Saturday, May 22, 2010

Energy Smart Homes

Saint Paul homeowners can now apply for zero-interest loans up to $6,500 for home energy efficiency improvements! Apartment owners can also get $200 rebates on energy star refrigerators. The application and eligibility info is available at:
Pre-applications must be postmarked by June 11.
For more details, see the news release below.

Saint Paul Launches "Energy Smart Homes"

May 19th, 2010

SAINT PAUL - Providing Saint Paul residents with the tools to lower energy consumption and cut costs, Mayor Chris Coleman unveiled the $550,000 Energy Smart Homes loan and rebate initiative today.

“By renovating their homes and replacing old appliances, our residents will save money and decrease energy usage in Saint Paul,” Mayor Chris Coleman said. “This is one more way we are improving building efficiency, lowering energy costs, and protecting our environment while solidifying Saint Paul as a national leader in environmental sustainability.”

Made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, Energy Smart Homes will provide funding for energy-saving improvements to houses and apartment buildings, thereby lowering monthly utility bills to residents, strengthening the City’s tax base, and reducing the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Energy Smart Homes will also create jobs, a key component of ARRA, by creating a need for contractors, including heating and insulation contractors.

Energy Smart Homes is a two-pronged initiative. $500,000 will be used to make no-interest loans up to $6,500 to homeowners to make energy-saving improvements to their homes. These funds will also leverage Xcel Energy rebates. Prior to making the improvements, each home will undergo a home energy audit to identify the greatest needs.

Eligible expenses may include furnace replacement, insulation and air sealing. “These are the most cost-effective improvements a homeowner can make,” said Chris Duffrin, Executive Director of Neighborhood Energy Connection, the sole provider of Xcel Energy Home Energy Audits in Saint Paul. He went on, “Before you install solar panels or even new windows, you want to be sure that you have an energy-efficient furnace, adequate insulation, and that air leaks in walls and around windows are sealed.”

Saint Paul homeowners of all incomes are eligible to apply, though incomes will affect the loan amounts and other initiative requirements.

“Cool Cash for Cold Clunkers” is the working title for the second component of the Energy Smart Homes initiative and consists of cash rebates for owners of apartment buildings in Saint Paul who replace old inefficient refrigerators in their rental units with new ENERGY STAR refrigerators.

ENERGY STAR, a joint initiative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, is committed to saving people money and protecting the environment through energy efficient products and practices. According to the ENERGY STAR web site (, as a result of recent improvements in insulation and compressors, today's refrigerators use much less energy than older models. In fact, replacing a refrigerator from the 1980’s with an ENERGY STAR refrigerator could save as much as $100 each year on utility bills.

Energy Smart Homes will provide up to ten $200 rebates to owners of apartment buildings. And while the building owner will benefit from the cash rebates, many tenants will realize the monthly savings resulting from lower utility bills.

It is anticipated that the demand for the no-interest loans and refrigerator rebates will exceed the funds available, so Mayor Coleman is asking interested individuals to submit a simple pre-application postmarked by June 11. Individuals will be randomly selected. Selected homeowners seeking funds for energy-saving improvements will be invited to complete a full application and selected apartment building owners seeking refrigerator rebates will be notified and informed of the process for receiving their rebates.

For details about the Energy Smart Homes loan and rebate initiative, including eligibility conditions and other requirements, go to or call 651-266-6655 for a pre-application.


The City of Saint Paul is also launching the Sustainable Saint Paul’s Energy Challenge Grants initiative. The initiative will give non-profit organizations, neighborhood and business associations the opportunity to receive Federal stimulus funds for projects that will assist Saint Paul residents and businesses in reducing their energy use and climate change impact.

Organizations must utilize the funds for projects that promote either the Neighborhood Energy Connection’s Home Energy Squads, Center for Energy and Environment’s One-Stop Efficiency Shop Program, the Minnesota Energy Challenge or other successful cost-effective energy efficiency and conservation programs.

Eligible applicants may request up to $5,000 for projects completed by June 30, 2011. Applications for the Energy Challenge Grants must be received by June 14, 2010.

For more information regarding the City of Saint Paul’s climate change efforts and to find an application, please visit the Sustainable Saint Paul website at: or call 651-266-8520.


Rebates for Solar Hot Water and Solar Hot Air Installations

If your concerned about reducing your carbon footprint, the biggest bang for your buck comes from conservation and efficiency. [Want to know more? Don't miss the Free Energy Efficiency Workshop, May 25th at Central High School] But let's say you've gone to the February Neighborhood Energy Workshop, you're already practicing those energy saving measures recommended, you've caulked your air leaks, upgraded your insulation, and installed high efficiency appliances. Then you may want to consider solar hot air and hot water. These are the most affordable and cost effective renewable energy technologies out there AND rebates on both are still available from the MN State Energy Office! More info is in the newsletter below (abbreviated for the blog).


Solar News
Minnesota Solar Electric Rebate Program update
The Minnesota Solar Electric Rebate for residences and small businesses has been fully reserved; waiting-list applications with a postmarked date of no later than May 28, 2010 will be accepted. Up to $2.5 million in ARRA-funded rebates is available for solar electric installations with rated capacities of 0.5 to 5 kilowatts. To access application materials, visit our Rebates & Credits section.

Solar electric installations reach record highs in 2009
A record number of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems were installed in Minnesota in 2009, according to the Minnesota Utility Solar Integration Rankings compiled by the Minnesota Department of Commerce's Office of Energy Security. The rankings found a record 72 new solar electric systems with a combined record capacity of 784 kilowatts (kW) were installed in 2009. The previous high was reached in 2007, with 56 installations at 286 kW. Read more in our recent news release.

Underwriters Laboratories offers new PV training program
A new program to train and certify installers of PV products and systems will be offered beginning in July 2010 through Underwriters Laboratories University. Learn more at the UL University website.

Minnesota Solar Hot Water and Solar Air Heat Rebates
Up to $500,000 in rebates is available for businesses and residences. Solar hot water rebates are available for residences and small businesses. Solar air heat rebates are available for residences and will be available soon for businesses. To access application materials, visit our Rebates & Credits section.

Training Opportunities:
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) maintains a list of registered training providers, which includes learning institutions in Minnesota. Beginner training opportunities are listed in the Entry Level section of the NABCEP website. Recertification training opportunities are listed in the Certification section of the NABCEP website.

The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) offers classes and workshops in solar hot water and PV design and installation. Courses are open to both members and non-members. View details in the Classes and Workshops section on the MRES website.

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) provides solar energy training courses held throughout the region for consumers, businesses, and installers. Courses are open to all on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the Course Workshops section of the MREA website to learn more and register for courses.

If you have questions or need more information, contact us at 800-657-3710 or

HMEG to be at Hamline Midway Spring Festival on Sunday May 23rd

Where to be this Sunday? Newell Park of course, for the Hamline Midway Spring Festival. Music and more. HEMG will have a tent set-up too which HMEGers are welcome to sit at. There will be info about composting, energy workshops, gardening and of course trees. Be sure to ask how YOU can help with the upcoming residential ash tree survey! Here is the details about the Spring Festival as provided by the Facebook event:

Hello All,

On Sunday, it will be hot. Please, bring water, some more water, and some extra water after that. If anything, bring a water bottle to continue to refill throughout the day at the fountain by the main building. The bathrooms and silent auction are also housed within the main building.

Here's the Schedule of Events as it stands now for the HMSF on Sunday, May 23rd.

Main stage will kick off at 12 noon with the amazing Brianna Lane. If you haven't done it yet, now is the time to get right with the Lane. Then around 1pm the modern psychedelic folk blues of Nikki and the Ruemates. This will be the Ruemates plugged in and packing a drummer. Now, at 2pm, we have our friends from Cleveland, the most attractive, post-graduate, folk-punk band there is, Heelsplitter. Yes, they are named after the fresh water mussel, that crippled so many of the early inhabitants of North America. Now, making his HMSF debut, the hardest working man in Eagle River, MN, Drew Peterson. Drew will be joined by HMSF veteran, Bradley Smith on bass. Acoustic, working man, soul from two true gentlemen. At 4pm, we have another HMSF debut, but he is a man who needs no introduction here in St. Paul, Pulitzer prize winning writer for the Pioneer Press, David Hanners. Who just this last March released an amazing new album, "The Traveler's Burden". A stunning set of songs, beautifully crafted by David and producer Ric Lee. Look at this hat trick, we have Dan Newton and his Cafe Accordion Orchestra making THEIR HMSF debut as well. Veterans of some of the Twin Cities' finest stages, Dan and his CAO, stand as one of the finest examples of the depth of talent that exists the Twin Cities. They will get rolling around 5:30. Then, to bring it all back home, we have Hamline-Midway's very own, LOUDRAY. The RAY will play a set on their own, before being joined by some friends from the day to jam out the festival, until we have to get to the after parties.

Just when you that that was way to cool to be true, we have a second stage as well.
The second stage line up looks something like this at this writing.
At 12:30 or so, we will have a special surprise guest making HIS HMSF debut. Then, at 1:30, those stalwarts of the HSMF, a band I am proud to say has grown into one of the most adventurous acoustic combos in the Twin Towns today, and they have been with the HMSF since Day One. My friends and yours, The Sans Souci Quartet. Following the SSQ at about 2:30pm, St. Paul's Bluegrass Juggernauts, Pocahontas County!!!! No stranger to the HMSF stage, PC wishes to welcome our new mandolin player, Eric Larson to the Festival fun. Now, this is why I love putting these shows together, the opportunity for creating rare, or one of a kind musical experiences. Here, again, veterans of the HMSF, Kim and Quillan Roe, leaders of the 331 club house band, the Roe Family Singers, will perform a rare duo set. This rare spectacle, which has become a HMSF tradition will begin a touch before 4pm. Capping off the second stage, a man who has deserved very little respect over his life, and who has gotten even less than that, another HMSF veteran, a Midway familiar, "Sneaky" Pete Bauer. "Sneaky" will be kicking out an extra long set of his trademark growl and groan starting at around 5pm.

Also happening at the second stage, Midway artist Lindsey Nyygard will be directing a live painting event featuring you!! That's right, we want a picture that was painted by the Hamline Midway Community and our friends. So make sure to swing over and have Lindsey get you a brush, and put your touch to the community canvas.

And, all of these musicians and more will be performing at the Turf Club (Univ. and Snelling) and the Dubliner Pub (Univ. and Vandalia) Sunday night, after the HMSF has wrapped up.

The wonderful folks down at the Midway YMCA are going to be out at the park as well. Here is a schedule of their day at Newell Park.

Midway YMCA Promotional Table:
1:00-4:00 (we will be there at 12:30 to set up) - We will have some face painting and carnival games (bean bag toss) happening at our table during the entirety of our time there. These, of course, are all free of charge.

Structured Youth Activities:
We will run three time blocks of structured games for kids in the field. We are targeting about a half hour for each. They all will be different activities, though I listed two as 'Field Games' - which will be comprised of most of tag-like games. That was the best thing I could think of to call them without confusing people about what would be happening.

Field Games at 1:30 - 2:00
Kickball at 2:30 - 3:00
Field Games at 3:30 - 4:00

Plenty more happening, over 45 items to bid on in the silent auction, all of them awesome. Art, fun, music, food, can't beat it!!!

I hear Zander is preparing his rib sauce now. Get ready, and remember to bring some WATER!!!

Be well,
Colin Anderson

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Snelling Avenue Planters to get colorful on Thursday morning

Are you available on Thursday morning? If so, come join the crew to get the Snelling Avenue planters filled with plants donated by Hamline University. Snelling Avenue businesses and neighbor volunteers annually tend the planters. Hamline also pays for a water truck from the city. SPARC supports the planting too by getting the word out to folks on the avenue. Its a team effort to get this small placemaking effort under way. Between the community mosaics (HMC, Mosaic on a Stick), and the colorful annuals, the award winning planters are a visible connection to the Hamline Midway neighborhood for us and the over 40,000 vehicles per day that pass them.

Consider helping on planting day! Bring gloves, any trowels, water containers and wagon/wheelbarrows you may have.

Snelling Ave. Planter Planting
Thu, May 20. 11:00 am
WhereHamline park

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seeking Midway "citizen scientists" to help count ash trees during the 2010 summer

The 2010 Hamline Midway Tree Planting and Ash Tree Inventory Program

This summer, the Hamline Midway Environmental Group Tree Team will be counting the number of residential ash trees to guide our 2010 tree planting program that will occur this fall. Volunteer surveyors are being solicited! Are you a person who may walk frequently in the neighborhood? Or, one who would like to engage their kids in a local eco-opportunity after school is out? Or are you a person who is interested in our urban forest/habitat? Or, would you like an “excuse” to go beyond your immediate block and explore a different part of the neighborhood? Then this could be a volunteer experience for you; neighbors become citizen scientists! Volunteer surveyors will be taught how to confidently identify ash trees and record their observations on a simple recording form. Residents of the Hamline Midway neighborhood, of all ages and experiences, are encouraged to participate! You can do this at your own pace and on your own schedule as long as we get the data by August 1.

We will be hosting two upcoming training sessions at the Hamline Midway Coalition Building (Snelling and LaFond) for volunteers (of all ages) on:

  • Tuesday June 1 – 6:30-8:30 and
  • Saturday June 5 – 9:00-11:00

With the center of the Emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation so close to the Midway neighborhood, now is the time to consider the impact of losing our ash trees and do something about it! The information we collect will help target future tree plantings in our neighborhood.

Residents who are interested in volunteering with other neighbors for the ash tree inventory are encouraged to contact the Tree Team at or call Tanner at (651) 917-1248.

Look for more info on this project and tree care at the HMEG table at the Hamline Midway Spring Festival on May 23rd from 12:00-5:00 in Newell Park!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Clothesline Poem for welcoming a sunny day by Gene

It has been a long week of (needed) rain, but today the sun is back. To honor the big ball in the sky, a poem offered by Gene, our Frogtown friend who steps lightly on this earth. Especially when she is hanging her laundry. Thanks Gene for this inspiration.

Clothesline Poem from St. Paul
The old wicker basket
sits at my feet
on the green, green grass.
My back's to the sun.
In their turns,
each garment in the wind,
clip it to the line;
all will be smooth and dry in an hour when,
each in their turn,
in a slow steady rhythm,
I’ll unclip them
and fold them
and drop them
in the old wicker basket
on the green, green grass,
just like my mother used to do,
and hers before her
and hers before her
and hers before her . . .

G Marault

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dirt cheap and easy: Green Cleaners

I just finished a batch of home made cleaners. Alice's Wonder Spray is commonly known. I find that this recipe really can take care of most every day wipe-ups. Further it is cheap, pennies a bottle. Making your own cleaner is another small way to take control of your sustainability. Proctor & Gamble just is not always needed.

This type of mix-your-own cleaner is quite easily mixed up by kids. My 8 year old is our chief-cleaner-maker. The Mighty Midway 4H group made Alice's Wonder Spry as a event in Midway neighborhood. I once even helped a whole preschool make some -with lots of helpers (The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization MWMO sponsored these events). Having different scents available makes the mixing task fun! Lemon, and cedar are very nice.

MWMO wants to folks to try Wonder Spray because its safer for us and safer for our surface waters (i.e. the Mississippi River). Plus, it works!

Here is the basic Wonder Spray recipe:


2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon borax
1 1/2 cups very warm water
1T liquid dish soap
3-15 drops essential oils (optional)


Fill bottle with the warm water. Add the the vinegar and borax in a 16oz spray bottle,
and shake to dissolve the vinegar and borax. Add soap LAST and then scent with essential oil if desired.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day (5/9) at Horton Park

Please join us on Mother's Day (5/9) at Horton Park for some native wildflower gardening. The gardens look terrific following our early April cleanup, but the weeds are now gaining due to the unseasonably warm weather. We would love to have your help in rooting them out and helping the natives to flourish. We'll have treats to share and will be happy to teach you to identify the native plants. As always, bring your favorite gardening tools (some provided too), and join your neighbors for as little time or as much as you would like! We will be there from noon to 2:00 pm.

The garden's email list can be found here: and garden dates are posted on the HMEG calendar

Monday, May 3, 2010

Make an impact alongside the Hamline Thomas community gardeners: May volunteers needed

The garden at the Super USA on Hamline and Thomas is trying something a little different this year - instead of a big planting extravaganza, we've chosen three spring dates to meet in the garden for shorter time periods to add plants and seeds as they become available. Here are the dates and times:
  • Wednesday, April 28th, 5:30 pm
  • Wednesday, May 12th, 5:30 pm
  • Thursday, May 27th, 5:30 pm
The garden has more and more perennials returning each year, including the bulbs planted by Peter last year, so we won't need to add as many plants. However, let us know if you have some divisions from your garden that are compatible with the full sun and the warm color scheme of red, yellow, orange with some white.
These dates are added to the HMEG calendar. We hope you can attend and lend a hand. This corner was transformed a few years ago through the hard work of community members and volunteers continue to be important to retain the positive impacts of the place-making achievements. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact me. Thanks, and hope to see you in the garden!
Hannah Texler
hortonpark at gmail dot com

Ramsey County Master Gardeners supporting Midway and Frogtown neighborhoods

This is a moment to shout out to Ramsey County Master Gardeners (RCMG) in the Midway. So many Midway and Frogtown garden projects are nicely highlighted in the RCMG year end report from 2009. I particularly want to shine a light on Diane's work. She is successfully working hard within this organization to bring in intern Master Gardeners from diverse backgrounds. She also takes her Master Gardening service time to our urban neighborhoods, augmenting community efforts in growing their own food. She would want you to check out another organization she works for called "Growing Food and Justice for All".

Here is that Master Gardener 2009 report (pdf). In it you will find summaries of Hamline Midway and Frogtown community garden projects including Aurora-St. Anthony Peace Garden, Horton Park Community Garden, Snelling Avenue Planter Project, Frogtown Gardeners, Frogtown Orchard Project. Also supported and not mentioned are projects at Galtier Elementary, Hamline High Rise, LEAP Academy, HUMC Rain Gardens, and Midway Green Spirit Garden.

Master Gardeners are a well used resource in our St. Paul neighborhoods. Many thanks to their members!