ADDENDUM: February 6, 2011. This blog post was written before I and many others in North Minneapolis discovered what a disreputable con man character Don Allen is. I would advise anybody: Do not trust Don Allen. Seek further information about Don Allen from various online sources before having any contact with him.
Some questions were "what the heck are they doing, lately?" and "who is the chair of the organization, these days?" (It was Jerry Moore at one point)
In the course of that conversation, Don Allen gave this blog some praise, more than I think I deserve. You see, I told Allen that--it seemed to me--in the last month my blog was doing more to market and publicize North Minneapolis than, gee, the entire North Side Marketing Task Force, combined.
I was willing to say this mostly because NSMTF seemed to have done exactly NOTHING in the last month, and--with the release of the movie trailer for "The Adventures of Johnny Northside"--I could make the argument that this blog and the unrelated-but-closely-affiliated documentary movie effort had done A LOT.
In the past month, that is. I restricted my comment to the past month.
But Allen was willing to take things even further. Allen said this blog had done more to market North Minneapolis in the past YEAR than the North Side Marketing Task Force. I should point out that my "marketing" of North Minneapolis is an application of a theory I call "Market and Romanticize The Struggle."
Well, it appears Don Allen hasn't let go of his questions about what's up with the NSMTF. He recently fired off an email to, among others, Mike Kestner. (Mike may or may not be the chair, it's hard to tell...even when you ask Mike)
Here's what Don Allen wrote:
There seems to be questions about the effectiveness of the NMTF that I would like to cover in a upcoming story next week. It has been almost 2 years and the Task Force has not addressed community issues, involved themselves in positioning for stimulus dollars to assist businesses in North Minneapolis, nor tried to collaborate with organizations like the West Broadway Business Area Coalition.
Being the former vice-chair of the organization, I've has a chance to evaluate the effectiveness of the group from a "hands-off" point of view. With the lack of community engagement, this organization looks like they are on the verge of folding. This City of Minneapolis and Charitable Organizations are aware of the task force and the troubles with Mr. Moore as it pertains to the JACC controversy, yet no official statement has been put out to the media or community stakeholders that would separate you from this ugly corrupt mess.
In the NMTF original mission, it states that the NMTF would help to bring a better perception of North Minneapolis through tools of marketing, community journalism and community engagement. If that is not your current mission, then as I predicted in 2008, the task force will become another "passive" agency that benefit no-one on the North side. I am prepared to bring V-Media Development Corporation - a Minnesota non-profit that addresses disparities in marketing, advertising and public relations with a pro-active-aggressive advocacy arm to assist with building capacity for communities like north Minneapolis to the forefront and show the task force what a "marketing non-profit" does.
I have sent a request for application to again become a part of the task force and gotten no reply. If the application process set up by Mr. Moore is in place, the community members with true responsibility will never have the opportunity to actively engage the task force or north Minneapolis.
This is a request for an update on the NMTF, its current mission and when you plan to at least have a website, news blog and real community sponsorship.
(End of Don Allen's email)
At today's North Minneapolis Housing Fair, I ran into Mike Kestner--who appeared, at least at that moment--to be staffing the NSMTF table single-handed--and I asked, you know, who is the chair, these days, of the NSMTF?
Kestner told me "We're working on that."
Working on who is the CHAIR? I asked.
Kestner said he understood I'd like information, but, well...they're working on it.
About a year ago I tried to become a member of this task force. I didn't make it. Since then, I know at least two prominent individuals have thrown up their hands and quit the task force. It is, however, not accurate to say the task force lacks a website. The task force has a handful of websites, none of which appear to be updated with any great frequency. (In fact, one of the websites is filled with stuff from 2007, including announcement of an "upcoming" meeting which was "upcoming" before Obama was the Democratic nominee for president)
The actual "marketing" of North Minneapolis has therefore fallen to the press, bloggers, and the energetic, creative and cohesive NOMI group. The North Side Marketing Task Force has promised much yet only produced rudimentary websites, seldom updated, and some kind of cryptic leaf logo.
Three easy options present themselves:
# Disband and get out of the way of NOMI.
# Start paying people like Don Allen and myself to blog about North Minneapolis, rather than counting on bloggers to continue what are, in effect, unsubsidized volunteer efforts which require a great deal of time, effort, and sometimes expenses. (Well, I shouldn't say my efforts are COMPLETELY unsubsidized. Pete's Hardwood Floors recently promised me an X-large t-shirt, and one for Connie Nompelis, too, in "Size Dental Floss.")
# Remain perpetually dormant and hope nobody notices once this blog post and Don Allen's upcoming article have fallen in the Google rankings.