Neighbors from Powderhorn Park are coming together in response to the recent bouts of violence by organizing a “Peace in Powderhorn” vigil on December 1 and a safety brainstorming meeting on December 2. The intent of the vigil is to honor those affected by violence and reclaim Powderhorn Park. Neighbors are encouraged to bring music, art, puppets, laughter, hope, and food, according to a press release.
Candlelight Peace in Powderhorn event will take place on Wednesday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m. at 32nd Street adn 14th Avenue South.
The vigil and neighborhood meeting are in response to a series of sexual assaults that happened over Thanksgiving weekend, and to the November 12 drive-by shooting that left a 12-year-old girl partially paralyzed after being shot in the neck.
Powderhorn Neighbor and TC Daily Planet contributor Molly Priesmeyer said the idea for the vigil came about online via the E-Democracy neighborhood forum for Powderhorn Park. Someone suggested perhaps holding a vigil, which quickly evolved into a celebration. “Everyone agreed that we needed to come together to honor the community and to think of creative ways we could move forward and combat the increased youth violence,” Priesmeyer said in an email.
Message from one of the victims:
*We Survived Grandly, We’re Blessed with an Abundance of Support and Love*
First of all I want to tell you what a strange experience I have as I read the postings on this forum and read the news reports of the incident that my children and I experienced. When we get talked about in the third person it seems like they’re talking about someone else and then I get scared for those people they are talking about and then I realize they’re talking about me! I never thought I’d ever have this experience and I sure would have liked to have made the news for some other reason!
Second, I want to tell you that my children and I are doing quite well considering that we had a gun held to our chests only three days ago. On Thanksgiving, the day after the incident, my children said two things to me that give me hope for their healing and I would like to share what they said with you.
I was trying to reassure the kids by telling them that they were safe since the boys who did this were in jail. My son replied, “That’s too bad. They didn’t know what they were doing. Now they don’t get to have the life of fun that I have.” I’m pretty amazed at his compassion and understanding.
And my daughter said later in the day of her brother, “I was annoyed at him because he was kicking the couch while we were sitting, but I didn’t want to say anything because I’m so happy to have him.”
I have a lot to learn from my kids about staying in touch with what really matters in life. We sure got a profound lesson in having gratitude for just being alive. And don’t worry, they have quickly fallen back to their habits of bickering with each other, which I see as a sure sign they are moving on and getting back to normalcy.
I have so much gratitude for the friends and neighbors who supported us with such care and love after the incident. Wow what a great neighborhood we live in. And I hold dear to my heart the police officers who answered our call. They showed me a dedication to serving the people of their precinct.
I’m amazed at the perseverance and care of the officer who followed the boys’ tracks in the snow and managed to be there when the two girls had pushed off their attackers and run away. The girls ran right into the two officers who were tracking the sneaker prints.
I do want to correct one major inaccuracy in the news that I have read. None of us were raped, to the best of my knowledge. Yes, I was sexually assaulted but the girls did manage to fight off the boys and escape before anything happened. I really have a huge repulsion at the labeling of us as victims. I see us as strong and capable of taking charge of our safety.
I find it ironic to have had this experience as I currently study nonviolence, restorative justice and the healing of childhood trauma. I got to put my studies and my practice of mindfulness into play as the incident unfolded. The whole time I made a conscious choice to see the boys as human beings, not to see them as evil or bad. I focus my attention not on the boys’ actions but the pain behind their actions. I see those boys as hurting, scared children who didn’t get the kind of nurture, love and care that they needed. I try to hold them now in compassion and hope that they might get the support they need to reconnect to their essential goodness.
With the system of justice that we currently use, I’m hopeless that will happen.
I want to say too that I do also hold a lot of fear in my body in response to the trauma and I want to acknowledge that a lot of people now feel fear as a result of what happened to us. This event was huge and it will continue to have a huge impact on all of us in this community. I do hope for myself though to take the awesome energy of my fear and channel it into finding ways to support precious beings that come into this world to get all the love, fun, and nurture that is their birthright.
I won’t let my fear however keep me from enjoying our beautiful park and neighborhood. The park is a refuge for me from the hustle and bustle of the city. It connects me to nature and creativity. Our family has enjoyed so many riches here: pottery classes at the park, the May Day Parade, the art festival, the art sled rally, the Animal Convergence, picnics, fishing off the dock, the Empty Bowls fundraiser, skating on the lake, birdwatching, foraging for mushrooms, the playgrounds, laying on the grass and looking at the sky, the list goes on and on. Thank you all for making this such a great place to live.
I guess I might fall into despair, hopelessness and hatred sometime along my healing journey, but I can honestly say I don’t experience them right now. My spiritual practices ground me in love and possibility.
I see that a vigil has been scheduled for Wednesday night. Please take this as an opportunity to celebrate our riches. I would love it if people came out to sing, dance, ski, sled, play Frisbee, etc. Let’s make it a celebration of our community and our park! At one point the boys asked for our skis. I wish they could have taken them and used them and experienced the pure joy of gliding in the fresh snow, getting winded from exertion and breathing in cool, fresh air. Please send them all the love you can muster. I think they really need it.
I just heard this Cat Stevens song for the first time. You might indulge me by listening to it. The third stanza from the end really spoke to me today. It says, “I’m glad I’m alive, am I; I’m glad I’m alive, am I; I’m glad I’m alive, I’m glad I’m alive; I’m glad I’m
As I read back what I’ve written I’m a bit embarrassed, because find it a bit long-winded and preachy but it’s the best I can come up with at this time.
“It’s a testament to this unique community,” Priesmeyer continued, “to its ability to use creativity for healing and progress even in the most tragic and scary of circumstances.” Instead of responding with anger, neighbors want to seek positivity instead of despair. “It was so inspiring to see the immediate response,” Priesmeyer said, “to see people encouraging one another to come to the park not in mourning, but in healing and celebration of the community. It would be easy to respond only with anger, and of course so many people are feeling great anger, which is understandable. But this is a very compassionate, hopeful, spiritual community. It was so evident in the email exchanges–people wanting to seek positivity instead of despair. It was so inspiring to see the immediate response, to see people encouraging one another to come to the park not in mourning, but in healing and celebration of the community.”
Neighbor Sara Bergen said she was surprised by the nature of the violence, and was particularly troubled that the assaults were perpetrated by teenagers.
However, she said that if such a thing had to happen, it’s best it happened in Powderhorn because “we have particularly effective ways to respons to this kind of thing.” She said she hoped the community response will bring about some positive change.
On Thursday, December 2, The Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association will host a Safety Brainstorming Gathering at 6:30 in order to discuss ways community members can use their strength and creativity to make the neighborhood a safer place for everyone to live and thrive. Ideas so far have included dog-walking groups; neighborhood monitors; park patrols; community changes and meditations for healing; and yoga and youth newspaper classes, according to the press release.
Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden said that she was amazed by how resilient and positive the Powderhorn community has been in response to the violence. “This is a beautiful thing,” she said of the planned vigil. “The plan will be very meaningful to the community at large. My hat is off to these neighbors- one of the first things suggested was about bringing positive energy back to the park.”
In addition to the vigil and meeting, Powderhorn residents are also encouraging donations to the family of Guadalupe Galeno Hernandez, the 12 year old girl who was shot in the neck on November 12, and paralyzed as a result of a drive-by shooting. Donations can be given the family’s website at http://helpguadalupe.com/. Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization (CANDO) will also be holding a fundraising event in the next couple of weeks, according to Elizabeth Glidden.