Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Good News News

So you want to read something positive and inspiring and hopeful in the newspaper and all you can find is war, crime, corruption and a decaying environment; well, take a look at this terrific story in this morning’s local paper.
by Charlie Leck

In an article by Kevin Duchschere in this morning’s StarTribune [St Paul Food Oasis is a Million-Dollar Deal] I found reason to pump my fist into the air and holler out “yes!”

The article begins like this….

“Tracy Sides had just ordered a quiche, scone and coffee Monday morning at the Swede Hollow Cafe, near her office on St. Paul’s East Side, when her cellphone rang. Heads swiveled. Eyebrows lifted.

“Sides listened, then raised her arms and let out a whoop. ‘We won!’ she said.”

She was definitely not talking about the Vikings!

Tracy Sides, a cheery looking young woman, has a doctorate in public health and works as an epidemiologist, but she’s also an entrepreneur with a good head for exciting and helpful ideas (according to her friends). She and some of her friends entered a challenge contest this year and turned up the winners! The Minnesota Idea Open made the announcement on Monday of this week that Sides had won. The contest concept was to gather ideas “to make St. Paul great.” The three final entries were announced and the public was asked to vote for the grand-prize winner. The idea from Sides garnered in excess of half the 16,000 votes sent in by the public.

So, what’s the prize?
The idea gets a whopping one million dollars from the St. Paul Foundation. The money will be used to bring the idea to reality.

So, what’s the idea?
Ms. Sides wants to turn an old, vacant railroad warehouse, which has sat vacant near a nature sanctuary right inside the city, into an “Urban Oasis.” The building will become “an all-purpose food hub” that will gather local food, including meat, fish and produce, and turn that into healthy and delicious meals for schools and hospitals. It might also reach some homeless shelters and even restaurants and grocery stores. A catering firm will also work out of the building and it will also include a cafĂ© and classroom where healthy cooking and canning and gardening classes can be taught.

The building is adjacent to the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary and there is plenty of open field space that surrounds the building – all of it virtually in downtown St. Paul.

This will be a project to keep one’s eyes on. Hope you read the article.

If you want, you can watch a video interview here and also see some visuals of the concept Tracy Sides has for this ambitious project.

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