Hennepin Ave Reconstruction: Do Black Livelihoods Matter?
Updated: Apr 19, 2021
On Monday I went to visit some of the black-owned businesses along Hennepin Ave where the city will be rebuilding the road. Before making up my mind about which city proposal to support, I wanted to hear from those whose needs should be reflected at the heart of this project. What I discovered is deeply disturbing.Not only do they tell me that the two options proposed by the city will destroy their businesses (one is already looking at where he will move his business to, and it will be out of the city), what I found completely unacceptable is that no one from the city has ever stopped in to talk to them about the project or to include them in any of the planning process.
If you are talking about Black Lives Matter without taking into account Black livelihoods, Black health care, Black quality of life in our city, you need to rethink your position. Not only should every business and property owner along that corridor have been brought into the design process in order to come up with options for the public to weigh in on -- at the very least the city should have contacted the BIPOC owned businesses. I am encouraging everyone to sign the petition created by the Uptown Association. Let's hit reset and do this right.
As your council member environmental justice will not simply be a buzz word. It means centering marginalized communities in decision-making about infrastructure projects. Additionally, I know that our small businesses are the heart of our communities, for many of us thriving small business corridors are why we live here. Emerging from global pandemic, we will write them into our planning documents as key partners when designing changes along business corridors. And finally, the top-down approach to city planning will end with me. Best practices in equitable design require community input at the outset, and not simply as the rubber stamp at the end. Minneapolis can and should do better. Finally, here is a link to me discussing this issue on the Insight NewsConversations w/Al McFarlane show on Monday, April 5th (@ the 33 minute mark).