West Side: Action to Equity

Session 1 Video Available now in Spanish and English!

Only the power of community combats gentrification.  Grow that power on the West Side during this three-part workshop/ training series.

Over the next five years, the West Side will see millions of dollars in private development and public investment projects. Nearly a thousand new housing units are planned. Thousands of square feet of new commercial space. New streets and trails. New parks and playgrounds. After decades of disinvestment and neglect, many West Siders are hopeful about this new chapter. And yet, the threat of gentrification looms large.

Gentrification displaces long-time residents and prices out would-be neighbors. Gentrification tears at the beautiful fabric created via racially, culturally, and economically diverse places. Gentrification may look “shiny” from the outside but lack community and connections to neighborhood history and culture. Fortunately, gentrification is NOT an inevitable part of new development.

Together in community, we can combat gentrification while supporting new development and investment. Our community’s vision and values, including justice and equity, can become the very grounds on which every new building sits. But how?

In partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), WSCO is hosting a three-part series in September. These are not just “community conversations,” they are deep-dive workshops that will produce the West Side Development Scorecard.

Similarly, this scorecard will not be just another “tool” or plan that once created no one thinks about again. This Scorecard will be used by residents to evaluate every new development project, big or small, happening on the West Side. The Score on each project will determine whether West Siders will offer a supportive welcome or if we will use every action at our disposal to stop development that does not have the agreed-upon community benefits. It’s that simple.

All of our events are free and open to all. Child care is available on site and food will be served. Please register in advance so we may have enough food and childcare providers available. Thank you.


Session I:
Saturday, September 9, 2017 from 10 am to noon
Neeraj Meta, CURA’S Director of Community Programs, will give a 45-minute talk about race and class in the Twin Cities, and how that history plays out today. This is an excellent primer for understanding why and how gentrification happens and who it benefits. Questions/answers and light reception will follow.

Session II:
Saturday, September 23, 2017 from 10 am to noon
Malik Holt-Shabazz and Ned Moore, both on staff at CURA, will guide us through an introduction to the Twin Cities Equitable Principles and Scorecard. Developed by community organizers and leaders in 2015, the Scorecard is a user-friendly document that lays out the concepts of equity in development. They’ll also share how other neighborhoods across Minneapolis and Saint Paul have used this tool to benefit their communities and stop gentrification.

Session III:
Saturday, September 30, 2017 from 10 am to noon
What are the West Side’s values and priorities, and how do we translate them into community benefits before or during development? What answers must a developer provide and/or what commitments will they make about their project? How will this project benefit the West Side and West Siders? In this last session, your input will adapt the Scorecard into a localized tool that will be used to evaluate new projects. With a transparent, community-led process like the Scorecard, we’ll all have a better understanding of why a certain project has the community’s support (or why it doesn’t). We’ll also share it with Saint Paul city staff and press for their commitments to honor our scores before pre-development status is granted.

About our Partners:

Neeraj Mehta is the director of community programs at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota, and adjunct faculty at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Trained as civil engineer, he quickly gave that up to work on community development issues in the Twin Cities region, working in philanthropy, community development and community organizing. Neeraj has a masters degree in public affairs from the Humphrey School and was a 2011-2013 Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow. He is passionate about building stronger, healthier and more racially and economically just communities throughout the Twin Cities region, but especially in North Minneapolis where he lives with his wife and two sons.

Malik Holt-Shabazz, prior to joining CURA, worked as a Community Organizer with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition to promote access, equity, and community benefits of bicycle infrastructure, policy, and
engagement. He also served as the Executive Director and Economic Development Organizer of North Minneapolis’s Harrison Neighborhood Association for 11 years leading community engagement projects, racial equitable development initiatives, business development, and land use planning. He received an undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts in Human Services with a minor in Sociology from the University of Minnesota Morris. Malik currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Headwaters Foundation for Justice. He is a long-standing member on CURA’s Kris Nelson Community Based Research Program Grant Review Committee., a 2004 graduate of MCNO’s Neighborhood Organizing Training Program, and a past member of the MCNO Advisory Committee. Malik is a native of Chicago but has lived in Minnesota for over 13 years. His life has centered on community, spirituality, music and dance, his wife and son, and his love for learning, community capacity building, systems change, racial equity, & direct service.

Ned Moore is program director committed to working for social, racial and economic justice. For six years, Ned organized low-income residents of manufactured (mobile) home parks to stop landlords and government agencies from demolishing affordable neighborhoods. During that time, Ned became involved in CURA, first as a trainee and later as a guest trainer and MCNO Advisory Committee member from 2007–2009. Ned joined CURA as a staff member in December in 2011, after several years at St. Catherine University as social justice coordinator, working to organize and mentor students to become social justice–minded leaders. He is currently a board member of La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, a faith-based civil rights organization of predominantly Latino church congregations. Ned is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in political science and global studies, and a former organizing apprentice and mentor for the Organizing Apprenticeship Project.

This work was made possible by funding from the Metropolitan Council.

WSCO Vision: We envision a just, united, self-reliant, and bold West Side where all of our people are connected, safe, healthy, and successful.

Riverview Library: 100th Birthday Block Party

August 5 from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

Riverview Library to celebrate centennial with Block Party Bash

SAINT PAUL, MN—Riverview Library on St. Paul’s West Side is celebrating its 100th birthday on Saturday, August 5 from 12:30-2 p.m. The community is invited to bring the entire family to enjoy a block party at 1 E George Street in front of the library. The street will be closed to traffic to make room for music performances, kid-friendly activities, and a chance for everyone to share their library memories and stories on the library’s Digital Scrapbook. And, of course, there will be cake too. In case of rain, the party will be moved inside the library.

“We are celebrating our 100th year by honoring that which makes the West Side so vibrant and strong – our community,” said library manager Kali Freeman. “Library patrons and West Side organizations (Growing West Side, WSCO, Neighborhood House, El Rio, NEDA) came together to plan the event. There will be music and community speakers, face painting, a nature scavenger hunt, popcorn, and Russell Harris with bubble art and fun for the kids. Additionally, the Bookmobile and other community organizations will be there to provide information and host additional games and activities.”


Riverview Library, originally built in 1917 and funded by Andrew Carnegie, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was designed by city architect Charles Hausler and is noted for its tall Palladium-arch windows that line all four sides of the building.

Riverview Library has been considered a neighborhood anchor since it opened in 1917 and was strongly defended against possible closing in the 1980s.

Riverview Library’s celebration is part of the library’s 100 Years/100 Stories campaign. Learn more at


About 100 Years/100 Stories

In 2017, the Saint Paul Public Library is celebrating the centennial of four of our earliest buildings: Arlington Hills, which is now Eastside Freedom Library, George Latimer Central, Riverview, and Saint Anthony. 100 Years/100 Stories is an expanding collection of stories from our community, as told through written word, photography, audio, and video. They are all unique, and yet they share a similar thread of living and learning in Saint Paul. We are proud to have been a gathering place for Saint Paul residents for 100 years and look forward to serving the city for 100 more.


About Saint Paul Public Library

Saint Paul Public Library connects people in Saint Paul with the imperative and the joy of learning through a lifetime. Saint Paul residents can enjoy free access to technology, books, movies, music, classes and more. We are at 12 neighborhood libraries, George Latimer Central Library, the Bookmobile, and online at

Riverview Library (1 East George Street), located on Saint Paul’s West Side, is holding a 100th birthday block party in front of the building on George Street on Saturday, August 5 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Bring the family for music, activities, and cake!


Writing Our Future – Youth Event

July 25th, 2017  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Wellstone Center (179 Robie St. E, St. Paul 55107)

Diversity Into Action, presents Writing Our Future, a summer literacy event intended to raise awareness and heighten the appeal of literacy programs among K-12 students of color and their families. Writing Our Future will showcase literacy programs offered by Twin Cities school districts and community organizations through active reading and writing workshops. Additionally, live readings and performances will help reinforce the creative, cultural, academic, and professional value of literacy in a fun and engaging way.

Some highlights of the day’s events will include:

  • Literacy presentations from published authors, including the importance of creative writing and story-telling
  • Interactive writing workshops
  • An on-the-spot K-12 writing contest with prizes at each grade level
  • Poetry readings, live music, and performing arts
  • Door prizes
  • Food and games
  • Exhibitor area for organizations and resources, including local colleges and universities, libraries, and community education programs.


According to the National Summer Learning Association, the summer months lead to losses in reading and math skills among more than 25 million low-income public school students in the United States. For these children, summer is not an opportunity to pursue and explore individual interests, but a struggle for safety and security. Known as “the summer slide,” this phenomenon is a major contributor to both the achievement gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers and the high school dropout rate. Over a lifetime, these summer losses add up to gaps in achievement, employment, and personal well-being.

Educational attainment among communities of color in Minnesota trails the general population average, both nationally and statewide. Individuals in communities of color tend to have lower assessment scores in math, science, and reading skills, hindering their ability to access post-secondary education and achieve the long-term benefits that go along with advanced learning. In 2014, Hispanics (63.2%), African American (60.4%), and Native American (50.6%) students had a significantly lower high school graduation rate compared to Minnesota’s non-Hispanic white population (86.3%).

Education is a well-defined pathway to a brighter future. Many studies have shown a correlation between educational achievement and individual prosperity. Lesser educated individuals are more likely to make long-term use of public assistance programs that place a financial strain on federal and state budgets. The education gap is a major driver of inequality. Diversity into Action is committed to helping reduce income disparity in Minnesota by providing communities of color with the tools, resources, and skills to enable them to rise above the poverty line and live lives of dignity and respect. By highlighting K-12 educational resources, we believe that literacy and achievement gaps can be narrowed before they become insurmountable.



ALERT: Meeting Canceled – July 18th RDLU

The Riverfront Development and Land Use Committee Meeting has meen canceled for July 18th.  Please join us for the meeting next month on August 15th, 6:30pm at Baker Center (209 Page Street West)

More info on RDLU Committee

UPDATE: LOCATION CHANGE for Baker Playground Rebuild Community Meeting

Meeting location has been MOVED to AMORE COFFEE due to a power outage at the Baker Center.

July 17th, 6pm, at AMORE COFFEE  (879 Smith Ave S.)

Folks interested in the replacement of the Tot Playground at Baker Center are invited to attend this community discussion regarding options for the new playground. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation staff will share updates. The hope is a new playground will be able to be installed this fall (or sooner!).

Link to Facebook Event

Link to article about playground fire:


Gente interesada en el reemplazo del parque para niños en el Baker Center están invitados a asistir esta discusión comunitaria relacionado con las opciones para el diseño del parque nuevo. Empleados del departamento de Parques y recreación de St. Paul van estar presente. El deseo es que un nuevo parque va estar instalado este otoño (¡o más temprano!)
Más información relacionada con el fuego que destruyó el parque: