Posts Tagged ‘North Minneapolis’



July 29, 2012


Yesterday afternoon I smiled all the way from N. Second Street, up West Broadway to Penn, as I chose to take in FLOWnorthside.  How have I missed this for the last six years?

Of course, I know the area; I visit the Capri Theatre; I recommend Lundstrom’s and occasionally take in a performance there; through the RiverCurrent, I know what’s happening at the Minneapolis Photo Center-but until now, I have never visited it;  sadly, I’ve been to the West Broadway Indian Center for a wake of a small child; and when it fits, I use the product from the Cookie Cart in my events not only because it’s a great cause; but because it’s so fun to see those kids pride in the great product they bake there.

All that in addition to the  fact that since I first moved downtown in the mid 90s, Plymouth Avenue from Washington to Wirth Parkway and Broadway north out of the city have been two well-frequented paths to visit friends in the burbs.

But I had never been aware enough of what I was passing through nor was I really registering  the transformation that was taking place day after day after day.

This spring, as I’ve written of in an earlier blog, I attended a Charles Landry discussion at the Capri that became the impetus to look at this area differently.  No one could have missed the message Landry was conveying when he put up the birds-eye view of the area and pointed out the interstate “fences” that kept the northside separated from Minneapolis.

Then, a week or so ago, I watched a TPR Special  “Cornerstones: A History of North Minneapolis” that told its story and positioned the Jewish influence in the area in a way I had never noticed before.  And sadly, it brought back the visions of Plymouth Avenue “riots” of 1965, 1966 which sadly, have been engrained in the brains of whites ever since.

So  yesterday I was determined to participate in the celebration of the Northside today, as I was beginning to see it as a good example of the interculturalism I often refer to as we look to the future and what we want for the MSP metropolitan area.

 I started at Lundstrom’s for a great dance performance; then on to find not only the Mpls Photo Center, but the Two Tigers Gallery as well.  Great art, and two fabulous photo installations…with more food for thought than one can possibly absorb in a single afternoon!   Just don’t look out the windows toward the river….or you will be reminded how unsightly the “business” of the river can be!

As I got in my car to head over the interstate, I sighted one of the things that motivated me to stop in the  N2nd cluster in the first place….the PEDAL STAGE!  We love our bikes; we love our bike trails; we love our pedal cabs and we love our pedal pubs in Minneapolis, but now we have a new innovation to pedal.  Sure enough, there it was, pedaled by hearty volunteers as they towed the mobile stage AND the band playing on its deck!  And by the smiles on the faces of all in the street, it was a hit.

Running out of time, I raced up to the Capri to see for a second time, the TPT footage being shown in the theatre at 3PM.  WOW!  Little did I know, the video producer was the host.  Little did I expect the impact of a second viewing.  And little did I expect the engaging impassioned discussion of whites and Asians, Hispanics and African Americans, asking questions, sharing memories, and coming together as one people, all originally immigrants to MN,  with a common love– the history and culture of the north side! (Along with a great love for Asuncion and for North High, I might add).

No one got up and exited; all of us wanting it to continue.  But alas, Taiko Drumming was scheduled for 5PM so we had to vacate. 

The beer garden  and the KMOJ Stage beckoned, but  I wanted to get on down to the Knox intersection  for the Soul Train Dance Line gathering…you may have seen the picture of same in the Sunday Strib this morning – YES!  The people gathered here were definitely into “Boogyin’ Down Broadway – and I was into witnessing them do it!

By the time I got to the KFAI Summer Festival stage, I had missed the Minnesota Lynx, a West African drum and dance, Matt the Magician, “If Eye May”, and an Asian ethnic dance so only caught a bit of hip hop and Les Jolies Petites – all on stage behind the Cookie Cart.

Yes, of course, this was my last stop of the day….it’s been so long ago, I don’t even remember when I first heard of the Cookie Cart and the good work they are doing building life skills in the neighborhood and much much more.  But I do remember several events that gave me an opportunity to use their product, and one in particular, when the kids came along with the purchase, to serve up cookies and coffee under a Target branded tent inside the warehouse at Skyway!  They were a pleasure to work with then, and they were absolutely delightful in the midst of crowds of people wanting a cookie, or a dozen or big box, as a whole lot of folks FLOWed into their storefront yesterday!

I left before I found the Open Eye’s tandem bicycle pulling “the city’s smallest theatre  to present impromptu five-minute performances”; and although I was excited to hear I could still catch the  West Broadway Historic Walking Tour on Sunday at 10:30, I did not make it back.  Bummer!  The tour used footprints layered on the sidewalk, and your own smartphone to share through augmented reality, historic photos of how various places looked in the past. 

What an absolutely GREAT AFTERNOON!



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!