Though it advertises itself as the largest no-kill shelter in the Twin Cities, Animal Ark’s homey facility seems more like a relaxing retreat for the more than 1,000 homeless cats, dogs, and rabbits that come through its doors each year. Cats bask in sunlight within feline apartments as dogs lounge atop soft raised beds in their own spacious kennels, sinking teeth into chew toys and treats. Of course, time at Animal Ark isn't all leisure. Canines awaiting their forever homes stretch their legs across a large outdoor play yard, aptly named the Ark Park, where ample trees and greenery mix with park benches where dogs can train their human friends to sit.
Potential owners can also get to know adoptable pets online. The website posts a first-person profile of each available animal that lists its breed, personality, and master’s degrees.
Crowds jet to the Eden Prairie’s Flying Cloud Airport for the 2011 AirExpo held by Wings of the North, taking up-close ganders at vintage planes, meeting the historic heroes who flew them, and indulging in other avian entertainments. Explore a period-plane petting zoo during the two-day fair, wandering amid historical and working aircraft such as the P-51C Mustang or popping into the cockpit for a tour of the B-25 bomber Miss Mitchell. Meet a Tuskegee airman and a Black Sheep squadron pilot from World War II, rub elbows with Vietnam veterans, or figure out how Ben Franklin trained kites to drop bombs in the Hall of Legends. Classic cars and military vehicles crash the plane party, adding more grounded mechanics to the weekend.
During the first Hopkins Holiday Pub Crawl, cheerful throngs of yuletide party-goers make merry at five area bars, sipping drink specials, taking home raffle prizes, and benefiting the ICA Food Shelf. The festivities kick off at Tuttle's Eat, Bowl, Play at 3 p.m., where the clatter of pins intermingles with the strains of belted carols and clink of glasses. Periodic shuttles escort revelers through the next four bars, ending at 9 p.m. at The Hopkins Tavern, at which crawlers can horde tickets to win raffle prizes. Pints of Miller Lite and UV Vodka mixed drinks flow at each location for $2.50 apiece during the six-hour crawl. All comers are encouraged to dress up in their favorite holiday apparel, donning Santa suits, sporting reindeer horns, or fashioning robes out of popcorn garlands.
In 1976, Tree Trust was formed to help solve two ongoing problems: dutch elm disease was destroying the urban canopy, and local residents were experiencing the languor of employment and poverty. Tree Trust hired unemployed individuals and trained them to replant the decaying forests in the region. Today, the team builds staircases and retaining walls to prevent erosion, clears buckthorn to help native plants thrive, creates trails for recreational activities, constructs LEED-certified houses, and replaces diseased trees with thousands of new trees every year. The organization also hosts community plantings and employs youth in summer programs to instill an ethic of environmental stewardship. Since its inception, Tree Trust has provided employment training for more than 42,000 people, planted 72,000 trees and shrubs, and educated more than 100,000 students about protecting green spaces.
As part of its mission to improve lung health and prevent lung disease, the American Lung Association in Minnesota educates children, parents, and school personnel about how to manage asthma, a prevalent yet often misunderstood disease.
Through its outdoor summer camp—Camp Superkids—the organization helps children with asthma experience fun outdoor activities in a safe environment and teaches them more about managing their chronic illness. To date, Camp Superkids has provided life-saving asthma education to more than 6,000 Minnesota children.