Community Voices: ‘Here we are, still going forward,’ Maria Garcia speaks on family, immigration and her auto repair shop in Minneapolis

Maria Garcia owns and operates her own auto repair shop in Northeast Minneapolis. In this video, Garcia tells the story of her family and her work, highlighting her experiences as a woman running a repair shop and as a mother, daughter and wife in an Ecuadorian immigrant family. “Many people come in and they say, no way, how is it that this woman is going strong but us men are struggling?”

Maria’s shop is located in Northeast Minneapolis at 2801 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418. You can schedule a repair and support Maria’s shop at 612-789-0186. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 5/2: Ten school districts to enter agreements addressing disproportionate discipline against students of color, disabled students


Following an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, 10 school districts and charter schools will enter agreements to address these disparities or face litigation. The agreements would reduce discipline, especially suspension and expulsion, for non-violent and non-drug-related offenses such as swearing, eye-rolling, or other behavior deemed inappropriate. “These leaders are not alone with dealing with these disparities – but they are the first to stand up, lean in and drive toward solutions,” MDHR Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said in the press release. “Kids simply can’t learn if they are not in school. These agreements are a crucial step in ensuring we are doing all we can to help Minnesota students develop their interpersonal and learning skills so they can thrive.”
Read more at MinnPost. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 4/25: New housing program for homeless youth


For decades, Minneapolis nonprofit organization Youth Link has been providing resources to homeless people aged 16-24. Now, for the first time, they have opened an on-site housing program to provide a place to stay while tenants recover from trauma, save money or finish an education. “If we can crack the nut with this population, whatever we do here will crack the nut with any other at-risk population, because not only is this population disparity-based, it’s also trauma-based,” said Heather Huseby, the organization’s executive director. “These 18- to 24-year-olds are really at their last crossroads. They have to very quickly turn their lives around.”

See the Journal for more details. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 4/18: St. Paul Mayor Carter declares intention to push $15 minimum wage


At a Midway Chamber of Commerce economic development summit, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said that the city will adopt a minimum wage of $15 – legislation he hopes to sign by the end of the year. Mayor Carter described the issue as “already decided.”

Mayor Carter also extended an invitation to those already working for a $15 minimum wage to join in the discussion. “I’m inviting everyone into the conversation,” Carter said. “I want those folks in our advocacy community and our labor community to see that we are acting deliberately and intentionally to respond to that urgency, but I also want the whole community to know that we are being very deliberative, that we’re thinking through all these questions. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 4/11: Hennepin County launches program to reduce evictions


In Hennepin County, Community Mediation and Restorative Services is working to reduce eviction filings in Minneapolis, especially in North Minneapolis where eviction rates are highest. Currently, women of color are the most frequently evicted. The new program will use mediators, legal help and cash assistance. “While this is a complex challenge with no one solution, I am fully convinced that dramatically reducing evictions in Minneapolis is possible,” said Zoe Thiel, a city Innovations Team program manager. Find more information and details about where to receive assistance at Southwest Journal. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 4/4: New Minnesota House bill could limit SNAP food benefits


Rep. Kelly Fenton (R-Woodbury) has put forth a bill that would eliminate SNAP benefits (commonly called “food stamps”)  for regions that do not meet federal employment requirements. As of now, 29 counties and 12 American Indian reservations are exempt from the work requirement, and these numbers could go down with the new bill, impacting Native and rural populations most. “Jessica Webster, staff attorney with the Legal Services Advocacy Project, said the bill would be more stringent than federal law. She said the proposal gives her ‘heartache’ because 47,000 able-bodied Minnesota adults without dependents have already lost access to food since the work requirement was reinstated in 2013.”
See more information at the Session Daily. Protesters demand justice in response to police violence

Protesters gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center in response to recent police killings nationally as well as locally, with the prosecution of Officer Mohamed Noor in the case of Justine Damond. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 3/28: Washburn Fellowship program gives resources to people of color becoming counselors


Washburn Center for Children has established a new fellowship for people of color in order to address the disparity between the number of POCs seeking mental health services and the number of POCs offering them. The Fellowship includes a stipend to help cover the cost of schooling and unpaid internships, professional mentorship with other POCs, and a supportive cohort of fellows. “This program comes from our commitment to advancing equity in the field and to helping expand the number of therapists of color,” Tom Steinmetz, [CEO of Washburn Center], said. “We realize our mission through the services we provide to children and families. By expanding the number of therapists of color in the state we directly impact access to care.”
Learn more about this fellowship and who it benefits at MinnPost. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 3/21: House bill addresses wage gap for marginalized groups


The State House is considering a bill that would seek to address the wage gap by prohibiting employers to ask potential employees how much money they made at their last job. People of color and women tend to make less money on average than white men while performing the same jobs, and the question of the previous salary reinforces this as employers continue paying people what they have earned in the past. “This bill would help — but it’s not going to solve — the wage gap,” Stratton [senior counsel at Gender Justice] said. “But it’s an important step that can be taken, and it would, more than anything, encourage employers to de-bias their hiring processes. It will ensure people are paid for their new job, not their old one.”

To learn more about this bill and its potential implications for labor and employment, see Session Daily. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 3/14: Minneapolis Park Board looks to build memorial honoring survivors of sexual violence

Following in the wake of the #MeToo movement and heightened visibility for sexual assault survivors, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board is considering funding a memorial in Boom Island Park. Break the Silence, a local group of survivors and allies, is seeking the Board’s support for the construction of the memorial, and commissioners have voted to explore funding options. “The memorial concept holds true to what we have seen nationally, that when survivors tell their stories they unconsciously give other survivors permission to tell theirs,” [Sarah Super, Break the Silence organizer] told the board. Find more details on the prospective project at The Journal. Native theater company debuts first full production

Turtle Theater Collective, a Native theater company based in Minneapolis, debuted their first full length production on March 9 at The Southern Theater. Continue Reading