Wanja Kuria joins the LCC after three years of experience organizing for racial justice in political and faith communities. She studied literature and history in her undergraduate, both of which inspired a deep interest in racial and religious narratives and the political power they have to cement not only our thinking, but our lived realities. Wanja is excited to use her organizing experience and love of community to help further the LCC’s mission of engaging and empowering the diverse residents of Greater Longfellow.
Tell us about yourself
I live in the Longfellow neighborhood in Minneapolis with my friend and her St. Bernard mix. In my free time I enjoy doing yoga, listening to podcasts, practicing at East Lake Aikido, and picking up a new book at Moon Palace to read at the park or by the river.
What’s your favorite thing
to do in Longfellow?
There are so many things to pick from but I would say biking along the Greenway with friends and breathing in the fresh air. I always feel clear-headed and invigorated after a nice bike ride with a good friend.
What drew you to this position?
I’ve been a Minneapolis resident, in Phillips’ and Ventura Village, for over six years. In that time, I organized less formally in faith communities and politically for community control of policing. In March of this year, I moved into the Longfellow neighborhood as a renter and befriended the previous community organizer, Bennet Olupo. As I learned more about the LCC, I became interested in partnering with them to support the needs of community members and learning how to organize in a more formal capacity.
What strengths do you bring?
I believe my years of experience organizing as a community member, compassion for others, love of justice, and eagerness to learn will be a positive and welcome addition to the LCC and the Longfellow community.
What are your goals for this role?
While in this role, I hope to improve the LCC’s connection to renters and BIPOC business-owners and community members. As a BIPOC renter myself, I think about class and race often; the ways their intersection affect what resources are available to me, what rights I have as a tenant, and my access (or lack thereof) to this information. The LCC has done a lot of amazing work to support our neighborhood and I would love to see those resources reach more people. My hope is to strengthen the LCC’s relationship to these communities by engaging and assessing their needs and creating helpful solutions to address those needs.
What issues and challenges face the LCC?
I think representation is the most prominent challenge the LCC is facing. At present, the most engaged demographic is older White home and/or business owners and our boards and committees reflect this reality. The LCC is working hard to increase its engagement with renters as well as BIPOC community members and business owners. Bennett worked tirelessly to connect with our underrepresented community members, and I plan to build on his work, ensuring positive trends in diverse representation and engagement.
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