One Minneapolis, Growing North
2012 State of the City Address (April 11, 2012)
Six years ago we came together here in the Capri Theater for the 2006 State of the City speech.
We talked about this great history of this 85-year-old building, the last remaining movie house in north Minneapolis. About the role the Capri has played in bringing the community together. About the night of January 5, 1979, when a young musician named Prince performed on this stage — tickets were $4 — which led to a second concert two weeks later that was attended by a Warner Brothers agent, which led to his getting a recording contract.
People listening to my speech in 2006 were uncomfortable for a couple reasons: first, I talked for more than an hour; and second, the audience sat in broken-down seats with almost no air conditioning and a coating of dust everywhere.
Good news on both fronts: I am not going to speak for an hour. And look at this place! New seats, air conditioning, new lobby, sound system, marquee. The Capri has become the showplace and anchor of Broadway that we only dreamed about in 2006.
We want to come back here today to celebrate the progress at the Capri, but also to ask again the question we asked back in 2006: How is North Minneapolis and what does that mean for the rest of the city?
Back in 2006, North Minneapolis was a very challenged place for the people who lived here.
- Residents faced very serious and rapidly escalating crime, centered around an epidemic of youth violence.
- Housing stock was deteriorating, with the foreclosure crisis looming.
- Commercial growth was stagnant.
- Unemployment was higher than the rest of the city or region.
- Just about any indicator — the achievement gap in schools, the graduation rate, health disparities, you name it — looked worse here than in the rest of the city and the state.
Back then, I said that attacking these challenges in North Minneapolis was the right thing to do. We were guided then by the principle that where there is disproportionate need, the City and its partners will make disproportionate investments.
This city of compassion is what it is today because we believe we are all in this together, and if one neighbor, or one neighborhood, is challenged, we all step up to level the playing field.
That was true then and it’s true today. But it has also never been clearer that investing in North Minneapolis is also the smart thing to do.
That's in part because if the city wants to grow, the key will be North Minneapolis.
To understand why, look at the latest census. Before it came out, many of us were predicting that Minneapolis' population would rise. It made sense when we saw all the housing units that had been added along the river and other parts of downtown, in Uptown and along the Midtown Greenway.
But when the census numbers came out, they showed that Minneapolis' population was nearly unchanged.
We weren’t entirely wrong: some parts of the city were growing. Downtown, for example, added 5,000 residents, for a 10-year growth rate of 23%.
But we did not grow overall because North Minneapolis was hemorrhaging residents. These neighborhoods lost more than 7,700 people, or 11% of the population, in 10 years.
Why does it matter if we grow?
- The more people we have the more we collect in property taxes.
- The more people paying, the less each of us has to pay to support the police, fire, roads and other basic services.
- And the more we grow the more customers we have for our businesses. That means stores and restaurants and vibrant commercial streets.
So when one part of town loses more than 10% of its population in a decade it hurts all of us.
This population loss in North Minneapolis hurt everyone in the city, but it also creates a big opportunity.North Minneapolis now has a huge supply of land and houses, just at the time when demographics show that people are moving back into cities. Our city can grow fast, right away — with no big investment, no big argument about how dense we want our city to be — just by getting more people to move to North Minneapolis, which happens to be a tremendous bargain right now.
The recipe for growing North Minneapolis is straightforward: Invest in safety, housing, jobs, connections and youth.
Growing strong communities starts with safety, because in any city, in any part of any city and especially in North Minneapolis, nothing can work if people aren’t safe and don’t feel safe.
In 2006, I said that public safety would be our top priority for Minneapolis as a whole and for North Minneapolis in particular. And I know that we all remember that 2006 was a terrible year for Minneapolis as a whole and for North Minneapolis in particular.
But in 2012, Minneapolis as a whole, and especially North Minneapolis, is dramatically safer — and the crime rate has fallen faster in North Minneapolis than in the city at large.
- Citywide, violent crime has fallen 41%, to a 28-year low.
- In North Minneapolis, violent crime has fallen 45%.
- Citywide, Part I crime — violent and property crime together — has fallen 21%, to a 47-year low.
- In North Minneapolis, Part I crime has fallen 27%.
There are many reasons for this dramatic improvement, but I want to mention three of them:
- The men and women of the Minneapolis Police Department, led by Chief Tim Dolan, and the officers of the Fourth Precinct here in North Minneapolis, led by Inspector Mike Martin.
- Our partnerships with community organizations, nonprofits, faith organizations, philanthropies and others.
- The residents of North Minneapolis.
But before we let our guard down, we have to take a clear-eyed look at some troubling signs in the last few months in Minneapolis, when violent and property crime are on the rise.
We shouldn’t read too much into a few months, but this should shake us from any sense of complacency we have. We have fought too hard to make this city safer and made too much progress to turn the clock back, so I will continue working with Chief Dolan and Assistant Chief Harteau to make sure we keep North Minneapolis and all our communities safe.
Communities can grow if people feel safe. And they can grow if people can find, and afford, good places to live. One new home and one new homeowner can have ripple effects that help an entire block, neighborhood and city.
But sometimes you need to improve more than one home at a time.
This philosophy is behind the cluster approach of the Northside Home Fund, which has proven its success in six clusters where:
- We removed the blight of more than 100 properties.
- 43 homes have been rehabbed or built new.
- 41 new homeowners have moved into the clusters.
I am especially proud of the success of the Cottage Park and Hawthorne Eco-Village clusters, where working hand-in-hand with neighbors, developers, funders and others, we have driven down crime dramatically and turned what had been two of the toughest areas of North Minneapolis into two of the most desirable areas of North Minneapolis.
But although successful, we started undertaking this cluster work just as the foreclosure crisis hit — and as we know, it started hitting North Minneapolis a year or more before many other parts of the country.
Since 2006, nearly 14,000 homes were foreclosed across Minneapolis, and more than 6,000 of them in North Minneapolis. That’s 6,000 dreams deferred or dashed, 6,000 blocks that lost good homeowners, 6,000 challenges to neighborhood stability.
We knew we had to act, and we did.
First, we prevented many foreclosures.
- From 2008 through 2011, we prevented 1,875 foreclosures. That’s 1,875 dreams that were not deferred or dashed.
- 24% of foreclosures prevented were in North Minneapolis.
Preventing foreclosure isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. We know that the cost of preventing a foreclosure is about $400, but the total cost of a foreclosure is $80,000.
Second, we reinvested in neighborhoods.
- Through the First Look program, we acquired 234 Minneapolis properties from financial institutions before they could go back on the market, where they could have been bought by unscrupulous investors instead of responsible homeowners.
- We are using the $34 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to strategically target nearly 600 properties for purchase, rehabilitation, redevelopment and demolition.
- And it’s worth noting that 29% of the contractors we use for the work have been minority-owned and 13% women-owned.
Third, we attracted new homeowners.
- We helped 350 buyers purchase vacant or foreclosed homes through Minneapolis Advantage — a majority of them in North Minneapolis.
- More than 50% of the homes they purchased were previously registered as rental.
We have weathered a very tough storm in our housing markets and our neighborhoods, and now, there are signs of good news:
- Foreclosures are finally dropping: in 2011, there were 25% fewer than in 2010 and 50% fewer than in the peak of 2008.
I also want to point out that for six years in a row, Minneapolis has led the metro area in permitting new housing. We often see misleading reports in the media that sprawling suburbs are leading the pack, but in fact it’s been Minneapolis the whole time with the most housing growth in the region.
- In 2011, we permitted 12% more residential units than in 2010.
- And in 2012 so far, we have permitted more than half the units we permitted in all of 2011.
We have also experimented with adding green, sustainable homes mix and that has been an overwhelming success: two that we built in the Hawthorne Eco-Village sold almost immediately. The market wants more and now, in a partnership with the Dayton Administration, we are about to meet that need.
I am extremely pleased to announce today plans for a new program called Green Homes North to build 100 new green homes in North Minneapolis over the next five years. Green Homes North is a loan and subsidy pool that will help produce 20 green homes a year on City-owned vacant lots on the Northside. We will specifically aim to build in the area affected by the tornado, in Northside Home Fund clusters or other clusters in the tornado area. These homes will be built to Minnesota Green Communities standards of sustainability with local minority and women contractors, subcontractors and workforce, using local green products and sourcing.
Just last week, Minnesota Housing committed $500,000 to Green Homes North, for which we thank the Dayton Administration. These funds will provide a development subsidy to support the gap between the cost of developing new homes and the sales price at market value in the area. We will seek other funding sources as well. We invite other potential housing investors interested in supporting this exciting initiative to join us.
Green Homes North can be a good boost of confidence in the North Minneapolis housing market and can help build market value, including for homeowners who may be currently under water. At the same time, we will put people to work in good, green jobs.
Jobs and economy
Growing communities means making them safe and making sure people can find and afford good places to live. It also means giving them access to good jobs.
When it comes to jobs and the economy, there are two stories: the progress we’ve made, and the Great Recession.
First, the progress. The City of Minneapolis has been aggressively training people for work in the last decade. Few cities have invested as much in training and placing our residents. Even though we have faced many budget challenges, we have maintained funding for our employment and training programs. And we have made a difference.
Since we were last here in 2006:
- We placed 6,916 people in jobs, 40% of whom are residents of North Minneapolis.
- That’s 2,766 people from North Minneapolis who are now working because the City used our tools to invest in them.
But in the midst of the last six years, we got some very bad news: the worst economic downturn in 80 years. And the recession was made worse by the fact that the pain was not evenly shared: North Minneapolis lost more jobs than the City as a whole.
- From 2002 to 2008, the number of jobs in Minneapolis as a whole stayed largely constant, as they did in North Minneapolis.
- But from 2008 through 2010, the last year for which we have confirmed numbers, the city as a whole lost 5% of its total jobs — while North Minneapolis lost 11% of its jobs.
The most recent jobs news, however, points toward recovery:
- From July 2010 through June 2011, Minneapolis added 5,300 new jobs. That’s the fastest rate of one-year job growth since 2006.
- In addition, in the same period, 2,300 more Minneapolis residents had jobs.
- As a result, Minneapolis’ unemployment rate dropped to 5.3% in January, the lowest rate since October 2008, at the start of the Great Recession.
The City of Minneapolis has played an important role in the recovery.
- Citywide, in 2011 alone, we placed 572 low-income workers and 339 displaced workers into living-wage jobs.
The City has also supported the recovery by supporting business, especially small business.
- In 2011, the City made 113 loans, for a total of $2.6 million in assistance to businesses.
- This $2.6 million leveraged $20 million in private support.
- And that assistance helped retain 833 jobs and create 273 new ones.
We are recovering — but not equally. In a city and metro area that already suffers from the one of highest disparities between white and African American unemployment in the country, the Great Recession made a bad situation worse.
- While the city’s overall unemployment rate is 5.3%, the lowest since the start of the recession, unemployment among African Americans in Minneapolis 20%.
Our efforts have helped attack that gap — for example, the innovative RENEW program, originally funded by the federal Recovery Act, which takes job seekers from the hardest-hit neighborhoods of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, prepares them for green careers and connects them with employers who are hiring.
- Of the 586 people who have gone through RENEW training, 52% are African American.
- And 315 have secured living-wage jobs related to their training.
But we have to do more to end the employment gap — much, much more. This tale of two cities needs to be One Minneapolis.
- We have dramatically raised the goals for people participating in our city contracts. If you want to participate in a city contract in this city made up of more than 30% people of color than you need to hire more than 30% people of color.
- We have consolidated our programs for small business into a one-stop Technical Assistance Program, with a special focus on “microenterprises.”
- We are committing to hiring even more STEP-UP interns at the City this year. Since STEP-UP began, 86% of interns have been people of color.
- We are committing to continuing to fund RENEW.
- We are working with the State of Minnesota to upgrade and refocus a new Minneapolis North Workforce Center.
- We are beginning a new internship program called Urban Scholars. The goal is to bring a select group of college students of color into City Hall starting this summer to work in key areas — and in the long run, to create a farm team of young talent to begin careers in public service someday lead this city.
The racial employment gap is morally wrong and potentially economically ruinous for North Minneapolis and our entire region in the near and especially long term. We must eliminate it once and for all.
Transit and reconnection
We can have a safe neighborhood with good places to live, good jobs and good employers, but North Minneapolis can't grow like it should — or like the rest of Minneapolis needs it to grow — until it has better physical connections to the rest of the city and the rest of the region.
Think about this: North Minneapolis is surrounded by three important physical assets — the Mississippi River, Wirth Park and Downtown Minneapolis — but when you are here you could not feel further away from all three.
Much of this can be blamed on the construction of I-94 and I-394, which created a wall that separates our neighborhoods from the river and downtown.
There is some great thinking about the connection to the river in the Park Board's RiverFirst initiative — and in addition to thanking the Park Board for spearheading this process, I want to thank Council Member Diane Hofstede for her untiring efforts to make sure that we focus on developing the potential of this unparalleled asset.
We know that investing in the riverfront grows the city. Along the central riverfront, a $300 million public investment leverage private investment six times that amount, and drove market values there from $25 million in 1994 to $440 million in 2009. The north riverfront is ripe for the same kind of investment and growth, starting with the Upper Harbor Terminal, which we already own.
Building all parts of this plan will take many years, but big plans often do.
There is also an exciting but complex opportunity to reconnect North Minneapolis as decisions are made about how light rail, and other forms of transit, will serve this area. The proposed Bottineau LRT line will offer thousands of North Minneapolis residents quick access to jobs in the suburbs — and, of course, it will help our downtown core by offering quick access to jobs there for suburban residents.
Good, but not enough. Not enough because LRT will only have 2 or 3 stops on the Northside, creating too little economic development and too few jobs.
North Minneapolis needs more than a fast train to somewhere else.
This is why we are not stopping with light rail and why we are doing much more when it comes to improving transit in North Minneapolis. We need to broaden the discussion from where the LRT line should go to what our transportation vision is for the northern half of the city and how it catalyzes economic opportunity right here.
The proposed LRT alignment can only work for North Minneapolis if it is part of a comprehensive rethinking of the existing bus system and includes a serious look at the potential of a streetcar.
The potential for a streetcar is especially exciting. Remember that streetcars are very different from light rail. LRT will make two, maybe four, stops in north Minneapolis, but a West Broadway streetcar would make about 15 stops. Every few blocks, people would get off to shop or go home, providing a huge lift to business along the avenue.
Light rail moves people quickly but streetcars build communities, and that's what we really need in North Minneapolis.
About the last thing North Minneapolis needs is a big vision that goes nowhere, and I wouldn't bring this forward with such excitement if I didn't see a way to get it done. Fortunately the Obama Administration is changing transit-funding rules to give communities like North Minneapolis new opportunities. This finally makes streetcars possible here, as well as on our other preferred routes in South Minneapolis.
We are working now with our partners at Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Council and the federal government on an application to conduct a study, called “Alternatives Analysis,” of the opportunity of a modern streetcar on West Broadway, just as we are already conducting along the Nicollet Avenue/Central Avenue spine. The City Council is moving forward both with approving an application for federal funding for this study and with identifying the City’s share of the local match.
If you’re a supporter of our current project to bring a modern streetcar to Nicollet Mall, do not fear that this is competition. One of the biggest reasons that we want to start on Nicollet is because it would be the spine for future routes to go through downtown.
Big visions are great, but the buses that serve the urban core are the workhorses of the transit system: they carry the greatest amount of customers for the least cost. But these buses are slower than they need to be and have fewer amenities than North Minneapolis deserves.
That is why the City is pushing for Metro Transit to make near-term improvements in bus speed and quality, such as:
- Traffic-signal extension or preemption,
- Real-time signage,
- New buses with multiple-entry points, so that you can pay either front or back and save time, and
- High-quality bus shelters.
The riders of Metro Transit who ride more than anyone else and do the most to keep the system running should benefit the most from the most up-to-date amenities available:
- Bottineau light rail to get North Minneapolis residents to jobs in the suburbs or downtown quickly;
- A modern streetcar on West Broadway to serve the neighborhood’s premier commercial corridor with a large number of stops, which will spur jobs, housing and economic development;
- Near-term improvements to North Minneapolis buses for the system’s most loyal users’
- And continued improvements to bike access.
And one other connection that will make a world of difference for North Minneapolis will start construction this year: the long-awaited Van White Bridge. When this is finished, a person in downtown can drive directly to north Minneapolis by passing Dunwoody and crossing the bridge into Heritage Park. And I really love the idea that a kid in North Minneapolis will be able to hop on his or her bike take Van White Boulevard directly to the Chain of Lakes.
North Minneapolis and South Minneapolis: let me reintroduce you to your new neighbor.
We can have a safe neighborhood with good places to live, good jobs and strong connections to the rest of that city, but that neighborhood — just like the rest of the city — needs a strong future. And that strong future is our youth, who need to see a path for their economic future.
The last time we were at the Capri, STEP-UP was only a couple years old. It showed great promise then, and it has exceeded the expectations of many.
- Since 2006 alone, we have placed 11,898 youth in STEP-UP summer jobs.
- And of that number, 45% came from North Minneapolis.
Of the youth that we have placed since STEP-UP began in 2004:
- 86% are young people of color;
- 93% come from families living in poverty;
- 50% come from immigrant families.
And we are on track to employ more than 1,800 youth this year.
There are so many great partners in this work that it not possible in this speech to acknowledge them all. But I would like to call out two:
- AchieveMpls, which manages a critical part of the STEP-UP program.
- The Pohlad Foundation, which funds 100 STEP-UP internships for Northside youth through AchieveMpls.
We are receiving much-deserved recognition for this success at the federal and state levels.
- STEP-UP was held up as a national model at a White House conference this past January, including by President Obama himself.
- And just a few weeks ago, the State of Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced that it will fully fund our grant application for $850,000 for STEP-UP this year.
- This grant will allow us to place 650 youth, or more than one-third of the youth we will serve this summer.
- Please join me in congratulating CPED staff for winning these highly competitive dollars for Minneapolis, and in thanking Governor Dayton’s administration for their willingness to partner with Minneapolis’ youth.
Over the years I have talked a lot about the youth of north Minneapolis with my friends Don and Sondra Samuels. In very dark days when youth violence was at its peak, often after a tragic crime involving a young person, often on a corner at a vigil, we would agree that kids needed more support — from their parents, from the community and from each other.
It means so much to see that Sondra took all those feelings from so many of us and transformed them into the Northside Achievement Zone Promise Neighborhood. This is a collaboration of more than 50 organizations and schools who provide comprehensive support for children and families in a defined area of North Minneapolis. The goal is to build a culture of achievement so that all youth graduate college-ready.
The Obama administration recognized this potential of this cradle-to-career approach by awarding the Northside Achievement Zone a richly-deserved, $28million, five-year grant to implement the Promise Neighborhood. Let’s congratulate NAZ CEO Sondra Samuels, her fantastic team and above all, the families and children of NAZ.
Talk about long-term. While we can expect to see many positive results of the Promise Neighborhood along the way, it may be 10, 15, 25 years before we appreciate the full impact of this work. But that’s how the Northside gets things done.
There is good news from our neighborhood public schools as well:
- 112 more children are enrolled in Northside schools than at this point last year.
- After years of enrollment decline, it is big news that young people and their families are voting with their feet to show confidence in this neighborhood.
- I also want to thank Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson and the School Board for their bold decision to support district charters modeled after North Minneapolis’ highly successful Harvest Prep.
One final piece of very good news.
To grow a strong workforce for tomorrow, the young people of North Minneapolis need to have strong support from the institutions in their neighborhoods.
A generation ago, a young girl named Barbara learned to love reading at the Weber Park Library, while a young boy named Tim went to the old North Branch Library just down the street on Emerson, that spectacular historic building known lovingly as The Castle, and learned about a world beyond his neighborhood.
Today Barbara Johnson is the president of the Minneapolis City Council, and Tim Dolan is Minneapolis’ chief of police.
Today’s young people need the same kind of support — and they will get it.
For five years, Emerge Community Development, one of our city’s best community-based organizations, has been working on a plan to renovate that library on Emerson into a technology-focused workforce development center. The goal has been to serve North Minneapolis youth and adults with job readiness, computer skills, career counseling, financial literacy and after-school STEM programming.
This project received essential early capital support from the McKnight Foundation and the Phillips Family Foundation, as well as the Minnesota Historical Society, Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis. It has also received support from the foundations of General Mills, Wells Fargo, Deluxe, Target and Mortenson.
Today, I'm pleased to announce that the UnitedHealth Foundation has stepped up to bring this project to groundbreaking with a pledge of $250,000 and a challenge to match that amount with another $200,000. This means that soon, there will be a new technology-focused job center right on Emerson.
That historic North Branch Library building — one of our city’s greatest landmarks, which people have lovingly called “The Castle” — will now be opening horizons for another generation of North Minneapolis.
If we come together to:
- keep North Minneapolis safe,
- create good places to live,
- train and place people in good jobs, and nurture the businesses that create them,
- eliminate the racial employment gap,
- reconnect North Minneapolis to the rest of our city and region,
- and provide our young people with the tools they need to succeed,
then North Minneapolis will grow — and our entire region will benefit.
But some things you can’t control, like the tornado that suddenly ripped through North Minneapolis last May 22.
My heart sunk as I made my way through the chaotic streets in those first few hours. People were standing on corners in shock, hundreds of trees were blocking streets, power lines were down everywhere. There was a stench of gas in the air.
I felt like a lot of us had been pushing a huge rock up a very big hill — then just as we were getting near the top, we slipped and rolled right back to the bottom where we started.
In all 3,700 structures were damaged. David Whitfield and Rob McIntyre lost their lives.
Those were the worst of days. But they brought out the best is so many: thousands of individual acts of neighbors doing remarkable things for neighbors and strangers. And thousands of volunteers from outside the city poured into North Minneapolis to help.
The Northside Community Response Team, a coalition of 60 organizations that came together to help coordinate recovery. Our city staff — police, fire, public works, regulatory services, economic development, communications — didn’t stop working for days. And Council Members Barbara Johnson, Don Samuels and Diane Hofstede were everywhere.
There were no factions. No agendas. One North Minneapolis pulling together.
And a lot got done:
- 2,800 repair permits have been issued.
- $28 million worth of repairs have been made or are underway.
- Of the 206 properties that sustained the heaviest damage, 92% have repairs underway or completed — or, when they could not be saved, have been or will be demolished.
- More than $750,000 in loans and free assistance have come from a wide range of partners, helping more than 160 households and repairing more than 50 roofs.
- Our Business Recovery Loan Program has made $117,000 in loans to 27 businesses.
We are not done yet: 113 properties still have roof damage. We continue to offer all available assistance to these owners.
We also suffered the loss of thousands of trees, but here we are recovering as well:
- Last fall, the Park Board planted 275 trees in Folwell Park — and on Monday, they just announced that they will plant 3,100 more trees in parks and on boulevards in North Minneapolis this year.
- Since 2006, the City Trees program, a partnership between the City of Minneapolis and the Tree Trust, has provided 8,846 low-cost trees to Minneapolis residents. This year, with the generous assistance of State Farm Insurance, we are offering 400 free trees to North Minneapolis residents in the tornado-affected area. They must be claimed by Friday and there are only 30 left, so get yours today.
This investment today will pay off in years to come, but the fact is it will be a long time before we once again have those beautiful tree canopies shading the streets of north Minneapolis. Seeing this, the Council members and I, along with our partners in Tree Trust and neighborhood groups, began talking about how we could also add ornamental flowering trees that could bring some beauty to these devastated blocks right away.
The Park Board added some flowering trees to their mix, and we included some in our City Trees giveaway. Now, working with Council Member Samuels, we have secured a $50,000 anonymous donation to plant ornamental flowering trees on private property in north Minneapolis. This donation will go to the Rob McIntyre Fund at Tree Trust. Rob was a falconer, avid gardener, an active participant in the community who made a point to know all of his neighbors. Rob died while trying to help his neighbors clean up from the storm.
Next year, on the second anniversary of the tornado, there will be flowering trees in bloom all over North Minneapolis. In the years to come people from everywhere will come to North Minneapolis — not to mark the anniversary of the tornado, but because the sight and smell of all this flowering trees will turn these neighborhoods into our own Cherry Blossom Festival. It will tell people that in the toughest of times the people of north Minneapolis came together to go great things.
An extraordinary city
That may not fit the image of north Minneapolis that you see on some news reports, or in the word of mouth. Too often, we hear about just crime or poverty and not about strength of the people who have done so much in this very complex place.
I first saw that close up during my first campaign. A volunteer named Deborah Cridge asked me to meet her neighbors, and for a couple hours that summer 11 years ago, we sat on her front porch to hear them calmly tell stories that sent chills up my back. They told about problem houses on their block that had become magnets for very violent crime, about gun shots that woke them up most nights, about open air drug dealing in front of their children.
I can admit now that when I left that night, I asked myself, what would I have done in their shoes? Would I have locked myself in my house? Would I have moved? A few of Deborah’s neighbors did, but most stayed. They got to know each other. They formed block clubs. They worked with the police and with each other. Today their neighborhood is a far, far better place, and it’s because of them.
Over these years, I have seen versions of that story repeated over and over. North Minneapolis may not be the simplest or easiest place to live or work, but it is filled with people with remarkable strength. When these strong people in this complex place all pull in the same direction, they have done great things. And there is much more to come.
These are not ordinary times.
And we face some extraordinary challenges, especially in North Minneapolis.
But we are not ordinary people, especially in North Minneapolis.
And that’s why Minneapolis is an extraordinary city.
Last updated May. 24, 2012