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“The great thing about the idea,” said Sides who was, fittingly, at a statewide food summit on Wednesday, “is that there is no one purpose. But we’d all come together around food.”
The sanctuary, a 10-minute walk from St. Paul’s Lowertown, “is just asking to be revitalized,” she said. “It’s a dream come true to be this far along in this challenge.”
Finalist Jack Ray has seen the transformation that occurs among young people floating down the river on a vessel they’ve crafted with their own hands. He wants to build on that idea in a big way with his St. Paul Center for Creative Arts.
The riverfront “learning incubator” would offer youths a safe and nurturing place to learn and practice various creative, and potentially professional, disciplines, from boatbuilding to robotics to ceramics to bronze-casting to weaving to computer labs.
He sees skilled adults, too, willing to give of their time to teach these hands-on skills.
Many of the young people he hopes will be drawn to his center “are stumbling on the path to adulthood,” said Ray, a founder of Urban Boatbuilders, a Twin Cities nonprofit youth development program.
“Learning you can make things and do things and they’re high quality and they work is an important experience for young people to have,” said Ray, who works in St. Paul’s Department of Human Rights.
“Hey, if I can build a boat, I can finish my educational career. I can build my community. I can save the planet from global warming.”