Monday, May 30, 2011

Lowry Cafe Has the Ghost Pepper!

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photos of Hawkman taken by Ann Loyd of Local D'Lish.

I've got to hand it to my NoMi neighbors.  In the midst of the tornado cleanup, NoMi Passenger had the roof torn off of her house.  Yet I still got a text from her telling me that the Lowry Cafe has ghost peppers they can put on chicken wings.  Here she is, no roof on her home, and she's looking out for my taste buds.

So after getting roped into a press conference at 26th and Broadway, I moseyed on over to Lowry Cafe.  This would also be the first time I tried the Rogue beer they have available.

The photo might not make this entirely clear, but they serve their beer in a chilled glass.  "Beer should always be served in a chilled glass or frosty mug" is one of my most deeply-held nonreligious, apolitical beliefs.  Well done, Lowry Cafe.  Well done.

Now let's get to those chicken wings...

A Response to the NoMi Tornado: How Can I Help?

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

I've said it already, but it bears repeating:  Hawthorne was lucky in that the tornado left us relatively unscathed.  There are trees down in the EcoVillage, but none on houses, a few garages were hit with a downed tree, and a smattering of properties lost a few shingles.

We were even more forunate, though, in the response.  Our office was inundated with phone calls the next day; virtually all of them either offering something specific in response or simply asking "How can I help?"  Forget the isolated case or so of looting.  Forget the unfounded fears that crime would somehow be out of control (although the heightened police presence was still, in my opinion, the right call).  The real story in the aftermath of the tornado is that so many northside organizations stepped up, along with thousands of volunteers from across the metro, all of them asking "How can I help?"

Without a doubt, my biggest (organizational) thank-you goes to Urban Homeworks.  You wouldn't know it from the coordinated response, but...

Potential Housing Insurance Fallout from Tornado

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Shortly after the tornado hit NoMi, Alex Stenback of the Behind the Mortgage blog posted this article about how insurance premiums are allocated.  It's no secret to northsiders or pretty much anyone else in Minneapolis that the storm damage was compounded by having gone through an area ravaged by foreclosures and vacancies.  The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal stated that over 200 vacant or foreclosed properties were affected by the storm to some degree.

One glaring problem with damaged foreclosed properties is figuring out who owns them in the first place?  Securitized home loans were split up on the secondary market with various entities owning parts of each mortgage.  And often those entities aren't even easily traced.  The Mortgage Electronic Recording System, or MERS, is a storage point of sorts for securitized mortgages.  Essentially MERS facilitates multiple, frequent transfers of mortgages by having their name listed on state and county records as the owner - even though they only store the data of who really does own an interest in a property.  So if a foreclosed property needs repair or demolition, how do we hold such "owners" accountable?

Putting a more human face on this, however...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sisters' Camelot Serving Free Meals 5-7 at St. Olaf

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

The Sisters' Camelot (click here for their website and here for their Facebook page) have made it their mission to distribute free, organic food to anyone in need.  This week they felt the best place they could be was here on the Northside.  Today and tomorrow they are giving north Minneapolis residents, volunteers, and anyone else who needs a free dinner and free organic produce.  They are stationed at the St. Olaf church on 29th Ave N and Emerson Ave N and will be there Wednesday and Thursday from five p.m. to seven p.m.  Already the pizza they're making smells delicious.

I stopped by to thank them, gave them a hammer to pound in stakes for their tent, and graciously accepted their offer of some amazing free trade, organic coffee.  One of the volunteers, Clay, said they had just gotten on various relief network websites today.  Knowing that quite a few people at the center set up at Farview only a few blocks away wouldn't have internet access, I asked if I could bring their fliers over to the park to spread the word.

I quickly ran out of fliers, but spread the word as best I could.  And while I did that, I talked to quite a few people who needed at least to have someone listen to their story of how they have been displaced or affected.  Dear readers, I've been very impressed with the response so far.  But until the last person's situation is made right, the need will always outpace the work everyone is doing to help.  So please volunteer or donate; do whatever you can for NoMi.

And then stop by for what is sure to be a great dinner tonight and tomorrow at St. Olaf.

NoMi Tornado and Irresponsible Journalism

Post and stock photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

The tornado and the aftermath were tough enough on NoMi, but once again we weren't helped out by at least one media entity.  Fox 9 initially reported gunshots and looting in North Minneapolis in conjunction with the tornado.  (Warning:  do not read the comment section of that article unless you are standing next to someone you can punch without legal repercussions.)  I'm not sure what came first, the mainstream media or the tweet, but Twitter was full of misinformation and racist comments.  Most likely Twitter was breaking the "news" of the looting that wasn't before Fox picked it up.

Shortly after the storm, I was getting text messages and phone calls from people, some of which reported looting all along Broadway.  So when I went to try and help out a friend, I intentionally took a route that went along Broadway for as long as possible.  From 94 to James, you'd hardly know a tornado hit, and there were certainly no signs of looting either taking place or having had taken place.  Nobody could get anywhere near Penn and Broadway, the site of the ONLY confirmed looting incident.  But the barricades could have been for any number of reasons.

If the rumor mill was to be believed though, Broadway and north Minneapolis in general had descended into chaos.  On the ground, this was clearly not the case.  I understand the pull to break news before anyone else, whether it's via blogging, Facebook, Twitter, or any other medium.  I mean, in a world where Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson can break the news of bin Laden's death, who's to say that you or I can't stumble upon the next huge story through social media?

Here's the problem with being too hasty...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cub Foods Puts Out a Spread for NoMi Residents and Volunteers

Post and videos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Don Samuels, Linda Higgins, and Ed Anderson (Cub Foods Manager) spoke at an event to get food out to volunteers and residents affected by the tornado.  Ed said that Cub will put on another event like this tomorrow, but they will need volunteers to come at around 7:30 or 8 to take down tables and chairs and clean up.

Thanks to everyone who helped out today, but there's still PLENTY of work left to do.

More North by Northside posts on the way....

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Please Keep NoMi Streets Clear

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

I was fortunate.  Hawthorne as a neighborhood did not bear the brunt of the tornado that touched down, and neither my place of residence, my car, or my self was damaged by the storm.  I received calls from other neighbors affected, and got in my car to check out the EcoVillage before seeing if I could reach anyone in need.  It's been stated already, but let me repeat:  many of the roads in NoMi are impassable.  Please, do NOT drive around or come here to gawk at the damage.  It's tempting, I know.  As a blogger or citizen journalist or whatever you want to call me, I have that itch to go around and collect as many photos, videos, and stories as I can.

But I tried to get to one person's house to help, and couldn't make it closer than a few blocks - by car at least.  And dropping another friend off at home was an adventure in and of itself.  Not in a good way, either.  Already Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and other sites are exploding with video and photos.  But really the best thing folks can do is to keep the streets clear, especially of vehicular traffic, so that emergency and repair vehicles have easier access.  Call 911 if there are emergencies.  Call 311 to report downed trees or other non-emergency situations.  And if you really want to help out, Urban Homeworks is organizing a volunteer clean-up tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.  People are meeting at 1823 Emerson Ave N.

For whatever it's worth, if people need my help for anything, don't hesitate to ask.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Louisiana Fried Chicken = Change in the Neighborhood (Yes, Really)

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from the Super Itch blog.

I'd been watching the construction of what appeared to be an outdoor patio in the beleaguered Hawthorn (sic) Crossings strip mall with quite the anticipation.  But last weekend when I saw the grand opening signs, with the slogan "Change in the Neighborhood" juxtaposed with more fried food, I have to admit I was a little disappointed.  Boy was I wrong.

This morning I was supposed to go and run a 5k with the Irving Inquisition.  I awoke after a mere four hours of sleep, took one look out the window at the pouring rain, and decided I wasn't quite that dedicated.  I.I. on the other hand, kept true to his new-found commitment to fitness, and has the Northside 5k t-shirt to prove it.  We joined up for a pancake breakfast fundraiser at the YMCA on Broadway and then bombed around for a bit.

All that not running made me famished, and it was time to check out the Louisiana Fried Chicken place...

Hawkman at the Lowry Cafe

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

The Johnny Northside blog already extensively covered the Lowry Cafe opening, but I finally made my way down there twice over the last week or so.  My first trip there was a birthday present from a friend who insisted I try the mushroom and Swiss burger.  Having already proclaimed Good Sports as having the best burgers in NoMi, I needed to see how Lowry's burger stacked up to the competition.

I have to say that...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Biking in NoMi - To and From Wirth Lake

Post, image, and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

My inaugural post about 15-minute bike rides in NoMi got me from my home to the Guthrie in the time allowed.  One thing the RunKeeper app does is that it uses GPS to track elevation.  Needless to say, when I bike on the street by the Holiday gas station, the potholes mess with everything to the point where I have to reset my phone.  Last Sunday I decided to see how quickly one could access Wirth Lake.  I left home (26th Ave N and 3rd St N) and in fifteen minutes I had arrived at the corner of Plymouth and Theo Wirth.

I made my way down to Wirth Lake in about twenty-five minutes, but I meandered a bit.  If you bike directly there, you can make it across NoMi on 26th and down to Wirth Lake in probably twenty-two.

On my way back...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sign Spammers Get Crafty, Still Can't Stop the Hawkman

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

After Hawthorne finished our clean sweep, I gave a call over to the Irving Inquisition to see how Jordan might be doing with theirs.  He bragged that the good neighbors over at JACC turned out more volunteers, were working longer, and would be more thorough than Hawthorne.  Well, he may have beaten me at racquetball, but I wouldn't let even good-natured trash talk to go unanswered.  So I decided to make a round and take down more of the sign spam that had cropped up like a bad rash.

The first sign right next to my house was felled with a solitary blow.  But although the signs were all for the same slimy investor, that was the only one that came down so easily.  All the rest were bolted on and wouldn't come off with just a hit or two from a broomstick.

If this were just one or two signs, I might have just let things slide.  But when there's upwards of twenty, then something has to be done.  Undaunted, I went to North End Hardware and asked them...

Odds and Ends from the Clean Sweep

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman

In the top photo we see...well, nothing really, and that's the whole point.  Three weeks ago Johnny Northside wrote about how he got his 311 buzz at 718 West Broadway.  When Hawthorne, Jordan, and West Broadway all did neighborhood cleanup on the same day, I wanted to be sure that we checked out this vacant lot and at least pick up what we could.  Finally, finally, someone beat us to it, and the lot is clean for now.

In the second photo is a hula hoop I made for some kids at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter closing ceremonies last year.  It was sitting out in the rain in an alley.  I have some idea of who it might belong to, in case it was left out accidentally.  But the hoop needs a new tape job anyhow.  So I'll fix it up and see if I can't return it to its rightful owner.

Dex is Getting Better

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Well, it's that time of year again.  Phone books are getting dropped off at people's homes whether they want them or not, and also whether the houses are technically occupied by people or not.  I've made an issue out of phone books at vacant properties before, even to the point of bringing them back to the Dex headquarters.  Earlier in the week, a northside neighbor and I were commiserating about how he had been seeing phone books at vacant properties, AGAIN, and that he had STILL received phone books even though he opted out of them some time ago.

So when both Hawthorne and Jordan had their clean sweeps today, I made a point of looking at vacant properties where anyone had left phone books.  What I saw was...

Watching Hockey with the Polish Lady

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, contributed photos.

Lately the content on North by Northside has slipped a bit, and that's been intentional.  The NHL playoffs are ongoing, and this is the one time of the year when I let issues take a back seat to watching the pursuit of the most hallowed trophy in all of sports.  One afternoon, when work in the EcoVillage garden was done, Valeria (aka "The Polish Lady") invited me over for the typical thank-you meal of Polish sausage.  Her husband, The Artisan of Meat (called this because he makes the Polish sausage and sells it at Sentyrz), asked me to join him in watching hockey.

Ok, so "ask" is putting it nicely.  It was more like, "Why the hell you not coming over here to watch hockey?  I got the big screen, I got the sausage, I got Polish beer.  Don't wait no two, three ****ing months to come see me!"

Well, when you put it THAT way, there's not much room for argument.  And when I went over for the first game...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

FenaMacher Properties Does Restoration Right

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman except where noted otherwise.

The Hawthorne Voices blog showcased the EcoVillage LEED home, but I also stopped by a few other NoMi homes on the Minneapolis/St. Paul Home Tour.  One place that just blew my mind was 1500 Dupont Ave N, owned and rehabbed by FenaMacher Properties.  (top photo is from their website)

After being amazed by the gorgeous woodwork throughout, the next thing I noticed was, of course...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Public Meeting for Farview Wading Pool

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo from the Bike Cops for Kids blog.

The wading pool at Farview Park will be getting a $500,000 makeover and various other improvements will be made to Hawthorne's park this year.  A press release for an upcoming meeting on May 18, 6:30 at Farview can be found here.  Or you can read it after the jump...

North High WILL Have a Freshman Class in 2011

Photo from Minnesota Public Radio.

Photo from Minnpost.
Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photo credits linked above.

The Star Tribune recently reported in error that there would not be an incoming freshman class at North High this year.  However, a proud North High parent posted to the Minneapolis Issues Forum an email from Superintendent Johnson that indicates the exact opposite.  Organizers who have recruited new students repeatedly say that the number one barrier to getting committed students, parents, families, and other supporters is the concern that North High will close.

Since Johnson specifically stated on May 9, 2011, "I am pleased to announce that North High School will welcome a ninth-grade class in the fall of 2011," we need to spread the word that our North High Polars will indeed have a freshman class this year.

Superintendent Johnson's email is reprinted in full after the jump...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

River of Life Thanked for Homeless Shelter

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Last fall, members of River of Life Lutheran Church at 22nd and Fremont wanted to maximize the use of our space.  (I attend and am the Vice President of the congregation.)  We began to look into ways that we could serve our community and those in the most need.  My pastor called me up one day and asked if I could join other church council members in touring several homeless shelters.  We wanted to explore whether the gym could be used as an overflow shelter for the winter, and needed to understand how we could accomplish that.

Fortunately we had plenty of support from partners at the city and county level, as well as partnerships from other Minneapolis shelters.  We heard the concerns of residents in the Hawthorne and Jordan neighborhoods and JACC board member Todd Heintz was crucial in building a relationship between our church and Jordan so that we could move forward.  KSTP reported when our permit was approved by the city, and we were on our way.

Last Friday, our temporary shelter permit expired, and we "celebrated" the closing.  Celebrated is a tough word to use here because...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

City Pages Best of NoMi Roundup

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Here are the Best of 2011 City Pages winners with connections to NoMi:

Best Undiscovered Neighborhood:  Victory Neighborhood, Minneapolis
Best Local Blog:  The Adventures of Johnny Northside (Two years running!)
Best Burger:  Victory 44 (not really, in my opinion, but we'll get to that in a moment)
Best Neighborhood Bar (Minneapolis):  Tootie's on Lowry
Honorable mention for something that SHOULD be in NoMi, Best Bike Trail:  Grand Rounds, along the Mississippi River.
Various other downtown spots with North in their street address garnered top honors as well, but they are not technically in NoMi.  Out of all of those, however, the best bike shop jumped out at me because we need a bike shop here.  (And a REAL one, mind you, not some taxpayer/non-profit funded program-based notion that will dry up with future budget cuts.)

Now, about that burger (and the best blog)...