Beginning this year, Longfellow Community Council opened up our grant programming so we could fund more projects and initiatives led by people in our community. Getting our community involved is crucial to our neighborhood’s longevity, especially as neighborhood organizations face an uncertain funding future.
Throughout 2023, we’ve been able to fund nine projects proposed by our neighbors that we think help enliven and enhance the Greater Longfellow neighborhood. Community members have been vocal about wanting more events and have advocated for beautifying our community, whether that’s through art or environmental connection. In efforts to make our neighborhood a more vibrant place for residents and businesses, we’re getting some new murals in 2023 and 2024!
We’re excited that we will soon have a mural on the east side of our office building at 3101 Minnehaha Avenue. Artist Pablo Kalata, who has murals on Lake Street and who created all of the amazing art for our Solace at the Palace event, will begin the mural this fall. It will reflect the vision, passion, and energy of the Longfellow community.
On the other end of the neighborhood, the community group 36th Avenue ART (Avenue Revitalization & Transformation) will be working with the public art class at Hiawatha Collegiate Academy to create and install a mural under the Midtown Greenway bridge near Brackett Park. The students will work with commission artist Peyton Scott Russell and his company Sprayfinger to design and create the murals under the bridge. Peyton is a veteran artist and instructor specializing in graffiti art that enlivens urban spaces and engages youth in addressing topical cultural issues. The group is aiming to have the mural done in late October and throw a community-wide celebration. 36th Ave ART hosted an informative walk for over 50 Seward and Longfellow neighbors on August 16th. There will be a documentary on the project that will include the history and future of 36th Ave walk. We’ll have it posted on our website once it’s completed.
In April of 2023, we helped bring a string quartet of four college-aged student musicians from Havana, Cuba to Minneapolis through the Cuban American Youth Orchestra Ambassadors program. From April 16 to 28, the ELXUS Quartet built a strong relationship with the Longfellow community during their visit. The quartet visited a number of area schools during their stay, including Roosevelt High School, where they spent time with students from two different upper-level Spanish classes, sharing ideas about culture, food and music in Cuba and the U.S. Both classes ended with salsa dance lessons in which every student participated. The quartet presented educational programming at Howe Elementary. as well as Emerson Dual Language School, and played alongside beginning strings classes at Howe.
One of our neighbors has been teaching traditional Igbo dance classes at Longfellow Park with the support of LCC funding. Igbo dancing originates in Nigeria. With several kinds of traditional dances, Mary hopes that residents can use dance as a tool for healing. The dances happen every Saturday evening from 5 to 7 p.m. through Sept. 2.
These kinds of cultural experiences create connections between our diverse community members and bring us together through artistic experiences and expressions. Our community is also very connected to our environment. Being able to offer environmental experiences for our entire community has been a long tradition for LCC.
The Longfellow River Gorge Festival (formerly Share the River Gorge) has been one of those events. This year, we were able to invest more into the event and include live music like in years past, as well as the free canoe rides, rowing and naturalist activities. The Longfellow River Gorge Festival is Sept. 10 from 12 to 4 p.m., and is a free, family-friendly event that has been a community favorite for decades.
A family hike hosted in July brought families out to the River Gorge to explore and experience the area with a new lens. Kids learned how to identify plants and make seed balls, while adults were able to find a meditative outdoor experience through forest bathing.
Appreciation for our neighborhood's natural resources is abundant. We helped partner with Friends of the Mississippi River to support efforts to maintain and restore the area's ecological resources so that we can continue to enjoy the River Gorge for years to come. Building a community of volunteers from the surrounding area creates a sense of ownership and stewardship. It encourages community members to take a larger role in protecting the resources that benefit their communities.
FMR and LCC have a history of working together on river-based projects and programs; as early as 2001, both parties contributed substantial investments towards protecting the river-adjacent parks and in reaching constituents throughout Longfellow. On Sept. 16, FMR will host two tree-planting events in the Gorge, a BIPOC-focused volunteer event in the morning, and an afternoon event open to any interested volunteers in Longfellow and beyond.
We’ve also been working with renters in Longfellow to organize a building-wide CPR first aid training as a way to help keep each other safe and care for our neighbors, while being informed in life saving techniques.
Also to come is a Data/ Justice Lab from Confluence, which will work with professors and statisticians to create visual presentations of data and statistics that have been gathered from neighbors' questions, especially revolving around policing. Confluence is an organization based out of South Minneapolis that has, since the spring of 2023, created a hub for neighborhood assemblies that look towards both the future of the 3rd Precinct site, as well as a desire to collectively define what “authentic security” means for neighbors within the 3rd Precinct patrol zone. The lab will be able to present what is sometimes unclear or overwhelming MPD data points in a more digestible way for the community at large.
The year isn’t over yet, so we expect that the investment and commitment our community members have to transforming our neighborhood will continue to bring amazing opportunities to Greater Longfellow. If you have any questions on our grant program or are interested in applying for a grant, please contact email@example.com or go to our website longfellow.org/grants to learn more.
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