Tonight’s for Foot-Tappin’

JayberCrow.jpgThere’s a lot of music goin’ on Friday night in Downtown (and all around) Northfield.

Kim Bloom is at The Hideaway (421 Division Street) 7 – 9 pm, Jayber Crow (my pick for the weekend – check out their cut “The Limited Voice of the American Crow”) is at Hogan Brothers (415 Division Street) 7:30 pm, Gao Hong and Friends are at Carleton’s Concert Hall (on the College Campus) 8 pm, the Arianna Quartet is at St. Olaf’s Urness Recital Hall (on the College Campus) 8:15 pm, Tom Franek is at Froggy Bottoms (305 South Water Street) 9 pm, and Norwegian Cowboy is at the Tavern Lounge (Riverside of the Archer House – 212 Division Street).

There’s plenty tomorrow too.

The St. Olaf College Handbell Choir is in concert at Urness Recital Hall (on the College Campus) 3:30 pm, Kim Bloom is at the Hideaway, Holden On (hmmm…familiar name) is at Hogan Brothers (415 Division Street) 7 – 9 pm, there’s the St. Olaf College Band Spring Concert at Boe Chapel (on the College Campus) 7:30 pm, Trace Remington is at The Contented Cow, and Josh Petty is at The Tavern Lounge.

…and it continues on Sunday…

There’s an Art Opening and Reception for the Senior Show at St. Olaf’s Dittman Center (on the College Campus) 2 pm, the Andrew Carter Festival at Boe Memorial Chapel (on St. Olaf’s Campus) 3:30 pm and the Cannon Valley Youth Orchestra Spring Concert is at Emmaus Baptist Church (712 North Linden Street) 4:30 pm.

I didn’t even mention the The Pajama Game at the Arts Guild Theater (411 West Third Street) 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday and 2 pm Sunday, the Northfield High School Prom at the Grand Event Center with After Party at Jesse James Lanes (as Uncle Griff advised “Have fun and don’t be stupid”), and, what the heck, the Northfield New Home Tour throughout the area Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5 pm.

Encouraging Growth Without Sacrificing Your Character

RoswellCharm.jpgApparently it’s not a unique challenge to Northfield. According to Jim Segedy and Tom Daniels in “Small Town Design: Getting it Right”, communities all across America are working to accomodate and even encourage growth without losing their unique character.

The characteristics often cited as representing this much-valued character include tree-lined streets and sidewalks, well-kept homes and businesses, “slow, easy moving traffic” and “a town square where residents can shop and socialize”. Perhaps most interesting to me, the authors suggest that the ideal town “functions well as a place, both to live and make a living”. Finally, it has “a sense of identity, a sense of history, and its own special character”.

Preserving existing assets, cherished buildings, well-loved spaces, and successful neighborhoods is the first step in encouraging growth without losing character. As the new is added to the old, fitting it together through choices regarding the facade, size, style, color and materials, as well as connecting with existing patterns of development, is the next step. The final piece of the strategy is strengthening the existing assets with additional investments, such as signage, benches, streetlights, and planters. According to the authors, the leverage of these investments is increased when they are in the context of a pedestrian scale small town.

Attracting new development will only pay off if you protect and enhance your existing assets. Doing growth right benefits both the old and the new.

Don’t Let the Weather Get You Down

JamesBaldwin.png…get out and about and enjoy all the cultural offerings in our great little town.

In about an hour (10:50 am, Friday, April 11) Novelist Jane Hamilton will be speaking at Carleton’s Convocation. The topic for this award-winning writer is “Slouching Toward Television: A Novelist’s Foray into the Realm of TV”. It’s in Skinner Memorial Chapel on the Carleton Campus.

Friday night is Art a la Carte at the Northfield High School (1400 Division Street South) featuring the talents of our community’s emerging artists, 6 to 9 pm. This annual event is always a favorite.

There’s plenty of theatrical offerings this weekend. The Pajama Game is at the Art Guild Theater (411 West Third Street), Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2 pm. Lockwood’s Brightest Stars is at the Northfield Middle School Auditorium (2200 South Division Street) Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm. Les Belles Soeurs is at Kelsey Theater (on the St. Olaf campus) at 7:30 pm.

There’s dance too. The Veselica Spring Concert in the Dittmann Center (on the St. Olaf Campus) is at 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday and 2:30 pm on Sunday. The President’s Ball is 9 pm at Skoglund Center (on the St. Olaf Campus) at 9 pm on Saturday featuring ballroom dancing with live lessons; it’s open to all.

As usual, there’s lots of music. Kim Bloom is at The HideAway (421 Division Street) 7 pm on Friday and Saturday. Gary Heil will be at the Contented Cow (302B Division Street) on Friday and Walking Avalon will be there on Saturday. Kevin Stanke will be at the Tavern Lounge (Riverside of the Archer House – 212 Division Street) on Friday and Bonnie and the Clydes will be there on Saturday.

Finally, there’s a Symposium Opening, “The Writer’s Job: James Baldwin Speaking Out”, at the Gould Library Athenaeum (on the Carleton College Campus), 3 to 5 pm on Sunday.

NDDC Board Members Visit Downtown Businesses

The NDDC Board has launched a new initiative in 2008, more formal visits to downtown businesses. Although many NDDC Board Members own downtown businesses, and all NDDC Board Members frequent downtown businesses, there was an intentional decision to supplement the informal connections with a more structured approach.


In recent weeks, Board members have visited with Scott and Kerri Houfer at Echo Used DVDs & Games, Tammy Rice at Stonyhill, Aaron Morse at Hot Geeks, Sharon Sapp at Sweet Lou’s, Nate Thomsen, Aaron Kuhlman and Alison Anderson at Bad Brain/Next Level Cafe, and Dean Sorenmann at Final Course Cafe. The stated goal is to visit a dozen businesses every month.

BoardVisits006.jpgBoardVisits004.jpg BoardVisits005.jpg

It’s a great way to hear about the accomplishments and challenges of businesses downtown. It’s also a great way to get to better know some really cool folks in downtown Northfield.

Special Block Head Gathering on Quality of Life Issues

SpecialBlockHeadGathering.jpgAlmost two dozen downtown stakeholders attended a quickly assembled Special Block Head Gathering this morning at the Rueb-N-Stein. The topics could be categorized as relating to quality of life and included cleanliness, respect, safety, and friendliness.

The meeting was called by City Councilor Jim Pokorney and NDDC VP Joe Grundhoefer in response to recent experiences of graffiti and vandalism in downtown. Captain Mark Taylor of the Northfield Police Department was on hand as a resource and advisor. The examples brought up included rowdiness, noise, security, and mischief. Potential causes touched on inadequate lighting, insufficient patrols, poor visibility, and cheap beer. Current solutions shared mentioned calling the police dispatcher, calling the college deans, working with The Key, and the Police Department’s planned increase in foot and bike patrols.

We then moved on to possible additional steps to be taken. Joe Grundhoefer and Norman Butler are going to talk with other pub owners about tried and true ideas that they’ve developed over the years. Mark Taylor will be implementing the stepped-up patrols as early as this weekend. Jim Pokorney and Mark Taylor are going to work together on additional lighting and, potentially, surveillance cameras. Jim Pokorney is also going to check on extending the hours that key lights are kept on in priority areas. Josh Hinnenkamp and Judy Code are going to work together on intergenerational investments in infrastructure, believing that good activity drives out bad activity. Roger Kelm, Jim Pokorney and Mark Taylor are going to explore the “Citizens On Patrol” concept; Dean Kjerland, Norman Butler and Victor Summa offered to help. Mary Rossing urged everyone to share their stories about the costs of vandalism and advocated that all of us should work to form constructive relationships with the many different type of people that visit downtown. Finally, Jim Pokorney and I will develop and introduce a Code of Conduct for downtown…and the rest of the community.

It was great to have that many people show up on such short notice to discuss these issues. It will be even better to begin implementing some of the ideas raised.