Open Streets on Lake: From Somali dancers to vintage 45s and Bernie Sanders signs

Since its launch five years ago, Open Streets Minneapolis has evolved from its first two streets, Lyndale and Nicollet in South Minneapolis, to Franklin Avenue (Aug. 16), Lowry Avenue North (Sept. 26), University Avenue (Sept. 12) and East Lake Street, which took place Sunday afternoon.

It was a gorgeous Sunday for the gathered congregation of bicyclists, walkers, runners, skateboarders, rollerbladers, dog walkers and all else who took to East Lake Street, which was closed off from S. Elliot Avenue to E. 42nd Street. In photos and words:

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Irene Brassil, Janet Harvey, Isabella Swanson, Minneapolis. “It’s a great thing; it lets all the little businesses show off to everybody going by on their bikes, or walking,” said Harvey. “I live half a block from here, and East Lake Street has needed some work and had a lot of empty storefronts, but it’s really starting to change now. This is just the push it needs.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Rifat Yeasmin (and baby Ruhan), Minneapolis. “I am the owner of Lake Street Gifts and Oils. We have been here for 11 years. We have oils, and fragrances; 800 different types for both men and women. Anything you want or like, we have the largest and purest here. You always want to smell good, and you want your home to be smelling good. If you have some drops of oils, people would love you. If you smell good, they will praise you.”   

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Alex Reynolds, Minneapolis. “I grew up right in this neighborhood, I work at Northern Sun, and I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter. Absolutely. It’d be hard not to be. Personally, I really love the sense of community. It’s like living in a small town, but in a big city. I live in Longfellow, and I’ve always known all my neighbors’ first and last names. We have a lot of really great restaurants and gift shops that are not chains – like Northern Sun. What’s hot? We definitely have a lot of Bernie Sanders stuff in right now. Shirts, bumper stickers, pins, magnets, lawn signs, everything.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Wally Hernandez, Minneapolis (right). “We’re representing the Mexican tradition and history. Today is an opportunity for Minnesota and for Latinos to open the minds for everybody.” 

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Emily Floyd, Zoey Melf, Harrison Bergman and Nathan, Jr. (seated), Minneapolis. “This is kind of the hub of south Minneapolis, the main vein of the southside of the city, in my opinion,” said Melf. “We live a couple blocks away; I’ve lived in Minneapolis for 20 years and I used to think of Lake Street as the more urban, less affluent chunk of south, but now it’s changed to being the hub, the kind of multicultural focal point of our south Minneapolis and we all love it. It’s the greatest.” 

“I think it really is the cultural center of south Minneapolis,” said Floyd. “Heart of the Beast has been a huge anchor for 40 years now, and they are pulling all aspects of the community together to celebrate what we have here, which is business, it’s culture, it’s nature, it’s just our shared history. I think that’s a really big, cool thing. I think Midtown market is a great endeavor and has more potential. I think Powderhorn Park is a gem. This is a snapshot. What I want to imagine is that every vibrant city in the United States probably has a Lake Street equivalent and this is our big shining one. If you want to know what’s happening in Minneapolis, Lake Street.”

“But we want less driving on Lake Street,” added Melf. “Give up a lane, add some bikes, and we’d have way more pedestrian traffic and it’d be great for business. That’s the future. The more pedestrian and bicycle traffic we have in South, the better our quality of life is.” 

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Vanesa Torezani. “I actually live in White Bear Lake, but I worked for many years in the Minneapolis area and we love it here. I’m originally from Argentina. We’re selling frosted nuts; peanuts, walnuts and almonds. It’s a traditional recipe from Argentina. My dad is here, he does this for a living in Argentina and he’s teaching me. I want to put my spot in the Global Market. I lived here in Minneapolis for 15 years, and this was a way different place. It was a different world. Young families and a lot of different cultures are moving in here, and I think people are discovering that and I’m so excited about that.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Khalid Dahir, Minneapolis. “I am part of the Somali Museum of Minnesota, and I’m a dancer in today’s presentation. We want to teach all who doesn’t know about our culture about Somali. How we eat, how we sleep. I’m saying to everyone, don’t leave your culture. If you don’t catch your culture, you will be in another world. For example, if we all leave Somali culture, there will not be Somali, it will just be American, or something else.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Nick Bennett, Minneapolis. “I’m a deejay. I’ve seriously just found, like, 40 45s here [at Hymie’s Vintage Records, which was celebrating Open Streets by giving out free vinyl Sunday.] I just found the ‘Star Wars’ theme and a lot of good old Motown stuff and ‘50s rock and roll and all these wicked record labels you don’t see around anymore. A lot of these records are indestructible, so even if they’re beat up you can still play them and they’ll sound good. I live in Toronto now and I deejay at some bars there, that’s where I’ll play them.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Andrew Tubesing, St. Paul. “This is my Minnesota Biking Ship. I got this hare-brained idea last spring. I built it out of an old canoe, and this summer I’ve been out in it a lot. It’s great at night, too, because it’s got lights and I’ve got a sound system and so it’s a rolling dance party. It’s not at all hard to go enjoy myself on it. Go to www.vikebike.com and you can see the picture story of me building it.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Gini Redgrave and Sue Hunter Weir, Minneapolis.Pioneers and Soldiers [Memorial Cemetery] is the oldest existing cemetery in Minneapolis. It has ties to the early anti-slavery movement, so it’s always had a very diverse background, and that’s unusual for something that dates to 1853,” said Hunter Weir. “It was the first cemetery in Minnesota, and [its graves include] the early African-American community, tons of immigrants; we have 22,000 burials and 10,000 are children under the age of 10. Vaccinate your kids is what that means.”

MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Kayla Tinklenberg and Connie Williams, St. Paul. “Today we’re just pushing out nutritional facts and things that people don’t know about McDonald’s. There’s a lot of education options that people don’t know about. We offer scholarships, and if you work as a manager, you get college credits, which is what I’m doing,” said Tinklenberg.

“I’ve been with McDonald’s for 30-plus years,” said Williams. “I started out as a crew person in Louisiana and I’ve stuck with it. McDonald’s is the best. It teaches you at a young age, first of all, how to be responsible, and that McDonald’s is a career. We’re here spreading the good word today that we have great value and healthy choices and weight management and about the good works of the Ronald McDonald House.”

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