Community Engagement – A New Approach to Preservation Support
With funding from The McKnight Foundation, PAM is working in four Minneapolis neighborhoods to engage community members in identifying social and cultural heritage assets, and implementing new ideas for place-based community revitalization. While traditional historic preservation typically focuses on architectural styles and historical associations, cultural assets also include the intangibles that define neighborhoods—places, yes, but also people, businesses, stories, and traditions. Our aim is to empower community members in organizing to preserve and maintain these assets and increase local vitality.
Whittier has emerged as one of the most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Immigrants who started small businesses along Nicollet Avenue (Eat Street), Franklin Avenue, Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street have created dense commercial corridors that make Whittier unique and special. We are working with the Whittier Alliance neighborhood organization and its various taskforces to address environmental, economic, and equity issues, as well as with businesses and institutions such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Hennepin History Museum.
Home of Art-A-Whirl, a block with four churches (a World Record!), and a well-loved park, the Logan Park neighborhood is a hub of creativity and community in Northeast Minneapolis. Old Victorian-era homes span quiet tree-lined streets while artists and entrepreneurs have converted large industrial buildings into studios and work spaces. As Northeast has grown in popularity, areas like Logan Park have felt the pressures of gentrification—the working class vibe is slipping away and the real estate market has priced artists out of the creative community. We are working with community stakeholders including the Logan Park Neighborhood Association and the City of Minneapolis to develop strategies that simultaneously encourage growth and preserve neighborhood character.
Elliot Park, a neighborhood at the southeastern corner of downtown Minneapolis, has experienced decades of disinvestment that has left the neighborhood with low community vitality. In collaboration with Elliot Park Neighborhood, Inc., we are helping create opportunities for residents to engage with each other and to learn about all their neighborhood has to offer. An environmental taskforce is being formed to work on livability issues such as panhandling and littering, while at the same time we are encouraging residents and businesses to take action and form the networks of people and resources that are necessary to address the needs of the neighborhood.
Cedar-Riverside is a neighborhood of contrasts that co-exist in harmony: a Christian college in a predominately Muslim neighborhood, counter-culture activists across from business school students, a bar next to a mosque. The long history of the West Bank has always been home to eclectic cultures and recent immigrants, and each of these groups has left an indelible mark on the neighborhood. Today, a majority East African community calls Cedar-Riverside home, and their businesses thrive alongside older institutions. Our work there focuses on starting conversations about what makes the West Bank unique and spurring civic engagement and policy changes to protect those assets and influence future developments in the neighborhood.