FREE SPEECH ZONE | Community Development: Miles away, but still your business

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You may not think that the redevelopment of the Lyndale Garden Center site in Richfield, or the opening of a new Native American art gallery on Franklin Ave., or the creation of a community garden in Hopkins have anything to do with you. You live nowhere near those neighborhoods.

You’d be wrong.

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There’s a deep interrelationship between the vitality of our region and the vitality of all the neighborhoods that make it up. Think of it like a tree. If the tree’s roots are healthy, the tree is healthy. And if the tree is healthy, the leaves keep nurturing the roots. It’s called symbiosis.

If all our neighborhoods are vital, our region is vital. If our region is vital, everyone who lives here has many more transportation, job, and educational opportunities. Who doesn’t want that? 

But if some neighborhoods are faring poorly, the region misses an opportunity to fully engage these residents in the economy and the community. As a result, our regional vitality suffers—affecting us all.

Likewise, when neighborhood stakeholders work hard to improve the quality of life for their residents, those improvements ripple across the entire region. For example, when the American Indian Community Blueprint that’s been developed through an intensive community engagement process achieves its goal of creating an American Indian Cultural Corridor alongFranklin Ave.—the Twin Cities will have a vibrant new tourism destination with art galleries, shops, restaurants, and other attractions. That’s good for the whole metro region.

As the Blake Road Corridor Collaborative succeeds in creating a new community garden on newly acquired land being added to Cottageville Park, area residents will not only have better nutrition and a beautiful gathering place, but the neighborhood has a new amenity that can contribute to community stability. That’s good for the whole metro region.

If the city, developer, residents, and businesses in Richfield, who are just completing a community planning process to turn the old Lyndale Garden Center site into a town center with retail, housing, and green space attractions, are successful, that boosts the economy of the area. That’s good for the whole metro region.

These three examples demonstrate the power of community development, which helps create a strong sense of place and unites neighbors in good works that make their community more livable and attractive.

It takes great communities to build a prosperous, competitive region—somewhere we all want to live, work, and raise children. So, when you hear about community development plans to revitalize a vacant garden center or housing plans along the new University Avenuelight rail line—miles and miles from your home—listen up. It really is your business.