Monday, August 3, 2009

Visualizing The Future Of Hawthorne's Eco Village...

Photos By John Hoff

On Saturday, several members of the Hawthorne Neighborhood gathered in Farview Park with PPL reps and architecture students. The mini-conference was held to discuss design ideas for the "Eco Village" development.

The Eco Village will be located in a formerly crime-ridden area, now blessedly free of crime for the most part...though vast areas of the Eco Village are also free of, well, buildings such as the former "Apartment Complexes of Anarchy." It should be noted there are, in a sense, three Eco Villages....

There is the "inner Eco Village" which is a planned townhouse development, using modern and ecological building methods. This development will take place roughly where 415 31st Ave. N. was once located, the building which was at the heart of a lawsuit with CitiMortgage.

Then there is the "outer Eco Village," which is a four square block area around the "inner village. This area is bounded by Lowry Ave. N., 4th St. N., 30th Ave. N. and Lyndale Ave. N.

Then there is the "global eco- village." That would be the rest of the world, actually. There are probably ways to make more fine-tuned distinctions, such as declaring Minneapolis the "Municipal Eco Village," but I have no need for those more granular distinctions at the moment. For years, we have focused on this tough four block area, struggling long and hard to secure and improve it. You know that slogan about "thinking globally and acting locally?" This is how we act locally.

Despite the long struggle to revitalize the Eco Village, a light-hearted mood permeated the mini-conference as grown-ups played with wooden blocks, imagining themselves Master Of The Universe developers or (sometimes) Godzilla. Bright red stickers on a toy block designated a house which, hopefully, would have solar power.

In the photos above, top to bottom, photo montages on the walls show the current state of the Eco Village. Things have changed so rapidly that, as of today, Google maps is completely inaccurate, depicting buildings which haven't been standing since 2008.

In the second photo, Abbie Loosen from PPL, who (along with Kevin Gulden and others) helped put the mini-conference together.

In the remaining photos, residents visualize development with blocks. We no longer worry aloud about constant drug and prostitution activity in this area. Now we figure out when and how to build nice things.

Green things.

Ecological things.

Like children who imagine an unlimited future of boundless potential, we model our dreams with wooden blocks.


The Mortgage Geek said...

For the record, one table used the dots to represent buildings that would have solar power. The other table used the dots to represent buildings that were currently not in existence so we could keep track of what was there already and what would be new.

Although it would be great if EVERY new building had solar capacity of some kind.

Ryan Hogan (Folwell) said...

I commend the work of these progressive community members, but I can't help but notice that every individual in the pictures is white. I'm afraid that the Northside's "revitalization" efforts will be classic gestures of gentrification. How is this group and others of its kind fighting systemic racism? Revitalization (read gentrification, read whitening) cannot be white people doing white people things for the purported betterment of all. The Northside can truly be progressive in fighting this.