Minneapolis YCIs Organize a Skills Sharing Workshop to Address Housing Issues in Low-Income Neighborhoods




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Nov 15, 2017
by Mirva Villa
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Minneapolis YCIs Organize a Skills Sharing Workshop to Address Housing Issues in Low-Income Neighborhoods

YCIs Carla Schleicher and Chaun Webster organize event to bring local communities closer Nia Umoja speaking at the Development Without Displacement: Skill Building & Knowledge Share workshop

Passionate to bring about discussion on the issues related to land use in the city of Minneapolis, Salzburg Global Fellows Chaun Webster and Carla Schleicher set about creating a workshop bringing together local communities.

A group of 30 participants from multi-racial and indigenous working class communities came together to develop skills, share knowledge, and produce creative strategies to address the local challenges in housing by creating alternative economic models.

North Minneapolis, Webster and Schleicher explain, is a densely-populated historically black neighborhood that has faced decades of divestment. More recently, however, there have been sharp increases in housing costs while wages remain stagnant. This has led to an “extreme number” of evictions.

Notably, the rising number of evictions is hitting the low-income neighborhoods in Minneapolis the hardest, with many families either being displaced from their homes or having to spend too much of their income on housing expenses, by the federal standard.

Both Webster and Schleicher attended the third meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016, where Webster together with New Orleans YCI Imani Jacqueline Brown facilitated a breakout session to encourage the YCI fellows to think about development in the context of their own backgrounds.

Titled “Development Without Displacement,” the breakout session encouraged discussion around how working class communities could be empowered creatively to engage with land use issues affecting them. The discussion was framed by the work of American Studies scholar, Bench Ansfield, on development as an extension of colonial logic.

Building on the themes of the breakout session, Webster and Schleicher created a day-long workshop titled ‘Development Without Displacement: Skill Building & Knowledge Share,” held in May 2017. The project was made possible thanks to YCI project funds provided to Salzburg Global Seminar by the McKnight Foundation.

Nia Umoja, from a grassroots neighborhood collective called Cooperative Community of New West Jackson, came to lead the session, which saw the participants develop their views on cooperation through discussion and group exercises.

A report about this project, authored by Webster and Schleicher said, “These exercises were points of tension and conversation as we thought through the rapid growth Minneapolis is facing and the extreme number of evictions that North Minneapolis has undergone that coincides with the lack of affordability and stagnant wages.”

The intense five-hour workshop allowed the group to think about next steps for Minneapolis, with the discussion ranging from just causes for eviction laws to banking accountability and electoral strategy for the municipal elections in November 2017.

The report continued: “The feedback that we got was that the space was rich with vision and was an important connecting point. The convening also functioned to do some important work in deepening the relationship between West Jackson and North Minneapolis and we are in the process of envisioning a Mississippi River Connection Network that would enable continued knowledge and skills sharing to take place.”

For more information about the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, please click here.