BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
We have discovered some interesting goods and services on Chicago Avenue around the 48th Street commercial hub. In general, things are pretty stable around this location, with its prosperous but not flashy real estate, great schools, and strong neighborhood organizations and business owners’ association. The retail mix includes a movie theatre turned multimedia venue, several good casual restaurants and pubs, a coffee house, various retail shops, and absolutely bags of alternative wellness practices and psychotherapists, along with the odd life coach and a lawyer or two. Nothing much is happening with the restaurants and such; they just keep ticking along for the most part. So, we’re looking at some healing organizations and one new and interesting retail business which could also be said to have a therapeutic or at least self-improvement aspect.
We did a quick site visit of the corner last week to check out the state of things. We started our exploration with a nice lunch at the coffee shop Sovereign Grounds. They have excellent food there (we had a spinach pie and some roasted balsamic brussels sprouts) and it may be the most kid friendly coffee shop in town, with an entire room dedicated to an indoor playground where moms with young children can (semi-) relax on their own with their kids. After lunch, we decided to try to see just how many alternative wellness places there were in a four-square-block area. Reader, we lost count. First, across 48th Street from the coffee shop, there is a group of many healing practices in a little building detached from the Shenandoah Building called the Shenandoah Wellness Center. It has perhaps a dozen or more practices housed part-time within, about a third psychotherapy, a third massage, a third “other.” Then on the upstairs level of the Shenandoah Building proper, there are 10 or more private practices of various kinds. On the west side of Chicago between 48th and 49th is a building called Chicago Plaza Suites, which houses about a dozen more various practices, including the Family Enhancement Center, about which more below. And finally, on the same side of Chicago but in the next block north, after Turtle Bread, and the pizza, and the ice cream, is yet another suite of professional offices, this one called the Parkway Office Building, with more massage, alternative healing and psychotherapy. So, with four suites of professional offices, each housing 10 or more practices of which perhaps a third or more are massage therapy, there may be as many as 20 bodywork therapists to choose from on one very busy corner. America! So much choice we have!
Shenandoah Wellness Center is apparently a collective. Individual practices advertise their own services, but the building as a whole is a member of the SCABA, the South Chicago Avenue Business Association. The SCABA site’s description of the building and its history is interesting: “Originally constructed as an automotive service station, the … Shenandoah Wellness Center long served as a gun shop! Now, the far more peaceful location houses holistic health practitioners who provide services in bodywork and massage therapy, counseling, music therapy, rolfing, homeopathy and more to residents in the thriving neighborhood near 48th and Chicago and its surrounding communities in South Minneapolis.” One of the practices located in the wellness center is called Functional Wellness Minneapolis. Note: Shenandoah Wellness had a social media presence a couple of years ago but their Facebook page as well as their website appears out of date, so perhaps they have decided to return to more traditional means of reaching potential clients. If you’re looking for other therapists besides the one mentioned here, I would recommend you check the door and contact them individually by phone. But beware, some of the practitioners may no longer be at the location, although hopefully the phone number is still good.
Unlike the parent collective, though, Functional Wellness Minneapolis, or Sandy Jones, the sole healing practitioner, has an excellent, function-rich website where you can learn all about her practice and even book an appointment. To be precise, Sandra L. Jones, CCH RSHom (NA) is certified in classical homeopathy. (RSHom (NA) means registered by the North American Society of Homeopaths, and CCH means certified by the Council for Homeopathic Certifications) and also practices rolfing, cranio-sacral therapy, and functional medicine, a kind of evidence-based individualized nutritional counseling. She primarily treats chronic pain, and other chronic but treatable illnesses both psychological and physiological. She enables people who are currently using prescription drugs for their conditions, but are getting more side effects and/or fewer benefits, to use a science-based, practitioner-assisted path to reducing or eliminating medications, replacing them with an individualized eating plan and natural supplements along with bodywork and other counseling as needed. Sandy also has a newsletter you can sign up for if you want regular updates. See functionalwellnessminneapolis.com.
Family Enhancement Center, the main occupant of Chicago Plaza Suites at 4826 Chicago Ave., is more than just a psychotherapy practice. It’s a private nonprofit social service provider focusing on children who have experienced or are at risk for abuse or neglect. From their website: “The Family Enhancement Center was founded in 1993 … [by] three passionate therapists who identified a need in our community to help our most vulnerable members: children experiencing abuse and neglect … Since 1993, the FEC has expanded its services and we now offer parent education support programs, a full range of counseling services, parent assessments, and in-home parent development services. … The Family Enhancement Center currently provides help to over 200 families and over 600 children dealing with abuse issues in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the greater Twin Cities area. Our prevention education programs and workshops reach even more parents and professionals. We’re a small organization but our reach is wide!” One of the founding therapists now serves as the executive director, and one is retired from practice and serves on the Board of Directors.
The FEC is looking for volunteers if you’re interested in contributing to their important mission and have the time. One of the volunteer opportunities involves training to learn how to work with the client populations, one is a role for someone with some experience, and one is a receptionist post which requires only basic office skills. The one that involves training is working with a program called the Nest Project, which is a prevention program centered in the home. Nest Project Family Mentors after training are assigned a single family, and meet with them in their home weekly to provide mentoring to both parents and children. To check out these volunteer opportunities, go to the website at familyenhancementcenter.org/category/volunteer/.
Finally, to get back into the world of quirky Minnesota retail establishments, we recently discovered Lakes Makerie, located at 5255 Chicago Ave. I say discovered, but not being a seamstress, nor even having aspirations to become one, I have not actually patronized the place, just longingly admired its stuff from online. (Slight digression here—why is there not a neutral or masculine word for seamstress? And why only a masculine term for giving someone your custom? Why can’t a seamster patronize a fabric shop, while a seamstress matronizes it?) Lakes Makerie is a very innovative business. When I lived in the U.K., in a little town called Hinckley, I was delighted when a sewing cafe opened up on Castle Street, our “high street” or main street as we would say here. This combined sewing meetups, clinics and classes with a coffee shop. But Lakes Makerie is perhaps even better than that; they combine the same social-educational functions with their logical partner, a fabric and notions store. And it’s all got a marvelous designer-y esthetic to it, as if an Etsy page and a Pinterest page fell in love and became real girls. Also, you don’t have to worry about spilling coffee on your latest sewing project, of course.
Lakes Makerie sells gorgeous designer fabrics, patterns and miscellaneous notions and fabric crafting items. It looks like the idea somewhat pre-dates the current location’s shop, but they have been there since fall of 2018, a bit less than a year. They offer classes and a twice monthly “open sewing studio.” There is a blog on the website called Minneapolis Sew and Tell. As they say about their concept: “We are an online and real life source for beautiful materials to make beautiful things. We have built a maker’s space that is nurturing, supportive and fun. We want you to come to us when you need to slow down, unplug and focus on creating something you love, with a needle and thread and your own two hands.” Check out their “project gallery” on their website at lakesmakerie.com/pages/project-gallery. Also check their Facebook page for frequent postings.