March / April 2015           Smaller footprint. Stronger community.           District 12, St. Paul, Minnesota
In this issue:
Small but mighty: If we sustain our pollinators--like this soldier beetle--they'll help sustain our food supply.
 Below, read how you can help.

Am I part of the St. Anthony Park 
If these photos look familiar to you, you probably are part of the neighborhood. O n a map, St. Anthony Park is a tall rectangle tucked into the northwest corner of St. Paul. (Map here: look for the red outline.) It stretches two miles south-to-north from I-94 up to Hoyt Avenue, and about a mile west-to-east from the Minneapolis line at Emerald Avenue over to Cleveland Avenue, with a jog to the east in the Como-Energy Park area. We're District 12 in St. Paul's community council system. These photos show some of the breadth of what we call "All St. Anthony Park."  

The Raymond-University Avenue area, also known as the Creative Enterprise Zone, has re sidential areas including lofts and apartments on and near University, Seal Hi-Rise on Raymond, and a variety of other homes...

...the pocket neighborhoods and student housing at Emerald, Berry, Franklin, and Curfew...

... the Midway Industrial Park, and the blocks around Hampden Park Co-op.

At Raymond and Energy Park Drive, Tibetan prayer flags catch the spring breeze.

Landmarks near our public library include a shopping district, the U of M's St. Paul campus, Luther Seminary, and the HealthPartners clinic (Fairview healthcare also has a presence) . Here, too, the housing mix includes single- and multi-family homes, rentals, and student housing. St. Anthony Park also has several schools: SAP Elementary, Murray Middle School, Avalon, and Jennings Community Learning Center. (Transition Town-ASAP also supports Como High's sustainability projects.) 

Whatever your connection to St. Anthony Park, think abo ut how our community can build our resilience to climate change, and  take our short online survey by April 4. Plan to do it in one sitting, using this link:  

Thank you!
Meet our Transition Longfellow neighbors
Documentary: Symphony of the Soil

Friday evening, March 20

Bethany Lutheran Church, 3901 36th Ave S., Mpls 

This film explores the complexity and mystery of the foundation of life on earth--soil--in the voices of scientists, farmers, and activists. (See the trailer.) Hosted by Transition Longfellow. Potluck 6:30-7:15, movie screening 7:15-9:00. Freewill donation for the venue is appreciated.


What's Our Plan?

Teach-In on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in Minnesota

Saturday, March 21, 9:00-noon

First Universalist Church, 3400 Dupont Ave S., Mpls 

Speakers include Winona LaDuke, Rep. Frank Hornstein, Victor Menotti. Sponsored by MN350 and the International Forum on Globalization. Free, but register in advance. (Lunch by the Sioux Chef: $10.


Reflective Circle

Saturday, March 28, 12:30-2:30

SAP Public Library, Como & Carter Aves.

How is climate change changing us--our spirits, our values, our habits? Each month, the Reflective Circle provides a welcoming space to attend to this deep challenge, listen, and find ways forward. Join us once, twice, or every time. Plan to stay for the full two hours. Locations will vary; check the web page for details. 


Transition Tap

Wednesday, April 1, 7-9 pm

Urban Growler, 2325 Endicott, South SAP

At this monthly pub get-together, float sustainability ideas over a craft brew. Bring friends! Look for Allie, Kevin, and the table with the "transition T" sign. 


Meet the Bus

Saturday, April 18, 1:00 pm

Meet at bus shelter at corner of Raymond and Como

If you've never ridden the bus--or if you'd like to get the most out of the public transport system--join this group for an intro. This time, we'll hop on the 87, ride down to the Hampden Park Co-op, and return soon after. Learn about schedules, "Go-To" cards, and more. Bring $1.75 in fare; more for co-op errands if you wish. Stay tuned for more events from the Transportation action group. For more info, email Pat Thompson


Minnesota Climate Rally

Wednesday, April 22, starting at noon

State Capitol

Earth Day: Raise your voice for climate action, hear speakers, enjoy live music and food. Bring family and friends; among the presenters are school kids with messages for Governor Dayton. Take the Green Line train to the Capitol/Rice street stop. Visit the rally's Facebook page for info. Rain date April 23.

Quick guide:
Native plants for pollinators 
Anise hyssop, milkweed (common and swamp varieties), butterfly weed, aster (heartleaf, smooth, large-leafed, aromatic, New England, sky blue varieties), prairie coreopsis, purple prairie clover, coneflower, Joe Pye weed, wild geranium, oxeye daisy, jewelweed, blazing star (rough and meadow varieties), virginial bluebells, wild bergamot, bloodroot, goldenrod (including zig zag variety), spiderwort, golden alexander.

Buttonbush, gray dogwood, red-twigged dogwood, hazelnut, bush honeysuckle, witch hazel, sumac, raspberry, blackberry, elderberry, red-berried elder, spirea, meadowsweet, steeplebush, white snowberry, nannyberry, cranberrybush viburnum.

Maple, serviceberry, dogwood, cockspur hawthorne, ash, cottonwood, balsam poplar, quaking aspen, American plum, wild black cherry, black willow, basswood/linden.

For a list including non-natives, annuals, and herbs, visit the  Pollinator-Friendly Alliance  home page and choose "Gardening: Pollinator Friendly Plant List."     
Local sources for
pesticide-free plants
(natives especially)
Margot's research has found these to be reliable sources.  Italics indicate uncertainty on some items; ask the grower more specific questions.

Cedar Hill Natives
Stillwater, MN,  651-252-7598

Egg Plant Urban Farm Supply
St. Paul, MN,  651-645-0818
Ask about specific shrubs, trees 

Glacial Ridge Growers
Glenwood, MN,  866-518-1671

Gardens of Eagan
Northfield, MN,  507-645-2544

Hampden Park Co-op
St. Paul, MN, 651-646-6686

Kinnickinnic Natives
River Falls, WI, 715-425-7605

Landscape Alternatives
Shafer, MN, 651-257-4460

Mother Earth Gardens
two Minneapolis locations:
3738 S. 42nd Ave,  612-724-2296
2318 NE Lowry Ave,  612-789-0796
Ask about specific shrubs, trees

Native Plant Expo
Sat. June 6, 9:00-3:00
Larpenteur & Fernwood Aves, Roseville, MN
Large selection from growers around the state.; choose "Events"

Naturally Wild
Minneapolis, MN,  612-922-9279

Outback Nursery
Hastings, MN,  651-438-2771
Ask about specific shrubs, trees 

Prairie Moon
Winona, MN,  866-417-8156
Ask about specific shrubs, trees

Prairie Restorations
Scandia, MN,  800-837-5986

Sunrise Native Plants
Center City, MN,  651-257-4414

Tangletown Gardens
5353 S. Nicollet Ave.,  Minneapolis, MN
Ask about specific shrubs, trees

The Vagary
Randolph, MN,  507-263-5369
Healthy seed sources
(pesticide-free,  not genetically modified)
Baker's Creek Heirloom Seed Company:

BBB Seeds:

Botanical Interests:

Fedco Seeds:

High Mowing Organic Seeds: 

ION Exchange:

Johnny's Seeds :
(order only from organic section)

Livingston Seed: 

Prairie Restorations:

Renee's Garden:

Seed Savers Exchange: 

Select Seeds:

Territorial Seed:

Xerces Society:

"If we wait for politicians, it may be too late.
If we work as individuals, it won't be enough.
But if we work as communities, 
it might be just enough, just in time."

--Transition US

Monday, March 16, 7 pm:
Community meeting on accessory dwelling units
Come listen, learn, and share your views on the idea of allowing secondary housing units on single-family lots in St. Anthony Park. Opinions vary. That's why, last year, the SAP Community Council's Land Use Committee created a task force to research the issue, study opinions in the Twin Cities and elsewhere, and present their findings in two public meetings. This one is the first. Join us at SAP Lutheran Church, 2323 Como Ave. See the  Council's web page  for more info.

Editor's note:  Learn more  and see sample ADU designs by local architects. Potential benefits include energy savings, aging-in-place options, affordability and diversity, transport efficiency, and local business vitality. Many cities, including Minneapolis, have already decided to allow ADUs with restrictions tailored to local needs. 

Responding to climate change together:
Take the survey and help us reach others 
Do you live, work, study, or worship in St. Anthony Park? Tell us your priorities as we plan for a more sustainable future together. In this nine-question online survey, you'll find simple multiple-choice checklists and room to add your own ideas, if you wish. Spend a few minutes, or spend an hour; it should be done in one sitting. Please complete it by April 4. When you're ready, use this link:

Let's hear from the whole neighborhood, south to north (see photos at left). Our newer cultural groups, our faith groups, our students and businesses and healthcare workers--please help us extend our reach. Share the survey link with people you know who may not be civically involved, or maybe don't realize they're part of St. Anthony Park.

If you prefer a paper survey, pick one up at these locations (as of 6 pm Tuesday, March 17):
  • Hampden Park Co-op, on Raymond at Hampden
  • SAP Community Council office, 890 Cromwell 
  • SAP Branch Library, on Como at Carter, downstairs by bulletin board
  • Speedy Market, on Como at Doswell
This survey is one step in a shared long-term plan to build a more resilient neighborhood, less fossil-fueled and more reliant on community. For details, see our website's " 2040 Plan " page. Below, read how poet Mimi Jennings sees it as a recipe that calls for many cooks.
The Great Turning

A Great Turning is afoot. It promises to employ kitchen methodology, so here's a recipe to consider: 



* calls, 1 per neighbor-resident or worker-to participate 

* 2 parts conversation (do not peel away the listening part) 

* 2 parts urgency, tempered 

* several new connections, human 

* similar amount of spontaneity 

* 1 Big Idea or Vision, local flavor

* 1 generous dash political action or activism (both together

would not overpower sauce) 

* sharing to taste 

* spice blend--1 pinch each: 





* leavening--in substantial portions: 



* persistence as needed 

METHOD (note--there is no such thing as too many cooks): 

1. Pre-warm heart: images of birds, oceans, grandchildren serve

2. In a space the size of home or as wide 

as tribe or country

blend first 4 ingredients

3. Hold off on added spontaneity; at this point Vision 

may unfold

of its own accord

4. Gently fold in Big Ideas by turns with next 4 elements

preserving balance

5. Since mix will depend on who shows up, re-introduce

first component

6. Add leavening, observing results

7. Personalities, cook time vary with altitude; spice blend

will need adjustment

8. Mixture is never wholly done; add persistence over time

9. Serve equal portions to all participants 

who will take it in to nourish 

the view of the Earth as alive 

and us as some of its many 


 --Mimi Jennings

Make new friends!
Join a Transition Town action group

Use the links below to learn more, visit a meeting, and see if you'd like to join in. Or start a new group: email Michael Russelle to brainstorm.

Community solar:   Steve Yetter  and  Barry Riesch

Home energy curtailment:   Tim Wulling

Housing options:   Phil Broussard

Reflective Circle:   Marilyn Benson  and  Ranae Hanson

School liaison:   Mimi Jennings

Sustainable food and land:   Kit Canright Lois Braun

Transportation:   Pat Thompson

Zero waste:   Gary Carlson  and  Brandon Sigrist

More than just honeybees and butterflies
Pollinators in transition: 
An action guide

by Margot Monson, entomologist and beekeeper


Margot Monson lives in
St. Anthony Park.

Swamp milkweed attracts a pollinating wasp

Whether we're planting a garden or setting a flowerpot on a balcony, let's act on behalf of the pollinators we all depend on. By now most of us have heard about the stresses pollinators are facing: from our non-native honey bee species, Apis mellifera, to the thousands of natives including flies, moths, butterflies, ants, solitary bees, bumblebees, and wasps, and most numerous of all, beetles. 


Why are pollinators in decline? 

Natural wild habitats are increasingly rare--and not only because of urban development. In rural areas, farm fields have been taken over by ever-larger monocultures, single crops that are often

genetically modified with systemic pesticides. When planted right up to the roadsides, these fields leave no buffer zone where wild plants used to thrive. 


Not only that, but agricultural chemicals have spread from the fields, preventing wild plants from germinating, so that today even our iconic monarchs have trouble finding milkweed--which is the only place they can deposit their eggs. The chemicals also run off into wetlands, further hindering the flowering plants that nourish pollinators.


Unfortunately, systemic pesticides are also found in the plants and seeds sold in many nurseries and greenhouses. Plants retain these poisons in their nectar, pollen, seeds, and roots--the entire system. Soils can retain them, too. Generations of plants can pass the residue on to insects, making them vulnerable to disease. 


Sustaining the "little things that run the world" 

Scientists have tracked the declining numbers of honeybees and monarchs, and to some extent our native bumblebees. But the populations of thousands of other species of native pollinators--yes, there are truly thousands--are harder to estimate. In fact, they are responsible for most pollination globally. Unseen by most of us, pollinating our food supply as they go, they are absolutely critical to the healthy survival of this planet. They are, as Harvard entomologist E.O. Wilson says, "the little things that run the world."  


Just like humans, insects need a balanced diet. Pollen and nectar provide the protein and carbohydrates pollinators need for themselves and their young. They also need pollen and nectar that is free of the pesticides that can damage their immune systems. Social insects in particular--like honey and bumblebees--can easily spread diseases among colony members. The increasing effects of climate change may also affect pollinator decline: scientists are now considering how that might play out. 


Pausing on a native aster, this syrphid fly is a beneficial predator.
Below: Bumblebees thrive on native plants: left, prairie onion, and right, bergamot (note the bright-orange pollen basket on the bee's right back leg).




What can we do about it? 

How can we help sustain pollinators? Right now, as we plan our gardens or container pots, we can take these steps. 


Choose pollinator-friendly plants. 

Select a diverse array of plants, including some pure Minnesota native perennials. See the "Quick guide: Native plants for pollinators" list at left. Or download a more inclusive list, including non-natives, from the Pollinator-Friendly Alliance (choose "Gardening: Pollinator-Friendly Plant List").


Diverse plants will attract the diverse insects with which they evolved, most of them beneficial (preying on pests). A great many of them will be pollinators as well.  And although we're used to seeing the big, bright blossoms of hybrids and cultivars, there's a tradeoff: these flowers have lower-quality pollen and nectar than native plants. 


Your mix of plants, native and non-native, should offer blooms throughout the season. Our honeybees and bumblebees need flowers from early spring until late fall, although some shorter-lived solitary species can manage with only a few weeks' worth in spring. 


The checkered beetle is an "incidental pollinator."
It transfers pollen through its movements, although it lacks the body hair and pollen basket that make some species especially efficient. 


Avoid plants and seeds with systemic pesticides such as neonicotinoids. 

We can make conscious decisions about everything we buy that goes into our yards, gardens, and even compost piles-from the annuals we buy for a pot or gift basket, to the perennials we add to our flower beds. That includes the seeds we buy for herbs and vegetables as well as flowers, since any plant that flowers may attract a pollinator. If a seed or plant has been pretreated with systemic pesticides, its pollen and nectar will contain them and will damage the insects feeding on it. (As for your compost bin: don't add cut flowers, gift plants, or other plants that may contain pesticides; these chemicals shouldn't be in your garden soil.) 


Ask questions wherever you buy plants or seeds.

Because these "neonics" are so common, we must be willing to ask persistent questions when shopping at a nursery or greenhouse. For a head start, use the sources listed at left: these vendors do all they can to avoid selling products with pesticides. Or go to any garden center and start a conversation with staff. 


What should we ask? Use this Question-and-Answer Flowchart to think it through in advance. 

You might begin by asking:

Let labels and signage guide your questions, too.

If some plants have "pollinator friendly" signage, ask the staff how they know this. Were the plants grown from seed on site? Or did the grower simply refrain from applying chemicals to the plants after they arrived? Does the grower even know the source? What about the plants without the signage: why are they selling these if they care about the worldwide pollinator decline? 


Vote with your feet. 

If you sense a lack of transparency, take your business elsewhere. Yes, this is hard. But doing the right thing starts with each of us speaking up. Even if your garden center has a good reputation on this issue, I urge you to still ask the questions, so every business sees that consumers want to know and will keep on asking. The pervasive use of pesticides will not go away easily because the chemical companies have too much at stake, and because too many of us seek plants without the slightest "imperfection."  Which leads to our next point.

Goldenrod and soldier beetle


Cherish the imperfect. 

Next time you're in a natural setting--a forest, prairie, lakeshore, or any remnant where humans haven't altered the landscape--look closely. The little holes, webs, and irregularities are a part of a natural scene, and actually indicate a healthy balance in an ecosystem. We've been conditioned to believe that each leaf and petal has to be blemish-free, because that's what we see in catalogs and magazines. But that's not how plants and insects evolved, and they depend on each other to survive.


A tipping point:
We must take a stand 

More than one scientist has said that pollinator health may be at the tipping point, from our own entomology department at the University of Minnesota to dozens of others around the country. Some other countries are far ahead of ours in banning certain systemic pesticides. There is already plenty of research. We can't afford to wait for more data that "proves" the problem is serious: systemic pesticides should be banned, or at the very least more judiciously used. For now, we can do our part, making thoughtful, wise decisions as to what we buy and plant in our own little corners of the world. 

Addressing what many gardeners perceive as "insect problems" is for another day. Meanwhile, I will try to answer any questions that come my way, make house calls, and do whatever I can to help gardeners avoid these pesticides and choose pollinator-friendly plants. Drastic action is needed to help save these "little things that run the world."


* * *


Entomologist and beekeeper Margot Monson is a researcher and educator on insects and ecosystems. She has taught graduate courses at the University of Minnesota and done contract work for private and state agencies. Margot also teaches in schools, nature centers, garden clubs, and other settings, using live insects. 


When she earned her MS in entomology in 1994, her research focused on the caddisfly: an aquatic insect that recycles organic debris. "Since many aquatic insects are bioindicators of water quality, studying the aquatic fauna reveals much about the health of the aquatic system," says Margot. "This fit well with my growing concern for the environment and the need for preservation of our wild places." Although that early experience centered around aquatic habitats, she has shifted her focus somewhat to terrestrial fauna. Since she started keeping bees in 2010, Margot has emphasized ecosystem integrity and native pollinator health in her presentations. To get in touch, send Margot an email. 


Pollinator photos by Margot Monson.
Coming soon: See more in a  slide show on the  Transition Town - ASAP website .

Photos of Margot by Bjorn Monson. 

Pictured with her are images from the hand-illuminated Saint John's Bible (a project of Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota). Flowchart by Mindy Keskinen.

News & notes, local to global

Order a low-cost compost bin or rain barrel and pick it up Saturday, April 25 at Rock-Tenn: Info at Recycling Association of Minnesota ... Recommended reading: Sam Rockwell's MinnPost article "For lasting climate-change reform, focus on consumption" and "Trash Is for Tossers," an idea blog for a zero-waste lifestyle ... Read about Fossil Free's fossil-fuel divestment efforts ... and learn about Transition initiatives worldwide

We welcome your input.

Contribute to Transition Times ASAP and to our website: send news stories or ideas, calendar items, photos, or poetry to editor Mindy Keskinen. Our website was built with grant funds from the St. Anthony Park Community Foundation and the ongoing support of the SAP Community Council. We're also grateful for support from the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team

Pat Thompson designed our Transition Times ASAP logo. 
Regula Russelle created the Transition "t."

The Transition Town - All Saint Anthony Park initiative grew from the Energy Resilience Group, a subcommittee of the Saint Anthony Park Community Council's Environment Committee.  Visit the   SAPCC website  to learn more about Saint Paul's District 12 neighborhood projects, including the Creative Enterprise Zone.  Lend a hand!

Our purpose:
To raise our understanding in Saint Anthony Park of climate, the limits of fossil fuels, and the adaptation of our community that is possible and positive.

What's a Transition Town? 
It's a community starting the transition from a fossil-fueled, energy-intensive way of life to a more satisfying, locally oriented community with increased stability in disruptive times.