Community organizations plants community garden in hopes of disrupting cycle of violence

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Community members in north Minneapolis spent their Saturday morning planting a garden on a street corner known for heavy crime.

The corner of Lyndale and Broadway is known as a place of pain and violence.

The community is hoping to plant a new seed to bring peace to the Northside.

“We’re hoping that we can plant some seeds of healing, joy and peace and create life in this place as well,” Edrin Williams, Sanctuary Covenant Church senior pastor, said.

Williams has a front row seat to a violence hotspot in north Minneapolis.

Sanctuary Covenant Church is steps away from the corner of Lyndale and Broadway where gunshots and sirens go hand-in-hand.

“It’s a regular occurrence. We’re not isolated in any way from the challenges that our city has seen the last couple years,” Williams said.

Williams said it’s discouraging to witness ongoing violence, but he approaches the issue with compassion.

“When we hear the gunshot, we think about the person on the other side. What is the kind of hopelessness that they’re dealing with that would make them think that’s the best way to solve the issue or to respond?” Williams said.

The church and ‘Love MPLS” are teaming up to disrupt the cycle of violence and change the narrative.

“It’s been proven here in Minneapolis and in other cities that when we take spaces that are routinely not cared for and begin to care for them, it impacts the spirit and the mood and the place,” Williams said.

About 30 volunteers spent their Saturday giving the Merwin Liquors parking lot a facelift.

Raised garden beds and flowers stretch across the area cutting the amount of parking spaces in half.

The nonprofit also closed the Broadway entrance to the liquor store with concrete barriers for safety.

“As well as to discourage loitering and some of the other negative behaviors that have happened in this lot, but in an artistic and creative manner,” Andrea Lee, Love MPLS board member, said. “A lot of sad and tragic things have happened here. Good things can happen here too and there can be a change.”

Leaders call the community garden a hub for healing and an opportunity to turn the page and start a new chapter on the Northside.

“I’d love to see families riding bikes and people just actually being able to live and enjoy their city and not worry ‘If I’m here for too long, a shooting might take place that might impact me,’” Williams said.