Folwell neighborhood group gets back into the swing of things

The Folwell Neighborhood Association (FNA), like other neighborhood groups, was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic and has found it difficult to gather and organize. This month their board gathered outside Folwell Park in North Minneapolis for its monthly meeting.

The agenda included committee updates on the 3701 Project, the beginning of a new Anime Club, and the annual Ice Cream Social and Resource Fair in August. But before discussing big-ticket items, the board first addressed a controversial flyer that was posted on social media and caused a slight upset in the community.

“It was in poor taste,” said Sara Merrill, the chair of the FNA board of directors, regarding the flyer that was meant to be “enticing” for their National Night Out (NNO) event on the first Tuesday in August. The graphics on the flyer resembled an old Western “wanted” poster that had a “reward” of $100—an incentive for neighborhoods to host the event on their block.

Devonia Kliche, the vice-president of the FNA board of director, said it was “very offensive in content” and caught the attention of the community. She explained the outreach director did not run the flyer by the board and it was not approved to be posted. “It was triggering,” said Kliche, because it resembled a slave bounty poster.

The board reassured community members that they want an inclusive and equitable environment. The flyer was immediately removed from social media and the board apologized for any harm it may have caused.

The FNA, funded in part by the City of Minneapolis and through grants and donations, is a group of volunteers who live or own a business in the Folwell Neighborhood. The board of directors meets regularly to help run the organization and provide residents a “hands-on opportunity to give back to the neighborhood they live in and call home,” as their website states. The association not only represents the people who live and work in the community; they are also a tool for residents to support each other and have access to community resources.

The FNA continued their discussion about “The Dream Shop” opening on the weekend of Aug. 21 in the Folwell Neighborhood Gathering Space on 3701 Fremont Ave. N. After hosting a large community meeting in Dec. 2019, Folwell neighbors and the FNA moved forward with a three-year lease on the commercial space.

Merrill said the goal for space was to find a business partner that will sublease the space with FNA, “creating a community hub of shopping, connecting and gathering,” according to their website. Markella Smith, a community organizer and visionary for The Dream Shop, turned the vacant space into a gift shop where local artists, makers and entrepreneurs can sell their items. On Smith’s campaign page, she writes the space is a place that “supports and encourages BIPOC artists [and] entrepreneurs and makes them go after their dream and obtain greatness.”

Another gathering space that the community can attend is Anime Club on the patio outside of Folwell Park. Starting July 21, community youth and others who are interested can attend their informational session and learn more about the club. It will be a safe space where people can draw, learn, and converse about Anime.

Coming this August, the FNA is partnering with Folwell Park to hold the annual Ice Cream Social and Resource Fair on Aug. 24. Neighbors can connect and network with more than 50 local vendors who will be selling and promoting their businesses along with music and youth activities.

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