We envision a just and joyful neighborhood where new development and wealth creation benefit all West Siders – no matter what we look like or where we come from. In this neighborhood, all West Siders have access to affordable, quality housing; opportunities to build wealth; transportation; and a healthy environment.
Our work is grounded in the histories of displacement that have affected the West Side, from the forced removal of the Dakota people in 1851, to the destruction of the immigrant community on the West Side Flats in the early 1960’s, to today’s displacement of low-income people of color due to gentrification. Too often, West Siders have had little say about development that comes into our neighborhood. As a result, development hasn't always benefited us. In fact, it has frequently hurt us by forcing people to move– especially Black and Indigenous people, people of color, and immigrants.
It is important that decision making is more accessible to marginalized communities, because they are the people most impacted by inequitable development. That’s why West Siders play an important part in making land use decisions. Click here to learn more about the community leadership pathways we’re building for West Siders to participate in decision making.
New this year
In 2023, in addition to ongoing land use and planning work, our Equitable Development program will focus on six key areas:
- launching The West Side Flats Displacement Research Project
- developing the West Side 10 Year Community Plan
- offering free public workshops on collective ownership
- bringing vibrant new public art to our neighborhood
- community engagement to plan the future of WSCO’s land at 76 Baker St.
- continuing our work with the Equitable Development Scorecard, including expanding our capacity with a new Scorecard Team
- Meet Kai Andersen, WSCO’s Equitable Development Director
- Check out highlights from WSCO’s Equitable Development work in 2021
- Video: How can district councils like WSCO ensure equitable development?
The West Side Flats Displacement Research
Sixty years ago, West Siders were forcibly displaced from a neighborhood called the West Side Flats– but they didn’t just lose their homes. The financial, environmental, health, and cultural impacts of the displacement continue to shape our neighborhood today. The West Side Flats Displacement Research Project is an in-depth research project that seeks to understand and document the many forms of injustice that took place when West Siders were forced from their homes.
“How many families were not fairly compensated for their homes?” Asks Monica Bravo, Executive Director at WSCO. “What opportunities for generational wealth building were cut short? What was the cultural cost of dispersing one of the city's most diverse neighborhoods? Who benefited from this displacement? How will future development in our neighborhood avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and work towards truly equitable opportunities for all West Siders?”
To answer these questions, we are partnering with Research in Action, a local Black, queer led urban research, strategy, coaching and engagement firm founded by Dr. Brittany Lewis. The findings from this research will allow us to chart a path forward in our Equitable Development work. We will reinvest in our community and keep racial and economic justice at the center of our work.
- Click here to learn more about the West Side Flats Displacement Research Project
- Learn more about the history of the West Side Flats
- Visit our photo gallery of Stories From the Flats
Pictured, above: Sandra Alayon, who grew up on the West Side Flats. Photo by Elizabeth Leonardsmith.
The West Side 10 Year Plan
What is the West Side 10 Year Community Plan?
The West Side Community 10 Year Plan is an addendum to the Saint Paul Comprehensive Plan. It plans improvements for the neighborhood by identifying needs, articulating priorities, and steering the changes, policies and investments initiated by developers, by the City and its agencies, and by local institutions and stakeholders.
It’s time for a fresh plan! In 2023, you’re invited to join us in crafting a vision for the West Side for the next 10 years. Affordable housing, investment in local businesses, access to public transportation and green spaces–– let’s make sure these and other important elements are included, and reflect the needs of our neighbors!
Get involved: contact our Equitable Development Director, Kai Andersen, at [email protected] for more information.
WSCO's Baker Street land
The West Side Community Organization owns an undeveloped plot of land on St. Paul's West Side, located at 76 Baker St. East. We will be working with the community to decide the future of this corner of our neighborhood! Click here to learn more and take a survey to share your ideas.
Building community with public art
On the West Side, art as a form of activism has always helped tell our collective stories and demand truth and justice. Art has been a tool of place keeping, a way of coming into our cultural belonging. Public art can disrupt gentrification, displacement, and exclusion– while increasing the accessibility and visibility of our community.
Free Public Workshops
WSCO’s Equitable Development program includes educational opportunities for all West Siders to learn more and participate in envisioning a better future for our neighborhood.
In 2017, we held a series of workshops called Action to Equity. Click here to learn more about this series and watch the full workshops on video.
In 2022 and 2023, we are facilitating a shared education series on community ownership called Visions for Our Collective Future. Click here to learn more about the series and RSVP for upcoming workshops!
The West Side Equitable Development Scorecard
The Equitable Development Scorecard is a tool developed by West Siders, for West Siders, to decide whether we, the community, support development projects and other investments proposed for our neighborhood.
Too often, West Siders have had little say about development that comes into our neighborhood. As a result, development hasn't always benefited us. In fact, it has frequently hurt us by forcing people to move– especially Black and Indigenous people, people of color, and immigrants. As our community grows and changes, the scorecard gives us, West Siders, a say in new projects. That way, building by building, block by block, we can create a neighborhood that fits out vision, values, and priorities – now, and for future generations.
- Click here to learn more about the Equitable Development Scorecard!
- Join our new Scorecard team in 2023
“Nothing about us without us is for us.” –Slogan popularized by South African disability rights activists
At WSCO, our Equitable Development Action Circle is working together with resident leaders and collaborators throughout the Twin Cities region to create transformative economic and community development opportunities. We are building a pathway to engage our neighbors in decision making by providing space to access land use knowledge and planning in five ways:
- Joining our Equitable Development Scorecard Team
- Participating in research and decisionmaking with The West Side Flats Displacement Project
- Engaging directly with developers at our West Side Voices Forum and other face-to-face meetings
- Participating in developing the 10 Year Community Plan
- Attending our educational series, Visions for Our Collective Future
We are reaching out to Black, Indigenous, People of Color, youth and elders, renters, queer folks, people living with disabilities, women, and immigrant communities so that they can fully participate in land use decisions that impact their quality of life.
Click here to learn more about community leadership opportunities on the West Side.
Contact our Equitable Development Director, Kai Andersen (pictured, above left) at [email protected] to learn more and get involved!