After 28 years I’m a newbie in Northeast Minneapolis and environs. Truth to tell, I regret to say that I have never really taken root, seldom identified myself as a Windom Park resident, and never actually made the clear distinction between the city and the surrounding suburbs. Though I read The Northeaster cover to cover, frequent the local coffee houses, and try whenever to possible support local merchants, I never explored the roots of my community.
Two recent events have awakened me to what I’ve been missing. First, was attendance at a talk by writer Gail Olson given as part of the Shop and Learn program of the Village Farmer’s Market. Gail is publishing a book about St. Anthony Village, the suburb just North and East of Windom Park, my Northeast neighborhood. Everyone in the room knew the stories about the farms that prevailed in the area until the tornadoes hit. They knew about the families who settled the area, who multiplied and stayed to build the lovely suburb that is St. Anthony Village. They knew about the famous greenhouses for which the area is still renowned. They traced their roots, identified photos, told great stories about their youth and families in the area.
All of this insider talk focused on The Village made me realize just how integrated Northeast communities, particularly the Windom Park, Audubon Park and Waite Park neighborhoods, are linked with our neighbors to the East. I’m fascinated by the ways in which our lives today glaze over geography and history as we travel the common thoroughfares and bikeways, ride the same buses, frequent the same shops and restaurants, attend the same churches with little regard to where we live. Even children who form neighborhood coalitions during long summer days, ship off in all directions when the days shorten and the school bells ring.
The second epiphany was my agreement to serve as Twin Cities Daily Planet reporter for my Windom Park neighborhood. This brought me back to the hood I hardly know.
In the St. Paul neighborhood where I grew up, one’s neighborhood was all-defining. I totally resisted that labeling – a fled. Still, granted the obvious drawbacks to that pre-deterministic model, I did throw out the proverbial baby. In my youth, I “escaped” the neighborhood while retaining happy memories of same. In my dotage, it is occurring to me that it has been my loss to ignore the street where I live – its history, its features and flaws, its possibilities. As I’m thinking about my Windom Park “beat” I’m beginning to appreciate the distinct history of this small community and to better understand the way in which very local community needs are served by local government agencies, nonprofits, community organizations, schools, churches and businesses. I want to capture that local tone – which means I have much to learn about the neighborhood where I have lived so long and still remained an outsider.
I know that there are neighborhood leaders in this and every community who have understood this all along. I come as a neighborhood newbie who may represent others like me in this transient metropolis. I appreciate the opportunity to live and learn in Windom Park and look forward to sharing what’s happening in the neighborhood I’ve been too busy or too blind to truly know all these years.
|Neighborhood Notes are updates about what’s happening in Twin Cities neighborhoods, submitted by our volunteer neighborhood correspondents, and not edited by the TC Daily Planet. Click to learn more about our neighborhood correspondents, or about becoming a neighborhood correspondent.|