiple priests to accommodate the three
languages spoken by congregants. Minh
spoke them all, so the church gained a
new priest and saved some money.
Both services held on Sundays are mostly
attended by Vietnamese families. Few
Caucasians, African Americans or any
other ethnicities are present.
Ken Fox is one of the few non-
Vietnamese churchgoers at St. Adalbert’s.
He’s often seen in a back pew at the 8:30
Sunday service, occasionally helping out
with the church offering. He struggles to
Photos by Jared Martinson, Jasmine Johnson
understand anything, but there’s no other
parish close enough to walk to. “I’ve gone
here 1 0 years,” Fox said. “I don’t have a
car and it’s just across the street.”
The 8:30 time slot on Sunday morning is
labeled an English service. But for
someone like Fox, the Sunday services
are similar enough that it doesn’t matter
to him whether he attends an English or
Vietnamese mass. Catholic masses all
have the same structure, including preplanned
prayers, songs and scripture
readings. So even if an English speaker
attends the Vietnamese service, he or she
can still follow what’s happening.
Minh includes a
alongside the English to
stay true to his roots and to
make everyone feel
afternoon’s 4:30 service is
fully in English.
Some Vietnamese speakers
attend the English service to
learn the language; others prefer
the Vietnamese service.
Before each service, Minh weaves
between the aisles, greeting congregants
with a smile and handshake. Many of the
children gather up front by the altar to
listen to Minh speak.
“We have a strong youth group in the
parish,” Minh said. “This year, we have
1 58 students in eucharistic youth group.”
Bethel University student Toan Vo has
attended St. Adalbert’s since he was two
years old. Vo prefers the Vietnamese
service because of the atmosphere and
because the service is uninterrupted by
Many Vietnamese families also choose
the Vietnamese service to remind their
American-born children of their culture.
“They know that they want their kids to
learn Vietnamese and never forget about
their roots,” Vo said.
No matter how much the congregation
changes throughout the years, Minh
expressed that the original purpose of the
church remains constant. “We carry out
the mission of the parish for immigrant
people,” he said.
— Jared Martinson and Jasmine Johnson
THE BIG ENOUGH CHURCH
The Storefront Church
The matter escalated from there, with all
the parties claiming they had been
threatened. At a December District Court
session, they were unable to reach a
mediated settlement, so the matter was
scheduled for a January court hearing.
Alongside the battle with neighbors are
the usual concerns for any owner of a
11 7-year old church building. The
building will need shoring up. That will
demand funding for repairs. Then there’s
the question of community involvement.
Hanson says he surrenders these matters
Pastor Alethea Chaney at Nehemiah's Walls International Church.
In a world where the conventional idea of
a church involves a pile of bricks and a
soaring steeple where bells clatter on
Sunday, Nehemiah’s Walls Gospel Baptist
Church can seem like a puzzlement.
Located on the corner of Grotto and
Charles for the past 21 years, it appears
more like another Frogtown apartment
building than a house of faith.
But inside on a Sunday morning, Pastor
Alethea Chaney is preparing for the 1 0
am service. She is composed and speaks
— Continued, Next Page
— Storefront Church, Continued
softly as she studies the Bible to prepare.
Sometimes, depending on the service, her
preparation includes a fast.
Chaney once ran an African American
adult senior care, and also worked as a
hospital cardiovascular technologist. But
then in the late 1 980s she got a call she
had not necessarily chosen.“When God
gives you a calling, you have to fulfill it,”
In her early years of her ministry at
Grotto and Charles, she learned that God
had called her to a tough location. The
corner was then ground zero for
Frogtown’s street-level drug trade, where
it was not unusual to see dealers on the
same corner as kids waiting for a school
bus. Back then Pastor Chaney and the
dealers managed to work out an
arrangement. “They’d sit outside but they
wouldn’t sell drugs during our service.
They were being respectful. They’d make
people come back later.”
Now, decades later, the street is
comparatively calm, except for the
occasional shooting. But Pastor Chaney is
still ministering to a tight cluster of
congregants, where it’s possible to know
everyone else who attends.
“It’s a small family here. You walk in and
they hug you, they ask how your family is
doing,” she says. “Anyone is welcome. It
doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or if
More Frogtown Churches
This special insert in Greening Frogtown is one manifestation of community
involvement by Bethel University, an evangelical Christian college located a few
miles north of Frogtown. For 20 years, Bethel University has supported the Frogtown
Summit-University Partnership, whose mission is to build intentional, long-term
relationships in the two neighborhoods, says Tanden Brekke, Assistant Director of
Community Engagement and Service Learning at Bethel.
Journalism students at Bethel have collaborated on a school newspaper for Maxfield
Elementary School. This year, Professor Yu-li Chang Zacher’s undergraduate class
also worked with Greening editor Tony Schmitz and publisher Patricia Ohmans on the
stories in this special section. Many thanks to our crew of reporters and
photographers: Maddie Christy, Alicia Dahl, Carlo Holmberg, Jasmine Johnson, Sam
Johnson, Tatiana Lee, Jared Martinson, Ally O’Neil, Abby Pautz and Laura Osterlund.
FAITH IN FROGTOWN
Chaney admits that she would like the
church to be bigger, but at the same time
sees growth as a balancing act. “Never so
big to not know my people or them not
know me well,” Pastor Chaney said. “I
don’t want to look up at people sliding in
and out of the balcony and I don’t know
who they are.”
Despite its size, the congregation is
remarkably diverse, including Hmong,
African American and Chinese attendees,
who say the church would not be the
same without Pastor Chaney.
“It is small, yes, but faithful and
welcoming,” said KaZoua Yang. “She is a
woman of faith, a prayer warrior, because
she is faithful.”
Her husband, Howard Chaney, praised his
wife for not only preaching what she
believes, but living it. “She is
compassionate, and that compassion is
rare, it is far and few,” he said.
After two decades on Grotto, Pastor
Chaney still has room for dreams. She has
a vision of moving to a place with more
room, where she could better serve
people of all ages. For now, she’s
prepping for the future with the words
that are painted on the inside walls of the
church: “Expect miracles.”
— Tatiana Lee and Tony Schmitz
Several other Frogtown places ofworship are not mentioned in our Faith in
Church of Saint Vincent de Paul
Merged with the Cathedral of Saint Paul
parish in 201 2, the Frogtown location
primarily serves Hmong-speaking
Catholic members. 651 Virginia St.,
(651 ) 228-1 766,
Church of St Agnes
On the National Register of Historic
Places since 1 980. Multiple masses and
services every day of the week, many
with accompaniment by the Twin Cities
Catholic Chorale. 535 Thomas Ave. W,
(651 ) 925-8800, churchofstagnes.org
Christ on Capitol Hill
Multicultural Lutheran church houses
several social service organizations, kitty
corner from the Minnesota State Capitol.
1 05 University Ave. West, (651 ) 222-
361 9, christoncapitolhill.com
Deeper Life Bible Church
One of several international locations,
including Nigeria, England, Ireland and
Australia. 945 University Ave, (651 ) 222-
1 668, deeperlifeminnesota.org
Faith Lutheran Church
Part of Frogtown since 1 91 4. Volunteer
programs with Feed My Starving
Children and Christmas Child.
499 Charles Ave, (651 ) 227-5299,
Refuge St Paul Fellowship
Offers activities for Mighty Men, Women
of Purpose, and youth. 867 Pierce Butler
Route, (61 2) 564-0096, rccministries.net
About this Bethel U Partnership
At Al-Ihsan Islamic Center, Imam Mohamed Mursal (R) and Ahmed Mohamed Sahane.
Faith changes people, but it also changes
neighborhoods. The evidence? The
transformation that Islam has brought to
Minnehaha Mall, where Al-Ihsan mosque
is now the prime tenant, surrounded by a
cluster of new East African businesses.
On a recent afternoon Imam Mohamed
Mursal retraced the path that him led to
995 Minnehaha. Before moving to
Minnesota, Mursal spent eight years
working on a master’s degree in Islamic
studies at International Islamic
University, in Islamabad, Pakistan. After
landing in St. Paul, he became part of a
committee formed to fill in what
members saw as a blank space for
recently settled Muslims. In their view,
St. Paul, with only one mosque, needed
another to meet the growing demand.
Al-Ihsan landed in its first location in
May, 2007, at the commercial building on
the corner of Dale St. and Van Buren.
Within a year the mosque had outgrown
the space. Mursal and his committee
searched for a larger building, but found
that rent — $5,000 to $6,000 per month
for the type of place they desired — was
too high. Then in 2008 Mursal happened
to drive down Minnehaha Ave., and
noticed a For Sale sign on what was then
a defunct dollar store. He called the agent
and lined up a viewing.
The building was no one’s idea of prime
commercial real estate at the moment.
Before it turned into the tanked dollar
store, the neglected building had been a
Country Club grocery market. When
Mursal spotted the building, it was most
notable for peeling exterior paint and a
cratered parking lot. In the then-depressed
real estate market, Mursal and the
committee decided to make an investment
in the building and the neighborhood.
They bought the building for $900,000,
with $200,000 down and seven years to
pay off the balance on an interest-free
contract for deed — a necessary step
Along with Mosque, Investment, Development
Brighten and Fill the Minnheha Mall
since Islam does not allow for payment of
Another $400,000 went into renovations
that included all new mechanical systems,
an exterior paint job and carpeting with a
pattern carefully set by compass to point
exactly toward the mosque in Mecca. On
Friday, Saturday and Sunday Al-Ihsan
now attracts 400 to 500 for prayer
services, Mursal says.
In Mursal’s view, the flood of the faithful
has changed the mall area. “Before we
moved, there were always police here. We
have contributed to the safety of the area
and added value.”
The mosque rents a portion of its building
to a bustling day care center. But Mursal
also points out that the mosque has been a
boon to the mall area as a whole.
“Business-minded people want to be near
the mosque,” he says, because of the flow
of weekend traffic. Mall owner Jeff
Arnoldagrees. "The vast majority of our
tenants now are East African," he says.
The most visible businesses include a deli
and a clothing/sundries shop, Cache
Services, just to the mosque’s north.
Another marker of the mosque’s effect is
the seemingly weekend-long soccer game
that kids play in the parking lot.
“If there were no mosque,” says Mark
Leverty, co-owner of Cache Services with
his Somali wife Nina Mohamud, “we
wouldn’t be here.”
The mosque creates business
opportunities, says Leverty. An example:
there’s a celebration for those who have
successfully undertaken the years-long
process of memorizing the Qur'an. “It’s a
big party. So the women come to buy new
dresses. The men buy kameez (the
traditional long tunic) from us. The deli
sells food. We all have a definite role to
— Tony Schmitz
PAGE 10 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019
Once Culture Center, Now Vacant Lot
Dietsch's Hall, a place for weddings, boxing matches, blues — and now weeds.
Frogtown is a neighborhood with a strong
immigrant presence. Immigrants built this
neighborhood and continue to find their
homes here today. In 1 890, German
immigrant Joseph Steinkamp
commissioned architect George
Bergmann to design and build a saloon
and multi-use structure at 601 Western
Avenue. The building would later be
known as Dietsch's Hall.
Dietsch's Hall was central to the social
lives of many Frogtowners. Wedding
receptions, showers, anniversaries, funeral
luncheons, dances, meetings, and a
variety of other important civic and social
gatherings happened within the handsome
structure, which stood proudly at the
corner of Western and Thomas Avenues
for 1 24 years.
Celebrations and community gatherings
are an important part of the hall's history,
but Frogtowners enjoyed other lesserknown
thrills such as boxing matches at
Dietsch's Hall. One particular match
stands out in history from the many held
within the hall. In 1 91 5, a 1 9-year old
boxer named John Simmer was rendered
unconscious in the fifth round of what
was described as an “unregulated match.”
Last hurrah at Western and Thomas: Dietsch's Hall before its 201 4 demotition.
Simmer was allowed to lie unresponsive
in the ring for 30 minutes following the
match before medical help was
summoned. He later died as a result of
The incident influenced public policy
many years later when in 1 976,
celebrated St. Paulite and former
professional boxer Jim O'Hara was
appointed by Governor Wendell Anderson
to the Minnesota Board of Boxing as
Executive Secretary. O'Hara was wellversed
in boxing history — with 70 years
of boxing experience under his belt, he
lived it — and was a staunch advocate for
the safety of boxers. O'Hara was once
quoted as claiming “nobody's going to die
on my watch.”
As the decades
that served the
specifically, the German, LGBT, and
Hmong communities. The building
underwent extensive renovations in the
1 970s to make way for the new (and
sometimes infamous) drinking, dancing,
and entertainment-focused venues that
later filled its walls. Long-time residents
likely recall such notable establishments
as the former Lenahan's, Lucy's Saloon,
Wilebski's Blues Saloon (now located
1 638 Rice Street), and, finally, the
Moonlight Magic Bar, which closed in
The establishment is even referenced as
an important plot point in The Magic
Bullet: A Locked Room Mystery
Featuring Shadwell Rafferty and Sherlock
Holmes, a Minnesota mystery by local
author and historian Larry Millett, which
takes place in 1 91 7, on the cusp of
prohibition and the gangster era in St.
The end of the line came for old Dietsch's
Hall on August 20, 201 4. After sitting
vacant since December 1 4, 2011 , the
building was demolished by the City of
Saint Paul. Ghosts of the historic hall's
former identities throughout the years
made one last appearance as the bricks
and mortar came down.
— Jennifer Gascoigne
Jennifer Gascoigne works for the
Minnesota Historical Society and is the
administrator ofthe Frogtown History
group on Facebook. Jennifer welcomes
comments and neighborhood history
anecdotes. She can be reached
at jennifergascoigne@gmail. com.
Cat Scratch Fever
Ask the Animal Humane Society Outreach
Q: How do I get my cat to stop scratching my furniture?
A: Cats scratch to exercise their paws and sharpen their claws. Redirect
your scratching cat to a scratching post placed nearby. Scratching posts
should be tall enough for the cat to fully stretch
their body, sturdy, and covered rough-textured
material, such as rope or sisal. It should be
accessible to the cat when you arrive home,
after he wakes from a nap, and after he eats.
You can also deter scratching by making a
surface unappealing. Sticky Paws is a thick
double-sided tape that you can place over areas
you don’t want the cat to scratch.
If these tips don’t help, your cat may be scratching due to stress with
another cat, either in the home or roaming outside. Feel free to call or text
animal trainers Katie or Elise at 651-802-8246 for more free tips through
the Outreach program of Animal Humane Society.
What's Hiding in City Comprehensive
Plan? Now's the Time to Check It Out
While you’re resolving to lose those
five extra pounds or to stop smoking in
the new year, the city of St Paul has
plans for self-improvement, too.
trees? Check the section on the urban
forest, which aims the city toward a 40
percent tree canopy (Frogtown’s is 23
percent and declining.)
In the city’s case, these “resolutions”
extend for the next two decades, and
are outlined in Saint Paul for All: 2040
Comprehensive Plan. The 200-plus
page document is chock-a-block with
policy recommendations on land use,
transit, employment, development and
Lest you think such grand schemes
have little to do with Frogtown, think
again. Are you:
Concerned about climate change? On
the plan’s very first page, there’s a
“commitment to increase resiliency”
especially in neighborhoods which, like
Frogtown, will be hard hit by rising
temperatures and more severe storms.
Looking for ways to spark
development in Frogtown, or create a
new business? The Plan lists several
"opportunity zones" that should be
eligible for special funding, including
the Minnehaha Mall, the Unidale Mall
and the former Sears site.
Mourning the loss of boulevard
Looking for a cheap place to live?
Read about the city’s intent to offer
“strategically targeted subsidies to
develop market-rate housing in areas
that lack market-rate options” or,
conversely, to place “affordable housing
in higher income areas.”
As anyone who has made a New Year’s
resolution knows, it’s easy to plan for
change, and a lot harder to carry out
those good intentions. Positive changes
will come to the neighborhoods that
make their preferences known.
City officials are looking for input on
the Comprehensive Plan draft over the
next several months. Feedback starts
with a public hearing at 8:30 a.m. on
Friday, January 11 in Room 40
(basement) of City Hall, 1 5 W. Kellogg
Boulevard. Can’t make the hearing?
Written comments are acceptable.
Read the plan for yourself at
resolve to weigh in on how to achieve
an even better community.
PAGE 12 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 PAGE 13
Ward One Race, Continued
Says McClain of the incumbent, “We need
to have somebody challenge him. He’s
had low visibility in the ward.” For now
McClain says he’s meeting with
neighborhood figures and trying to tally
up how much support he’d have in a race
for the council seat. McClain has
previously run for school board and for
the Ward One city council seat.
Thao kicked off his campaign in
December, saying, "If we look at the
history in Ward One, we've made a lot of
progress in economic development and
protecting homeowners and residents."
Examples? He points to senior housing
and retail development on Selby Ave., the
Frogtown Community Center that will
replace Scheffer Rec, and Midway
development associated with the soccer
"I'm not running on campaign rhetoric,"
says Thao. "I'm running on experience.
The community needs someone who
represents the entire ward."
New Commissioner, Continued
Are there opportunities for alternatives,
like the cooperative housing, for instance.
Is there a role for the county to play?
What does that look like in Frogtown?
Housing is always evolving. But not that
long ago, Frogtown had all these lovely
large duplexes. And then at one point
families took them out of duplexes and
made them single family homes again.
We could think about whether there’s an
opportunity for us to put those duplexes
back in, where families can live in places
that aren’t massive apartment buildings.
Maybe it’s time for more four-plexes, or
six-plexes. Or apartment buildings. I
think it’s a mixture of all of the above.
Also, it’s not just housing. It’s the
amenities that go with housing. If we
have more housing, where is the grocery
store? Where is the laundromat? Where
is the opportunity to walk? How about
the parks and libraries? We need to think
about community design. Do we move
county services out from downtown St.
Paul, but have access to WIC, so that
access to food and housing assistance is
right in the community.
GUN VIOLENCE: How do we change
the feeling people have that they need a
gun to protect themselves? We need a
holistic view. If we think the problem is
poverty, for instance, then housing
availability can help reduce gun violence.
Creating jobs will reduce it.
How do we show young people —
people who have been marginalized,
people who feel that their survival
depends on violence or crime — how do
we show them that they matter to us and
that we value them? Without question
this is a public health issue. County
public health is the way we can engage in
this conversation. that.
If you look at the data, there are 1 8 to 26
year olds engaging in gun violence
against each other. Where does that come
from? We need to ask, where did we fail
those folks who are in that age category,
who feel they need to protect themselves?
$15/hour: What It
Really Adds Up To
Since our last issue, St. Paul joined the
$1 5 minimum wage club, when the city
council and mayor signed off on the new
law requiring businesses to pay a higher
One question anyone trying to pay their
bills on a minimum wage will be asking
is, how much will that $1 5 minimum be
worth by the time I actually get it?
City workers and employees of firms
with more than 1 0,000 workers will be
paid the $1 2.50 minimum on Jan. 1 ,
2020, and $1 5 by July 1 , 2022. Given the
rate of inflation, that $1 5 in 2022 will
likely to be the same as about $1 4.1 5 now.
At firms with more than 1 00 workers, the
wage bump is to $11 .50 on July 1 , 2020,
with annual increases to $1 5 by July 1 ,
2024. By then, $1 5 will likely be worth
$1 3.67 today.
Small employers will meet the $1 5 bar by
July 1 , 2025, when it will be worth about
$1 3.44. And micro business that start
paying $1 5 on July 1 , 2028 will hand over
the equivalent of $1 2.89 per hour.
We asked Celeste Robinson of
FifteenNow Minnesota for some context.
She replied, “The relentless march of
inflation isn't the only thing assailing
working people — automation, the gig
economy, and the growth of megacorporations
like Amazon and Google are also
fundamental threats to the basic social
contract that if you work, you can survive.
“The fight for 1 5 is about more than a $1 5
minimum wage, it's about building our
power as workers to take on injustices and
win concrete improvements. Our local
movement built independent political
power with workers in and out of unions
to force real concessions. This time
around it was $1 5, but the method can be
applied down the road for whatever
comes our way.”
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 PAGE 15