Now is the time to rediscover what it means to be a good neighbor and reconnect our city. .
By Eric Ortiz
Community is a powerful thing. And every day in the Wedge, we see the power of community as neighbors, volunteers, Lowry Hill East Neighbor Association (LHENA) staff and partners across the city in Minneapolis work together to make lives better.
The past two years have cut to the heart of our community and challenged all of us. At times, we've lost our sense of safety, our sense of belonging, our sense of connection. But the challenges we endured (and continue to endure) have revealed something more about us. They revealed the deep roots of our community. They revealed how we can care for one another and take care of one another, especially when times get tough.
Minneapolis is our home. And the outpouring of love and support from our community in the Wedge gives us hope.
Our community has come together to respond to the needs of the moment. Your volunteer time, your expertise and your donations have made our community stronger and helped our neighborhood get more connected and create solutions.
We still have work to do to get more connected and create more solutions in our community and city. And I look forward to doing that work with all of you.
We have a great opportunity to rebuild Minneapolis, restore our faith in humanity, and be a model of peace for the country. We can make sure everyone feels valued and connected. We can do this in a way that is consistent with our community's values and promote a sense of belonging in the neighborhood. LHENA continues to lead the city in adopting ideas and launching member-driven initiatives that push our community forward on diversity and inclusion, connecting neighbors, environmental sustainability and leadership.
In dark times, the solstice reminds us there will be light. Now is the time to rediscover our community and reconnect our city.
This starts in our neighborhood by literally turning the lights on. Our streets can get dark without a lot of street lights, so leave your front and back porch lights on all night, every night. There are numerous studies that show increased lighting reduces crime. In 2022, LHENA plans to have a basic public information campaign around lighting and the cost of turning on porch lights at night (approximately $4 per month) to encourage people to turn on their lights. If we want to take it one step further with funding, we can organize a small grant program for applicants who want to install outdoor lights but cannot afford the cost.
There's another easy way we can make our own light. Get to know your neighbors, share phone numbers and watch out for each other. Remind your neighbors to take practical, preventative steps to deter crime and increase public safety. Make sure all first-floor or easy access windows are locked. Close and lock cars and garage doors. Do not leave valuables on porches or in yards. Be alert in public places and aware of your surroundings. Be informed. Sign up to receive official Minneapolis Police Department crime reports online.
Many of our neighbors already are involved, but if you're not involved yet, a little effort can go a long way. Lowry Hill East needs more block leaders, or community builders. The Wedge has 53 block clubs out of 56 clubs. But we don't know all the blocks that have block clubs, and we don't know who all the block club leaders are for all the blocks or whether they all are still active. So our block clubs are disconnected. LHENA is working to change this and connect all of our block clubs in the Wedge.
We have created a pilot program for Wedge block clubs with Joan Moser, a neighbor-volunteer. She is the block club leader for her block on 2500 Bryant Avenue and is leading our LHENA block club pilot program to create a block club model for all Wedge block clubs.
If you are in a block club or want to be part of a block club, let us know.
If you are a block club leader or want to be a block club leader, let us know.
Block clubs help local residents be informed, stay safe and build community. We want to strengthen the Lowry Hill East block club program. A connected community is a safe community, and we want to provide more structure with LHENA block clubs, so we can provide more support for our block clubs and take a positive approach to public safety.
We want everyone to feel safe again in our community. A safe community is a place that is attractive to live, work and visit. A safe community is a liveable community, where people can go about their daily activities in an environment without fear, risk of harm or injury. We are focused on making our neighborhood feel safe again for everyone. We have started taking steps to make this happen and are making progress. We will continue this work.
We will stand with neighbors to give them courage (if they need it) and continue to work to remove fear. LHENA is here to help and provide support with any issue. If you have concerns or problems in the neighborhood, let us know, and we can help find solutions to create a safe community.
LHENA has a holistic, collaborative and community-centered approach to public safety. We have established relationships with community-based mentorship and training organizations such as A Mother's Love, We Push for Peace and Brothers EMpowered. We will continue working with them and looking to expand our community outreach and partnerships to provide positive paths forward for youth, especially youth in marginalized and poor communities.
As part of this work, LHENA is making a more concerted effort to support our neighborhood's small business community. We will be working with the Uptown Association and the LynLake Business Association to support their organizational priorities and find ways we can collaborate/offer resources. We plan to start investing more in people and organizations that make our communities better for everyone.
Public safety is a widespread problem across the city and nationally. Given this, we need to rally our community and push our state and federal elected officials to work toward a restorative justice model of justice that can be effective in stopping the neverending cycles of violence and trauma and creating a new reality that is truly just. These are issues that will not be solved overnight, but the community has more power than we think.
That is why LHENA is doing what we can to create solutions. We are focused on building bridges and being a connector for the city of Minneapolis. We want to help restore trust and build collaborative relationships with the community and city across departments and institutions.
Every problem has a solution. Every challenge we face makes us stronger. We are a community of problem solvers. Together, we can be positive changemakers.
Let's make our own light in the community. And turn the darkness to light.
Eric Ortiz is the president of the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association.