Monday, August 17, 2009

Heart of the City Party returns to Hawthorne Neighborhood

Photos by John Hoff

by Jordan Neighbor
JNS Guest Blogger

Last Friday, good folks from all over the city gathered on a vacant lot, in the heart of the Hawthorne neighborhood and in what was at that moment in time, the Heart of the City.

This was the second time in the same number of years that folks from all over Minneapolis had traveled to this spot in NoMi for an evening of fresh veggies, lovingly prepared dishes and gourmet (and not so gourmet) grilled goodies.

The gathering kicked off the second season of what is being called The Heart of the City Parties. This movement started on an internet forum that is devoted to Minneapolis issues, also called the Minneapolis Issues List. The story goes that last summer a northsider was having a rough time on her block. Feeling neglected (by the city), feeling isolated and feeling what appeared to be hopeless, she started complaining on the Minneapolis Issues List. Other folks, led by well-known poster Jim Graham, virtually reached out to the northsider in a show of solidarity, and a social gathering began to form. The gathering began to take on a name, given by Jim Graham, as the Heart of the City Party. His intention in the name is that there is no place in the city that good, decent folks can't and won't go. The city belongs to the people. No one in the city should feel alone. In the summer and fall of 2008 there were three Heart of the City parties; one in Hawthorne, one on 27th/Penn in Jordan and one on Penn/Glenwood in Harrison.

This summer, the first Heart of the City Party was kicked off by the residents of Hawthorne, specifically the residents that live in the southern part of the neighborhood who have been giving their blood, sweat and tears to get a community garden started in their neck of the woods. Word is that the garden is in full swing, a great success, and will part of a parade of community gardens this coming weekend (more on that soon).

Here are some pictures from the Heart of the City party. Word is the next one is going to be held in one of the SoMi neighborhoods (SoMi = South Mpls, of course!). So next time you hear about a Heart of the City party coming up, make sure you get there so you can meet new neighbors, from near and from far!

In the first photo there is a bucket full of summer wines chilling on ice, compliments of Nikki Carlson, who has a standing assignment to ALWAYS bring the wine, and she takes her assignments seriously.

The second photo shows a regular Heart of the City partier, Jordan (his name is easy for me to remember because, well, I'm Jordan Neighbor). Jordan is ALWAYS bringing something special to grill, like, not just brats, burgers and dogs. No, Jordan has built up a reputation and let me just say I can't wait to see what he brings next time.

Next photo shows Hawthorne's own grillmaster, Len. Len and his wife are long time residents in Hawthorne and could easily be called super-volunteers. I see them everywhere, at everything and they are always at the center of the activity. Thanks for your hard work Len and Joan. Things wouldn't happen without you!

Below Len, we have Mike Klick and Brian Cheese. These two helped to kick-off this season of Heart of the City and let me just take a moment to gush over their gardens. I walked by their house one day and it was literally like seeing a black and white movie turn into lush, vivid color before my eyes. Their beautiful yard provides such a visual oasis in what can arguably be considered a blighted area in the neighborhood. They don't stop at their yard, their gardening passion has extended out into the Hawthorne community by way of the South Hawthorne Community Garden, which has been featured on this blog several times. These two are an example of how gardening can positively impact an urban neighborhood.

The last photo features two V.I.P.s. The gentleman is Jim Graham, the citywide mover-n-shaker that pretty much started the movement of Heart of the City. Jim has devoted innumerable hours to his neighborhood in Ventura Village, as well as the whole city. If you ever have the chance to meet Jim and converse, you won't be disappointed in your new acquaintance. Chatting with Jim is Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman. Gail's county district doesn't include Hawthorne or the northside, but it is not surprising to see Gail up in these neck of the woods because this Commissioner puts her boots to the pavement and gets out and about alot. It's good to have her visit our neighborhood, so when northside issues come before the county board, she can remember the people she met and the homes she saw. Hope to see you again, Ms. Dorfman!

And I hope to see more JNS readers at the next Heart of the City Party, too!

(Do not click "read more")

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