Faces Of The Green Line

Natalie Champa Jennings / The Growler Magazine

Natalie Champa Jennings / The Growler Magazine

Every face tells a story. Written in every smile, wrinkle, scar and dimple, our faces show who we are and where we’ve been. 

In our travels along the new Green Line LRT corridor, we’ve spoken with business owners about the impact of transit development on their neighborhood and livelihood. We heard all kinds of opinion, ranging from the hopeful to hesitant. A nearly universal refrain was that construction did indeed hamper business. And since rent along the LRT is going up, many expressed lament for the smallest businesses they fear will be priced out of the neighborhood.

But we also noticed a distinct optimism arriving with the newly loaded trains. Sales are picking up, new customers are eager to discover new destinations, and the corridor seems to have breathed a sigh of relief as a new, exciting, and challenging chapter begins.

We invited photographer Natalie Champa Jennings along the corridor to document this change. She is the creator of A Face Project, a documentary and storytelling series that will host a release of its summer print issue, tonight from 6-8pm at the Fox Egg Gallery in South Minneapolis. Join her to peruse and purchase the new issue, along with a few drinks and music from Lauren Piper.

Here now, a few Faces of the Green Line.

Brewing up a district

Urban Growler and Burning Brothers

Natalie Champa Jennings // Growler Magazine

Deb Loch and Jill Pavlak, (second and third from left), Urban Growler Brewing
The first female-owned and -operated microbrewery in Minnesota
2325 Endicott St.
Distance from Raymond Ave. station: 5 blocks

Dane Breimhorst (left) and Thom Foss (right), Burning Brothers Brewing
Minnesota’s only 100% gluten-free brewery
1750 W Thomas Ave.
Distance from Fairview Ave. station: 2 blocks.

“They made it up from the light rail this weekend in the rain … We actually had part of our street blocked off because of a power line down, and people were just walking right around … It’d be nice to have a Nice Ride station up here, because there’s one at the Raymond Station … we’ve had a lot of bikers come in to ours, too … but people are making the hike, people are already finding us.”

Photographed at Urban Growler.

Building community, one bike at a time

Cycles For Change

Natalie Champa Jennings // Growler Magazine

Jason Tanzman, Cycles for Change
Non-profit store and repair shop, dedicated to the promotion of bicycling.
712 University Ave.
Distance from Dale St. station: 1.5 blocks

“We see bicycling as healthy living, economical transportation, contributing to sustainable, livable cities. It’s relevant in combination with light rail—a lot of people in this community don’t have access to a car, or have one car in a household, and people are getting around how they can. So biking is a great part of that ecosystem … The light rail makes our space more accessible. They can come in an participate in a program from further away, so we can do more to build community around biking—we’re huge transit advocates around here.”

All smiles

Mike of Best Steak House

Natalie Champa Jennings // Growler Magazine

Mike Hatzistamoulos, Best Steak House
Cult-favorite Greek eatery
860 University Ave.
Distance from Victoria St. station: directly adjacent

“Business slowed down by about 20 percent. Once construction was done, it popped back up 20 percent and another 20 on top of that. I love it, like on Mondays, when I don’t work all day, I can go downtown St. Paul, have a few drinks, and come right back. It’s great … Come on in, we’ll make you a steak.”

Business is back

Trung Nam Bakery

Natalie Champa Jennings // Growler Magazine

Khanh Le, Trung Nam French Bakery
Makers of the finest croissants in Midway.
739 University Ave.
Distance from Dale St. station: 1.5 blocks

“It slowed down a lot during construction, but it’s gotten better. It was really busy right when it opened up, though it may just have been Father’s Day. So it may have been the light rail, may have been the holiday, but it’s back to normal at least.”

The Little Mekong that could. . .

Lao Thai

Natalie Champa Jennings // Growler Magazine

David Simoukdalay and Annee Sengmavong, Family Lao Thai
Cornerstone of Little Mekong, serving authentic Lao dishes from a bright red storefront.
501 University Ave.
Equidistant from Dale St. and Western Ave. stations: 2 blocks.

“It was bad during construction, for about two years. But ever since, it’s picked up. We had a huge crowd on the Saturday night when it first opened … It’s up in the air, if the Little Mekong Night Market goes well, we might do a food truck. We have a few things planned, but we need to see how things go first.”

John Garland About John Garland

John Garland is the Deputy Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in every coffee shop on West 7th Street.

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