Seward Neighborhood Group

How the Seward Commons project is shaping our neighborhood

By: Brigid Higgins

What is Seward Commons?

It’s a development project by Seward Redesign, a nonprofit community development corporation. Redesign engages the energy and creativity of residents and businesses to implement development that’s based on the priorities of the community, and creates living-wage jobs, diverse housing options and a vibrant local economy.

We are a place-based organization, which means we are exclusively dedicated to the Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods of South Minneapolis. This scale is important because it allows our work to be rooted in the community over the long term.

The Seward Commons project is a big undertaking, involving the redevelopment of the area near the Franklin Light Rail Transit station.

What was there before?

The Blue Line Light Rail Transit (LRT) became operational along Seward’s western boundary in 2004. The region had high hopes for the LRT to catalyze high density development. But the station on Franklin Avenue was surrounded by challenging sites that stymied the big dreams for the station area. When the recession hit in 2008, nothing from those plans had been realized. Bystrom Brothers had recently ceased operating a machine shop on a 3.5 acre site just south of the station area. Redesign acquired the site in 2009 and began an area-wide planning process to make the space work better for the surrounding community.

What parts of the Seward Commons have already been built?

Touchstone Mental Health – Rising Cedars (I) and The Cooperage (II), currently providing 100 units of affordable housing in the neighborhood.The Verna (IV),formerly known as The Gateway Building,is located at 2200 Minnehaha Avenue and connects Seward Commons to the greater Seward neighborhood. This building was recently inaugurated under its new name, honoring late Seward neighborhood activist and organizer: Verna Strick. Learn more about Verna’s contribution to the neighborhood, and check out the building’s 5 small business and nonprofit tenants:  Solcana Crossfit, 826 MSP, Soomaal House of Art, Beez Kneez, and Cheeriup.

What is coming next?

Focus Arts (V) is a redevelopment project scheduled for construction this winter. Last Spring, Redesign assisted the previous tenant, Fun City Dogs, in the purchase of her own property nearby, leaving the 20,000 square foot industrial building vacant. Redesign will reinvest in the building to make it into a space that’s functional, ADA accessible, affordable, and stable. In response to a lack of accessible space for artists in the Twin Cities, the redevelopment project will divide the existing space into several smaller commercial units marketed to artists and creative businesses.

The Bessemer (IIIA) will be a 5-story building of 128 apartments, in the place of the vacant industrial buildings on Snelling Avenue and E 22nd Street. Construction will begin this winter and last 14 months. This project will be the first market-rate development in Seward in almost 40 years, and is a part of the community’s vision for a mixed-income, transit-oriented neighborhood with access to the Franklin Lightrail Station and Hiawatha bike trail.

Fun fact: the bessemer process is an industrial process for mass producing steel, used by the Bystrom Brothers in the machine shop originally on this site!

Wadaag Commons (IIIB) is the final planned development of Seward Commons. The city lacks affordable, family-sized rental apartments. Redesign is working in partnership with Noor Companies to develop a project that addresses this need and incorporates design features with East African families in mind.

Why is this unique to Seward?

Seward Commons is a piece of a vision for our neighborhoods: that they are healthy, diverse, and sustainable communities where all people have the opportunity to thrive. Nonprofit, place-based CDCs have the ability to provide technical expertise to implement community vision, rather than letting the private market dictate the future of the built environment. Redesign is one of the last remaining organizations of its kind in the Twin Cities.

Redesign provides comprehensive community development services that fall into four categories of work:

  1. Housing development
  2. Commercial real estate development
  3. Infrastructure advocacy
  4. Business development and technical assistance

We believe that a comprehensive approach that includes each of these areas is essential to creating and maintaining  healthy and sustainable communities.

Want to be more involved? Join the Seward Neighborhood Group Development Committee! Meetings are the third Thursday of each month, 7:30-9AM, at our office (2619 East Franklin Avenue). For questions, contact brigid@redesigninc.org

Milwaukee Avenue’s Peace Pole Dedication and Celebration: The Story

By Caren Stelson

What is peace?

What does peace look like?

Where can we find it?

How can we generate more of it?

Neighbors on Milwaukee Avenue in Seward have been asking these three questions and more–and trying to come up with some “answers.” Why these questions and why now? We are living in an extraordinary time of growing division, disconnection, inequality, and violence. What can one neighborhood do to make a positive difference? Living in a historically immigrant neighborhood, Milwaukee Avenue residents wanted to make a visual statement of welcome to everyone who walked through the neighborhood, one that would inspire all of us to reach out in peace.

The result?

Milwaukee Avenue  will celebrate the completion and installation of a one-of-a-kind peace pole on the event’s rain date, Sunday, September 22 during the “Twin Cities Ten Days of No Violence” (www.tendaysnoviolence.org ). Everyone—friends and neighbors on Milwaukee Avenue and the greater Seward neighborhood—are invited to a day of peace celebration and peace pole dedication. Here’s what’s happening.

10:00 am – peace chalk art on the mall led by chalk artist Tessie Bundick.  Kids, families, everyone are welcome. Meet at the Milwaukee Avenue park benches.

4:00-5:00 pm – peace pole dedication and celebration. Come for our gathering, music, food, and friends. Guest speaker: Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of CAIR-MN (Council on American-Islamic Relations) Meet at the Milwaukee Avenue park benches.

           (This event was originally scheduled for Saturday, September 21st.)

The Story Behind Milwaukee Avenue’s Peace Park

The Milwaukee Avenue’s peace park did not begin with a peace pole. It began with a tree—a true peace tree. If you walk by the Milwaukee Avenue’s playground, you may spot a sapling protected and happily growing taller each year. It’s a ginkgo tree grown from a seed of a ginkgo that survived the 1945 Hiroshima atomic bombing. We planted the tree near the playground so we could share the gingko’s story of resilience, hope and green peace with the community, especially the children.

Milwaukee Avenue gingko tree planting, 2017

The next idea was to install a peace pole along the Milwaukee Avenue pedestrian mall. No doubt, you’ve seen white peace poles in gardens and parks around the city with the words, “May peace prevail on earth.” Milwaukee Avenue neighbors believe in the statement, but we wanted to engage our neighbors to create a one-of-a-kind, artist-designed peace pole. We hoped that everyone who walked by the peace pole would slow down, appreciate and be inspired by the design, and think about what peace meant to them.

Left to right: Bob Roscoe, Milwaukee Ave. architectural preservationist, Tom Guelcher, peace pole woodcutter, Emily Goldberg, Milwaukee Ave. peace committee member, Denise Rouleau, peace committee member and peace pole ceramist, in Denise’s art studio.

As a neighborhood project, friends, kids, and neighbors gathered at various “pop-up peace parties” and made pencil-drawn sketches to represent what peace meant to them. Working together, our own neighborhood dedicated artist-ceramist Denise Rouleau turned the sketches into beautiful terra cotta tiles. Expert woodcutter Tom Guelcher turned a six-foot cedar pole into a carefully carved peace pole with frames for each tile. Each step of creation, from brainstorming, to sketching designs, to etching clay tiles, to bringing all the pieces together took patience, time, inclusion, care, mistakes, revisions, understanding, thoughtfulness, kindness, empathy—all the elements of peace making.

Tiles designed by Milwaukee Avenue artists, children and adults.
Peace pole in Tom Guelcher’s workshop.

As we gather together on Sunday, Sept. 22 on the Milwaukee Avenue mall, we will open our hearts to neighborliness, music, food, and fun. We also look forward to collectively coming closer to answering those three questions: What is peace? What does peace look like? Where can we find it? How can we generate more of it? Please come join us.

Milwaukee Avenue peace committee members:

Emily Goldberg

Denise Rouleau

Caren Stelson

Reminder! Seward Spread Joy Fund Deadline 10/18

The Seward Spread Joy Fund (SSJF) has been made available by an anonymous donor for distribution by the Seward neighborhood Group. The SSJF is intended to help create unique and lasting experiences for members of the community. Each year the SSJF will award a grant of up to $1,000 to a Seward resident who yearns to do something that is just beyond their budget. The lucky recipient of this yearly grant will be drawn at the Seward Neighborhood Group’s Annual Meeting in November. The guidelines are as follows:

Guidelines
-Applicant must currently live in Seward and have been a resident for at least three years
-No age limit
-The grant must benefit the recipient in an experiential way, meaning limited physical gains. A grant application that includes physical gain that benefits the community may still be considered (see examples)
-The grant must fund something that would have been difficult for to the applicant to experience without the assistant of the SSJF.
-No more than one application may be submitted per individual each year.

Application Process
Application forms will be available at the Seward Neighborhood Group office and online. The brief application will include:

– a brief description (50 words or less) of how much money is being requested and
how the grant will be used
– applicant’s name, address and contact information
– confirmation that the applicant has lived in Seward at least 3 years
– agreement that applicant will allow the grant to be publicized
* If awarded the grant, the applicant must sign a contract agreeing to submit a report on their experience. The recipient will be expected to share with the Seward community how your project or experience turned out.

Examples of appropriate application ideas for Seward Spread Joy Fund include:
-A person living in Seward wishes to take a language course
-A person living in Seward would like to fulfill a personal dream by taking a hot air balloon ride over the Twin Cities
-A Seward youth hopes to have a wilderness experience in the BWCA.
-A person who lives in Seward wishes to have a bench built on their block for neighbors to use (an appropriate exception to the physical gain rule.)

Examples of unacceptable ideas include:
-A Seward youth wants to buy an iPhone.
-A Seward homeowner needs funds to make repairs to their home.

**Seward Neighborhood Group retains the right to deny an application it does not appropriately adhere to the grant’s guidelines.
No board members or SNG employees are eligible to apply.
Note: Seward is the area bounded by I-94 on the north, the Mississippi River on the east, the Midtown Greenway on the south and Hiawatha Avenue on the west.

***Click here to fill out an application! Once finished, you can email your application to info@sng.org OR send to The Seward Neighborhood Group office at 2323 E Franklin Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406. You can also drop your application off at the SNG office from 10am-2pm Tuesday-Friday.  DEADLINE October 18 by 3pm.

 

Save the Date! Taste of Seward Annual Meeting: Nov. 6

We would love to see you at the Seward neighborhood group Annual Meeting and community dinner happening November 6th, from 6-8pm at Seward Montessori. 

Each year on the first Wednesday in November, the Seward Neighborhood Group invites all of our members (the people who live, work, play, and pray in Seward) together for a community meal. The taste of Seward is at its simplest a neighborhood potluck and celebration of the work that members of our community are doing to build a stronger, more connected neighborhood.

In addition to a community potluck – the Taste of Seward is an opportunity to learn more about the services offered by community organizations, decide on the design of the 2019 Seward t-shirt, and vote new board members onto the SNG board! We will also be drawing to see who the winner of the Seward Spread Joy Fund will be! This event is a wonderful way to meet neighbors, learn about community resources, and celebrate our shared community. If you are interested in volunteering to help set up the event, please contact Sam Graf at sam@sng.org.

SNG Board Meeting October 23

Join us for the SNG Board Meeting scheduled for October 23, 6:30 pm. at Matthews Park Recreation Center, 2318 29th Ave S.

Grant Opportunity: Seward Spread Joy Fund

The Seward Spread Joy Fund (SSJF) has been made available by an anonymous donor for distribution by the Seward neighborhood Group. The SSJF is intended to help create unique and lasting experiences for members of the community. Each year the SSJF will award a grant of up to $1,000 to a Seward resident who yearns to do something that is just beyond their budget. The lucky recipient of this yearly grant will be drawn at the Seward Neighborhood Group’s Annual Meeting in November. The guidelines are as follows:

Guidelines
-Applicant must currently live in Seward and have been a resident for at least three years
-No age limit
-The grant must benefit the recipient in an experiential way, meaning limited physical gains. A grant application that includes physical gain that benefits the community may still be considered (see examples)
-The grant must fund something that would have been difficult for to the applicant to experience without the assistant of the SSJF.
-No more than one application may be submitted per individual each year.

Application Process
Application forms will be available at the Seward Neighborhood Group office and online. The brief application will include:

– a brief description (50 words or less) of how much money is being requested and
how the grant will be used
– applicant’s name, address and contact information
– confirmation that the applicant has lived in Seward at least 3 years
– agreement that applicant will allow the grant to be publicized
* If awarded the grant, the applicant must sign a contract agreeing to submit a report on their experience. The recipient will be expected to share with the Seward community how your project or experience turned out.

Examples of appropriate application ideas for Seward Spread Joy Fund include:
-A person living in Seward wishes to take a language course
-A person living in Seward would like to fulfill a personal dream by taking a hot air balloon ride over the Twin Cities
-A Seward youth hopes to have a wilderness experience in the BWCA.
-A person who lives in Seward wishes to have a bench built on their block for neighbors to use (an appropriate exception to the physical gain rule.)

Examples of unacceptable ideas include:
-A Seward youth wants to buy an iPhone.
-A Seward homeowner needs funds to make repairs to their home.

**Seward Neighborhood Group retains the right to deny an application it does not appropriately adhere to the grant’s guidelines.
No board members or SNG employees are eligible to apply.
Note: Seward is the area bounded by I-94 on the north, the Mississippi River on the east, the Midtown Greenway on the south and Hiawatha Avenue on the west.

***Click here to fill out an application! Once finished, you can email your application to info@sng.org OR send to The Seward Neighborhood Group office at 2323 E Franklin Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406. You can also drop your application off at the SNG office from 10am-2pm Tuesday-Friday.  DEADLINE October 18 by 3pm.

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T-Shirt Design Contest!

Help Show A Little Love For Seward:

The Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG) Is looking for help showing our love for our neighborhood with a T-Shirt designed by you! These T-shirts will be sold to help celebrate and raise funds to support the work of the Seward Neighborhood Group. If you have an idea for a shirt design that could convey what Seward is, we would love for you to enter the SNG T-shirt Design Contest!

All submitted T-shirt Designs will be showcased at the SNG Annual Meeting and Taste of Seward on November 6th, 2019 at Seward Montessori. This event brings neighbors together for a shared meal, to explore community resources and services, and to vote for new members of the SNG Board. The Design that gets the most votes at this event will be the winner!

The contest begins and submissions can be made starting on September 25th, 2019. All entries must be received by midnight on October 25th, 2019. 

If your design is selected, you can choose your prize from the following:

  • A Gift Card at a local Seward restaurant (a $30 value) OR
  • An Art Tour with Marne Zafar, a Collection-in-Focus Guide at The Minneapolis Institute of Art.
  • Also, our gift to you – two (2) Tee Shirts.

FIND MORE DETAILS AND THE SUBMISSION FORM HERE

For More Information, Please contact Sam Graf at sam@sng.org or at 612-338-6205 Ext 106

Seward Winter Frolic!

Join us for a weekend of culture, art, performance, music, food, beverage, and delight!
Saturday, December 7th 10am – 5pm and Sunday, December 8th 12pm – 5pm. Visit artist studios, demos, and group showings in local church and business throughout the neighborhood. Enjoy specials offered by local businesses and artists. All day businesses will be offering specials and local artists will display their work at several venues.

 

CANCELED -Community Development Committee Meeting Oct. 8

The October Community Development Committee meeting has been canceled. Stay tuned for further meeting updates or contact Sam Graf at sam@sng.org with questions.

Event: Preventing Water Pollution (with Somali-Language Interpreter)

Saturday, October 19 at 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Learn how our actions at home and in our community can affect water used in the home. This class will show you ways to conserve water using fun demonstrations and a short presentation. The instructor will provide materials and help you make your own bottle of household cleaner. This product is made of natural ingredients that are less harmful to water.

A Somali interpreter will be available during the class. ALL are welcome to attend!

Cost: Free

To register or to find out more about this class, contact Ahmed Yusuf at 612-290-9313.

Venue: Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center, 
505 15th Avenue, 55454
Phone:  (612) 425-4700
Website: http://www.cedarriversidepartnership.org/contac

More Event details HERE.

Dog Costume Parade at King’s Fair!

SATURDAY,  9/21  Pets and owners line up at 1:25 PM

King’s Fair may be taking Matthews Park by storm on Saturday, September 21st, but neighborhood pets will be drawn in flocks, packs, & herds to the 2019 King’s Fair Pet Costume Parade.

Starting at 1:30 PM pets will walk across the stage in their most bedeviling, thematic costumes.

Come with your pet in costume and a short description for the MC to read and you will automatically be entered into the line up. Must be in line by 1:25 pm to participate.

Made Possible by a slice of canine heaven – Seward’s very own Fun City Dogs!

King’s Fair takes place at Matthews Park in the heart of the Seward neighborhood. This celebration of all the diverse, quirky, and creative qualities of our community brings together musicians, arts, vendors, and activities for the whole family.

Every other year the Seward Neighborhood Group makes space for the over 1500 people who attend to purchase from local artists and makers, connect and hear information from community organisations and causes, and engage with the many small businesses that together keep our neighborhood vibrant.

Free an open to all to attend!

Join us Saturday, September 21 from 12-5 PM.