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Clothing with a cause

Will Bildsten, a 15-year-old entrepreneur from Tangletown, is on a mission to spread inspirational messages through a new clothing line.

Bildsten’s organic clothing company is called Be Simple Apparel. He’s got six T-shirt designs with the word “be” in large type. Various symbols are inside the letter “b,” including the ying-yang, recycling and peace symbols.

The inspiration for the company came from Bildsten’s his experiences with bipolar disorder. When he gets overwhelmed he often says, “Why can’t things just be simple?”

It’s been a way to help him distract himself from negatives thoughts, too. “If you think positively, it can make all the difference,” he said.

With a little help from family and friends, he embarked on his business venture. He created an LLC, opened a bank account for the company and created a website. So far, he’s sold more than 100 shirts at $29 a piece. The shirts are made of organic cotton with water-based inks.

Bildsten is hoping his business keeps growing, but regardless of its success, he’s grateful for the learning opportunity. He’s donating 2 percent of his gross profits to Haiti relief efforts.

He’s also in the process of selling his shirts through area retailers. For more information on his company, visit besimpleapparel.com. Bildsten has also created Twitter and Facebook pages to promote his brand.

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City transforming vacant lots into gardens

The City of Minneapolis has launched a pilot program that will make 21 of its vacant lots available for community gardeners.

The city already has more than 100 community gardens, but given the growing interest in gardening, new space is in high demand.

City officials selected lots that would not work for new development. They are available to interested gardeners first-come, first-served. Veteran green thumbs can get leases for three to five years while less experienced gardeners will be eligible for one-year leases.

City leaders have lauded the initiative.

“Community gardens help people get access to good nutrition, they encourage active and healthy living and add beauty to our daily lives,” said City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, co-chair of the Homegrown Minneapolis Community Gardens committee. “They create spaces where neighbors get to know each other, and finally, community gardens improve the ecological footprint of the city.”

The Community Garden Pilot Program is part of Homegrown Minneapolis — an initiative of the city to encourage a strong local food system. For more information, visit ci.minneapolis.mn.us/dhfs/homegrown-home.asp.

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Tips on water conservation

The League of Women Voters of Minneapolis is hosting a forum, “Conservation–Preserving our Water,” on May 8 at Mayflower Congregational Church.

The forum, the third in a series on water, will explore ways to conserve water at work and home. There will be tips on creating rain gardens, using water-saving products and green building techniques, among other things.

Joan Nephew, executive director of the Freshwater Society, will be the event’s moderator. Other speakers include Dr. Jonathan Foley, a professor and director of the Institute on the Environment; Sam Lieberman, a long-time writer on water issues; and Jenny Winkelman of the Mississippi Watershed Management Association.  

The event runs 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m. at the church, 106 E. Diamond Lake Rd.

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HandmadeMN hosts sale at VFW

Lovers of local arts and crafts should head to the first HandmadeMN Spring Market at the Ballentine VFW on May 8.

The HandmadeMN community features Minnesota artists and crafters who sell their goods on Etsy.com.

The market will have more than 35 vendors selling all kinds of items, including artwork, paper goods, jewelry, baby items, fiber arts and more. There will be demos from local arts and crafts supplies stores, too.

The market will run 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at the VFW, 2916 Lyndale Ave. S. For more details, go to handmademn.com.

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A campaign to unite bikers

While Minneapolis leads the nation in many ways on biking issues, there’s still a lot of work to be done to improve biking infrastructure here and across the country.

A new campaign is underway to unite bikers across the country to advocate for better biking conditions in America. Bikes Belong, a national alliance of more than 400 U.S. bike suppliers and retailers, has unveiled a new website — peopleforbikes.org. The site encourages biking advocates across the country to lobby their local leaders to support legislation improving bike routes.

The overall goal is to harness the energy of one million people to raise awareness for the needs of bikers.

“As our leaders plan for the future of transportation and recreation in America, we need to send a unified message that bicycling is important and beneficial to individuals and our nation,” said Tim Blumenthal, president of Bikes Belong, in a statement about the campaign. “From the casual rider to the avid bicyclist, Americans everywhere want safe, appealing and convenient places to ride — and peopleforbikes.org will be the conduit that ensures this message will be heard.”

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Kenny School’s rain gardens honored

Kenny Community School, 5720 Emerson Ave. S., will be honored May 15 with a special award from Metro Blooms, an organization dedicated to promoting gardening.

The school will receive the top Minneapolis garden award, “First Place Exceptional,” for its rain gardens.

The May 15 Metro Blooms event at Kenny will include a plant sale, silent auction, educational workshops, awards presentation and unveiling of three new signs in the school’s gardens.

The signs educate people about the rain gardens and watersheds.

For more information about Kenny Community School, visit kenny.mpls.k12.mn.us.

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Minneapolis United plant sale

The U16 boys Minneapolis United soccer teams are holding a plant sale on May 8 at Burroughs Elementary School, 1601 W. 50th St.

The sale will be noon–8 p.m. Proceeds wil benefit the youth soccer program.

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Lululemon opens new store

Southwest yogis have a new spot to shop for yoga gear.

Lululemon, which has a showroom in Southwest at 2313 W. 50th St., unveiled its first full retail location at the Shops at the West End in St. Louis Park on Friday, April 23.

The Vancouver-based athletic apparel company has a cult following among many in the yoga community.

“Minneapolis is a vibrant, healthy, sustainable city that lives and breathes athleticism,” said Alison Utne, the Minneapolis store manager. “We are thrilled to be opening a full retail location in such an active city and look forward to providing the Twin Cities community with technical products for all of their sweaty pursuits.”