Groundbreaking set for Long-Vacant Dealership, to Become Northside Center

All around Minneapolis proof of the economic boon can be seen with the recently developed or under development commercial and residential sites – everywhere except north Minneapolis. The new Vikings stadium is taking shape nicely, transforming the downtown landscape. Over the past few years Uptown has become unrecognizable from its former self with a plethora of upscale multi-use commercial and residential buildings now dotting the area. Development is all around it seems, with the exception of north Minneapolis. Outside of the recently completed Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) headquarters on West Broadway Avenue, development on the Northside has been stagnant … to put it mildly.To drive down West Broadway in many ways looks like a trip back to the 1960s or 1970s but there seems to be a renewed interest in developing north Minneapolis and West Broadway in particular. Continue Reading

Dueling State of the City Events Reveal Rift Between Rhetoric and Reality of Inequality

These days it’s hard to tell whether Minneapolis is united about being divided. Last week, two contrasting “state of the city” events — Mayor Betsy Hodges official speech at the American Swedish Institute, and a rally the next morning organized a North-side grassroots group — illustrated the ongoing tension between the rhetoric and reality of racial inequality in Minneapolis.Hodges’ speech, an annual tradition for mayors across the country, emphasized the themes that led her to an easy victory in the 2013 election. As Gino Terrell wrote on the Daily Planet earlier this week, Hodges stressed education, income inequality, and climate change, as part of her plans for the upcoming year. But the well-received speech comes only months after Hodges’ efforts to devote city resources to addressing inequality became surprisingly contentious. During budget debates at City Hall, Hodges’ plans to address racial inequality sparked a small controversy, particularly in parts of the city that are struggling the most with foreclosures and racial inequality. While debating the budget, Council Members Yang and Warsame and other Council Members  voted to defund part of Mayor Hodges’ key proposals in favor of more “meat and potatoes” issues that impact neighborhoods like Jordan or Cedar-Riverside, home to many  of the highest proportions of people of color in the city. Continue Reading

Gray leaves MUL post; Steven Belton named interim

On Wednesday, April 1, 2015, the Minneapolis Urban League Board of Directors announced that Scott Gray will be stepping down as president and CEO to pursue other opportunities. Gray will remain on board with the organization for 30 days to assist with the transition. The Board has appointed experienced community leader, assistant pastor, and attorney Steven Belton as the Interim CEO. Belton and his family have had a strong connection with MUL going back to his early years when his family was honored as an “Urban League Family of the Year”. “We are thankful for Scott’s leadership over the past 6 years at the Minneapolis Urban League,” said Clinton Collins, Jr., chair of the MUL Board of Directors. “Under Scott’s leadership, MUL has strengthened its programs and partnerships. We wish him well in his new career and educational endeavors.”When the Board hired Gray nearly six years ago, he promised innovative programs to lift more Minneapolis families out of poverty. Continue Reading

Group guides flow of foundation dollars to Mpls North Side

Tawanna Black has been the executive director of Northside Funders Group (NFG) since 2013. Although NFG has been around since 2008, she is their first executive director.Black explains NFG is “a collaborative of 19 corporate, family and community foundations, including the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota, who are working to align strategies and investments in North Minneapolis.” They have three focus areas: building social capitol, workforce and economic development, and building thriving learning communities (in-school and out-of-school-time resources).NFG is located in Heritage Park Senior Service Center, near Glenwood and Dupont in North Minneapolis. Their staff work with foundations to invest in nonprofits on the North Side, getting better outcomes for families and building a better community.The members currently invest about $15 million a year in Northside organizations just in these three focus areas. Black says that many will agree that “to date, we are still not producing the level of outcome we would like to see for Northsiders… [There are] a lot of people who are not employed, [have] no access to high-quality schools, and we still have families who do not have secure housing and financial security. Although $15 million sounds like a lot, it is not achieving the outcomes we wish to see.”NFG works to help funders be smarter about their investments do a better job partnering with nonprofits, Black explains, “so they can meet families where they are and provide services in a way that works for the families, organizations and funders, so we can achieve equity at a faster pace.”From a funding perspective, Black adds, “Our members pool and align funds to approach grant-making in new ways. Continue Reading

7th Annual Augsburg Powwow

Augsburg College held its 7th annual traditional powwow on Saturday, March 28 in the Si Melby Gymnasium on campus in Minneapolis. The event was hosted by the Augusburg American Indian Student Association and American Indian Student Services. Continue Reading

Juxtaposition’s DeAnna Cummings in Barcelona to study public markets

This week, stakeholders from West Broadway Business and Area Coalition (WBC) and Juxtaposition Arts, two North Minneapolis organizations committed to developing public markets on the Northside, and 9th Ward City Council Member Alondra Cano will visit one of the world’s greatest market cities for Project for Public Spaces’ (PPS) 9th International Public Markets Conference, taking place Thursday, March 26-28, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. The WBC and Juxtaposition (JXTA) became interested in attending the conference together due to the increasing success of the WBC’s West Broadway Farmers Market, Holiday Pop Up Boutiques, and JXTA’s growing campus and placemaking work. Mutual partners connected them with Council Member Cano, whose ward includes the Midtown Farmers Market; CM Cano and is very invested in strengthening the city of Minneapolis’ funding and policy efforts to better support public market infrastructure and development.”There is currently a boom of creative placemaking activities emanating from Minnesota and markets are one of the original forms of placemaking. We’re excited for the opportunity of an immersive learning experience that we can share and build upon with our partners and colleagues locally,” said DeAnna Cummings, Executive Director of Juxtaposition.DeVon Nolen, manager of the West Broadway Farmers Market, said, “I look forward to sharing and learning some of the best practices around public markets internationally. Increasing access to public space is critical to our work in advancing toward growing a vibrant cosmopolitan city where all citizens are safe and welcomed!”The conference includes two full days of speakers and workshops, as well as an entire day touring and learning about the inner workings of Barcelona’s extraordinary markets, led by experts from the Institut Municipal de Mercats de Barcelona (IMMB), operator of the city’s remarkable market system.”Locally, we have a demand for economic development projects that value the environment and empower underserved communities,” said Ninth Ward Minneapolis City Council Member, Alondra Cano. “Globally, strong public market systems are effectively operating to meet these very demands and it’s time for the city of Minneapolis to view public markets as a serious economic development strategy. Continue Reading

SPOKES and Cycles for Change to Merge

On January 1, we had a big change: SPOKES (the community bike center just east of the LRT on 22nd Street) merged with Cycles for Change, a community bike center headquartered in St. Paul. The two community bike centers have very similar programs. Also, Cycles for Change provided fantastic support to SPOKES when it was starting two and a half years ago.We will keep SPOKES great staff, location, programs, and hours. (details at www.SpokesConnect.org) • Our Open Shop (where we help you fix your bike) stays on Saturday afternoons and Wednesday evenings,•Our Earn-a-Bike course continue,• Our Learn-to-Ride course will start again this spring• Our volunteer nights stay the same,• The Hub Mini Store @SPOKES will actually add hours this spring (adding Sunday to sell reconditioned used bikes) SPOKES is actually merging with an old friend. There has been a long history of collaboration between SPOKES and Cycles for Change (as long as that a two and a half year old program can have):• Most of SPOKES’ programs and policies were designed using Cycles for Change’s programs as a template.• For its first year, SPOKES contracted with Cycles for Change to provide staff support for the Learn-to-Ride program and Open Shop.• SPOKES has been a branch of Cycles for Change’s Community Partners Bike Library Program for the last two years. In addition, SPOKES is joining with a couple old friends: Cycles for Change’s current Executive Director (Jason Tanzman) and current board president (Katya Pilling) were the two people responsible for the original idea of starting a community bike center in Seward. Continue Reading

The Disability Community is “Making Strides” Toward Better Transit Access

The recently released Making Strides 2014 Accessibility Survey provides a wealth of data about the challenges faced by members of the disability community as they seek to access the Green Line. The report also makes clear why it’s so important to make sure that people with disabilities can get to the station safely and easily.Background data drawn from Minnesota Compass research shows we’re not dealing with just a small number of people. Currently,  approximately 10% of Minnesotans have a disability, and in some areas of the Twin Cities that percentage almost doubles; for example, in downtown Saint Paul, more than 18% of the population has a disability . There are also heavy concentrations of people with disabilities living along the Green Line where 44% (7 of 16) of Saint Paul Public Housing Hi-Rise buildings are located.Another reason it’s important to make sure people with disabilities can get to the station is that many are regular transit riders who depend on the bus or the light rail to get around independently and participate in the community. The report cites Metro Transit numbers that show heavy use of the Green Line: “In September 2014, the third full month of Green Line service, seven of the fourteen stations in Saint Paul had more than 1,000 boardings by people with disabilities, …and more than 2,000 boarded at Central Station.”Waiting to board the light railThe 2014 Accessibility Survey was planned and carried out by the District Councils Collaborative (DCC) in partnership with members of the disability community, some of whom had also participated in the DCC’s 2012 Walkability Survey. Continue Reading

The Geography of Twin Cities Race

An earlier version of this essay appeared in the March 18, 2015 edition of Politics in Minnesota. Why are the Twin Cities so segregated?  This is the perplexing question and title of report recently issued  by Myron Orfield and the Institute of Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota.  Why perplexing?  It is because he juxtaposes how the “Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area is known for its progressive politics and forward-thinking approach to regional planning” with the reality of the educational and residential segregation that exists. Continue Reading

Breakfast smoothies a hit at Cooper High School

Students at Cooper High School were given a new option on the breakfast menu last week, and if the first few days are any indication, smoothies have hit the spot. The fruit and yogurt smoothies were first served on March 4, when 100 of the beverages sold out in the first eight minutes of serving. During breakfast on March 6, 175 smoothies sold out in less than 10 minutes.”This week is National School Breakfast Week, and it was our goal to serve the smoothies for the first time this week,” said Child Nutrition Program Assistant Michelle Sagedahl. “Cooper has worked hard to get the program up and running. Child Nutrition works hard to offer choices that are popular with students and that coincide with current trends. A wide variety of options were already being offered daily for breakfast, but smoothies offer one more choice for students.”The school is able to provide the smoothies due to a partnership with the Action for Healthy Kids, a national nonprofit that fights childhood obesity, undernourishment and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places. Continue Reading