Community Engagement & Cultural Asset Mapping
With funding from The McKnight Foundation, PAM worked in four Minneapolis neighborhoods—Cedar-Riverside, Elliot Park, Logan Park, and Whittier—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 identify, preserve, and maintain these assets, increasing neighborhood vitality.
In partnership with the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota, we have created a set of cultural asset maps that visually illustrate and provide testimony to the importance of the places, local businesses, traditions, and characteristics which community members value. These maps tangibly represent the intangible sense of place we all feel about our neighborhoods. Click on the neighborhoods to view the maps.
Known for the towering Riverside Plaza apartment complex, Cedar-Riverside has always been a hub for recent immigrants, and each of these groups has left an indelible mark on the neighborhood. Currently, the neighborhood is home to a large Eastern African community, and their businesses thrive alongside older institutions from when the neighborhood was known for its counter-cultural activism. The West Bank can often feel like a small town in the middle of a big city, with a bustling downtown district and a 27:1 ratio of local businesses to chains. Besides its legacy of immigration, the West Bank has a long and storied history of music, theater, cooperatives, and counter-culturalism manifested in places like the Hard Times Cafe, Mixed Blood Theater, and the Cedar Cultural Center.
Elliot Park sits at the eastern edge of downtown Minneapolis and its proximity to the river, along with its abundance of high-density housing, made it a home for working class residents in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Elliot Park grew to become a hub for medical institutions and social service providers like Augustana Care Corporation, Hennepin County Medical Center, Aeon, and RS Eden. Elliot Park and its cherished community institutions have endured years of disinvestment though, and now face looming development pressures from downtown Minneapolis.
Home of Art-A-Whirl, a World Record-holding block with four churches, and a well-loved park, Logan Park is a hub of creativity and community in Northeast Minneapolis. Old Victorian homes span quiet tree-lined streets while artists have converted large industrial buildings like the Northrup-King Building and Q.arma Building into studios. As Northeast has grown in popularity, areas like Logan Park have felt the pressures of rising rents and new developments.
Whittier is one of Minneapolis’ most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods Immigrants who started small businesses along Nicollet Avenue (Eat Street), Franklin Avenue, Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street have created dense commercial corridors which make Whittier unique. The neighborhood, one of Minneapolis’ oldest, is home to major institutions like the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Hennepin History Museum, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and the Midtown Greenway, as well as many other character-rich small businesses and nonprofits.