Posts Tagged ‘ Kulju ’

UABA, AEDA, University United and U-Plan Move in Together

Community members turned out for opening of new center.

Community members turned out for opening of new center.

By Jake Kulju

September 22, 2009 may have seemed like any other day, but on University Avenue, it was a day of celebration. Hundreds of people gathered for free food, entertainment and speeches from local politicians, including a welcome from mayor Chris Coleman, at the new Community Solutions Center at 712 University Ave.

The event marked the grand opening of the center, a joint effort of the University Avenue Business Association (UABA), the Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA), University UNITED and U-Plan.

The open house was held from 3 to 6 p.m., with a welcome by the mayor and program beginning at 4:30 p.m. Special guests included City Council members Russ Stark and Melvin Carter III, County Commissioners Toni Carter and Janice Rettman, state Reps. Alice Hausman, Erin Murphy, Phyllis Kahn and Cy Thao and state Sens. Mee Moua and Dick Cohen.

Several large tents spanned the parking area in front of the new Community Solutions Center, covering tables full of free food from local businesses. Food and beverages were provided by Abundant  Catering, China One, Chindian, Mai Village, Ngon Vietnamese Bistro, Saigon Restaurant, Shuang Hur Supermarket and SugaRush.

The grand opening of the center was sponsored by US Bank, Update Company, Impressive Print, Lao Family Community and Lifetrack Resources.

City Councilman Russ Stark, right, speaks with a constituent at the grand opening.

City Councilman Russ Stark, right, speaks with a constituent at the grand opening.


FRAN Meeting seeks to focus campaign to raise $8 million


Nieeta Presley discusses fund-raising with Access Philanthropy consultants.

Steve Paprocki spoke clearly when he addressed the Frogtown-Rondo Action Network meeting on April 28. “The time is now for you to come together on a common work plan, work force and work vision to raise $8 million for this community.” A consultant from Access Philanthropy, Paprocki knows what he is talking about.Representatives of nearly a dozen FRAN organizations nodded their heads in agreement. $8 million dollars is the lucky number FRAN aims to raise over the next three years to support its rollout of 11 community-based initiatives to, in its words, “start the next great chapter in Frogtown-Rondo’s history.”

Nieeta Presley, executive director of the Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation led the formative meeting. “This is an opportunity for community organizations to interact with each other and create a streamlined plan for raising money and implementing programs,” Presley said.With a line-up of community-building orga- nizations at the plate, the multimillion-dollar goal seems feasible. The ASANDC, Community Stabilization Project, Greater Frogtown CDC, Camphor United Methodist Church, Concordia University, Hmong Business Association/Asian Economic Development Association, Jewish Community Action, Just Equity, Selby Area CDC, University United and the University Avenue Business Association are taking roles that range from educating community members and business owners about managing their finances to advocating for creation of green jobs and energy efficiency.

As the plan moves forward, FRAN will continue to strengthen its network of campaign supporters, community supporters and community capital.

To read more about the work of FRAN and its partner organizations, pick up a copy of the latest Aurora/St. Anthony NDC Newsletter.

— By Jake Kulju

New Book by Community Reporter


Sustainable Communities reporter Jake Kulju has a new book: “Moon’s Take a Hike Minneapolis & St. Paul/Hikes within Two Hours of the Twin Cities,” was published in May and is available in paperback at local bookstores and sporting good stores.

From the publisher:

“The landscape of Minneapolis and St. Paul is a mix of lakes, rivers, expansive wetlands, evergreen forests, and grassy prairies. Because of the abundance of scenery around the city, hiking in the Twin Cities is more than just a trek around the town. Hiking enthusiast and local Jake Kulju shows you the best hikes in and around Minneapolis and St. Paul. All hikes within the guide take less than 2 hours to reach by car, with details on public transportation options and clear directions on how to reach the trailhead.”

Jake has more than three years of professional outdoor writing experience for the regional Minnesota publication Outdoor Traditions and the national magazine Naturescape News. His extensive knowledge of the Twin Cities area comes from being both a native of the state, and an avid, regular hiker and outdoorsman who is frequently on the local trails.
Read more about the book here.

UABA determined to be heard as LRT plans move forward

The Met Council’s Joey Browner and Ax-Man owner Jim Segal discuss business issues along the Central Corridor.

The Met Council’s Joey Browner and Ax-Man owner Jim Segal discuss business issues along the Central Corridor.

Jim Segal knows how important University Avenue is. Owner and CEO of the Ax-Man surplus store, his livelihood comes from the avenue.
“I’d like to keep growing the business … and to make it as sustainable as possible,” Segal says.
Thousands of Twin Cities residents no doubt feel the same way. The Ax-Man has been in business for more than 40 years, offering quirky, rare and just plain weird surplus items to shoppers all over the state. The locally famous shop gives University Avenue much of its unique flavor.
But Segal and other University Avenue business owners are worried about challenges that the proposed Central Corridor Light Rail Transit project might pose to small businesses. A member of the University Avenue Business Association steering committee, Segal and others have been organizing to get their voices heard.
“With the bad economy on top of the fact that we have to deal with the construction, I just want to make [the construction period] the best bad situation possible,” Segal says. “Someone needs to start real solutions.” In an effort to do just that, UABA recently hired a consultant to conduct a peer city study of other rail projects around the nation. The study found alarming statistics about the effects of lengthy construction projects along business-heavy avenues.
UABA is seeking support through community channels, meetings with the Metropolitan Council and with local, regional and statewide elected officials.
“I think that the elected officials are really listening to us,” Segal says with optimism. “[UABA] creates a good forum where a group of people with the same relative interests can share ideas and voice their opinions in one place instead of the elected people dealing with 100 different people. We can amass the main issues of the group and put them forward, which gives credibility to the issues.”
One thing UABA isn’t doing is considering legal action.
“We don’t intend to put the financial resources into legal action — and let me be clear. We don’t intend to stop light rail,” said Segal. “We are concerned about the construction and development issues. We know our business is going to be severely impacted.”

— By Jake Kulju

Community Reporter: Jake Kulju



When Jake first walked in the door, his sincerity struck me first. He had long brown hair managed loosely into a ponytail and a smile that kept everyone smiling. He was sporting a Timbuk2 messenger bag and dressed like he knew winter. It was not clear if he showed up on a bicycle, but I later discovered he rode a 1980 Italian Choirdia.
Contrary to his claims, Jake Kulju is not that nerdy. Jake hails from a small town in Minnesota west of Duluth called McGregor. This 27-year-old English major and teacher is both charming and extremely intelligent.
As a seasoned freelance writer writing for outdoor magazines, adoring all things green and the Twin Cities, he has his own way of conveying his obsessions with a kind of skill that would make the hippest hipster pause. His writing style is clever and funny. He openly admits that the very first story he ever wrote — in fourth grade — was a sequel to Shel Silverstein’s, “The Giving Tree.”  Jake laughs as remembers that his story, “The Talking Tree,” “was about an evil tree that stole things from people.”
However, his personality on paper and quirky jokes are just part of the picture. After I met his wife there was something obvious about Jake that I missed earlier. So I asked… and he said:
“It was a spring day in April. I was wearing a pair of old jeans with holes in the knees and a white tank top. We were sitting on our fire escape in Providence, Rhode Island, drinking beer (which he brews himself), watching the neighborhood after the sun went down. I asked her if she wanted to spend our lives together and be married. I gave her a necklace with silver wings on it. She said, ‘Yes.’”
Jake Kulju is the addition to the Nonprofit Newsletter Partnership that brings to bear seriousness about our community and the kind of temperament that balances wit with skill. He is concerned about historical perspectives, and his sincerity draws the reader in with ease. He has many more stories to tell. Read more from Jake in upcoming newsletters and visit him at

— By Ashanti Austin