As I’m writing this, snow is falling outside announcing winter’s arrival. With the snowfall and bitter cold temperatures, we prepare to leave another year behind, but not first without looking back on 2022.
This was a year of growth for LCC. We added three full-time staff members – a Community Organizer, a VISTA Tenant Organizer and a Communications Manager, which allowed us to expand our reach into the community and build stronger relationships with Greater Longfellow residents, organizations and businesses. We’ve been working with the International Leadership Institute and the honorable Judge LaJune Lange on projects to amplify the stories of Black history in the Longfellow neighborhood and south Minneapolis. We also have partnered with the Seward Neighborhood Group, Longfellow Business Association, and others.
New to LCC this year, we took on the work of Free the Deeds, which educates and engages residents on racial covenants. Greater Longfellow has one of the highest numbers of racial covenants in the city, and only about 10 percent of covenants have been removed through the Just Deeds program. We work in partnership with the lawyers of Just Deeds to help neighbors remove those covenants. Although we have just started this work, we want to eradicate all remaining racial covenants and really look forward to diving more into this work next year.
Free the Deeds is just one of the new programs LCC has been working on this year. We were able to distribute just under $32,000 from September to December in rental assistance to renters in Greater Longfellow through the Renter Support Fund. Every month there was an overwhelming amount of applications and only a handful of people were able to receive the help they needed. There were over 420 applications in September and 25 of them came from the Longfellow neighborhood. We hope that launching our Building Ambassador program will help us continue to connect with renters. Additionally, many homeowners in Greater Longfellow have taken advantage of our Home Security Lighting Grant with around $7,000 distributed in the community.
And while much of our work remains focused on residents, part of our mission is to support local businesses. Our business corridors and neighborhoods are still feeling the devastating effects of the uprisings following the murder of George Floyd. Through 2022 we have granted over $100,000 to businesses and organizations in Greater Longfellow – including CommonSense Consulting, Urban Design Perspective, and Du Nord Craft Spirits. They used the $5,000 they each received toward the redevelopment and ownership of the historic Coliseum building.
“This development structure and approach is significant as there will be four partners, three of which are BIPOC who will own more than 59% of the building collectively,” Alicia Belton of Urban Design Perspective said. Janice Dowling of Common Sense Consulting said the grant was crucial in helping to purchase legal advice to review the documents associated with this deal, and to form a new corporation, SHAKE Incorporated. These businesses are determined to make our community stronger, and more vibrant than it was before.
The devastation in our community isn’t more obvious than in the burned and abandoned Third Precinct building. Earlier this year we brought community members together for the first time to discuss what they wanted to see happen with that property. After two years, we were finally able to start a conversation between city officials and the residents of the Third Precinct. And that conversation turned into action on the city level. Our council members advocated for expanded community engagement to determine what residents want to see happen with that property and where the Third Precinct building should be located, then allocated $100,000 in funding to that end. This is an example of real change and action created by our community and neighborhood organization.
This year also brought the return of more regular community events. We hosted several community clean ups including our Earth Day River Gorge Clean up with Friends of the Mississippi River, which drew a great crowd even with a bit of a chill in the air. Our annual River Gorge Festival was a great success. Every year we put on this event more people are able to try out canoeing or rowing and also discover the gem that is the River Gorge! Our spring General Membership Meeting was to elect a new Board of Directors and in fall community members were able to taste (and judge) 14 different pies!
Thank you to all our volunteers and neighbors who have been involved with LCC and to those new volunteers and neighbors, who have joined a committee, attended our events, or donated to our organization. It is an honor to work for you and alongside you to make our community better. Learn more about Longfellow Community Council at our website - longfellow.org, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with things you would like to see in 2023. We’re looking forward to all the new year will bring.
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