New local hangout space in the works

The Nest board searches for possible locations

Ruby Stillman

City Council member Thom Miller said he is promoting a new project he thinks will help students’ mental health, sense of belonging and diversity.

According to Miller, he and a group of adult volunteers are assisting high school students in creating The Nest; a welcoming space for students to spend time in when not in school.

“The students were asking for a space that they could call their own,” Miller said. (The Nest is) a space that would be inclusive of not only all racial groups but sexual orientations, interests, not just for athletes or kids that are all in AP classes.”

Sophomore member of The Nest board Cole Nugteren said it is a priority to let students have a say in what The Nest will look like.

“(The board is) still deciding (the amenities) and we’re doing a lot of crowdsourcing to try to figure out what people want,” Nugteren said. “We are planning on definitely having coffee available, we are planning on having a live stage for student performances and art galleries, and everything else is basically up for debate right now.”

According to Miller, the board stresses the benefits of having a safe space for students.

“There’s a lot of anxiety and depression at this age and the school is doing everything they can do and the parents are doing everything they can do, but what can the community do to fill that void?” Miller said. “We think that having students have a place of their own for peer-to-peer counseling (and) peer-to-peer discussions can relieve anxiety and relieve tensions.”

Possible layout for the Nest, according to Nest website.

Miller said students should use the space to benefit their behavioral well-being.

“Statistics show that those hours (from) three to seven o’clock in the evening are times when students potentially could get mixed into things like substance abuse and other unhealthy behaviors,” Miller said. “(Students) just don’t have any places to go.”

Senior Maddie Cascio said she is looking forward to having a resource like The Nest available to the community.

“I think (The Nest) would be a cool idea. It seems like a cool place to hang out with friends,” Cascio said.

Miller said The Nest will be similar to The Depot in Hopkins, however within walking distance to St. Louis Park students.

“You can’t just walk across the railroad tracks and be (at The Depot),” Miller said. “We would really like (The Nest) to be in the Walker-Lake area.”

Nugteren said the group is focusing on finding financial support for the project.

“We are getting grants from the city and we have a bunch of donors who are interested. All we need right now is more people to support it,” Nugteren said.

According to Miller, the group is hoping to have a site up and running before the end of 2018.