Complex of Anarchy, blog post by John Hoff
It has been one year since this blog attempted an experiment to see if I could change the results in Google "image search" for "North Minneapolis."
Currently, today, this red hot minute...if you perform such a search the images that come up involve the 2011 tornado, the mortgage crisis, and crime. In that order. In fact the entire first page of results does NOT show crime, but the tornado and the mortgage crisis, and, well, that's kind of encouraging I suppose.
...overall, nobody could consider our neighborhood's visual internet profile in Google to be "positive."
So a year ago, I found an image that fit a number of criteria: diversity, neighbors banding together to build their community, historic homes, and an emphasis on neighborhood revitalization. It's pretty hard to come up with a compelling photo that covers all those bases, but THIS IMAGE of neighbors rejoicing over historical artifacts at 1522 Hillside Avenue North miraculously fulfilled fit the bill.
So I'd hoped by displaying it on the sidebar of my blog, I could make that image come up higher in Google image results and thus help change the "image" of my neighborhood. IF THE EXPERIMENT WORKED, it could have been followed by other images pushed into the internet in a similar manner, until people committed to this effort had managed to change that all-important first page of search results.
Well, it's been a year. I figured it would take time so I gave the experiment a while...but now I have to be objective and pronounce the experiment a failure.
How can our neighborhood change its image? How can those residents involved in a fulfilling, romantic struggle to revitalize our neighborhood project that image of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and historic homes with lovely hardwood floors?
I don't know. I do think we have to try. But maybe image follows reality, and not the other way around. To change our image, we must actually change our neighborhood. We must drive out the filthy pigs of crime rather than lining up the metaphorical pigs for lipstick makeovers.
(Yes, I am using the word "pigs" to mean criminals, not as a pejorative word for police. In the words of my not-a-hit song "Ball Chopping Axes," When I was young I thought cops were jerky/ Now on Thanksgiving I cook 'em a turkey)
It will be a long and difficult struggle, but having recently read how North Vent Facebook page has FOUR THOUSAND MEMBERS, I believe neighborhood revitalization has the "critical mass" of numbers needed to win. Winning does not depend on the success of a small social media experiment of giving a particular photo "sidebar prominence" and hoping image search results could be influenced.
So with a heavy sigh, I am removing the sidebar with the 1522 Hillside Avenue North image and saying, "Back to the drawing board." (Joke font) As usual, I blame all North Minneapolis neighborhood revitalization failures upon the black magic influence of Evil Pink Pony.