Acting Up

Acting up 

A theatrical power couple rocks the suburbs

Have suburbanites been neglected? Jessica Lind and Jason Peterson think so. The former New York actors and writers, now launching the Yellow Tree Theatre in Osseo, discuss what their playhouse is doing to help.

“We like crazy,” confess Jason Peterson and Jessica Lind, the founders of a new playhouse, Yellow Tree Theatre. No kidding: Not only did the young actors (he’s 26, she’s 28) recently swap New York for Peterson’s hometown of Champlin, but they’ve also scheduled just one musical for their inaugural season in the Osseo warehouse they converted into a theater—hardly the usual suburban fare.

“We like quirky plays, funny plays, simple plays,” says Peterson, who has appeared on As The World Turns, Guiding Light, and the short-lived drama Six Degrees. They also like their own plays, opening the season with a romantic comedy written by Lind, who won a national playwriting award for the work. When they lost the rights to their scheduled holiday show, Lind quickly wrote a replacement. The duo, who also teach acting classes for kids, believe their sincerity is persuading the community to give them a try. “We’re convincing them we’re not some crazy kids in the basement,” says Peterson. Well, maybe just a little. • Miracle on Christmas Lake runs November 28 to December 28 at Yellow Tree Theatre in Osseo,
—Tim Gihring


Gender Equity: Minnesota likes things in balance. Just consider some of the tandems we’ve embraced: Minneapolis and St. Paul, Carleton and St. Olaf, passive and aggressive. So it is with population. According to Sperling’s BestPlaces, Minneapolis has an almost even split between men and women. In fact, it’s the second most evenly divided city in the country, just behind Warren, Michigan.

A Cleaner Cleaner

Can a dirty business go green



Todd Buchanan

Here’s a news flash: A lot of people aren’t in love with their dry cleaner. In fact, according to the Better Business Bureau, dry-cleaning services are among the most frequent targets of consumer complaints in the Twin Cities.
Dan Miller understands the dissatisfaction. About a year ago, he brought a comforter to his local dry cleaner. “The guy was smoking a cigarette outside,” says Miller. “Inside, it smelled like chemicals and there were plastic bags everywhere. I asked how long it would take. He said two weeks.”

That’s when Miller had something of an epiphany: “This industry is like the Wild West.”

But Miller, a business consultant by training (he was working for McKinsey & Company when he had his revelation), also recognized an opportunity. Couldn’t someone build a better dry cleaner? He began traveling the country, methodically studying the business, even attending the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute in Maryland.

This month, he unveils the culmination of his research: Mulberrys Garment Care, which will include home delivery service and a retail location in St. Louis Park.

The goal isn’t just to create a different sort of dry cleaner, with a pleasant in-store atmosphere (think Starbucks), convenient hours, and rigorous quality control. It’s also to create a cleaner one: Unlike traditional dry cleaners, which employ the highly toxic solvent perchloroethylene (commonly known as perc)—or even like many putatively green cleaners, which use a slightly less-toxic chemical, siloxane—Mulberrys will process clothes with pressurized carbon dioxide, a method approved by the EPA and Greenpeace. As a solvent, carbon dioxide rubs out stains and doesn’t shrink fibers. More important, if spilled, it dissipates into the air.

Says Miller: “We’ll be the only cleaner to clean clothes with something that doesn’t have to be taken away in a hazardous-waste truck.



This month, Minneapolis becomes one of the first cities in the nation to have city-wide broadband Wi-Fi service. Here, the numbers:

100 Number of employees US Internet, the company that built and manages the network, dedicated to the project
3,000 Number of radio transmitters—installed on light poles, traffic signals, and buildings—broadcasting the city’s Wi-Fi signal
59 Square miles covered by the network
45 Network access points per square mile
$19.95 Monthly cost of US Internet’s basic Wi-Fi service
51 Percentage of households in the Twin Cities with a broadband connection
62 Percentage of households in San Francisco with a broadband-Internet connection
10,000 Number of people who have signed up for Minneapolis’s Wi-Fi service
250,000 Number of users the network can accommodate

The Cities Explained

Be Dazzled

Q: Why does Minneapolis have an outdoor parade, Holidazzle, in December?
A: Holidazzle started in 1992 in response to the opening of the Mall of America in Bloomington. “Downtown Minneapolis had traditionally been that special shopping center during the holidays and we were concerned that we needed an extra attraction,” says Todd Klingel, president of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce.And though the average temperature in Minneapolis in December is 26 degrees, the weather doesn’t seem to scare off the 400,000 people who come to watch the four-times-a-week spectacle. According to Phil Disch, Holidazzle’s director of operations, the show has been canceled only eight times due to temperature. And in case you’re interested: He recommends watching the show from either end of Nicollet Mall.

What I’m Reading

Diana Pierce, Anchor, KARE-11

In her 25 years at KARE-11, Pierce has interviewed a lot of authors. “In the process of my job, I get really interesting books,” she says. Here, a list of what she’s reading these days: The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer; How to Have Style by Isaac Mizrahi; Freakin’ Fabulous by Clinton Kelly; Will Work from Home: Earn the Cash—Without the Commute by Tory Johnson and Robyn Freedman Spizman; The Art and Craft of Playwriting by Jeffrey Hatcher ; Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty.

A Giving Season?

Nonprofit organizations usually see a swell in donations during the holiday season. With the economy on the rocks, however, many groups are finding it a challenging time to raise money. Here, some local charities offer a status report on the state of Twin Cities philanthropy.  


United Way

Prognosis: Grim
Why: The organization has set a fundraising goal of $91.6 million for the year, up from $89.5 million last year. “In this economy, we will be happy to be flat,” says Randi Yoder, senior vice president of donor relations for the Greater Twin Cities United Way. “Corporations are stepping up and asking employees to give more. However, larger gifts are often given through stock, and it’s difficult to know how much discretionary money people will have.”

People Serving People

Prognosis: Moderately encouraging
Why: Giving is already up nearly 30 percent for the year. “Two-thirds of our clients are homeless children,” says People Serving People CEO Jim Minor. “We provide a service to the lowest level of poverty. So even in the most difficult times, helping other families seems to be an area where people are still willing to give.” 

Goodwill Easter Seals

Prognosis: Cautiously pessimistic
Why: The group saw a 20-percent increase in giving last fiscal year, but it isn’t counting on those sort of numbers this time around. “We’re being cautious and focusing on maintaining the donor base we’ve developed and hoping people can be more generous down the road,” says Brian Becker, Goodwill Easter Seals marketing director.

Salvation Army

Prognosis: Gloom City
Why: A drive in early October that had a goal of $400,000 resulted in just $179,000 in donations. “It caused an alarm for us,” says public-relations director Annette Bauer. “We’ve heard from companies that they can’t do what they did last year, or that they’re waiting. Plus, we have a lot of investments, which are nose-diving like everyone else’s.”

Stockings Stuffed

We’ve made our list and checked it twice. Here, our tally of Minnesotans who deserve candy—or coal—this Yuletide.


After a year on the lam, jailed North Oaks businessman Robert Beale orchestrates a plot to intimidate the judge presiding over his tax-evasion case.


The Democratic mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Chris Coleman and R. T. Rybak, set aside politics—and their crosstown rivalry—to greet GOP convention-goers with open arms.


Sued by alumni upset over the sale of its radio station, St. Olaf College refuses to send the disgruntled Oles tickets to its annual Christmas festival.


After announcing plans to produce the 10 plays of August Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle over the next few years, Penumbra Theatre director Lou Bellamy stages three in just nine months.

Very Naughty (Allegedly)

Tom Petters


In April, Minnesota Masonic Charities donates $65 million to the University of Minnesota Cancer Center, the largest gift the U has ever received.


The Curtain

Who’s up, who’s down in local arts and culture


Workhouse Theater
The north Minneapolis playhouse scores an Ivey Award
Theatre Latté Da
The troupe completes its first national tour
The Alexander/Little Family
Darsie Alexander is named chief curator of the Walker Art Center; her husband, David Little, becomes the photo curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Minnesota Orchestra
Beloved concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis steps down
Michelle Bachmann
Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading arts lobbyist, gives her an “F


The Cultural Wish List

Hold the hot toddies, can the carolers. In the midst of capital campaigns, all these arts groups want for Christmas is cold, hard cash. 



What they’re seeking: Between $10 million and $12 million
What they’ve raised: Just over $2 million
What for: The host of Prince’s first solo performance, this former 1920s cinema is the only remaining theater on the North Side of Minneapolis. Its present owner, the neighboring Plymouth Christian Youth Center, has been bringing in top local singers (Prudence Johnson, Charmin Michelle) and hopes to renovate the interior and build a recording studio for students (potential Princes?) of PCYC’s arts-and-technology high school.


What they’re seeking: $5 million
What they’ve raised: $4.6 million
What for: Last year, after 20 seasons at St. Paul’s Landmark Center, the children’s theater troupe converted a massive church near Summit Avenue into a 430-seat facility. Now they’re praying some good Samaritans step forward to help pay for it.


What they’re seeking: $3.5 million
What they’ve raised: $1.6 million
What for: The area’s home for classes in lithography, etching, and other printing methods hopes to buy an Uptown Minneapolis building and give it a James Dayton–designed makeover.


What they’re seeking: $41 million
What they’ve raised: $34.5 million
What for: After nearly a decade of fundraising and rising construction estimates, Shubert boosters are so close to their goal of converting the abandoned Minneapolis theater into the area’s home for dance that you can practically smell the Lycra.


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