Community members tour the Anpetu Was'te project site.

Community members tour the Anpetu Was'te project site.

The Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) is developing the Anpetu Was’te Cultural Arts Marketplace at the Franklin Light Rail Transit Station in Minneapolis, MN. The project has been underway for just over a year and substantial progress has been made towards the realization of this community vision. The process of developing the project has now moved into the design phase. Over the past year NACDI has built relationships and a coalition to move the project forward. We have engaged with the surrounding neighborhoods and the Native community to develop the vision for an active transit station area into a concept for an arts marketplace and preliminary designs. We are now working simultaneously with the design team, the city and county public works departments, and the community to finalize a design that fulfills the vision of the community and meets the criteria of an outdoor public space.

This past month we hosted an engagement session in the future project site. We had a crowd of about 40 people come to the median of a busy street to hear the current plans for the space and offer their input as the design is progressing. It was a fun event that helped people to reimagine the space and continue their involvement in the design process. We held a walking tour and had presentation boards and handouts for people to review the current plans and let us know their reactions and thoughts. Our architecture team was there to answer questions and get feedback. We also hired a food truck to provide food for the participants of the event and provide a sense for what the space may be like in the future with food trucks and activity.

A food truck provided lunch and a taste of the future of the project.

A food truck provided lunch and a taste of the future of the project.

A food truck provided lunch and a taste of the future of the project.

We began our community engagement process last winter when it was too cold for most people to engage with the site. This recent event was our first engagement session at the actual project site. It gave people an experience of what the space will be like in the future. It moved the process off the designer’s presentation boards and out into our community. People got a sense of how the space could be repurposed and different, but also the challenges that exist currently and what needs to be taken into account in the design process. The engagement session brought new questions and perspectives into the process. We discovered that there was a fundamental difference in the conversation and input we received while actually in the space, versus the planning sessions we held over the winter at an inside location. It is important to bring the process out into the community to really create visibility and deeper understanding of the implications of the project. Our engagement session even attracted media attention, garnering coverage in a few local community-based news sources. < http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2013/06/04/minneapolis-new-cultural-arts-market-planned-franklin-avenue>

Our project continues to be a point of connection between communities that don’t typically interact. We increasingly see the potential of the project to be both a literal and a symbolic bridge between two separated neighborhoods and the many cultural groups that live in the surrounding area. Through engagement we are not just asking for input, but also actually building connections that will exist beyond the development of the project.

A food truck provided lunch and a taste of the future of the project.
Community members tour the Anpetu Was'te project site.

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