A few highlights of our work over the past 18 months
Sometimes, it's good to take a minute and be grateful for what we have. Since the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association was founded in 1970, LHENA has a long history of engaging in public safety efforts, promoting the equitable sharing of resources, and advancing a shared vision of our community.
In the past 18 months, here's what LHENA has done to support our community and engage in public safety efforts:
*BIPOC Small Business Rebuild Grant
The South Minneapolis Collective (LHENA, Whittier Alliance, Lyndale Neighborhood Association (LNA), South Uptown Neighborhood Association, Lyn-Lake Minneapolis, Uptown Association) created a grant program for BIPOC and immigrant-owned small businesses affected by COVID and the civil unrest after George Floyd's death. We got 81 applications, and 26 applicants were selected with nearly $100,000 awarded, ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. Funds for this grant program were raised by the South Minneapolis Collective through fundraising and foundation grants. Five businesses in the Wedge received funds, accounting for 20 percent of the funding. Those businesses were Sunny's Beauty Supplies, Goodfellas Uptown Barber Studio, Hoban Korean BBQ, Uptown Tobacco & E-Cigs, and Fit 1st Running. The rebuild grant showed the power of collaboration and neighborhoods and organizations coming together to help our community.
*LHENA Food Share Program
In 2020, the LHENA Food Share program was created and run by neighbor-volunteers and continues today. It offers free groceries twice a month to anyone in the Wedge who needs it. This means one bag of fresh fruit/vegetables and one bag of pantry items. Food Shares are on the first and third Friday-Saturday of the month. Here are some LHENA Food Share numbers for 2020:
*120 households served. 70 are regular (receive food each time).
*75 volunteers, most volunteer every month.
*Over $10,000 raised to support the program in 2021. Over 65 people donated.
* Scout Workshop hosted the program last summer/fall, using the site for assembly and pick-ups. ArcStone Technologies was the home since winter and in 2021.
In 2021, LHENA Food Share assembled over 1,500 bags of groceries for households in need. The delivery team dropped off groceries to those without transportation while another team of volunteers greeted recipients who could come to our event site. The best part of every food share event was the homemade cookies. Our bakers donated over 8,000 cookies. We were fortunate to have our event space donated by ArcStone, a local business in our neighborhood run by Wedge residents. ArcStone is moving at the end of December. We have been fortunate to have been offered similar space by the incoming tenants of Nokomis Energy. We are excited that our program can continue in 2022. Choosing between paying rent and eating is a choice no one should have to make. LHENA wants to ensure that no neighbor needs to make that choice at any time.
*LHENA Small Sums Grant
LHENA offered financial assistance to help Wedge residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with immediate needs. To fund the program, we received $10,000 grant from a The Minneapolis Foundation grant and $570 from individual donors for a total of $10,570. We issued $250 grants to 37 recipients ($9,250) and $1,319 to the Food Share program, giving away a total of $10,569. We received 157 total applications. The recipients were 100 percent renter, 62 percent BIPOC, 59 percent LGBTQ+ and 54 percent disabled. We capped the funding award at $250 to include as many households as possible. This amount was also under the threshold for 1099 taxable reporting. This was another example of LHENA neighbors helping neighbors.
*LHENA Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Our Neighbors Helping Neighbors program was born to help out our neighbors in need of aid/resources and stay connected during COVID-19. LHENA neighbors helped each other through small tasks such as grocery runs, pharmacy pick-ups, connection to resources or services, and check-in phone calls. We had dozens of volunteers and helped dozens of neighbors who needed support and resources.
*LHENA Public Safety Forum
In October 2020, LHENA hosted a public safety forum with boots-on-the-ground community leaders in Minneapolis. The conversation was on Zoom and Facebook, and participants included:
Korey Dean, The Man Up Club
Lisa Clemons, A Mother’s Love Initiative
Raeisha Williams, Guns Down Love Up
Charles Caine, Brothers EMpowered Minneapolis
Chief Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis Police Department (MPD)
Inspector Amelia Huffman, MPD Fifth Precinct
All of the participants discussed how we, as a community, can address the pressing issues in Minneapolis. Crime is up. Gun violence is up. Public morale is down. Citizens are concerned. As neighborhood leaders, we do not want to wait for something to turn the tide. We want to push momentum forward in productive ways that help us identify the priorities and figure out ways we can all work together to address them.
You can read a recap of the forum here: https://www.thewedge.org/.../minneapolis-community...
Watch here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=external&v=688055191827288
*LHENA Leadership Peacebuilding Training
LHENA partnered with the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute to hold a leadership retreat with LHENA board members and executive staff that was centered around trauma awareness and resiliency trainings. Donna Minter and Crixell Shell from Minnesota Peacebuilding led the training session, and we learned about conflict resolution and restorative justice practices. The experience was a great team-building exercise, and we all gained valuable skills in restorative justice practices. LHENA now brings restorative processes to every part of our organization, and we dig into the deep work of healing and creating resilient communities that we need.
*LHENA Community Mentorship Youth Grant Fund for Brothers EMpowered
LHENA raised $5,000 for a youth grant fund Brothers EMpowered, a community mentorship organization in North Minneapolis. LHENA partnered with Brothers EMpowered to support the organization’s work with youth and bring back that village mentality. At this moment in Minneapolis, we need all hands on deck to address the trauma that is impacting our communities. Young people need more positive role models, and mentorship can have positive ripple effects in youth lives to create real, generational change. Our funding helped pay for the Honor Roll Athletics' rent for the summer at a Bread. A Unique Pop-Up Market - Northtown Mall in Blaine, Minnesota. Honor Roll Athletics is a youth-led and youth-run clothing and merchandise business that is part of the Brothers EMpowered Minneapolis Youth Social Enterprise Program. The program is building opportunity through entrepreneurship and social development. We raised $5,000 from 42 donations and made a modest, real-world impact. Another step toward a brighter tomorrow and a more equitable future.
Charles Caine started Brothers EMpowered in 2014 to help men of color overcome the barriers in their lives and the lives in their communities. They work with youth starting at the age of 9 and provide life coaching, mentorship, healing and restoration, business training, community peacekeeping and community outreach. They believe there is no positive influence in the urban community without positive action in the urban community, and their community engagement mentorship program teaches youth how to engage with their community by giving back. They have organized food share programs, school equipment drives and more. Through their programming and services, inner-city youth learn skills to develop leadership, accountability, discipline, self-respect, good work ethics, and a positive sense of purpose and direction — skills that can close the opportunity gap and help youth reach their full potential.
In these times, it’s easy to feel cynical and perhaps even powerless. But we have more power in the community than sometimes we realize. This fundraiser was an example of how two communities in Minneapolis can connect to help us create more opportunities for all people in Minneapolis. By bringing people together from different neighborhoods and walks of life, we can build that village all children need. LHENA plans to do more community mentoring and opportunity building for underrepresented and at-risk youth in 2022.
*LHENA Volunteer Network
The LHENA Volunteer Network is a community of volunteers based out of the LHENA neighborhood that strives to serve others through community connection. We started under the name Neighbors Helping Neighbors, with an original focus on mutual aid. Today, we’ve expanded to initiatives such as snow shoveling, ridesharing, clothing and coat drives, community events, and more. The mission of the LHENA Volunteer Network is to build, connect and network. Our goal is to build a community in which neighbors can live with each other, not just next to each other.
LHENA Talks is a monthly speaker series that takes place on the fourth Wednesday of every month from 7 to 8 p.m. Each talk features a guest speaker and focuses on community issues of interest and is sponsored by a local business. LHENA Talks strives to bring together residents, businesses, and community members alike to foster a space for fruitful discussions while highlighting the amazing work being done in our communities.
Sponsors contribute $500 to each event, with half donated to the speaker's organization and half going to LHEHA. So far, LHENA Talks has raised $3,000 — $1,500 for nonprofit community organizations in Minneapolis and $1,500 for LHENA. The talks are recorded and then posted on YouTube and shared across LHENA channels, including our website, social media pages, and newsletter.
Here's a look into our previous LHENA Talks:
LHENA Talk No. 6: Eric Won, Leadership and Civic Transformation
LHENA Talk No. 5: Lisa Clemons, A Mother's Love
LHENA Talk No. 4: Princess Haley, Appetite For Change
LHENA Talk No. 3: Crixell Shell, Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute
LHENA Talk 2: Morgan Luzier, LynLake Business Association
LHENA Talk 1: Charles Caine, Brothers EMpowered
Our next LHENA Talk is Dec. 22 with Trahern Pollard, the founder and the founder and CEO of We Push for Peace, a nonprofit community organization based in Uptown Minneapolis that works to reduce and deter crime by providing community-building and work training services to those in need. The topic of the talk will be "A Positive Approach to Public Safety."
The talk will focus on public safety in Uptown/Minneapolis and Trahern Pollard's work with We Push for Peace. How are he and his organization making a difference in the lives of our youth and community? What is the best way to address our community's public safety needs and challenges? How can our whole community — business owners, employees, clients, customers, patrons and residents — work together to create more connected, inviting and prosperous streets for everyone?
Trahern will answer these questions and explain his work leading We Push for Peace, the services they provide, and the impact they have seen from mental health assessments and resources, employment assistance (resume development, mock interviews, job placement), pre-employment training (various workshops, skills training), victims of violence support groups (facilitated by a licensed psychologist), and financial education and home buying classes. Then, Trahern will take questions from the community.
*Resolving Community Concerns With the City
We had a problem property in our neighborhood. For months, neighbors were reporting ongoing public safety issues multiple times via city channels (911, 311 and the Ward 10 office). The situation progressively escalated with no action being taken. Neighbors expressed being afraid for their safety and frustrated with the lack of action in resolving these issues. This has become a common refrain in Minneapolis. There aren’t enough police to handle all the 911 calls. Crime has risen. Public confidence has fallen. And many people are feeling angry and powerless about public safety. They don’t know where to go for help. LHENA coalesced all of the neighbor concerns about this problem property and contacted key people in the city who could help. Action now is being taken, and LHENA will apply pressure until the issue is all resolved.
We have done the same thing with community concerns about ongoing issues at the Speedway gas station at 22nd and Lyndale and the surrounding area. After receiving numerous concerns from residents and business owners regarding the issues at the Speedway and an "illegal club" nearby, LHENA collected community impact statements and then shared those impact statements with MPD 5th Precinct, Minneapolis Department of Inspections, Ward 10 city council office and the mayor's office. LHENA shares updates with the community through the media, social media and LHENA communication channels, including newsletter, website and social. Progress is being made in getting the issues resolved, and LHENA will follow up with all the necessary city stakeholders until the public safety issues are resolved.
Here are the community impact statements LHENA collected and shared with the 5th Precinct, Department of Licensing, Ward 10 city council office and mayor's office.
Here is an example of a web update.
Social media updates:
*Forming Block Clubs
We are working on getting a block club leader for every block and streamlining our block club process. We are running a Wedge block club pilot program, led by a neighbor, to create a block club model for all Wedge block clubs. We want to provide more structure with LHENA, including creating a database of block club leader information so we can be more coordinated with outreach and communication. We are working with Jennifer Waisanen, the MPD 5th Precinct crime prevention specialist, to help us train block leaders and get any crime and public safety information we need.
As an extension, we are creating a model for organizing neighbors to do things in groups — walk in groups with dogs (especially in the evening hours), jog in groups, walk in groups or bike in groups. There is safety in numbers, and some neighbors have been coordinating with others since they said they felt unsafe in the evenings. This is a great way to keep people safe and maintain our connections to our neighbors and quality of our lives. This is not a neighborhood watch but can have a similar effect.
*Public lighting and camera campaign
Practical steps can be taken to deter crime. They include increased street lighting and security cameras. There are numerous studies which show that increasing lighting does have an impact on crime rates (https://urbanlabs.uchicago.edu/projects/crime-lights-study). LHENA plans to do a basic public information campaign around the cost of turning on porch lights at night (approximately $4 per month) and encourage people to turn on their lights. To take it one step further with funding, we want to organize a small grant program for applicants who want to install outdoor lights or security cameras but cannot afford the cost. Then, the city could supplement all of these efforts by putting up more street lights and cameras in high-risk areas.
*Organizing the Community Around Public Safety
In November 2021, we started having Wedge neighborhood public safety meetings on Saturdays at 9 a.m. to share information and ideas for solutions on public safety. The meetings are virtual with Google Meet, and we invite guest speakers. MPD 5th Precinct Inspector Katie Blackwell spoke, Jennifer Waisanen is going to speak on Saturday, Dec. 11. Luther Krueger, MPD crime prevention analyst, spoke Dec. 4 about block clubs and community organizing to reduce crime. Inspector Katie Blackwell spoke Nov. 20 about crime/safety status, crime prevention and building community. We will have more invited guests from MPD and other city departments that play a role in community safety. Our goal is to become more informed about crime in our neighborhood, learn preventative techniques to reduce and deter crime, and strengthen public safety and community relations with our community and MPD overall. By bringing our community together with MPD and other city leaders, we can help build bridges, rebuild relationships and restore trust. We take notes during the meetings and then share the notes with the community, including people who did not attend the meeting.
Here are notes from the meeting with Luther Krueger. He focused on how to organize neighborhoods and reduce/prevent crime through block clubs.
*Community Safety resources
We have created a new Community Safety section on our website to provide information resources and updates. We will continue to look for the most effective ways our community can work together to reduce crime and increase public safety.
We are making progress in terms of transforming public safety. We plan to have a future LHENA community event that is focused on truth and reconciliation with the community, city and MPD. That is in the idea stage right now. Our community safety organizing is helping lay the groundwork for that. Stay tuned.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed. It takes a village. If you want to get involved in the community, let us know.