'Creating positivity': Art gardens in Minnesota seek to change the narrative
By Adam Duxter
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Art and color now fill the liquor store parking lot at one of north Minneapolis' most trafficked intersections. It's part of a plan to bring color, vibrancy and hope to an area that has been a hotspot for crime.
Volunteers from Love MPLS and Sanctuary Covenant Church dedicated the space during Saturday's "Flow Northside Art Crawl" event, giving onlookers a chance to see the project shaping the lot since mid-May.
"Being here and creating something positive in a corner that's so stereotypically negative, it makes a really big impact," said Teagan Malone, who contributed her artistic skills to the project's painted pots and planters. "People see light, art, and color and not just drive by and see what they might expect to see."
The art gardens, which feature a blend of raised wooden garden beds and more than a dozen painted pots throughout the parking lot, is a way leaders at Sanctuary Covenant Church hope to redefine the area.
"A year ago, there were over 300 911 calls from this very lot, for things like shootings, fights, stabbings," said Sanctuary Church Lead Pastor Edrin Williams. "This year, we turned this place into an art garden….The number of calls has gone down by 80 percent, I would say. That's tangible change that is happening."
"I feel like it's the best feeling to have peace come out of something not peaceful," said Rameris Woodson, a 16-year-old North High junior and one of the artists responsible for the project. "I hope people just take it in, honestly, I hope people enjoy what we're doing."
Leaders with the project say it presents a chance for youth to find their passion.
"There's a lot of youth that are out here that don't necessarily want to be out here doing things that are not constructive," said Kenneth Caldwell, who has helped lead the project. "You hear the whispers, you hear the streets talking, you hear the community talking, you hear they want something different. They want a change, it's just about an opportunity."
Church leaders say their hope for the future includes eventually acquiring the space currently held by Merwin's liquors and creating affordable housing along with opportunities for Black-owned businesses.
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