It’s been known for quite some time that the funding for the City’s neighborhood organization program was coming to an end. There has been a variety of methods and opportunities for residents to learn and participate in telling the City how the structure, process and funding could look different moving forward. The Camden News has been following the story for the last few months as attention to the project grows and neighborhood organizations worry about their future. You can read previous articles at camdennews.org. (See which neighborhood you live in on pages 6 and 9)
During the last week of January, the Neighborhood Community and Relations (NCR) department released the Neighborhood 2020 Recommendations for a 60 day public review period that ends March 31, 2019. You can find the recommendation and provide feedback at ci.minneapolis.mn.us/ncr/2020. The public responses have been varied, but for the Northside Neighborhood Council (NNC) the recommendation provided more questions than answers.
The NNC is a collection of Northside neighborhood organizations that work to ensure that diverse racial, cultural, and economic communities of North Minneapolis have full inclusion in visioning, planning and building an equitable future. Having a wide experience and history in neighborhood organizing and working with the City, the members of NNC stand together in opposition of the NRC’s recommendation. Neighborhood participation and the formal response can be found on the group Facebook page under Northside Neighborhood Council.
A critical piece that stands out in the recommendation is the absence of Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) funding. Katie Fitzspatrick from the Victory Neighborhood Association says, “Without meaningful funding, neighborhoods can’t do meaningful work.” NRP funds fostered community power by putting the funds directly into the hands of neighborhoods to decide how they wanted to utilize it. That level of self-empowerment is no longer available with the current proposed structure.
Another key element this document serves to address is that neighborhood organizations have a long history of their board members not being representative of their communities. This is true, compounded with a culture of placed-based organizations that can often be a small group of people who foster the interest of a few and not of the whole. The NNC acknowledges that past as it builds its future into a vibrant fullness of the communities it serves. Most Northside organizations (and quite a few Southside neighborhoods) have been successful at intentionally working at organizing and leading with a diverse board and volunteer crew. Creating a goal that requires neighborhood boards to push hard at ensuring that the table of decision makers reflects the community it serves is admirable and focused in the right direction. Shared diverse power at the decision making level should be how all power structures should look. However, the NNC recognizes that without proper support, multicultural board training, anti-racism workshops, and engagement strategy tools, the City holds neighborhood’s to goals without the capacity or strategy in meeting those goals.
The recommendations put forth by NCR are heavy on structural and cultural shifts for neighborhood organizations, with no direct action in how the plan addresses similar actions required for NCR. NNC’s response is asking the Council to wait on approving the recommendations until further strategy and structure development can be created for neighborhood organizations, NCR, and cultural groups together. A diverse city needs a healthy and effective structure to support the work that they are involved in on the local level.
While the official stance from the NNC is to wait on the recommendation, the group is actively organizing events to build with the community and cultural groups around what effective placed-based and people-based structure looks like. At the time of this printing, there were already three events that happened. There are still plenty of ways to get and stay involved. NCR is hosting a variety of listening sessions that can be found on the Neighborhoods 2020 city webpage.
NNC will be tabling at already established community events such as: Sunday March 10, 3-5 p.m. – McKinley Meet up, Serendripty; Monday March 18, 5:30-8 p.m. – Folwell Neighborhood Night, Folwell Park; and Wednesday March 27, 6-8 p.m. – VINA Neighborhood Meeting, Victory Neighborhood Office. They will also be hosting a Community Listening and Strategy meeting at the Northside Housing Fair on Saturday, March 23, 10 a.m.-noon at Lucy Laney School.
To keep up to date with the NNC and the events that we will continue to add, like our FB group Northside Neighborhood Council. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit nncmpls.org.
Editor’s note: To have your own personal say on the City’s vision for our neighborhood organizations see the article “Share your comments on City’s Neighborhoods 2020 recommendations”