Chaka Mkali

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Community organizers lay foundation for racial equity agenda in Minneapolis

OUR MPLS: strategic proposals aimed at keeping City leaders accountable to communities of color

By Charles Hallman 

Staff Writer


With new leadership now at Minneapolis City Hall, a coalition of locally based organizations have developed a new racial and economic justice agenda for the city. Their dialogue at a recent community meeting reflected a new enthusiasm and optimism for moving with this new leadership in “moving racial equity forward.”

“What would racial and economic justice in Minneapolis look like?” asked Vina Kay last week during a monthly community meeting hosted by Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden at Butter Bakery Café on the city’s South Side. “We have a lot of trouble thinking that way about [racial justice] in Minneapolis,” she said, adding that the community needs to help City leaders see “that these disparities run throughout our communities and cut across multiple issues.”

Kay, research and policy director for Organizing Apprenticeship Project (OAP); Hope Communities Organizing and Community Building Director Chaka Mkali; and Avi Viswanathan, an organizer for HIRE Minnesota spoke on OUR MPLS, whose key components include “authentic community engagement” by City leaders with communities of color and low-income communities “in defining City priorities,” prioritizing bus rapid transit in low-income neighborhoods, and more investment in youth programming. “We came together in mid-December because we saw this as an opportunity — a lot of new leadership” including a new mayor and several new council members in Minneapolis, recalled

Kay. Minneapolis “is a racial and unjust city right now,” she pointed out. Continue Reading →

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Main Street Project tackles array of justice issues

Empowerment at the grassroots is their forte
By Vickie Evans-Nash
Contributing Writer


Main Street Project is a grassroots organizing initiative with three primary areas of interest: economic justice, civic engagement and media justice. Neil Ritchie is founder and executive director of Main Street Project, established in 2005, initially the nonpartisan arm of the League of Rural Voters established in 1986. For about 25 years Ritchie has done rural community organizing work from both a political and economic development perspective. In 2005, Main Street Project responded to a Northwest Area Foundation initiative to encourage leadership in four states that represented their geographic territory — Minnesota, Iowa, Oregon and Idaho. They would assist immigrant populations in rural communities that did not get the same attention as urban communities or have the same access to philanthropic resources. Continue Reading →

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