Vol. 1, No. 8 - Nov/Dec 2016
THE LOCAL ISSUE VOL 1, NO. 8 - 2016 a
A community of cold climate learners and doers fostering an abundant and restorative culture. Anchored in permaculture ethics and design principles, Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate provides leadership and hope by enthusiastically tackling the problems of today while directing our energy towards creating an equitable, abundant, and just future. With creativity, knowledge, and passion we design and demonstrate permaculture systems for living sustainably in colder climates for individuals and organizations working towards healthy communities and ecosystems. Our two main programs include a hands-on, immersive Permaculture Apprenticeship and our Ripple Ecology program, a skill share-based cohort focused on creating regenerative urban and rural communities. Sign up to receive our e-newlsetter to stay up-todate on permaculture classes, skill shares, events, and local Twin City gatherings.
Learn more: www.pricoldclimate.org or @pricoldclimate b MAKE IT MINNESOTA
Editor’s Note Welcome To The Local Issue As an adventurous being, I am called to new places. I dream of walking airy steps in unfamiliar lands and learning the perspectives of strangers and experiencing a countless number of different realities. One might assume that this sort of exploration only pertains to traveling the great elsewhere. And though that might be true for some, I don’t think it fully encapsulates the magnitude of exploration. I am also called to explore the minute eccentricities and vibrant micro communities that exist in a place sometimes overlooked—the one that happens immediately around us— home. It is here, in our local communities, that we must explore the possibility in collaboration and connectedness and appreciate the value in supporting one another. This is a special place to call home. Vibrant communities thrive with infectious altruism, bold ideas, and small businesses and makers that have an incredible impact. Our local makers build the distinctive character of this place, create jobs, treat their buyers with respect and kindness, and feel connected to the community around them. As the prospective buyers of this local fare made with passion and care, we have the honor of being able to enjoy the symbiosis of the entire process. From the hands of local makers to a special place in our lives, we uncover a new appreciation for home in their work and in their stories. We keep their lovely items in our homes, touching them, using them, wearing them, or possibly drinking them—remembering the faces of the talented makers we met at various local markets. If we gift these items, we have the joy of sharing them with those we love. We get to pass along what the maker spent hours upon hours dreaming up, conceptualizing, making, and sharing with the world. And what a beautiful gift that is. Every one of the makers featured in this issue gains inspiration and momentum in a connection to their local community. In the pages ahead, we share a bold collection of eclectic local makers—makers of jewelry, knitwear, spirits, coffee, wooden bowls, and art. And
though their craft varies, there is a palpable sense of united purpose between them. In the world of Minnesota makers, to make here inspires a bonded sense of strength, understanding, community, and hope—for everyone involved. Enjoy the Local Issue, my fellow locavores.
— Kara Larson
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Editor Kara Larson Production Manager Leah Matzke
Born and raised in a St. Paul suburb, Sean grew up being exposed to and participating in the rich and diverse culture of the Twin Cities. His passions range from playing cello, filmmaking, Gonzo journalism (on the weekends), and traveling to any new place around the world, near or far. CHRISTA TESS KALK
Contributors Sean McSteen Christa Tess Kalk Matt Frank Colby Wegter Lindsay Strong Emily Taplin Cover Photo 2016 Local Issue contest winner Autumn Gray
Growing up in New Ulm, Minnesota, Christa has lived in the state most of her life. She stays busy as a college professor as well as jewelry maker and proud store owner of Minnesota Makers, a small boutique in Robbinsdale, MN. This store features the work of more than 80 artists from around the state of Minnesota and was born out of the idea to create a collective of fine works of art by local artists. Minnesota Makers focuses on featuring and celebrating the artists represented in the store and has become a gratifying creative outlet and passion project for Christa. MATT FRANK Matt’s passions for urban agriculture, regenerative landscape design, and food justice issues led to From the Ground Up North’s creation as an educational and inspirational tool for change in the Upper Midwest. He strongly believes in the power of narratives to shape minds, open eyes and shift perspectives. Learn more about his work at www.fromthegroundupnorth.org COLBY WEGTER
Copyright All images contained in Make It Minnesota are subject to copyright of the artist, illustrator or photographers as named, but not limited to. Reproduction of any part of this magazine without prior permission is prohibited. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Disclaimer The views and comments expressed by the writers are not always that of Make It Minnesota. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the information in this publication, Make It Minnesota accepts no responsibility or liability for any errors, omissions or resultant consequences, including any loss or damage arising from reliance on information in this publication. Make It Minnesota (ISSN 2471-6744) Volume 1, No. 8, is published by Make It MN LLC
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Iowa farm raised, New York educated, Minnesota shaped. That’s Colby Wegter. From growing up near a town without a stop light to working in NYC’s Chinatown to finally landing in St. Paul, Colby looks to converse, to learn and attempt to tell. He feels more at home in Minnesota than anywhere else and enjoys her beauty on the daily. He’s also the founder of A Look Into (alookinto.com), an online editorial that tells the stories of the people behind the products we love. You’ll often find him trying to brew the perfect beer, write the perfect poem or find the perfect cup of coffee.
LINDSAY STRONG Lindsay is a brand new Minnesotan who has quickly adopted the North as home. She teaches yoga, photographs pretty things for fun, and hangs out with teenagers for work. She also dreams of creating a memoir worthy life filled with love, art, and friendship. EMILY TAPLIN
Born in New York, raised in Colorado and proud to have selected Minnesota as her adulthood home. Emily loves to travel across the U.S. and abroad with her husband and sometimes their French Bulldog, Murrow. She owns the “crazy dog lady” title and has fun managing Murrow’s Instagram account (@murrow_the_frenchie). She is honored to give a voice to those who need it. She has a background in TV news and currently works at Twin Cities Public Television on the PBS Kids Show, SciGirls. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing yoga and trying foods around the Twin Cities.
Contents Featured Communities
Interview with Kevin Kling Local by Local: Christa Tess Kalk
Maker Workshop Series
The Makerâ€™s Collection
Out & About
Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply
Behind The Maker
Coffee Cart MPLS
Duluth Winter Village Instagram Contest
Maggie Thompson, Makwa Studio
Share Your Project
The Urban Growing Contest
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Photo provided by Kevin Kling
Community as an Idea:
Kevin Kling An Interview with
By Sean McSteen
Having had the opportunity in past issues to travel the state and explore different communities, cultures and histories of Minnesota towns was amazing and insightful. And not to say we will not ever return to our mini adventures, but I would like to take a deeper look into what makes a strong community and hear from specific voices of the community from all over the state. We as a diverse, yet forever intertwined community are at our best when we are bonded together through the sharing of education and culture; the engrained presence of empathy and consideration of those around us; and the recollection that we are all one people living on this Earth. Our insights of the world only expand when knowledge is shared. There is only growth when we lift each other up. And when we come together, as a vast array of different communities but as one state, we can find that we all often share far more similarities than differences.
That is why, for this issue, we wanted to highlight the words and thoughts of one of Minnesota’s most unique and authentic storytellers, Kevin Kling, and get his perspective on community and storytelling and how the two are woven together. From reading his work and seeing him perform live many times, one thing—one of many—that amazes me about Kling’s storytelling is his ability to tell a story about his own life, while simultaneously weaving in larger and deeper themes and ideas that reach out from the page, or through a crowd and settle in the hearts and minds of so many different people. Kling truly sees the beauty in the world and carries his appreciation for life into his storytelling. In this way, I believe he is the perfect voice to represent the Local issue and open our exploration of what makes a strong community.
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“...when you live in Minnesota, you live here on purpose.” - KEVIN KLING What have you learned from the creative community in Minnesota? My creativity is fed here. Home is where we belong; ‘belong’ is one of my favorite words. To ‘be’, and to ‘long’, you are someplace and you dream of being another. The ability to risk is a safe haven. A paradox, something we humans are good at.
threads, so they don’t rely as much on words as imagery and momentum. The ancient Greeks said a story worked like a loom; vertically runs the metaphor, horizontally runs the sequence, and where they come together, one weaves the invisible threads for their cloak of immortality.
Also when you live in Minnesota, you live here on purpose. It’s not the most hospitable of environments, in fact quite the opposite.
If you were to deconstruct every element that goes into building a strong community, what would be one or two elements that stand out in your head as being most important? Build from success, what already works. Build from our strengths and where we connect. Find out what’s missing from our common experience and look there for our bridges.
Artists are part of the community—as valuable sometimes as plumbers. Resiliency is defined as maintaining one’s shape. Community, family, and faith make us resilient. I’m also a big fan of the Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and it is in our state constitution that we support the arts. I love that it’s attached to the natural resources, for what is an artist if not a natural resource? What is the feeling of reaching so many different people from so many different backgrounds and lifestyles through your own personal stories and the lessons you find in them? Over the years I found we all pretty much want the same thing—to be loved, to grow, family, to have purpose. So it doesn’t matter specifically where you are from. I remember telling ice fishing stories in the outback of Australia, where the temperature never got lower than 90° the whole time I was there. People were laughing like Minnesotans and afterword someone told me, “That’s because our weather can kill us too, only from the other end of the thermometer.” It fostered the same sense of humor. What does transformation mean to you? Have your own personal transformations helped you handle transformations that take place on a national or global scale? I was in a serious motorcycle accident in 2001, and was left with brain injury and the loss of the use of my right arm. This really gave my work focus and a trajectory. Inside this tragedy I have really found why I’m on this planet. We give our lives meaning through our struggles, and this becomes our story. Trauma is trauma whether it’s a person, a community, a planet—and a very similar system of healing needs to take place whether it’s personal, cultural, or environmentally. You have an incredible ability to speak personally while at the same time reaching out to the public in such a fluid and meaningful way that I imagine there must be a lot that goes into creating the entire experience that we as the listeners may not always fully grasp. If this true in any way, are you able to speak that a bit? Stories work with invisible 6 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
How we define ourselves as community must include everyone. We don’t build the tent and see who fits; we build the tent that fits the people. Do you get the sense that many of us are closed off from one another? And if so, what, in your mind, can we as a group work on to be more inclusive? It is a choice. You can talk or listen, but you can’t do both at the same time. The key to becoming a good storyteller is listening. Learn to read a situation, an audience, so you know where to take the story or evening of stories. When a kid says, “You’re almost as good as my Grampa,” I know I nailed it. Recognition is the start; if I see me in you, then by helping you, I’m helping myself. What challenges you within the craft of storytelling? What do you find most beautiful and/or rewarding while crafting a story? Telling the right story at the right place and time is the hardest and most crucial element. What does the audience want, what do they need from me, sometimes those can be very different. A storyteller is inherently an interloper, even in his or her own community. Because we bring another perspective, that’s our job. Establishing trust is crucial; humor helps. Humor is not universal—it relies on family, faith, community, so when we laugh together we know we are family. Is there something you do or something you think of for reassurance and drive in times when you can’t help but feel pessimistic about something? Don’t lose hope; don’t despair. Put one foot in front of the other, work small and with purpose. In this period of such divisiveness, what do you believe keeps us banded together or what must we do to maintain a strong community? Listen. What makes you happy? Dogs.
Mark your calendars for the
Saturday, April 22nd 2017 6PM Social Hour | 7PM Seated Dinner Minneapolis Airport Marriott Come enjoy the Silent Auction, Kids Program & guest Dr. Anjali Bhagra speaking on the SMART Program: Stress Management and Resiliency Training Program
Brought to you by the Minnesota Chapter of the Marfan Foundation
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A Curated List of Favorites
by Christa Tess Kalk O w n er , M innesota M akers
Christa grew up in New Ulm, Minnesota and has lived in the state most of her life. She stays quite busy as a college professor as well as jewelry maker (silversmithing and beading) and store owner. She loves having the creative outlet and passion project that has become Minnesota Makers. The store is owned by Christa and her husband Jay, a local musician in a Johnny Cash Tribute show called the Church of Cash. Jay took up lapidary work a few years ago and makes the “Minnestona” necklaces—a Lake Superior Agate cut into the shape of Minnesota. Together, Jay and Christa are able to create beautiful pieces of jewelry including rings featuring stones from around the world. He cuts the stones and she sets them—what a lovely combination! Minnesota Makers is a small boutique in Robbinsdale, MN featuring the work of more than 80 artists from around the state of Minnesota. The store was born out of the idea to create a collective of fine works of art by local artists. What started in a very small storefront space in South Minneapolis has expanded to a much larger retail space that also has an area called the “Maker Room” where classes will be taught by artists. Minnesota Makers focuses on featuring and celebrating the artists represented in the store. With at least one of the artists stopping by every day, Christa and Jay are certain you will be able to find something new each time you visit. While it was difficult for Christa to narrow down her list of favorite makers from the talented bunch featured and sold within Minnesota Makers, she would love to highlight the following five. Read on to enjoy Christa’s perspective as well as a brief description of the makers!
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“Brian Geihl of Dogfish Media is a screenprinter with fantastic prints. He focuses on Minnesota oftentimes,
whether in shape, landscape, iconic buildings and skylines, or activities. He created a four-piece 18x24 set of Minnesota trees for each season with a birdhouse that remains in the Minneapolis area throughout the seasons. It is so cute and awesome at the same time. He was recently featured as an artist with permanent work in the new U.S. Bank Stadium. We are huge fans of his prints!” A Minneapolis based graphic designer and print maker, Brian graduated from St. Cloud State with a BFA in graphic design and has been a professional graphic designer for nearly 10 years. Since launching Dogfish Media eight years ago, he has worked on a variety of projects with clients in the Twin Cities and throughout the United States. He is always interested in meeting new people, working on challenging projects, and sharing his interesting take on iconic aspects of the Twin Cities in his screenprints.
“A n h N g u y e n
o f T h e C re ati v e Q u i l l makes the most intricate and beautiful cards. Anh is bringing back an art form that customers often recall as popular in the 1970s, but certainly not to this extent. She takes the smallest strips of paper, rolls them,
and then creates gorgeous images. Everything from exotic animals, to trees and flowers, to birds, to sports teams—her cards are superb. They are the kind of card you could never throw away, so I tell customers to give a 5x7 frame with them so they can become a gift of art for the recipient to showcase.”
These hand-made creations are more than just cards; they are unique gifts. Drawing inspiration from nature, self taught quill artist Anh Nguyen designs quality works of art that can be filled with a special sentiment on the inside of the card, yet, the cards are beautiful enough to keep and frame!
“J a y K a l k
o f M i n n est o n a takes the Lake Superior Agate (the Minnesota State stone) and cuts it into the shape of Minnesota then hangs it on a sparkling sterling silver chain. Each stone is completely unique with banding and coloring, but each one is an incredible piece of Minnesota art. With the love of all things Minnesota shaped right now, this is the ultimate piece of jewelry to match. What would be a more “Minnesota” gift than that?!”
Minnestona was born after Jay spent time rock hunting around Minnesota. In his time hunting, he found some great rocks. So many that he had to decide what to do with them. He found an interest in lapidary and began to cut the stones into shapes of Minnesota. Before he knew it, his company was created.
“ T roy S o re n s o n
o f S o re n W o o d s makes the most gorgeous, yet completely useful wooden bowls. He takes the trees that fall on his property near Northfield, Minnesota and instead of burning them, he turns them into bowls. He makes bowls of all sizes and uses a variety of trees. Each one is unique and a lovely gift that can be used and loved.”
Living on twelve acres of woods, Troy is inspired by the trees around him. He turns many items on the lathe, including large to small utility serving bowls, platters, and tiny mini-bowls. He loves to experiment with many local Minnesota woods and has become a wood scavenger collecting wood from family, friends, neighbors, and Craigslist. He rescues their ‘firewood’ from a burnt destiny. When gathering wood from these sources, Troy always offers to create and share a couple of bowls as a thank you for the wood they provided. He finds joy in giving back a turned bowl to the source.
“C o l ett e T u p y
o f S e re n a d e N at u r a l P ro du c t s makes all natural candles, soaps, lip balms, oil rollers and bath bombs. The first thing people often say when they enter the store is how great it smells, and that is in thanks to Colette— her products smell incredible! When you read the ingredients in her products, you actually know what they are—they contain a simple combination of ingredients you can pronounce, understand, and they feature essential oils for fragrance. Lovely!”
Serenade Natural Products is a family business located in Lakeville Minnesota. As the makers behind the products, Colette and her husband believe natural is better. Their line of luxurious handmade soaps, soy candles, lip balms, and other bath and beauty products are made with the highest quality ingredients and in small batches. They use the finest natural oils, butters, essential oils, herbs, natural waxes, and phthalate free fragrance oils. They offer many products that are 100% natural, including many handmade soaps, lip balms and essential oil candles. VOL 1, NO. 8 - 2016 9
Willful Goods maker Araya Jensen. Photo by Kelsey Lee Photography.
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The Maker’s Collection: Buy Local, Give Global By Kara Larson Photos by BethCath Photography Unless Otherwise Noted
When I stepped off the elevator and into the American Refugee Committee Headquarters in Northeast, Minneapolis, there was a tangible and welcoming warmth. I glanced around the cozy, yet modern space, marked with lots of exposed brick and big, brilliant windows on all sides, and made a note of the quote on the lobby wall, “to be human is wondrous.” I was soon greeted by Jessica Phinney and Jenna Myrland, who have both worked at ARC for eight years. As they showed me around the office, I was able to appreciate secondhand the beautiful, meaningful, and inspiring work of the American Refugee Committee. I walked past a sea of colorful post-it notes with reminders and goals and ideas, wall to wall dry-erase boards filled with long lists and the occasional doodle, another wall featuring outlines of visitor’s hands in every color (mine is a pink outline with “Kara” next to it), and finally, I found countless proud photos of refugee projects, most featuring vibrant smiling individuals from all over the world. Jessica and Jenna lit up talking about these projects, sharing stories and special moments—and in their passion, I was able to experience the hope, the courage, and the depth in their desire to make change through their work at ARC. The specific change-making project I was there to learn more about was a collection of locally made goods called The Maker’s Collection. As the creative minds behind the project, Jenna and Jessica sat down with me to share their vision. Three and half years ago, this collection began with an idea. An idea that quickly inspired the question: “How do we make this happen?”
“to be human ... is wondrous.”
Jenna begins, “We were very aware of what was happening in our own community— just seeing the wealth of talent around us—and that was really exciting to us. Knowing that our work is only possible through connecting with more and more people, we thought, how interesting would it be to collaborate with these unique, talented makers?”
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And so, I inquired, “Why these makers?” Jessica admits, “That’s a good question. We’ve always been wildly fortunate to work with extraordinary makers. Each year, we have fantastic groups of people we get to work with and this year is no exception to that.” Jenna adds, “What we’ve found in the past few years is that the maker community in the Twin Cities is really, really connected, so once you start tapping into that community, people just come out of the woodwork from all around and you see the connections and relationships. We’re incredibly fortunate to get connected and into that web and that has helped to inform a lot of our decisions.” One maker story that is especially full-circle within The Maker’s Collection is that of Tia and Souliyahn Keobounpheng, makers behind Silvercocoon. Three pairs of striking earrings conceptualized and made by Tia are being sold in this year’s collection, earrings inspired by the sights and sounds of Thailand—a place in which Tia’s husband, Souliyahn, has close ties. Though Souliyahn was born in Laos, as a child, he and his family were forced to move to a refugee camp in Thailand. Tia explains, “Souliyahn’s father needed to escape Laos—at night under gunfire—and was picked up on the Thailand side of the Mekong River. His mother and siblings ultimately left her family farm in Thailand to join his father in the refugee camp. They spent about 16 months as a family in the refugee camp before being sponsored by a church in Richfield, MN.” Tia illustrates that their arrival here was not inspired by a choice to move from one place to another, but based on a need to flee an incoming communist government into Laos after the Vietnam War. “It is very much in line with the flow of refugees today—normal people with families trying to find a safe place,” Tia begins. “In all the
Jenna Myrland and Jessica Phinney, Creators of The Maker’s Collection
ways that matter, refugees are no different than you and me. They have the same cares and worries for their family. They have the same hopes and dreams for love and peace and the pursuit of happiness. She adds, “Being part of The Maker’s Collection has been one of the most meaningful collaborations of my career as a maker thus far. It is such a powerful statement that I can simultaneously do what I do best AND support the work of the American Refugee Committee. So often, we think that there is only one best way to help. As humans, we each have our own truest contribution to the world, and for ARC to recognize the power in bridging that with the needs of others is truly inspiring.” Connecting with makers like Tia in this bold and connected maker community, Jenna and Jessica found themselves
Earrings by Tia Keobounpheng of Silvercocoon
“In all the ways that matter, refugees are no different than you and me.” - TIA KEOBOUNPHENG 12 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
“I feel like I’m getting more out of being a part of The Maker’s Collection as opposed to the other way around.” - ARAYA JENSEN uncovering similar goals and passions to the makers here. Jenna says, “The makers are really connected to their process, their passion, and the dream that they have for what they want to see in the world, and that’s what we are, too. We’re all working to realize that passion.” Jessica also points out that the American Refugee Committee has been in Minnesota since 1979, so continuing to contribute to Minnesota is an important aspect of their mission. The collection works to invest in the makers by purchasing the custom-designed goods directly from them in limited quantities at wholesale prices. From there, they sell the collection of goods at their full retail value and invest 100% of the profit from the purchase in their programs worldwide. Jessica offers, “I think having the local piece adds an additional layer of meaning. It becomes personal and you form a connection with the person, the product, the story. So that becomes less transactional and more of an experience for people.” Jenna explains that many products that are offered by organizations similar to ARC are often donated products. And that’s precisely why they wanted to take a different approach. She shares, “We thought about how much fun it would be to be able to invest in these local small businesses that are really trying to grow, make ends meet, and realize this dream that they have for themselves. So, by being able to invest in their business, and then also then sell it at full retail, we’re able to create an impact through our programs as well and connect that full circle.” As for the specific items that make up the collection, the selection process is part of the fun for Jenna and Jessica. In the beginning, they sit down with each maker, talk about their product line, and what other people in the collection are thinking about making. The goal is to make a cohesive collection and work together, exploring possible collaborations between makers. In this process, they’re also thinking about the people who will be buying the items in the collection. The official launch is during in the holiday season at the annual Changemaker’s Ball, which took place on December 2nd at the Depot in Downtown Minneapolis this year. Jenna reveals, “We’re always thinking about our supporters and Minnesotans in general and trying to think about the products that are gifts you want to give. There’s something about starting with a gift and a story you can share that makes the collection more meaningful to us.”
This year, nine unique Minnesota makers make up the collection—a succinct number that Jenna and Jessica view as ideal. Jessica begins, “That’s part of why we think it’s so special, because it is so limited. Each maker is only making a handful of products, so it really is unique and custom and something that you can’t get anywhere else.” She adds, “Also, because it’s small, we’re able to push and pull and experiment with new things and try to connect people back to the reason why we’re doing this from the beginning.” One of the makers who connects deeply with the reason behind it all is Araya Jensen of Willful Goods. She has been a part of The Maker’s Collection since the beginning, selling her classic, hand-dipped wooden bowls. Beyond that, she wholeheartedly values the work that ARC does and is proud to be a part of it as a maker in the collection. “I always wanted to go into the Peace Corps; I filled out applications twice and unfortunately, it never happened—the timing was never right,” Araya begins. It was after the second Maker’s Collection last year that she volunteered herself for any future missions possible. Lucky for Araya, last January, she had the opportunity to go to a refugee camp on the border of Thailand and Mynamar. Inspired by the people, the place, and the work, she shares, “I was able to be a part of a really amazing group of people. We went there for the purpose of helping this group of kids write and perform a song alongside a nonprofit called Playing for Change. They recorded a song that these kids composed and when we got there, they had written the most amazing song and we really did nothing to help… They were so good!” Araya laughs. “We were there to support them and they performed the song for their community and it ended up being VOL 1, NO. 8 - 2016 13
this incredible community dance party. So, long story short, for me, I feel like I’m getting more out of being a part of The Maker’s Collection as opposed to the other way around.” The American Refugee Committee works with refugees around the world in eleven different countries and in each place, their work depends on the context of the situation. Jenna explains, “We’re working in places like Uganda in a refugee settlement that’s been around since 1959 and it has over 120,000 people living in it. It’s an entire city of people who have been there for generations. So the services we’re providing there are like water and protection for women and kids.” She continues, “Those kinds of services are much different than an emergency in Syria where
“You see all of these makers coming together who are bringing their individual talents to do something to better the world.” - JESSICA PHINNEY 14 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
we’re helping people survive from one day to the next. Getting them the food and emergency care that they need to see it through.” The Maker’s Collection exists as an extraordinary combination of this impactful global work facilitated by the passion, hard work, and stories of local makers. For Jenna and Jessica, this combination exemplifies one of their favorite things to do at ARC.They find depth and purpose in bringing people together, having conversations about ARC’s work, changing the world, solving problems, and unleashing new value. As the collection enlists the talents, skills, and ideas of local makers, Jenna and Jessica find inspiration. Jessica begins, “You see all of these makers coming together who are bringing their individual talents to do something to better the world. And we get to be a part of that, which is really great.” Jenna adds, “That’s the biggest part of it for me. We say we believe in the talent and creativity of all people to contribute to this work that we’re doing, and you’re able to really see it in the collection. It’s happening all around us in so many different ways, but the tangibility of being able to see how people can contribute their talent to making that change worldwide is so real and so present that it helps to broaden your ideas of what change can look like.” Photo by Kelsey Lee Photography.
ON VIEW THROUGH FEB. 2 :: WWW.DULUTHARTINSTITUTE.ORG VOL 1, NO. 8 - 2016 15
Out & About:
Words and Photos by Lindsay Strong
As I walk into the Loews Minneapolis Hotel lobby, I am greeted by warm, friendly faces and kindly worded directions toward the elevators. Soon after exiting the elevator on the floor for Maiden Minnesota, I am surprised and excited by the scene that revealed itself around the corner. There are tables end-to-end filled up with beautiful displays of goods and services being donated by local businesses for the silent auction. Through the doors, a harmony of laughter, footsteps, and chatter fill the open spaces with a joy very
Snapshots from Maiden Minnesota, a one-of-a-kind, boutique-like shopping event featuring more than 35 local, women-owned companies and benefitting Dress For Success Twin Cities. 16 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
Event creators - Tracy Dyer and Jen Stack
familiar to me. Shopping is happening only just steps away from where I contemplatively and curiously stand. The best part? This year, all of it is in support of Dress for Success, a local non-profit organization that supports and helps to uplift women on their journey toward economic independence. The beauty of Maiden Minnesota is that the support of women circles throughout the entirety of the event. Founded in 2007 by Tracy Dyer of Urban Junket and Jen Stack of Relish Minds PR,
Maiden Minnesota has created an opportunity for women-owned businesses to come together, find support, and in turn, support other women. This marketplace provides an invaluable opportunity for the Maidens who run these businesses to network, share their skill, and connect with one another. Plus, according to their website, Maiden Minnesota is a pretty stellar Girlsâ€™ Night Out. Quite frankly, I would have to agree. With the wine, goodies, and an incredible opportunity to shop from local women makers, all in the name of giving
back, it is certainly an excellent way to spend an evening with old friends (and a great one to make some new pals along the way). Luckily for all of us, this is an annual event that keeps growing every year. To be in a room full of women bravely creating and supporting other lady makers is one that ought to be celebrated. To meet and mingle with the women who, brave in their own right, built a beautiful and charitable opportunity for all of us is one I will not soon forget.
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Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply Retail and Garden Center By Matt Frank, Founder & Editorial Director of From the Ground Up North Photos by Vanessa Cambier
“I want to grow food, but where do I start?” At Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply! Interested in gardening, homesteading, local food, and growing your own? Live in the Twin Cities? Love chickens? If you answered yes to any of the above then you must visit Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply in Saint Paul! They’re a great locally owned shop located on Selby Avenue near the antique mall and Blue Door Pub. What’s in a name? Egg|Plant are fine purveyors of egg-laying chickens; edible plants, trees and herbs; pollinator-friendly 18 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
flowers; and homesteading items, including cheese making kits, bee keeping supplies, canning supplies, seeds, compost bins, rain barrels, and more. The family owned business is operated by husband and wife team Bob Lies and Audrey Matson, and General Manager Leslie Johnson, three incredibly friendly, knowledgeable souls. Egg|Plant is a resource hub that caters to urban homesteaders, do-it-yourselfers, and gardeners.
- ORIGINS The main Egg|Plant crew consists of Audrey, Bob and Leslie, each of whom bring their own skill sets and passions to the business. Bob specializes in chicken keeping, composting and fermentation, Audrey is a Master Gardener, and Leslie has hands on farming and gardening experience. Bob and Audrey have had chickens for eight years at their home in Saint Paul and also have a large edible garden. Leslie also loves to garden and grows food in container gardens. The idea for the garden center and homestead retail store is the brainchild of co-owner Audrey—it was fleshed out during her time receiv-
tapping, and urban chicken keeping. Through this process, she discovered that many other people were also interested and passionate about homesteading and urban agriculture. As a young woman, Audrey had never thought of gardening as a career path, but with renewed enthusiasm and insights into the gardening, farming, and healthy eating passions of those around her, she created Egg|Plant as a place where people can learn about organic edible gardening and other homesteading activities. Co-owner Bob grew up in the Twin Cities. He and Audrey had discussed moving back to the country to raise their children. However, once their family began to grow, Audrey had the realization that she loved living in the city and wasn’t planning to move any time soon. Their decision to stay in an urban environment was a conscious choice that meant giving up a long-held rural lifestyle in
ing a Masters degree in agriculture and horticulture while attending the University of Minnesota. In fact, she turned her final project into writing a business plan for the store. The combination of growing up on a small family dairy farm in southern Minnesota, previously working at another local garden center, and raising children in the city who she wanted to teach how to grow their own food aided her quest. Prior to opening the store, Audrey had begun a 4-H group for her children and others in the Midway neighborhood of Saint Paul where they learned about things such as canning, maple
exchange for equivalent space in an urban setting where they could grow their own food, preserve it, and keep both chickens and bees. Urban agriculture is not a new phenomenon, and as Audrey points out, has been around for quite some time but recently skipped a generation of Americans. Bob notes that you don’t have to ‘go back to the country’ to live the agrarian ideal as it has come home to roost in urban areas where people have begun reclaiming unused space and maintenance intensive, unproductive grass lawns. In the same amount of space as a grass lawn, you can grow healthy food, raise chickens, and keep bees. While these activities still require maintenance, they tend to be much more fulfilling and rewarding while providing additional benefits such as healthy sustenance, biodiversity, replenishment of soil nutrients, and more. VOL 1, NO. 8 - 2016 19
- PRODUCTS & WORKSHOPS As a small, locally-owned garden center, they’re able to offer customers something you can’t find may other places – a friendly smile, knowledgeable information, and locally grown, living items for sale. In this sense, they’re vastly different from online retailers like Amazon that don’t offer items that are both local and perishable. As an added environmentally friendly bonus, everything from the garden center portion of Egg|Plant that doesn’t sell ends up being composted on-site. The business also offers delivery service for larger items including fruit trees, rain barrels and straw bales in order to make the items they sell accessible to a broad range of people, especially those that live in the city without a personal automobile whether by choice or financial necessity. They also serve as a community supported agriculture (CSA) pick up spot for partners Featherstone Farm, a 250 acre certified organic family farm based in Rushford, MN. The areas of urban agriculture, permaculture, pollinator friendly landscaping, and xeriscaping have become much more mainstream since Egg|Plant opened, which has helped their business thrive. A renewed interest in urban agriculture practices and the local food movement by youth and elders alike has also served Egg|Plant well. Customers at Egg|Plant run the gamut from young couples with children looking to grow their own food and learn more to older customers who have been growing their own food for years. No matter your age or gender you’re likely to discover some amazing finds at Egg|Plant!
Egg|Plant Co-Owners Bob Lies and Audrey Matson with General Manager Leslie
Egg|Plant is a one-stop urban homesteading shop reminiscent of a country general store. The garden center portion of the business is small but focused and supports local growers, including suppliers Rush Creek Growers out of Spring Valley, WI, Gardens of Eagan in Northfield, MN, and Green Earth Growers in Prior Lake, MN, who provide edible plants, shrubs, trees, herbs, and flowers for sale. The garden center was originally stocked with vegetables, herbs, fruits and berries and has grown to include some native flowering perennials as customers have started requesting them. This has been partially led by recent growth in public interest of protecting pollinators and providing them with beneficial plants. The business is partially stocked based on customer requests and feedback.
Egg|Plant also offers an array of urban homesteading educational workshops in their on-site classroom. Hands-on courses focus on topics including composting, vermiculture, chicken keeping, fermentation, cheese making, seed starting, micro brewing, kombucha brewing, canning, beekeeping, edible landscaping, and mushroom growing, among others. The crew also attends community events and festivals around town, including farmers markets, pollinator parties and neighborhood gatherings, with their beloved chicken Goldilocks to discuss chicken keeping in the city. A fun fact about Egg|Plant - Leslie began the Plaid Friday movement in the Twin Cities, an indie alternative to Black Friday that has its origins in California. The goal of Plaid Friday is to show your support for small, local businesses. The day serves as a more community-oriented alternative to shopping at big box stores the day after Thanksgiving. At Egg|Plant, customers who wear plaid on Plaid Friday are given discounts throughout the store. Other stores along the Selby/Snelling corridor have followed suit and offer discounts to customers on Plaid Friday as well.
- THAT’S A WRAP! In the future, Egg|Plant would love to promote other urban homesteading areas such as soap and candle making and sourdough starting, in addition to expanding in their selection of native perennials suitable for rain and pollinator gardens. However,
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Bob and Audrey note that their business growth is an organic process and will happen over time through a small and incremental scale with feedback from loyal customers. Check them out when you get a chance; you won’t be disappointed!
Behind The Maker
Together in Coffee By Colby Wegter Photos by BethCath Photography
t all starts with a conversation. I’ve had more than a few over a cup of coffee and admittedly, I find myself constantly on the lookout to learn more about the people who’ve decided to make coffee their life. Enter Coffee Cart MPLS. An undoubtedly cool idea, I thought I’d sit down with the couple behind it, Jesse and Alta Keller, and learn a bit more. I did. But what really captured me was them. Jesse and Alta surprised me. Like anything else, I’d found them on Instagram. Their photos pulled me in, as each and every one had a bit of whimsy, simplistic beauty and a perspicuous amount of fun. So what’d I do? I hopped onto the website, sent an email and crossed my fingers. What I said at the time I can’t quite remember, but it was some-
thing to the effect of, “You guys look really cool and I’d love to meet you. Open to talking with a stranger about your life?” Lucky for me the answer was, “We’d be honored.” Where to meet was obvious. A coffee place in their neighborhood, Anelace Coffee in Northeast Minneapolis, was the place for the conversation. It was just before noon on a mid-October day. The sun was shining through the window at the tightest angle, about to sit directly atop the building. Walking in I grabbed my usual, a piping hot dark roast, no room for cream and sugar. Jesse was already sitting down at a table, and Alta arrived soon after. As she asked Jesse what he wanted to drink, I unpacked my notebook and recorder.
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“Coffee’d out” was how Jesse put it, as he encouraged Alta to grab what she’d like. It was one his first statements and internally, I was refreshed. The comment instantly made me feel like he was down to earth. Meeting someone new is always an anxious moment and I sensed a bit of anxiousness in him so I jumped right in to say that it’s completely casual. “Not like an interview or anything,” I mentioned. “Perfect,” he replied, leaning back in his seat. We both knew then we were simply in for a friendly conversation in a coffee shop. A place we all felt comfortable. As Alta rejoined us, having gotten her drink, I figured the best place to start was how they met each other. North Central University was where it started. Alta wanted to pursue a music degree. Growing up in Willmar, Minnesota, it was her first experience at city living on her own and she absolutely fell in love with it. “I’ll never move back to the country,” she says laughing. Jesse had a different story. He grew up in Aus-
tralia, just south of Sydney. His father is from Minnesota and at the age of 16 they moved stateside to be closer to family. “I have a recording degree, so I wanted to go to a school that had a recording engineering program , a baseball team, and was in the city.” North Central was it. They hit it off quickly and started dating soon after meeting. Dating turned into engagement. Engagement to marriage. In February, they’ll have been married for six years. Talking about music wasn’t a conversation I was expecting to have and I instantly followed up asking if they are still playing and recording. “We have a band called The Prams,” Alta replied. “As soon as we got married we started writing and doing various things but we were never really serious about it. We lived in Dallas for two years and when we moved back here we were like, ‘Yeah, let’s give it a shot.’ So we’ve been working on recording and we put out an album last year. It’s like folk and electronic music and is kinda a random mix. Now we’re going more pop-electronic but… we’re trying to play live as much as we can.” “So the dream would be coffee and music,” added Jesse. “We enjoy doing it and we’d love to do touring more, but we enjoy coffee too. It’s amazing how many music connections we’ve made over doing Coffee Cart.” Writing furiously in my notebook to check out The Prams on Spotify or Soundcloud, I tried to keep the conversation going. “So how did Coffee Cart MPLS get started?” I ask.
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“Two years ago this last August we started it,” responded Alta. “We started it because we wanted a coffee shop and we kind of had that idea, realizing that we weren’t ready for that commitment, especially with music going on. So we thought ‘What can we do that’s a step in the right direction but not that big of an overhead investment?’ We had seen a catering company that did a coffee bar on the side and it was an awesome idea, but it was pretty boring. So we were like, ‘Man, what if it actually encompassed what we love about coffee shops?’ Which is the look and feel of the local coffee shop and where the coffee’s done really well. ‘What if that was a part of it so people could have that feeling at their event?’ So we designed and built our set up to look and feel like our favorite coffee spots. Our first event was at North Central, at that time Jesse was doing some audio work and engineer stuff and we were like, ‘Hey, if you guys are looking to do some sort of event, you can book us!’ Ever since then it’s been a word of mouth snowball. We started our idea with very low expectations. We were thinking, ‘This will be super fun to get our feet wet’, so when it got started, we reached out to a bunch of local roasters like Dogwood for instance.” And Dogwood responded with a better deal than they could have asked for. Expecting to just learn about the equipment they would need, Jesse and Alta were propositioned by Dogwood to let them train the duo for free. It was a simple agreement. They’d sell Dogwood’s coffee out of their cart and Dogwood would train them on how to do it really well. “We’re loyal, diehard Dogwood fans now,” says Alta with a laugh from Jesse. “They took us under their wing and set us up… so it’s been incredible.” A calling in coffee was what I wanted to know, but as I sat across from them in Anelace, it was clear to see how close of friends they are. Always together, whether it’s travelling to Paris, (where the idea for Coffee Cart MPLS materialized) playing a show at 7th Street Entry, or chipping away at their various house projects (like building a garage in a weekend) they’re each other’s best buddy. Even buddies butt heads now and then and I ask if they ever get sick of each other. “We’re in the same circle,” Alta replies. “If there’s ever any tension, it’s done in five minutes. We’re such a good team that way.” “She’s OK,” says Jesse sarcastically, sparking a bit of laughter from Alta. Minutes later, Alta is telling me the ultimate reward of Coffee Cart is that they get to do it together. The bond translates into their music, which you should definitely listen to, and of course their coffee. It’s a fascinating thing to experience, kindred spirits in their purest form.
With time winding down and our beverages cooling, I feel like I’ve met two genuinely cool people. People you want to root for. “What’s the plan for you guys tomorrow?” I ask. “We’re very simple, so we’ll put on a pot of coffee, which is kind of embarrassing to say,” Alta replies sheepishly. “We’re like the least snobby coffee snobs,” Jesse adds to help her out. “We really appreciate coffee and we always have really good coffee beans but we’re kind of all about easy at home… normally we’d go out for coffee. We’d do that every morning if we had the time to. We get coffee…” “A lot,” chimes in Jesse. “Yeah, we get coffee a lot,” Alta laughs. I tell them I do too and we fill Anelace with a bit of laughter. We had a conversation. About coffee and its many pulls on our lives. For a lot of us, coffee is a mood alterer, a “get up and go” device. For some it’s a life source and for some, it’s a way of life. Although it’s a way to make a living, for Jesse and Alta, it’s mostly fun. VOL 1, NO. 8 - 2016 23
Local Issue Instagram Contest
#MakeItMN_DuluthWinterVillage proudly sponsored by
In this issue’s Instagram Contest, we teamed up with Duluth Winter Village for a winter Instagram contest all about buying and celebrating local! We asked our followers to share their favorite parts of their local community—anything from a club, business, maker, restaurant, artist, or outdoor location. Their photos now make up a beautiful collection demonstrating local pride and appreciation at the tag #MakeItMN_DuluthWinterVillage—go check out more than 200 outstanding entries! The top 20 entries are published at makeitmn.com and the elite Top 10 are not only featured here, but also displayed at the Duluth Winter Village event inside Glensheen Mansion! The Top 3 winning photographs received awesome prizes from Duluth Winter Village—we are so grateful to partner with this excellent event! The mission of Duluth Winter Village is to bring the community together to celebrate local business during the holiday season. Organized by Duluth Loves Local, a volunteer committee and Duluth-area local businesses, Duluth Winter Village is hosted by Glensheen, the Historic Congdon Estate. The event is wholly sponsored by local businesses and corporations who believe is sustaining our local economy—a perfect match for a contest all about celebrating local!
WINNING IMAGE: Autumn Gray @autumncolors21
2ND PLACE: Adriana Ernst @adrianaernst_ 24 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
3RD PLACE: Sammy Slater @sammysltr
HONORABLE MENTIONS From left to right, top to bottom: Carter Dick @carterwdick Chandra Whitfield @chandra_whitfield Clint Jeen @clint_jee_ Stephanie Holsather @afunhouse Liz Nemmers @liznemmersphotography Olivia Carlson @olivemagdalene Randy Wendel @randywendel
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Minnesota Style MAGGIE THOMPSON - MAKWA STUDIO the weight on the opposite side. As I sat in her shoes for a moment, I gained an appreciation of the patience she must encompass in doing this day in and day out. However, instead of complaining about the time spent here and (I imagine) the sometimes tedious repetition of her making process, she smiles and assures me that she enjoys the peaceful, contemplative nature of the work. And as I looked around her cozy Northeast Minneapolis workshop—a space filled with lovely spools of colorful wool, the artwork of close friends, and a few of Maggie’s innovative, conceptual projects—I get a glimpse into her peaceful, yet courageous passion.
The day I visited Maggie Thompson at her Northrup King Building studio, she and her recently hired assistant, Mary Jean (MJ) Potamites, were awfully busy. With a bold lineup of holiday craft shows, orders on the website, and other special requests for her unique, high-quality knitwear, Maggie knows that November in the North equates a demanding time for her handmade and stylish warm weather attire. As MJ hand sewed a seam on their latest creation—a classic indigo beanie from the Solid Collection, Maggie showed me around her finicky sewing machine, explaining the mechanics of using certain weights, her self-designed pattern sheet, and a great deal of patience. She even invited me to sit down and give it a try. After I made sure that there was no way I could ruin the beautiful beanie she had already started, with her instruction, I tugged gently on one of weights, pushed the apparatus all the way across the machine, and finished by tugging on
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Talk about the beginnings of Makwa Studio. What inspired you to begin this endeavor? I started Makwa Studio in the fall of 2014, so I am currently ending my second year of business. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2013, but have had an interest in textiles since I was in 4th grade at the Minnesota Waldorf School. During my senior year of college I started to observe how Native culture was being portrayed in mainstream fashion and began critiquing the cultural appropriation that I was witnessing as a young artist and designer. I became interested in how I, as a Native person of mixed heritage, could join the conversation and help shift what was being put out in to the world to represent a culture that is about way more than feathers and tipis. Your site shares that Makwa means “bear” in the Ojibwe language. What does the bear represent to you? I am Fond du Lac Ojibwe, but was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I chose to have “Makwa” or bear as the name of my business because of my family’s relationship to bears and traveling to the Boundary Waters as a kid. I also wanted to promote the Ojibwe language and will hopefully add more language elements as I keep learning. Have you always been creative? What forms or channels have you explored in your creative journey? I grew up with having artists for parents so I have always been
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involved in the arts. My mom is a photographer and painter and my dad was a graphic designer and musician. In high school, I did drawing, painting, and screen-printing, but was first introduced to the world of fiber arts at the MN Waldorf School when I started there in 4th grade, but explored painting, drawing, and screen printing when I was in high school at Perpich Center for Arts Education. Then in college I actually started in Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design and ended up transferring in to the Textiles Department for my third year of college. RISD is very design oriented, so throughout the duration of my education I spent most of my time experimenting with materials and techniques and it wasn’t until my last year of school that I began to explore more conceptual avenues of textiles and art.
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How have the items you make evolved? How have you evolved as a maker and business owner? Since coming out of school, I had this design background with a heavy influence of conceptual art that I wanted to turn in to a more practical form for art that would be more accessible to the majority of people, so that’s why I started doing knitwear. At first I was using cotton yarns to explore different patterns and color ways, but now I have access to finer wool yarns that are rich in color and quality. Learning the business side of things is definitely a challenge for me as I don’t have any background in it, but have definitely learned a lot about managing my time and a budget. I literally started out buying small 6oz balls of yarn from the Textile Center and have since grown to be able to buy wholesale. I also manage my own website, do all the photography and make and ship the
items. When starting out, I did have a lot of help from friends and family and just recently brought in an intern, so now I am learning how to manage someone else too. But there are so many more things to learn as Makwa keeps growing. What does your process of making look like from start to finish? What do you value in your own creative process? I usually draw out my patterns in a sketch or using graph paper, and then I create small swatches playing with different color ways. When I’m creating a new item, I usually just do it and figure out the pattern on the spot and adjust accordingly making a few different sample pieces of varying sizes. I really love the mathematics and figuring out the structure of a piece. It is very therapeutic to me although the knitting machine is a character of its own and can be fussy, so you always have to be paying acute attention to what you’re doing. I also love the fact that when your piece comes off, you get to have the satisfaction of knowing that you made that piece of fabric. How does your Native heritage inform your creative work? How does that translate for the people who buy your goods? My work is definitely influenced by beading and creating something out of smaller parts to create its whole. I think of regalia and bead working and how much time is put in to creating a garment and they are so visually striking and powerful. I can only hope that my main knitwear pieces translate in the same way. What have you found in the creative community in Minneapolis and/or Minnesota? Minneapolis has a great creative community! There are so many events and opportunities happening. Also having the ability to talk with so many other artists and makers about their experiences is very helpful and is a great support system. Do you like to experiment with different materials or techniques in your work? Absolutely. Especially in my fine art I always strive to push one’s understanding of what textiles are or can be. More recently I’ve been incorporating photography in to my work and have created pieces using mixed median elements such as pins, beer caps, and vinyl. I also hope to bring on more structural knit pieces too. Do you feel like your work allows you to contribute to something bigger than yourself? I think that I am definitely contributing to the conversation about cultural appropriation and I am always asking myself questions especially now that I am beginning to explore clothing more. Also as Makwa gains more stability I want there to be a “give back” component, whether it’s creating a scholarship for school or an employment program for the Native community. This is something that I hope to start looking in to and flesh out more within the next year or two. VOL 1, NO. 8 - 2016 29
THE PIONEERING SPIRIT OF BĒT VODKA By Emily Taplin Photos provided by BĒT Vodka
By Emily Taplin
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Sincere. Simplified. Social. Those are the three seeds that inspired BĒT Vodka, a spirit with deep roots in the Minnesota farming industry. The idea for the spirit started to take shape two years ago when Ben Brueshoff and Jerad Poling met at an event for entrepreneurs at Fulton Brewery in Minneapolis. The pair quickly discovered their similar passions for bringing people together and became partners, with a mission to shape a brand that would do just that. I asked Ben how they landed on a spirit while meeting at a brewery. He told me, they felt, across the country and even right in the Twin Cities the microbrewing industry was becoming oversaturated. At the same time, spirits were just beginning to make a resurgence. They chose to make vodka. It’s one of the most popular spirits consumed in the United States, a liquor Ben believes MINNESOTA IS THE LARGEST PRODUCER OF is misunderstood. Like the scar on the SUGAR BEETS IN THE COUNTRY; IT MAKES top of my head from a winter night gone wrong in college, many of us can recall a UP ABOUT 35 PERCENT OF THE INDUSTRY. complicated experience attached to guzzling down one too many of the clear liquid drinks. So, Ben and Jerad set out to create a product that would allow us to or grain; they gravitated to a sweeter source, something readily pour vodka another shot, a liquor where the focus would be available in our state. If the title hasn’t already given it away, on the buzz of being together rather than just a fuzzy feeling. BĒT Vodka (pronounced like beet) is made from sugar beets. Many of us know vodka as a colorless, odorless, and flavorless beverage meant to be drowned with soda or cranberry juice, or if you’re me, Bloody Mary mix. Brueshoff and Poling saw an opportunity to create something distilled down to its purest essence, with a flavor that would stand on its own. “It’s easy to make vodka poorly,” Ben said, “but hard to do it well.” In order to do it well, they needed to find the right ingredient, something understated but solid. Most vodkas are distilled from corn
The vegetables were a natural fit for several reasons. The first is because the ingredient has deep Minnesota roots and is a huge agricultural story for our state. The Land of 10,000 Lakes is saturated with sugar beets. In fact, Minnesota is the largest producer of sugar beets in the country; it makes up about 35 percent of the industry. Ben told me while Minnesotans aren’t typically inclined to brag, this is the industry we should be telling everyone about. VOL 1, NO. 8 - 2016 31
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The beets are usually processed into sugar and can be found in foods and drinks we consume daily, like cereal, Ketchup, fruit juice, and ice cream. The entrepreneurs wanted to take beets and create something a little more “sexy,” something worth boasting about. The beets BĒT Vodka is made from are purchased and processed from American Crystal Sugar Company, a Moorhead, Minnesota cooperative. From there, the beets are distilled in New Richmond, WI at 45th Parallel Distillery. As for the flavor, Ben encourages you to try it raw. He says unlike many other vodkas, BĒT doesn’t burn your head on the way down, but leaves you with a warm feeling in the chest. The name and the flavor aren’t the only things they’ve strived to keep uncomplicated. The BĒT Vodka bottle is as simple as the liquid it embraces. Ben told me the paper cover represents the leafy top of the sugar beet and even the cork is etched with inspiration from the plant.
Perhaps the most important part of their story is the pioneers BĒT pays tribute to. Their tagline, “share the pioneering spirit” has both a literal and figurative interpretation. The literal encourages the sipping experience and socialization. Deeper than that, it represents the people who sip it. Henry Oxnard was the 19th century pioneer who paved the way for Jerad and Ben. At the time, Oxnard invented a “modern” way to process sugar beets in the Midwest. The 21st century pioneers drew inspiration from him and made their own unique mark, with a vodka made from an uncommon ingredient. Who do Ben and Jared define as those pioneers? The people who, like them, are following their dreams and pouring out the extra hours on top of full time jobs to pursue their passions, the careers that make them prideful and the hobbies that bring happiness. BĒT Vodka is a sincere, simplified, and social toast to the pioneers of the past, present and future.
HOLIDAY RECIPES RIPE FOR SOCIALIZING: BĒT NEAT 3 oz. BĒT Vodka 3 to 4 Drops Orange Bitters Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lemon peel.
THE FEAT 2 oz BĒT Vodka 3/4 oz Cynar Amaro 3/4 oz French (Dry) Vermouth Stir and strain over ice in a double old fashioned glass. Express and insert an orange peel.
THE RUSH 2 oz BĒT Vodka 3/4 oz Espresso 3/4 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream Build over ice in a double old fashioned glass, finish with Bailey’s.
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Minnesota Creatives ...
Share Your Story With Us!
Recent Online Feature: Laura Waldman is the curator and founder of Minny & Paul. She is a Minnesotan born-and-raised and has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. While previously managing Kit and Ace in the North Loop, a company dedicated to promoting local artists and movers, Laura was exposed to the vibrant and incredibly collaborative creative community in the Twin Cities. Inspired to bring these high quality artisanal products together and make them more easily accessible, Laura developed the idea of creating Minny & Paul gift boxes. Her goal is to make the gifting process thoughtful, easy, charming, and with a true taste of home. Talk about the beginnings of Minny & Paul. What inspired you to begin this endeavor? The inspiration to start the business came from the relationships I built here in the creative community with makers and entrepreneurs. It got me thinking about making these high quality goods more accessible I wanted to make it easier to share and discover really unique products through gifting. The initial idea surfaced in April on a beach in Mexico and we launched in August – it was pretty much a full out sprint to launch. How has Minny & Paul evolved as a business? How have you evolved as a business owner? We are definitely still in the early stages just launching a few months ago in August, but the business has already evolved quite a bit. Customer feedback has been hugely important and helpful in shaping our business in this infancy stage. Learning how our customers like to shop from pop-ups, which products they are drawn to, what occasions are most popular for our audience to gift, etc.
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As a business owner, I have already learned a lot about myself and about my strengths and weaknesses. I have always been a strong proponent of surrounding yourself with highly intelligent people who compliment your weaknesses. What sorts of companies and products do you fill your boxes with? Our boxes feature a wide variety of local brands. Quality is first and foremost for us so we try out every single product before we include it in our line. We feature makers ranging from a husband and wife duo out of St. Louis Park called WAAM Industries – the creative masterminds behind our custom baltic birch wood boxes – to larger local brands like Illume Candles and Annie B’s.
Join These Makers And Other Across The State - Submit Online At: www.makeitmn.com/creatives
How has living and making in Minnesota influenced your creative work, specifically through Minny & Paul? We Minnesotans have a unique sense of pride in our state that I feel is lacking in many other places. It’s a spirit of strength and interest in supporting our local community that has absolutely influenced the ease of introducing the Minny & Paul concept. Your tagline is: “Discover Local.” Why is local important? Our vision is to share high quality local products through thoughtful gift giving. The local aspect is hugely important because we have such beautifully crafted products right here in our backyard, and we simply want to highlight these products and make them easier to discover and share with loved ones. Do you feel like your work allows you to contribute to something bigger than yourself? I do certainly hope that the work I’m doing has some impact on the community. I feel that the work I’m doing with my business has purpose and passion and that’s all anyone can ask for.
Visit Us Online For These Other Recent Features ...
Mill City Fineries
Join These Makers And Other Across The State - Submit Online At: www.makeitmn.com/creatives
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We teamed up with From The Ground Up North to challenge our readers’ to share a photo of their urban growing efforts. A huge congratulations to Terri Chartrand - we love your photo and urban farming efforts! In winning, Terri received two tickets to an urban permaculture class all about “Growing Healthful Food in the City”, a class geared toward teaching how to grow abundant amounts of healthful food in urban areas and cold climates utilizing permaculture. In this class, Terri will learn how to grow abundant amounts of healthful food in urban areas and cold climates utilizing permaculture, an ethical de36 MAKE IT MINNESOTA
sign approach rooted in observation of ecological processes that acts as a framework for creating regenerative systems for human material and non-material needs. A great way to gain the necessary knowledge to begin implementing permaculture design in your own spaces, yards, and community gardens. This class was taught by From the Ground Up North’s Founder and Mississippi Market Co-op Communications Specialist Matt Frank. Be sure to look for more fun and interesting contests in the future! We love connecting with our audience through contests, collaborations, events, and beyond, so if you have an idea for something uniquely Minnesotan, let us know!
Subscribe Today! Give the gift of Minnesota stories
We create a magazine that shares the stories of makers and innovators spanning our great northern state. As we feature bold and inspiring Minnesotans—from craftsman to beekeepers, artists to farmers, brewers to foodies—we’re here to build a timeless collection of tales from each region across the state. We aim to strengthen and promote sustainable, beautiful, altruistic, unique, and creative communities. We are so proud to share our one-of-a-kind Minnesota magazine with you.
www.makeitmn.com/subscribe VOL 1, NO. 8 - 2016 37
Smack Shack Minneapolis
Smack Shack Holiday Gift Cards Buy $100 Get $25 Gift Certificate FREE! 603 Washington Avenue North 612-259-7288 . smack-shack.com
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