Minneapolis’ North Side has many images as a community. One (which is spoon-fed to us by the mainstream media on a consistent basis) is of a community that is out of control, overwrought with criminal, educational, economic and social dysfunctions.
The other, a less publicized image (which is well overdue), is of prosperous, fast-growing, multicultural community, filled with caring, hardworking people who have healthy families and live well-adjusted lives.
Being a visual artist and having lived in North Minneapolis for over 10 years, I tend to experience more of the latter: good, normal people living good, normal lives.
I try to be observant of the environment around me and use that stimulus to inspire my art. In an attempt to help the healing that still needs to happen and bring more cohesiveness to the place I call home, I developed an idea for a public art project for anyone who wanted to participate. This way, I could use my talents as well as contribute to a better community.
The project could endure as a symbol for how we work together to create something inspirational that we can be proud and respectful of. It could serve as a reminder to have pride and respect among others and ourselves as we go forward in our lives.
The Webber Park/Camden neighborhood in North Minneapolis is a community that overflows with activity, joy and a cooperative camaraderie. In my time there, I have found the people friendly and accommodating, the businesses loyal and considerate, and the environment warm and inviting.
So from this, I decided that a project or event that would bring together our neighborhood for something that incorporates the spirit of community, livability and appreciation for the environment that the Camden neighborhood represents.
The whole idea jelled in the form of a painting project. The goal is to have the members of the community decorate the footbridge located at Webber Park in the Camden Neighborhood and transform it into the “Bridge of Dreams,” where members of the North Side community and beyond can paint or write personal messages (dreams or wishes) for themselves or others.
The bridge in Webber Park was old and in danger of being torn down, so this “rehabilitation” would give new life to it and that area of the park.
After the event, participants could come back to the bridge and visit with the wishes of others or their own. After drumming up funds and support from various sources such as the Minnesota State Arts Board, Northside Arts Collective and the Webber-Camden Neighborhood Association, I had managed to put together the event.
My far-reaching goal for the Bridge of Dreams would be for it to be updated every year or so for generations to come and share their dreams, as well as have a place to go to reflect on life and be inspired.
I have my own “dream” to add to the bridge as well. Mine is that I wanted to provide for the residents of Camden and North Minneapolis an area that reflects the personality and vitality of the neighborhood that the community can adopt and enjoy for many years to come.
Through this event, it will be on its way to becoming a reality.
The Bridge of Dreams community art project will start on Saturday, August 26 at Webber Park, 4310 Webber Parkway in Minneapolis, 10am-5pm.
To learn more about the project or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-503-9426. This is a free, family-friendly event.