Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Market to Mississippi

Post, photos, and images by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

On a wet but otherwise perfect October Sunday, about forty people gathered at the West Broadway Farmers Market to mark the end of the season. (almost!  We still have one Sunday left on the 30th!)  We started out at the regular site, just off of the Capri and Nice Ride kiosk near Logan and Broadway.  From there we went to 26th, then up Emerson to Webber Park, and across to North Mississippi Regional Park.  With a few dozen people of varying abilities, and an equipment malfunction, the ride took almost an hour.  But biking it alone at a decent clip, one could probably make it in closer to twenty minutes.

Some folks brought out their customized bikes for one last spin before the weather turns cold.
Along the way, the devastation of the tornado was still prevalent, especially once we got to the river...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bikes as Traffic? Novel Idea.

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Sometimes we take certain things in our city for granted.  For instance, Minneapolis has been named the number one biking city in America.  The Nice Ride bike rental system has been a one-of-a-kind bike sharing project in the country.  NoMi has seen the key addition of several new bike lanes.  And yet, bicycles aren't legally considered traffic per city ordinance

What does this mean?  When a car parks in a bike lane, is that vehicle really obstructing traffic?  When I'm going the legally-posted 30 mph on Fremont Ave N, and someone passes me on the right using the bike/barrier lane, did that driver use a lane dedicated to other traffic?  It's hard to believe, but herded animals currently have more legal protection in Minneapolis ordinance than bikes.  Remember that next time you're trying to decide whether to take your Schwinn or your goat for a quick run to the store.

So CM Schiff has been pushing to include bicycles in the city's definition of traffic, bringing us more in line with the rest of the state and other biking cities.  The next logical step?  Rybak in a tank.

The Year of Buying Into NoMi Ends (But Isn't Really Over)

Post and stock photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

A little over a year ago, I tried an undertaking where I would attempt to find a local, north Minneapolis connection to everything I purchased (at least with discretionary income).  I ate at a few new restaurants, and even found a connection where I could buy comic books.  But the attempt to categorize just about everything you could buy in NoMi sort of fizzled.  Why?

Several reasons.  First, I am reminded of one of my favorite authors, Dave Barry.  Barry wrote a book called "Dave Barry Does Japan," in which his publisher Random House paid for him to visit, try zany things, and apply his brand of humor to them.  He repeatedly brought up this fact.  "I cannot overemphasize," Barry wrote, "how much more you can enjoy Japan when Random House is paying for everything."

As a volunteer blogger, I had no publisher willing to pay for such a venture.  So the first thing that I did in searching for places to spend my money in NoMi was I stopped spending as much money.  And then a funny thing happened:  I had more money in my account every month.  And that, my friends, lead to...

Friday, October 21, 2011

What is Embodied Energy?

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from the National Historic Trust.

When I was a loan officer and I had someone who wanted to refinance, I always showed my borrowers what I called the "break even point."  That is, if a refi saved $100 per month but closing costs were $4,800, then the person would need to stay in the house with that loan for four years before the refinance paid for itself.  If the borrower wasn't comfortable with that number and we couldn't make anything better work, I recommended that they not do the loan - even though this meant I sacrificed many a commission.

(Mortgage terminology for newer homeowners:  A "refinance" was when banks used to extend credit in the form of a new loan that would pay off your existing mortgage.  It sounds crazy, I know, but it happened at one time.  They would examine things like your credit, income and equity, and then actually do a loan.  Oh yeah, "equity" was this thing when your house was worth more than what you owed.)

Embodied energy is essentially the break even point for tearing down an existing structure and replacing it with a new one.  Every existing structure contains nonrecoverable energy - that used in the production and transportation of materials as well as the home's construction.  Each new house creates a new round of nonrecoverable energy.

So when we talk about "green" construction, a pertinent question would be...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Upcoming Mississippi River Events

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

Tonight Hawthorne leaders and others will meet at the corner of 26th and 4th to highlight the difficulties of accessing the Mississippi River from our side of 94.  But there are a bevy of other events happening along the riverfront as well.  Click on the image to enlarge, or read after the jump...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Who Owns Them Now? (Not Paul Koenig)

Post and top photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.  Bottom photo from Paul Koenig's now-defunct blog.

When a property becomes owned by a slumlord, or is touched by mortgage fraud, that property is quite unlikely to immediately go back into the hands of a quality owner - whether the house is homesteaded or not.  It's been long enough since the "One Man Housing Crisis" of Koenig/Pamiko/Marklee Construction/MCK Investments/Dream Homes/Did I forget any LLC? collapsed on itself, so its time to take a look at where those houses ended up, starting with...

No Such Thing as Half-Price Gas

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

I woke up this morning to get my usual morning paper from the Holiday station. With a 7 cents/gallon coupon in hand, it was also time to fill up the tank. As I walked into the store a middle-aged man called out to me:

"Hey! You want some half-priced gas?"

Without my morning cup of joe, the only thing I wrapped my mind around was that in spite of the $1.50+/gallon savings he was offering, that was too good to be true. By the time I got to the register, it dawned on me: stolen credit card. I told the clerk what happened, and at which pump, and they sprang into action.

One clerk had 911 on the horn immediately and another ran out to get the license number of the vehicle as it sped off. Then I swung by the Honey Bee and Winner Gas to see if he was pulling the same stunt. At Winner, there was a person and vehicle that matched the description. (Middle-aged, heavyset African-American male driving a large, dark green SUV.)

I caught the license plate number this time around and called that in to 911. If NoMi folks notice the same behavior, call it in.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Half of NoMi Doesn't Exist at Edina Realty

Post and images below by the Hawthorne Hawkman, above image from Edina Realty.

While on vacation with my family in Upper Michigan, I began perusing NoMi real estate listings for my own devious purposes.  I started my search at Edina Realty, not out of any preference but because a neighbor once showed me their site and I found it easy enough to navigate.  Plus the little green houses and red condos kind of remind me of Monopoly game pieces.  At their Minneapolis site, there is a tab to click on and view all Minneapolis listings.  That link shows you these houses for sale:

Even without clicking on the image to enlarge it, one can see that only homes in downtown and southwest Minneapolis are shown.  Okay, well the site does tell us that only 200 of 1,909 listings are shown, and there's a handy sidebar to refine our search.  I can understand if they're putting what they see as the 200 most desirable homes or the more profitable listings first.  Right or wrong, at least that makes business sense.  The sidebar doesn't allow for a more refined geographic search, so we're left to go back to the initial Minneapolis listing page.  There they have a sidebar that breaks down search criteria by neighborhood/community.  The "Camden/North Minneapolis" tab takes us to...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Join the NCRC Facebook Page!

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from NCRC.

For starters, the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition, or NCRC should NOT be confused with the Northside Residents' Redevelopment Council, NRRC.  Nor should people mistake it for the tornado response group Northside Community Response Team, NCRT.  Organizations like the Northside Tenants Rights Coalition (NTRC) and the Northside Coalition Responding to Coalitions with Redundant Coalition Names (NCRCRCN) don't technically exist yet, but we've thought about creating them just to be more confusing.

Instead, we've dedicated ourselves to defending community wealth.  If that sounds a bit vague, well it's supposed to be.  NCRC is a grassroots coalition of neighborhood groups, religious and cultural organizations, and service-based organizations, formed in response to the foreclosure crisis in north Minneapolis.  While foreclosure prevention outreach has been the cornerstone of NCRC's work, we remain a resident-driven group and those resident leaders will define for us what "community wealth" means and how we should support that in north Minneapolis.

NCRC has been doorknocking consistently over the past several years to reach out to north Minneapolis residents at risk of foreclosures.  Instead of picking a block or two at random in hopes of finding someone in need, we use public records to ensure that every single door we knock on is a household at risk of foreclosure.  Over the years, the coalition has gotten better and better at its efforts to reach people and save homes.  But we don't win every time.  Although we meet every week to knock on doors, there are still far to many foreclosures for a small group to contact everyone.

And that's where you come in, readers of North by Northside.  Join us every Thursday, 6-7 p.m. at the Minneapolis Urban League to go out for a quick doorknocking session.  Since we may do additional outreach sessions, go to our new Facebook page and "like" it.  Just like there was a wide push to get people to join the Clean Sweep NoMi page, please do the same here.  Share NCRC's page with your friends, and encourage them to do more than just "one-click activism."  It takes knocking on about ten doors to reach one person at home who will be referred to or seek foreclosure prevention services.  Given the level of foreclosures that still plague our community, the reality is stark:  we need more volunteers hitting the streets.

More information on NCRC's activities and goals will appear on our site, so please, follow us on Facebook and join us in our outreach.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Black Onyx Creations Serves Up Top-Notch Coffee!

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

Over much of the summer I've been hula hooping at the West Broadway Farmers Market, and supporting local businesses who sell their produce here. One of my favorite vendors is Black Onyx Creations, who serve up a terrific cup of joe. Today they are selling my favorite kind of java, Tanzanian Peaberry coffee.

Frank and Terry Wlliams, the proprietors, explained to me why it is that the Tanzanian Peaberry is better than other peaberry coffees. This blend is made specifically from a bean that is grown as a single bean. Other peaberries are just the genetic anomalies of regular coffee beans. As I sit here typing this post, I'm hearing Frank expound on the finer points of Black Onyx's chais and other blends. Their knowledge of the finer points of their coffee is matched only by the quality of their product.

(Oh, and their ability to swap at the hornets that come to visit the market.)

The Farmers Market is open on West Broadway, just east of Penn Ave, Sundays 10-3, through the end of October. The caffeine kick will kickstart hula hooping too!
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