Posts Tagged ‘ History ’

Brewing Enterprise

Rondo Cafe rendering

Rondo Cafe rendering by Leetta Douglas

Rondo’s Coffee Café is the name of the new coffee shop that will be making its home in on the first floor of the Frogtown Square project at University and Dale in St. Paul.

The idea of having a coffee shop at this busy corner came from two women who grew up in the neighborhood and now work with Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation. Executive Director Nieeta Presley and Board Chair Leetta Douglas also share something else in common: They both love their coffee.

Both women are also highly passionate about their neighborhood and don’t want the history of Rondo to be forgotten. In that hope they are planning to develop the coffee shop as a history lesson for visitors and walk down memory lane for locals. With few coffee shops in the area, the vision of one that the locals can call their own, and a gathering place for the seniors taking up residence in Frogtown Square, seems to make sense.

Helping Presley and Douglas get the shop up and running is Golden Thyme’s owner, Mychael Wright. Golden Thyme is a coffee shop and neighborhood gathering place on Selby Avenue. Wright has the experience and connections they are looking for to get it off the ground. The women are also looking forward to creating a few more jobs in the neighborhood.

Frogtown Square is a mixed-use development, combining commercial and residential spaces for seniors. Greater Frogtown CDC, Model Cities, Neighborhood Development Center and Aurora/Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation have partnered on the project. The work at this important intersection, including the adjacent Rondo Community Library, has been funded in part by Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has made a two-decade commitment to the neighborhood.
Fundraising has started for the inside décor for Rondo’s Coffee Café, with the dream of this being a place people come to either learn about Rondo or remember Rondo.

That’s where the organizers need your help. You can name a coffee, decorate a table with old photos, or have photos mounted on the 14-foot walls. The displays will tell the story of how Rondo used to be and bring back sweet memories to those who gather there over a cup of coffee and to reminisce.

“This will be a community coffee shop, and we are working to build community ownership of it,” Presley said.

To find out more about how to get involved with this project, check out Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation’s website, or call 651-222-0399, ext. 100.

JUST Equity

Veronica Burt

Veronica Burt

Veronica Burt, public policy advocate and organizer for JUST Equity, works diligently with other community organizations within the African American community in the historic Rondo neighborhood. Their shared passion for racial justice and equitable development brings awareness to community members so that they can voice their questions and concerns.

“We look at the large development projects and the impact they will have on the communities around them,” says Burt. “I look at the policies that exist on the books, to see if they will be beneficial or harmful to the community and then work to organize our communities to take action.”

JUST Equity is a network of several local community development groups, including the Aurora/Saint Anthony NDC, North Side Development Council and the NAACP (Saint Paul Chapter), all African Americans working for the betterment of their communities.

They are looking at the Central Corridor light rail line as one such project, with the hindsight of the construction of Interstate 94, in the 1960s through the Rondo neighborhood; they are hoping to see something different with this transportation project.

Community members were made aware of the project when it was still in the beginning stages and were able to ask questions about positive and negative impact on their communities and livelihoods.

JUST Equity has set out with the goal of “Lifting our community members out of poverty and not out of the community,” Burt said.

“We want to stay in our neighborhoods and we want to thrive,” says Burt. “The end goal to our particular effort and emphasis is essentially, development that takes place in this community that would be a benefit to the African American community. … What we want is a Rondo Renaissance … a revitalization vision that honors our community’s history, helps preserve what we have left in Rondo, helps restore components of the Rondo community, and builds wealth for our community members.”

JUST Equity seeks to be a partner with government agencies so that, together, they may be thoughtful planners of projects that lead to restoring and healing our communities.

About JUST Equity

JUST Equity is a network of several local community organizations, including Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, North Side Development Council, and the Saint Paul Chapter of the NAACP.

More info

Veronica Burt, Public Policy Advocate/Organizer

Black History Month Events at Libraries

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington in the 1971 film "Jazz Odyssey." Creative Commons-licensed image by Louis Panassié.

Here’s a look at upcoming Black History Month events at St. Paul libraries:

  • Saturday, February 20. 1-3 p.m.
    “My People”
    Central Library (90 W. Fourth St., Saint Paul. 651-266-7000)
    Tony Garrett will present “My People”, a genealogical journey about his family and the importance of preserving family history. Program immediately followed at 3 p.m. by a Genealogy Workshop by Saint Paul Public Librarian James Moriarty to teach program attendees how to use the ancestry library.
  • Saturday, February 20. 10-11 a.m.
    “Stories of Hope”
    by Isabell Monk O’Connor
    Merriam Park Branch Library (1831 Marshall Ave., Saint Paul. 651-642-0385)
    Acclaimed actress, author and educator Isabell Monk O’Connor will read stories from our national past that are heavily influenced by the African-American journey.
  • Sunday, February 21. 2-4 p.m.
    “Take the A Train to the Library for a Tribute to Duke Ellington”
    Central Library-Magazine Room
    Vocalist Debbie Duncan and saxophonist Dean Brewington will perform with a stellar quartet in this tribute to the late and very great Duke Ellington.
  • Monday, February 22. 7 p.m.
    “A Face of Courage”
    Sun Ray Branch Library (2105 Wilson Ave., Saint Paul. 651-501-6300)
    Tommy Watson is an elementary school principal and example to others of how one man came from a poverty and crime-ridden neighborhood, to achieve personal success and inspire others. He is the author of A Face of Courage: The Tommy Watson Story- How Did He Survive?
  • Wednesday, February 24. 7 p.m.
    “A Literary Evening with Alexs Pate”
    Hamline Midway Branch Library (1558 W. Minnehaha Ave., Saint Paul. 651-642-0293)
    Alexs Pate, best-selling author, hosts a fireside gathering to discuss his varied literary career an thoughts about being an African-American writer today.
  • Saturday, February 27. 10-11 a.m.
    “Stories of Hope”
    Highland Park Branch Library (1974 Ford Pkwy., Saint Paul. 651-695-3700)
    Storytelling by Isabell Monk O’Connor
  • Sunday, February 28. 2-4 p.m.
    “Warm Up on a Cold Day to Super Cool Miles Davis”
    Rondo Community Outreach Library (461 N. Dale St., Saint Paul. 651-266-7400)
    The Dean Brewington Quartet will perform with vocalist extraordinaire Lila Ammons.
  • Sunday, February 28. 2 p.m.
    Central Library- 4th floor Meeting Room
    Watch “Dreamgirls,” the film adaptation of a 1981 Broadway musical that tells a story of R&B and Motown funk, based loosely on the lives and career of The Supremes.

Admission is free for all events. This programming is funded in part with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008, which dedicated funding to preserve Minnesota’s arts and cultural heritage.

Community Celebration in Honor of Fredrick McGhee

frederick-l-mcgheeJoin us June 17 for a community celebration to honor Fredrick McGhee, the first African American admitted  to the bar in Minnesota and founder of the St. Paul  Branch of the NAACP. The event will be from 4-6 p.m. (program at 5 p.m.) in the Western Bank parking lot, 663 University Ave., St. Paul. Come enjoy Big Daddy’s BBQ and live music by Walker West. We will dedicate a plaque to be mounted on the front of the Western Bank building, the site of McGhee’s home from 1893-1919.