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Local Group Hosts Block Party in North Minneapolis to Celebrate Community's Strengths

Updated: 08/30/2014 7:55 PM
Created: 08/30/2014 7:49 PM KSTP.com
By: Jennifer Ann Wilson

North Minneapolis has been in the headlines this summer with plenty of violent crime. We crunched the numbers and found that the 12 neighborhoods that make up north Minneapolis had more than 18,000 crimes in 2013 alone. That includes everything from homicides to larceny and aggravated assault.

Community organizations are working together to change that.

Saturday, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) partnered with other local non-profits to organize the first “Broadway Day Block Party.”  It's just one way they are encouraging residents to unite and tell the rest of the metro: Don't believe everything you hear about north Minneapolis; there's much more to this neighborhood than its reputation.

"People come into north Minneapolis, and they're like 'ooooo,'" says resident Amy Mingo. "But it's not like that."

Yes, there's crime and economic struggle, but there's also passion.

"I think it's a community worth fighting for," says Tiana Bellamy, a representative with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change.

"There are good people here," says business owner George Shannon

"People looking for their dream," says Mingo.

And there is progress.

"There's a lot of construction and new build-outs going on. And I feel like that could lead to new employment opportunities, 'cause that's really what the problem is all about," says Shannon.

The organization, Northside Achievement, says a large portion of the north Minneapolis population is under-employed, living in poverty and 25 percent of school-age children are homeless or highly mobile.

There are problems in north Minneapolis that can't be ignored, but there's also beauty that isn't often celebrated.

"The street art and the graffiti and the murals and stuff and all of the art that happens so organically here," says Bellamy.

"I just like how when I'm walking out the door and taking our dog for a walk that people honk their horn and say ‘hey,’ because they know me, and they see me and that happens everywhere in north," says Mingo.

Non-profits like NOC are on a grassroots mission to improve north Minneapolis from the inside out.

"If people are invested in the community, the community is going to progress itself and make itself a better place for the people that live there," says Bellamy.

NOC organized the first annual Broadway Day Block Party as a way to fuel progress by celebrating the community strengths and building neighborhood pride.

"I think pride is there, but there's no place to openly say, 'We're from north Minneapolis and we're proud,' and this is the kind of event where that can happen," says Shannon with a smile.

Recently NOC organized a group of people in the community to transform a vacant, overgrown lot filled with trash into an organic community garden. 

Currently they are working on a program to encourage young people to get to the polls and vote for local leaders in the upcoming November elections.

"Those small little things that are gaining footholds are really making this place great!" beams Mingo.


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