Thank you to all the members of the Cedar-Riverside community who helped guide this research, offered their time for interviews, and provided comments to improve the accuracy of this report.
Please contact the author to offer further corrections and comments using any of the following:
mail: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH 43606.
- A. Existing organizing
- 1. Development Organizing
- 2. Information Organizing
- 3. Power Organizing
- 4. Sponsoring Committee Structures
- 5. Turf claims and long-term organization building
- B. Challenges to organizing
- 1. Internal Neighborhood conflicts
- 2. Lack of Organizing Skill and Knowledge
- 3. Weakness of Neighborhood Organization Infrastructure
- 4. Neighborhood Population and Geography
- C. Infrastructure for organizing
- 1. Evidence of Interest
- 2. Leadership Development Resources
- 3. Technical Assistance Resources
- 4. Volunteer Resources
- 5. Network Resources
- 6. WBCDC Resources
- A. Issue Opportunities
- 1. Culture/Language
- 2. Economic Development
- 3. Dania Hall
- 4. Community Internet
- 5. Neighborhood Housing
- B. Organizing Structures
- 1. Sponsoring committee
- 2. CDC-based organizing
- 3. Independent Effort
- Appendix I: Methods
- Appendix II: Inter-organizational networks
- Appendix III: WBCDC board organizing interest inventory
When I arrived back in Cedar-Riverside in mid-2001 to begin this research, I wasn't sure what I had gotten myself into. "My" neighborhood was gone. The place I remembered as a center of radical philosophy, experimental new ideas for housing and economic development, and collective rule-challenging(1) seemed nowhere to be found. In its place were serious internal conflicts in the "old neighborhood" east of Cedar Avenue and a dramatic transformation of the rest of the neighborhood population. It no longer felt like my neighborhood.
It is now six months later, and I am happy to report feeling once again like I belong to the neighborhood. It is not the same neighborhood of 20 or even 10 years ago. It never will be, and now I know that's OK. In some ways my neighborhood is better. Those who arrived in Cedar-Riverside from far away lands over the last two decades provide inspiring examples of what Cedar-Riverside has to offer today. And they are quickly creating a new tradition of community action. With them, I felt like the immigrant, warmly welcomed and carefully educated in the histories and cultures of the Oromo, Somalian, Vietnamese, and Korean communities who now call Cedar-Riverside home.
The challenges these immigrant communities face, of course, are serious. Issues of gender, family, acculturation, youth, the elderly, discrimination, and health care are daunting. But their ability to organize around these issues is inspiring. As I have talked in depth with over 30 people during the last few months, many multiple times, I can't help but think that the rest of the neighborhood has much more to learn from these newest neighborhood members than they have to learn from the old residents. For it is in the old neighborhood that the greatest challenges may exist. They are not the cultural and even personal survival challenges that face the immigrant communities. But they are greatest in terms of being the biggest barriers to an organized community. And that can feel discouraging when it is those very residents who provided the history of community organizing that built "my neighborhood" of the 1980s. Even in the old neighborhood, however, there is hope. I feel deeply honored that, while the CDC has funded my work and I maintain deep friendships there, those "on the other side," who have been in conflict with the CDC have also welcomed me. I hope I have honored the trust they placed in me.
I am also encouraged by the ways I have seen the community come together since I began this research. Two of the five most successful community organizing events in the neighborhood over the last six months have been a neighborhood picnic and the dedication of the Dania Hall Pillar. The other three events were Somali-sponsored and were pace-setting in their level of turnout and energy.
The coming pages are my reflections on discussions I have had with many of you, and my observations of as many neighborhood events and meetings as I could get to. I take complete responsibility for everything written here. But I also want to thank each and every person who talked, exchanged e-mails, and spoke on the phone with me. I especially thank the West Bank CDC for funding this project. In a fiscal atmosphere where just doing the work so often takes precedence over figuring out how to do the work, I applaud the CDC for taking the initiative to reflect on what the possibilities are for the neighborhood. I hope this is of use.
I know it is really hard and time-consuming to slog through a report like this. If you have time for nothing else, this summary will at least provide an outline of what is in the report. If you have just a little bit more time, I strongly encourage you to read Section II: Community Organizing Options, and Section III: Conclusion. Those of you interested in all the analysis that provides a foundation for Section II will want to read Section I: Conditions in Cedar-Riverside.
Cedar-Riverside is a complex neighborhood, and assessing the "organizability" of a neighborhood such as the West Bank, with its diverse multiculturalism(2) and disjointed geography(3), is no easy task. There is a lot going on in many different corners of this wonderfully diverse neighborhood. There are also some important challenges facing attempts to expand on the initial organizing in the neighborhood. And there is also some infrastructure(4) to work with.
A. Existing organizing
The recent examples of community organizing in Cedar-Riverside are occurring across many different sectors of the neighborhood, and exemplify the three main models of community organizing: power organizing, development organizing, and information organizing.(5) But so far the organizing is sporadic and embryonic. It has not yet blossomed into sustained organization building that can bring the neighborhood together and grow its collective voice.
1. Development Organizing
The West Bank Community Development Corporation began doing development organizing as a result of discussions over how to handle conflicts within the housing co-ops. Through this discussion a group of co-op residents came together with the idea of organizing a neighborhood picnic. It was late August 2001 already when the idea emerged, and the CDC had only a month to organize the event. So the CDC hired a part-time community organizer, Sarah Penman, to put the picnic together. Along with engaging some of the ethnic neighborhood organizations in the event, she also wrote up and posted flyers, translated into Somalian, Oromo, and Vietnamese. The day of the picnic arrived in late September 2001. On the paved brick walkway where 19th Avenue South used to be there were tents, balloons, food provided by the ethnic communities in the neighborhood, and music provided by neighborhood residents. Two hundred or more people from across the neighborhood's ethnic communities enjoyed the event.
The Korean community in the neighborhood provides the other example of development organizing. In 1991, Korean senior residents living in the Cedars high rises organized a community garden. They took an ugly abandoned space by the freeway, moving by hand the many rocks littering it, and cultivated it year after year--the most sustained recent example of community organizing in Cedar-Riverside. The founder of the Korean Service Center, Grace Lee, assisted them by negotiating the right to use the land, which was owned by the railroad. When the city's light rail plans came to fruition this past year, however, they were forced to give up their land, but were able to negotiate another space nearby. This organizing infrastructure also helped produce broader organizing among residents of the Cedars high rises over the location plan for the neighborhood's light rail station, and they were able to prevent the station from displacing their new garden site, moving into the realm of power organizing.
2. Information Organizing
The presence of recent immigrant communities in the neighborhood, and their desires to preserve their ethnic cultures, has created a number of opportunities for information organizing. The Vietnamese community provides one example. While not operating a formal non-profit organization in the neighborhood, they nonetheless organize an annual Vietnamese New Year's celebration attended by up to 500 people.
The neighborhood's schools, which are strongly multicultural and serve the new immigrant adults and children, also use aspects of the information organizing model. In a project of the Cedar-Riverside Community School, students wrote stories from their family and cultural backgrounds, which are many and diverse. The stories were bound into a thick volume and distributed around the community. A second volume will be coming out soon. Plans are also in the works to organize the students to develop a directory of neighborhood businesses.
The Cedar Riverside Family School is a very recent addition to the West Bank and is one of the activities begun through the Family Opportunities and Literacy Collaborative (FOLC). Funded through a 4-year Federal Even Start grant, one goal of the program is to increase the English literacy skills of families from Riverside Plaza and the surrounding neighborhood. The program is organized around English language classes for adults, early childhood education, parent education, and "parent and child together time" (PACT).(6) The school is unique in a number of ways that make it a source of community organizing in the neighborhood. Most importantly, the school curriculum has developed not just though the demands of Federal guidelines and the requirements of its Minneapolis Public Schools partner, but also through the program participants. As residents in the program expressed interest in computer training, math training, and job training, the staff found ways to integrate those interests into the program through the support of FOLC. They also partner with the Cedar-Riverside Community School, which offers bilingual tutoring support from their students as a way of providing service learning.(7) Developing a curriculum out of the interests of the participants, and engaging community members as educators are both important aspects of the information organizing model.
In the summer of 2001 the West Bank CDC began a tentative foray into information organizing around the symbol of Dania Hall. Even with the complete destruction by fire of Dania Hall in 2000, residents could not let go of the building as a neighborhood symbol. Doris Wickstrom started exploring the idea of somehow commemorating the building. As discussions grew, they began to focus on planting a 9-foot tall concrete pillar on the Dania Hall site, covered by mosaic plaques to be designed and constructed by each of the identity and ethnic communities in the neighborhood. In collaboration with the ESL classes being taught out of the Riverside Plaza Resource Center, and three consulting artists, residents began snipping tiles and creating the mosaic sculpture. In October of 2001 the mosaic was complete and up to 200 neighborhood residents and other supporters (including the mayor and neighborhood council representative) gathered at the site for the pillar dedication. Speakers from each of the neighborhood ethnic communities, speaking first in their native language and then in English, said what the project meant for their community. After the speeches Somalian chanters performed at the pillar. The crowd then crossed the street for food and music at the Cedar Cultural Center. This was an important example of information organizing, as each ethnic and identity group in the neighborhood was able to present information about their culture through the mosaic sculpture, speeches at the unveiling event, and the uniquely wonderful food.
3. Power Organizing
The most dramatic example of community organizing in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood over the last six months has come from the Somali community, who has been able to turn out hundreds of people on three separate occasions. The first rally was in the wake of the September 11 attacks, when the Somali community organizations, along with other organizations in the neighborhood, put together a candlelight vigil on October 6 to express their grief over the attacks. The second rally grew out of an October 14 article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune charging that members of the Somali community were actively supporting terrorist activities.(8) On the day that the article came out, male members of the Somali community who regularly gather at the Starbucks coffee shop in the neighborhood first saw the article and held a meeting about it on the spot. They organized a series of meetings after that, with added concern after the death of a Somali community member who was believed beaten in the wake of the article.(9) The meetings addressed both internal community issues and a broader range of concerns with external actors. Internally, they discussed how to structure their relationships with the media so that they could choose their own spokespeople rather than allow the media to choose who would speak for and about the community. They also organized a meeting with the media to address concerns about what they saw as inaccurate reporting. Each meeting grew larger than the previous, until they packed the Brian Coyle Center the evening of October 24, 2001 with 500 community members, including many women of the community concerned because they wore traditional Muslim clothing and head coverings and were therefore more visible targets for harassment. The meeting, with representatives of the Police department and other officials, addressed concerns about safety for the community.(10)
The Somali community rallied again on November 9, 200 members strong, after the two Hawalas in the neighborhood were shut down. This rally was a response to a direct threat to the community since, without the Hawalas, community members were unable to send money back to their families in Somalia. The Somali Justice Advocate Center in St. Paul received an anonymous phone call the morning the Hawalas were raided. SJAC's Jamal Omar went to the scene, where he met Dave Miller of North Country Co-op, in whose building one of the Hawalas was housed. North Country Co-op, one of the long-standing counter-culture neighborhood organizations, has been a leader in anti-war activities since the Vietnam war. Dave asked Jamal if he would like to co-sponsor a rally in response to the raids, and they jointly organized a candlelight vigil.(11) It is unclear at this point whether these crisis-based organizing events will produce more sustained grass-roots organizing. But the ability to turn out hundreds of community members even under crisis conditions is extremely important for understanding the organizing potential in the neighborhood.
4. Sponsoring Committee Structures
There are two important sponsoring committee(12) structures operating in the neighborhood.
Nine neighborhood agencies organized the Family Opportunities and Learning Collaborative (FOLC) as a response to education and ESL needs in Riverside Plaza. FOLC currently brings together 22 organizations from across the Twin Cities, including a number of Cedar-Riverside groups. Using a process similar to an information organizing model in its initial needs assessment that concentrated to listening carefully to what residents said they wanted, FOLC and Minneapolis Public Schools created the Cedar-Riverside Family School and its associated ESL, job training, computer training, and math curriculum. FOLC also uses aspects of the sponsoring committee model by bringing together numerous organizations to build support for programs, seek funding, and then fade into the background as the program got rolling. Once the Cedar-Riverside Family School got up and running, FOLC switched to quarterly meetings and began operating much more as a resource provider for the school. Now that the school has reached its capacity, FOLC is looking to find, renovate or build space to meet the needs of the neighborhood. In 2002 one of FOLC's goals is to use an information organizing model even more by including parent representatives from the Cedar Riverside Family School in its activities. It also seeks to build a vision of cooperation in the neighborhood by incorporating the issues of other communities within the neighborhood into FOLC.
The West Bank Human Services Providers Network operates somewhat similarly to a coalition in the development organizing model. Facilitated by Ann Ellison of Fairview-University Medical Center, the group has a mailing list of 14 organizations in Cedar-Riverside and a number of others serving the neighborhood but headquartered elsewhere. While the group primarily shares information on what each member organization is doing, they also use their collective voice to support the efforts of any one member, as when FOLC applied for funds to start the Cedar-Riverside Family School. It does not operate as a grass-roots coalition but is in a position to support grass roots efforts.
5. Turf Claims and Long-Term Organization-Building
There is no doubt that organizing is happening in the neighborhood. Under certain circumstances that could spell trouble for any new organizing effort. In situations where organizing involves claiming turf,(13) new efforts are seen as competitors. But the organizing in Cedar-Riverside has not led to long-term turf claims by any organizations. And in contrast to competition, there is an inspiring amount of hospitality offered across the ethnic groups in the neighborhood. It might be seen as an affront for a new organizer to just begin doorknocking in the community, but working with the existing organizations will likely produce a great deal of collaboration.
The overall goal of a new organizing effort in these circumstances would be to create long-term ever-growing membership organizations. It is one thing to turn out hundreds for a rally. It is another thing to involve those people in ongoing organized activity that can make changes in the neighborhood and beyond.
The West Bank CDC efforts, both in the picnic and the Dania Hall Pillar dedication, were one-time events. Both were well-received and left a lot of good feeling in the neighborhood. What they did not do was lead to any larger community organizing effort. There was not, for example, a committee that arose out of the picnic to plan similar events in the future. There was also not any new formal network to develop out of the pillar mosaic project. But particularly in the case of the pillar mosaic project there was a lot of energy expressed by nearly every speaker to find a way to rebuild Dania Hall, and interest within the CDC for facilitating an effort to bring people together around that idea. The challenge will be to put in place an organizing structure that can build relationships that extend beyond the planning of Dania Hall itself and also tackle other neighborhood issues.
Likewise, community organizing in the Somali community has not produced a sustained organizing effort that is extending to new issues and producing new leadership. But there are healthy discussions occurring within the community over how to link the current community organizations, what kind of leadership and media relations to develop, and how to develop a longer-term effort.
B. Challenges to organizing
Challenges are just that--challenges. Their presence does not mean organizing can't be done or will fail. Knowing the challenges is what prevents falling into traps, stumbling over potholes, and making things worse rather than better. There are a number of challenges to sustained and productive community organizing in Cedar-Riverside. After exploring these challenges we will look at the infrastructure in place, and potential new strategies, that can help manage some of these challenges.
1. Internal neighborhood conflicts
One of the challenges to community organizing, which applies more to the old neighborhood residents than the new, is the degree of internal conflict.
A main cause of that conflict has been the Neighborhood Revitalization Program process in the neighborhood. There has long been concern over the role the NRP might play in exacerbating conflicts between homeowners and renters, between CDCs and neighborhood associations, and between other factions in neighborhoods(14). In the case of Cedar-Riverside, the NRP seems to have made an already fractured community even worse. Because it required a process to occur outside of the existing neighborhood organizations, without fully staffing that process and holding the new process accountable to appropriate training and technical assistance, it was bound to fail. A fully effective process, with highly skilled organizing staff and appropriate technical assistance, could actually have been a boon to community organizing in the neighborhood. Instead, conflicts that appear to have been created by the demands of the NRP itself are being interpreted by residents as conflicts caused by other residents. That is doubly tragic, as the neighborhood did not get to realize the community organizing benefits of doing participatory neighborhood planning and is now even less organized than when it started.
The West Bank Community Coalition bore the brunt of the disorganization caused by the NRP process. The WBCC was formed to fill the gap left by the disbanded Project Area Committee, which was the neighborhood's voice for neighborhood-controlled redevelopment in the 1970s and 1980s. As external threats began to fade, and the neighborhood completed the bulk of its community-controlled redevelopment, the PAC became less useful and more conflict-ridden. But a few years after it disbanded, the neighborhood decided it still needed some kind of resident organization. They reformed the WBCC with some structural changes to attempt to balance the interests of different sectors of the community along with the institutions and businesses.
The old conflicts, along with a number of new disputing parties, made the WBCC as difficult to manage as the latter day PAC. Any organization like the PAC, who by its very structure is designed to bring together structurally opposed interests, is bound to experience internal conflict. And, as Jane Mansbridge(15) notes, an organization whose focus is bringing together opposed parties must be carefully and tightly structured, and strongly led, to maintain order and retain legitimacy. During 2001, the WBCC unraveled in the midst of strong personalities in severe conflict with each other, preventing it from conducting business and even threatening the neighborhood's NRP funding.
People were universally disturbed, and a number of them ceased participating in the WBCC altogether. Some WBCC members blamed people seen as "allies" of the CDC for the problems. Others blamed a property rights/business sympathizer faction for the problems. I do not see either a CDC faction or a property/business faction operating in the WBCC. It is understandable, though, how people involved in the conflicts could make these analyses. Some of the strong personalities participate in both the WBCC and the CDC. Others are also employed by the neighborhood higher education and medical institutions. My conversations with both, however, show little unity within the perceived factions.
Overcoming polarization within the WBCC will be important to doing community organizing across the neighborhood. Continued conflicts within the WBCC can easily spill over into other community organizing efforts, especially among the residents who have lived in the neighborhood the longest, where the feelings of conflict run the deepest. It remains to be seen whether the most recent annual meeting election, which was overseen by the League of Women Voters, brought new leaders to the organization, and was highly praised by a number of participants, will mark a turning point as the election is under fire by some former WBCC members and community residents.
The West Bank CDC--the other main neighborhood-focused organization--has experienced much less internal conflict. However, there has been conflict recently between the CDC and various housing constituencies that could be problematic for community organizing. If the CDC is to become involved in community organizing, it will need to address conflicts that have developed between the CDC and some co-op residents. There is by no means universal or even necessarily widespread antagonism toward the CDC in the co-ops. A summer survey of co-op residents shows mostly a lack of understanding of the concept of co-op housing.(16) And the 7-Corners board is happy with how the CDC handled its refinancing, which prevented their housing from falling into the hands of a private developer not committed to housing affordability. In general, there seems to be confusion over how to perceive the CDC that has bred frustration. The CDC has always been rather politically marginalized in the neighborhood, as the only neighborhood organization during the heady political days of the 1970s and 1980s that maintained cooperative relationships with city hall, bankers, developers, and other bad guys. In the late 1990s, the CDC began refinancing the co-op housing, using the low interest rates to maintain the housing as affordable as possible. In attempting to find a new governance structure for the refinanced co-ops (which were combined through the refinancing process), residents became increasingly confused and divided about the process. For some, the CDC began to be seen as the cause of difficulties with co-op governance. There are also conflicts with some Transition Homes residents. For those residents who became interested in purchasing their buildings through the Transitions Homes program, the shift in their relationship to one of buyer vs. seller was especially difficult to adjust to, especially given the complexity and innovation of the program, about which there seems to be a number of misunderstandings and miscommunications. As one resident commented, there was confusion over whether the CDC was their advocate or their adversary.(17) Intermixed with tensions created by co-op refinancing and the Transitions Homes program were the problems experienced by the WBCC described above.
In this context, CDC-sponsored community organizing that focused on the co-ops could potentially be seen as suspect, though I am honored by the honesty and trust shown me in the process of this research by people on different sides of conflicts in the neighborhood. Making sure that any organizer employed or funded by the CDC could gain legitimacy across a wide cross section of residents in the old neighborhood could be a challenge. However, this concern does not extend to the 7-Corners or ethnic communities in the neighborhood who seem to have a productive relationship with the CDC.
2. Lack of Organizing Skill and Knowledge
Cedar-Riverside was, for many years, the standard bearer for good community organizing in the Twin Cities. Never before had any community organizing effort so successfully fought off a developer-state coalition, and then in its place instituted such innovative community-controlled redevelopment.
But like all skills gone unused over time, the community's organizing prowess atrophied. Many of the neighborhood's talented organizers moved on either geographically or professionally. And the craft was not passed on in the neighborhood. Political action transformed from collective action to individual action, and the analyses of what was causing the problems shifted from looking at structures of power to blaming individuals. Consequently, very few in the community today know how to "cut an issue" or "run a meeting" or "organize an action." They have not trained in any of the major power, development, or information organizing models.
There is talent, however. Tim Mungavan, the executive director of the CDC, is skilled in the participatory planning aspects of development organizing and was centrally involved during the neighborhood's past power organizing days. Mary Laurel True, the Coordinator of Community Service Learning at Augsburg College, also has a background in development organizing models. Chief Folarin Ero-Phillips, the executive director of the African American Relief and Development Initiatives, has familiarity with Alinsky-style community organizing, the main source of the power organizing model. Jan Morlock, Director of Community Relations at the University of Minnesota, is the former director of the East Side Neighborhood Development Company in St. Paul where she oversaw a consensus organizing project. Others, such as those involved in organizing the Dania Hall pillar dedication or the picnic, and those involved in organizing the Somali community, have shown enough of an intuitive sense of how to do it, that just a little training could go a long way.
3. Weakness of Neighborhood Organization Infrastructure
Only a few organizations in the neighborhood focus primarily on the neighborhood. The vast majority serve a much wider area. Housing groups are very inward-focused (organized only around their housing) while other organizations are outward focused (beyond the neighborhood). Most of the organizations are funded on a shoestring, are at or beyond their capacity limits, and do not have effective processes for generating new leadership. The Riverside Plaza Residents Resource Center, which offers desk space and phone use to local organizations, has seen frequent turnover of small organizations that aren't able to make a go of it in the neighborhood. Another indicator of the relative weakness of the neighborhood organizations is that no one outside of representatives from the major institutions (Augsburg, Fairview-university Medical Center, the University of Minnesota), and secondarily the CDC, are well-linked to more than a handful of the other organizations in the neighborhood.(18)
Cedar-Riverside is also a relatively small neighborhood, occupying only 300 acres (with much of that space dominated by health and education institutions) and with a population of only 7,545 in the 2000 census.(19) Consequently, many of the neighborhood organizations need to seek members and clientele outside of the neighborhood to survive.
The original neighborhood organizations have had to change dramatically over the last decade. One of those organizations, The People's Center, which played such an important role in neighborhood during the 1970s(20), now sees 86.7% of its patients coming from outside of the neighborhood, has only a couple of staff members from the neighborhood, and has only one board member from the neighborhood. The People's Center was in danger of closing its doors a year ago, and may not be out of the financial woods yet as it tries to adjust to the changing neighborhood conditions that are forcing it to refocus its mission and its fundraising strategy. Another of the original neighborhood organizations, North Country Co-op, also sees most of its customers coming from outside of the neighborhood. There has even been some conflict with other groups in the neighborhood, as the shortage of parking has put it in competition with neighboring immigrant businesses for the few spaces available. That competition has not created deep divisions, however, and North Country is actively developing relationships with the new immigrant communities, stocking products to support Ramadan, and co-sponsored the rally with the Somali community Nov. 8 to protest the closing of the neighborhood Hawalas discussed above. The CDC is the one older neighborhood organization that is economically healthy, as we will explore in the next section.
Cedar-Riverside also has a weak faith-based organization base.(21) There are only two formal Christian congregations in the neighborhood--Parish of the Holy Trinity and St. Anskar (an Episcopal congregation) and the Trinity Lutheran Congregation. The Parish of the Holy Trinity and St. Anskar rents office and worship space from the People's Center, though it now draws most of its members from outside of the neighborhood. Its historical connections to the neighborhood, and its progressive social change mission, maintains its connection to the neighborhood. . Trinity Lutheran owns the building housing St. Martin's Table, providing the Congregation with its own office space, and uses space at Augsburg College for worship services. Trinity Lutheran also draws most of its members from outside of the neighborhood. But it maintains a commitment to the neighborhood through its historical connections to Augsburg College, as well as its ownership interests in the Karinsplass apartments in the neighborhood, and its relationships with St. Martin's Table and other neighborhood service programs. Trinity congregation members from the neighborhood have served on the CDC board and the past two chairs of the West Bank Community Coalition have been Trinity members. The congregation is also going through a strategic planning process to decide how it would like to relate to the neighborhood, providing opportunities to expand on its existing relationships. There are some mosques recently organized in the neighborhood, which rent space along Cedar Avenue, but they aren't organized to do community outreach in the same way that Christian churches have historically conducted themselves.
The neighborhood media and cultural organizations, like most of the others, serve a much broader area than Cedar-Riverside, but also serve the neighborhood. KFAI Fresh Air radio moved into a renovated neighborhood commercial building in 1991. Most recently it has built relationships with the new African immigrant communities to offer native language programming, including news and music for the Somali, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Oromo communities. Their work fits very well with an information organizing model. While their focus goes well beyond Cedar-Riverside, they retain a strong interest in the neighborhood and a willingness to be involved in neighborhood efforts. The Cedar Cultural Center, which hosts a wide variety of music artists in a retrofit movie theater, also provided space for the music and food celebration that followed the recent Dania Hall Pillar dedication.
The housing organizations in the neighborhood, which were the main result of the community organizing of the 1970s and 1980s, and are some of the few organizations with an actual exclusive neighborhood focus, have also lost their vigor to varying degrees. In many ways, the housing organizations have the opposite weakness of the others, focusing on less than the entire neighborhood, usually just their own housing. The townhome associations in some cases only hold an annual meeting, with sporadic informal meetings to address an issue specific to the townhomes. They also generally do not see themselves getting involved in the neighborhood as organizations, though individual members are involved. The townhome associations have become less visible and less active over the last decade. This may be partly due to the fact that the organizations are required by law to exist, making them less than "voluntary organizations."(22) The associations have also become more flexible in what they allow residents to do to their units and yard space, devote less time to meetings, and organize fewer social events since their founding about a decade ago. There is variation in how organized the townhome associations are, however. The Augsburg Park Townhomes Association, which comprises 17 units, organizes some group events, such as spring and fall yard clean-ups and a garage clean-up. They notice their inward focus, symbolized by the fact that many of their entrances face an interior courtyard, rather than the street. Like the other townhome associations, they feel separate from the neighborhood without necessarily wanting to. There have been a few cases where the housing organizations have gotten involved in broader neighborhood issues. The Timber Park Condo Association, for example, got involved in negotiating dog use of the neighboring park, negotiating times that dogs could use the park without disrupting children's use.
The 7 Corners Housing Board is one of the few neighborhood organizations to take on issues beyond its immediate boundaries. In addition to organizing a tree planting campaign, their board has participated in neighborhood clean-ups and challenged the University of Minnesota's attempts to tear down a baseball diamond. But they too have not found a magic bullet for building new leadership within the organization. They are currently trying to find someone new to run for president, as their current multi-term president believes the organization needs to broaden its leadership base and is determined to step down at the end of his term, but so far has not found anyone.
Of course, the most important housing organizations in the neighborhood, historically, are the housing co-ops. The 1970s fight over redevelopment in the neighborhood produced an amazingly innovative cooperative housing model, creating scattered site co-ops across the neighborhood. At the time the co-ops were created the criticism was that the co-op units were all intermingled. A single block could have houses belonging to four or more different co-ops. The 1990s refinancing process combined the separate co-ops into a single co-op. Now the concern among some residents is that they have lost the personal feel of the smaller co-ops. The combined co-op board also is dominated by a few strong personalities and has troubles with participation. A CDC survey of the co-op residents showed that the idea of a co-op didn't even apply for many residents, who saw the structure mainly as a means to affordable housing, rather than as a means to community. In the current state of conflict and flux within the housing co-ops it is difficult to know what role they play, or might play, in the neighborhood.
The new organizations formed by and/or for the new immigrant residents are not immune to the stresses of overcapacity and underdevelopment. The main exception seems to be the Riverside Plaza Residents Resource Center. The RPRC focuses on serving neighborhood residents but, similar to the housing organizations, emphasizes services for the residents of Riverside Plaza. And while it has primarily a service focus, it could offer some support for information organizing through its ESL programs and computer training. It could also offer support through the cubicle space it provides for grass roots organizations.
The inter-organizational networks in the neighborhood are providing some new infrastructure to build from, but they are not yet at full power. Among the inter-organizational networks, the WBHSPC is managed on an almost volunteer basis by Ann Ellison of Fairview-University Medical Center. FOLC is in search of funding to keep Eileen Watson as their coordinator. CRBA relies on annual dues to support a single part-time staffperson to take minutes at meetings and produce a newsletter. The WBCC, partly due to its internal conflict, has had difficulty both keeping a staffperson and keeping funding to support a staffperson. In addition, the strongest networks--the WBHSPC and FOLC--are networks of service organizations somewhat separate from the grass roots of the neighborhood, though they are working to change that.
4. Neighborhood Population and Geography
Cedar-Riverside's population has changed dramatically and continuously over the last two decades. With successive waves of immigrants from Southeast Asia and then East Africa, the neighborhood is now a multi-cultural and multilingual place. The neighborhood population may continue to change if Somali immigrants follow the dispersal path of the previous Vietnamese immigrants. Especially important in this story of change is the issue of youth leaving when they come of age. Since young adults have been in the forefront of community organizing in the Somali community, there is some question of how long the organizing potential in the Somali community will last. If the experience of Somali immigrants is similar to those of the Vietnamese, then over the next five to ten years there could be significant movement out of the neighborhood, especially among young adults.
The problems this presents for community organizing could be managed by better predicting the changes. Among the neighborhood service organizations, Saeed Fahia, the executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, notes that there is a tension between capacity building and service needs. People approach the CSCM with a wide variety of concerns, and the organization is continually challenged to stay ahead of the growing diversity of needs. Sometimes it develops services internally, and sometimes it attempts to find referral resources. But it would be helpful to prepare for new needs, rather than have to adapt on the fly. An example of how to prepare is the Riverside Plaza Residents Resource Center, which was founded from research assessing how the Riverside Plaza population was changing. Regular research like that could help community organizing respond to changing population dynamics before they create need or resource gaps. In addition, changes in the immigrant population result from an interaction of changing global conditions and decisions by Twin Cities sponsoring organizations. Now that it appears Riverside Plaza has become a first stop housing community for new immigrants, regular communication with immigrant sponsoring groups can help the neighborhood organize in preparation for new immigrant groups, rather than in response to them.
An additional challenge to community organizing is that many members of the new immigrant communities--the Oromo, Somalis, and Vietnamese--more strongly identify with their ethnic communities than the geographic neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside. Those ethnic communities extend well beyond the boundaries of the neighborhood and the issues they face are not neighborhood-based. Recruiting those communities to be part of a neighborhood-based community organizing effort will require finding neighborhood issues that are also issues for those communities. This is not a unique situation, and it is far from hopeless. The Dudley Street neighborhood, part of the Roxbury section of Boston, is a well-documented case of community organizing in a culturally diverse and multilingual neighborhood.(23)
The Cedar-Riverside geography further complicates these population dynamics. The West Bank is a small neighborhood, and is further subdivided into distinct areas. The towers of Riverside Plaza, separated from the rest of the neighborhood by the four lanes of Cedar Avenue, have always been seen as separate from "the old neighborhood." Across Cedar, the old neighborhood is bifurcated by the vast expanses of Augsburg College and Fairview-University Medical Center. Then there is the 7 Corners housing at the far northwest corner of the neighborhood, isolated from the rest of the neighborhood by the West Bank campus of the University of Minnesota.
C. Infrastructure for Organizing
There are many challenges to community organizing in Cedar-Riverside. There are also signs of an infrastructure that could be mobilized to support community organizing, including lots of energy, interesting leadership development potential, local technical assistance, volunteers, existing networks, and the CDC itself. That infrastructure can also help meet the challenges.
1. Evidence of Interest
There are two signs that the neighborhood is ripe for good community organizing. First, people are turning out for neighborhood events with relatively few resources being used to recruit them. Even without door knocking and intensive time devoted to relationship development, the CDC-sponsored picnic and pillar dedication each attracted about 200 people. The Somali community, as discussed above, can turn out people in the hundreds just by word of mouth. Even the WBCC annual meeting turned out 50 or so people. As one community activist noted, "organizations in other neighborhoods have problems with participation. Here there are no problems with participation, it's getting things done that is the problem."
There is also a long and distinguished history of activism in the community. While much of that culture has gone dormant, and some of it has turned destructively inward, everyone I talked with is looking for a way to refocus that culture toward constructive, neighborhood-affirming ends. Every single organization representative I interviewed was very interested in finding ways to work in coalition in the neighborhood. The institutional representatives are very interested in supporting coalition work, and in facilitating a strong community that can guide their own work so they don't have to worry about whether they are doing the wrong thing. Every time I mentioned that there were over 40 nonprofit and community organizations operating in the neighborhood there was excited surprise.(24) Especially at the organizational level, the neighborhood is primed for the next steps toward community organizing.
2. Leadership Development Resources
One of the strongest concerns expressed in the neighborhood is the lack of leadership development. I have chosen to express that concern, however, as a lack of organizing skill and knowledge, for there are many strong leadership cultures in the neighborhood, as well as budding leaders. It is only for lack of skill and an infrastructure that can promote new leaders that leadership development appears weak. Some neighborhood residents are attempting to fill those skill gaps by participating in the Community Leadership Institute offered in conjunction with the NRP and St. Thomas University's Community Leadership Institute, though that may not be providing the needed community organizing skills.(25)
In fact, one of the most exciting things about Cedar-Riverside is the diverse array of leadership cultures already present in the neighborhood. Of course the one I know best is the counter-culture leadership model of the 1970s. This is the model that developed a strong core of a few dozen leaders who rotated themselves throughout the neighborhood organizations of the period, practicing intense consensus decision-making and persevering through painful community-based planning.(26) This model made real the slogan "the people shall rule." It was not universally popular, as these activists emphasized that the people as a community, not as individuals, shall rule. There is perhaps an even greater tension between collective decision-making models and individual needs-based demands today. That is partly because the memory of how it used to be, and why, has faded. Today, people in the neighborhood can neither quote Marx or Mao on the collectivist side, or Kropotkin or Goldman on the anarchist side. The deep-into-the-night discussions trying to resolve the linkages between philosophies and practices no longer occur, leaving everyone to try and react out of instinct and intuition. In fact, much of the polarization I have learned about in the neighborhood seems symptomatic of people being pushed along by political economic tides rather than engaging in informed reading and discussion to push back, which leaves them pushing against each other. This does not mean that everyone should go read Marx in the original German. It does mean it might help for people to think through and talk through what kinds of decision-making philosophies they can use in the abstract, and then work on how those effect their practice in the neighborhood.
There are those in the neighborhood actively working on abstract philosophical leadership philosophies and attempting to put them into practice. That is happening most widely among those using women-centered leadership models.(27) One implementation of that model comes from Mimi Girma, who runs an African Art Gallery and Boutique in the neighborhood which doubles as a community services referral center. Among the services she helps organize is the Coalition of African Women Rebuilding Our Communities out of the Phillips Cultural Wellness Center. The focus of the group is "to find out our own knowledge and have ownership of that knowledge, and decide for ourselves what we want to do with it." The group meets twice a month. One meeting is a potluck dinner for "sharing tears, deep thoughts, and laughter." The other meeting each month uses a roundtable discussion format to work on issues decided by the group. The FOLC leadership circle model, facilitated by Eileen Watson, is used in some forms of development organizing such as the women-centered model, and in many forms of information organizing. The emphasis in leadership circles is building group-centered leadership where the purpose is not to develop the leadership ability of any individual but to develop the leadership contributions of all the participants. This model has potential for resolving some of the tensions between individual and group goals that currently exist in the housing co-ops. As Eileen notes,
The purpose of the Leaders Circle is for each individual to define and achieve their individual goals within a supportive and motivating group. However, I have found that the relationships that are created and the dynamics that occur in a Leaders Circle can give rise to a powerful group of people who become very interested in working together to achieve communal goals.
Betsy Sitkoff, the director of the Cedar-Riverside Family School, notes how this model came into play after the September 11th attacks and the October 14 Star Tribune article and aftermath.
With support from the educators [the women students] are looking at ways they, as mothers, can create a peaceful, thriving neighborhood. Kim Ode, a columnist with the Star Tribune, came to Family School and encouraged the parents to share their thoughts and feelings. She wrote and printed an article that reflected the parents' feelings as well as hopes for their families. Through this process the parents have decided work together and use their strengths as mothers. They hope to work with their children's schools, as well as the local community.
The leadership circle process is being used to organize and plan what to do next.
Women in the immigrant community will become an increasingly important source of leadership. There is a still unmet need in the neighborhood for domestic violence services that maintain respect for women's cultural background, and the African Women's Resource Center is attempting to expand to meet those needs. Muslim women, because of their recognizable head coverings, are also fearful of being targets of street harassment in the current war climate, and provided the impetus for much of the organizing around this issue in the Somali community. In addition, immigrant women have been the most active in seeking ESL training. A wide variety of women have been very active in the mosaic pillar project. These women, and the issues that are important to them, provide important leadership potential, though the potential must be developed in culturally sensitive ways in collaboration with their own identity communities.
Another intriguing leadership model available in Cedar-Riverside comes from the Gada system used by the Oromo.(28) It is a generation-graded system, historically based on men(29) moving through generational stages of increasing influence in decision-making. It includes a political system quite similar to our own in its checks and balances. Importantly, however, after an eight-year period of participation in decision-making, the elder men were to retire from such a position of power and serve in advisory roles, making way for the next generation of decision-makers. The importance of this system was how it assured inter-generational transmission of leadership skills. It provides a progressive apprentice system, with younger leaders taking on more and more responsibility. It also provides for a system that can adapt to historical changes, allowing the ideas of youth to mature and gradually become influential. In a community such as Cedar-Riverside, this could be a welcome antidote. The immigrant communities are, to an extent, caught in massive rifts between their home culture and their new American culture, with no easy process of transition. Consequently, conflicts between youth and parents can become quite disruptive. And even among the older white residents, the tensions between the practices that gave rise to the co-op housing and the new realities creating tension within that housing might be addressed through a Gada-style system.
3. Technical Assistance Resources
Those wanting to organize in Cedar-Riverside do not have to go it alone. There are, of course, many technical assistance resources across the Twin Cities metropolitan area. But there are also important technical assistance resources within the neighborhood.
One important set of resources includes those individuals in the immigrant communities who are able to translate not just language, but also culture, between their countries of origin and the U.S. These translators, or link people, are invaluable in community organizing efforts that cross cultural communities. They include people such as Abdisamad (Abdi) Mohamed, who directs the Riverside Plaza Tenants Association; Saeed Fahia, the executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community of Minnesota; Alemayehu Baisa, Refugee Services Officer of the Oromo Community of Minnesota; Dat Dao, a leader of the local Vietnamese community; and Yoonju Park, director of the Korean Service Center. All of these individuals have been involved with cross-cultural community organizing and development efforts in the neighborhood, and are interested in furthering those linkages.
Another important source of technical assistance, especially to meet the need for neighborhood development that we saw in the previous section, is the African Relief and Development Initiatives. ARADI, directed by Chief Folarin Ero-Phillips, is also home to the successful Somali Yellow Pages project. Among the services they offer are technical assistance in organizational development. And while ARADI's focus is on the development of African and African-American organizations, the organizational development needs across Cedar-Riverside are basic enough that ARADI's expertise would still be applicable. The main concern would be not overloading ARADI's capacity and disrupting its main mission.
The neighborhood's higher education institutions are also an important potential source of technical assistance. The improved relationship between the University and the neighborhood, and the U's creation of a new community relations policy in 1999, may provide some opportunities for the neighborhood. The U now offers faculty and students for projects through a variety of offices that promote service learning and community-based research activities. The U's role in providing such assistance in the neighborhood is not completely clear, however, since there is no "one-stop-shop" to get assistance and their service learning and community-based research activities cover the entire state. In contrast, Augsburg College has targeted much of their service learning work for the neighborhood. No organization has deeper and broader connections and collaborations in the neighborhood than Augsburg College.(30) Another program, run out of the University of Minnesota but accessing the resources of nine higher education institutions, is the Neighborhood Planning for Community Revitalization program run by Kris Nelson. NPCR offers student assistants for community-based research projects, as well as technical assistance in geographic information systems (GIS) and other areas depending on available faculty and student expertise.
The heavy involvement of local institutions, including Augsburg, carries both potential benefits and potential risks. The benefits come in the form of the student labor available from Augsburg's service learning activities. The existing organizations that have the capacity to maximize student talents can increase their impact substantially. And some students really become engaged in the neighborhood. One student even chaired the WBCC for a term.
The potential risk that comes from such heavy institutional involvement, especially in a neighborhood like Cedar-Riverside that has weak leadership structures, is that an institution can effect the neighborhood agenda by what activities it does and does not assist. The challenge is for the neighborhood to develop accountability processes to prevent selective institutional involvement that unduly influences the neighborhood's course. This is not to imply any hidden agenda on the part of Augsburg or the University and there have not been any criticisms against their efforts to date. Indeed, without strong neighborhood leadership structures to guide the institution's efforts they have no way of knowing "what the neighborhood wants." It is possible, and even desirable from the institutions' standpoints, that the neighborhood develops such leadership structures to guide institution-based service learning, community-based research, and technical assistance efforts.
4. Volunteer Resources
For those organizations that have the capacity to make use of it (and it takes lots of capacity) there is lots of potential labor out there.
One of the resources most underutilized by the neighborhood are Americorps volunteers. The Brian Coyle Center has 33 Americorps volunteers, and places many of them outside of the neighborhood. That is not by design. The Coyle Center director, Linda Bryant, is interested in placing more volunteers in the neighborhood but does not know where they would provide the greatest benefit. When it comes to volunteers, Americorps people are an important resource, since they are really only quasi-volunteers, receiving a stipend for their participation in the program. One Americorp Vista Volunteer, sponsored by the People's Center Way to Grow program, is collaborating with the Cedar-Riverside Family School.
Augsburg College, through its Community Service Learning program, provides student volunteers to a number of community programs. In many cases the students work with the local education programs and ESL programs as tutors. There are also a number of examples of students doing research in the neighborhood, though not necessarily in collaboration with community organizations. In exchange for these involvements the students receive course credit. When appropriately supervised by both the faculty member and the organization, students can expand an organization's capacity and activities. The University of Minnesota has a number of similar programs, some of which can provide graduate student assistance.
It is also inspiring to note that the Cedar-Riverside Community School is engaging students in service learning at a young age. Eighth grade students are volunteering to work with seniors at Fairview-University Medical Center, and as English tutors in the Cedar-Riverside Family School. Those students might also be available for youth organizing projects. Since so many of the students of the Cedar-Riverside Community School come from impoverished immigrant and refugee backgrounds, and so many of the school's resources are donated, it is important to the school's director and staff that the students see themselves as having something to offer rather than only as needy.
The difficulty, as briefly noted above, is that these resources may be liabilities for organizations that lack the capacity to adequately train, mentor, and supervise students. An inherent contradiction of higher education service learning programs is that community organizations are expected to provide part of the student's education without getting any of the instructor's salary. Instead, it is expected that the labor the student provides will be enough payment. The problem, of course, is that organizations often need to take part of a staff person's time away from other work to supervise and train students. In many cases community organizations are lucky to break even in terms of productivity when they take on students unless the supervising faculty member is also heavily involved in the project. So volunteer labor can not be equated with free labor.
5. Network Resources
As Appendix II shows, there are some important inter-organizational networks in the neighborhood. The networks outside of housing are dominated by the institutions in the neighborhood. For the U, the linkages have developed through physical development activities such as the light rail corridor. For Augsburg College and Fairview-University Medical Center, the linkages have developed more through service activities. These networks also tend to center on one or a couple of people at the institution as well, in a partial hub and spoke where the spokes are linked to the hub but not necessarily to each other.
The three networks that try to link organizations to each other are the Cedar-Riverside Business Association (CRBA), the Family Opportunities and Literacy Collaborative (FOLC), and the West Bank Human Service Providers Council (WBHSPC). These three are all mid-level networks, linking predominantly service organizations (in the case of FOLC and WBHSPC) or business organizations (in the case of CRBA).
CRBA links businesses and institutions throughout the neighborhood, primarily to address issues related to area businesses. But lately it has been attempting outreach to the Somali businesses, and more active in bringing speakers to CRBA meetings to talk about current neighborhood issues. Some of the old animosity between CRBA and resident organizations (like the Project Area Committee) seems to have dissipated. Thus, it could be one potential source of support for the less controversial development organizing approach.
The West Bank Human Service Providers Council is another network composed of mid-level organizations. At an earlier point in the history of the human services field that would have been worrisome, since so many social service efforts of even a decade ago were seen as controlling clients rather than empowering communities. But particularly in the case of the WBHSPC members, many of whom have some community participation emphasis in their own programs, there seems to be support for supporting grass-roots efforts.
FOLC is now a coalition of 22 organizations inside and outside of Cedar-Riverside that has worked very hard to build a coalition of institutions and service providers, corresponding to a classic sponsoring committee model. FOLC is also expanding to include parent representatives from the Family School. There are hopes this might help form a residents group to choose and organize around issues and help guide FOLC's future activities. In conjunction with the Cedar-Riverside Family School, FOLC has also built empowerment principles into its curriculum development, an exemplar of information organizing. The Cedar Riverside Family School is also organizing an advisory council, which includes two parent representatives along with service professionals from the collaborating educational institutions and social service agencies, local business providers, and community members. The council will evaluate the strengths, challenges and needs of the Family School, devising ways to expand and improve the school to stay in touch with and meet changing community needs.
6. WBCDC Resources
The impetus for this project is the interest of the West Bank Community Development Corporation in thinking about community organizing in the neighborhood. With the refinancing of the housing co-ops all but completed, the CDC earned a substantial amount of money through repayment of the loans that originally financed the housing. Because those funds do not depend on relationships with any outside entities, they are the perfect source of support for the sometimes controversial practice of community organizing. If those funds can also leverage significant grant resources, the neighborhood could put a community organizing program into place that would be the envy of the Twin Cities and many other places.
Of course, there are concerns about any CDC getting involved in community organizing, addressed in the October 2001 report.(31) As that report noted, CDCs are conflicted when it comes to supporting community organizing. But they are less conflicted when they meet three criteria: 1) they are democratic organizations 2) whose staff and board are knowledgeable about community organizing and committed to it, and 3) whose operating expenses are not paid by neighborhood rents or potential targets. The WBCDC easily meets the first of those conditions, with a well-attended annual meeting to elect board members. The second criterion is less well met, with the executive director having effective working knowledge of community organizing, and other staff and board having some partial experiences with community organizing. But it is important to note that the WBCDC has already sponsored two successful community organizing events, using development organizing and information organizing models, so experiential knowledge is expanding. An informal interest inventory assessment of board members (See Appendix III) also shows support for doing community organizing in the neighborhood, especially using the development organizing model and, to a lesser extent, the information model. Most popular among board members is a model that rebuilds neighborhood relationships. The third criterion is also well met, though not without potential difficulties. The funds that could support organizing come from loan repayment, so are technically not dependent on either rents or outsiders. The CDC itself is still a housing property owner, however, and bureaucratic budget line distinctions may not be enough to create legitimacy for a community organizer. At the same time that some residents distrust the CDC, however, others are looking for the CDC to take the lead in promoting participation, holding forums, and bringing people together around issues. A number of times in my interviews, residents and organization representatives asked whether the CDC could organize a forum on some neighborhood issue such as parking, traffic, or economic development. Those residents and representatives seemed surprised that the CDC didn't do more of that kind of thing.
Sporadic community organizing is occurring in the neighborhood. There are challenges, but none of those challenges are barriers to doing good organizing in Cedar-Riverside. There is an infrastructure, including networks of existing organizations, individuals with varying levels of skills, and some start-up money. So the next questions are what to organize around, and what vehicle to use. This section will address possible issues to organize around.
A. Issue Opportunities
One of the most important skills in community organizing is knowing how to "cut an issue." The organizer's mantra for figuring out what to organize around is to apply the criteria of "mobilizable-specific-winnable." A good issue is one that people care about enough to attend meeting after meeting. A good issue is one that has a specific measurable goal. A good issue is one that has a goal that can actually be achieved, hopefully in the short run. Below are some issues that came up in my conversations with neighborhood organizations.
While the neighborhood is extremely multicultural, there is a shortage of service providers in the neighborhood that can provide the kind of comfort and sense of security needed by people seeking those services. There seems to be a particular shortage in the area of health care. The Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota attempts to maintain a women's health advocate on staff, but the position is currently open as it is difficult to find someone with both the technical and cultural skills necessary. The Korean Service Center is looking for someone with the appropriate technical and cultural skills to provide home care health services for Korean senior citizens. Melissa Nambangi, of the African Women's Resource Center, has been working with the College of St. Catherine's to develop a program that can train and certify immigrant women as Doulas--traditional birth attendants. In an organizing context, an organizer could bring community members together, perhaps particularly women but also men, to discuss their health care needs and form recommendations to negotiate with local health care providers. This could include training programs to move more immigrant women into paid advocate or liaison positions with health care providers, integrate health education programs with ESL and other education programs, provide language and culture training for health care providers, or create new innovative services. The important part of the process, however, would be to create a grass-roots organization, perhaps across the immigrant communities, that could pursue these issues and progress onto further issues. This could be a development organizing process done in collaboration with health care providers, but it might have a greater impact on actually organizing the community if done as a power organizing process.
The other immediate issue that grows out of cultural differences is the closing of the neighborhood Hawalas.(32) This is a crisis issue, as members of the Somali community in particular are very concerned about not being able to get money to their relatives in Somalia. This is a more difficult issue to take on, as new immigrants are in a rather vulnerable position relative to a federal government rapidly watering down personal liberties in a state of war. It is probably not winnable to simply demand that the Hawalas be reopened. But there may be other ways for new immigrants to move money to their families, and an effective information organizing strategy that quickly researches and proposes new emergency forms of money transfer may produce better outcomes. Developing new ways of transferring money probably requires an information organizing process at the start, but could progress into either a power organizing process or a development organizing process depending on the support of outside actors who would have to help set up new systems. Some of this may have already occurred as neighborhood residents spread information about the remaining Hawalas open in the Twin Cities.
2. Economic Development
Many of my conversations with the neighborhood organizations eventually gravitated to discussions about Cedar Avenue. Compared to a few years ago, the business district is bustling. A number of people are concerned, however, that the new Cedar Avenue businesses do not have the funds or expertise to do rehab their storefronts and market their goods and services beyond the ethnic communities they predominantly serve. Doing community organizing to target specific businesses for specific changes could be divisive (unless there were widespread common grievances against a particular business). Likewise, parking and traffic issues, already a source of frustration in the neighborhood, could also be divisive to address. However, a participatory planning process to think about the business district as a whole could be a uniting process, even building relationships across Cedar Avenue into the old neighborhood. There are a number of ideas out there already, such as developing an African market theme for the area, or doing an assessment of how the area is used by people from the neighborhood institutions. There is a perception that Cedar Avenue is not attracting students and staff from the U and Augsburg College to the extent that it might. It is unclear whether people would turn out for such a planning process, and whether a sustainable organization could be built from it. Developing specific and realizable goals might also be difficult, though relatively affordable streetscape and signage goals might provide some initial realizable first steps.
3. Dania Hall
One of the most inspiring outcomes of the Dania Hall Pillar dedication was the number of people, including government officials and community organization representatives, who called for a new Dania Hall. The number of organizations in the neighborhood looking for expanded space also provides a clear reason to build Dania Hall. Given the interest shown so far, this is easily a project that could bring out and unite people across ethnic and identity communities. The challenge is to turn it into a bigger organization-growing effort, though it could be organized as an effort to make the most of Cedar-Riverside's multi-ethnic character, including building a new Dania Hall. Another challenge is to develop realizable goals. Building a Dania Hall that would be more than a drab and uninviting two-story office building will require years of effort and millions of dollars from somewhere. That is not a formula for growing and maintaining an organizing effort. People would have to come up with some creative quick wins. Perhaps an initial step could be to create an outdoor plaza, even to the point of pouring a foundation that could temporarily serve as such a plaza. Perhaps a community oral history and photo project involving neighborhood youth could become part of the project, with the results to be displayed in the lobby of a new Dania Hall. There are many other possible initial goals that people could come up with to sustain an organizing effort over the long haul.
4. Community Internet
It gradually became clear to me, as I began to ask people for advice about the community organization directory, that my initial assumptions of the need for a paper directory could be wrong. Particularly the Somali community is very web active. KFAI Fresh Air radio, when they put Somali broadcasting on a web site using streaming audio, got so many hits they decided to create a regular radio program. Additionally, only nine of the 40 or so organizations in Cedar-Riverside have web sites, and that includes the three institutions, leaving an amazingly small number given the neighborhood's reputation for innovation. Two of the remaining five websites are for immigrant organizations. FOLC and the Cedar-Riverside Family School have integrated computer training into its programs because of popular demand. And there is demand. The Wilson Library, on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota receives many requests for public web access. The Riverside Plaza Residents Resource Center currently has a lab with 10 computers. The small number of computers and lack of funding to staff the lab outside of classes currently limits its potential, and they are engaged in fundraising to purchase 15 more computers. The Coyle Center has a lab with 20 computers, but is only able to provide one hour a day for walk-in use. These labs may also be underutilized in terms of their information organizing potential. The ESL classes use computers as part of their work, but there too the potential is unrealized.
Given the demand for Internet access, and the shortage of resources, simply getting more computers, and the staff support to keep them available to the community, seems like a readily organizable issue. But there is much more potential here. Community Internet has become a hot topic over the past few years. Using the Internet as a way to build face to face relationships has become a popular strategy. There are many ways to do that. One idea comes from the Duke Street Community House(33) in Sunshine, Victoria, in Australia. Duke Street pioneered a program combining ESL classes with web page design training. Participants learned English at the same time they learned how to make their own web sites. They even created their own on-line magazine and then a project for program participants to design web pages in their native languages. The idea has caught on and been systematized.(34) Community Internet projects have also been used to develop neighborhood community web sites that include oral histories, photographic histories, and neighborhood favorites. Youth are often involved in doing these projects. The possibilities for taking the Internet interest already there, and mobilizing it to bring more resources in, and use it to put information out, are enormous. This could produce very interesting information organizing projects.
Along with using web development as an organizing tool in the neighborhood is the potential of e-mail, which can be integrated into face to face community organizing. The Riverside Park Condominium Association uses e-mail in addition to its formal meetings to keep its members in touch with each other. It may seem strange for people who live right next door to each other to communicate by e-mail. But when neighbors keep different hours, and have different family and work obligations that make group meetings extremely challenging, e-mail creates communication that otherwise wouldn't occur at all. Every formal organization interviewed for this research has an e-mail contact, making it an extremely practical communication medium.
5. Neighborhood Housing
There is clearly a need to address housing issues. The previous multiple co-op structure became disorganized, with participation and documentation problems. The new single co-op structure has yet to gel in terms of participation and organization. But organizing around housing may be the most divisive issue of any in the neighborhood. A number of co-op residents want to organize against the CDC, while others want to organize against the "troublemakers." There is continuing conflict with Transition Homes residents who want to purchase their homes but don't like the restrictions the program places on the buildings to maintain neighborhood control. Additionally, the CDC is probably not in a position to support organizing around housing issues until it is no longer in an ownership position in relation to the housing and can take the role of advocate for people in the housing.
6. Other Issues
There are other issues important to neighborhood members, though they do not have the widespread support as those above. There are a number of environmental issues related to a former tank farm in the 7-Corners area of the neighborhood. There are also potential open space issues as developers eye the green space between the Mississippi River and the neighborhood. Organizing around these issues would likely require an extensive information organizing process to document the threats and dangers in a way that a large number of residents would care about them. It is possible that a neighborhood planning process that includes the neighborhood green space might offer some potential for organizing around these issues. Safety issues are also paramount in the Somali community right now, and may also be in other parts of the neighborhood, though for different reasons. However, there may be enough common concern to make safety an organizable issue. And since this research focused more on the perceptions of existing organization representatives, a community organizer doorknocking in the neighborhood may find other issues salient among individual residents.
B. Organizing Structures
Three are three main options for structuring community organizing in Cedar-Riverside. Given that the CDC likely will be the initial funder of any organizing, it is important to consider these structures in relation to the CDC itself as well as in relation to the neighborhood. These are not mutually exclusive options, and could in fact be combined in creative ways.
1. CDC-based organizing
The first and most obvious option for community organizing in the neighborhood is for the CDC to do it. And if any one neighborhood organization were to do community organizing, the CDC would be it. It is the only organization with the funds, a director who could supervise the organizer, and the interest.(35)
But could the CDC do effective organizing in the current neighborhood climate? The best issue opportunities for community organizing right now, as we saw in the previous section, are in the immigrant communities and especially around issues that could be addressed using development organizing and information organizing approaches. Those approaches, compared to power organizing, are much more doable by a CDC. So in terms of the potential for success, and the implications for the overall functioning of the CDC, limiting organizing to development and information methods would likely work.
The challenge is that the issues currently ripe for organizing would require working across the neighborhood's ethnic and identity communities. The need for cultural sensitivity in organizing across the very diverse neighborhood cultures is paramount. There are some risks in employing a single Euro-American organizer to work with all these communities unless that person has a lot of cross-cultural experience and linguistic skills. The other option would be to hire an organizer from one of the ethnic communities. That could make organizing within an ethnic community easier, but could be difficult to supervise through the CDC, given potential culture differences between the CDC and the community.(36) In addition, the CDC would have to maintain close relationships with immigrant organizations to avoid possible appearances of turf invasion and to make certain that community organizing remains culturally sensitive and useful.
The other important consideration for doing community organizing through the CDC is the board and staff training requirements. In preparing Massachusetts CDCs for community organizing, CDC directors attended monthly meetings on community organizing.(37) In the Toledo community organizing training and technical assistance program, CDC staff and board members went through 6 months of training in all-day Saturday sessions. For the CDC to maintain a commitment to community organizing over the long haul, make informed decisions on how to supervise an organizer, and stick with it even when it failed, would require some form of intensive training of the CDC staff and board.
2. Sponsoring Coalition
Another way that the CDC could support community organizing in the neighborhood without directing it is to form a sponsoring committee. The sponsoring committee method dates back to the early days of the famous community organizing Saul Alinsky, who refused to help a community organize itself unless there was a coalition of "sponsors" in place with a pot of money to sustain the organizing effort.(38) The sponsoring committee's job would be to fund and supervise the early organizing effort. Once the community organization is up and running then the sponsoring committee disbands.
In the case of Cedar-Riverside, it might be worthwhile to consider a modified sponsoring committee model that would also operate like a coalition. Yoonju Park, director of the Korean Service Center, was one of those to suggest a multi-ethnic coalition. Such a coalition, she suggested, could be composed of community members who also served as community translators, being able to interpret between the cultures and languages of their native community and mainstream American culture and English language. The sponsoring coalition would create a process to supervise the organizer[s] and maintain the funding base.(39)
This model fits well with the identified issues in the neighborhood. It additionally has the advantage of creating an official structure to build and maintain relationships between the neighborhood ethnic communities, and to make sure different cultural standards that may effect organizing are understood and negotiated. It may also help access extra funding, allowing for the hiring of more than one organizer. Finally, such a structure might allow for a greater diversity of organizing strategies to be employed, though that would depend on the members of the sponsoring coalition being comfortable with all the strategies. There is some question whether the two existing networks that have sponsoring committee qualities--FOLC and the WBHSPC--could provide the foundation for such a sponsoring coalition. The answer to that question will be part of a continuing discussion if the CDC chooses this path. If those networks are to provide the foundation, however, they may need restructuring to emphasize control by the neighborhood organizations and particularly the immigrant organizations.
What would be required to make this structure work? The first and most challenging requirement is to leverage the time of people who are already often overworked. The directors of the immigrant organizations in the neighborhood are already stretched to the limit. Those coalition members would need extensive training in community organizing, just as the CDC board would in the previous model. Whether it would be realistic or even desirable to expect that kind of time commitment is an open question. My interviews lead me to believe that there is substantial energy and interest among the neighborhood organizations, but that would have to be verified through discussions of the concrete commitments needed.
Building and maintaining the coalition itself would take an organizing effort. Someone would have to be responsible for calling the meetings, procuring the trainings, and managing the relationships. That could be one of the organizers hired by the coalition. The structure of the coalition would also require careful attention, addressing issues such as who would be the fiscal agent, how that agent would be held accountable by the other members, how the organizer would be supervised and how activities would be reported. The challenge for the CDC in this circumstance would be to determine how much control it would maintain over funding and directing the organizing. If it could not cede control to the coalition then this model would likely not work.(40)
3. Independent Effort
The final option for doing community organizing in Cedar-Riverside is to hire out the organizing. There are a number of effective national level community organizing networks in the country. These include the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) which is currently organizing in the Twin Cities, and National People's Action. Both use an individual membership power model. There are also a number of faith-based national organizing networks, including the famous Industrial Areas Foundation that was founded by Saul Alinsky, the Gamaliel network, the Pacific Institute for Community Organizing, and others. These groups typically use an "organization of organizations" power organizing model. There is also the Consensus Organizing Institute, which does development organizing.(41) for information on each.
An effective outside organizing effort would bring in highly talented professional organizers who would do all the technical, bureaucratic, and organizational work to build a grassroots community organization.(42) Very little would be required of those not directly participating in the organizing effort. It could thus avoid many of the mistakes that could be made by a fledgling organizing effort managed within the neighborhood.
It is important to note, however, that these organizing efforts remain quite independent. Particularly those working from the power model see themselves as building people's organizations that hold themselves accountable only to their own members. An "organization of organizations" structure could have a membership composed of a coalition of organizations. One of the potential difficulties with hiring out the effort to an independent network using the power model is that they could define issues in terms of those best for mobilizing people's anger. Currently, the two subgroups in the neighborhood with the most mobilizable anger are members of the Somali community who are seeing their community institutions, such as the Hawalas, threatened, and Transitions Homes and housing co-op residents who feel a variety of grievances about their sense of control over their housing. This could be tricky territory and would have to be worked out in advance with any independent organizing effort. Using an organization of organizations model would also best manage the potential conflicts over this issue. But like with the sponsoring coalition model, the CDC would have to be very clear about how much control it could cede to the organizing effort.
I admire the stamina of those who have made it this far. For those of you who skipped ahead, my conclusions are likely to be disappointing. For deciding to do community organizing is no easy thing. It can be challenging to convince people of just how much training and skill is required to do good organizing. It takes a special combination of community-based expertise and professional community organizing expertise to make good organizing happen.
Consequently, I can offer no conclusions. This research cannot, by itself, say what model of community organizing to use, what issues to organize around, or what organizing structures to employ. Those decisions require careful informed discussions of the people involved in the effort. I have tried to outline the possible paths for organizing in the neighborhood, along with their probable costs and benefits. The next steps in this process will be to use the research in decision-making. Here are what I think are the important questions to discuss.
1. What are the organizing goals of the CDC?
2. What kind of organizing does the CDC want to do?
3. How much commitment is there from the CDC board and staff to get training?
4. To what extent and in what ways does the CDC want to involve other groups?
5. What issues will the CDC support organizing around?
6. How much control over community organizing is the CDC willing to give to other neighborhood organizations or other outside organizations?
The CDC board and staff will need to carefully discuss these initial questions. Then, depending on the answers, the next step will be to initiate discussions with others. If, for example, the discussions lead the CDC to decide it should do and control organizing itself, the discussions with other organizations will involve getting permission to organize in their communities. On the other hand, if the CDC decides it prefers a sponsoring coalition model, the next step will be to begin one-on-one discussions with potential organization partners and then convene a meeting.
I urge the CDC to begin these discussions as soon as practical. The neighborhood is ripe for a coming together. There is tremendous energy in the Somali community. There is strong interest across the neighborhood organizations in connecting with each other. There are significant conflicts in the old neighborhood that need to be resolved, and the right issue that brings out a wide cross-section of neighborhood residents might go a long way in repairing some of the rifts in the neighborhood. Cedar-Riverside was once a standard-setter in the city and the nation for its ability to make things happen as a community. It can be again.
1. I have seen and learned of instances of individual rule-challenging, but that is something quite different.
2. There are strong Oromo, Somalian, Korean, Vietnamese communities in the neighborhood in addition to student
communities and "old neighborhood" residents.
3. There are easily four distinct areas of the neighborhood: 7 corners, Riverside Plaza, Cedar East (between
Augsburg College and Cedar Avenue), and Riverside Park (east of Fairview-University Medical Center).
4. Infrastructure, in this context, refers to the resources, linkages between groups and organizations, and expertise
needed to do successful and sustained community organizing.
5. For definitions of these models, see Randy Stoecker, Report to the West Bank CDC: Primer on Community
Organizing, September 2001.
6. Parent education, referred to as the Parent Circle, builds upon the strengths of the mothers and their cultural
practices as it attempts to support the families as they integrate into American society, the local cedar riverside
community and the schools. The parent and child together time provides learning activites as a way of integrating
the parents into the childs learning ,as well as a time for the families to spend together. Children's Home Society
offers all the early childhood education and the Riverside Plaza Resource Center, that contracts with Minneapolis
Public Schools, offers the adult English language classes, computer training and job skills classes. Family and
Children's Services provides a community mental health counselor that integrates her skills into the daily learning
activities of the parents to help support the parents as they reflect upon leaving their country as well as families
still back home, and the struggles of integrating into their new community.
7. This partnership also offers Title 1 staff support. Title 1 is a federally funded program which provides additional
staff to help students with limited English and math skills.
8. See Greg Gordon, Joy Powell, Area donors may have given to Somali terror group, Star Tribune, Oct. 14, 2001.
9. See Kavita Kumar, Somalis, Muslims denounce Star Tribune story, Star Tribune, Oct. 16, 2001.
10. Kavita Kumar, Somalis in Minneapolis discuss freedom and fear. Star Tribune, Oct. 25, 2001.
11. A Hawala is a type of money transfer business used in third world situations where there are no banks. Somalis here
use them to send money back to their families in Somalia. The U.S. shut them down saying they had links to terrorist
organizations. See Kavita Kumar,Somalis rally to voice concerns about wire-service closures, Star Tribune, Nov. 9,
12. For a definition of sponsoring committee, see Randy Stoecker, Report to the West Bank CDC: Communities,
CDCs, and Community Organizing, September 2001.
13. see Randy Stoecker, Report to the West Bank CDC: Communities, CDCs, and Community Organizing,
14. See Edward G. Goetz and Mara Sidney, The Impact of the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program
on Neighborhood Organizations. unpublished manuscript, 1993; and Revenge of the Property Owners:
Community Development and the Politics of Property. Journal of Urban Affairs, Vol. 16, pp. 319-334, 1994.
15. See Jane Mansbridge. Beyond Adversary Democracy. New York: Basic Books. 1980.
16. Transition Homes residents were not included in that survey.
17. This report makes no attempt to determine who is miscommunicating and who is misunderstanding. The
differences between the CDC and those residents who are in conflict with it raise numerous factual questions. The
purpose of this report is not to resolve those questions or even to address them. No data has been collected to
determine the validity of charges or countercharges on either side. The importance of the conflict for this report is
in its potential for preventing or disrupting future community organizing efforts in the neighborhood.
Documenting the presence of the conflict, regardless of who is to blame for it, is all that is important for this
report. Additionally, since the dispute between the CDC and a group of co-op residents is in court, it is my
position that each side consult legal counsel before allowing me to collect data on the conflict itself.
18. See Appendix II. While the CDC is well linked to the housing organizations in the neighborhood, it is less well
linked to other kinds of organizations.
19. That included 3,174 white, 2,428 Black, 1,190 Asian, 67 Native American, 286 other race, and 400 multiracial.
for complete information.
20. For the recent history of the neighborhood and its organizations, see Randy Stoecker, Defending Community:
The Struggle for Alternative Development in Cedar-Riverside, Temple University Press, 1994.
21. Faith-based community organizing has become very popular over the past decade, with some of the most
important community organizing in the United States occurring through these networks. See Mark R. Warren and
Richard L. Wood, Faith-Based Community Organizing the State of the Field: A report of the findings of a national
survey conducted by Interfaith Funders, Jericho, NY, 2001. http://comm-org.wisc.edu/papers2001/faith/
22. See Stephen E. Barton and Carol J. Silverman (eds.) Common Interest Communities. Berkeley: Institute of
Governmental Studies Press, 1995.
23. English, Spanish, and Cape Verdean were the predominant languages in the neighborhood, and a large proportion
of the neighborhood population did not have English as a first language. With access to a relatively generous pool of
foundation funds, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Association was able to provide simultaneous translation for its
meetings, making it look like a United Nations summit. See Peter Medoff and Holly Sklar, Streets of Hope: The Fall
and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood, Boston: South End Press, 1994. Also see Holding Ground: The Rebirth of
Dudley Street. New Day Films, 1996.
24. All organizations giving permission will be listed in a public directory.
25. Those who are taking the class have not even learned of the community organizing of Saul Alinsky.
26. see Randy Stoecker, Defending Community: The Struggle for Alternative Development in Cedar-Riverside,
Temple University Press, 1994.
27.see Susan Stall and Randy Stoecker, "Community Organizing or Organizing Community? Gender and the Crafts
of Empowerment." Gender and Society, 1998, Vol. 12, pp. 729-756.
28. For more on the Gada system and the Oromo, see Gumii Bilisummaa Oromiyaa
http://www.gumii.org/ . Also see Asmerom Legesse, "The Gada- Three Approaches to
the Study of African Society", 1973; and "Oromo Democracy- An Indegenous African Political System", 2000. Thanks
to Alemayehu Baisa, Refugee Services Officer of the Oromo Community of Minnesota, for giving me my first lesson on the Gada
29. There have been concerns that the system, in its most traditional form, puts women in an inferior position, but it
seems quite possible to adapt the system to provide women with equal leadership opportunities. See Na'amat Isa,
The Role of Women in the Oromo National Liberation Movement, 1998. http://www.sidamaconcern.com/articles/role_of_women_in_national_liberation.html
30. see Appendix II
see Randy Stoecker, Report to the West Bank CDC: Communities, CDCs, and Community Organizing,
32. See footnote 11.
33. A community house is similar to what we would call a settlement house, basically a neighborhood organization
that provides education and social services in its local community. Find out more about Duke Street at
34. see Susan Imel, Technology and Adult Learning: Current Perspectives. ERIC Digest No. 197. 1998.
35. There are other organizations and groups with the interest, especially in the Somali community, but they lack
36. Some neighborhood service providers note that immigrants may not completely share the European standards of
punctuality and have less patience for bureaucratic democracy that demands lots of paperwork and slow deliberate
decision-making. Thus, an organizer from an immigrant community could appear lazy or insubordinate if they
also did not follow European standards of punctuality and bureaucratic democracy
37. MACDC interview with Nancy Marks, 2000 and 2001. Also see
38. See David Finks, The Radical Vision of Saul Alinsky. New York: Paulist Press, 1984. Also see Randy Stoecker,
Report to the West Bank CDC: Communities, CDCs, and Community Organizing, October 2001.
39. Some might ask why not just do organizing through the WBCC, which is already set up to representative various
interests across the neighborhood. The difference between a coalition composed of organizations and an
organization composed of residents is that the coalition would be better structured to reach unity on issues, and
would only select issues on which it could reach some kind of unity. The WBCC, in contrast, is structured for
conflict--bringing competing claims and interests in to be debated. That is useful for resolving disputes, if the
organization is tightly structured and effectively managed. But it is not useful to manage a community organizing
effort that requires the force of unanimity. The WBCC is more like the U.S. Congress than it is like a community
organization. Imagine the U.S. Congress trying to do organizing.
40. The Lagrange Development Corporation in Toledo, which is the most successful of a CDC supporting
community organizing, has a memorandum of understanding with its community organizing arm, the Lagrange
Village Council, specifying its noninterference with the organizing effort.
42. this is less true of the Consensus organizing Institute, which is less focused on organization building compared to
program development, consistent with the development organizing model.
2. There are strong Oromo, Somalian, Korean, Vietnamese communities in the neighborhood in addition to student communities and "old neighborhood" residents.
3. There are easily four distinct areas of the neighborhood: 7 corners, Riverside Plaza, Cedar East (between Augsburg College and Cedar Avenue), and Riverside Park (east of Fairview-University Medical Center).
4. Infrastructure, in this context, refers to the resources, linkages between groups and organizations, and expertise needed to do successful and sustained community organizing.
5. For definitions of these models, see Randy Stoecker, Report to the West Bank CDC: Primer on Community Organizing, September 2001.
6. Parent education, referred to as the Parent Circle, builds upon the strengths of the mothers and their cultural practices as it attempts to support the families as they integrate into American society, the local cedar riverside community and the schools. The parent and child together time provides learning activites as a way of integrating the parents into the childs learning ,as well as a time for the families to spend together. Children's Home Society offers all the early childhood education and the Riverside Plaza Resource Center, that contracts with Minneapolis Public Schools, offers the adult English language classes, computer training and job skills classes. Family and Children's Services provides a community mental health counselor that integrates her skills into the daily learning activities of the parents to help support the parents as they reflect upon leaving their country as well as families still back home, and the struggles of integrating into their new community.
7. This partnership also offers Title 1 staff support. Title 1 is a federally funded program which provides additional staff to help students with limited English and math skills.
8. See Greg Gordon, Joy Powell, Area donors may have given to Somali terror group, Star Tribune, Oct. 14, 2001.
9. See Kavita Kumar, Somalis, Muslims denounce Star Tribune story, Star Tribune, Oct. 16, 2001.
10. Kavita Kumar, Somalis in Minneapolis discuss freedom and fear. Star Tribune, Oct. 25, 2001.
11. A Hawala is a type of money transfer business used in third world situations where there are no banks. Somalis here use them to send money back to their families in Somalia. The U.S. shut them down saying they had links to terrorist organizations. See Kavita Kumar,Somalis rally to voice concerns about wire-service closures, Star Tribune, Nov. 9, 2001.
12. For a definition of sponsoring committee, see Randy Stoecker, Report to the West Bank CDC: Communities, CDCs, and Community Organizing, September 2001.
13. see Randy Stoecker, Report to the West Bank CDC: Communities, CDCs, and Community Organizing, October 2001.
14. See Edward G. Goetz and Mara Sidney, The Impact of the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program on Neighborhood Organizations. unpublished manuscript, 1993; and Revenge of the Property Owners: Community Development and the Politics of Property. Journal of Urban Affairs, Vol. 16, pp. 319-334, 1994.
15. See Jane Mansbridge. Beyond Adversary Democracy. New York: Basic Books. 1980.
16. Transition Homes residents were not included in that survey.
17. This report makes no attempt to determine who is miscommunicating and who is misunderstanding. The differences between the CDC and those residents who are in conflict with it raise numerous factual questions. The purpose of this report is not to resolve those questions or even to address them. No data has been collected to determine the validity of charges or countercharges on either side. The importance of the conflict for this report is in its potential for preventing or disrupting future community organizing efforts in the neighborhood. Documenting the presence of the conflict, regardless of who is to blame for it, is all that is important for this report. Additionally, since the dispute between the CDC and a group of co-op residents is in court, it is my position that each side consult legal counsel before allowing me to collect data on the conflict itself.
18. See Appendix II. While the CDC is well linked to the housing organizations in the neighborhood, it is less well linked to other kinds of organizations.
19. That included 3,174 white, 2,428 Black, 1,190 Asian, 67 Native American, 286 other race, and 400 multiracial. See http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/citywork/planning/Census2000/2000-Race-and-Ethnicity-by-Neighborhood.asp for complete information.
20. For the recent history of the neighborhood and its organizations, see Randy Stoecker, Defending Community: The Struggle for Alternative Development in Cedar-Riverside, Temple University Press, 1994.
21. Faith-based community organizing has become very popular over the past decade, with some of the most important community organizing in the United States occurring through these networks. See Mark R. Warren and Richard L. Wood, Faith-Based Community Organizing the State of the Field: A report of the findings of a national survey conducted by Interfaith Funders, Jericho, NY, 2001. http://comm-org.wisc.edu/papers2001/faith/ .
22. See Stephen E. Barton and Carol J. Silverman (eds.) Common Interest Communities. Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies Press, 1995.
23. English, Spanish, and Cape Verdean were the predominant languages in the neighborhood, and a large proportion of the neighborhood population did not have English as a first language. With access to a relatively generous pool of foundation funds, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Association was able to provide simultaneous translation for its meetings, making it look like a United Nations summit. See Peter Medoff and Holly Sklar, Streets of Hope: The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood, Boston: South End Press, 1994. Also see Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street. New Day Films, 1996.
24. All organizations giving permission will be listed in a public directory.
25. Those who are taking the class have not even learned of the community organizing of Saul Alinsky.
26. see Randy Stoecker, Defending Community: The Struggle for Alternative Development in Cedar-Riverside, Temple University Press, 1994.
27.see Susan Stall and Randy Stoecker, "Community Organizing or Organizing Community? Gender and the Crafts of Empowerment." Gender and Society, 1998, Vol. 12, pp. 729-756.
28. For more on the Gada system and the Oromo, see Gumii Bilisummaa Oromiyaa http://www.gumii.org/ . Also see Asmerom Legesse, "The Gada- Three Approaches to the Study of African Society", 1973; and "Oromo Democracy- An Indegenous African Political System", 2000. Thanks to Alemayehu Baisa, Refugee Services Officer of the Oromo Community of Minnesota, for giving me my first lesson on the Gada system.
29. There have been concerns that the system, in its most traditional form, puts women in an inferior position, but it seems quite possible to adapt the system to provide women with equal leadership opportunities. See Na'amat Isa, The Role of Women in the Oromo National Liberation Movement, 1998. http://www.sidamaconcern.com/articles/role_of_women_in_national_liberation.html
30. see Appendix II
31. see Randy Stoecker, Report to the West Bank CDC: Communities, CDCs, and Community Organizing, October 2001.
32. See footnote 11.
33. A community house is similar to what we would call a settlement house, basically a neighborhood organization that provides education and social services in its local community. Find out more about Duke Street at http://home.vicnet.net.au/~dukest/
34. see Susan Imel, Technology and Adult Learning: Current Perspectives. ERIC Digest No. 197. 1998. http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed421639.html
35. There are other organizations and groups with the interest, especially in the Somali community, but they lack the funds.
36. Some neighborhood service providers note that immigrants may not completely share the European standards of punctuality and have less patience for bureaucratic democracy that demands lots of paperwork and slow deliberate decision-making. Thus, an organizer from an immigrant community could appear lazy or insubordinate if they also did not follow European standards of punctuality and bureaucratic democracy
37. MACDC interview with Nancy Marks, 2000 and 2001. Also see http://www.macdc.org/rhico1.htm
38. See David Finks, The Radical Vision of Saul Alinsky. New York: Paulist Press, 1984. Also see Randy Stoecker, Report to the West Bank CDC: Communities, CDCs, and Community Organizing, October 2001.
39. Some might ask why not just do organizing through the WBCC, which is already set up to representative various interests across the neighborhood. The difference between a coalition composed of organizations and an organization composed of residents is that the coalition would be better structured to reach unity on issues, and would only select issues on which it could reach some kind of unity. The WBCC, in contrast, is structured for conflict--bringing competing claims and interests in to be debated. That is useful for resolving disputes, if the organization is tightly structured and effectively managed. But it is not useful to manage a community organizing effort that requires the force of unanimity. The WBCC is more like the U.S. Congress than it is like a community organization. Imagine the U.S. Congress trying to do organizing.
40. The Lagrange Development Corporation in Toledo, which is the most successful of a CDC supporting community organizing, has a memorandum of understanding with its community organizing arm, the Lagrange Village Council, specifying its noninterference with the organizing effort.
42. this is less true of the Consensus organizing Institute, which is less focused on organization building compared to program development, consistent with the development organizing model.
This research is based on a participatory action research process. The initial research questions were developed by Randy Stoecker in collaboration with the CDC staff and board members during summer of 2001. Individual interview excerpts were checked with interviewees, and their revisions were included in a rough draft. The rough draft was distributed to the CDC board and to the interviewees to check for accuracy. Revisions were made in late 2001 and early 2002.
All told, the research is based on:
The chart of interorganizational relationships was developed through interviews with executive directors, knowledgeable staff, or presidents of the organizations listed. A relationship link is listed if the following conditions applied:
During the September 2001 CDC board meeting, board members and staff were asked to check two or three of the statements below to indicate their belief the statement best characterized the organizing context in Cedar-Riverside. Most checked three. Two “x’s” means the item is strongly associated with that model of organizing and one “x” means it is moderately associated with that form of organizing.
1. There is a severe need for more social services and programs here.
2. Our most important goal is to stop a government or corporation from doing something we don't want.
3. We are tackling some complex issues requiring lots of study and our residents are not highly educated.
4. There are a lot of organized groups already in our neighborhood and what we need to do is bring them together.
5. Our residents would really like to solve community problems without outside intervention.
6. There are banks and foundations and other outsiders that we would like to partner with in improving our community.
7. There are a lot of resources in our community already. We just need to mobilize them.
8. Basic education problems like illiteracy, maternal education, and others need to be solved before anything else.
9. We need to get beyond our internal conflicts before we do anything else.
10. Focusing on those outside the community who have done us harm will unify the community.
11. Our residents really don't even know each other and we have to rebuild our community relationships.
12. People here are angry about what government or corporations have done to us and want to do something.
13. If we could just get the word out on what has been happening in the community, that would be a big step.
quality of life issues (added by respondent)