City of Minneapolis offers self-serving ‘Racial Equity Impact Analysis’ on proposed Public Works project in East Phillips Neighborhood

Backers of the East Phillips Urban Farm development held a press conference at City Hall Tuesday.

The Minneapolis City Council’s Policy & Government Oversight Committee will vote Wednesday afternoon on directing staff to move forward with its Public Works expansion plan in the East Phillips neighborhood, one opposed by neighborhood leaders.

The docket includes the city’s “Racial Equity Impact Analysis” for the project, something that assesses how it aligns “with the City’s Southside Green Zone policy, the City’s resolution declaring racism a public health emergency, and the City’s resolution establishing a truth and reconciliation process.”

The city offers a self-serving and weak racial equity analysis, raising questions about the city’s understanding of, and commitment to, racial justice.

Continue reading

City of Minneapolis suppressed staff report favorable to the East Phillips Urban Farm Project

The city of Minneapolis inexplicably has kept a report from public view that would provide a win-win-win-win — for the East Phillips’ Urban Farm development, the city’s Water Works facility upgrade, the city’s climate goals, and the city taxpayer.

The report was leaked to the public, apparently some time last week.

The city’s Public Works Department issued a statement that the report was no more than “an informal, internally drafted report for contingency planning purposes only.”

Joe Vital, a South Minneapolis community organizer who backs the East Phillips Urban Farm project, said it was “disheartening” that the city suppressed the document.

It “puts into question transparency in this city,” he said. “If we are missing information at this level, it makes me wonder where else it exists?”

“It invites the question: Who is really steering this Hiawatha Expansion Project?”

Continue reading

Momentum is building for truth telling and healing around the cultural genocide that took place in Indian Boarding Schools and the trauma that continues today

First in a two-part series.

The Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) is moving into a decade-long commitment to truth telling, education, and repair with Native American and African communities. Those communities suffered deeply from America’s original sins: Slavery and Native American genocide. Those sins have never been fully acknowledged or addressed, let alone healed or repaired.

Christine Diindissi McCleave, CEO of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, gave one of two keynote addresses at MCC’s inaugural event, “Minnesota’s Racial Legacy: Finally Telling the Truth,” Sept. 24-25 at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis.

McCleave (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) put the work ahead in stark terms: “Why don’t we tell the truth about genocide in this country?” she asked. “Because people have things they will lose. It’s tied to Empire and control and money and land.”

At the same time, there’s a tremendous amount of healing that can happen and actions that could put this nation and its religious institutions on a more solid moral foundation.

Continue reading

Events: Rally on Minneapolis charter amendment, march to honor boarding school survivors and victims, and more

In this blog:

  • #LetThePeopleVote Rally for Democracy, Friday, Sept. 17
  • Boarding School Survivor and Victim Memorial March, Friday, Sept. 24
  • MN Council of Church’s first ‘truth telling’ event on the state’s racial legacy, Sept. 24-25
  • 2021 Overcoming Racism Conference set for Nov. 12-13 online
Continue reading

Registration open for MN Council of Churches’ truth-telling event; Walker to unveil new sculpture by Native artist, Line 3 updates

In this blog:

  • Registration now open for MN Council of Church’s first ‘truth telling’ event Sept. 24-25
  • Walker to install sculpture by Native artist where ‘Scaffold’ once stood
  • New report: Indigenous resistance is disrupting climate damage
  • More than 60 water protectors arrested outside Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s Residence
  • LaDuke, Hauska register complaints with U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights
Continue reading

MN Council of Church’s inaugural ‘truth telling’ event is Sept. 24-25, first step in reparations work

Last fall, the Minnesota Council of Churches announced a multi-year effort at truth telling, education, and repair with both African American and Native American communities.

“With partners, this work will include naming and addressing the unjust and ongoing systems and structures that “have made Minnesota rank as a state with some of the highest racial disparities in the nation,” it said.

The first truth telling event will be held Friday evening and Saturday morning, Sept. 24-25 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicolette Ave., Minneapolis.

Continue reading

East Phillips Urban Farm plan stays alive, barely

City Council action is as murky as its commitment to racial justice

The Minneapolis City Council was faced challenging truths today as it deliberated on redevelopment of the old Roof Top Depot site at 28th and Hiawatha: addressing historic and ongoing racism costs money, it means changing “business as usual,” and it’s messy.

The Council faced two different proposals: One to use the Roof Top Depot site to expand and consolidate the city’s Water Works facilities, the other to give the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) exclusive rights to develop the property into an urban farm, affordable housing, and neighborhood-friendly businesses.

The fractured Council punted, keeping both options open, likely making no one happy. Significantly, it voted down proposed language to give EPNI exclusive development rights for its Urban Farm proposal.

Continue reading

Critical vote on East Phillips Urban Farm Wednesday: Will Mpls City Council live up to its promises?

West side of the old Roof Depot building in the East Phillips neighborhood.

The old Roof Depot site near East 28th Street and Hiawatha Avenue in the East Phillips neighborhood covers a city block and its waiting for redevelopment.

Starkly different proposals are on the table: One would consolidate the city of Minneapolis’ Public Works facilities to create greater efficiencies; the other would create an Indoor Urban Farm, with affordable housing and neighborhood friendly-businesses.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fulfill a community-led, community-owned project — an economic investment in an economically depressed area,” said Joe Vital, a volunteer with East Phillips Neighborhood Initiative and Urban Farm supporter.

A key vote on these divergent plans is expected Wednesday, Aug. 18, 1:30 p.m. at the Minneapolis City Council’s Policy and Government Oversight Committee. This committee includes all 13 council members.

Continue reading

Angels Unawares revisited: On immigrants, refugees, and America’s original sins

Unveiling of ‘Angels Unawares’ in front of the Basilica Sunday.

The Rev. Kelly Sherman-Conroy, a member of the Ogala Sioux Nation and an ordained ELCA pastor, doesn’t like to use the term “forced migration” when referring to how European settlers forced Indigenous peoples from their lands.

“For me that kind of tidies up the word ‘genocide,'” she said.

Continue reading

Rev. Pamela Ngunjiri will help lead the Minnesota Council of Church’s truth-telling and reparations work

“We don’t always see the face of God in everybody’s face,” Rev. Pamela Ngunjiri tells her congregation. “And that’s the problem with racism. Somewhere along the line the humanity of that particular group has been taken away and that has to be restored.”

Ngunjiri (pronounced Go-jiri) was recently hired as the Co-Director for Racial Justice for the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC). She joins the other Co-Director and Healing Minnesota Stories’ founder Jim Bear Jacobs. Together they are leading the Council’s multi-year effort at truth telling, education and reparations with both the African American and Native American communities.

Ngunjiri and Jacobs say the Council’s first truth-telling event will be held in September, details coming soon. Until them, please meet Rev. Ngunjiri.

Continue reading