Archive for the ‘ Aurora/St. Anthony NDC ’ Category

Building Hope

Zambia trip

Eight women — four from the Twin Cities and four from Cleveland — flew halfway around the world this summer to build a hopeful future for vulnerable children.

Habitat for Humanity International Mission is working in Lusaka, Zambia, in Southern Africa, and putting together a program to assist children and their caretakers. Many of these children are affected by HIV/AIDS; they may have it or have lost parents and family to the disease.

The four volunteer builders from Cleveland have backgrounds in city planning and medical care; the four from the Twin Cities have backgrounds ranging from architecture and economics to city planning.

Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corp. employee Marilyn Porter and Bonita Martin were part of the Twin Cities team. During the day these women worked on building a three-bedroom home for a family of eight, that replaced their former windowless, two-bedroom home. While working alongside the local contractors, lifting blocks and digging holes, these women drew a lot of attention from local villagers, as well as some of Lusaka’s own city planners, including the Minister of Land, While in Zambia, they were even able to meet with First Lady Thandiwe Banda for an hour.

“The First Lady was on our schedule at first, but then our meeting with her was canceled because something else came up; however, when she found out we were a team of eight women of color who had come to help her people, that changed,” said Martin.

Once the house was finished, the entire village had a celebration with singing and dancing, and the women gladly joined in as they were invited to be a part of everything. Martin described the celebration in a humbled way, how the home injected the entire village with joy for the family who had received this new home. “That is something I will never forget!” said Porter.

Porter, being the architect of the group, was watching the women in the village cook the food on small, single grills. Porter took some of the left-over building blocks and, after a run to the hardware store to get some old refrigerator shelves, designed a larger open fire grill for the family. The family was so excited about their new grill that they insisted that it be set out where anyone in the village could use it to cook.

When asked if they would do this again, both Porter and Martin replied, “I would go again in a heartbeat.”

“We learned from then and I think they learned from us,” said Porter. “The local contractors were not sure what to expect with a group of eight women coming to help, but they were pleasantly surprised at the end.”

Check out the rest of the photos from the Zambia trip on our Flickr photostream:

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

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Brewing Enterprise

Rondo Cafe rendering

Rondo Cafe rendering by Leetta Douglas

Rondo’s Coffee Café is the name of the new coffee shop that will be making its home in on the first floor of the Frogtown Square project at University and Dale in St. Paul.

The idea of having a coffee shop at this busy corner came from two women who grew up in the neighborhood and now work with Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation. Executive Director Nieeta Presley and Board Chair Leetta Douglas also share something else in common: They both love their coffee.

Both women are also highly passionate about their neighborhood and don’t want the history of Rondo to be forgotten. In that hope they are planning to develop the coffee shop as a history lesson for visitors and walk down memory lane for locals. With few coffee shops in the area, the vision of one that the locals can call their own, and a gathering place for the seniors taking up residence in Frogtown Square, seems to make sense.

Helping Presley and Douglas get the shop up and running is Golden Thyme’s owner, Mychael Wright. Golden Thyme is a coffee shop and neighborhood gathering place on Selby Avenue. Wright has the experience and connections they are looking for to get it off the ground. The women are also looking forward to creating a few more jobs in the neighborhood.

Frogtown Square is a mixed-use development, combining commercial and residential spaces for seniors. Greater Frogtown CDC, Model Cities, Neighborhood Development Center and Aurora/Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation have partnered on the project. The work at this important intersection, including the adjacent Rondo Community Library, has been funded in part by Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has made a two-decade commitment to the neighborhood.
Fundraising has started for the inside décor for Rondo’s Coffee Café, with the dream of this being a place people come to either learn about Rondo or remember Rondo.

That’s where the organizers need your help. You can name a coffee, decorate a table with old photos, or have photos mounted on the 14-foot walls. The displays will tell the story of how Rondo used to be and bring back sweet memories to those who gather there over a cup of coffee and to reminisce.

“This will be a community coffee shop, and we are working to build community ownership of it,” Presley said.

To find out more about how to get involved with this project, check out Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation’s website, or call 651-222-0399, ext. 100.

Summer of Peace

At peace pole

Community elder, Ms. Bertha Givins, and Dan Kravetz, who came up with the idea for Summer of Peace two years ago.

For the third straight year, the Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, partnering with the Summit-University Planning Council and District 7 Planning Council, co-hosted The Summer of Peace celebration, a series of events that was the brain child of former ASANDC staffer Dan Kravetz. This “traveling block party” with events happening each Thursday, provided an opportunity for neighbors to get to know each other and participate in activities benefitting the entire community. Thursday events included clean-up efforts, community gardening, live entertainment, cook-outs and the general spreading of goodwill and summer cheer.

We spoke with Irna Landrum, Executive Director of the Summit-University Planning Council, who shared some highlights from the Summer of Peace.

How did it go? It seemed like there was such a good feel to the events.

It definitely was a success, bigger than what we had done before, a bit overwhelming, but it went very well. We tried to do it a little differently, in the past it was more about getting out, seeing people and giving them information — more of a here’s where you go, here’s what you do, the food is over there kind of thing. We wanted it to be more interactive and thought it would be more successful if people could contribute and be engaged.

What were some of your favorite events?

The kickoff event was phenomenal. It was held on a vacant lot on Victoria and Concordia that had an interesting story: On that corner was a really dilapidated home. The neighbors wanted to buy and rehab it but that didn’t work out and the home was demolished. But they were able to buy the lot and wanted it to be an asset to the community. So we held the kickoff event there and did a peace pole planting and worked with a landscape designer, neighbors brought seeds and plantlings and we did a small vegetable garden right in the middle of the lot. Police officers, political candidates from the district, and lots and lots of neighbors came out to the party. It was just so awesome. The owners wanted everyone involved and asked for ideas about what could be done with the lot — they made a list: What I like to see is… and people voted.
Another great event was the forum in July with candidates from the Minnesota House of Representatives District 65A. When people start talking about politics it is easy to discount this neighborhood — people don’t turn out to vote — it seems easy to count out a community like ours. But that night we set out 50 chairs and we had to get more — nearly 60 people came out to ask the candidates questions. That was really rewarding

Also, we had a block party on Fuller Avenue at Chatsworth and Milton. We work with a group called Hearts and Hammers who help elderly and disabled homeowners rehab their houses. At that point Hearts and Hammers had done five houses on that block — now it’s up to seven.

How rewarding to see all that progress in one place.

It really was. And there was one event that just SWELLED. It started with an idea — our community organizer met this neighbor who drums, he plays the bongos and congas, and she asked if he would lead a drum circle. He said sure and then spread the word to his friends. It turned into multiple drummers, a stage and sound systems, it became a little block concert. It was a bit overwhelming, but all the neighbors had so much fun. And the original neighbor said he needed some work done on his house, and I handed him a Hearts and Hammers brochure and they ended up doing work on his house. It all fits together.

What do you see for the future? I mean after you rest up from this!

There are three community gardens all along Victoria Street in several different neighborhoods. We want to see what kind of community identity we can build along Victoria. It seems like some of the physical barriers are really big psychological barriers — the neighborhoods are very different, but it will be good to focus on what we have in common.

It seems we need a fresh perspective, it is easy to say, “Here are the challenges and difficulties,” but it is good to hear a fresh perspective of, “This is what’s beautiful!”

Remember Rondo

Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation is opening RONDO’s Coffee Café at the new mixed-used development Frogtown Square on University Avenue and Dale Street in St. Paul. Commercial space is opening at the end of 2010; housing is opening in February 2011.

We are asking all of the RONDO Community and its FRIENDS to join in and help us make this realty come true by participating in our fundraiser. By supporting us, you will assist us in creating another legacy and tribute to the memory of the Rondo Community, help us create jobs for those that are most hard to employ, and help us create a mini-museum to those lives that made RONDO a great place to live, work, worship and raise us.

YOU ARE RONDO!

YOU can particiapte in one of three ways:

  • Buy the naming rights to a coffee, latte, or other beverage for $500 – name that special flavor after your family name
  • Buy a coffee table and emboss a picture of a family memory or great place to go that once existed in the RONDO neighborhood for $400
  • Buy a spot on the wall of fame with a picture of a family memory or great place to go that once existed in the RONDO neighborhood for $300

To see a sample table or to get more information stop by our office or contact:

Nieeta Presley
Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation
774 University Avenue W.
St. Paul, MN 55104
651/222-0399
Email
Web

Governor Appoints MLK Council Members

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has appointed nine members to The Governor’s Council on the Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday. Diana Allen, Eugene A. Barringer III, Cheryl Chatman, Lester Collins (Chair), Jacquelyn Celeste Cooper, W. Rayford Johnson, Dora Ann Jones, Marilyn Porter and Dr. Carolyn Ruth A. Williams were appointed to terms that expire on April 3, 2011.

Barringer is an Aurora/St. Anthony NDC Board member and Porter is a staff member at ASANDC.

The Governor’s Council on the Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday was created in 1986 by executive order (Executive Order 86-11), and reauthorized by Governor Pawlenty in 2003 to plan the activities and events in observation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. The council consists of up to 15 members appointed by the Governor.

Kings Crossing Apartments at Frogtown Square

Rendering of Frogtown Square by Trossen Wright Plutowski Architects, PA

Join Us for Community Gathering!

University Community logoSaturday, August 21, 10 to 11 a.m.

University between Western and Marion!

Public Assembly at Western Park 11:15!

We want a better University Avenue! We want a more unified University Avenue! The light rail is coming and we want to celebrate our community, and show our pride! And we want you to celebrate with us!

We will be going from Jackson School, along Thomas to Virginia, along Virginia to University, along University to Galtier and along Galtier to the Western Sculpture Park and the Hmong Arts and Music Festival!

After the parade, we will have a Public Assembly on the main stage at the Music Festival. We will be speaking about what brought us out from 11:15- 11:45!

This parade has been organized by concerned citizens and community groups, including the Metropolitan Interfaith Coalition on Affordable Housing (MICAH), the Aurora-St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation (ASANDC), the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT), the District 7 Planning Council, the St. Paul Council of Churches, and more. We have been brought together by concerns over the light rail, and want to show our care, concern, and pride in the University Avenue communities.

We are still accepting registrations, if you wish to participate in the parade! (Contact Vaughn Larry at ASANDC at 651-222-0399 or by email. ) We would love to see you either in the crowd, in the parade, or at the Hmong Arts and Music Festival! For further information, contact John Slade at 651-491-2084 or by email.