Following a tragedy like the murder of George Floyd, it can be difficult for a community to see any glimmers of hope. But after his killing and the social unrest that followed, neighborhoods began to rebuild and seek ways to prevent such incidences from happening again.
And one way to do that is to connect with the community and provide up-to-date information about what is happening and how community members can participate.
Enter Racial Equity and Community Health (REACH) Twin Cities. “In 2020 the Lake Street Leadership Recovery Coalition came together directly in response to what was going on in our city after George Floyd’s murder and the civil uprising,” said Christina Beck, communications and development director for REACH.
“Community centers, businesses and residents met, and out of that coalition REACH was developed,” she said. The mission of REACH is to serve as a central information hub for updates, resources and opportunities around community recovery, renewal and wellness.
“The Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association (PPNA) was awarded a $100,000 unsolicited grant from the McKnight Foundation, which was giving away 10 of these grants,” Beck continued. These grants were given in direct response to the projects that were working toward healing and recovery after the murder of George Floyd.
PPNA took on the administration of REACH, and Beck began her duties in September of 2021.
“REACH is the online hub of resources and information,” Beck said. “In the beginning, there were a couple of people contracted to seek events and news that highlighted our promoted projects, services, programs and initiatives that seek to improve the elements of health and wealth and reduce the disparity within and around the communities most affected, with large populations of BIPOC.
“Those news and events were then loaded into the website created from the McKnight funds. We have begun to make the necessary revisions and updates, see what is working and working out the cogs in the system. We are going to be guiding light traffic and promoting to other organizations, like other neighborhood associations. Now we have an employee more dedicated to this work. We have no contractors, but partners with the community,” Beck remarked.
She said REACH Twin Cities wants to use its website for things that build awareness, fuel action, attract resources and promote health and awareness, particularly to communities most impacted by the uprisings.
“When somebody is looking for what they can do, they can come to the REACH website to inform themselves by finding resources for further education, articles pointing to policies that need their voices and an ever-changing calendar of events,” Beck advised.
There are several examples of what the REACH website broadcasts. One item is a call to assist Miss Linda, a resident who was being evicted from her home. “Someone at PPNA is dedicated to advocacy work, so while REACH may not be able to help a person directly, we are able to broadcast through our social media channel and on our personal time. This is a developing story that has affected many in the neighborhood, and people are excited to help Miss Linda stay in her home,” Beck said.
Freedom Street Health, groups of local citizens who are doing work in real grassroots form, forming a radical model directly from people to people, has its information listed on the REACH calendar of events.
Beck noted that a group of community members talking about the history of inequity in their neighborhoods has had their sessions listed on the website. A clean-up of the Corcoran neighborhood was promoted.
“We look for something that prioritizes positive connections,” Beck said. “There have been a lot of words in the last few years; we want to see intentions transferred into positive action.”
Beck said REACH Twin Cities has been working mostly remotely. She is currently the only employee, but the communications manager from PPNA does a lot of work on the backside with the website. “That person definitely has a role in the website, marketing and outreach,” Beck commented. “There is nobody at PPNA who does not touch REACH.”
Beck said she has primarily an editorial and procurement role at this time. “PPNA will be a part of it as the website becomes more dynamic and accessible.”
The community is invited to make the website a useful resource, submitting thoughts and ideas as well as current events to the calendar and seeking information on neighborhood activities.
The website is reachtwincities.org.
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