Thursday, January 7, 2010
Today We Only Stand At The Front Door Of The Future--More Images And Video Of The Hawthorne Eco-Village Groundbreaking...
Above, former Hawthorne Neighborhood Board Chair Peter Teachout talks about facing down crime in the Eco-Village.
Photo By Megan Goodmundson
A group photo of individuals who were very involved in the Eco-Village effort, including residents and public officials.
The green door pictured in the photo has a bit of a story behind it...
Originally, one city official had an idea to obtain a salvaged door at a local used building components business, but Hawthorne Housing Director Jeff Skrenes thought it would be more frugal and environmentalist to obtain a used door without cost which, really, wasn't good for anything but a prop, anyway. He got such a door from the "Hawthorne Princess," an incredible bargain of a house owned by Realtor Connie Nompelis, currently on vacation in swampy, oh-so-uncomfortable Honduras.
I might add there are PLENTY of such bargain houses in this rapidly-revitalizing model of a neighborhood.
After the symbolic groundbreaking--shoveling a path in the snow to the door--it was Council Member Diane Hofstede who personally laid out the welcome mat.
Meeting at Farview Park after the ground-breaking, where it was much warmer, 4th Precinct Commander Mike Martin talked about the incredible turnaround in the Eco-Village. According to Martin, members of gang units don't like to pull duty in this area, because it is TOO BORING. According to Martin, a lot of things went right to create the quick and startling 18-month success in the Eco-Village. He said even the bad guys did what they should have done: they packed and left.
Personally, I have to wonder if there weren't some private heart-to-heart talks with the bad guys, with stuff said like, "You DO NOT burn the truck of the neighborhood chair ON MY WATCH, (expletive)."
Whatever it was we collectively did, it worked, and hopefully we can figure out that magic formula and replicate it all over North Minneapolis and beyond.
Council Member Diane Hofstede gives credit to residents who were involved in the long, difficult struggle to turn the neighborhood around. Diane is always a classy dresser, but today she looked especially sharp.
I couldn't help but notice a minor factual error, made with the best of intentions: Diane mentioned my car "getting burned." Actually, it was Peter Teachout's truck that burned. As for me, I've had a total of ten tires slashed, one vehicle window busted, and one incident of my vehicle being stolen. (That theft also included a busted window) But my vehicle has never been torched. I would never bother to mention this except that I don't want to get credit in public for enduring something that did not, in fact, actually happen.
Due to how closely Jeff Skrenes, Peter Teachout and myself worked to turn the Eco-Village around, sometimes our different sets of facts would get mixed up in the minds of various pepole. For example, today I was asked how "all my kids" were doing. I only have one child, my son Alex, but Peter has FOUR children.
Community Development and Economic Planning (CPED) Housing Director Tom Streitz delivers remarks. One can't help but be reminded of that old saying, "Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan." Today, we didn't really need to worry about that saying.
Today, Eco-Village resident Pam Patrek--whose home might be described as a peaceful island surrounded by vacant lots--gave identical gift baskets to Jeff Skrenes and myself which included (naturally) some homemade Polish sausage.
Jeff Skrenes took some of his sausage and cut it up to share at the gathering. At Jeff's prompting, I told the story of how this sausage sustained us in our long, gritty efforts to turn around the Eco-Village, often eaten in celebration when yet another decrepit property would get demolished. The sausage itself might very well be the key to the "magic formula" which produced such overwhelming success in such a historically short period of time.
Eat, eat! we told those gathered. Eat the magic sausage. It's great cold!
Here, I'll show you--!
Jill Keiner--who is Hawthorne's point of contact with the City of Minneapolis--talks to Steve Brandt of the Star Tribune about the turnaround happening in North Minneapolis. I heard the name "T.J. Waconia" come up.
Photo By State Rep Linda Higgins
Me posing with Tom Streitz, who is a faithful reader of this blog. Thanks, Tom.
Today was a great day. However, the Eco-Village is not just an end in itself, but intended as a model and a seed which will kick start deeper and broader neighborhood revitalization.
Today we only stand at the front door of the future.