Posts Tagged ‘Empty Homes and Hopes’

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REBUILDING vs EMPTY HOMES; EMPTY HOPE

May 20, 2012

A year ago, a tornado caused havoc across North Minneapolis.  More than 50% of the area’s 7000 properties were damaged but at the time, we gave thanks for the minimal lives lost – one in the storm and one during cleanup. 

This weekend, the press revisited the sites to reflect on the recovery progress. 

KARE 11 featured the uplifting story of the REBUILDING – only 250 damaged homes remain unresolved.  So we learned about TREECOVERY with the MPRB/community replanting plans for over 3000 trees-to be nurtured by local residents, and the Habitat for Humanity block party to celebrate the good progress made.  We learned that Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity- after finishing phase one of repair to 30 homes- are now poised for phase two- the building of new homes to replace those that were lost.  We heard briefly about what was left to be done…but that unfinished business was expressed- in the views of one resident who was still waiting for assistance – in terms of being hopeful homes will get fixed, new homes will be built and his community will continue to heal.

As I read that, I was reminded of my evening there at the Capri just a couple weeks ago, and the good works being done by the community as they organize their emotions and efforts towards a better future in their process of rebuilding and city-making.

And I was reminded of conversations last month with Candy Chang, whose hometown of New Orleans is still in the process of recovery from Hurricane Katrina. But out of that came Chang’s inspiration for Creative Urban Interventions. With the Before I Die project, she transformed an abandoned house in her neighborhood into an interactive wall where residents could share their dreams.  Today we have a Before I Die board in Whittier; does there need to be one on West Broadway? 

Chang also created fill-in-the-blank I Wish This Was stickers for people to express what they want to see in then-vacant storefronts.  Today we have three interactive billboards on Hennepin, and a growing website collecting citizen input regarding what they would like to see in Minneapolis.  Perhaps we should add a sticker board on West Broadway to help capture the hopes and dreams of resilient residents as they struggle to rebuild.

This morning, however, I was struck by the contrast of the Star Tribune Exclusive EMPTY HOMES, EMPTY HOPES. Above the fold, front page/and all of A12, the news section screamed a story of physical and emotional barriers to recovery of the North Side. The article was so negative, I could hardly get through it, and as I read it, I could not help but think that were I a resident of the area, it would want to make me give up my dreams and hope, and try to leave.  

Perhaps the approach was chosen only to get attention and I should give the STRIP the benefit of the doubt…but the final sentence…  Coming Monday:  A year later, the tornado’s cost exceeds $80 million, a Star Tribune analysis has found.” …raises suspicion in my mind.  We shall have to see what the morning brings.   I can only hope we hear more on the story of West Broadway/Penn and the city and business leaders view of the corner’s revival as a catalyst for redevelopment!