OPINION | Bringing the Lyndale neighborhood together for ‘Nicollet Votes’


This past month Lyndale begun working on the Nicollet Votes project. The goal for this project is to increase voter turnout in the Lyndale, Kingfield, Stevens Square, and Whittier neighborhoods from 57 percent to 65 percent in this non-presidential election year and to have over a thousand conversations with community members about what is important to them in their neighborhood. The project will do this through voter registration, being present at community events, phone banks, and thirty-two neighborhood doorknocks.

At the beginning of August, Lyndale brought on two canvassers, a neighborhood intern, and a HECUA intern through the U of M to work on Nicollet Votes. After recruitment and canvassing training, the team began recruiting volunteers at events throughout the four neighborhoods.

The Nicollet Votes team includes two canvassers, Hani Ali and Cesar Atienzo, who are being paid through a grant from the Minneapolis Foundation, Charlotte who is our neighborhood intern, and Nathaniel Elder who will be joining the project in September from HECUA. In this article you’ll get a brief introduction to each member of our canvass team and a short description of what the project will look like in Lyndale.

Greetings, I’m Hani. I came to this country 14 years ago, but people in my community still spend a lot of time talking about Somali politics. I’m excited about this project because I want my community to get involved in their present life in the United States. Back home being involved in politics was limited, but in this community you can make a difference. I’m here to say come out to vote and have a voice. I’m looking forward to meeting you.

I’m Charlotte and I have lived in Minneapolis for all 17 years of my life. I got involved with the Lyndale Neighborhood Association though the community conversations organized by LNA. One of the things that came up in the conversation was that people in our neighborhood wanted to get involved with the community, but didn’t know how. That was definitely the case with me. I know how important it is in small communities like ours to get our voices heard. One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply go out and vote, because the people elected are the people who represent you and your community.

Hello my name is Cesar and I have lived in the Lyndale neighborhood for over 10 years. I really like living here because the diversity of the people, the beautiful parks, and the bike paths. I got involved with the Nicollet Votes Project because growing up in Mexico City I had the opportunity to help organize people in my neighborhood. I have been working with the Latino community in Minneapolis and this is another opportunity for me to help my community and help create a better place for everyone.

Lyndale’s first canvass day is on Wednesday, September 17th. We’ll meet at the Lyndale Community Center at 3537 Nicollet for a training at 6pm, and we’ll finish the evening by 8:30pm. At the canvass you’ll have training, a script, and a partner to get you ready for success knocking on the doors of our neighborhood.

These conversations are very important. They are not only about making our democracy work for us at the polls, they are also about engaging the community around the issues that are important to our community members. This is a way for us to bring democracy to our neighborhood

After the first canvass we’ll be in Lyndale every week on different days. We’ll try to knock our entire neighborhood, but in order to do that, we need your help! Contact Jennifer: jennifer@lyndale.org / 612.824.9402 x 12 to get involved.