Since we last printed the Longfellow Business Directory in early 2020, our business community, landscape and daily rhythms have been substantially and irrevocably changed. COVID-19 has presented a strange new reality where some businesses experienced the best years since being founded, while others were decimated. And some only survived because of federal aid for small businesses. Through our Portraits from 6 ft project (see page 8), the Longfellow Business Association has highlighted the experiences of our local businesses during a time of incredible uncertainty.
When the heart of our neighborhood, Downtown Longfellow, was destroyed in the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd, our community was shaken. As we look out over vacant lots, it may seem as though little has changed or been accomplished over the last year and half. But, out of the rubble, a coalition of businesses and property owners at Lake and Minnehaha formed Longfellow Rising, and our partner organization Redesign has purchased the historic Coliseum building - one of the only buildings at the intersection to survive the civil unrest (see pages 6-7). Both organizations are committed to rebuilding with a vision that prioritizes sustainability, racial justice, the arts and healing space that recognizes the trauma experienced by our BIPOC communities for centuries leading up to the murder of George Floyd.
This is not business as usual. For companies that have gone through the pandemic and a civil uprising first hand, there seems no other option but to evolve into something better and new. At Two Bettys we have seen some real positives. We have had to collectively figure out paid leave and time off for sick or quarantined employees (or those who need to care for family). We are learning techniques to remove bias from our hiring processes. Businesses are figuring out how to increase wages to stabilize our workforce with livable income and safety nets. These shifts towards a more sustainable workplace for all only improve company culture. As businesses, we have the power and agency to impact our entire community, to create a better place to live in the neighborhoods we call home.
Whether it is physical rebuilding or an internal changes of company culture, this opportunity for transformation will not be quick or easy. To see these changes through will require a space where everyone at the table is able to share more experiences and points of view than ever. In business, change management only works when there is collaboration and communication. I heard a quote at a Pollen event here in Minneapolis, the kind you quickly write down on whatever you have handy (I still have that scribble on a napkin pinned to the wall in my office): “Collaboration - you know you are doing it when it hurts a little.”
Change often causes discomfort - and that discomfort is an invaluable tool in finding our way through challenge. Even when it’s uncomfortable or difficult, we do it anyway because the outcomes are not only worth it, but imperative.
The Longfellow Business Association and our partner organizations are crucial for connection, collaboration, and making our voices heard. We are more powerful when we come together to create a new way to do “business as usual.” Through both Covid and the civil unrest, we have seen first hand how our communities, both residents and business, can come together to support and lift up the beloved, integral, and struggling businesses in our neighborhoods. In this transformative time for our city, these connections are more crucial than ever. We are taking the lessons and using them to continue to build back a better Longfellow and beyond - for everyone.
Read more about CAPI USA
and Ricardo Levins Morales at
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