Friday, November 22, 2019

Clogtown: Full Cycle - Bikes That Give Back!

While I'm on my Minneapolis Mom sabbatical, I'm looking for places and practices and great ideas that could - and SHOULD - be implemented everywhere (always with an eye on if it would be cool in Venice, of course). Well, when I visited Frostbeard Studio (the awesome store of gifts for book nerds), I saw a bike shop across the street called Full Cycle, and a smaller sign that said "Bikes that give back". O.K. .... needed to know more about that, so in I went.

It turns out that Full Cycle is EXACTLY the kind of space that belongs in Venice. Full Cycle is a full service bike retailer and bike service station, but what makes them unique is that they have a PAID internship program for homeless youth in the area. They teach them how to work on bikes, and then pay them so they don't have to steal them, and also can get on the road to independence and get off the streets. So, what do we have an awful lot of in Venice? Bikes. Homeless people. Bike thefts. Mmmm hmmm. Yep. This program could really work, and really help a lot of people.

Founded 10 years ago by Matt Tennant, Full Cycle set out to try to help the homeless by the paid internship program, free bike appointments (bikes can be borrowed for a six month period to provide healthy transportation and recreation), street outreach, and food access programming. All of this connects the homeless youth to the supportive staff members, who help them with community resources and support services.

Once they graduate from the internship program, they are eligible to become staff mechanics or food delivery drivers - as Full Cycle also has a garden in the back that grows produce to be bike delivered to the area's shelters and drop-in centers, as well as keep the youth full of fresh and healthy vegetables. I'm SO into it ... and really think this could be a very positive solution to a lot of what's going on in Venice too. For real.

Full Cycle is kept afloat by the United Way, corporate donations, some government money, their bike sales and repairs income, and in-kind contributions. That's great, but there's lots of ways that anyone can get involved ... You can donate or purchase a bike, or bring your bike there for maintenance, and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same (because it gives back!). You could make a tax-deductible donation. You can volunteer at their events, or host your own (bike drives, rides, parties - think of the Venice Electric Bike Parade getting behind a Venice shop like this - how great!). You can get your business or workplace involved by giving a team donation. And very importantly, you can refer homeless youth to their programs.  That's quite a few options to help, and all of them are pretty do-able.

Venice (and Greater Los Angeles/Skid Row) probably has the biggest homeless problem, but it's everywhere these days - even in the very cold winters in Minnesota. We MUST do something, and folks like those at Full Cycle ARE doing something about it. And so can you. You can care. You can help in so many ways. There are solutions, as Full Cycle has seen the results of their work helping to get our young people off of these mean streets. Their mission statement: To connect with and support homeless youth, our community, and our Earth through bikes, business, and relationships." What a wonderful concept - made even more wonderful by seeing it in action.

Please consider opening a shop like this, someone in Venice! And Everywhere, for that matter! And if you're in Minneapolis, please consider Full Cycle for all of your bike needs. They're really making a difference. And by supporting them, so can you. Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and I'm very thankful for places like this that embrace humanity and giving in one big group hug - that actually helps people. Thanks, Full Cycle!

Full Cycle
3515 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Open Weds - Friday 12p-7p
Saturday 10a-5p
Closed Sunday

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Clogtown: Frostbeard Studio - Homemade Goods For Book Nerds!

Hi. I'm not gonna lie ... things have not been easy for me lately here in the heartland. Fighting with insurance companies, and trying - and often feeling like I'm failing - to have my mother receive good care is really some of the hardest (though most worth it) work I've ever done, emotionally speaking. After losing her leg this summer, Mom fell and broke her shoulder. Then it was broken worse while at her assisted living place, which required surgery last week. One very draining evening, I left the hospital to go get something to eat, when a sign on a door on Chicago Avenue caught my eye - Frostbeard Studio - Homemade Goods for Book Nerds. What?! Me! I'm a book nerd! The brakes were slammed on, and I ran in to check this place out.

This place is exactly my cup of tea. There is a very little storefront part, where the literary themed items they make are on display, and yep - I wanted pretty much everything.

The main product being made at Frostbeard Studio are soy candles with book inspired scents, like Darcy's Parlour and Sherlock's Study, Old Books and Wizardy Buttery Drink. As the holidays are now very much upon us, they have a whole Christmassy vibe line, like Christmas At The Burrow, Holiday Hygge, and Christmas In The Great Hall. The mood I was in when I got there was Bah Humbug, and it also happened to be my favorite scent of all their candles. Sold.

There are book bags, book cards, book art prints, book shirts, book hoodies, book mugs ("Do you even read?" and "Open Book. Sniff. Read. Repeat."), and, clearly, everyone needs book socks in their stocking.

... all book related things, and all would make the greatest gifts for your bookish friends - along with a good book, of course.

I met the owner, Roxie, while I was there, and she couldn't have been nicer. I love it when people have a dream and make it happen, and that's just what went down here. They wanted to be their own bosses, they wanted to make their living at art, they wanted to make book nerds happy with awesome things that need to exist, and they want to spread the message that reading is cool!

 I love it. And I love everything about Frostbeard Studio, so here I am, publicly thanking them for first, existing, and for second, making my super extra gnarly day so much better just by knowing something so cool (and new to me) exists, and for turning my Bah Humbug into more of a Hygge attitude. Thanks!

I can see these items in Small World Books and Burro in Venice (they do wholesale!), and I can see them gift wrapped all over the land this holiday season ... just in time for the nation's beards to be actually frosty.

Holiday Cheers, fellow Book Nerds!

Frostbeard Studio
3506 Chicago Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55407

Open Monday - Saturday 10A-5P

Friday, November 15, 2019

Save Windward Farms, Celebrate Hama Sushi!

Hi there. I MISS you all. Life has been nuts, and really hard, battling to keep my mother in good care in Minnesota. I meant to post this on Monday, but in all the mayhem going on in my life, it's happening today.... have a great and safe weekend, please!

It's even harder to be away from Venice when so many of our favorite haunts are disappearing. Canal Club closed while I've been away, Surfside closed, Kifune closing, Baja Cantina closing ... but the heaviest hammer so far was the news that our neighborhood grocer would be closing ... Windward Farms had their rent increased 120%, making it impossible to stay open and be able to charge their customers their always reasonable prices on their great food.

Then, to rub salt in the very deep community wound, it was announced that Great White would be taking over the space, and they let everyone know with an open letter that was right up there with the audacity of Adidas' absurd claim that they were "Defining Venice". Great White thought that they created the vibrancy to the corner of Windward & Pacific, and they had caused locals to return to the area. What?! Uh, no. Hecho En Venice creator, Oscar Galan, had his first surf shop right where Great White now is, and I promise you that you don't get any more local than that.

Windward Farms has ALWAYS been for locals, and you knew you would always run into someone you knew while you were stopping in for some basics, or for an excellent smoothie, quesadilla, or chicken salad (my jams). You could zip in to grab a bottle of wine to enjoy with your meal up the street at Venice Cucina. You could go get that quart of milk or thing of flour you forgot for your recipe already underway at home (me more than once).

It was a true neighborhood institution, and everyone that came out to show their love and support for Windward Farms when they heard the news was right. Greed IS ruining Venice.

The outpouring of love - and total outrage - means that there has been a reprieve given, and Windward Farms is still open for business as of now. They are apparently renegotiating the lease, and obviously everyone hopes for the best. Especially me, who does not want to have missed out on one more smoothie! Venice needs Windward Farms, and that's that.

On a happier note (but sad for me), I also missed the 40th Anniversary party of Hama Sushi! FORTY YEARS of sushi in Venice, there in the Windward Circle in the shadow of the Venice sign, that was lit up in Hama colors for the occasion!

There was a block party with live music and cool cars and all the Venice friends and customers mingling over sushi and sake happily - realizing there are still some local institutions that are thriving and not going anywhere. Thank God.

Congratulations and love to Windward Farms for still being open, and for getting to know how very beloved you are! Congratulations to Hama Sushi, Esther Chaing, and all of the staff for the wonderful milestone of your 40th year in Venice!

WE LOVE YOU BOTH!!!! And I sure do miss you.

*Windward Farms photos by Ray Rae/Venice Beach Photos
*Hama photo one from John Vester, two from Todd Van Hoffman