Thursday, May 13, 2010
JN-SPAN: UROC Grand Opening!
Post photos, and video by the Hawthorne Hawkman.
The University of Minnesota held its grand opening ceremonies for its Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center yesterday. Although the pomp and circumstance happened on Wednesday, the facility has been going full steam ahead since opening its doors. Over 9,000 business and community participants have been in the facility since September.
Before getting to the videos, the pictures above show how close I could get when the ribbon was cut, the leftovers of the ribbon, the band providing music, and the main conference room packed to overflowing. The event was so momentous for north Minneapolis that it was almost impossible to get a picture without also capturing several other people looking for their own photos of the day.
Bill English, co-chair of the African American Leadership Summit/Coalition of Black Churches, gave a rousing speech that I did not have a chance to record. He said that at this site, "four years ago, you could buy just about anything illegal that you wanted...now this is a place where community engagement happens." He also emphatically stated that this is not just a case of the University investing in the community. We are part of a true partnership and the community is investing in the U. "The assets of this community will build the University for more years than you can imagine."
All of the speakers were asked to keep their remarks under two minutes, and most of them obliged. Also, I apologize for the shakiness of the camera. My arms were about to fall off after all the hard work I'd put in at the Hawthorne EcoVillage Tree Nursery earlier in the day. The first speaker to appear on this episode of JN-SPAN is...
...Robert J. Jones, Senior Vice President of the University of Minnesota.
Next up is Robert H. Bruininks, President of the University of Minnesota.
Representative Keith Ellison couldn't make it, but recorded this message:
State Senator Linda Higgins is our next speaker.
I've got to hurry up and get this post done before midnight so that I can say it was also a happy birthday present to the next speaker, CM Don Samuels.
And finally, Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein. Why does he always have to speak AFTER someone as energetic as Samuels? Stenglien is actually a rather engaging public speaker, but would serve better as the set-up man for Samuels to bring it all back home.
After the ceremony, I had a chance to wander through the building. It's filled with exciting pieces of art and other historical and cultural contributions. But this was by far my favorite item. First, click on the picture below for a larger view of the description of the project. Then take a look at the pictures and artwork itself.
I should also mention that through our partnership with the University of Minnesota, CURA, and UROC, we have been able to get research assistants to help north Minneapolis neighborhoods track our effectiveness in foreclosure prevention outreach. This groundbreaking research will be brought forward to the community at a formal presentation at UROC in the coming months. Even before the grand opening, they have not only opened their doors for community events, but have also collaborated in very real ways with the community. UROC, welcome to NoMi!