Longfellow Community Council

Neighborhood organizing: Looking back on 2023


Earth is spinning faster than it was 50 years ago – days are ever so slightly shorter. It’s an infinitesimal difference, a difference we can’t notice, but this year I could swear I felt it. The months have seemingly slipped by, summer was gone before I could even anticipate its ending, we have tumbled into winter, and now the year is gone too.
Transitions between seasons often seem to bring about other transitions. There’s a shift that always seems to arise as we move into the colder months, a sort of slow down that brings things to the surface for reflection. As I reflect on the year we’ve had at Longfellow Community Council, it makes my head spin. We did so much this last year it feels like it’s been three years. For those of you who follow LCC, you know we’ve been busy. This year we held over 30 meetings, put on three large-scale events, and organized several smaller events, too.
Much of our work early this year was focused on engagement around the future of the Third Precinct. Since coming to work for LCC, this has been the issue community members wanted answers to. After our initial community conversations last year, we were chosen by the City of Minneapolis to help facilitate their engagement sessions throughout the Third Precinct. Over 800 people attended these conversations led by city officials. They were contentious, traumatic and disappointing. The city presented two locations for the Third Precinct, which left many community members feeling betrayed by the process and feeling as if their questions weren’t answered and their input disregarded.
Months later, the city announced that there will be a Third Precinct Safety Center at 2633 Minnehaha Ave. in the next year. We held an information session in mid-November, which brought council members Wonsley, Chavez and Osman to the table with community members to answer questions and discuss how we got here and where we go from here. You can find the video of this meeting on our website, longfellow.org.
Throughout 2023, we’ve been focusing on our Free the Deeds program, which is working to discharge racial covenants in our neighborhoods. We have helped facilitate the discharge of over 300 racial covenants in our four neighborhoods, but we still have around 800 covenants left. Through our door knocking and mailer campaign we reached so many of you and got to talk with many new residents. We will be working on this initiative into the new year with an event planned for spring, but we are always happy to answer questions and work with residents interested in this work. We’ll need a lot of volunteers for spring!
When I reflect on this year, the number of large events we did this year makes me feel dizzy. All of them were literally the highlight of my year, but there is so much energy, resources, and time that goes into putting those together. Solace at the Palace was one of my favorite events to work on and to attend. So many incredible local artists came together to sell their goods and put on free workshops for the community while we listened and danced to local musicians. It was a day of complete joy and connection and it was so gratifying to see so many people come out and express the same sentiments. I wish it was an event we could do every year.
I think my favorite event of the year was RISE (Rallying In Solidarity 4 Equity). I had the privilege of working on a lot of the planning and organizing with the Seward Neighborhood Group’s former Community Organizer, Jasmine Epps-Flowers. While the turnout wasn’t as good as we hoped, that event was able to help many people get services they needed like haircuts, dental checkups, foot care and more. We handed out over 100 supply kits to our unhoused neighbors and those in need including tents and sleeping bags. All of the organizations that participated were so wonderful and it was great to see how many resources exist in our city and how bringing them to people where they are at is a successful, replicable model.
This year we also dedicated more funding that goes directly to our community through our new Home Improvement Program and our community grants funding. We funded 13 community projects this year, a total of over $90,000 for experiences, improvements and initiatives that transform the ideas and visions of community members into reality.
We saw a couple of staff changes this year, but the three of us are so committed to this work, we’re bringing on some interns and we are already planning for next year. We’re so excited that we get the privilege to be in community with all of you. If you have ideas of things you would like to see in the new year, send me an email at andrea@longfellow.org or check out our website for our current work, longfellow.org.


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