North Minneapolis residents fight out-of-state investors, poor maintenance

If you’re a landlord in the city of Minneapolis, you already have the home field advantage when it comes to the rental game. But some North Minneapolis residents say they’re tired of out-of-state landlords playing hardball with their neighborhoods.Last month, more than 130 Minneapolis residents signed a petition demanding a moratorium on rental licenses issued by the city of Minneapolis until all Northside residencies have been inspected and brought up to code.“There is a problem in the city of Minneapolis with proper tracking of the conditions of some of the rental properties,” said north Minneapolis resident Connie Beckers in the petition. “Too many single family homes have been scooped up by investors who rent them out, don’t screen their tenants and don’t keep up with even minimal upkeep at their properties.”Data from the Minneapolis Regulatory Services shows the number of rental licenses distributed to owners with more than 10 rental licenses has risen dramatically in the city over the last decade. According to the data, monopolization of properties by single owners in the Folwell, Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods have more than doubled in the last five years.Beckers said that part of the problem is that there’s too much focus on rental properties. An out-of-state investor recently purchased five homes on her block, she said, bringing the number of rental properties on her block to 15, while only nine are retained by homeowners.“Most are single family homes which are often poorly cared for and maintained.” Beckers said. Continue Reading

More than art: FLOW Northside Arts Crawl promotes healthy eating

This year’s FLOW Northside Arts Crawl brought more than just great art. Organizers promoted healthy eating as one of the main messages of the festival.The event, held on July 26, transformed over a mile and a half of West Broadway into a dynamic and culturally diverse artistic spectacle. The art crawl was comprised of 25 sites and featured 300 visual and preforming artists from the Northside community.The arts festival had its common sights, such as art installations, live mural paintings and free Pedicab rides. But unlike most art crawls, it also provided access to healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables, which organizers said was an intentional push to encourage healthy eating in an area that has historically had poor access to fresh produce.“We don’t always think about what we’re putting into our bodies,” said ShaVunda Horsley, a member of the Not Bad Rap hip-hop collective who performed and spoke at the crawl. “I’m very amped to bring what I have studied about food justice and food access into my community.”The group hosts lectures, workshops on spoken word and hip-hop, and conducts cyphers (a group freestyle of poetry preformed in a circle). Continue Reading

Northside Forum builds alliances to bolster digital literacy

There was a time in our society when our relationship with technology was more like the Flintstones and less like the Jetsons. Smartphones, Facebook, and cars that basically drive themselves all indicate that we’re living a Jetsons-like future. But what happens when you’re too poor to keep up with Jetsons?With most job applications online, and with the GED test completely online, it’s hard not to wonder what role digital literacy plays in disadvantaged communities.Last Thursday a group of Minneapolis community members met for the Northside Digital Innovation Forum to address some of these issues. Held at the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) and sponsored by Code Savvy, the Digital Empowerment Academy (DEA), and UROC, the forum discussed ideas surrounding digital literacy, digital advocacy, and how the existence of a digital divide affects various communities in Minneapolis.“There’s lots of ways people define the digital divide and digital literacy,” said Dr. Lanise Block, one of the main organizers of the forum and co-founder of DEA.“Sometimes the digital divide is very much lack of access to hardware and the internet…People say that digital literacy is providing access and resources, but that’s not what we’re talking about here, our goal is to promote digital empowerment and advocacy.”Dr. Block gave a presentation during the forum citing data from surveys conducted by the City of Minneapolis which showed that only 66 percent of African Americans in Minneapolis have computers with internet at home compared to the 90 percent amongst their Caucasian counterparts. In the survey, communities like Camden, Philips, Near North and Central had the most “non-users” of home internet access. Dr. Block utilized information like this to drive home her point that low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately separated from traditional power structures and that the digital divide enforces separation from 21st century power structures.Dr. Block stressed the importance of mending the digital divide “It’s one thing to get on the internet and say, apply for a job,” Dr. Block said. “It’s another thing to say I’m going to use the internet as a tool to interact with my congress person or I’m going to use the internet as a tool to start a movement around an issue that’s important in our community like youth violence or lack of housing…”Other participants in the forum elaborated on the divide’s reach.“25,000 households don’t have access,” said Elise Ebhardt, who attended the forum as a representative of the City of Minneapolis and gave a presentation on the city’s digital inclusion work. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Maya Angelou’s life teaches us the value of tenacity

Maya Angelou wasn’t born Maya Angelou. She became her. Quite literally, Marguerite Ann Johnson changed her name to Maya Angelou in the 1950s while starting her career as a nightclub singer. The name change, along with the career, were amongst many instances of reinvention in Angelou’s life, the culmination of which created the phenomenal woman we mourn today.Though known best for the regal authority of her poetry and performances, her fierce activism, and the heartbreakingly powerful autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou’s legacy was more than the highlights we easily remember. Angelou’s was a life of struggle, reflection, and continuous reinvention. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Yang for Commissioner: Fresh Voice. Bold Vision. New Leadership.

In 2006, Keith Ellison, against all odds, was elected into the U.S. House of Representatives . He was the first African-American elected into the House from Minnesota and the first Muslim elected into Congress. The historic election of Ellison into Congress reminds Minnesotans that change is possible. This year, Hennepin County’s District 2 faces an equally ground-breaking chance to be the facilitators of change.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Continue Reading