Sunday, November 7, 2010

Epic Journey Of JACC Broccoli Stir Fry And Other Small, Symbolic Gestures Of The "Revitalizer Class"

Blog post and photos by John Hoff

In my previous post about Banana Blossom Restaurant, click here, I made passing mention of their delicious broccoli stir fry and how Jordan Neighborhood super citizen Megan Goodmundson brought some of the leftover stir fry an epic distance, so I could be at the JACC neighborhood meeting "in spirit."

Pictured above is the stir fry in question, and the Riviera Motel in Joplin, Missouri where it was consumed far, far from the JACC meeting where it was originally served.

The motel was nothing to write home about. As a matter of fact...

...the wireless they promised on the marquee wasn't working, and I went out of my way to write a negative internet review, click here.

I've long said that wherever I happen to be, that's my neighborhood, and naturally I care about improving my neighborhood. So I will use whatever means are available, within my limited time and ability passing through "the momentary neighborhood." This might mean calling 911, calling 311 if the city happens to have a 311 system (like Dallas) or maybe just complaining to a manager at the motel about how, gee, your marquee promises internet but you aren't delivering internet. I will have to write a negative review, tsk tsk.

But back to that stir fry...

These are the kinds of small but deeply symbolic gestures that build morale among members of the "revitalizer class" in North Minneapolis. Gestures of this kind happen constantly but are rarely documented for posterity. The other day, for example, one Northsider was doing yardwork for another Northsider. The owner of the yard brought out some glasses of champagne to celebrate the transformation of the yard. By this gesture, it was like saying: you aren't just somebody I'm paying to perform chores, you are a friend.

In the past couple weeks, I've heard remarks about how home improvement projects seem to be happening all over the Hawthorne and Jordan neighborhoods: new roofs, new fences, all kinds of yard work. I spoke to a neighbor who was putting in a fence, and he told me--with obvious excitement--a rumor regarding a North Minneapolis church: supposedly, the church was hiring private security to patrol West Broadway. Now was the time, he said, to put improvements into homes, since the homes were going to keep rising in value along with the rising livability of the neighborhood.

Yes, it's terrible, some of the things that happen in North Minneapolis: young men who never had a decent chance at life, killing other young men from similar circumstances. But this is a tale of two cities. There is an entirely different class of Northsider enjoying a comfortable life, raising strong and educated families, building equity in their homes or, at least, holding on hard and waiting for mortgages to rise above water with the inevitable turnaround of the economy. These are the folks who drink champagne while doing yard work, and who won't accept low livability around them, and actively fight against it.

It can be a tiring and painful battle, trying to turn around an entire neighborhood in the face of deeply-rooted negative trends. It's even more frustrating when you have to leave the battle for weeks at a time to make a living. But then somebody makes a little gesture like bringing a plate of food hundreds of miles, and suddenly the battle doesn't seem so hard, the road doesn't seem so long, and morale among the "revitalizer class" has never been higher.


Anonymous said...

And you'll only be at JACC meetings in spirit because you don't live or work in Jordan. That means you have no say...according to their rules.
And trust me, if other non-JACC members can't participate, we'll shut you down damn fast.

Johnny Northside! said...

"We" said the anonymous commenter?

As a matter of fact I have frequently participated in JACC meetings, been recognized, spoken. Yeah, happens all the time. Pretty much every time I go to a JACC meeting. I was recognized and spoke at the meeting where the "hooker hostel" was being discussed on Emerson Ave. N.

Guess you and your imaginary friends weren't there to "shut me down" huh?