North High School (NHS) is part of the Minneapolis Public School System and its student body includes mostly African Americans. Ninety percent of the students qualified for free or reduced lunch (Minneapolis Public Schools Fact Sheet, 2011). Identified as a ‘dropout factory,’ partly because its senior class had 60 percent or fewer of the students who entered as freshmen (Zuckerbrod, 2007), NHS was phased to close by 2014 (Xiong, 2010). This news was met with emotional resistance from both students and members of the community, who pushed back to keep NHS open (Weber, 2010). Book and science exhibits that line the halls and classrooms instill in students a sense of achievement and aspirations for the future (Strickland & Hadjiyanni, 2013).
North High School
Project Sweetie Pie uses gardens and urban farming as devices for teaching and helping youth enjoy learning and explore diverse career paths. The organization serves as an example of supporting equality, conserving local recourses, as well as enhancing North Minneapolis’ economic prospects. Founder Michael Chaney discusses the importance of providing opportunities for youth development: “It isn’t just dollars, it’s the young people and the people who will become the leaders of tomorrow. How can we hope to be sustainable if we’re not educating those people?…. And gardens could bring in corporate fellows and their families and their children. And bring in neighborhood residents and their families and their children. It gives us a direction and goal in the community to really focus our creativity.”
Project Sweetie Pie
Photo credit: Project Sweetie Pie
Spokes Bike Walk Connect offers an Earn-a-Bike program. Director of Spokes, Sheldon Mains, describes it as a program “where people can come in and work for four weeks on a used bike that we give them. We help them figure out how to fix it. And they leave after four weeks with a working bike.” Spokes teaches biking to new immigrants and this commitment is reflected in a mural that adorns the wall of their bike shop. In the words of Mains: “We did a mural on the wall…of the lounge/classroom/kitchen and it’s a big bicycle with a key…and then on the wall we have the bicycle parts in English, Spanish and Somali.”
Spokes Bike Walk Connect
The YMCA works “side-by-side with [their] neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive” (The YMCA, 2015). Director of Member Services Brian Kline explains, “One of our stated goals is to make our facilities and everything available to all people…this means having signs in three different languages even though there is not enough room on the sign…Also, [to accommodate the needs of Somali women, who swim clothed] that means extra stress on our filters, extra stress on the chemicals…You have to be more vigilant on the pool chemicals and replacing filters.”
Almost a third (28.1 percent) of Seward community’s population is foreign born, compared to 15.3 percent of Minneapolis’ population (American Community Survey, 2012-2016). Kerry Cashman, Community Coordinator of the Seward Neighborhood Group talked about community building: “We came up with the idea of having meals together, ongoing. And so we set up two sets of meals, four Tuesday nights, and the request was that if you said you would come, you had to come to all four…and we would have a topic each week. And they’d be like, talking about gardening or talking about animals or food or traditions, holiday traditions and then eating together. And it was amazing.”
Seward Neighborhood Group
The Light Rail Transit (LRT) plays an important role in fostering connections, providing easy and affordable access to areas such as the two cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, the Mall of America, and the Minneapolis/ St Paul International Airport. Transit-oriented development along the light rail translated into hundreds of new housing units — including million-dollar condos, market-rate apartments and low-income housing that cater to the region’s increasing population. The Corridor Development Initiative (CDI) helped the development of the LRT by coordinating and facilitating processes that brings together all interested parties — governing agencies, developers, and neighborhood and community interests.
The Light Rail Transit
Local/global connections are firmly established through airports with international connections. The Minneapolis – Saint Paul International Airport serves twenty non-stop international markets. According to Phil Burke, Director of MSP Operations, efforts to celebrate the area’s diverse cultural roots as well as enable visitors to learn more about the region, include exhibit spaces that feature works by local artists, renovated bathrooms whose walls are adorned with Minnesota imagery, mosaic floors that showcase Minnesota’s character and natural landscape, as well as an international fair.
Minneapolis – Saint Paul International Airport
Target retail stores include wide aisles in order to accommodate large families and multiple carts, a common occurrence with the extended family structure of many new immigrant groups. At the same time, Target’s signage relies on symbols rather than words to communicate information such as product placement, bathroom usage, and circulation options (Target, 2013).
A language other than English at home are spoken by 11.5 percent of Minnesotans (around 614,000 people) (Ryan, 2013). Behind English, the most common languages spoken in the homes of Minnesotans ages 5 and older are Spanish (about 193,600 speakers), Hmong (56,200 speakers), and Cushite* (38,135 speakers) (American Community Survey, 2015). Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota display signs in both English and Somali languages throughout the hospital.* Includes Oromo, Somali, Sidamo and other East African languages.
Responding to the love of soccer among Somalis and Latinos, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board has created artificial turf fields throughout the city. As Jayne Miller, Superintendent, notes “parks are the great equalizer in any community…. because everyone has access to them….we make sure that our policies and procedures aren’t barriers for people to use our facilities and services.” The Minneapolis Park System is the #1 park system in the US (Minneapolis Retains, 2017).
Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board
Photo credit: May 2013 Photo by Scott A. Schneider for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. 612.670.7116 – email@example.com