Dare I call us locals?
The new and exciting – Roller Derbys, Landmark Events, Museums, etc. – has been replaced with school, church, homework, swim lessons, and friends. Instead of feeling like newbies or explorers, we are just a family who happens to live downtown.
But even without fun extras like parades, ice skating, music festivals, cultural events, concerts, and sports – it’s the everyday people who live and work here that make downtown great.
In no particular order, our favorite people and places:
Will, the swim instructor, at downtown YMCA, in the skyway.
I’m putting my self interest aside to tell you how good he is. He’s systematic, experienced, kid’s love him.
You see, if only one person signs up, the class isn’t canceled. Because so few kids take swim lessons downtown, it has means private swim lessons for the price of group lessons. My 5 year old is learning the butterfly stroke. My 8 year old will probably pass their top level this year.
Jay Cascalenda, owner of Fit Body Boot Camp, in the skyway
Skyway Dad disappears in the mornings for an hour to workout with Jay and a loyal following of regulars. I wish he’d go to the YMCA with the rest of the family and save us money, but there is something about this place that makes the difference between actually doing the workout and wishing you’d done the workout.
Dr. Mike Madison at Chiroway in the skyway.
I’m not screwed together well, Dr. Mike sets me straight – literally. Even when I think I feel fine, after an adjustment I realize how cloudy my previous state was. For $50 a month I can go as often as I’d like. No appointments needed. It takes 5 minutes to be in and out.
The bonus is added family members are only $10 a month. My kids are growing up thinking it’s normal to have your back and neck professionally cracked on a regular basis.
Rev. David Colby, Central Presbyterian Church
A weekly dose of focusing on what is truly important sets me straight – spiritually. Rev. Colby is laid back and welcoming, challenging and loving. The whole church is like that, gracious, curious, humble. No dogma here. Everyone of every background is truly welcome and celebrated.
Bonus: The music is wonderful: from the choir, organist and a steady rotation of guest musicians.
Double Bonus: Families are plugging into a growing youth program. Best new example: 2nd Friday of every month the church hosts a “date night”. They watch the kids and parents go out. (It’s open to anyone by the way – not just members.) The kids love playing with each other outside of Sunday school. In fact, they have their own special club – the RTA Club. New kids are always initiated. We parents aren’t supposed to know about their inner workings and purpose. (So shhh! Top Secret. It’s the Running Through the Aisles Club and their sworn goal is to “annoy parents as much as possible”.)
Bill Hosko, Music Forest Cafe, Owner
I met Bill visiting Music Forest Cafe – a cozy, ski lodge like, artsy-fartsy, awesome little place on the corner of Jackson and 7th St. It’s a perplexing place. No booze for one. And two, the coffee, tea, homemade soup, sloppy joes, and other munchies are priced like a school bake sale fundraiser from the 80’s. A few quarters will actually buy you something really yummy. It’s like he’s created this space, and cooks every night, as a donation to the citizens of St. Paul. The goal is to be cooperatively run and open all the time. For now, it’s open Wednesday – Sunday evenings 4:30 to 9:00pm (or “whenever the music stops”).
He wants people to have an affordable space to strum a guitar, paint a picture, play a board game, and be with other people. An artistic haven. A second home. Something totally different than business as usual.
Here’s the kicker that got him on my favorite list. The food is 100% vegan and his cupcakes are delicious. He’s serving a Thanksgiving dinner for $7.50 on Thursday. We’ll be there.
Our Neighbors at The Pointe
The first day we moved in our neighbor across the hall said, “It’s incredible what you are doing, thanks for the tour…. Wait, you’re moving in today? Oh no. No. Honey, you can’t stay here. We are leaving for the weekend. Here are our keys. Stay at our place.” True Story. And we took them up on their offer. Our walls were built and we had a bathroom, but no carpet, no counters, no kitchen sink, no appliances – our stuff was a large pile in the middle of a dusty, construction zone. We will never forget their incredible trust and generosity.
For months we were loud and messy. We caused at least 2 water shut offs moving the location of our kitchen sink. Plus we were bringing in a relatively new type of resident – school age children. Still, we have been welcomed with open arms by all our neighbors.
The vibe is different in a majority owner-occupied condo association than in a corporate rental building. We had great neighbors at our rental too, but when you all know you’ll all be staying awhile, the investment in getting to know each other has longer dividends.
Our future music teacher:
My new year’s resolution for 2017 is to get the kids started on music lessons. We are exploring options at the Saint Paul Conservatory of Music, the School of Rock, and the St. Paul Guitar Studio, all located downtown and all with programs or lessons for kids.
Who are some of your favorite people that make downtown great?