Minneapolis is a city with a commitment to “community”—there is this desire to participate in community events, meet our neighbors, be outdoors together and find new ways to interact with new neighbors and different cultures. Summer typically showcases this attitude but in Kingfield we saw a post-summer example this past weekend during Nicollet Open Streets.
Open Streets Mpls is an initiative of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. On selected weekend days the city closes several blocks of certain main thoroughfares so neighbors can walk, bike, skateboard, play music, meet new people, and neighborhood shops and eateries can bring their business outside to the people.
Open Streets Mpls has grown from a single event in 2011 to six events this year, including the first on Nicollet Avenue. The Lyndale and Kingfield neighborhood associations spent the past several months planning and organizing over 90 activities, food sites and live events that took place between Lake Street and 46th Street between noon and 5:00 on Sunday, Sept. 14.
Some of our Work Fast internship sites got involved, with Butter Bakery hosting a stage with live music and spoken word and the Salvation Army thrift store children’s games hosting games. Here at Nicollet Square we organized a chalk poetry activity centered on the question: “What does home mean to you?”
As a response, youth tenants and passersby created short pieces of poetry on this theme on the sidewalk in front of the building. One tenant wrote that “home means a safe environment” and another simply wrote that home means “Nicollet Square.” A neighbor said “A place to return to, welcomed no matter what, no matter how long: home.”
What’s great for us is that events like Nicollet Avenue Open Streets remind our neighbors that to the tenants of our program, “home” means finding a safe place within a safe neighborhood, where neighbors welcome them and their home has a name: Nicollet Square.
Jenny is Beacon’s collaborative partners manager at Nicollet Square and lives in the Kingfield neighborhood where she serves on the neighborhood association board.