BY STEPHANIE FOX
Open Streets is back after a pandemic pause. One of the most popular of these (usually) annual events is Open Streets East Lake, held this year on Aug. 13, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
This area of Minneapolis is recovering not only from COVID-19 but also from the rioting and looting following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Many of the small businesses there, a number of which are immigrant and minority-owned, are recovering and will welcome the returning crowds.
Motor vehicle traffic will be blocked on East Lake Street between 2nd and 22nd Avenues, but will be completely open to bikes, skates, skateboards and pedestrians, allowing people to explore their communities and meet their neighbors close up. A number of businesses, organizations, restaurants and services will have booths. There will be entertainment as well – music, dance and more.
Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association (MPNAI) will be there from 13th to 15th Avenues, with an information and activities booth, demonstrations by a Somali soccer team, and music.
Musical offerings will include the Brass Messengers, a Minneapolis street band playing music inspired by world melodies, including the music of Africa, the Caribbean and the Balkans. But they’ve been known to play whatever works to make an audience happy, including country, polkas and metal. They call their style the homegrown Minneapolis street sound, and that’s true!
Sarah Greer, a Twin Cities-based a cappella improvisational vocalist who lives in the neighborhood and who sings everything from jazz to classical, will also be on stage. She is passionate about everyone’s right to express themselves through song and often leads what she calls “songtaneous” sessions.
Little Earth Drum Group will be there, too, as well as a local mariachi band.
A number of food vendors will have street kitchens and the Sisters’ Camelot Fruit and Veggie Bus will be giving free fruit and vegetables to everyone who stops by.
Also look for booths by the Banyan Community, the Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Quatrefoil Library, Hope Academy, Midtown Greenway Coalition and the MPNAI info booth.
Love You Cookie was created to spread “Defiant Optimism,” a belief rooted in the idea that there are still really good things we enjoy and work for together, said manager Ken Treadway. “Our goal is to encourage people to defy odds and spread hope in their lives, families, and communities. We accomplish this by selling the best gourmet, handmade cookies you will ever eat.”
“More than that,” Treadway said, “our cookies are a vehicle to achieving our core mission: destigmatizing mental health issues and eliminating barriers to mental health and wellness resources, especially for members of BIPOC communities.”
At Open Streets, the Love You Cookie booth will be selling two types of their monster-sized cookies, a dark chocolate chip and cashew sprinkled with sea salt cookie and a sugar cookie that tastes like a birthday cake. What makes these cookies different, said Treadway, is that they are crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside.
In 2020, their chocolate chip cookie was featured in the Star Tribune in their “Best Thing We Ate This Week” column.
Love You Cookie company managers are Ken and Octavia Treadway along with CEO Sahr Brima, but the company’s creative inspiration and creator is master baker Sarah Brima. The Brimas teamed up with local companies and organizations to be part of their VIP (Very Important Cookie Program).They use this money to donate funds that support people who are part of minority communities. Each month they have a drawing and this month the winner will receive free mental health support sessions.
The Midtown Global Market and Cultural Wellness Hub will be offering a number of services for the asking, including COVID tests, vaccinations and blood pressure checks. Health professionals will be on hand to help with wellness assessments and a health knowledge game with prizes.
People can also join a Zumba class and for those who are thirsty, they will be offering people a chance to try a healthy infused water instead of opting for a high calorie soda.
The Midtown Global Market’s talent performances will be there, on stage:
DJ Dime, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Mexico Azteca – Ballet Folklorico
performance, 1:15 – 1:45 p.m.
Ecuadorian dance troupe,
2 – 2:45 p.m.
Ha Family lion dance and
percussion group, 3 – 3:15 p.m.
Salsa dancing, 3:30 – 4:45 p.m.
Kalpulli KetzalCoatlicue, a nonprofit Indigenous community dance troupe is made up of children and their parents. The youngest dancer is two years old and the oldest is almost 60.
“At Open Streets, we will have a tent and drums. When we dance, we help people understand our culture,” said director Susana De Leon.
The troupe has been a part of the culture of South Minneapolis for more than 25 years. De Leon is a lawyer by day, but she created Kalpulli KetzalCoatlicue to promote traditional Indigenous knowledge.
Dances are related to ideas such as being grateful, or feeling the energy of the sun on your skin. The dances are all about nature – our ancestors knew that nature is the divine, De Leon said.
The first dance will start at noon and a second set will begin at 1 p.m. Other dances will be presented at 3 p.m. and a last set at 4 p.m.
“When we aren’t dancing I want to have a Q-and-A and get to know our neighbors and get them to know us and what we do better,” said De Leon.
Regin Love Collections and FlyyBoyz Company are two clothing brands that will be at Open Streets, with Black Girls Matter and Black Boys Rock T-shirts for sale out of their booth. The company has been around for two years and makes specialty kids clothing, said owner Shanee O’Neal. They will be showing off and selling the T-shirt designs that she hopes will help spread self-esteem to young Black children. “I specialize in kids clothing only,” she said.
The shirts are made for kids as young as six months and for older kids as well. They say, in a casual script, “Black Girls Matter Because We Are Worth It” with a princess crown. “I need to reach all the little people,” O’Neal says. “My whole clothing line is fun. People should stop by with their kids.”
As of publication, the word on the (Lake) street is that Eastlake Craft Brewery (not for kids, but for those 21 and older) will be on hand also. Zen hip-hop artist Purple Queen, who uses hip-hop to spread light, love and positivity with good vibes and good music, will make an appearance as well. Registration for participants is still open through July 27, so check the Open Streets website and Facebook page for updates on even more fun things to see and do on Aug. 13 at Open Streets East Lake.