Posts Tagged ‘ Nieeta Presley ’

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.

Brotherhood Inc.

Brotherhood-Inc

Nekima Levy-Pounds at Brotherhood Inc. gathering

The hustle and bustle on University Ave. on a Friday afternoon this summer was nothing compared to the buzz going on inside the Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation. The office was hosting University of St. Thomas associate law professor Nekima Levy-Pounds and the new local anti-gang initiative she is spearheading in the community.

Levy-Pounds, along with four University of St. Thomas law students and law clinic fellow Artika Tyner, is proposing a center in St. Paul devoted to serving African-American youth. The facility would act as a one-stop shop for social services and business enterprises that keep young people out of gangs. They are calling the initiative, Brotherhood Inc., and are targeting youth who have been involved in gangs or criminal activity who want to make positive changes in their lives.

The project is modeled after Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries. The St. Paul initiative has named the project Brotherhood, Inc. with “Creating Change, Transforming Lives” as its tagline. Their mission statement is just as enterprising, setting forth the goal “To enable African-American youth and young adults to envision and achieve successful futures.”
Behind the press releases, community meetings and mission statement is a real energy to get things done. UST Law’s Community Justice Project, led by Levy-Pounds, is taking a leading role in making Brotherhood Inc. a reality. Tyner and Levy-Pounds have been moved by the gang activity, educational achievement gap and high incarceration rates that plague African-Americans in St. Paul.

“It has been an awakening for me, and I now have to bring the students along,” Tyner explains. She puts stock in the unique family feel that Brotherhood Inc. is designed to create. After learning about the commitment and connection among the people at Homeboy Industries, Tyner knew the same model could make a huge impact in St. Paul.
Levy-Pounds visited Homeboy Industries in 2007, and came back with a vision of starting something similar in St. Paul. Tyner said Levy-Pounds’s enthusiasm was infectious and got her to start looking at issues in the St. Paul community.

Getting dedicated students from the CJES program was an important part of creating the momentum this project needs to get off the ground.

“We don’t teach students just to ‘think like lawyers,’” Levy-Pounds emphasizes. “I think that is a shallow definition of legal education.”

Tyner and Levy-Pounds use the classroom to get to the bottom of race and class issues that affect disenfranchised youth.

Tyner explains that instead of being overwhelmed into inaction by these large social questions, “with these students, we can change the world.”

ASANDC has been an outspoken supporter of the Brotherhood Inc. project. Executive Director Nieeta Presley says that with focused action from diverse members of the St. Paul community, Brotherhood Inc. can be a reality sooner rather than later.

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

Saluting Entrepreneurs

The Atlanta Post ranked the Twin Cities as #5 in its list of Top 5 Innovative Cities for African-Americans, in part based on the Minneapolis Consortium of Community Developers’ commitment to African-American entrepreneurship. Nieeta Presley, executive director of Aurora/St. Anthony NDC, is vice chair of the MCCD.

Read the whole article here.

Frogtown Square Meet & Greet

Frogtown Square meet and greet

About 100 people showed up for the Frogtown Square meet and greet

Frogtown Square meet and greet 2

Frogtown Square meet and greet

On the corner of University Avenue and Dale Avenue is an empty lot where the old Saint Paul Police Western District Office used to stand. However, it will not be empty for much longer: A new mixed-use development, known as Frogtown Square, will be built there.

There was a ground breaking for the four-story project on November 23, 2009, at which Mayor Chris Coleman, City Councilman Melvin Carter and others spoke enthusiastically about the project. Greater Frogtown CDC, Model Cities, Neighborhood Development Center, and Aurora/Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation have collaborated to see this mixed-use building come full circle. The ground floor of Frogtown Square will be for commercial use, approximately 10,000 square feet for shops and offices, all of which have been rented by small, minority-owned businesses in the area. The upper three floors will be affordable apartments for independent seniors.

On Feb. 22, developers held a meet-and-greet at the Central Corridor Resource Center to connect general contractors, Benson and Orth Associates/Meyer Contracting JV, with local subcontractors and residents from the neighborhood looking for construction jobs.

Nieeta Presley of ASANDC shared the hope behind the meet-and-greet between the general contractors and the subcontractors. “The development is designed to help the community grow through people working together to make things happen in their own neighborhood,” she said. “Plus, it gives an opportunity to low-income people, minorities, and women. It helps the area to become a better community by letting folks get to know each other and make a difference in their neighborhood.”

Because the project has received Section 3 funding from HUD, it is required, to the greatest extent possible, provide job training, employment and contract opportunities for low- or very-low income residents in connection with projects and activities in their neighborhoods, according to HUD.

Close to a hundred people showed up to the event and were able to meet the general contractors and get connected with those they have already subcontracted with.

Construction is set to begin in earnest later this month.

Community Roundtable

Organizer Roundtable

About 30 people attended the Organizer Roundtable on the Building Sustainable Communities project.

More than 30 attendees from 22 organizations gathered at the Model Cities Communities Room on University Avenue on February 24, 2010, to hear impassioned community leaders share their raw experiences — the triumphs and the difficulties — in realizing the true meaning of collaboration.

Collaboration, in this case, meant creating neighborhood-centric, multi-partner coalitions aligned with the Building Sustainable Communities initiative supported by Twin Cities LISC.

As part of a monthly roundtable series organized by the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, the event, titled “Community Partnerships for Success,” drew excellent attendance according to Joan Vanhala, coalition organizer with AMS.

“I appreciated the different leaders who talked honestly about their challenges in working with coalitions towards one common goal,” said Vanhala.

Those leaders included Mari Bongiovanni, executive director, East Side Neighborhood Development Company; Staci Horwitz, program director, City of Lakes Community Land Trust; Cathy Maes, executive director, ICA Food Shelf; Judy Elling, executive director of ResourceWest in Hopkins; and Nieeta Presley, executive director, Aurora/St. Anthony Community Development Corporation.

During the two-hour session, leaders outlined the formulation of their collaborative, conveying both excitement and frustration in the challenges and rewards of developing cross-sector partnerships.

“I can see that in the different presentations, we’re at different levels of maturity, and we all came out in completely different ways,” said Bongiovanni. “We [St Paul’s East Side] needed to sit at the table for quite a while.”

After four years, Bongiovanni admitted her collaborative is still working on finding a comprehensive voice, which has slightly fragmented recently due to resident churn in a tough economy. That said, she noted the effort put forth in a multi-year process that started with informational meetings and evolved into 64 organizations sitting at a table calling each other to ask for advice and referrals.

“That was a big step,” she said. “Before we were all in our little silos and hoping that we would get funded and others wouldn’t because that would be more money for us.”

The next Organizer Roundtable will be “Race, Power and Organizing,” which will address the dynamics of race in day-to-day life, and how to integrate racial equity in campaign focus.

Race, Power and Organizing

Noon – 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 31
Rondo Community Library
461 N. Dale St.
St. Paul, MN 55103

2009 Selby Ave JazzFest

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

Scenes from the 2009 Selby Ave JazzFest, held Saturday, Sept. 12, at Selby and Milton in St. Paul. The eighth annual JazzFest featured the Sounds of Blackness and Grammy-winning saxophonist Kim Waters. Thousands of festival-goers browsed artwork and other wares in dozens of vendor booths and enjoyed food from around the world and around the Twin Cities. The event is sponsored by FRAN partner, the Selby Area CDC, and featured an information booth staffed by another FRAN partner, Aurora/St. Anthony NDC.