30 semi-finalists named in St. Paul’s ‘Million Dollar Idea contest’

Thirty semi-finalists have been selected for the “$1 MILLION Forever Saint Paul Challenge,” which asked people to submit ideas to improve St. Paul.

A panel will now narrow those down to three to five finalists, and then the public will vote to determine which one gets the $1 million for implementation.

Sponsored by the Saint Paul Foundation, the challenge received more than 900 ideas.

The 30 semi-finalists, in alphabetical order:

Bike-Connect St. Paul
Submitted by: Amy Schroeder Ireland, Saint Paul, MN
Bike-Connect Saint Paul will create a series of permanent outdoor maps of St. Paul’s major bike routes. The maps will be installed at major bike-route intersections and the routes on the maps will be color coded, like a subway system (i.e. green line, orange line, red line), with matching color-coded signs installed along the routes. If routes aren’t connected to one another or to a significant destination, then Amy will find a way to connect them.

Capital City Community Toolbox: A Community-Building Tool Lending Library and Resource Center
Submitted by: Peter Pearson, Saint Paul, MN
Peter’s idea is to establish a free lending library providing home, yard, and garden tools, along with related services and resources. Toolbox’s mission would be to improve the housing stock on Saint Paul’s East Side by providing residents with vital access to tools and skills for maintaining and improving their homes and properties, creating a greater sense of community and stability, and increasing Saint Paul’s tax base.

Closing the Digital Divide: Community Internet
Submitted by: Phil Gapp, Saint Paul, MN
Phil’s idea is a community non-profit approach to true high-speed internet access and to combine fiber and wireless technology to provide high-speed access at unprecedented prices. The idea includes a model to self-sustain and grow the network throughout the state of MN.

Community Food Preservation Kitchen and Cultural Center
Submitted by: Kerri Meyer, Saint Paul, MN
Kerri’s idea is to revive the shared arts of “putting food by” which will not only increase St. Paul’s food security and improve the health of our citizens, but will also connect us to one another across generations and cultures. This kitchen and cultural center would provide efficient, safe, and collaborative place where households could preserve the bounty of Minnesota’s agriculture. Area organizations that run youth gardens or immigrant farmer business incubators could use the kitchen for regular programming and processing.

Drink Local: Pure Water, Nothing More
Submitted by: Sam DiVita, Saint Paul, MN
Sam’s idea is to install water bottle refilling stations (hydration stations) in all of St. Paul Public Schools and other public areas like Parks and Recreation buildings, community centers, and public libraries. Drink Local promotes the idea of choosing pure water, nothing more for the entire community.

Driving Miss Daisies
Submitted by: Karen Anderson Vento, Saint Paul, MN
Karen’s idea is to create a senior bus loop – one for each neighborhood. Connecting senior housing with everything would ease the burden on family members and metro mobility, and expand each senior residence’s transportation ability, increasing occupancy, mobility, socialization ,vibrancy, commerce and participation.

Food, Nature & Culture: Build an Urban Oasis
Submitted by: Traci Sides, Saint Paul, MN
Traci’s idea is to create a multi-purpose retreat and event center at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary building with a commercial kitchen that, in addition to serving the event center, could host a catering company, food truck, worker-owned food processing cooperative for local produce, entrepreneurs who create healthy value-added food products, and be used to teach gardening, preservation, and cooking skills to the community.

Gordon Parks’ Home
Submitted by: Maya Park, Eagan, MN
Maya’s idea is to secure a building in which we could house the students at Gordon Parks High School, during the times they find themselves without a safe place to stay. She would develop a curriculum focused on relevant life skills such as personal finance: how to make money, how to save, how to invest, how to respect money without worshipping it. The house would serve as a community gathering space and help bring the community together.

Historical Markers: Media Documenting its Past, Building its Future: Images to Webpages & Social Media
Submitted by: Joe Landsberger, Saint Paul, MN
David’s idea is cover the streets and buildings of the City of Saint Paul with historical markers that depict images and scenes of its past in order to inform both its citizens and visitors that it has been and will be a great city and urban environment. Each marker will not only depict an image and short descriptive text, but also reference a “QR code” that when the viewer points his/her digital device at the code, a webpage appears with a description, map, additional photos, historical context, current implications/applications, etc. with opportunity via Facebook to further contribute and discuss.

Lowertown Community and Cultural Center and Perennial Garden
Submitted by: Judith Morem, Saint Paul, MN
Judith’s idea is to purchase the surface parking lot which is for sale on the S.E. corner of 4th Street and Wacouta in Lowertown, Saint Paul. An earth-sheltered building would be constructed to house small meeting rooms, a black box theater space and an exhibition space for use by the residents and artists of Lowertown. A perennial garden would be planted and maintained by Lowertown residents. This idea would enhance our neighborhood by providing sustainable space for community activities and presenting art as well as adding much needed urban green space.

Submitted by: Michelle Tran, Minneapolis, MN
Michelle’s idea is to create a place where people can gain access to equipment, tools, and software that they might not otherwise be able to afford at an individual level. MakerSpace will serve as a place to both pass on traditional crafts and invent new ones. It will inspire young people and others in the community to play, explore, and develop future innovations or art that they can sell at the MakerSpace retail store.

Micro-Financing for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs
Submitted by: Traci Elder, Minneapolis, MN
Traci’s idea is to build a publicly funded micro-lending website service for St. Paul. The “StPaulSmallBizJuicer” website would provide micro loans to St. Paul residents looking to jump-start their entrepreneurial activities. The general public votes with their pocketbook as to which loans are granted.

Mind the Gap Strategy #4: The Art Train
Submitted by: Craig Blakely, Saint Paul, MN
Craig’s idea is to develop affordable new space in recycled commuter railroad cars on unused railroad spurs in the public right of way. Art Trains would become a visual reminder of the railroad origins of the West Midway industrial district, and help brand the entire district in the regional economic development marketplace.

Minnesota DNR Central Region Community Connections
Submitted by: Michele Hanson, Saint Paul, MN
Michele’s idea is to make strong connections between the urban and wild green spaces found right in the City of St Paul by providing experiences right in our neighbor’s backyard. This would create enthusiasm for children to broaden interest in natural resource conservation, pursue careers in the natural resource professions and serve as a stepping stone to greater participation in outdoor recreation.

Minnesota Public Library Gives Tickets to St. Paul Venues
Submitted by: Andrea Klosowski, North Branch, MN
Andrea’s idea is to provide experiences of our capital city to all children of Minnesota, revitalizing our capital city with visitors and tourism by utilizing the Public Library System as a way to distribute one-time tickets for events in St. Paul.

Mobile Neighborhood Farmer’s Market
Submitted by: Marsha Shotley, Saint Paul, MN
The impact of a mobile neighborhood farmers’ market would be fresh, nutritious food all year, breaking down barriers of cost and transportation and adding a distribution method for partners in the community. This would provide for a sustainable way to work with neighborhood partners in providing fresh produce to those in need across the City of St. Paul as a pilot to be duplicated in other communities. No more food deserts!

Mounds Park Native Cultures Center
Submitted by: Stephanie Harr, MN
Stephanie’s idea is to build a new cultural center in Indian Mounds Park that highlights the significant history and meaning within the ancient Indian Burial Mounds. It would be located to take advantage of the stunning river and skyline view while using creative building techniques to have a low-impact to the natural spaces in the park. The idea includes several flexible gathering spaces, both interior and exterior, to be a high-value destination, and to host pow-wows.

Passport to Professionalism
Submitted by: Lucas Havens, Minneapolis, MN
Lucas’ idea is to create a high-quality online credentialing system to recognize youth for skills and accomplishments that don’t necessarily show up in their GPAs, but will nonetheless help them in the workplace. The Passport to Professionalism would be an online portfolio that guides students along a personalized career path where they earn virtual “stamps” for their participation in jobs and skill building opportunities.

Peace Peddlers
Submitted by: Rick Risch, Minneapolis, MN
Rick’s idea is to find a local company to design and build very rugged, all-weather outdoor stationary exercise bikes to be installed at every St. Paul public elementary school playground. These bikes would be an alternative to a “time out” for rule-breakers on the play ground. The kids can blow off steam and excess energy before returning to the classroom.

Play Saint Paul
Submitted by: Tom Evers, Saint Paul, MN
Tom’s idea is Play Saint Paul which would invest $1 million into transforming recess across the city in every school and bring the joy of recess out into the neighborhoods where families can engage with their neighbors in their parks and community centers. It is through play that we learn about the world around us and the people in our community.

Oral histories of St. Paul Neighborhood Art Movement
Submitted by: Adam Gabriel Napoli-Rangel, Saint Paul, MN
Adam’s idea is to create art pieces in central, historic locations in St. Paul neighborhoods that collect and incorporate cross-generational and cross-cultural oral histories of communities and culture of the neighborhoods. The art would reflect the themes of the history as well include the written or recorded story or collected stories.

Saint Paul Center for Craft
Submitted by: Jack Ray, Minneapolis, MN
Jack’s idea is to create the Saint Paul Center for Craft. The idea centers around having a group of youth studios located in close proximity that offer opportunities for Saint Paul youth to learn and practice arts and crafts at a very high level. Associated with the Center would be a Youth Social Entrepreneur Incubator that would offer youth who are discovering excellence within themselves an opportunity to apply their newly discovered capabilities to social needs.

Saint Paul Family Folk School
Submitted by: Mary Morse Marti, Saint Paul, MN
Mary’s idea is to create The Saint Paul Family Folk School, a network of small learning centers within low-income city neighborhoods in which the essential achievement for all participants will be mastery of reading and writing, with a goal of reading by age seven. Beyond this, the curriculum will include a full variety of life and creative skills for learners of all ages, from practical parenting to cooking, woodworking, gardening, bicycle maintenance, basic home repair and much more.

Saint Paul Funicular Project
Submitted by: Benjamin Ransom, Saint Paul, MN
Benjamin’s idea is to create the Saint Paul Funicular, an urban Mississippi Bluff Railway project proposed to improve accessibility to downtown Saint Paul by connecting Cathedral Hill and the City Center with a unique cable car system. A funicular is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope.

St. Paul Great River Floating Museum
Submitted by: Jamie Parker, Minneapolis, MN
Jamie’s idea is to build a living, breathing testament to the Mississippi River: a world-class exhibition on a floating barge, docked at Upper Landing Park during the summer. Stories will be shared with sister cities along the River — St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans — on a regular annual schedule.

St. Paul Neighborhood Olympics
Submitted by: Amanda Duhon, Minneapolis, MN
Amanda’s idea is The St. Paul Neighborhood Olympics which would be a yearly gathering of residents from each of St. Paul’s 17 Districts. Hosted in a different district each year, the Neighborhood Olympics would offer a forum for individual neighborhoods to showcase their identity. There would be food, display tables with arts and crafts vendors, music and dance performances/competitions, and  sports/games competitions. Teams/individuals could receive medals for individual events and the overall winner would be crowned St. Paul Neighborhood of the Year.
Saint Paul Summer Night Markets
Submitted by: Herbert Chiou, Shoreview, MN
Herbert’s idea is to start an ongoing event in the evenings at the end of the week. This market would be a place where people could sell food, crafts, etc and there would also be a stage where local talent can sign up to perform for free. For any local aspiring entertainers (stand up comics, solo singers, garage bands, community bands, etc), this can be a good venue for them to perform in an informal setting and give them stage experience.

SwimSafe Saint Paul
Submitted by: Jane Hall, Saint Paul, MN
Jane’s idea is to use $1 million to create a program called SwimSafe Saint Paul that would provide free swimming lessons to Saint Paul kids in grades K – 12. The mission of SwimSafe Saint Paul would be two-fold: (1) teach all Saint Paul kids how to swim, so they can enjoy our state’s lakes and rivers safely (2) eliminate water-related accidents and drowning among Saint Paul youth.

Wabasha Capitol River Strip
Submitted by: Amy Hyatt-Blat, Saint Paul, MN
Amy’s idea is to transform Wabasha Street into the city’s cultural main street; a destination for eating, entertainment and creative multi-cultural engagement. The Wabasha Capitol River Strip would be a walkable, mile-long business and cultural district where visitors, workers and residents can experience all the delights of a downtown – from bistro dining to an upgraded 7th Place Farmers Market – intertwined with enchanting street performances.

Wind Over Wabasha
Submitted by: John Hink, Saint Paul, MN
John’s idea is to capture the renewable energies available at the Wabasha Bridge in downtown St Paul to indefinitely power the bridge lighting and other electrical systems. This system would use multiple independent, small hybrid power generation plants. These plants would combine aesthetically and visually pleasing vertical-axis wind turbines and photovoltaic modules to charge individual battery banks, which in turn power LED streetlights indefinitely.

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