Open Streets Franklin Avenue: Fun, Community, & Food

Bicycling down Franklin Ave. E. unhindered by traffic was one of the things I’d been looking forward to this summer (that, and the State Fair), and I wasn’t disappointed. With streets blocked off from Portland to 28th, myself and other bicyclists had plenty of room to enjoy this once a year opportunity to bicycle anywhere on the street, in any direction.

The rain stayed away for most of the day, so there was plenty of time to cruise around at a leisurely pace and talk to the some of the entertainers, entrepreneurs, faith organizations and community programs that provided activities, information and snacks. If you weren’t able to make it, read on to find out what you missed, and why you should probably go next year.


Music & Friendship

Ginger & friends

This event was a great excuse to meet old friends and make new ones - something that's almost impossible to do in a car. Ginger Bowman and friends were good enough to pose for a photo. From left to right, they are: Lenore Schultz, David Gagne, Lauri Krouse, Ginger's mom Grace Bowman, Ginger Bowman (dog), and dad Paul Bowman.


At the east end of the Avenue, D.J. Sophia Eris (right) provided the soundtrack to the event, throwing down 80's hip-hop classics in-between performances by local artists. 

Rappers - Glo MechanicsDJ Sophia Eris

Rappers Glo Mechanics (left) were one of a number artists who entertained the crowds throughout the day. 


Bicycle Advocacy

Maximizing this opportunity to educate and empower the local bicycle community, MSP Bicycle coalition volunteers and staff were out in full force advocating for safer bicycling on Franklin Avenue.

Said team lead, Cameron Conway: "Bike Lanes on Franklin, as well as a four to three conversion would create a much safer place to bike on [what is probably] one of the most travelled streets in Minneapolis.

Right now, we are reaching out to the community, and helping make the bicycle voice heard.

Basically, in our city government, the voice of motorists is very well heard on all aspects of transportation planning, but what sometimes doesn’t enter the equation is the unspoken voices of bicyclists.

Our city, every single summer, grows with more bicyclists, and more bicyclists whose political will is not actually being felt truly, and so what we are trying to do is take every cyclist that comes through here [Franklin Ave], help them become a voter, help them become someone who represents their presence on the street, and having them contact their elected officials to say so.

So, right now we’re having them fill out postcards to say that they support this initiative to put bike lanes on Franklin.

They fill them out, and we’ll send these off to their elected officials depending on their address."

Photographed below are Nick Ray, Geoff Kemp, Aaron Eddy, and Cameron Conway.

Better Bicycling on Franklin


Minneapolis's First Bicycle-Based Gelato Business

Genos Gelatos

Brian Gioielli (owner and bike rider for Geno’s Gelato) with customer Rick Ledford of Brooklyn Park .

Said Brian Gioielli: "This is our first summer out on the streets. We went through the licensing process over the winter, working closely with the City Council to update some ordinances that would allow for a business like Geno’s to exist. Lyndale Open Streets in early June was our first day out on the streets, and it’s been a great summer since then.

Geno’s has a few main stay flavors, and we mix it up sometimes with some special ones. Our mainstay flavors are Strawberry Champagne, Vanilla with a salted caramel swirl and Nutella and Espresso Chocolate Chunk. Right now, we also have a couple flavors made with beer from Dangerous Mandarin Company and then we have Mango Mint Italian ice and Lemon Italian ice. Otherwise, we're adding new flavors all the time, and we also do Cannoli for special events and things like that."


Food With a Purpose

There was no shortage of more traditional food vendors.  Cafes and coffee shops on Franklin were open for business, food huts were set up selling freshly made roasted corn, oven-baked pizza-style, tacos, etc.  Some of these businesses had a deeper purpose - a committment to growing a healthier community and changing people's relationships to food. 

Quinoa Salad

Executive Chef, Austin Bartold and his colleague Andrea Mitchell of Pillsbury United Communities prepared and served free samples of a delicious quinoa salad courtesy of Vida Sana.

Said Austin Bartold: "We are making a quinoa salad, by mixing red quinoa, kale, onions, cucumbers and a ginger sesame oil vinaigrette. We are a non-profit organization at Waite House on 24th and 13th, and we cook free meals for the community, Monday through Friday from 11am to 6:30pm. They get a healthy entree, salad and a desert."

Find out more about Waite House and Pillsbury United Communities at

Chef Jeff with Ryan Kittleson

Chefs Jeffrey Riley & Ryan Kittelson prepared and sold three-course grab-and-go mini lunches.

Said Jeffrey Riley: "Our business, Chef Jeff, is built on mentoring and community involvement, so we partner with community organizations to help young people get skills and jobs for the next step of their lives."

Find out more about what Chef Jeff is doing to help young people in the local community at

Stones Throw Urban Farm

Caroline Devany of Stones Throw Urban Farm

Said Caroline Devany: "We are a non-contiguous urban farm based on 14 different lots in the Phillips neighborhood, and South Minneapolis, and Frogtown in Saint Paul. About 2.5 acres, total.

We are interested in reshaping people’s perceptions of agriculture and the city together. We’re interested in a relationship that the city might have with the farm. We’re a production agriculture project, so we’re sustained through vegetable sales, and we’re excited to be out here in Open Streets today."

Find out more about Stones Throw Urban Farm at:


The Land Stewardship Project Dylan Bradford Kesti, Urban Food Organizer, Land Stewardship Project

SaidDylan Kesti: "The Land Stewardship Project works with the HOPE Community and the Phillips Community in South Minneapolis to increase access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food."

Find out more about the Land Stewardship Project at:


Pro-Bicycle Businesses

Cycles for Change - Frogtown, Saint Paul Jason Tanzman (bike mechanic) and Bill Dooley (in the background)ofCycles for Change.

Said Bill Dooley: "Cycles for Change is a non-profit bicycle advocacy and educational organization.

We do:

* Bicycle advocacy.

* Loan bikes to low income individuals each summer.

* Teach adults how to ride a bike.

* Teach folks how to ride in traffic.

* A ‘hold a bike’ program where you can fix up a bike and keep it for yourself.

* A shop program where you can bring your bike in and you can work on it with supervision from our mechanics.

We’re located in the Frogtown neighborhood in Saint Paul.

The light rail train runs right in front of our shop so if you live in Minneapolis, if you can get to downtown Minneapolis, you can get to the train and you can get to our shop very easily. If you live in Saint Paul, you can bike over or get the train as well, and so that’s kind of what we do."


Moon Palace Books JamieSchwesnedl of Moon Palace Books brought his stock to the event using his bicycle.

Said JamieSchwesnedl: "We are a bookstore in the LongFellow neighborhood. Selling new and used books. Fiction and non-fiction. We like to be a general interest, neighborhood type of bookstore, and we really love coming out to Open Streets, Farmer’s market type of events just to support this kind of event, but also because we love being outside, and I’ve hauled all of this stuff here on my bike trailer today, so we’re definitely into biking and we like doing this kind of stuff."


Building Community

Many of the organizations that help make the neighborhoods around Franklin Avenue a great place to live for people of all backgrounds and economic situations were also out supporting the community.  I spoke to some of them.

Project for Pride and Living art exhibit

The Art PPL (Project for Pride in Living) Community Exhibit

Said John Cornell, human resources specialist at Project for Pride in Living, and resident of the Franklin corridor: " We have cardboard boxes painted as buildings, and shops.

What we’re doing is inviting people to arrange and create our community, and raising questions like: Do all of the houses have equitable access to services? What are some services that are missing? Are there enough bike lanes? Are they big enough?

Getting people to really address the big questions of urban development. Kind of what PPL does, and partnering with the neighborhood in on that, so it’s been great."

Find out more about Project for Pride in Living at:


HOPE Community Sound & Power Project HOPE Community created a number of interesting exhibits.

Photographed are staff members: Matt, ShaVunda Horsley, John Bueche, Farrington Starns, Jake, Irna Landrum, Fen Jeffries and Mankwe Nvosi (on the performance platform).

Said Mankwe Nvosi: "HOPE Community is a community development organization that develops housing and relationships amongst people in the community, specifically in Phillips. This [exhibit] is Games of Sound and Power - a collaboration of different groups that do creative organizing at HOPE Community including the community organizing program SPEAK, Not Bad Rap and the Soundtrack of Phillips which is learning about the sounds and songs that Phillips is listening to and is making."

Find out more about HOPE Community at:

Straitgate Church Members

Betsy Medford, Madeline LaBarr, Jeremiah Watson and Dan Medford of Straitgate Church

Located at 638 E. Franklin Ave., Straitgate Church is a 130 year old church with a congregation committed to the historic Christian message: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Find out more about Straitgate Church at:

Adam, Jamila and Ajacyi

Adam Hasamudin, Jamila Thomas and Ajacyi Thomas (8)

Jamila Thomas said, “I have been bringing Ajacyi out to help out here since she was 5. I want her to have a good foundation in that.

We're representing Community Action Minneapolis, and talking about our children and family development department. Everybody knows Community Action for utility assistance, but we also have a lot of other programs to offer to families, residents and individuals, and we want people to know about our services, and how we can be of help in our community. We’re right here on Franklin, right off 2104 Park." 

Zumba instructor, Marie Carmen (not photographed) offered free Zumba classes courtesy of Vida Sana.

Said Marie Carmen: "Vida Sana which is a program that invites people to eat healthy and do more exercise."

Offered through a collaboration between Health Partners and Children's Hospital, Vida Sana is a program that works to promote a healthy lifestyle in the community. Zumba classes on Wednesdays and Fridays, free of charge.

The program also offers nutrition classes for the whole family.


Free Health Checks

Nurses Shirlynn M. LaChapelle and Jade Siromawski-Schvenke provided free health checks.

Said Nurse LaChapelle: "This initiative is funded by a coalition including the south side’s clinic Q' Community Health van and other local health organizations to help to improve the health of the community.

There are many people out here who don’t have healthcare, or who have healthcare and don’t have access to the healthcare system. So usually, we often find one or two people that need to be referred to a hospital or urgent care when we’re doing these screenings (blood pressure, etc.).

We’re just out here trying to help the community."

You can find out more about MNBNA (Minnesota Black Nurses Association) at


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