Wednesday, August 27, 2008

McKnight 2nd Annual Neighborhood Outreach Gathering

The McKnight Foundation celebrated the innovative outreach efforts of neighborhood organizations in the Twin Cities on August 26th at their headquarters, including a celebratory barbecue at the end of the day.

Among the key programs highlighted this year:

APAC's Alliance for Change was held to judge the scope of the threat MNDot road projects posed to affordable housing in the Twin Cities, especially in the form of manufactured housing. They also worked with CURA to develop a GIS map to identify other communities that may be threatened, and working on their project they developed and documented successful organizing strategies to confrotnt displacement policies.

Harrison Hmong high school summer organizers have used bingo over the last 2 years to help Hmong residents identify top neighborhood concerns, take on safety and park issues and connect Hmong families with Harrison block leaders and board members. They explained how to squeeze 60 Hmong into a room designed for a dozen people and other amazing skills in community organizing.

Lyndale Youth and Family Safety Initiative is a collaboration between Lyndale Neighborhood Association and the Youth Farm and Market Project to address public safety issues facing youth and familines living around Horn Towers. Neighborhood Art on Wheels complements and adds to the initiative by developing connections between community members and the area around Horn Towers and the gardens.

Seward wanted to create a master plan for the Franklin Avenue Corridor that reflects the expertise/knowledge, vision and values of the community. The goal was to engage as many people as possible in different ways and create an organic model of interaction. They used community walks, community-wide meetings and task forces to engage residents over several months of planning. A draft of work to date includes core values documents and vignettes of implementation strategies in each focus area.

Little Earth spoke out against efforts to bring the Phillips burner to their community to keep the pollution the burner would have brought to their community from sickening their children.

West Side Citizens Organization created a project connecting a neighbor who had done fishing clinics all over the country with West Side youth and families to an understanding of our natural environment. Over 200 youth fished, met neighbors and connected with the neighborhood lake. As an incentive, WSCO gave away free fishing poles to youth participants and one free bike, rigged with a fishing pole carrier.

Leadership in Support of Neighborhoods develops the talents of emerging community leaders who are committed to strengthening the Hamline Midway (District 11) and/or Thomad-Dale (District 7) neighborhoods of Saint Paul through a year-long program that combines twice monthly peer sessions, staff support and the design and implementation of a community-based-project. Currently 12 Fellows are participating in the program, organizing projects including: backyard chicken raising, a neighborhood health festival, a folk music festival, a local food group and an environmental issues group.

Harrison Neighborhood Association has worked for years to get a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for Bassett Creek redevelopment. During this year's presentation, they discussed the nuts and bolts of developing and negotiating a community benefits agreement, and the advantages and potential pitfalls of such a process.

Latinos En Accion. The group works to address the needs of Latina women in Corcoran, Powderhorn Park and Longfellow neighborhoods. The group meets in the Park building each week to share a pot-luck meal, discuss issues facing Latina women, develop basic computer skills such as sending e-mail, enjoy an aeorbics session aimed at improving overall health and plan the next meeting. They also invite speakers on topics of interest such as child immunizations. They have removed access barriers to Powderhorn Park, improved community connections, built valuable skills among group members and encouraged park staff to hire a Spanish speaking staff member.

Longfellow Community Council was the first in Minneapolis to reach a Community Benefits Agreement with old Purina Mills site in their neighborhood and offered insightful perspectives on negotiating an effective CBA in other neighborhoods.

District 7 in Saint Paul is using GIS and GPS technology with community organizing to sustain good communication with residents. They use the technology to quanitfy the results of doork-knocking to organize the community. They partnered with U-Plan, a community planning studio, to help create interactive maps with current GIS data and grassroots field data.

From a Hawthorne neighborhood perspective, which of these would you be interested in hearing about in the future for similar activities within our neighborhood?

No comments: