A Special Night of Friends, Food, Entertainment, and Culture

Photo courtesy of Dayton’s Bluff Community Council
Every summer, Minnesotans head to the Minnesota State Fair. It is a summer tradition! Last year, Dayton’s Bluff Community Council held its own “Minnesota Get-Together.” The event took place on August 21, 2015. It was 7th Street Live and people called it the “Block Party of the summer.” It was a memorable night.

Dayton’s Bluff is an area of cultural diversity. At the 7th Street Live event, people got to experience all of this culture in one place. The event featured several ethnic foods from several restaurants including La Cabana, LoLoRosa’s, and Mañana Restaurant y Pupuseria. There was also a special dance performance by Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli.

7th Street Live had entertainment. Many people considered these acts amazing. There were performances from local music artists such as Ka Lia Yang, Pang Vang, and Antwon Bradshaw. American Idol Finalist, Paris Bennett, also performed that night. 7th Street Live also featured live dancing. At the event there were Latin dancers and breakdance competitions. For the kids, the East Side Arts Council set up a table to make comic strips.

People that attended this event got to interact with several local businesses. Urban Roots, Swede Hollow Café, and the Dancing Goat Coffee House were just a few of the many businesses that showed up for the event. WEQY 104.7fm had a tent set up to tell people about the new radio station.

Photo courtesy of Dayton’s Bluff Community Council
If you attended this event, we would like to hear from you! What was your favorite moment at 7th Street Live? Please leave a comment.

A Special Night of Friends, Food, Entertainment, and Culture

The Mississippi Market and a Healthier You


A healthy lifestyle is the key to a good life.  Proper nutrition and exercise can help you feel better.  Fortunately, Dayton’s Bluff has many resources to keep you healthy and happy.  From parks to trails, there are numerous ways for you to stay active.  A nice walk through natural settings can boost your mood.  It can also help you feel more energized.  A walk to your neighborhood Mississippi Market, however, may be the healthiest steps you take.

What is the Mississippi Market?

The Mississippi Market is a consumer-owned grocery store that offers natural foods and wellness products.  The Mississippi Market offers food from local farmers that care about environmental sustainability and humanely raised livestock.  The Market also provides certified organic foods.  These foods are less processed and they are free of artificial additives and preservatives.

The Market features an assortment of healthy foods
Eating healthier foods can be affordable.

The Mississippi Market offers memberships to their customers.  It is a great way to save money on your purchases.  A membership to the Mississippi Market costs $90.  It is a one-time fee.  There is also a $12 membership fee (LIME program) for customers that have limited incomes.  Members receive special discounts on their purchases.  They also receive coupon flyers and special sale offers throughout the year.

If a membership at the Mississippi Market does not interest you, there are still ways to save money.  The Mississippi Market has special offers for everyone!  On its website, the Mississippi Market advertises several deals.  They also have lower prices on the most basic foods that everyone purchases.  These foods are labeled with the “Essential Foods” logo.

The Mississippi Market provides a free “Shopping Co-op on a budget” class.  This class provides ideas on how to save money shopping for healthier foods.  The Mississippi Market also provides a Bicycle Benefits program.  This program provides a discount to customers that ride their bike to the Market.  The Mississippi Market also provides discounts for buying bulk goods, using reusable bags, and bringing in used egg cartons.

Eating healthier foods can be easy.

Visiting a health foods store for the first time can be intimidating for many people.  Everything is different.  There is no familiarity.  Luckily, there are friendly employees at the Mississippi Market ready to assist you in your new journey.  Mississippi Market employees receive extensive training and information to help you with your questions.  In your quest to discover new foods, the Mississippi Market will also provide free samples.  They also hold classes throughout the year to help customers learn more about healthy eating.

Store Manager Carolfaye Meadows helps Janyesha discover the Market
At the Mississippi Market, you can find an information center at the front of the store.  The information center has brochures to help you become familiar with healthy eating.  Their website contains newsletters to help you become more familiar with healthy cooking.  For example, there is information on discovering healthy foods for pregnancy.  There are also holiday-themed blogs, such as “No Tricks in these Halloween treats.”

The Mississippi Market posts healthy recipes for you to try.  Some of these recipes are located in their flyers.  These flyer recipes will help you create meals with sale items.  They also let you know different ways to cook the same foods.

Eating healthier foods can be convenient.

Many people are busy.  There are times when there is not enough time to go to the store.  The Mississippi Market can help you get the foods you need with their delivery service.  Sometimes there is not enough time to cook a meal.  If you are in this situation, the Mississippi Market can help you with fast meal options.  In the deli area, there are individual meals wrapped up in a cooler.  There is also a salad bar, deli, and pizza station for a variety of options.  These foods are available for takeout.  If you would like to eat-in, there is a large dining area for customers to enjoy their food at the Market.  This seating area has a nice window view and will feature WI-FI in the near future.

Healthy foods for you to try
Your neighborhood Mississippi Market is open in Dayton’s Bluff!

The Dayton’s Bluff store opened in 2015.  They are looking forward to your visit.  The Mississippi Market is located at 740 E. 7th Street in Saint Paul.  Their store hours are 7:30 AM to 9:00PM daily.  Their phone number is 651-771-5061 and their website is msmarket.coop.


Special Thanks!  Our group would like to thank Carolfaye Meadows (East 7th Store Manager), Je Vang (Talent and Acquisition Specialist), and Leah Oliver (Marketing Manager) of the Mississippi Market for the information they provided for this blog.


New to Dayton’s Bluff: Tena.cious Design + Social

Tena Pettis brings new media business to the historic area

Website: http://www.tenaciousedge.com/

To view the video, click here

TenaDSC0215_ATWith clients ranging from credit unions to craftspeople who make jewelry with healing energy crystals, Tenacious Design and Social helps businesses create their brands, logos and social media strategies.

With that in mind, a quaint brick building on Seventh Street on St. Paul’s East Side might seem like an odd home for a cutting-edge media company, but it perfectly fits the personality of Tena Pettis, founder of Tenacious Design and Social.

And that’s no accident. Because Pettis helps entrepreneurs develop social media strategies and their online personas, it’s important that she is comfortable with her own.

Her rustic roots, developed while growing up in Brainerd and going to college in Bemidji, come through in her sense of style. Pettis, now a mother of three, currently lives in Hudson.

Prior to moving her business to Dayton’s Bluff, Tenacious Design called the historic Selby-Dale neighborhood home. She found the new location with the help of the East Side Area Business Association.

“We really wanted to have the same feel,” said Pettis, who is excited about the new developments in the neighborhood, including Mississippi Market and the expansion of Metropolitan State University.

Comfort is important for her clients, so knowing who you are and how you want to make money are the keys to success. According to Pettis, you can start with these two questions:

“What do I want to do?”

“Who do I want to reach?”

Too often, in an attempt to reach to everyone, businesses end up reaching no one, according to Pettis. In order to stand out, brands need to be targeted and have a consistent message on social media. Interacting with clients through Instagram, Twitter, and a regularly updated blog help you build your community. People want to interact.

Pettis says these targeted strategies is how you can “get rich in your niche.”

Social media and networking seems like an odd specialty for someone who grew up collecting stamps for a hobby, but they have more in common than you’d think. The designs and color schemes on stamps from different countries intrigued Pettis and possibly lead to her love of travel. While she enjoys hiking and other active adventures, a summer in Iceland – a country with the most art galleries per capita – helped hone her eye for design.

Her penchant for experiencing new things helped ease the relocation process. It didn’t take long for Pettis and her staff to get comfortable exploring their new niche in Dayton’s Bluff.

“We love it,” Pettis said of the Swede Hollow Café, where the Tenacious staff often grabs lunch, and the neighborhood in general. “It’s like a second home to us.”

New to Dayton’s Bluff: Tena.cious Design + Social

Mounds Theatre: A Hidden Treasure in Dayton’s Bluff

marqueeWhere else can you regularly see family-friendly wrestling, local comedians, burlesque shows, a psychobilly concert and live radio shows – and A Klingon Christmas Carol. The Mounds Theatre in the heart of Dayton’s Bluff on St. Paul’s East Side—that’s where.

Ironically, a very common comment executive director Jessica Johnson hears is “I didn’t even know this was here!”

Its location at 1029 Hudson Road, the northern frontage road along Interstate 94, makes it difficult for people to just stumble upon. You have to be looking for it. But once they find it, people tend to love it. Especially performers.

Johnson herself had been involved as a performer, tech crew member, and later the producer of burlesque shows for several years prior to becoming executive director in 2014. Many other performers keep coming back.

“It really is a special place, with a great art deco vibe and loads of potential. Having the flexibility to put on productions with both niche and wide range of appeal from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to Night of the Living Dead to assorted radio theater productions,” said Sal Cloak, a member of the Conundrum Radio Collective, which has been working with the Mounds Theatre since 2007.

The old-school vibe is authentic. According to Johnson, the theater was “built the year Vaudeville died” in 1922.

An operational 35 mm film projector greets visitors in the entryway

Since then theater was then used in as a movie house and live entertainment venue for several decades. In 1967 it was simply warehouse space. But in 2001, an ambitious renovation project began. Spearheaded by Raeann Ruth and her nonprofit Portage for Youth, the Mounds returned to its roots as a theater. Ruth retrieved numerous original items, such as the medallions for the chairs and acquired period pieces from various places. The paneling in the lobby, for instance, was once part of an old Maplewood movie theater.

Authentic relics from a bygone era, including a still-operating 35mm movie projector, enhance the theater’s mystique. However, finding a qualified projectionist is a challenge, Johnson said.

The theater reopened in 2003 as a versatile venue. The standard rows of seats for theatrical performances and concerts could be removed when the wrestling ring needs to be in the middle of the floor. Tables can also be arranged on the floor for cabaret-style performances and comedy shows.

When Conundrum performed Night of the Living Dead, the entire theater became the “stage,” said Derek Dirlam, one of the group’s directors.

“You can literally do anything,” Johnson said.

A Community and Artistic Resource

The eclectic offerings at the versatile space have put the Mounds on the map for small production companies and their various niche audiences that vary from show to show.

“We want to do experimental work that no one comes to,” Johnson said. “That’s the point.”

Not literally. Obviously an audience is desirable, but Johnson works with small companies that are just getting started and need experience. This means short, two-weekend runs for independent performances. Not only does this serve the artistic community, it frees up the space for regular events during the week.

However, Johnson also wants to increase visits from neighbors. Besides events like wrestling, which draws families from Dayton’s Bluff, bolstering daytime programming is also important. In particular, Johnson believes activities for children can foster the next generation of artists.

The Keys program—a summer day camp for elementary school children in which they learned about theater and eventually created a show—is something Johnson would like to book more often. The 20 students didn’t necessarily go to the same school as the Mounds served as a hub for activity, so the kids also got to share their perspectives with one another.

Using theater as a tool to further a larger goal an activist is natural for Johnson, who is involved with the Dayton’s Bluff Community Council and works with local organizations like the Dayton’s Bluff Business Association and Friends of Swede Hollow.

Haunted tours guided by actors have introduced a good number of amateur ghost-hunting enthusiasts to the theater each fall. The space is also rented out for weddings, fund-raisers and concerts.

Johnson said she has noticed some crossover in audiences. Some are fairly obvious, such as ghost hunters and sci-fi, but there are more things that link standup comedy, Ren Fest, burlesque and wrestling than most people realize.

Yet some things are just random, like the cabaret show that had a naked woman in a washtub.

The Conundrum Collective is just one company that regularly produces creative adaptations and original material at the Mounds Theatre.

Of the original work performed at Mounds Theatre, I Heart Brains – A Zombie Musical was one of their biggest draws. The performance troupe consisted of a rotating group of high school grads/students, led by their former high school theater teacher, who along with a professional tech and a director have been the constants over the past 10 years.

The big audience was due in part to one performer’s mom, who was one of 19 siblings in her family—and hey all showed up!

“It’s community theater,” Johnson said. “When you know someone you go.”

Keeping things in the family in the general sense is also a goal for Johnson. The Mounds has a theater liquor license, which means they may sell alcohol during a performance. Along with wine and custom drinks like Soylent Tea or Fiery Doom (which are subject to change-these drinks matched Radio Fear’s theme), Johnson pours a lot of beer from growlers straight from the East Side’s own Sidhe Brewery.

(Yes, the executive director staffs the concession stand during shows.)

Yet even with all the bells and whistles—the beer, the multimedia-ready equipment, the adaptable space—the theater’s allure still lies with the fundamentals.

What’s best thing about the Mounds Theatre?

“It’s an actual theater,” Dirlam said. He’s worked in a number of black boxes, converted spaces, found spaces and even a cave. “There is a comfort in being able to perform on an actual stage in a building that was meant to be a theater.

Mounds Theatre: A Hidden Treasure in Dayton’s Bluff

Midwest Karate: A Dayton’s Bluff Mainstay for 40 Years

Students work out in a class at Midwest Karate.

Karate has always been a part of Joel Ertl’s life, even before he knew what it was. No one could have predicted he would be helping Midwest Karate celebrate its 40th year at its Dayton’s Bluff location this October.

As a child in the 1960s, the Watkins, Minnesota, native first became intrigued with the word “Karate” on the big yellow sign he saw whenever his family made the trip to the big city: St. Cloud. They didn’t go inside or even stop, but that didn’t stop the youngster from thinking about it.

Ertl finally took his first lesson as a 15-year-old in 1973 at the St. Cloud studio. And he was hooked.

“All the details, the small details,” Ertl said. “It’s just fascinating.”

The coordinated movements in a discipline that people could keep learning over a lifetime appealed to Ertl. “There isn’t anything that isn’t thought out.”

Ertl began teaching at Midwest Karate’s St. Cloud location in 1976, just three years after taking up the discipline. In 1979, Ertl became the instructor at the Dayton’s Bluff location—where his future wife Anita was already a student—and has been there ever since.

The nurturing nature of the karate community created a welcoming atmosphere. At the time, his fellow students consisted mostly of men in their 20s and 30s, and only a few women, which mirrored the national profile. Kids were not considered capable of the challenge.

“I knew I belonged,” Ertl said of his first karate experience.

Ertl still belongs, even though his clientele has changed.

Women began getting more involved in karate in the 1970s. Interest grew as competitions began including women’s divisions. Finding practical applications also made the craft reach a broader audience. Anita currently teaches self-defense at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College.

Today, the number of men and women are about equal, and karate has become more of a family activity. Many kids start at age 7, which is when they have the concentration necessary for the discipline. Ertl allows younger students to join classes on a case-by-case basis.

Joel Ertl and his daughter.

The number of kids joining increased abruptly in the early 1980s with the release of The Karate Kid.

“Oh my gosh,” Ertl said. “We went from about six to eight kids to about 40.”

Also, in 1980, Ertl had 20 students total. “Now we have more blackbelts than that.”

The Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood has changed too, and that diversity has shown up in his karate classes. Sometimes, “I’m the only one who only speaks English,” Ertl said of a class that typically has about 20 students. Multilingual conversations are not uncommon, but one that stood out included students speaking to one another in German, Spanish, Somali, Japanese, and English.

“The East Side is one of the most diverse communities in the country,” Ertl said. “More importantly, they all get along.”

This might be due to the roots in the community, as there are now many third- and fourth-generation immigrant families. A couple decades ago, the neighborhood entered a transition after major employers Hamm’s, Whirlpool and 3M left the area in the 1980s. The repercussions of losing 15,000 jobs in the area included lower property values, a higher crime rate, more rental housing and a less stable community.

The East Side has been stabilizing and building back up faster than most people realize, according to Ertl, who speculates that the East Side might get a bad reputation because the neighborhood covers miles of space whereas most neighborhoods can be defined in terms of blocks. When newscasts mention “crime on the East Side,” they paint a diverse range of people and neighborhoods with the same brush.

Ertl believes the growth in Dayton’s Bluff has picked up even more in the last few years. New businesses like the Dancing Goat Coffee Shop, Tenacious Design + Social, and the Mississippi Market, have sprouted up while more established businesses like Flat Earth Brewing have expanded.

“The East Side has always gone up and down,” Ertl said, “but it really seems to be on the upswing now.”

Midwest Karate: A Dayton’s Bluff Mainstay for 40 Years

New to Dayton’s Bluff: The East Side Freedom Library

Labor Historian Peter Rachleff and Library Founder Hopes to Open in 2016

Retired after 30 years of teaching at Macalester College, Peter Rachleff wanted to continue making a difference in his community.

Starting the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood in 2014 was a natural progression for the labor historian.

This is part of a mural in the basement of the East Side Freedom Library. It is housed in the same building as the old Arlington branch of the St. Paul Public Libraries.
This is part of a mural in the basement of the East Side Freedom Library. It is housed in the same building as the old Arlington branch of the St. Paul Public Libraries.

The difference between East Side Freedom Library and most others is the focus. All books in the collection will have a connection to labor issues, immigration, race and social justice movements. Rachleff wants to use history and storytelling to make these connections, so while the topics are limited, all genres will be accepted including nonfiction, poetry, fiction, plays and memoirs.

The ESFL’s location, housed in the building of the former Arlington Hills Branch of the St. Paul Public Library system, is also appropriate. The area itself illustrates the ups and downs of working-class neighborhoods.

About 15,000 unionized just disappeared when Hamm’s Brewery, American Hoist and Derrick, Whirlpool and 3M left Dayton’s Bluff in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The neighborhood changed as young whites left the area and the older whites who stayed felt abandoned and bitter, Rachleff said.

Of course the library’s collection, which Rachleff estimates its noncirculating collection will total 15,000 volumes, will have a reach beyond St. Paul. That doesn’t mean there will not be a good dose of local flavor in archiving the critical points in labor history. The ESFL will also house the Hmong Archives, a 20-year-old collection that includes musical instruments, videos and story cloths, visual documents Hmong women have created to tell their community’s history.

A batch of feminist literature is another important gift the library is expecting. The impact of women’s rights extends farther than most people realize.

Peter Rachleff, founder of the East Side Freedom Library.
Peter Rachleff, founder of the East Side Freedom Library.

“Women play critical roles in working-class life, in reproductive and waged labor,” Rachleff said. “Further, class relations and identities are gendered—both masculinity and femininity are shaped in terms of labor. Feminism provides us with the theoretical and analytical tools that can help us understand these dimensions of the working-class experiences.”

The ESFL in some ways is a continuation of his work with a Friends of the St. Paul Public Library project called “Untold Stories,” which features stories about working class people who are not traditionally written about.

Volunteers and interns are continuing to catalog the donated materials, which they’ve been amassing since the first of the year. About half of the 12,000 books so far, are from Rachleff himself. Other targeted donations make up the rest. While probably close to capacity (Rachleff thinks the library could hold about 15,000 books), he is expecting gift of feminist literature.

Although the library has yet to open for daily visitors, the ESFL has already been making a difference by hosting events, films and forums. The October events alone included a family-friendly play “Stripe and Spot (Learn to) Get Along,” a production by Off-Leash Area Productions; a discussion with Floyd Williams, author of The Origins of Racism and The Holy Black Papyrus; a school-board candidate meet and greet; and a conversation with film actor Roger Guenveur Smith, who was in town to perform his one-man show “Rodney King” at the Penumbra Theatre.

The space is also being used during the day for educational programming and community outreach. Recent educational events included Rachleff’s six-week course describing how to tell the story of labor through art and music and a journalism workshop by Allison Herrera of “Twin Cities Daily Planet.”

The ESFL performance space also serves as a community resource. Karen women (from Burma) have held regular weaving sessions in the basement. Rachleff offered the library space for the women he met while teaching at the Roseville Adult Learning Center after identifying issues of isolation and depression. The group weaving alleviates both – and the women are also now selling the clothes they are making.

Refurbishing the building itself has been a challenge. Replacing the roof was a top priority, and other renovations are planned, including upgrading the heating and cooling system.

However, the downstairs space will definitely continue to be a performance space, though it may be renovated. A wooden sprung floor rather than the current harder surface will make it better for performances and also suitable for yoga classes.

Rachleff hopes to open up the East Side Freedom Library at the beginning of 2016.

New to Dayton’s Bluff: The East Side Freedom Library

Metropolitan State Students: Opportunities for You

College students receive many questions.  “When will you be finished?” is probably the most popular question you will receive.  These questions, however, will continue.  Eventually you will graduate from college with that coveted degree.  Soon, you will have to answer job interview questions.

In today’s competitive job market, it is important for you to stand out among the other candidates.  It is important for you to have good grades.  It is important for you to have relevant internship experience and references.  It is important for you to show a positive personality and work ethic.  It is also helpful if you participate in enough extracurricular activities and community service programs.

At a job interview, interviewers will ask you specific questions about your experiences.  Would it be cool to share examples of positive things you did?  Community service and volunteering is a great way for a college student to gain valuable experience and references.

Besides gaining credentials for future employment, you could also gain a sense of accomplishment and a content feeling by volunteering in your community.  You will likely have fun and make new friends.  Moreover, there will be people in the community whose lives will improve because of you.

Have you ever considered volunteering for Dayton’s Bluff Community Council and their programs?

Dayton’s Bluff Community Council is very involved in their community.  They offer a variety of programs for you to be involved too.  If you have a lot of time or just a few hours a month, the Council is flexible in finding you a service opportunity that fits your life.

A great way to become involved in the Dayton’s Bluff Community is to visit a council meeting.  Council members and residents are very welcoming.  They love to have new guests!  Council meetings are great ways for you to find out what is going on in the community and how you can help.  Meetings take place several times a year.  The Council announces their meetings on their Facebook page.

Besides council meetings, the Council hosts several events throughout the year.  National Night Out and Night Out on E. 7th Street are two of their most popular programs.  They hold smaller events such as food drives to provide Family Food Boxes to residents in need.  They also organize programs for youth and discussions to improve safety in the neighborhood.  In addition, the Council collaborates with various groups and organizations, such as Community Gardens and Art on the Blocks, to improve the neighborhood.  The Council is looking for people like you to help with these programs.


Have you considered being an elected officer of Dayton’s Bluff Community Council?

If you are interested in a leadership position, a role as an elected officer of Dayton’s Bluff Community Council may be for you.  Dayton’s Bluff Community Council will have elections to appoint officers for 2016.  One of these officer positions could go to a college student.  Typically, officers must be residents of Dayton’s Bluff.  The college student, however, is exempt from this rule.

Although becoming a council officer is a great way to improve your resume, it is a decision that you should consider carefully.  Candidates for the college student- officer position should have a genuine interest in helping the people of Dayton’s Bluff.  Dayton’s Bluff Community Council deals with serious issues and the residents they serve need help.

If you are elected to the Council, you will work with qualified individuals that are highly invested in their community.  Many of these individuals are not happy with the way things are in their community.  They are eager to make a positive change.  Council members and residents are interested in more than intentions.  They expect to see measurable results.

As a council member, you will have opportunities to create positive change for Dayton’s Bluff Community.  One of the main goals of the Council is to work with residents to improve the neighborhood.  To help with these programs, the Council needs workers and input.  They would like to attract more minority residents and their input to Council meetings.  Although Dayton’s Bluff is home to many different ethnic groups, the Council meetings fail to reveal this diversity.  Dayton’s Bluff Community Council needs help connecting with underrepresented groups.  Could you play a role in helping the Council connect with more minorities?

Can you start today?

Dayton’s Bluff Community Council is always looking for help.  When you are able to help the Council, they would like to hear from you.  If you are interested in learning more on how you can contribute to the residents of Dayton’s Bluff, please use their website’s contact page.  Their phone number is 651-772-2075 and email is info@daytonsbluff.org.  Their address is 804 Margaret Street in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Metropolitan State Students: Opportunities for You