MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There’s a group that’s promising this year’s winter will be different.
The group is celebrating all things Minnesotans love about cabin culture – like wood and water – and adding in a little heat.
Welcome to the sauna society.
“You can sit on the top bench. It’s a lot hotter than it is down here,” John Pedersen said.
Pedersen is the sauna-meister for Little Box Sauna in downtown Minneapolis.
This winter, next door to the Westminster Presbyterian Church, heat seekers can enjoy a free steam. The space fits up to 10 visitors.
“Well they’re only strangers for a few minutes. Then you usually get to know people, people start talking,” Pederson said.
Pederson is also the founder of 612 Sauna Society.
He found his love for the Nordic tradition on a trip to Finland, and sings the praises of its health benefits.
“The science community is still kind of catching up with what the Finns and people of sweat bathing cultures around the world have been knowing and enjoying for a very long time,” Pederson said.
“We designed this. We wanted there to be a public sauna in the Twin Cities,” Andrea Johnson said.
Architects Andrea Johnson and Molly Reichert designed and built the Little Box Sauna.
“Often times people lose their human connection in the wintertime and we found the sauna was place where people reconnected and community was formed,” Reichert said.
“And as you can see right now, we need it in the winter,” Johnson said.
Inside, temperatures reach 200 degrees.
There’s also a room to change into bathing suits – nudity won’t work downtown.
The sauna experience requires going from hot to cold and back again.
Max Musicant said a cozy fire outside invites more visitors.
“I’m excited to be able to bring and sponsor the sauna coming down here to really promote the vision and the benefits and the joy of sauna-ing,” Musicant.
Sauna sessions are free and open to the public in 90 minute blocks.
It starts Friday from 5 to 9:30 p.m. for three nights a week through most of December.
For more information visit 612 Sauna Society online.
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Minus a TV, a temporary bus shelter at S. 6th Street and the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis has most of the cozy comforts of your living room: pillows, books, board games, a clock, a rug and string lighting.
Some nights, it even has live entertainment.
Called the “Living Room Station — Your Home Before You Get Home,” the shelter is the product of a partnership between the Downtown Improvement District and Metro Transit, designed to enliven downtown spaces and improve the experience of bus riders, said Ben Shardlow, district director of public realm initiatives.
The Living Room — at the busiest stop in downtown that does not have a permanent shelter — came about partly in response to a survey used to enhance safety, cleanliness and greening downtown, Shardlow said. This year’s survey is now open for comment at www.minneapolisdid.com.
High-traffic bus stops can be flash points for safety concerns, and projects like Living Room Station represent an opportunity to bring in creative thinkers and builders to improve the experiences for riders, passersby and neighbors, he said.
The installation created by the Musicant Group and the north Minneapolis bicycle manufacturer Onyx Cycles has been met with surprise and positive feedback, he said.
The Living Room is scheduled to come down on Friday, but the next experimental station will be on 6th Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues S. Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Living Room offers music and apple cider from 3:30 to 5 p.m. On Friday, visitors can trick or treat.
By Tim Harlow, Star Tribune
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