Over the next five years, the West Side will see millions of dollars in private development and public investment projects:
+ Nearly 1,000 new housing units are planned.
+ Thousands of square feet of new commercial space.
+ New streets and trails.
+ New parks and playgrounds.
After decades of disinvestment and neglect, many West Siders are hopeful about this new chapter. And yet, the threat of gentrification looms large.
Gentrification displaces long-time residents and prices out would-be neighbors. Gentrification tears at the beautiful fabric created via racially, culturally, and economically diverse places. Gentrification may look “shiny” from the outside but connection to neighborhood history and culture. Fortunately, gentrification is NOT an inevitable part of new development!
Together in community, we can combat gentrification while supporting new development and investment. Our community’s vision and values -- including justice and equity -- can become the very grounds on which every new building sits. But how?
In partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), WSCO is hosting a three-part series in September, WEST SIDE: ACTION TO EQUITY. Beyond “community conversations,” they are deep-dive workshops that will produce the West Side Development Scorecard. (We'll start with the Twin Cities Equitable Development Principles & Scorecard and build from it, here's the PDF: https://www.metrotransit.org/Data/Sites/1/media/equity/equitable-development-scorecard.pdf)
This scorecard will not be just another “tool” or plan that once created no one thinks about again. This Scorecard will be used by residents to evaluate every new development project, big or small, happening on the West Side. Each development project's score will determine whether West Siders will offer a supportive welcome or if we will use every action possible to stop development that does not have the agreed-upon community benefits. It's that simple.
REGISTRATION -- WEST SIDE: ACTION TO EQUITY
The West Side: Action to Equity series is free and open to all. Onsite child care is available (please use the ticket type in Eventbrite so we can plan ahead). Light meals will be served.
West Side: Action to Equity Session I
Saturday, September 9, 2017 from 10 am to noon
Neeraj Meta, CURA'S Director of Community Programs, will give a 45-minute talk about race and class in the Twin Cities, and how that history plays out today. This is an excellent primer for understanding why and how gentrification happens and who it benefits. Questions/answers and light reception will follow.
West Side: Action to Equity Session II
Saturday, September 23, 2017 from 10 am to noon
Malik Holt-Shabazz and Ned Moore, both on staff at CURA, will guide us through an introduction to the Twin Cities Equitable Principles and Scorecard. Developed by community organizers and leaders in 2015, the Scorecard is a user-friendly document that lays out the concepts of equity in development. They'll also share how other neighborhoods across Minneapolis and Saint Paul have used this tool to benefit their communities and stop gentrification.
West Side: Action to Equity - Session III
Saturday, September 30, 2017 from 10 am to noon
What are the West Side's values and priorities, and how do we translate them into community benefits before or during development? What answers must a developer provide and/or what commitments will they make about their project? How will this project benefit the West Side and West Siders? In this last session, your input will adapt the Scorecard into a localized tool that will be used to evaluate new projects. With a transparent, community-led process like the Scorecard, we'll all have a better understanding of why a certain project has the community's support (or why it doesn't). We'll also share it with Saint Paul city staff and press for their commitments to honor our scores before pre-development status is granted.
About our Partners
Neeraj Mehta is the director of community programs at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota, and adjunct faculty at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Trained as civil engineer, he quickly gave that up to work on community development issues in the Twin Cities region, working in philanthropy, community development and community organizing. Neeraj has a masters degree in public affairs from the Humphrey School and was a 2011-2013 Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow. He is passionate about building stronger, healthier and more racially and economically just communities throughout the Twin Cities region, but especially in North Minneapolis where he lives with his wife and two sons.
Malik Holt-Shabazz, prior to joining CURA, worked as a Community Organizer with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition to promote access, equity, and community benefits of bicycle infrastructure, policy, and engagement. He also served as the Executive Director and Economic Development Organizer of North Minneapolis’s Harrison Neighborhood Association for 11 years leading community engagement projects, racial equitable development initiatives, business development, and land use planning. He received an undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts in Human Services with a minor in Sociology from the University of Minnesota Morris. Malik currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Headwaters Foundation for Justice. He is a long-standing member on CURA’s Kris Nelson Community Based Research Program Grant Review Committee., a 2004 graduate of MCNO’s Neighborhood Organizing Training Program, and a past member of the MCNO Advisory Committee. Malik is a native of Chicago but has lived in Minnesota for over 13 years. His life has centered on community, spirituality, music and dance, his wife and son, and his love for learning, community capacity building, systems change, racial equity, & direct service.
Ned Moore is program director committed to working for social, racial and economic justice. For six years, Ned organized low-income residents of manufactured (mobile) home parks to stop landlords and government agencies from demolishing affordable neighborhoods. During that time, Ned became involved in CURA, first as a trainee and later as a guest trainer and MCNO Advisory Committee member from 2007–2009. Ned joined CURA as a staff member in December in 2011, after several years at St. Catherine University as social justice coordinator, working to organize and mentor students to become social justice–minded leaders. He is currently a board member of La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, a faith-based civil rights organization of predominantly Latino church congregations. Ned is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in political science and global studies, and a former organizing apprentice and mentor for the Organizing Apprenticeship Project.
This work was made possible by funding from the Metropolitan Council.
The West Side Community Organization is a 501(c)(3) neighborhood organizating nonprofit and Saint Paul District Council for District 3, the West Side. WSCO powers the people of the West Side to work together to build a vibrant thriving neighborhood for all. We envision a just, united, self-reliant, and bold West Side where all of our people are connected, safe, healthy, and successful. Learn more about us.