The race for mayor of Minneapolis in 2013 as well as highly contested seats on the City Council, park board, and other positions will significantly change the political face of Minneapolis. Amid the debates and fundraising is the opportunity for local political leaders to connect with the nearly 383,000 residents of Minneapolis.
Many of the metrics that define Minneapolis as one of the finest urban areas in America, from our bike culture and healthy city, volunteerism, to raising children, and even our high credit scores are functions of the commitment of our residents. The diversity of our residents and our streets has helped Minneapolis remain a vibrant, growing city and a is testament to the resiliency of our residents’ belief in the importance of a highly livable urban community.
72 different organizations
There are 72 different neighborhood organizations throughout the city of Minneapolis that are also helping keep livability high. These neighborhood organizations are made up of volunteer residents who advocate for the various business concerns, schools, parks and — most importantly — residents, within their geographic area.
Each of these groups maintains its own 501 (c)3 or (c)4 status, conducts public meetings, manages their own finances as well as hosts ice cream socials, festivals and neighborhood events to make our large metropolis work at the human scale. The small, yet sincere, interactions of neighborhood volunteers at these local gatherings help to keep our streets safe, build community, and make residents feel welcome in a large metropolis.
Often the ‘entry point’ for political action
Minneapolis neighborhood groups need your help and ideas. Neighborhood groups are often the “entry point” for political action in our city and often the best opportunity for residents to be heard within their community. Minneapolis neighborhoods provide a forum for residents to learn about issues at a block-by-block level while allowing residents to help formulate larger policy.
Likewise, these organizations need to hear from residents in order understand the opportunities and challenges facing their portion of the city. In addition, these groups yearn for volunteers to dedicate time and energy to work on board activities and connect with the community. Maintaining consistent communication and working to connect with as many residents possible can be a daunting task.
Working to give voice to everyone
In addition to the individual neighborhood groups, the City of Minneapolis Neighborhood Community Relations Department and the Neighborhood & Community Engagement Commission are working at a citywide level to make sure that under-represented groups of color, culture and age have a voice in our city.
As Minneapolis grows and our collective needs evolve, neighborhood groups are the best opportunity to help initiate change and ensure Minneapolis will be a great place to live for years to come.
Jeffrey Martin, a Minneapolis resident for over 18 years, is a commissioner on the Neighborhood & Community Engagement Commission and a board member of the Waite Park Community Council.
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