Rob Hardy's blog

Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

Note: July 2 marks the 150th anniversary of the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, which was marked by the charge of the 1st Minnesota Regiment down Cemetery Ridge. The Northfield Historical Society will be hosting a talk on the Gettysburg Campaign on Thursday, July 11, at 6:00 pm, at the historical society museum. Meanwhile, it's possible to make a short trip from Northfield, to Cannon Falls, to visit the grave of one of the heroes of the 1st Minnesota. The cemetery is across from Cannon Falls High School on Highway 19, east of Cannon Falls.

On July 2, in the heat of the Battle of Gettysburg, Union general Winfield Scott Hancock realized that there was a dangerous weakness near the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. He needed time—five minutes—to shift reinforcements into position to meet the oncoming brigade of 1,600 Alabamans, so he ordered the 262 men of the 1st Minnesota Regiment to charge. The Minnesotans bought Hancock the time he needed, but only 47 men survived the attack. One of the survivors was the six foot five inch officer who led the charge, Col. William Colvill.

Pebbles in Her Shoe: Introducing Filmmaker Cecilia Cornejo


On Thursday, November 1, members of the Northfield community will have an opportunity to view two non-fiction films by local filmmaker Cecilia Cornejo at the Weitz Center for Creativity Cinema. The films will be preceeded by an introduction by noted filmmaker and scholar Daniel Eisenberg (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), and each will be followed by a question and answer session with the filmmaker. The program runs from 6 to 8 p.m.

Cecilia Cornejo was born in Chile. In her early youth, she saw her homeland descend into the brutal dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew the democratically-elected President Salvador Allende in the coup d’étât of September 1973. That coup, and the tragic events of another September twenty-eight years later, form the historical background of her film I wonder what you will remember of September (2004).

The film is about...

Northfield's Newest Public Art: "Tree of Knowledge and Delight"

Tree of Knowledge and Delight.jpg

On Wednesday morning, a city crew supervised by T.J. Heinricy and sculptor Mac Gimse was installing Northfield's newest public sculpture, "Tree of Knowledge and Delight" on the Northfield Public Library plaza on the corner of Third and Division Street. The sculpture was a collaboration between Gimse, an ameritus professor of art at St. Olaf College, art students at Northfield High School. The project was funded by the Northfield Arts & Culture Commission and a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC). High school art teacher Christie Clarke wrote the successful grant.

Student artist Seth Hanson was on hand for the installation. He says that the sclupture will remain in the plaza for a year, after which it will be moved to the grounds of the high school. The hope is that further grants will result in new student sculptures on the library plaza in the following years.

According to Gimse: "The Tree of Knowledge and Delight... [is] a triumph of youthful exuberance! As an optional, non-credit, extra-curricular project, all the students gave it time they did not have, and work and thought beyond their reckoning. Together with welding by Kris and Scott Swanson, Jane Meyer's bronze casting, timbers and bamboo, and Rick Swearer's willingness to work with everyone, it sprang to life at NHS Gate #13....”

Local Issue: Safety Center

On June 5, 2012, the City Council approved $7.28 million in lease revenue funding to finance the building of a new safety center.  The project includes purchase of land at 1601 Riverview Dr. (behind Perkins Restaurant), construction of a police facility and fire department administrative offices, and upgrades to the current fire facility. The fire equipment would remain in the current facility.  This marked an important (and contentious) milestone in a long process.

NEW (6/26/12): Statement from the City of Northfield regarding funding of the new safety center.

What's next: According to Northfield Finance Director Kathleen McBride, a plan will be developed in the next 4-6 weeks (by the end of July 2012), with purchase of the land in August or September.

Kickstarting a Career in Filmmaking: Sam Dunnewold and Kaitlin Randolph


Kaitlin Randolph was writing stories before she started kindergarten in northern Wisconsin. Sam Dunnewold started making films as a seventh grader at Northfield Middle School. Sam was also a member of the last class of Northfield eighth graders to go through their entire middle school career in the building which is now the Weitz Center for Creativity.

Both Kaitlin and Sam ended up at Carleton College, where they majored in Cinema and Media Studies (CAMS). Now the two young filmmakers are preparing to graduate from college and embark on the next stage of their careers: making their first feature-length film.

With several other partners, they’ve created a production company, Lucid Films LLC, and have created a Kickstarter account with the goal of raising at least $5,000 before June 24, 2012.

Help Kickstart a Local Filmmaker's First Feature-Length Film

Have you ever dreamed of making a movie? Here’s your chance to help an up-and-coming local filmmaker finance his first feature-length film. Sam Dunnewold, a 2008 graduate of Northfield High School and 2012 graduate of Carleton College, has a script, a cast, production crew, and locations. Now he needs the support of his community. He and his creative partners have set up a Kickstarter page to attract investors to the project.  But Sam makes the pitch better than I can. Click the image below to view Sam's video for potential investors:

First Sidewalk Poems Installed

Crews were out this morning (Wednesday, May 16) installing the first of Northfield's sidewalk poems in the vicinity of the Northfield Public Library. The poems are winners of the first Sidewalk Public Poetry Contest in 2011, which was sponsored by the Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library and the Northfield Arts and Culture Commission. As of noon, two of the poems had been installed, one on the Third Street side of the library (pictured, right), and one on the Division Street side. Places have been prepared for two more poems, another in front of the library, and one across the street in front of the Archer House. According to a member of the Arts and Culture Commission, downtown business owners have been enthusiastic about having the poems in front of their businesses.

For more good photographs of the installation, see the story on Northfield Patch.

Pick of the Week: "Our Treasures" at Carleton's Perlman Teaching Museum


This is Northfield’s last week to enjoy a spectacular visiting exhibit of American art at the Perlman Teaching Museum in Carleton College’s Weitz Center for Creativity. The exhibit is “Our Treasures: Highlights from the Minnesota Museum of American Art,” and it ends on Tuesday, May 8. The exhibit includes thirty works by well-known American artists like Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, Romare Bearden, Christo, and Paul Manship. Among the highlights are three spectacular bronze sculptures by Manship (1885-1966), the St. Paul sculptor best known for this sculpture Prometheus, which forms the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center in New York City.

The Oresteia in Northfield: Carleton to Stage Local Poet's Adaptation of Greek Tragedy

Orestes (Josh Davids) and Clytemnestra (Chelsea Lau)Standing in front of Bob Gregory-Bjorklund’s theater class at ARTech, I asked the students what they enjoyed most about being involved in theater. Half a dozen hands shot up. I called on a boy in the back row.

“I like how everyone works together,” he said.

The other students agreed: the best thing about being involved in theater is the sense of community it creates.

Skatepark Update: Park Board Recommends Riverside Park for Temporary Skatepark


At their meeting on Thursday evening, April 19, the Northfield Parks and Recreation Advisory Board voted to recommend Riverside Park as the location of a temporary skate park for the 2012 season.  Riverside Park is the home of a preexisting asphalt pad on which (after sealcoating) the skateboard equipment can be temporarily installed.

The vote came after a discussion in which some residents of the Village on the Cannon (VOC), which adjoins Riverside Park, voiced concerns about locating a skatepark near senior citizens housing. Some of the residents of VOC fall into the category of vulnerable adults. Skateboarding advocates said they understood these concerns, and promised to work together with residents of VOC, with The Key, and with city officials, to educate skateboarders about their responsibilities.

Local Issue: Skatepark

Discussions about a permanent skateboard park in Northfield began six years ago, in June 2006, when a group of local youth organized the Northfield Skateboard Coalition. The Coalition, spearheaded by Joe McGowan, pitched their idea to the Northfield Parks and Recreation Board, and began fundraising for a skatepark. Between October 2006 and April 2007, $10,000 was raised through a matching grant from the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative.  In 2011, the Northfield Union of Youth acquired equipment for a skateboard park, which is currently being stored by the city.

Three-Season Athlete Excels at a New Sport: Poetry Recitation


On February 11, Andrew Wilson faced a choice. As a member of the Northfield High School boys varsity swimming and diving team, he could compete in the Missota Conference finals in Northfield, or he could head about 50 miles south to Mantorville to compete in the regional round of the Poetry Out Loud competition. Wilson chose to recite poetry.

Actually, the choice had been made three weeks earlier, when Wilson became aware of the conflict and approached Coach Davis to request permission to attend the Poetry Out Loud semifinals. It’s an indication of his character that Wilson not only obtained his coach’s permission, but was later chosen as one of the captains of next year’s swim team.

It’s an exceptional student who has to make the kind of choice that Andrew Wilson made, but Wilson—an ARTech junior who is also a star of the Northfield cross country and track teams—takes it all in stride.

“I like sports that make you push yourself to be your individual best,” Wilson says. “Sports like swimming and running—and reciting poetry.”

Northfield Notebook: Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Later this evening, my wife and I are driving up to Minneapolis International Airport to meet our son, Will, who is returning from a year as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Thailand. We’re excited, and curious to reconnect with someone who, undoubtedly, will be both profoundly familiar and so profoundly changed. A year abroad, immersed in a different culture, is a transformative experience.  As I prepare to head to the airport, I’m a little in awe.

“I am from the United States of America, but I feel like my soul is half Brazilian and always was,” says Aletha, who spent her Rotary year in Brazil.

What a wonderful experience: to discover that one’s soul is expansive enough to hold a new world.  How much better the world would be if it contained more such expansive souls!

Northfield Notebook: Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pizza on the grill

One of Northfield's worst-kept secrets is Pizza Night at Red Barn Farm. The Winter Family farm on the south edge of Northfield is an idyllic place, made even more special with the addition of a wood-fired pizza oven. On Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons in the summer months, Tammy and Patrick Winter and their two children fire up the oven and set about the herculean task of making pizzas for the crowds of people picnicking on the lawn. Depending on when you arrive and order your pizza, it can take a while: we waited almost two hours for our pizza the first time we visited. But the relaxed and convivial atmosphere make it a pleasant wait. Adults sit on blankets sipping glasses of wine (bring your own), children run around happily, and often a band plays up beyond the bonfire of used pizza boxes. It feels like a weekly Fourth of July celebration or a family reunion. And the pizza, when it finally comes, is amazing. After Griff Wigley went for the first time on Wednesday, June 8, he reported on LocallyGrown that 130 pizzas were made. His post includes a good set of photos from that evening.

For our family, Friday is the traditional pizza night. I make my own pizza dough, and usually cook the pizza in the oven on a special pizza stone. Last night, since the weather finally cooperated, I decided to fire up the Weber grill and try making my own backyard wood-fired pizza.

Northfield Notebook: Friday, June 24, 2011

Sawtooth Sunflower

One of the things I like about living in a town bookended by wind turbines is that it gives me a clearer sense of the direction of the wind. For most of the past week, the turbines have been facing into a resolute east wind, bringer of unsettled weather, clouds, and rain. But yesterday afternoon, as I walked through the Cowling Arboretum, I saw that the Carleton turbine had turned to face a north wind, and I was reassured that the forecast would deliver on its promise of clearing skies.

The wind turbines are one index of changes in the weather from day to day. The restored tallgrass prairie in the Arboretum, on the other hand, is an index of the steady progression of the seasons from spring to fall. Right now, one of the highlights of the prairie is the white wild indigo, spiking up above the prairie grasses. The characteristic yellow and orange flowers of the midsummer prairie—rudbeckia (black-eyed susan), compass plant, and various sunflowers (like the sawtooth sunflower pictured here)—have just started to bloom. Click here for a small photoset of some of the flowers blooming in the Arboretum right now.

Syndicate content