The signature red door officially opens in Minnetonka later today.

Image courtesy of Gilda’s Club Twin Cities

Anyone who’s either battled cancer or watched a loved one fight the battle is probably familiar with Gilda’s Club, named in memory of comedian Gilda Radner, who died from ovarian cancer in 1989. The clubs are gathering places where people living with cancer can come for social and emotional support. It’s not a clinic, nor a medical facility, but a comfortable home, with a drop-in kitchen, living room, library, yoga studio, space for kids and more. A ribbon cutting and open house for the new Twin Cities clubhouse is today:

When
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Open House
5:30 p.m. Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Where
Gilda’s Club Twin Cities
10560 Wayzata Blvd.
Minnetonka, MN 55305

I was invited to a fundraising breakfast for Gilda’s Club Twin Cities nearly a year ago by a former colleague who’s been fighting cancer for years, and who delivered a beautiful and emotional speech about her experience. Unfortunately, her story is far too common – 25,000+ Minnesotans are diagnosed with cancer each year.

You can find a story about Gilda’s Club on our partner KARE 11.

Special trees that are described as being integral to the surrounding environment and community in St. Paul will be inducted into the Landmark Tree Program.

The city Tree Advisory Panel is asking for nominations for new trees to be given “landmark” status.  There are currently 27 trees recognized annually through the program, out of the city’s half million trees, according to a city statement.

To have a spring tree recognized, submit your nomination form by June 15 along with at least one photo of the entire tree. Nominations for other trees during the summer and fall seasons will be accepted until Nov. 1.

The Tree Advisory Panel privately selects landmark trees in November and publicly reveals those selected at the Blooming Saint Paul Awards in January.

Lori Hamilton, a St. Paul resident who lives in the Saint Anthony Park neighborhood nominated a tree that won in 2012. It was a massive bur oak in nearby College Park. “It is such a special tree for so many families in the neighborhood,” Hamilton said in a city statement. “Its shape, it creates the geography of the place. Preschool children run around it. Junior high kids sit under it after sledding.”

Forms are at www.stpaul.gov/forestry, and can be emailed to forestry@ci.stpaul.mn.us. Nomination forms are also available in person at the St. Paul Forestry office, at 1100 Hamline Ave. N.

 

The proposed ban on plastic foam containers in Minneapolis restaurants may give some residents a sense of déjà vu.

A handmade sign greets visitors to Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson’s office. He’s pushing for the city to ban expanded polystyrene containers, commonly referred to as Styrofoam. Curtis Gilbert / MPR News

It’s something the city first tried to do 25 years ago. In fact, the law is still on the books, and there’s a nearly identical ordinance in St. Paul. The prohibitions just haven’t been enforced.

“This is a redo, a retake, if you will,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson, who is sponsoring the new proposed ban.

More than 100 U.S. cities now ban food containers made from expanded polystyrene, commonly referred to by the brand name Styrofoam. But when Minneapolis and St. Paul attempted to ban virtually all plastic food packaging in 1989, such measures were unprecedented.

The Twin Cities made national news, spawning stories in the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among others.

In those days, plastic recycling programs were rare, and the city ordinance banned all food packaging that couldn’t be recycled or returned to the vendor. It was an ambitious measure, but it turned out to be mostly symbolic.

“I don’t think the expectation was that only in Minneapolis and St. Paul would certain products — that were wrapped in plastic every place else — have a different distribution method,” said former City Council Member Steve Cramer. “It was a statement of concern.”

Cramer says the ordinance started a conversation about plastic waste and spurred the city to start recycling some plastic items.

The new proposed ordinance is more narrowly tailored, because it only targets restaurant food, as opposed to pre-packaged items produced outside the city. It also singles out expanded polystyrene, which is now one of the only types of plastic the city still doesn’t recycle.